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Darth Sanguis

Squadron Command Plates (update and tutorial)

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With wave 6 just around the corner and the imminent imperial fighter swarms that will no doubt entail it, I figured it may be a good time to upgrade the squadron command plates. 

The new releases are smaller and use less material. They now accept sleeved cards, have slots for defense tokens, feature a raised dial apparatus for easy turning, have indents below the activation slider, a new fastener system, larger arrows and numbers for easier tracking, and recessed backing for the fasteners so the plate lies smooth to a surface. 

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With this upgrade announcement I want to also add a tutorial.

Since they first released I've seen many people steer away from them in fear that tracking squad damage and activations becomes too difficult, I hope to shed some light on how inaccurate this is. Also, while cheaper/easier alternatives exist, such as placing washers, they do not help with one very critical area.

Maintaining ship precision.

Many squadron heavy enthusiasts enjoy the freedom squadrons add to a fleet. They don't require arcs, or use a precise LoS system, there are no rules to maneuvering, just distance bands, keywords and very black and white definitions. I think maybe this mindset underplays just how valuable maintaining a ship's arcs can be for people who do not focus their fleets around squadrons. A game can be balanced on whether you have that double arc, or whether that enemy carrier is in blue range, or if this or that ship is in front arc, and while accidental bumps are a part of any table top game, that doesn't mean we should punish ship players by refusing to reduce the risk to their play style. 

With these points in mind I have made a mock scene that displays the usefulness of the Squad plates and displays several methods to use them to maintain both ship accuracy and easy tracking. 

1.) Our scene starts here at the beginning of the round, with the rebels as first player. As you can see, rebel bombers have wedged themselves in between the ISD and the INT, and imperial fighters have moved in to intercept.
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2.) To show just how tightly everything is crammed together we removed the ships from the stand. This picture will be used later in the scene as a point of reference for the ship arcs. 
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3.) The rebel player activates his AFB with a squadron command plus a dial, for 4 squadron activations.
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4.) With boosted comms he can clearly reach all of his fighters, so he chooses to activate his x-wings.
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5.) As the defender, once he has shown interest in squadrons, I pick my 3 plates up and place them in the open area behind his AFB. This is a tip for plate users. Placing the plates next to the action allows the opponent to see all the necessary information and still allows for the easy maintenance of ship accuracy. Tracking has just become that much easier. Especially since squads are color coded now, no more squinting to figure if that's a bomber or an advanced, the plate colors will clear it right up.
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6.)The opponent activates Grey 1, and targets my Black 1 rolling 2 hits and 1 acc, since it's an ace, he locks down the brace, and forces the scatter.
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7.) He then activates Grey 2 targeting my Black 1 again, rolling 3 hits and 1 acc. He locks down the brace forcing the evade again.
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8.) His next attack, Grey 3 to Black 1, rolls 3 hits and 1 acc again, he accuracy's the brace and my ace is destroyed. I pull the plate from the play area. Since he has one squadron activation remaining, he has Grey 4 attack Blue 3 rolling a hit.
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9.) I apply the damage to my tie fighter then pull the plates out of the play area and back to my players edge. The rebel player then proceeds to use his ship attacks and moves his ship.
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10.) My ship. I activate my ISD resolving a squadron command. Since all my fighters are visibly within close-medium, I don't measure. I can activate 4 squads.
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11.) This is a perspective photo taken to show the open spaces around the action that are close enough to aid tracking but far enough away as to not disturb the ships or squadrons. When using the plates, it's polite to utilize these to place you plates so the opponent can track squadrons easily.
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12.) I activate my Blue 1 and target his Grey 3, rolling 3 hits. Since Grey 3 had suffered damage in an earlier turn, it was sunk and removed from play.
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13.) Seeing that his Grey 2 is weakened and my Blue 2 is just in range I activate Blue 2  (dice shown still on hits from previous roll)
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14.) I make my attack and only manage 1 damage, the opponent marks it on his plate.
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15.) I activate Blue 3 and target his Grey 2 since it only has 2 remaining HP
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16.) I get 2 hits and 1 acc, the opponent applies the damage to the plate.
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17.) He then carefully removes his squad.
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18.) My last squad activation is Blue 4, I target his Grey 1, however I get no hits.
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19.)The squadron command is resolved and my opponent and I pull our plates off the mat.
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20.) Since this exercise was to show how using these plates, instead of reaching between two ships 14-18 times, reduces the risk of bumps by reducing the amount of interactions (to a total of 3 times to remove squads) that each carry the risk to ruin ship accuracy, we ended the activation there and removed the ships from their stands again.
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21.) Since these photos are perspective it's a little difficult to see the ships haven't moved at all, but heres the first and second side by side.
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22.)For a better view of this we added red and green lines to the original photo
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23.)Then overlapped the second on top. We use the point where the green and red intersect as a center and aligned the pictures, then scaled and rotated until they were the right size and angle. We did this to show, clearly, the ship accuracy was maintained.
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I know this was a big post, and there's a lot here to look through, but I really hope this helps dispel any doubts you had about trying these. They truly do help maintain accuracy, and honestly, speed up squadron play quite a bit by color coding standards, and reducing the number of careful interactions that have to be made. 

Edited by Darth Sanguis

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I know the post is an attempt to quell us naysayers, but I recently played against a player who wanted to use dice for health, on the squad cards mostly, to reduce bumping and moving his squads.  So like your system, health to one side, squads the other.  And after asking several times what things health was, I asked he start updating the dials, as I need the info at a glance.  I cannot see the cards across the table, and consequently neither can I see their life totals. It was very frustrating.  Having to ask is an issue.

Edited by Darthain

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1 minute ago, Darthain said:

I know the post osnan attempt to quell us naysayers, but I recently played against a player who wanted to use dice for health, on the squad cards mostly, to reduce bumping and moving his squads.  So like your system, health to one side, squads the other.  And after asking several times what things health was, I asked he start updating the dials, as I need the info at a glance.  I cannot see the cards across the table, and consequently neither can I see their life totals. It was very frustrating.

I imagine so! (I can't imagine how confusing having two sources for stat info would be. Using dice seems like a terrible idea.)

The convenience here is the plates can easily be picked up and plopped right next to the action. With the vibrant colors, and easy to see numbers, I very seriously doubt such frustration would have been an issue with these plates. 

Maybe point your friend in my direction, perhaps my system could alleviate both your frustration and his concerns.  

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All fair points, conflicting visual data could be a factor, but it still makes work for me regardless, so I'm more likely to ask him just to keep dials up in the future. If it was brought to the table I'd give it a fair chance, but I can't see those plates sitting in the play are conveniently at all.  It is congested enough as is.

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1 minute ago, Darthain said:

All fair points, conflicting visual data could be a factor, but it still makes work for me regardless, so I'm more likely to ask him just to keep dials up in the future. If it was brought to the table I'd give it a fair chance, but I can't see those plates sitting in the play are conveniently at all.  It is congested enough as is.

I'm glad you'd be willing to try 'em. The key factor here is good sportsmanship. As a player concerned about not moving fighters, when I see you're about to activate, it takes me two seconds to pick up my plate (or two) and plop them in view and out of the way. You pick your ship, do your thing, then I pick up my plates and put 'em back, no clutter, no fuss. :)

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I've just taken the other approach any that is unfortunately, squadron micro movement is an a part of the game (same for ships really), the problem is intent.  

In the wake of world's washers a player here made printed 'buttons' for lack of better term that squadrons Sat on (think 2 colinear cylinders), they were not snug and we a great placeholder when picking up.

 

Come to TO, we'll try them out in earnest ?

Edited by Darthain

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14 minutes ago, Darthain said:

I've just taken the other approach any that is unfortunately, squadron micro movement is an a part of the game (same for ships really), the problem is intent.  

In the wake of world's washers a player here made printed 'buttons' for lack of better term that squadrons Sat on (think 2 colinear cylinders), they were not snug and we a great placeholder when picking up.

Place holders will do the trick most of the time, as typically I see big ball o squads being engulfed in other big ball o squads. 

Where they run into problems, as shown in the tutorial above, is reaching into tight spots risks "micro" movements, but sometimes they're not so micro. The idea here, is all about reducing that risk.... with 8 activations between 2 ships, I cut a total of 19 chances to bump those ships down to 3. That's a HUGE reduction in risk of losing arc. 

Many times things aren't so close that it's anything to worry about... but I find myself, often enough, in situations where a bump loses me my ISD front arc.... and as my opponent, if I say it was, but it isn't now, and you hadn't seen it in arc, knowing full well that attack will likely sink whatever it's targeting... do you give them the benefit of the doubt?

3/5s of the time my opponent has not. I lose a game because "Micro" movements shifted my ISD 3-4mm over 1-2° at medium range... all while adjusting a 8-12 point squad's HP...


If nothing else, as I said earlier, I'm very glad you'd at least give them a fair chance. I truly believe that once you've seen them used in person, it will change your perspective (80+ plates distributed without a single peep of negative feedback has me convinced lol)

Edited by Darth Sanguis

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We measure arcs as soon as ships are placed after moving or right when they activate. Really, if there is any chance of them being bumped. We agree to the range/arc/LOS then, and don't have an issue when somebody who bumbles or wears sleeves moves a model. We have never had the "I swear it was in arc" issue come up

 

I like the 3rd party stuff and would give my opponent a chance to use it. I think not having the information directly on the base would be more inconvenience to me then the current system. I will wait to render judgement until I see it at a table. 

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19 minutes ago, Church14 said:

We measure arcs as soon as ships are placed after moving or right when they activate. Really, if there is any chance of them being bumped. We agree to the range/arc/LOS then, and don't have an issue when somebody who bumbles or wears sleeves moves a model. We have never had the "I swear it was in arc" issue come up

 

I like the 3rd party stuff and would give my opponent a chance to use it. I think not having the information directly on the base would be more inconvenience to me then the current system. I will wait to render judgement until I see it at a table. 

That's a good way to do it, especially if you're playing with friends or a local group. I try to measure Arc as soon as I move, but the opponent may not always be watching. I've run into this issue many of times (likely because I run dual ISD fleets often) and quite often if they didn't see it, it didn't happen. Which may seem selfish, but against a stranger, who's about to TKO one of your larger ships.... would you give it to 'em if you didn't see it? I'd be reluctant.

As for inconveniencing someone. I suppose it's really a matter of perspective. If the player with the plates is placing them close to you on the mat during your turns, like they should be, then the level of inconvenience is a matter of matching colors and numbers, which should be broken into groups of 4 or less per type of squad.  I've found, using them this way, it's actually easier to track. The numbers require no more than a second to match, and it organizes roles by colors. In the pictures above, it's very clear to discern my swarm from my intel and my aces, which helps me organize the battlefield much clearer in my mind. At a glance I can see who can move, who's an escort, who's a bomber, and with the plates next to them a few soconds more will get me who's activated and who's got low HP.

If you come across them, definitely give 'em a try, they work wonders.

 

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I think these are great, but ultimately are they tourney legal is a big factor.   I would certainly allow them in casual play,  and if legal would get them for at least some squads if I'm using multiples of.  

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I think they are pretty cool, and nice outside-the-box thinking to solve a problem.  I don't think the damage update is a big deal, since most of the time players tend to focus stuff down before shooting something else, I generally don't pick up a squadron until all the attacks are finished from that activation.

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Let me clarify.. I would totally favor these being legal, and would get some, I'm not at all happy with the construction of the squadrons.. but not likely to invest much in them if they aren't tournament legal.

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13 minutes ago, Daht said:

Let me clarify.. I would totally favor these being legal, and would get some, I'm not at all happy with the construction of the squadrons.. but not likely to invest much in them if they aren't tournament legal.

By the strictest definition - they would not be legal.  They're not called out explicitly as something you cannot do, but they don't conform to the list of things you can do, which are, for Squadrons basically are:

- Paint the Models
- Modify the base with Weight
- Change the Connector between base and Model\

 

But again, this is the strictest possible wording - the same wording that would disallow the washer phenomenon by the fact it is another "tool" to break the 1-tool Rule with...   So like any component, it comes to your Marshal to make a decision on legality if your opponent has a problem with it.

As a TO, I wouldn't have a problem with it, per se, for example - but I also acknowledge that it solves the problem as it intends, it creates other ones that I'm not happy with (such as the visual over-the-table look - Squadron Dial markings are more difficult to see at range than counting damage cards, generally)

 

I do appreciate Darth Sanguis' ingenuity in producing these, however.

Edited by Drasnighta

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1 hour ago, Drasnighta said:

By the strictest definition - they would not be legal.  They're not called out explicitly as something you cannot do, but they don't conform to the list of things you can do, which are, for Squadrons basically are:

I know.. which is why I haven't bought them for all my squads :P     If someone were to guinea pig them to a major event and they were deemed ok in actual use (like the washers were at worlds), I would be all over them, but my gaming budget is strapped enough as it is.  I will probably pick a few up when able for non-competitive squad sets down the road in any case.

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7 hours ago, Drasnighta said:

By the strictest definition - they would not be legal.  They're not called out explicitly as something you cannot do, but they don't conform to the list of things you can do, which are, for Squadrons basically are:

- Paint the Models
- Modify the base with Weight
- Change the Connector between base and Model\

 

But again, this is the strictest possible wording - the same wording that would disallow the washer phenomenon by the fact it is another "tool" to break the 1-tool Rule with...   So like any component, it comes to your Marshal to make a decision on legality if your opponent has a problem with it.

As a TO, I wouldn't have a problem with it, per se, for example - but I also acknowledge that it solves the problem as it intends, it creates other ones that I'm not happy with (such as the visual over-the-table look - Squadron Dial markings are more difficult to see at range than counting damage cards, generally)

 

I do appreciate Darth Sanguis' ingenuity in producing these, however.

 

5 hours ago, Daht said:

I know.. which is why I haven't bought them for all my squads :P     If someone were to guinea pig them to a major event and they were deemed ok in actual use (like the washers were at worlds), I would be all over them, but my gaming budget is strapped enough as it is.  I will probably pick a few up when able for non-competitive squad sets down the road in any case.


@Drasnighta is, of course, correct.

3rd party bits in general can be hit or miss for tournaments. In relaxed settings it's been my experience that TOs are fairly lenient in accepting them so long as you're courteous while you're using them, but that doesn't mean always.  Which is why I made this post. To really push the procedure of picking your plates up on your opponents turns and placing them in clear view. If you're going to inconvenience them, you should at least reduce it to the bare minimum. To me, the inconvenience of tracking is minimal once the plates are in view, and as I've said before, I actually believe they reduce the difficultly of tracking certain types of units such as bombers and intel versus escort or swarm by color coding them. I find it's really hard to argue it's "too inconvenient" when the plates are visible... as at that point it's no harder than matching colors and numbers... and in practice, takes up no more time than pulling a unit up to change it.  

There is always the chance you'll run into individuals who right-out refuse them.

Personally, while I think it's selfish to do so at relaxed settings, I also understand they are under no obligation to play the game under any variation. At higher levels of play, people take the game more seriously, and for good reason, after costs of travel, and the effort to make events, they've invested no small amount for a fair chance, and while I don't honestly feel these obstruct that in any way, it's well within their right to disallow them. 

Bottom line is this:

The TO always decides. Expect them to say no. The more common they are, the better the chances of tournament usage, but unless FFG snags the idea and releases it themselves, they will always be subject to dismissal. 

 

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Hmm. I haven't liked these from the start, even as my friend Destraa advocates for them. I do like the upgraded version shown here.

i have still reservations. As this is intended, each squadron grouping would have a different color dial, for ease of reference. I dislike this on aesthetic terms. All my bases are painted black, and all these colors would disrupt my intended visual.

i also feel, while placing them on the table somewhat alleviates this, that it would disrupt my easy referencing enemy squadron health. For example, I may want to know what the hull points are on a squadron without my opponent knowing I'm looking, so asking him wouldn't work (yeah, I'm sneaky that way).

And finally of course is the matter of tourney legality. If an opponent doesn't like this, you'd be forced to switch them out, involving effort and time. 

On the other hand I do like the fact that this eliminates the activation sliders interfering with placement and movement, and it does increase placement accuracy. Hmm.

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I second some of the concerns here.  I accept the inevitability of "micro movements", and so does the RRG.  Also, these add a bit more to do, actually, what with moving the panels around, questions having to be asked, in a game that already has plenty to do and can slow down hard as is.

They look truly lovely, but I would ask my opponent to switch them out every time.  My ADD brain just doesn't need one more thing on the board to sort through, one more visual stimuli to focus on or ignore.

Edited by Admiral Theia

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5 minutes ago, Darth Lupine said:

Hmm. I haven't liked these from the start, even as my friend Destraa advocates for them. I do like the upgraded version shown here.

i have still reservations. As this is intended, each squadron grouping would have a different color dial, for ease of reference. I dislike this on aesthetic terms. All my bases are painted black, and all these colors would disrupt my intended visual.

i also feel, while placing them on the table somewhat alleviates this, that it would disrupt my easy referencing enemy squadron health. For example, I may want to know what the hull points are on a squadron without my opponent knowing I'm looking, so asking him wouldn't work (yeah, I'm sneaky that way).

And finally of course is the matter of tourney legality. If an opponent doesn't like this, you'd be forced to switch them out, involving effort and time. 

On the other hand I do like the fact that this eliminates the activation sliders interfering with placement and movement, and it does increase placement accuracy. Hmm.

Definitely something that has been considered on my end, I had discussed switching to an all black infill and simply adding a small colored sticker or painting a colored spot on them. I ended up not doing it as the over all intention was to display the vibrant colors for ease of visual aid. I will say however, should you ever be persuaded, PLA is very easy to paint ;D.

There are a few people who feel this way, and in some cases I suppose it may be true. What I found through play testing, was that players actually remembered stats much easier. I had a particular instance where the player told me that by breaking the ball of 10 fighters into colored groups he had no trouble actually remembering which were activated and what HP each was at. He went on to suggest that have such a small grouping (1-4) and distinct colors made memorizing during the match easy for him. He can't speak for everyone, obviously, but I had similar results with other play testers.

All that said, I can't really advocate for or against the legitimacy of "sneaky" play... I've clocked over 100 games and have never been surprised by an opponent targeting squadrons. I suppose from my perspective when I see squads in play, their roles are fairly obvious, mainly because they operate so distinctly. The only exception really being some of the Multirole rebels, which are conditional so ya know... still clear to see. But that may just be me. 

As for tournament legality:
 

1 hour ago, Darth Sanguis said:

Bottom line is this:

The TO always decides. Expect them to say no. The more common they are, the better the chances of tournament usage, but unless FFG snags the idea and releases it themselves, they will always be subject to dismissal. 


From personal experience, they are an absolute pleasure to use. Not touching your squads until you either move them or they die is just bliss, it keeps the game state so organized.... and without the .25" the activation slider sticking out the side, squadron balls can get very close knit. For me personally, it makes using big ships fun again....  Nothing breaks my will to play ISDs harder than losing shots to squadron adjustments... lol

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1 minute ago, Admiral Theia said:

I second some of the concerns here.  I accept the inevitability of "micro movements", and so does the RRG.  Also, these add a bit more to do, actually, what with moving the panels around, questions having to be asked, in a game that already has plenty to do and can slow down hard as is.

They look truly lovely, but I would ask my opponent to switch them out every time.  My Aspy brain just doesn't need one more thing on the board to sort through, one more visual stimuli to focus on or ignore.

As someone who has used them, and not used them, I'm speaking from experience when I say they eliminate very nearly as much time to play as they add.... During timed matches test players finished games with similar fleets both using and not using these within +/-5 minutes. lol so not as bad as you may think :D

I don't mean to insult if it's not the case, but by "Aspy brain" do you mean Asperger's? 

 

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Ok, tourney docs specifically forbid altering the shape of ship and squadron bases in any way....which this does, by removing the activation slider. As it stands, these are actually illegal for organized tourney play, by the letter of the guidelines. 

 

For or friendly play or informal tourneys, I guess they would work. 

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41 minutes ago, Darth Lupine said:

Ok, tourney docs specifically forbid altering the shape of ship and squadron bases in any way....which this does, by removing the activation slider. As it stands, these are actually illegal for organized tourney play, by the letter of the guidelines. 

 

For or friendly play or informal tourneys, I guess they would work. 

While I'm under the impression that this is likely true, I could argue against it because the tournament regs and the RRG don't strictly define "base". The only place I've seen "base" defined to date is in the learn to play booklet where it clearly defines the clear plastic parts as the base. To my understanding that means the ruling:

• Players cannot modify ship or squadron bases to alter their size or shape. Weight may be added to a ship or squadron base if it does not alter the shape of the base. Ship fins or pegs (including the connecting pegs affixed to ship models) may be modified or replaced with a different connecting method.

Only applies to the clear plastic parts of the squadron. Since the cardboard parts are similarly defined as "ship tokens", "squadron disks", and "activation sliders" in the learn to play and nowhere else, I could contest that moving the cardboard disk and activation slider off the base doesn't modify the base in any way. especially with the engineered infill of the same shape and size... which would fall under

• Players may mark their tokens, maneuver dials, and command dials to indicate ownership as long as the function of the component is not compromised. Players may mark obstacles to indicate ownership, but cannot otherwise alter them in any way.

Which depends on the term "compromised" as both the dial and slider are still technically in play and therefore still usable...


Understand that I don't necessarily believe any of that would stand up under official scrutiny, but it's undefined enough that without an official ruling an argument could be made...

lol

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