Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ship Review: The Nebulon-B Frigate (Part 2 of 3)

Hey Reader!

Welcome back to Wretched Hive!  We're in Part 2 of our series on the Neb-B Frigate, one of the first ships to make an appearance in Star Wars: Armada, the tabletop miniature ship combat game by Fantasy Flight Games.  In today's post we'll be taking a look at upgrade cards that work well with Neb-Bs to stimulate your thoughts as a commander.  For thoughts on the two variants of the Neb-B and the title cards for Neb-Bs, see Part 1 of this series.

This will be relatively short compared to our other upgrades-centered posts that we do, if for no other reason than there are only three upgrade slots on a Neb-B, so there isn't a wide variety of choices.  No matter: you will find that there are some excellent, low-cost ships that you can make off of those three slots.

I.  Upgrades for Redemption

You can run either the Escort or Support Refit; you'd want to run Escort if you're planning on hiding it in the back and you still want it to contribute to anti-squadron defense, but it's not very good at that, and it's bumping up the cost of an already expensive support ship.  I'd go Support Refit, personally.

Officer: Since the goal of Redemption is to 1) stay alive for other ships to take advantage of its bonus, and 2) stay close to other ships in the fleet, you'll want an officer that does this well.  You can take Raymus Antilles if you want to (though I personally think he's better used on a different ship), though Leia is likely a better fit for the officer slot.  Since Leia allows ships with Range 1-5 of her ship (the same range as Redemption) to change their command dials to match hers, she can spam Engineering commands (to take advantage of the Redemption bonus), Navigate Commands (in case the fleet needs to quickly move out, avoiding running into each other, etc.), or other commands as desired, but these are the most useful for what Redemption is designed to do.  Quick reminder on Leia, though: to allow ships to take advantage of her rule, she'll need to activate early in the turn, so make sure you have room to maneuver.

The Engineering Captain is also a great choice, as it allows Redemption to go about its business - potentially even combat duty - and then quickly switch to an Engineering action if you need it to.  But this is most useful when teamed with a Support Team upgrade.

Support Team: The natural upgrade for Redemption is Projection Experts.  If you're allowing people to gain +1 Engineering Point when they call an Engineering action, the only thing better than that is also giving them 2 additional shields, a retail market value of 4 Engineering that the other ship doesn't need to come up with from their Engineering value.  It comes at the cost of 2 Engineering points from the ship with Projection Experts and it consumes 2 of the shields from that ship, but it allows them to move the shields to another friendly ship up to Distance 1-5 away (the same range as Redemption).

On an Engineering 3 ship, though, if you have an Engineering token Redemption can gain 5 Engineering on its turn, use 1-2 of it to move shields to another ship, and then spend the rest to recover some shields that it lost.  This allows it to maintain this "healer ability" throughout the game, and it makes for almost unlimited healing throughout the game if you can keep it alive.  It can't help the target ship recover hull damage (so it's not very effective against enemy bombers), but it's a good defense against enemy ships who are battering away at a target hull zone.

If you are not taking Projection Experts, an Engineering Team will help with survivability of your healing ship.  By adding +1 to your Engineering Value, you can recover up to two shields in a given turn, which should help to keep your Neb from being heavily exposed to enemy fire.  I personally like the idea of running it as a healer (and thus taking Projection Experts), but the Engineering Team does increase the survivability of Redemption by quite a bit for only 5 points.

Engine Techs is also useful if you want to be able to move at the equivalent of Speed 4 (and with 0-1-2-1 Yaw, which is not bad at all), and allows a relatively fragile healing ship to quickly evade enemy forces.  Just remember: if you outstrip the ships that you are supposed to be providing support to, you're just wasting points on the Redemption title.

Turbolasers: Truth is...unless you're planning on being on the front lines (which is dangerous), I'd skip this upgrade on Redemption.  If you really want to take one, I'd take the Turbolaser Reroute Circuits (TRCs) to maximize damage on your red dice, and the XI7s are not bad as it neutralizes the redirect, increasing the chance that your limited red dice pool does damage to a hull zone.  But as a general rule I'd avoid this one just to save points in your fleet.

II.  Upgrades for Salvation

I like running Salvation as an Escort: it allows me to take a shot with the forward arc and spend the other doing anti-squadron shots to help clear chaff squadrons away.  It's more expensive (my guy is usually around 77 pts), but it pulls its weight.  The Support Refit is also a good option, though, if you're just trying to maximize points for an anti-ship "sniper" in your army.

Officer: Intel Officer is great - it allows you to effectively neutralize a defense token on the opponent, even if they have Electronic Countermeasures (which usually will be the opponent's Brace), and it is also conveniently the officer card that comes with the Neb-B set, so you'll have one on-hand, :)  Since the Intel Officer also applies to any attack the ship makes, it can also be used to target the Scatter on a squadron if you want to put some damage on a starfighter (or severely cripple it by discarding its Scatter for the rest of the game).  For only 7 pts he's not a bad purchase.

You can take Raymus, but I don't recommend it.  I think you can use him better elsewhere in your army, and to be honest getting the re-roll on a Concentrate Fire or an extra squadron to command isn't as useful on Salvation as it might be on another ship (like an MC80 Assault Cruiser, Assault Frigate "carrier" build, etc.).  Tactics Expert isn't bad either, as it allows you to call Navigate/Repair on the dial all the time, but if you have a nice shot you can switch it effortlessly to Concentrate Fire for that fourth red dice from the forward arc.

Support Team: Most of these upgrades will be covering the survivability and mobility of Salvation, and while these are all useful, I don't recommend spending points on them.  Especially if you're running the Escort Frigate, you're looking at around 70-80 points for a good Salvation build before factoring in this cost, and that means that you're already consuming 20% of your points in a 400-pt game for a ship that is not designed to take a beating, hold off enemy fighters, or do the heavy lifting against a large ship like an MC80 or an Imperial Star Destroyer.  The one that I consistently take is Engineering Team (if I have the points), mostly so that he will have 4-6 Engineering Points (depending on whether I have an Engineering token or not) to repair the hull or replace missing shields.

Engine Techs can also be good (as it will keep you out of range of attackers), but remember: you need to use a Navigate action (so no Concentrate Fire for your forward arc shot) to use Engine Techs, so you need to decide what your aim is with Salvation.  If you want him to simply maximize fire against an enemy, I'd pass on this upgrade (which is also expensive, by the way, at 8 pts).  If you're really afraid that people are going to try to headhunt your sniper, it may be worth the points.

Turbolasers: Okay, this is a toss-up.  There are lots of good options for this slot.  If you've got an Intel Officer, it's nice running XI7s as you can target the Brace with your Intel Officer and then gut the redirect with XI7s.  This is also safer than relying on an Accuracy icon, as the Intel Officer doesn't prevent them from spending a defense token - they are free to use the token, but they discard it instead of just spending it.

Similarly if you have Heavy Turbolaser Turrets (HTTs) you can use the Intel Officer to target the Brace, and then if he opts to Brace he'll lose it and mitigate half damage, or he's forced to take the full power of your frontal barrage, which is no fun at all.  And since you have a 3/8 chance of getting two damage on a single dice (instead of most ships that only get a 1/8 chance), the likelihood that you do a lot of damage is actually quite high, especially with a Concentrate Fire action to bring your forward arc to 4 red dice.

I like TRCs (just to guarantee a double hit), especially in case the target has an Evade token, as that almost guarantees that the double hit dice gets past the Evade (as he'll likely strike the dice with the Critical result on it).

Since you can't get a Gunnery Team you could run Slaved Turrets just for the extra red dice (and another chance at a Critical), giving you 4 red dice from the front (or 5 if you use a Concentrate Fire action).  On average that's easily 4 damage on a ship that costs on the 60s to field (70s if you take an officer upgrade).  Now this means you won't have a second shot to plink away at enemy squadrons or other ships on other arcs, but if you're running a Support Refit and you don't care about shooting at squadrons, this may be a good option.

III.  Upgrades for Yavaris

First, if you're running a squadron-commanding ship, you need to run the Escort Frigate.  The primary difference between the two frigate variants are their squadron commanding abilities, and at Squadron 1 the Support Refit is just not going to cut it.  If you are purchasing this title card you want to maximize the ships you command, and the extra 6 pts to take the Escort Frigate is totally worth the additional activation each turn (not to mention better anti-squadron batteries, which you will likely be using).  So we recommend you take the Escort Frigate build.

Officer: Raymus Antilles is great - getting the token and the command dial action allows Yavaris to command 3 squadrons every round, maximizing the output of its bonus to squadrons.  This only works, though, if you have 3 squadrons nearby that can do sizable damage to their targets, so make sure to keep a few squadrons within medium range of Yavaris.  And since Nebs lack an Offensive Retrofit slot, you won't be able to boost this to long range with Boosted Comms, so just remember to keep the squadrons within medium range.

Adar Tallon is also good.  Tallon allows you, after performing a Squadron command, to retoggle the activation of a squadron that was just commanded, allowing them to be activated again that same turn.  So if Yavaris commanded Wedge Antilles to attack (or Han Solo, or Keyon Farlander while attacking an enemy ship) and took advantage of the special rule, he could attack twice under Yavaris and then attack again under another ship's Squadron action or in the Squadron Phase.  Either way you can get a lot of firepower out of a few squadrons.

The Wing Commander also isn't a bad choice, but I think that compared to Raymus it leaves something to be desired (and for 6 pts, it's almost the same cost as Ray).  It does give you the freedom to call Navigate and Engineering actions every turn and then effortlessly change those to Squadron commands as you wish, but a wise general who plans ahead will find this benefit only marginally useful.  I think that Ray is a more useful benefit to the ship for only 1 point more.

Support Team: Engineering Team is nice if for no other reason than bombers and ships tend to shoot at you, but honestly I'd recommend you save the points.  In an Intel world it is unlikely that Engine Techs would actually keep you out of range of enemy bombers, and the Nav Team is less than useful as you'll ideally be calling Squadron actions and not commonly using Navigate tokens.  So save yourself some points, and spend those points on squadrons for you to command.

Turbolasers: Okay - this is an interesting one.  I like taking XI7s on this guy solely because enemy carrier ships (which will likely be near you so they can support their fighters) tend to have a redirect (with the Imperial Raider and an opposing Yavaris being the sole exceptions), and it's a bit more reliable than HTTs in my book as most people burn their Brace first, which means it may not even be in the opponent's battle plan to use the Brace against an attack from Yavaris.

But honestly, you can probably pass on this upgrade too.  Remember: for Yavaris, the less points you spend on the ship, the more points you can spend on the fighters it controls.  And if it can control 2-3 squadrons each turn, I recommend just saving the points and making those squadrons matter.

IV.  Upgrades for Nebs Generally

Since a basic Neb-B costs 51-57 pts, it's a nice, light, low-cost ship that you can purchase multiple copies of and still have ample room for a high-cost commander, a strong set of squadrons, or a large number of upgrades.  This gives Nebs versatility - you can do a host of different things with different Nebs in your force.

Officer: No picture here, as you've seen most of them already, but almost any officer will work with a Neb - the question is what you want the Neb to do.  If you are looking for an attack model that can hit at long range and then quickly dash past opponents to get out of their forward arc, a Weapons Liaison, a Tactical Expert, or other offense-generating officers (like the Intel Officer, my personal favorite and the one that conveniently comes in the Neb-B set) will be a good choice.  If you're looking for defense the Engineering Captain and the Defense Liaison are good choices, as is the Navigation Officer if you follow the ancient adage, "speed is armor."

Honestly, though, if you're purchasing a cheap Neb, you probably should skip this slot: save the points, and put them elsewhere in your army to cover your bases.

Support: If you're looking for speed, Engine Techs is a good upgrade.  If you're looking for survivability, Engineering Team is good.  I'd personally shy away from the Nav Team and Projection Experts (unless you plan to have Engineering Tokens constantly on your Neb to help you recover shields, in which case Projection Experts is okay).

As a general rule this slot tends to remain open (as you're saving points for other ships and squadrons), but it gives you room to customize what you want in your army.  It doesn't help much for damage output (though we'll briefly mention a strategy that employs this slot for damage capability in Part 3 of this series), but it provides a number of the mobility, defense, and control-related elements that are helpful in keeping your army alive and in fighting trim.

Turbolasers: All of them are great, and since Nebs are relatively cheap you can mix and match: one to neutralize the Brace token, one to neutralize a Redirect, one for resolving multiple critical effects, one with additional shots from the side (especially if you have Ackbar - you can get 4 Red Dice from the side arc, which is more than your front arc, for 61 pts per Neb if you run Support Refits with Enhanced Armaments), and a guaranteed chance at a double hit on a red dice.  You have lots of options for Turbolaser upgrades, which gives your fleet lots of room for customization.

If you're going for a cheap Neb option, this slot is also optional - Nebs do their roll well without upgrades, so remember to treat your upgrades as being essential to your strategy for what you need in the force.  If you don't need to put an upgrade on it, don't.  They'll be fine in combat, as you'll see in Part 3 of this series as we discuss tactics.


In our next post we'll wrap up our series and chat about tactics involving Neb-Bs, including a discussion on movement, anti-squadron v. anti-ship firing, and when to turn your flanks to the opponent (which everyone says not to do, but I disagree).  Until then, we'll see you around town,