Tuesday, January 24, 2017

AoS: Time to add some more Tzaangors

Yes.. yes.. everything is proceeding as I have forseen!

The wheel keeps on spinning in my head on how I can keep improving the list.  A lot of players have come up and said that I'm lacking actual frontline troops and that Horrors are going to die as soon as they get touched.  Yes, that is true and I agree with them, so I'm going to add a huge ass unit of Tzaangors in there to compliment my forces and somehow make the entire list better in a number of ways.

Let's check out the new list:

1960

LORDS:
Lord of Change = 300
+Tzeentch's Firestorm
+General - Incorporeal Form (-1 to hit in CC)
+Phantasmal Weapons (+1 Rend to all melee)

Mounted Chaos Sorcerer = 140
+Shield of Fate

Tzaangor Shaman = 120
+Shield of Fate
+Fold Reality

Gaunt Summoner = 100
+Glimpse the Future
+Fold Reality

BATTLELINE:
30x Tzaangors = 540

10x Horrors = 140
+Bolt of Change

10x Horrors = 140
+Arcane Transformation

OTHER:
9x Tzaangor Skyfires = 480

Alright, looks like we're back with a 40 point bid again.  The only difference here is that I've dropped all my Burning Chariots and put in 30 Tzaangors into the mix.  The guys are going to look like 2 shield/2 great swords/1 mutant per 5, so that leaves me with 12/12/6 overall.  If I have the option to build a few more in shields, I think I would because this gives me a 4+/6++ with re-roll 1, 2 and 3s with the proper buffs (Mystic Shield, Shield of Fate).

On the surface, this doesn't really look like much, but the 30x Tzaangors gives me +60 wounds on top of a whole bunch of other crazy stuff.  Let's go down all of their crazy abilities to make sure we're all on the same page that this is actually a rock solid replacement to the Burning Chariots and that I'm not some kind of random crazy.  The first thing to note is that I make an additional attack for each model in the unit with its Savage Blade or Savage Greatblade for every 9 models in the unit (max to 3 per model).  This means that my unit at full capacity can throw out 5 attacks per dude wielding a Savage Blade, 6 from the Mutant or 4 from the Greatblade.  Not only that, but if I have any Arcanite Heroes within 9" at the start of the combat phase, I can turn all of their 4+ to wound into 3+.  This means that the Tzaangor Shaman and Gaunt Summoner are really great for keeping them within 9" of the unit.  Lastly, models with the Arcanite Shield can ignore damage entirely (including Mortal Wounds) on a roll of a 6.  With Shield of Fate, I will be re-rolling any failed 1-3s.  All in all, this is 60 wounds of hard hitting, really dangerous, self-sufficient units that can run and charge in the same turn with 6" speed.  The 5 Bravery is not the best thing in the world, but I'm not entirely sure if I'm going to be losing combat all that badly.  Lastly, to make things a little more ridiculous, the Icon Bearer also has a pretty fantastic ability.  At the start of each of my hero phases, take a dice for every Wizard (friend or foe) within 9" of the unit.  I can then pick an enemy unit within 18" and roll a dice so that the unit suffers a mortal wound for each roll of 4+.  See, that's not too bad.  It's free damage for me not really doing anything.

The one thing that I really like about this list is that I get to bring a Mounted Chaos Sorc again into the list.  I'm still debating how I want to actually build this model, but I might just put a ol' moonface on a Chaos Knight and call it a day.  Regardless, what makes the Chaos Sorc really impressive is that he automatically gives a unit Oracular Visions.  You can pick a unit in the hero phase and you just re-roll 1s for that unit, just like that.  He also has Daemonic Power which has a casting value of 5+ and the reason why you bring this dude in the first place.  you pick a unit within 18" and until the next hero phase, the unit can re-roll any 1s to hit, wound and save.  That is just a fantastic buff spell, probably one of the best in the entire game.  The 140 points makes him really affordable and Daemonic Power combined with a full unit of Tzaangor Skyfires is absolutely brutal.  You already do something like 6 Mortal Wounds per shooting phase from the Skyfires with the Shaman nearby, so when you can up their damage even more with 3s re-rolling 1s, the damage goes up even more.  This makes them one of the best units in the game for cracking armor and applying solid damage from insane threat ranges (16" move + 24" range).

Alright, well, I don't have much else to really change here.  Glimpse the Future is a really powerful spell that I want to play around with first, but I might not even need it if Arcane Suggestion might be better.  I'm going to have to play around with the magic some more, but Arcane Suggestion can really keep my Lord of Change safe in melee if I'm able to get off Incorporeal Form's -1 to hit with Drop Your Weapons -1 to hit and wound on a unit, or Phantasmal Weapons (additional -1 Rend to all melee) with Turn Around (-1 to save rolls for the unit).

Let me know what you think about this list.  I'm going to be placing an order by the end of the week.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

AoS: Bringing in some Skyfires

Hot, hot, hot!

Got another list here that I've been thinking about in the last couple of days.  Long story short:  I decided that I needed more wounds and staying power in the list because in the previous list, it was very hero-centric and pretty top heavy with both Kairos and the Lord of Change in one list.  So.. I did some digging around and decided to bring in both of what I would consider to be some of the best units in the new book.

First, the new list:

2000

LORDS:
Lord of Change = 300
+Tzeentch's Firestorm
+General - Incorporeal Form (-1 to hit in CC)
+Phantasmal Weapons (+1 Rend to all melee)

Tzaangor Shaman = 120
+Shield of Fate
+Fold Reality

Gaunt Summoner = 100
+Arcane Suggestion
+Fold Reality

Gaunt Summoner = 100
+Glimpse the Future
+Bolt of Change

BATTLELINE:
10x Horrors = 140
+Bolt of Change

10x Horrors = 140
+Unchecked Mutation

10x Horrors = 140
+Arcane Transformation

OTHER:
9x Tzaangor Skyfires = 480
3x Burning Chariots of Tz = 480

Since I dropped Kairos and a few other wizards in the list, my magic potency has dropped off a bit.  Right now, here's what I'm packing if I'm going for full arcane onslaught assuming everyone's happy: Tzeentch's Firestorm, Infernal Gateway, Bolt of Change, Unchecked Mutation, and Arcane Bolt.  It's definitely missing a few more d6 Mortal Wound stuff in there, but I sub that out with having Infernal Flames coming from the Gaunt Summoner.  In fact, Gaunt Summoner might be the most cost effective wizard in the game, or at least certainly up there.  he comes with an incredibly good spell vs. hordes, doing a mortal wound on 4+ to every model in a unit within 18", and he can also cast and dispel two spells a turn.  Having both the Mortal and Daemon keywords also allows him to cherry-pick a spell from both lores, giving him amazing spell diversity and making him a much better buff-bot than almost anyone else.

So.. I brought two of them to the party because otherwise, I would be stuck with a very awkward amount of points and having sit in the backfield casting buffs until its showtime is never really a bad thing.  Currently, I have the Arcane Suggestion sitting there but I can easily replace that with another Shield of Fate if I feel like my Tzaangor Shaman is going to get sniped.  I know that's why I like having redundant Fold Reality in there.  Shield of Fate is an amazing spell:  As long as I have 7+ Destiny Dice, I can cast the 5+ spell and give one of my units the ability to re-roll failed 1s, 2s and 3s.  This is freaking huge when combined with something like Mystic Shield on Tz units because this means they technically have a 4+ re-rollable before any Rends hit.

The Tzaangor Shaman is a great little guy to have flying around the backlines because he's primarily there to buff up your Skyfires with the +1 to hit.  This makes them hit on 3s, wound on 3s, with -1 Rend and d3 wounds each.  Any 6s to hit automatically become d3 Mortal Wounds which is pretty nice vs. the more heavily armored guys out there.  This turns into 5s when the Tzaangor Shaman is nearby.  Skyfires also compliment the shooting from the Burning Chariots really well because those guys are better vs. less-armored guys since the 3d3 Mortal Wounds gimmick from them only works if every chariot wounds and you pass on a 4+ for the test.  Not the most reliable, but it can still definitely get the job done.  The biggest thing to note about the Skyfires is that they have the Daemon keyword.  This means Fold Reality can bring them back in full models which is a great way to buff their staying power.  Unfortunately, I don't have Kairos there to make sure they don't roll a 1, but if that's the will of Tzeentch than who am I to question it?

Regardless, having both the Skyfires and Burning Chariots gives me a crap ton of wounds added onto the list.  I will really miss having the Blue Scribes to Boon every turn, as that basically makes my magic all but a surety.  Instead, I will just have to rely on the Lord of Change to pull his own weight, and hopefully the Skyfires and Burning Chariots will carry the day.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

AoS: Diving deep into Tz Daemons

I'm going to buy as many moonfaces as possible.

So now that I have the rules in my greedy little hands, I can really dive deeper into the Tzeentch Daemons army I'm trying to make to see if it's even viable.  This might seem like a lot of junk being spilled out of a frantic mind, but hear me out here.  I think just from looking at the book that Tz Daemons might be middle of the road in terms of power level but max awesome for fluffiness and versatility.  From what the book looks like so far, there's just a ton of cool things in there that I think players will be happy for a long time.  Now, this doesn't mean that every option is competitive, it's just me saying that the options to have fun is there.

Moving on, let's talk about this crazy Tz Daemons build I want to run:

Big birds & Co.
1960

Kairos Fateweaver = 340
+Tzeentch's Firestorm

Lord of Change = 300
+Bolt of Change
+General - Incorporeal Form (-1 to hit in CC)
+Phantasmal Weapons (+1 Rend to all weapons)

Ogroid Thaumaturge = 160
+Treacherous Bond

Chaos Sorcerer Lord = 140
+Glimpse the Future

Blue Scribes = 120
+Fold Reality

3x Burning Chariots of Tz = 480

10x Horrors = 140
+Arcane Transformation

10x Horrors = 140
+Unchecked Mutation

10x Horrors = 140
+Fold Reality

The first thing you'll notice right away is the fact that all my wizards can pick and choose another spell from either Lore of Change (daemons) or Lore of Fate (mortals).  After extensive study into the two trees, I decided to go with this for my current layout of magic diversity.  Before I go any further, let me first tell you what these spells do:
  • Tzeentch's Firestorm - 9+ to cast, pick a visible enemy unit within 18", roll 9 dice:  For each 6 that you roll the unit picked suffers d3 mortal wounds.
  • Bolt of Change - 8+ to cast, pick a visible enemy unit within 18", unit suffers d6 mortal wounds.
  • Treacherous Bond - 6+ to cast, pick a friendly unit within 18", until your next hero phase, as long as the bonded unit is within 9" of the caster, whenever the caster suffers an unsaved wound or mortal wound, on a 2+ the chosen unit suffers it instead.
  • Glimpse the Future - 7+ to cast, only wizard can attempt to cast this spell per turn, if successful, roll a dice and add it to your Destiny Dice pool.
  • Fold Reality - 7+ to cast, pick a visible friendly unit of Tz Daemons within 18" and roll a dice.  On a 2 or more, you can return that many slain models to the unit.  On a 1, the unit is wiped out!
  • Arcane Transformation - 7+ to cast, pick a friendly hero within 18" of the caster.  You can permanently increase that model's Move, Bravery or Attacks characteristics of one of its weapons by 1 once per battle.
  • Unchecked Mutation - 7+ to cast, pick a visible enemy unit within 18":  The unit suffers d3 mortal wounds, then roll a dice; on a roll of 5 or 6, the unit suffers another mortal wound and you roll another dice as above.

Some of these sound pretty tame, but most of these are actually pretty insane.  As you can see, I have Fold Reality twice in here because I think it has amazing synergy with Burning Chariots of Tz.  You probably noticed that I underlined models.  I did this because on a 2+, I can bring back 2 chariots from the dead, so I technically rez 12 wounds worth.  It gets slightly sillier:  I can put Treacherous Bond on someone like Kairos who knows all the spells from every wizard within 18", and I can basically have my chariots turn into 17 extra wounds for him just before Fold Reality brings more back.  In case I roll a 1, I always have Kairos there to bring turn the die if I'm really that unlucky.

Bolt of Change and Tz's Firestorm is just there for bigger mortal damage.  The same can be said about Unchecked Mutation, but the d3 + extra rolls are a little too inconsistent.  Regardless, it's still a better Arcane Bolt.  Glimpse the Future is a luxury spell, but one of the only ways in the book that I can choose to generate a free Destiny Dice.  I'm still debating this one as I also have Shield of Fate to test, but for now I think I'm alright with this.  Lastly, Arcane Transformation is also one of those luxury spells that I can cast just to buff up my bigger beaters like the Lord of Change, Kairos or the Ogroid.  I mean, if I'm just sitting back and I'm not in real range to do anything, why not you know?

The scary part of this list is not just the little cute tricks that it can do, but it's the crazy amount of magical offense that I can deliver within 18".  For example, in one single round of magical dominance:
  • Bolt of Change - D6 mortal wounds. (LoC)
  • Infernal Gateway - Roll 9 dice, on a 3+, deal a mortal wound. (LoC)
  • Gift of Change - D6 mortal wounds. (Kairos)
  • Tzeentch's Firestorm - Roll 9 dice, for each 6, deal D3 mortal wounds. (Kairos)
  • Fireblast - D6 mortal wounds. (Ogroid)
  • Arcane Bolt - D3 mortal wounds. (Horror)
  • Unchecked Mutation - D3 mortal wounds + possible more. (Horror)

What do I mean when I say magical dominance?  Well, if casting from the big birds, with Mastery of Magic, Beacon of Sorcery and Boon of Tzeentch up, I have a 99% chance to cast 7+ spells and 94% chance to cast 8/9+ spells.  Of course, dispels are a problem, but if my math is correct, you have a 52% chance to roll either a 5 or a 6 on 2 dice.  With Beacon of Sorcery from the Lord of Change, your opponent needs box cars to dispel you (so a 3% chance) if you have a 5, and if you roll a 6, you can't be stopped, period.  Even your little Pink Horrors can cast really reliably because of Locus of Conjuration giving them +1 to casting rolls on top of Beacon of Sorcery and Blue Scribes' re-rolls.  This army is literally the strongest magic force in the game right now in terms of reliability and arcane firepower.

There's a pretty big debate going on on the forums right now about whether or not Destiny Dice affects mortal wound results from spells like Bolt of Change.  Even though Destiny Dice says that it can directly affect both damage and wound rolls, this is still rather nebulous from a RAW perspective.  However, several sources have already stated that the designer of the rule himself have played with the DD changing mortal wounds on WarhammerTV, and that shows me that by RAI, this is how it's intended to be played.  This is definitely one of those things that I did not miss about GW games.  Regardless of the ruling, I'm fine with it either way as I always like to play with what's least troublesome for the purposes of gaming.

OK!  That pretty much sums it up for me.  We got some heroes, some chariots, and a lot of wizards and casting that can end up doing pretty nasty things or dying horribly.  Whatever it is, it's going to be fun building these models.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Age of Sigmar with Tz Daemons!

Honest to God, some of the best models I've ever seen!

I can't believe I'm doing this, really, but I think I'm going to get back into the Warhammer scene with Age of Sigmar.  For the longest time, I've stayed away from the hobby because I think the destruction of Warhammer Fantasy was the biggest slap in the face for long-time customers.  That hatred has died down since then and I think I'm going to revisit what's left of the Warhammer universe now that it's become more popular in my area; mainly because the General's Handbook has put points back into the game.

What better time is there to get back into the hobby now that they're releasing some brand new epic models for Daemons of Chaos?  This has been a serious long time coming, but I've wanted the big bird in plastic since I was little (yes, it's really been that long).  Now that most of the Tzeentch line will be available in plastic, I think I'm going to make the plunge and get an all-plastic, fluffy, yet semi-competitive list together for the new Disciples of Tzeentch.  It's only a matter of time now before they put out Slaanesh, but until then, Tz will have to do.  Gone are the days of Mat Ward's 7th Ed. interreptation of Daemons, here are the days of something more palatable instead of getting chewed out every time you put anything Daemons on the table.

Without further ado, here is my current list and buy order:

1960
Kairos Fateweaver = 340
Lord of Change = 300
Ogroid Thaumaturge = 160
Chaos Sorcerer Lord = 140
Blue Scribes = 120
3x Burning Chariots of Tz = 480
10x Horrors = 140
10x Horrors = 140
10x Horrors = 140

Despite not being in the hobby that long (2 days of exploratory investigation), I think I have a pretty good start here for a decently competitive list.  Having seen some tidbits online for what to expect in the new book, I think having two big birds is probably going to be the best solution in a lot of situations and what's better than having both Kairos and the Lord of Change in the same list.  Although it's a little expensive to have two of them, I think they're going to be staple pieces when it comes to doing solid magical damage, gaining supremacy during magic duels, and offer a solid piece beatstick should the need arise (and it will arise).  The combat abilities from the two Greater Daemons isn't the best in the world, but they're no slouches either.  When you take into consideration what is in the new book, you can cherry pick spells out of the Daemon and Mortal Lores of Tzneetch on top of the spells you already know.  There's no better time to take as many wizards as you can that can cast multiple spells on their turn, especially when destiny dice gets involved and both of your big guys have the Mastery of Magic special rule.

Moonface trolling is probably the best thing in the entire game.

Next up is the Ogoroid Thaumaturge, and he's just a really cost-effective beatstick that also comes with a d6 mortal wounds spell.  He doesn't have the best armor, but if your job is to get in there and smash some faces while doing some damage, I think he's a great buy for 160.  The Chaos Sorcerer Lord is probably the best since since sliced bread if you're to go with big units of something.  For me, the go-to right now is the Burning Chariots of Tz.  I think these things are one of the most cost-effective options to do damage in the entire book and here's why:  They're pretty fast at 14", they have 6 wounds a piece, you can take them in units which makes them a great target for spells, they have the same shooting as a Exalted Flamer, but they can stack their mortal wounds ability unlike the rest of the guys in the book because they're a per model basis.  This means that if you have 3 Burning Chariots that all do a damage to the target, the target takes 3d3 mortal wounds instead of just one test.  They can also be made Battleline from the Herald, but for now I'm going with this line up because the Chaos Sorcerer Lord has great buff abilities.  Re-rolling 1s all over the place is just.. very Tz-like!  He will be my buff bot for the most part.  Blue Scribes is also there to buff the magic prowess of the army with Boon of Tz and combined with the Lord of Change's Beacon of Sorcery Command, getting high-result spells off will be much easier.

Lastly, we have some Horrors which will be our mainstay core units.  Since they're daemon wizards and can learn other spells, they are able to cherry pick spells from the new lore.  This makes them one of the most effective units in the book, since they're core, is basically a 10-wound wizard that can cast things in the backline or drop big bombs, and can hop around and take objectives as needed.  The shooting is decent, but nothing to write home about.

That's all I have right now.  I'm both excited and nervous at the same time for getting back in the hobby, mainly because I don't know what I'm getting into.  On paper, I want to turn a new leaf and play something a little more laxed because I already have a competitive outlet in the form of SW Armada and X-Wing.  However, I don't want my list to under-perform and I know there's some crazy beardy stuff out there for AoS in tournament settings.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Armada: Ackbar's revenge

I actually have this as a shirt.

As we get closer to the SoCal Regionals here, I'm start to evaluate an oldie but goldie:  My MC80 Ackbar list.  I think in the current meta, the Home One is a very powerful additions that might be overlooked.  In fact, this iteration of my famous giant fishstick works really well for a number of reasons.

First, the list:

IT'S NOT A TRAP!
Author: HERO

Faction: Rebel Alliance
Points: 388/400
Commander: Admiral Ackbar
Assault Objective: Advanced Gunnery
Defense Objective: Contested Outpost
Navigation Objective: Solar Corona
Activations: 4
Deployments: 7

[ flagship ] MC80 Command Cruiser (106 points)
-  Admiral Ackbar ( 38 points)
-  Home One ( 7 points)
-  Intel Officer ( 7 points)
-  Engine Techs ( 8 points)
-  Electronic Countermeasures ( 7 points)
-  XI7 Turbolasers ( 6 points)
-  Leading Shots ( 4 points)
= 183 total ship cost

Assault Frigate Mark II B (72 points)
-  Skilled First Officer ( 1 points)
-  Gunnery Team ( 7 points)
-  Electronic Countermeasures ( 7 points)
-  XI7 Turbolasers ( 6 points)
= 93 total ship cost

GR-75 Medium Transports (18 points)
-  Comms Net ( 2 points)
= 20 total ship cost

GR-75 Medium Transports (18 points)
-  Comms Net ( 2 points)
= 20 total ship cost

1 Tycho Celchu ( 16 points)
1 Green Squadron ( 12 points)
4 A-Wing Squadrons ( 44 points)

I'll break them down here:

  • Home One allows you to spread accuracies throughout your list.  There's only one real target where this goes to, which is the MKII AF, but this is good enough if the MKII is equipped the right way.  Having Ackbar's additional reds, a free accuracy and XI7s guarantees that whatever damage you throw out will be accurate and hit hard.  The MKII is by far the best choice for a second ship here:  It benefits from Home One the most and its a very durable ship that has access to Gunnery Teams.  This allows you to throw more damage on a multiple of targets and you can possibly drop multiple floaters per turn.
  • The MC80C itself is also a pretty strong ship with a good amount of shields, solid defenses with ECMs, and 3 blues to throw out in addition to Ackbar's 5 reds.  This makes it on-par with the ISD-II in terms of damage, but with possibly larger swings in the damage compartment at the cost of fewer accuracy chances.  This is fine by me because with Intel Offier, Home One herself will hit extremely hard.  The other choice here was the MC80A, but it's a significantly more expensive ship if you also add Reinforced Blast Doors.  Sure, it gives you more a larger sample with 6 reds and 2 blues, but this also cuts down the chances you'll roll an accuracy against flotillas if you manage to slash multiple targets.  Having an entire volley from the MC80 going to waste because of Scatter is a huge letdown.
  • Multiple Comms Net floaters for me are used for various reasons.  The first one is being an extra deployment and ship activation, but the second reason is that they can be used to further increase the accuracy of my two big ships by throwing out Conc Fire tokens repeatedly.  Since their job is to strictly out-activate the opponent and drawing them ever closer to red range, having the token boats just flying around as additional blockers is never a bad thing.  For example, first round queue for CF or a single Squadron on Home One to throw 5 the next round, second round continue to CF or engineering.  Either way, the idea here is that you're working in conjunction with the activation order of your ships and what commands they'll be using.  If you're planning to Nav spam, you probably won't need Nav tokens, and instead will want damage or minor healing.  If you're planning to heal, queue up Engineering on both because 6 engineering is much better than 4.  Of course, Concentrate Fire + the token will give you much stronger results and more flexibility, especially with Leading Shots on the MC80 or Home One's accuracy modifier.
  • Lastly, my squadron selection.  I've tried a number of things here for the last couple of months, from A-Wings, to YTs, to a mix of the two, from smaller numbers (4), to larger numbers (8), and this is basically what that evolved to today:  Which is 6 A-Wings, one of which being Tycho.  The reason why Tycho stays is because of his disruption range of 5 and being able to catch any bombers straying away to make plays.  He doesn't even need to attack, all he needs to do is hold up the enemy while my bigger ships does work on the opposing fleet.  The speed-5 As really gives me that first strike advantage, although even with 5 of them being flung at the enemy from the MC80C, I'm still only throwing out 15 dice worth of blues.  It's good, but it's nowhere as good as an alpha from Imperial equivalents backed by Howl.  Either way, the thought process here is that against lower squadron counts I will win easier and my ships are already equipped for anti-ship action.  Against medium squadrons, I might do OK but I will look for a faster anti-ship solution in terms of Conc Fire or repair commands.  If fighting against a heavy bomber presence, I will go for the tie up and try to end their support ships ASAP.  Depending on the amount of bombers there are, I might need heavy repair commands while utilizing my heavier ships in ramming actions against the support floaters.

Anyways, this is my current Ackbar list that I'm fiddling around with and what I'll most likely bring to Regionals this year.  I was thinking about dropping an A-Wing for Intel Officer on the AF, but I don't think it's quite worth it.  I would rather have the additional support, but I am able to fit in both IO on the AF and bring Shara Bey instead of a generic.  My total squadron count will drop down to 5, and I'll lose a deployment because of it though.  What do you guys think?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Armada: The Empire Strikes Back

Chimaera was an ISD-II under the command of Grand Admiral Thrawn.

This is one of the Regionals lists that I've been pondering about over the last few weeks.  No joke, I'm very close to having a change of heart and possibly switching over to Imperials for the next couple of months.  The reason is actually quite simple for me:  There is a lot of people running squadrons in my area, a lot of people are running Rebels, and Imperials seem under-presented and thought of as weaker in most cases.

Having watched Rogue One a few times already and loving the hell out of it, I figure I'd bring back one of the most iconic ships of all time and use it as a mainstay in my list.  Yes, I'm talking about the Imperial Star Destroyer.  Although, I will be using the ISD-II in my list and not the I for reasons I'll mention later.

Without further ado, the list:

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
Author: HERO

Faction: Galactic Empire
Points: 385/400
Commander: Admiral Motti
Activations: 3
Drops: 6

Assault Objective: Most Wanted
Defense Objective: Contested Outpost
Navigation Objective: Minefields

[ flagship ] Imperial II-Class Star Destroyer (120 points)
-  Admiral Motti ( 24 points) 
-  Avenger ( 5 points) 
-  Agent Kallus ( 3 points) 
-  Gunnery Team ( 7 points) 
-  Electronic Countermeasures ( 7 points) 
-  XI7 Turbolasers ( 6 points) 
-  Leading Shots ( 4 points) 
= 176 total ship cost

Gladiator I-Class Star Destroyer (56 points)
-  Demolisher ( 10 points) 
-  Skilled First Officer ( 1 points) 
-  Ordnance Experts ( 4 points) 
-  Engine Techs ( 8 points) 
-  Assault Proton Torpedoes ( 5 points) 
= 84 total ship cost

Gozanti-class Cruiser (23 points)
-  Suppressor ( 4 points) 
-  Comms Net ( 2 points) 
= 29 total ship cost

1 Darth Vader ( 21 points) 
1 Dengar ( 20 points) 
1 "Howlrunner" ( 16 points) 
1 "Mauler" Mithel ( 15 points) 
3 TIE Fighter Squadrons ( 24 points) 

I'm going to break this list down, piece by piece before we bring it back together for the bigger picture.

First, let's examine the ISD-II and why I think this is one of the strongest ships in the current meta:
  • For one, the weapon armament that it has stock is very good vs. the flotilla-saturated meta:  Having 4 innate blues gives you a very high chance to roll accuracies and stopping a Scatter from happening.  All you need is 4 damage to kill in most cases, 5 vs. Bright Hope and most of the time, the ISD-II will have no problem one-shotting the floaters.
  • Second, the ship has 2 blue anti-squadron dice that it can throw out in combination with Gunnery Teams.  This allows you to either engage either two different ships (possibly wiping out two flotillas), or allowing you to focus on one ship while bringing Imperial justice on all the squadrons in front of you.  There are not many ships in the game that can reliably throw out huge damage on ships and deliver two dice blues worth of AA from a large area.  This simply does not exist in the game and having this ability is a huge boon.
  • Third, Imperials have access to Agent Kallus, which is one of the most cost-effective Officer upgrades in the game.  The ability to throw out an extra dice of any color as soon as you're able to engage in AA as long as you're shooting a named pilot is amazing.  Just think about how many big names are in the meta:  Biggs, Ketsu, Jan, Tycho, Dengar, Rhymer, Norra, the list goes on and on.  Throwing out a black and 2 blues is no joke when you're shooting from blue range.  AA gets around the likes of Escort and being able to spray down an entire Biggsball will be huge in the upcoming meta.
  • Forth, the ship's upgrade slots gives you some of the best titles and upgrades in the game.  Look at Leading Shots for example:  If the only thing you see with Leading Shots is the ability to allow your ship to re-roll a bunch of ISD-II frontal firepower, you're not seeing the big picture here.  You can also Leading Shots your way with Kallus onto named fighters to re-roll a bunch of whiffs.  Let's say you roll 2 blues and a black on Biggs and whiff with all 3.  You Leading Shots a blue to re-roll 2 dice and you might turn that into raw damage.  The same can be said about fishing out killing blows on squadrons with scatter.  Throw out 3 blues and fish for that accuracy if all you need left is to push 1 damage.
  • Fifth, look at Avenger.  If the only thing you can think of when reading this is your ability to push after your Demolisher hits or when Suppressor triggers, then you're sorely mistaken.  Avenger's effect also works on shooting with AA onto squadrons that have exhausted their tokens.  You send in your squadrons, do big damage, force a few Braces and Scatters, and then you spray the lot with Kallus-driven AA.  Now you can't Brace or Scatter on those units and you're just taking straight damage while the ISD-II tears through ships and squadrons at will.
  • Sixth, you put all this above into one ship and you have one of the best ships in the game vs. the current meta.  The way I currently have it configured is big, mean, and heavily loaded to take on squadrons and ships via XI7s.  This is the biggest difference that the ISD-II has over the ISD-I, and that's the ability to take Gunnery Teams and Kallus with 4 blues vs. ships and 2 blues vs. squadrons.  In a meta like this one, you want blues and you want flak.  No other ship in the game can do that; which makes the ISD-II very unique and powerful in the meta.

Now that the mainstay ship of the list has been presented, let's add the rest.  The Demolisher shouldn't really need an introduction:  It's still one of the best ships in the game, being able to deal insane amounts of damage to any ship in the game, despite suffering a bit from being scattered to death by flotillas and man-handled by Slicer Tools.  Regardless, it's still a very credible threat and being able to out-run and threaten MC30cs from a good distance puts in up there overall.  The biggest play from Demolisher is being able to deliver the good ol' triple-tap, forcing a Brace and then Avenger will finish the rest.  I don't think there's a single ship in the game that can take firepower of that magnitude.

Next on the list is Suppressor.  This little guy is amazing in the current meta.  Again, it's the smaller things in Armada that really makes so enjoyable for me as a player.  Suppressor is incredibly strong right now because of its innate ability to hurr hurr, suppress infuriating defense tokens from everything around it; namely Scatter and Brace.  Even if it parks its ass behind the ISD-II and blows itself up after ramming into its ass, I'll be fine with it as long as it shuts down all the defense tokens that I care about and letting Avenger tear them a new asshole.  Not that it really matters because once Avenger enters kill range of flotillas (and it will, because most people forget the ISDs are actually fast), 4 blues on natural attack will most certainty do work.  Activation advantage is only temporary if you're able to reliably kill multiple ships a turn.  The Comms Net is only there to feed my ISD with setup tokens, but it's the title that really matters and the reason for bringing him.

Lastly, we take a brief look at the squadron selection since it's pretty straight forward.  You have Vader who does the best squadron damage in the game and has Escort.  Escort pulls the aggro off of Howl, which means the rest of the TIE Fighters keep hitting hard.  The reason why I need them to hit hard is because of the one-two punch with big squadron dice, followed by Avenger AA.  This combination is seriously deadly and it cannot be underappreciated.  Dengar is there to provide a little wiggle room and more Mithel play, since Mithel's job is to get around damage distributors like Biggs and Gallant Haven by doing indirect damage.  The Counter + Howl + Swarm also makes attacking into the TIEball a bad trade.  The weakness to taking TIEs however, is their serious vulnerability to enemy AA as well.  Thankfully, their damage potential is high enough that they cannot be ignored and must be dealt with.

The biggest weakness I see in this list is the drops and activations not being up to par with today's "standards".  I see a lot of 4 activation, 8 drop lists out there so deployment will be a bit trickier than most.  At 385, it's not the best initiative bid although it is pretty decent.  Activation wise, it's good at 3, but it can surely do better if I had more.  However, this means that MSU ships that do high damage with higher activation than me will give me the biggest problems.  The reason for that is because squadrons are built for anti-squadron, I'm flying around in a huge target, and getting DP'd by two shrimps from both sides is not the way I want to go.  This is a bad matchup I'm willing to take considering that the list will be really strong against the more squadron-heavy lists that rely on squadrons to do damage, and the faster initiative with two anti-ship capitals will give me the upper hand in exchanges where they only have 1 heavy hitter/flanker like the MC30c.  The only thing I'm worried about is the Admonition at this point.

Alright, well there you have it.  I'm working on another variation of this list that subs out a few squadrons for a Raider-I, but I will need a few more games with this list before I commit.  Besides, I have another Ackbar list in the works and it's going to be a difficult choice for which one I'm going to bring to Regionals.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Armada: Wave 5 Commander Sato

Commander Sato reporting for duty!

Wave 5 brought a lot of really strong game elements to the Rebels so what's better to celebrate than to make a list with the most notable commander from Star Wars Rebels?!  Let's bring in Commander Jun Sato himself and set him up with one of the meanest lists this side of the galaxy.  I'm going to fit in Sato ranged MC30c shenanigans, Gallant Haven, the new Biggsball.  If that wasn't enough, I'm going to throw in some Ketsu Onyo so everyone stays put while the Biggsball dismantles and frustrates enemy squadrons to no end.

Check it out:

SATO 
Author: HERO
Faction: Rebel Alliance
Points: 400/400
Activations/Drops: 4/8

Commander: Commander Sato
Assault Objective: Most Wanted
Defense Objective: Fighter Ambush
Navigation Objective: Superior Positions

[ flagship ] Assault Frigate Mark II B (72 points)
-  Commander Sato ( 32 points)
-  Gallant Haven ( 8 points)
-  Toryn Farr ( 7 points)
-  Electronic Countermeasures ( 7 points)
= 126 total ship cost

MC30c Scout Frigate (69 points)
-  Admonition ( 8 points)
-  Ordnance Experts ( 4 points)
-  XI7 Turbolasers ( 6 points)
-  Assault Proton Torpedoes ( 5 points)
= 92 total ship cost

GR-75 Medium Transports (18 points)
-  Bright Hope ( 2 points)
-  Bomber Command Center ( 8 points)
= 28 total ship cost

GR-75 Medium Transports (18 points)
-  Comms Net ( 2 points)
= 20 total ship cost

1 Ketsu Onyo ( 22 points)
1 Wedge Antilles ( 19 points)
1 Biggs Darklighter ( 19 points)
1 Jan Ors ( 19 points)
1 "Dutch" Vander ( 16 points)
3 X-Wing Squadrons ( 39 points)

Let me break this down first with my choice of flagship, which is the Gallant Haven.  The reason why I chose to put Sato in this with Toryn Farr is because I'm packing an asston of 4-dice blues on my squadrons so the re-rolls to blue are definitely appreciated.  The Biggsball moving with the Gallant Haven with Jan Ors in the mix is borderline obscene.  Let's just say your opponent rolls huge and scores 4 hits on one of your fighters that Biggs is on.  Jan braces this down to 2, Gallant reduces it to 1, and Biggs moves the last damage to a random X-Wing of your choice.  If this isn't top lols, I don't know what is.  A 2 hit attack is completely negated after a Brace because of Gallant Haven if within range.  The total damage potential from enemy squadrons reads as: 1-2 hits = 0 damage, and 3-4 hits = 1 damage which gets distributed among the X-Wings.

The only thing you really need to pull this off is a decent amount of Escorts to pass damage to, Biggs, Jan Ors and Gallant Haven.  The rest of the squads you see here is completely up to you!  I currently have the classic Dutch and Wedge in there, but you can easily sub out someone like Wedge for Norra Wexely for example if you want to increase the damage of your squadrons.  If you want, you can also throw Tycho in there if you want to activate Sato's ability with the MC30c quicker and make sure you can always stay on target (or switch as needed).  Either way, I'd like to keep Ketsu Onyo in there because I think she offers so much utility to the Rebel forces.  The best thing that stands out for her is her ability to softlock Dengar's movement and have Dutch/Wedge erase him from the board.

When it comes to how you use this list, you basically have the Biggsball follow Gallant Haven around so you  can get into combat and still be within range of Gallant Haven.  This is where your Biggsball is the most obscene.  In essence, you send your fighter wing into the enemy and have the MKII follow up.  At around the same time, you start blasting away with your MC30c on a flank or in a good position so you can start using your reds and replace them with blacks that you can re-roll with Ordnance Experts to trigger APTs.  The objective is to place a few long-distance crit effects on the intended target because once you get in close and replace all your reds with blacks with OE re-rolls, XI7s and APTs, the target should be really dead or dying.  Ideally by the time your shrimp can do its work in close combat, your fighter/bombers will have already man-handled the enemy squadrons and go full nerd with Bomber and BCC re-rolls on whatever you're trying to kill.  Even the MKII can put in some work because of all the black dice you're subbing in.  If you're fearing for Sato's life inside the MKII, you can also put Sato on the Comms Net GR-75 sitting in the back as needed.

The big weakness I see with a list like this is that like most squadron lists, a lot of the damage is reliant on the points that you spent on your squadrons.  In this example, I spent all 134 points on taking what I consider to be a really strong fighter/bomber mix.  However, if your opponent is playing a longer-ranged fleet that can drop some serious pew-pew from range e.g. Rebel MSU or Ackbar for example, then you might run into some serious trouble if your ships start blowing up before they can get into range.  This is one of the biggest issues about having a fleet that has range-restrictions, both in squadron movement and in synergy range ala Gallant Haven's meager range of 1.  Regardless, it's still a strong list with a lot of flavor and classic Rebel synergy.

How are you guys planning to run Sato?  Maybe taking some A-Wings will be nice.