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Marinealver

Lets Talk About Epic, Wave 3 and the Tantive IV

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So the 3rd wave much like the 3rd movie (not to be confused with episode III) is the wave were all the iconic Star Wars starfighter ships from the Original Movies have made their debut in the game. This was also when FFG started looking outside the movies for ships with the more obscure HWK-290. After this wave was when Epic truly began with the release of 2 huge ships for the Rebels. The Imperials didn't have any canonical sources of ships that size and the Star Destroyer would have to be seriously scaled down to fit in the scale so FFG instead focus on an Imperial trait and that is more unique starfighter pilots with a repaint pack called Imperial Aces (more on those on a later thread) well I will go into more depth on A_wing and TIE Interceptor pilots. However the big question remained how do you put weapons on a huge ship and keep them balanced?

The Answer FFG came up with is extend the range with a new range ruler that goes up to range 5 by putting together two approximately range 3 sized rulers and holding them together with the plastic buttons that hold the maneuver dials together into a telescoping ruler. Then they also introduced a minimum range for huge ship primary having a primary weapon with a range band of 3 units but if it goes up to range 5 then it can't reach anything range 2 or closer. Still they were worried with Rebels being the only faction having huge ships because big bad bully Star Destroyer was too big to be on that playground the Rebel huge ship would bully those small Imperial fighters so when they added the range rule each range band beyond 3 added an additional defender bonus. So in addition you had a spectrum where range 5 was +3 green dice, range 4 was +2, range 3 was +1, range 2 was neutral, and range 1 was +1 red dice. Base to base contact did not confer any additional red dice because for huge ships it often meant that the ship was already destroyed and for most starfighters they could not attack much to the dismay of Arvel Crynyd.:( 

But at this point and time all these special expansions (which would soon be used as meta correcting tools by the developers) has not yet came out more on that next thread. Lets move onto Wave 3.

First we will start with the Imperials so that I can segway the rebels to the CR-90.

TIE Bomber 

Well The TIE Bomber was given a roll as a munitions support ship for Imperials and besides the Slave 1 title this was Imperials first access to the <torpedo> slot. The idea was that this ship would focus on secondary weapons giving the Imperials a platform that used upgrade slots. The only problem is that secondary weapons at the time sucked. It took too much to set up, what you get for benefit was often less than the benefit you sacrificed and while the TIE Bomber started only 4 points more than a TIE Fighter filling up those upgrade slots soon made it cost more than an X-wing/TIE Advanced. But what about Epic? Even in the CR-90 campaign manual (which was still in production at the time of the release) often used them as the main antagonist in the campaign. Well the simple answer is that they didn't really work. Sure doubling your attack value has some merits but for only two attacks when the huge ship can negate all of that by a recover action, after the attacks are spent then the 2 firepower just becomes so weak. In a way a TIE Interceptor was more of a threat to huge ships. Still some notes on the Wave 3 TIE bomber pilots and upgrades in Epic.

  • Major Rhymer which had the ability to extend ranges of secondary weapons could offers some devastating attacks with thins like cluster missiles. Still being in range 3 will be in range of the primary weapons thus eating a 5 dice attack. Range 1 on proton torpedoes/concision missiles runs the risk of collision and getting jammed.
  • Captain Jonus is the star of this expansion pack for Epic not because he is a huge ship killer but rather the opposite. Since huge ships can fire multiple secondary weapons having him nearby as a spotter makes him one of the best Imperial assets in Epic games. However at the time only Rebels had Huge ships. Still many players thought that in big games it just made sense for Imperials to simply recommission many CR-90s in their campaign against the Rebel Scum.
  • Proton Bombs is the one thing of consideration here. This was the first upgrade to ignore shields. Thing is it was difficult to get anything into it since most ships could simply reposistion out of the way with boost or barrel roll. Granted the ability to ignore shields was powerful but this non-attack couldn't destroy a TIE Fighter. A-wing maybe but good luck catching one. As for huge ships much easier but it risks you having to get close enough and huge ships thanks to their merciless overlapping rules were known to be deadly at close range.

Lambda Shuttle

One of the best large based ships in the game, this support craft has ironically proven to be better than the Firespray thanks to a higher shield to hit point ratio and a point cost equal to that of an X-wing/TIE-Advanced. But mostly the combinations of different crew which made Falcon some scary ships out there. Combination of Gunner and Mercenary Co-pilot in conjunction with the new <cannon> upgrade could make for some fearsome firepower. In Epic though the low agility and large base meant it was an easy target for huge ships even with +2 green range bonus (also easier to literally hit if the shuttle flew in front of a huge ship). Not as good as a  TIE-Interceptor but still better than a TIE Bomber.

  • Captain Kagi was perfect to draw fire from other ships. Only problem is that at the time it would be drawing fire from very difficult to hit 3 agility ships to itself. Taking a Single Turbolaser blast from a TIE Interceptor which would be rolling 6 green dice to a Shuttle which will only roll 2 green dice is not what would be considered a power move especially if that included attack dice rerolls.
  • Col Jendon with the title could mark out some easy targets across the map to assign a contract to a ship. However getting that one small starfighter across the map would prove to be hard so it was often better to use it on ships that already had a target in arc but no blue target lock tokens. Weapons Engineer from the last wave was also included in this expansion making the support shuttle build very easy in game.
  • Captain Yorr really didn't bring much other than support titles by taking stress and putting them on itself. The dial wasn't that good for clearing stress, plus huge ships brought comms booster and the coordinate action which did a better job. Sure Imperials didn't have the coordinate action as they didn't have huge ships but often since Imperials would simply repaint their CR-90s Captain Yorr became even more unnecessary in Epic.
  • Anti-pursuit lasers: Well bringing this up mostly to refer to the shuttles poor dial. For one instead of a K-turn it has the new stop maneuver. This maneuver was red which creates stress and the shuttle already had many red to include red banks (which was also introduced in wave 3) but no 4, and only red turns. So when it came to jousting a shuttle gets one pass and that is it. Despite having guns on the rear FFG didn't give the shuttle a rear auxiliary firing arc the same way that the firespray had out of the reasoning that shuttle simply had more guns up front so a rear arc with 3 firepower would be unthematic. So instead the only way a shuttle could joust is after the only pass to stop forcing the pursing ship to bump, then casually bank away till it can get into a better position. APL gave it a chance to do a 1 die attack that ignores agility which is good but at the same time pretty weak. Not to mention stopping in front of a huge ship would be a bad idea and the amount of damage you could do back is the same without it.
  • Darth Vader, Automatic face up critical damage after an attack. The downside is that it does 2 damage to yourself and since only 7 damage cards were direct hits and 2 others had a potential to do another damage Vader was technically doing more damage to himself than to other ships. However if a well timed face up card could take a ship out of the game it was worth it. The Doom shuttle as it was called had a limit since Vader damaged itself and Imperials have no regen outside of huge ship recovery which at the time just meant no regen. However when Imperials get their corvette the Raider putting Vader on it became a way to get unlimited uses from this upgrade.
  • Rebel Captive was the first card to combat the Pilot Skill wars. Since a high pilot skill would have to shoot first this gave aces a dilemma, take the stress or ignore it for an underling to do the damage. Now for huge ships they don't care about stress, but they also have a relatively low pilot skill. Still Aces were not likely to live in Epic thanks to the sheer amount of red dice out there.
  • Navigator was a way to help out with the shuttles poor maneuvering as it could correct course if it guessed a bank wrong. Only thing is for 1 more point the shuttle had a better option Engine Upgrade. Engine upgrade was the correction to the poor dial the shuttle had. Further more it was found out that boosts on large ships go further, making the slow and ponderous shuttle surprisingly fast and maneuverable. Only issue is that Engine upgrade could be attached  to any ships and soon every large based ship had engine up. Not only making large based ships hard to get in arc if they had a higher pilot skill, but impossible to flee from.

Now that the Imperials are done on the Rebels

B-wing

The Brawler of X-wing. This had the same primary firepower value of the X-wing but with the new <cannon> slot it could be upgraded even more powerful. Add on that the X-wing could be one shot by a lucky attack from a TIE Interceptor the B-wing didn't have that issue all for starting at 1 point higher. Granted their 4 straight was a red making it slower than an X-wing. However unlike the shuttle the B-wing has regular turns and a 2 k-turn which really made it good at moving around tight spots such as near asteroids or between other ships. Add in the barrel roll and the big cluster ball in the center that often happens in a wave 3 game prove to be little concern to a good B-wing pilot. In EPic the Firepower 3 and <cannon> slot said it all with energy sapping ion cannons and high damage HLCs. Granted the only huge ship at the time were traitor rebel capital ships (see what I did there) still firepower 3 was good enough to go against a TIE Interceptor or a CR-90.

  • Ten Numb had by far the simplest and best effect in any game and that is a good roll will be a good result. Having crits that cannot be canceled is great when you are rolling crits. Things is Ten Numb is already expensive and has a bulls-eye painted on him. Upgrading him with proton torpedoes, and autoblaster cannon or giving him marksmanship makes him even more expensive for he who is about to die. B-wings are tough but 1 agility means that they just about eat every attack. And with so many ways to now work around that miracle green die that rolls an <evade> every time not going to work. Now huge ships don't have much agility so getting a crit unless it was by itself through would often not be an issue when shooting at huge ships.
  • Ibtisam has the unique soontir design that stress can confer an advantage. Stress is usually crippling restricting your dial and stopping your actions. But unlike soontir who has usually has to shed the stress to keep using his ability Ibtisam's ability works even for persistent stress. However rerolling 1 die isn't the same as rerolling all your attack dice so often you would rather have your action and hope something gave you stress that you can dump next turn along the way. In Epic he was another B-wing with a higher pilot skill. Having his ability doesn't really have any benefit other than making him not a preferred target for the jam action. 
  • Advanced Proton Torpedoes. The idea of the big attack has always been a staple of aggressive board games. APT follows this. A whopping 5 firepower attack was unprecedented in the game and only the CR-90 with its primary weapon boosted by its fore section ability could match it. However the common logic rule about the big attack is that it has to have some set up or else it would be OP and break the game. In addition to 5 attack dice you could change 3 <blank> to 3 <focus> results which is useless unless you have a way of using those focus results (i.e. a focus token). The range was also at range 1 which was the blind spot of proton torpedoes. Still for 2x <torpedo> ships it made more sense just to carry 2 of the same type of expendable secondary weapon than one of each. Combined with the standard rule for all torpeodes requiring to have and spend a target lock in order to use this properly you have to have a target lock, a focus token, and be at range 1 for 3 guaranteed hits with the possibility of an additional 2. Expensive in set up and cost at 6 points. You can imagine the frustration going through all that for a terrible roll for 3 hits just for the other TIE to have the opposite luck and through your big attack in the trash. As for against big ships, only if you want to make a kamakazie attack.
  • Advanced Sensors. This upgrade actually came in the Lambda Shuttle expansion but it pairs with the B-wing so well. Much like how PTL, an upgrade in the A-wing expansion pack matched Soontir Fel an Imperial pilot perfectly. Advanced sensors helped the B-wing by allowing it to do its action before it would do something that causes it to forgo its action that turn (such as bumping or K-turn). Giving that and the barrel roll the B-wings were the masters of the cluster that happened with the swarm laden low mobility meta of wave 3. Granted the cluster on the mat looked closer to a game of fighters brawling like warhammer than a game of fast moving ships circling around each other. The next wave wit hthe 2 ship meta killed the cluster in the middle where B-wings would thrive in. But B-wings resilience and firepower at the time would have made the displace X-wings more. More ships in Epic means fore more likely of a cluster but again twice the play area for 3 times this ships seems like a more crowded space, if only huge ships didn't take up so much points. So it is really twice as many ships for twice the play area.
  • Fire-control system was a way to make sure you always had a target lock until that target is dead. It works great if you could get another attack (such as gunner). Against huge ships well firepower 3 already is damaging enough but having that automatic target lock frees you up for focus to quickly tear down the shields and the hull.

HWK-290

The support counterpart to the Imperial Lambda shuttle. This was a small ship but it was design more like the larger ships with only a single generic and 3 unique pilots. Most likely because like large ships there often won't be more than 1 on a mat so having more choices of pilots was better than just having 2 different generics (also thanks to the way the pilot skill mechanic worked out the slightly higher skilled generic wasn't much of a benefit). This was also the ship with the 1 die attack. Which made sense for a civilian ship but later as attack dice proved to be more valuable than supporting abilities and canceling 2 dice attacks automatically became more prevalent FFG would have this as the last 1 dice attack ship even for later civilian ships (Quadjumper). In Epic the chassis alone doesn't provide much since it really can support only 1 ship at a time. The pilots and upgrades have some effect, which we will discuss.

  • Jan Ors What is scarier than 4 red dice, how about 5 with the CR-90. Not enough you say, we can make it 6. Jan Ors (the forgotten hero that actually got the death star plans to Leia) took a stress to improve one attack by 1 dice. Again on that big attack philosophy. The dial however is lacking much like the Shuttle however without the benefit of a red stop. Still with white full turns it wasn't as stiff. But engine upgrade on a HWK was not as good as on a Shuttle.
  • Kyle Katan (the main character from Dark Forces) was the defunct Focus bank. Being able to store up focus with the tile and pass them out to other ships. The catch in epic is the huge CR-90 can't use the focus token. A fault which would prove crippling for huge ships as we will discuss further.
  • Roark Garnet made sure that Han shot first. Giving a ship the Pilot skill cap of 12 (higher than 9 with VI) . This also gives those huge ships with a pilot skill of 4 or less as with generic non-unique pilots, this is a big boost giving it the chance to make all of its attacks before it gets crippled or even taking out some potential attackers.
  • Blaster Turret. With the pathetic primary firepower of the HWK it relies on its one upgrade slot that is usually reserved for secondary weapons. It cost as much as a proton torpedo/ concussion missile and just like the torpedo requires you to perform an action and forfeit the benefit of the action. Epic format hasn't changed this. Why include it in this discussion? It is a good example that while epic format shifts the power of many things there is still a lot that don't move up (or down) in epic format from standard.
  • Saboteur. The trick is getting this card close to a huge ship that has damage cards on it. Now face up damage cards on a huge ship makes standard face up damage cards seem laughably weak. So getting him close to a huge ship that has some face down could be crippling. The only issue is not only does it use your action but it also depends on a dice roll. 

Now onto the CR-90, okay not much of a segway (should have saved Roark for last) but at this point between Wave 3 and 4 was where Epic was truly born. The Rebel Transport was the 1st half of the huge ship rules, with <cargo> movement, actions, and energy mechanics. The CR-90 would be the later half with multi-card ship sections, <hadrpoints>, <team>, and range 4 and 5 weapons.  Thus Epic was born and the rest of us got our hands on these massive centerpieces that looked impressive at the very least if we couldn't play with them weekly like with the rest of our smaller toys.

As I said the CR-90 was the first multi-ship section and the first huge ship with weapons. The multi section ship meant that it couldn't be destroyed in one go like the transport. You first had to cripple a section then you had to move to the other half where the crippled section had less upgrade slots, lower stats for firepower/energy (hull and shields were irrelevant and agility can't go lower than zero), removed any section ability and/or adding a dial restriction making an already limited move set that much more restrictive. The Huge ship primary weapon which had further range but proved to be crippling ineffective with the defender range bonus that was applied. Worse still was that huge ships could not use <focus> results so thus a huge ship attack die was inherently weaker than an an attack die from any other ship.

  • C-3PO: probably the most controversial upgrade making the CR-90 the 2nd most controversial expansion pack (1st place goes to the Punishing One expansion) is this upgrade card which does relatively nothing for huge ships but has proven to be exceptional on standard ships with 1 agility such as the falcon. Now making upgrade cards that can go on both huge ships for epic and also have utility in standard is a way of adding value to an expensive package since players that get this expansion pack would often play standard more than epic. However the hefty $90 price tag has cost some criticism calling this the $90 upgrade card as the other 3 <crew> upgrades saw little to no play in the competitive scene.
  • Han Solo/Leia Organa/R2-D2 <crew> upgrades. Considering 2 of these cards already had unique persona's in standard that could have been arguably better, these cards were largely ignored in the smaller format. In Epic though they have a larger effect. Han Solo is the only way a CR-90 could make use of <focus> results in an attack. Leia Organa expendable use was more worthwhile in Epic where you could have multiple ships conducting a red maneuver vs one or 2 in standard. R2-D2 wasn't much use on a huge ship as the Rebel Transport had the repair droid. The added effect of accidentally flipping up a damage card made the shield regen an unnecessary risk especially when huge ships could simply use the recover action. But unlike its counterpart it didn't find wide appeal as it was better for the competitive meta to prevent the damage rather then undo it.
  • Single Turbolasers and Quad Laser Cannons. The huge ship secondary weapons, one was for long range (3-5) and against low agility targets with a drawback of doubling agility in place of a defensive bonus. The other was for the closer range (1-2) less firepower but slightly less energy requirement. Both had a capacity of 2 which increased your overall energy capacity but where single turbolaser had you spend both for a large 4 firepower attack with a <focus> to <hit> modification (slightly weaker than a proton torpedo) the quad laser cannon had the option to intensify firepower if you missed with the first shot by spending the other energy token. The no overlap in range meant that these were supposed to be equipped in conjunction on sections with two <hardpoint> upgrades. However such builds while versatile and covers blind spots it doesn't make use of the advantage of the ability to use primary and all secondary weapons at once. So often you have to chose if you want a long range large ship sniper or a close range anti-fighter barrage, and have your escorting starfighters cover the blind spots.
  • Gunnery Team. This upgrade exemplifies the difference between huge ship attacks and standard attacks. Huge ships tend to have lost of firepower and longer range where small ships don't have as much firepower but all at range 1-3. Huge ships rely on rerolls and can convert bank tokens where standard ship rely on prepared attacks and modify <focus> results. This was sort of the model for the dice in FFG later Star Wars game Armada where the same dice mean different things depending on what is attacking such as a squadron blue die is not the same as a capital ship blue die.
  • Sensor Team. This is a reminder just because they increase your attack range to 5 your other ranges haven't automatically increased. This 4 point upgrade is an auto-include for any gunship corvette. 4 points is not much in a format that doubles or even triples the point limit. Further more the <team> slot didn't have many other options that force you to chose.
  • Engineering Team and Tantive IV. The last of the new <team> upgrades again it was 4 points and took up a special huge ship slot that didn't have many upgrades. Funny enough when paired with the Tantive IV title you had more <team> slots than different <team> upgrades and since most teams were limited or didn't convey a bonus for having multiple copies on it. Sure the extra <crew> upgrade was a welcomed edition but it felt like half the card was incomplete.
  • Targeting Coordinator. Since this was not a <team> upgrade which was a huge ship only slot and it was a <crew> upgrade without the huge ship only restriction it could be equipped to any ship from small to huge. The curious thing is that it has an energy requirement instead and as of this day even (not just back in between waves 3 and 4) the only ships with energy are the huge ships. This has lead to speculation (and even some custom cards) of a small or large base support ship with energy instead of firepower. This hasn't been the case likely due to the criticism the HWK-290 had with its low firepower. If you thought 1 firepower was bad in competitive standard, now imagine 0 firepower. Although this isn't the only <crew> upgrade to use energy it is the only upgrade still in post wave 13 to have the energy requirement.

A lot to still talk about but I will end it here. I know some people from the last two topics expect this to maybe be a weekly thing but I think once every other week is better.  I won't place myself on a mandatory schedule so if I do a couple next topics back to back with a week or less in between then good but if it is 3 weeks or so then so be it. As long as I keep it more frequent than once a month I'll be content. So what are your thoughts on the Birth of Epic and before Wave 4 hits the store shelves? Any upgrade or pilot I left out? Comment below.

Edited by Marinealver

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