Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Battle Report: Riekaan v. Tarkin

Hey Reader!

Welcome back to Wretched Hive!  As we discuss different types of Neb-B builds, we thought we'd bring you a fun battle between Dark Knight and myself.  I took an army that relies heavily on Nebs (probably too heavily, but hey: we're focusing on Nebs, so what's a bro supposed to do, :) ).

Jango's Forces (Rebel Alliance - 396 pts)
-Nebulon B Escort Frigate (Yavaris, Riekaan): 92 pts 
-Nebulon B Escort Frigate (Salvation, Turbolaser Reroute Circuits, Intel Officer): 78 pts
-Nebulon B Support Refit: 51 pts
-Nebulon B Support Refit: 51 pts
-Nebulon B Support Refit: 51 pts
-1 Moldy Crow: 19 pts
-1 HWK 290s: 12 pts
-2 YT-1400 Freighters: 26 pts
-Tycho Celchu: 16 pts

Dark Knight's Forces (Galactic Empire - 398 pts)
-Imperial Star Destroyer-II (Tarkin, Gunnery Team, Boosted Comms, Electronic Countermeasures): 176 pts
-Imperial Raider-I (Flight Controllers, Extended Hangar Bay): 55 pts
-Imperial Raider-I (Flight Controllers, Extended Hangar Bay): 55 pts
-14 TIE Fighters: 112 pts

With the lower total points, I had the choice of whether to be the First Player or the Second Player, and true to form I went with my normal choice of Second Player (more on why in a tactics post in the future).  Of the objectives I offered Dark Knight, he opted for Hyperspace Assault, so Salvation and Tycho are being held in reserve as we head into Turn 1.  The deployment looks like this:

Turn 1

As per most Turn 1s, the fleets moved up, no shooting yet, and the Imperial fighter wing (wow, that's a ton of TIEs!) is waiting in the wings for its attack run as we head into the Squadron Phase.

The Squadron Phase was relatively uneventful - the Imperial fighters start moving into command positions, as the Rebel fighters start moving to intercept.

Turn 2

Turn 2 is usually where things start getting interesting, and this game didn't surprise.  The Imperials starting swinging south toward the Space Station, as the Rebel Neb fleet ran north toward the Imperial deployment zone.  As we head into the Squadron Phase, we are just out of attack range of the Imperial fighters.

By the end of the Squadron Phase the Imperial fighters have moved up, and the Rebel ships are bracing for a fighter wing in Turn 3.

Turn 3

At the start of Turn 3 I opted to bring in Salvation (mostly because, frankly, there are so many fighters out there that we're going to get hammered if we don't give them something to shoot at, and we have a beautiful attack run against both a Raider and the ISD this turn), so it deployed as you see.

By the end of the Ship Phase Salvation had taken quite the beating, with damage to the forward shields and all of her side shields gone, and had take 3 hits against the hull (3/5H).  Most of the squadrons had been activated via Squadron actions during the Ship Phase, so the Squadron Phase was pretty quiet.

We also wiffed a number of our rolls against the Imperial Raider at the top of the screen - we had shots from two nebs who were both using Concentrate Fire actions (so 8 red dice) and between both attacks we only did 1 damage past the Evade defense tokens.  This was unfortunate, as we were hoping to put some serious pain on the Raider to make room for the quick get-away from the Star Destroyer.  But oh well - this happens in dice-based games, :P

Turn 4

The heat of the moment being what it is (and this is par for the course for me, by the by, so bear with me: this may occur in other battle reports as well), I didn't take any pictures during Turn 4, :P  But I got one at the end that summed up the action.

As a quick synopsis, Dark Knight called a ton of Squadron actions, and with a few of his fighters he was able to polish off Salvation.  His fighters punctured the shields on Yavaris and one of the other Nebs, but were unable to do more than 1 point of hull damage on each.  One of the HWK-290s went down, as did Tycho.  And courtesy of two really bad sets of rolls from the Nebs, the Raider is still on the table, :P  Gotta love and hate red dice, :P

As we headed into Turn 5, the pain of this bad streak of rolling was about to show itself...

Turn 5

In the Ship Phase the ISD lit up the Nebs, and both Yavaris (which is housing Riekaan) and another Neb went down to its Gunnery Team.  Courtesy of Riekaan we still got to activate our ships, so all of the ships opened fire on starfighters or the Imperial Raider (as there's no reason to fire at the ISD - we can't take it down at this point).  We popped the raider, and we ran like mad, :)

As the Squadron Phase came to an end, our two remaining YT Freighters (they're hidden behind the ISD) took some shots to finish off a TIE Fighter, the two nebs were removed, and we had winnowed the TIE swarm down to five fighters (so ten down).

At this point we knew the Empire had the match, and Turn 6 would be a boring "limp away" turn for the Rebs, and "consolidate" turn for the Empire.

Turn 6

Which is more or less what happened.  The ISD called one final Squadron command, was able to finish off one of the remaining Nebs, and the fighters spread out to avoid giving the YTs anything to shoot at.  So the match ended like this.

End Analysis

It was a fun match - the strengths and weaknesses of the Neb were shown well throughout the match to both of us:

  • Nebs whiff rolls pretty often, but they can also pound away at shields and hull points pretty quickly.  So very much a "wild card" ship as regards damage output and defense.
  • Nebs are also relatively weak against starfighters (as they have two very poorly shielded hull zones, and have no defense tokens that help much against fighters), though Salvation was able to put a lot of fire down on ships before it died, so the two blue dice v. squadrons makes a difference.
  • Fighter screens are going to be a necessity now that we are at 400 pts.  Since both sides can now field a solid number of fighters (up to 16 TIEs for the Empire, and as many as 13 squadrons for the Rebels), anti-squadron batteries are not going to be sufficient to hold off an enemy fighter wing.  And with the inclusion of Intel (which was not a factor in this game), even a large wing of fighters won't be a guaranteed defense.  But fighters will help to distract fire, do damage to enemy squadrons without having to use anti-squadron batteries on a ship, and tie down enemy bombers (ideally) before they can reach your ships.
  • ISDs hurt a lot.  This is not surprise - 8 dice is painful against anyone.  But against a ship that only has 5 Hull, 1-3 Shields, and two Brace defense tokens, 8 dice means a good number of accuracy icons (neutralizing the Brace tokens) and enough damage to puncture and injure (if not destroy) the light frigate that is the Neb.
  • I really like the Extended Hangar Bays on the Raider.  It makes for a Squadron 2 ship (effectively Squadron 3 if Tarkin is passing out the token each Ship Phase), which allows a relatively low-cost ship (55 pts) to move with a small fighter force that can spread enemy fighter squadrons thin.  Add to that the generally high speed of Imperial ships, and you've got a beautiful long-range strike team that can cost under 80 pts (as Dark Knight did here).
In our next post we'll see Part 2 of our Neb series, talking about ideal upgrades to your Nebs (which may help to give them greater survivability, firepower, and/or speed to control the flow of the battle (which, as you might have noticed in this game, is an important question for Nebs).

Until our next meeting,


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Ship Review: The Nebulon-B Frigate (Part 1 of 3)

Hey Reader!

Today for our ship review we're doing the first part in a series on the Nebulon-B Frigate, one of the first ships released for the Rebel Alliance.  In today's post we'll cover the difference in the two variants of Neb-Bs, as well as a discussion on the three title cards for Nebs and how they interface with the two variants.

Before launching into the discussion, something should be said upfront: I really like Neb-Bs.  They've been among my favorite ships in Star Wars since my youth (loved them since I saw them over twenty years ago), so if you don't like this ship and would never run it, I don't blame you.  This series may bore you, ;)  But as someone who loves this ship both in Star Wars lore and in Armada, I wouldn't pass up the chance to write this review, :)  So with no further ado, here's the technical readout on the Nebulon-B Frigate by Kuat Drive Yards.

I.  Variants: The Escort Frigate and the Support Refit

Like other ships in Armada, there are few differences between the variants in the Neb-B.  The Escort Frigate is slightly more expensive at 57 pts, but it boasts Squadron 2 instead of Squadron 1 for more activation potential of squadrons in the Ship Phase, as well as a second blue dice in its anti-squadron pool.

With 3 red dice in the forward arc, Neb-Bs make for excellent "snipers" generally, but the Escort Frigate adds to this two blue dice in its anti-squadron array around the ship, allowing it to hang back from enemy ships while still being able to do reliable damage to enemy fighters, especially low-health fighters like A-Wings and TIE Fighters.

For 51 pts the Support Refit keeps the same amount of anti-ship firepower, and while it doesn't make an exceptional carrier, its purpose in the fighting force is simple: batter ships, especially with the forward arc.  It only has one blue dice in its anti-squadron array, but what it lacks in firepower it makes up in opportunity: gaining an additional 6 points could allow a force to sport an additional upgrade on another ship, field a bomber instead of just a fighter, or a special character instead of a normal fighter.

For those who want a ship that could serve as a carrier for squadrons and do point defense against incoming bombers and fighter cover, the Escort Frigate is the better choice.  For those who simply want a ship that only costs 50(ish) points that can pound away with red dice against enemy ships, you can save yourself some points by purchasing the Support Refit (and in this game, every point counts).

II.  Title Cards: Redemption, Salvation, and Yavaris

Unlike some ships in Armada (in my estimation), the Neb-B titles are all useful: I could see myself taking all of them, and all of them would play a critical role (not just a role, but a critical role) in my force depending on what the army is built to do.  Because the Neb-B came in the Core Set as well as its own expansion, it boasts three titles, and of the ships in the core set it's still my favorite to this day in part because of the title cards.

A.  Redemption, the Medical Frigate

Redemption is an 8 pt upgrade that allows ships within Distance 1-5 of Redemption to add +1 Engineering point (not one to the Engineering value, but +1 to the total - more on that in a bit) when they declare a Repair action.  Seems like a small bonus for 8 pts, right?  But in an economy of scale, this is a massive bonus, compounded by the other ships in the Rebel Fleet.

In Armada (for those of you who are new to the game), there are two ways to repair a ship: using a Repair action on the command dial, or using a stored Repair token.  Both can be used together if you have the token when you use the Repair action.  The difference between the two is that a Repair action gets the full Engineering value of the ship, while the Repair token only gets half of the value, rounded up.  It's the fact that the value is rounded up that makes the difference for Redemption.

Redemption shines when used by ships that start with an Engineering value that is an odd number. If a ship has Engineering 4, Redemption adds +1 to the total to bring it to 5 (which is enough to recover two shields, repair a hull damage and recover a shield, or move lots of shields around), and if the ship also has a Repair token it can spend the token as well, adding +2 to the total (as Engineering 4, when halved, adds 2).  But the token would have been worth 2 Engineering if the ship was Engineering 3 or 4, so for a cheaper ship (as base stats play a big factor in the cost of a ship) you can get the same number of engineering points.  So a ship with an odd-numbered Engineering value (like Neb-Bs and MC30s, for example) gain an extra Engineering Point while still remaining cheaper than the competition.

This is not to say it is no use to even-numbered Engineering Ships.  A Corvette with Engineering 2 will still benefit quite a bit from Redemption, and MC80s love it (especially when paired with...but you'll have to wait until Part 2 to hear that part, :) ) as they tend to attract a lot of fire, and it allows them to be the only ship that can reach Engineering 8 in a given turn as of this writing.

All told, Redemption is a very useful upgrade for a Neb-B designed to support the rest of the fleet.  Either version of the Neb-B works well with Redemption, though most tend to use the Support Refit purely because it saves them 6 points (which is most of the cost of the title).

B.  Salvation, the Fighting Frigate

Salvation is a 7 pt upgrade that allows all anti-ship dice rolls of a "Critical" from the forward arc to count as two hits instead of one, and the player can still resolve a critical effect.  Effectively, since frigates have three red dice on the front hull zone, it gives a 3/8 chance (instead of a 1/8 chance) of getting a double hit from the forward arc, and on those double hits you can still resolve a critical effect (either from an upgrade card or a standard effect).

This makes Salvation an effective power hitter for relatively low points (as low as 58 points on a Support Refit) that can dish out a lot of damage.  Add on a few upgrades and good mission objectives, and Salvation can stand its ground on damage output against much larger ships.  It still needs to be guarded (it's a small ship, so it can very vulnerable if exposed to too much enemy fire - more on that in Part 3 of this series), but if you need raw firepower for relatively cheap cost, Salvation is a great option.

C.  Yavaris, the Carrier

There are few small ships that make useful carriers for squadrons.  One of them is Yavaris.  At only 5 pts, Yavaris is on the cheaper side of title cards in the game, and allows fighters that are activated by it to shoot twice in the Ship Phase if they do not move.  Handy when enemy fighters have already engaged you or when you need to put the pain on an enemy ship that's already near your fighters, Yavaris gives bombers a chance to deal serious damage to capital ships, and fighters a chance to dogfight against overwhelming odds.

There is a lot of strategy involved in Yavaris (and we'll talk about that in Part 3 of this series) as it lacks a number of the upgrades usually used by carriers, but that just makes Yavaris a more unique carrier, and a number of opponents are not prepared for it.  It takes some learning, but for only 62 pts (as you really should run this as the Escort Frigate - the Support Refit is not going to cut it) it leaves a lot of room for you to purchase high-end squadrons to accompany it without sacrificing other necessary elements of your force.


In our next post, we'll be covering common upgrades associated with the titles (as the variants will play into that discussion), with a final post on tactics.  Until then, we'll see you around the cantina,