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JrodXrod

Are squadrons useless?

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 I've played six games now ranging from the basic "Learn to Play" to the 180 point fleet and the twin core set 300 point fleet game. What I have noticed in all these games is that squadrons tend to have really one function and that is to engage enemy squadrons. In Armada squadron to squadron combat is heavy hitting but the fundamental flaw in the squadron mechanic is the move OR fight option making squadrons vs. ships a non-issue. Couple that with the limited six rounds and the winning condition (excluding objective cards) being the destruction of all enemy ships. Squadrons just don't have the fire power to take down ships in the limited rounds it takes to complete a game nor can they use any upgrades to enhance their capabilities.

 With the eminent arrival of wave one I have begun to see 300 point lists that have seven corvettes with General Dodonna at just under 300 points. With no points wasted on squads it would be next to impossible for a twin Victory SD or triple Gladiator build to survive such overwhelming odds. At speed three or four squadrons cannot catch corvettes and shoot at them too unless the player tried to anticipate the path of one of the CR90s but that would really only get a single shot before the ship was out of range again.

 I really enjoy this game and feel it will entertain me as much as X-Wing before it but the squadron mechanic needs work before these little star fighters see tournament action. I suggest amending the rules to allow unengaged squadrons to move AND shoot or to make 100 of the fleet points a mandatory expense towards squads to maintain balance between builds.

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Squadrons are incredibly useful. Don't base yourself on just the core set with X-Wings and Tie Fighters. The squadron packs will add tremendous variety and punch.

 

See, the way to play is with true bombers. X-Wings do have the bomber ability, but their red die isn't that strong compared to the black dice bombers like Tie Bombers and Y-Wings. Having a pack of black dice bombers all shooting at once is incredibly dangerous as capital ship defense tokens are geared towards surviving single big hits from other ships, not being plinked to death by several single dice bomber squadrons. You can't Brace one damage. You can't Evade shots fired at close range. Which leaves a redirect ... fine, use it. That's the first bomber. Now for the next three or four.

 

Also, if your fighters are chasing ships, you're doing it wrong. Either use them with squadron commands, or move them to get into the path of incoming ships. Especially strong bombers like B-Wings are great at area denial.

Edited by infusco

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JrodXrod, how often are you utilizing the Squadron dial command? Because the suggestion you are offering (unengaged squadrons moving and shooting) is exactly what it allows you to do. And it isn't a trade off between shooting, moving, and commanding squadrons -- you can do all three in a single turn with a single ship. Squadrons on their own, moving or shooting during the squadron phase, are lackluster -- they have to be in order to add the necessary value to the Squadron command. 

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actually, the destruction of squadrons figures just as much into your win condition as the destruction of ships since they're all just bundles of points in the end

 

The Squadron command takes care of their limitations, as does the ship overlap rule which'll let you drag squadrons along with a victory to continuously pepper them with dice. They can be devastating. Taking rebs as an example, you'll get twice the returns out of slinging 2 x-wings at a ship than one red die from a CF command.

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Squadron commands are devastating when you have a high squadron value.

A fire command adds one dice(For about .75 damage.)

A squadron command used on tie fighters from a VSD adds an estimated 1.5 damage. The fighter game will be an important part of managing and boosting firepower as it's the most effective way to increase damage output.

Of course ships that get tued down have to fight clear first. But that's the part you're experiencing. Whoever finishes that battle first will have a large advantage in turns to come.

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I find the fighters to be strategic. Moving them along the same pace as the ship I want them to so called be assigned to and then when I'm ready push a Squadron command to move them and shoot at other fighters or ships. It's a extra punch for your ship since the fighters will go first with the command and do what they need to do (fire and then move or move and fire) then your ship gets to unload it's shots.

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The Empire Squadrons (right now) are there to shoot down or at least tie up the X-Wings. The X-wings are very good at shooting ships if there are no enemy fighters to deal with first.

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Also there's not just the new fighters in Wave 1, a lot of the upgrade cards will help when using fighters. If anything I'm more excited to use fighters in Wave 1 than the ships themselves!

 

And I wouldn't underestimate even the humble TIE Fighter. A game I played a few weeks back caught me off guard when a group of them attacked the vulnerable side arc of a Neb B. It may not be the optimal use for them, but can make a dent pretty quickly if you're unprepared.

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I think most are thinking of squadrons individually, I think it is best to think as a group would would be thier equal ship-wise. Imperial side can effectively squadron command (dial+token, expanded hanger) 5 ships with a VSD. So with TIEs that is equal to 5 dice ship that when hits is immune to brace, partially immune to evades and highly resistant to redirects and costs 40 points, I don't know about you but that sounds pretty good. Now expand that for Wave 1, make that group of 5 rymer+4 bombers, that 5 dice turn black and now can be fired at medium range, all for just 12 points more. Sounds pretty awesome to me but I have no doubt squadron-less builds will still be used but from my perspective they may be missing out.

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I'm not sold on the squadron-less builds. There are too many effective bomber combos out there that will eat ships. However, I haven't found squadron commands to be too effective so far just because no matter how people build their fleets, fighters and bombers tend to clump either around their carrier ships for the squadron command or around your ships when they try to go for an attack run. All it takes is one of your own fighters to completely screw that up since even a single fighter stand will tie up everyone due to the engagement rules. So far most lists I make have 3-4 squads of A-Wings to take advantage of their speed and the engagement rules (plus that sweet black dice hurts caps even on a non-bomber).

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I have to say one of my biggest issues of the op is "excluding objectives". If you are excluding objectives, I think your missing the point of this game IMO. It's clearly, from my point of view, designed as an objective based game, not on a table clearing style play

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Also there's not just the new fighters in Wave 1, a lot of the upgrade cards will help when using fighters. If anything I'm more excited to use fighters in Wave 1 than the ships themselves!

 

And I wouldn't underestimate even the humble TIE Fighter. A game I played a few weeks back caught me off guard when a group of them attacked the vulnerable side arc of a Neb B. It may not be the optimal use for them, but can make a dent pretty quickly if you're unprepared.

Agreed! I had a game where my opponent's corvette was making a beeline for the VSD's rear arc. I'd prepped my dial to defend against an x-wing attack but got nervous and sent them after the 'vette instead. To my surprise, they shredded the corvette's shields and opened a hole large enough for the VSD's broadside to knock it's hull down to 1. 

Poor commander got so scared, he kept it at long range, effectively putting it out of the fight. That's pretty powerful for 24 points and because of that, any time I see my opponent carefully placing their squadrons I start wondering where those buggers are going to hit.

It just seems so thematic that fighters require support to be effective but once they have it, hoo boy watch out!

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I think the problem is that the core sets Ties and X-wings are almost too balanced against each other. If both sides commit their fighters to a big furball it's very likely that neither will have enough left to do much damage. With the upgrades and more specialized squadrons in Wave 1 we'll see more specialized squadrons that'll be able to either push squadron superiority up to where you'll have enough left to do damage AND specialized squadrons that can really put the hurt on capitals (e.g. 3 Y-wings with a Yavaris proc throws 5 black dice and costs 35 points, 4 less than 3 X-wings and their comparatively paltry 3 red dice, use 2 Bwings and Yavaris and you're up to 8 dice (4 blue, 4 black, against ships. That doesn't sound useless to me)!)

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Couple that with the limited six rounds and the winning condition (excluding objective cards) being the destruction of all enemy ships.

If you're playing without objectives and 6 round games, you're doing it wrong. The 6 rounds is only used when playing with objectives. The back of the rulebook talks about playing without objectives and part of that is no round limit.

Also without any sort of fighter escort, those 7 CR's you mention would be eaten alive by Tie Bombers. With black dice and the Bomber ability 3 Bombers could likely kill a CR per turn. Since they have 4 hull, and a CR90 can only throw 1 blue die, odds are it will at most land 1 damage before it blows up.

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I'm a bit torn between the pros and cons of starfighters. I just recently had a game at 300, myself fielding two VSD Is and one VSD II vs. two Nebs, Dodonnas Pride (purely Ion config) and 7 X-Wings including Luke. Objective was Advanced Gunnery. I hammered the rebel's ships into oblivion before he could even do a single hull damage on any of my VSDs. Thus the game ended in turn 3.

On the other hand it was a very small table and I almost started in firing distance.

Then, considering how much damage output squadrons have while being insanely cheap (yes, I'm looking at you, my little eyeballs), they are really hard hitters, while being a bit inconsistend due to a 50% chance per squad, so...well I can't decide for myself being pro or con squads.

 

 

@ above: Yes, perhaps. But then throw the points of the nebs in imperial ships into the fray, too. Say, Howlrunner and 4 TIE Bombers...

Edited by Jochmann

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I think it's a bit too early to decide the full extent of the pros and cons of starfighters with just core set units and abilities.

 

Once wave 1 arrives and we get to play with escorts, heavies, counter, etc etc will we have a better position to understand their full effectiveness on the game.

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On the other hand it was a very small table and I almost started in firing distance.

This is another issue. It's hard to have a balanced game if you aren't playing on the proper sized table. If you're going to play a 300 point game you really need at least a 3x4 table, since that's the size of the setup zone.

A smaller table is going to give the Empire a huge advantage when the Rebels are effectively forced to joust with a VSD.

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I know that I've failed to really use them properly in the few games I've run, but the squadrons are an interesting and useful part of the game. 

 

The TIEs are mostly there as an anti-squadron wall to stop X-Wings in the base set. Though if you don't block them a big TIE swarm can mess up a Rebel ship. Meanwhile the X-Wings can deal crits and Luke can deal both crits and ignores shields.

 

So while not a real damage dealer, they can be one part of a very nasty strategy. 

 

The expansions look cool too. The B-Wings and Y-Wings look like nasty bombers and Dutch can shut down enemy ships with his "ion turret". And the A-Wings look like pure TIE killers. The Imperial expansion looks nasty as well. The TIE bomber Rhymer lets any other Bombers attack ship at medium range. 

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Squadrons can be very useful, even in just the core set. I would argue that they are a Rebel players strength in just core set games. That Bomber ability is very strong, and X-Wings can do significant damage to capital ships if left to it.

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With just the X-wings and TIEs from the Core Set, the X-wings are the ones that can threaten capital ships.  The X-wings are multi-role, so they're not as good as Y-wings or B-wings at damaging capital ships, but they're still pretty good.  The Victory Star Destroyers do not want to have X-wings coming at them unimpinged, and the VSDs themselves suck at shooting down X-wings.  The TIEs are there to stop the X-wings, and not much else.

 

In other words, if your X-wings spend the whole game fighting TIEs, the Imperials have outplayed the Rebels as far as squadrons.  Even if all the TIEs die, they've done their duty and stopped the X-wings from coming at the VSDs.  If the X-wings manage to bypass the TIEs, or if they and the Rebel capital ships take out the TIEs quickly so that the X-wings can move onto the VSDs, the Rebels have outplayed the Imps as far as squadrons go.

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And today we learn about air superiority.

Air superiority is when you control the skies, and your opponent cannot bring down your fighters.

You want air superiority, and you definitely do not want your opponent to have it.

Even if all your fighters are doing is preventing the opponent from having air superiority, they are still doing their job.

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