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,


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