Monday, March 21, 2016

60 Portions! - Deciding Which Astromech Your Rebel Pilot Should Take - Part 3

                Today I am proud to present the third part of my thread discussing the droids available to the Rebel Faction in X-wing miniatures. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2, or here for Scum Astromechs. We will be looking at the three newest droids, discussing the best ways to use them, and applying them in squad building. Let's jump right in.

BB-8
                Moviewise, BB-8 was specifically designed to be the new and loveable droid sidekick in Star Wars. So it is also fitting that he joins R2-D2 as the main droid ally of an X-wing Miniatures Core Set. Since BB comes in a core he is going to be one of the more common droids found in Rebel players' arsenals. Let's get to know how he works and make the most of him.
                BB-8 gives a ship access to a free barrel roll. BR is the main action needed for good arc-dodging ability and so our droid gives more utility to higher PS pilots. And since his ability activates when you pick a green move while unstressed, BB's power is equivalent to the number of green maneuvers a ship has. E-wings and T-70s will get the most use with their 5 greens. Like R7-T1, BB-8 can give a movement actions along with better action economy. However, this means that you can't take a shield regeneration droid, so be sure to weigh your options carefully before picking. In regards to the T-65, we get a little less utility with only 4 green moves. But this is compensated by the fact that BB-8 gives the original X-wing a movement action, a feature that has long hurt it in the meta game. Flying Wedge or Wes with BB-8 and Integrated Astromech are builds that are both powerful and very fulfilling. Finally we come to the Y-wing. While the idea of this ship with a Barrel Roll action sounds awesome, it really doesn't work. With only 2 green moves, the Y-wing doesn't get enough benefit from BB-8. And the two moves are slow which doesn't give enough area for the BR to cover, making the combo both limited and predictable.

T-65 w/ Wes - 32 points
                Veteran Instincts
                BB-8
                Integrated Astromech

T-70 w/ Poe - 36 points
                Veteran Instincts
                BB-8
                Autothrusters

                When we take a look at BB's game mechanics we find that he is quite similar to a B-wing with Advanced Sensors. As long as you pick a green maneuver and barrel roll the right way, the combo makes sure you are never blocked and always have an action. This also means you can hug the asteroids more closely, a skill that can give you an edge over your opponent and give your ships good cover. BB-8 also can be paired with Push the Limit for more effective action economy. Taking your free Barrel Roll action triggers your EPT for a second action of your choice. You then perform your green move and clear the stress, thus allowing you to take a third action during your normal Perform Action Phase.

T-70 w/ Ello - 35 points
                Push the Limit
                BB-8
                Integrated Astromech

R5-X3
                In the Star Wars Extended Universe (now Legends) there was a time when a new shipment of astromechs arrived for the Rebel Alliance. Wedge Antilles was disappointed that they had received R5 droids instead of the better R2 model. However in a attempt to stay positive, our Ace made the humorous comment that his R5's huge dome could take a hit for him. So leave it to the X-wing developers to go and make Wedge's wish come true. Well played, FFG. Well played.
                R5-X3's ability appears rather underwhelming when you first look at it, especially since it is a one shot item. But upon a closer examination, we find that the card's wording applies from the activation phase to the end phase. This means that for one entire round, your ship with X3 gets an ability that is more powerful than Dash Rendar's. When you spend X3 you can move over asteroids without rolling for damage or losing your action. Debris clouds don't give you stress or make you roll for criticals. You can even land your base on an asteroid and still get to fire! But it doesn't end there. The card says that "you ignore obstacles" instead of "obstacles don't apply to you". This means when you fire, your shot is not obstructed by any asteroids in the way. But when enemies fire back they still have to apply bonus dice to you for your obstacle cover.
                So we have a powerful ability. But is it strong enough that one round matters? The answer is yes. It will require a lot of work and practice, just like when flying Dash. In all the games I have played against Dash he always followed the same pattern. First he strafes down one side of the board, both attacking and fleeing. Your squad eventually catches up to him and you try to block him. One of two things has always happened to me in this part of the match. Either I get the block and take him down, or else he escapes through obstacles and starts another strafing run down the board. If the latter, my squad strength is usually is so low that taking him down is near impossible. Dash only needs that one opportunity to turn the tide of the battle and stay alive. And it is the same with R5-X3.
                Consider the example of a Gold Y-wing with a Twin Laser Turret. The Range 1 gap is a weakness that needs to be shored up in your squad building. Perhaps you take multiple TLTs to cover blind spots or maybe give your Y-wing a Bomb Loadout so it can avert enemies from flanking. But if we equip X3 then we have a Y that can act like Dash. Your TLT can strafe down the side and hug close to the asteroids. Then when the enemy thinks that he has closed in on you, pop the droid and make your daring escape. Rather than being a sitting duck in one spot, you are in a different spot entirely, under the cover of an asteroid, with a focus token, and can fire back unobstructed.
                 X3 is great on Y-wings to make them less predictable. And the turret allows you to make use of all benefits: movement, action, and shooting. However, things are different when it comes to X-wings. I wouldn't put R5-X3 on just any X-wing build since he cannot pair with Integrated Astromech. Consider putting him on an X-wing that uses Guidance Chips or Autothrusters. As for the E-wing, the ship generally requires a stronger astromech to protect your point investment. Perhaps a viable combo will come after a (hopeful) E-wing revamp.

Y-wing w/ Gold - 25 points
                Twin Laser Turret
                R5-X3

T-70 w/ Ello - 34 points
                Veteran Instincts
                R5-X3
                Autothrusters

                One final thought on X3. He might see more use in the meta with the introduction of the Tractor Beam. Things are going to get dicey for small ships pretty soon, especially X-wings and Y-wings with their lower agility. If you take X3, your small base ship has a "Get Out of Jail Free" card. You can pop your droid the round you enter combat range to make sure you can still attack if you are barrel-rolled onto an obstacle. Or you can save it till after you have been rolled onto an asteroid and use it the next round to make a clean getaway. It can be a strong defense on a low agility/low pilot skill ship in your squad.

X-wing w/ Rookie - 22 points
                R5-X3

Targeting Astromech
                The first thing the Targeting Astromech brings to X-wing is the incentive to make red moves, just like with Wired or the Outlaw Tech. The TA means you no longer have to sacrifice dice modification for repositioning. You can K-turn or T-roll and still have a powerful attack. And if you don't use it that turn then you have it for another round as you chase an enemy. It also frees up the Y-wing's slow dial. Now you can take a hard 3 turn or a 4 forward to slip past an enemy who thought you were going to move slowly.
                Just like with BB-8, the power of the Targeting Astromech ties directly to the dial of the ship it is equipped on. The more red maneuvers you have, the more diverse options you can use. But there is a flip side: you have to clear your stress to keep using the combo. So the droid also requires green moves to be powerful. The T-65 only has only 1 red move and the E-wing only 2, so most of these pilots won't get much use out of a TA. The Y-wing has 4 red moves and so is very strong with this droid. But only having 2 green moves makes clearing the stress difficult, so you have to use it very strategically. And finally we have the T-70. With 3 red moves and 5 green moves, this ship almost begs for a Targeting Astromech. The combo has strong maneuvering power on the board and can always hit hard. And since you are getting good dice modification, you are free to replace EPTs like Push the Limit or Predator with ones like Veteran Instincts or Stay on Target.

T-70 w/ Novice - 26 points
                Targeting Astromech
                Integrated Astromech

T-65 w/ Wedge - 33 points
                Stay On Target
                Targeting Astromech
                Integrated Astromech

                Another favorable application of the Targeting Astromech is in using Ordnance. The droid makes it possible to K-turn behind an enemy, take a Target Lock, and still fire a torpedo. For example, we can take Hobbie with a Flechette Torpedo and the TA. He can K-turn and use his ability to shed the stress when he acquires the Target Lock. This leaves him stress-free to take a focus token during the Perform Action Phase. Then he can fire a modified torpedo to stress an enemy while he can perform any maneuver you want next round. And even when your ordnance is spent, you can still use the combo for shots modified by both a TL and a focus. Another strong Ordnance combo is with a Gold Y-wing. The Targeting Astromech lets him push it a little closer to the enemy, allowing him to get the Target Lock where he otherwise would not have.

Y-wing w/ Gold - 26 points
                Proton Torpedoes
                Extra Munitions
                Targeting Astromech
                Guidance Chips

T-65 w/ Hobbie - 29 points
                Flechette Torpedoes
                Targeting Astromech
                Integrated Astromech

Conclusion
                Whether you are a fan of barrel rolls, ignoring obstacles, or getting rewarded on red moves, these three new droids add a huge variety to Rebel gameplay. I hope you enjoyed this X-wing analysis and learned something new to help you with your squad building. Thanks for reading and best of luck in solving the challenges that you face in your games. Poor Grey Pilot out.

9 comments:

  1. Unless I'm missing something, Hobbie + TA is even better than you're indicating. The K-turn gives a free TL and Stress, the TL activates Hobbie's pilot ability, removing the Stress, THEN you take your action (Focus) and now you're behind the enemy, and firing Focused Torpedoes....Awesome.

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    1. You are correct, thank you for commenting. I appear to have been so focused on discussing the stress mechanic I forgot to mention the focus token. :P I will add it in. Yeah, he is fun to fly in this build. And even though I like the stress synergy of Flechettes, it can be worth it to pick a bigger torpedo.

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  2. Just wanted to say your articles are fantastic! Just found out about your site and I am eagerly looking forward to pouring through past articles. Keep up the great work!

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I am glad that you like my articles, have fun and enjoy reading!

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  3. If I read the card right, R5-X3 can only be popped before you reveal your maneuver so the situation you mentioned about getting put on an asteroid by a tractor beam wouldn't be valid, would it?

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    1. You misunderstand me, I am not saying you can pop X3 after you have been moved onto an asteroid. I am saying that if you enter combat against a Tractor Beam and you are within Range 1 of an asteroid, it might be worth it to spend your droid before combat even begins. However, the easiest counter to this strategy is for the TB ship to shoot at you with Primaries and waste your droid. So the better option, in my opinion, is to save it till you have been put on an asteroid. Then the next round you can pop the droid to move off without having to roll for a second red die or lose your action.

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    2. Oh I get it. Thanks for the clarification.

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  4. My personal favourite with the Targetting Astromech is obvious but still good for action efficiency - Dutch Vander. Paired with any other ship at 1-2 he can use the red turns and straight of the Y Wing to help out another ship as well as still launching ordnance himself.

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    1. Good point Katarnas. I would also add that it allows Dutch to keep pace with some of his faster Rebel allies. And it would be cool to pair him with the Kanan crew, thus allow the Y-wing to stay frosty when clearing stress. Also, is your name a reference to Kyle Katarn, or something else?

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