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player3010587

Counterpoint: the Defender is Underrated

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Referring to this piece: https://midwestscrub.wordpress.com/2018/12/28/tie-defenders-too-good-to-be-viable/

Error #1: too much bloat. The game currently highly favors efficient builds. OBVIOUSLY, by slapping all the toys on them, they add even more points to half point and situational stuff is not consistent enough. Furthermore, not enough points for the friends.

Error #2: what's wrong with native 3 red dice? Why so much emphasis on the underwhelming secondaries? Juke on 3 reds bites (and favors having the initiative so easily given to you!), which leads into the next point.

Error #3: no mindgames. BECAUSE the defender wants to move fast on its clunky dial, you can use it to corral your opponent. They will naturally try to dodge or attack the predictable position. But a 1 bank evade carries so much power, especially when an initiative juke will make double duty of the evade token.

#4: Outmaneuver us to compete for that slot on a jouster that can juke. Especially with the wording with regard to mobile firing arcs. It is viable on a defender, but it is a side grade, not an upgrade, to juke.

No, they're not a trickshot Blackout with torpedoes. Their cost reflects not their firepower (which can be still augmented by talents), but their role as endgame fear-mongers (hence, the cost is a feature, a la Kylo/Poe). Which also means that they want to endure only ONE SHOT AT A TIME AS LONG AS POSSIBLE TO REPLICATE THIS EFFECT. JOUST AS AN "IMMORTAL FLANKING SLEDGEHAMMER". People sleep on this gem because of flashy toys.

Check out:

Francois Moret's Vader/Rexler (One of few 2 ships successful at Coruscant)

My Soontir/Rexler/Whisper (despite me playing my worst of the tourney on stream)

BitterFig's Delta/Delta/Palp (Holy Moly did I sleep on these I1's until I gave this list a chance! Coordinate before/after the defender is powerful!)

 

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Posted (edited)

Edit: wow my post sounds very antagonizing, it's not intended to! I'm looking forward to the discussion, but wanted to throw a bone before I park on the sidelines. Bio did address your points I feel.

 

Emphasis mine. Answers by @Biophysical

54 minutes ago, player3010587 said:

Error #1: too much bloat. The game currently highly favors efficient builds. OBVIOUSLY, by slapping all the toys on them, they add even more points to half point and situational stuff is not consistent enough. Furthermore, not enough points for the friends.

From the article: " Defenders have a high base cost due to that huge durability, which means decent upgrades are a small percent increase in cost of the ship, and you should have plenty of opportunity to use them.  "

54 minutes ago, player3010587 said:

Error #2: what's wrong with native 3 red dice? Why so much emphasis on the underwhelming secondaries? Juke on 3 reds bites (and favors having the initiative so easily given to you!), which leads into the next point. 

From the article: " Homing Missiles are a great 3 points on Rexler, as they count as hitting, and so turn over a facedown card with his ability.  This is terrific against ships with high defense (due to stats or situation), as it lets you force an easy crit through.  It’s situational, but only 3 points.  The HLC is pretty interesting because it’s a situational, but significant, damage bump compared to the primary weapons, while also being cheap.  Triggering it regularly takes some time, but it has a large effect for 4 points.  Rexler’s ability also works with the HLC, making it an effective way to push crits into targets. "

54 minutes ago, player3010587 said:

Error #3: no mindgames. BECAUSE the defender wants to move fast on its clunky dial, you can use it to corral your opponent. They will naturally try to dodge or attack the predictable position. But a 1 bank evade carries so much power, especially when an initiative juke will make double duty of the evade token.

From the article: " Advanced Sensors is terrific with any talent, it gives a huge amount of flexibility in maneuvers. " (also, see next quote)

54 minutes ago, player3010587 said:

#4: Outmaneuver us to compete for that slot on a jouster that can juke. Especially with the wording with regard to mobile firing arcs. It is viable on a defender, but it is a side grade, not an upgrade, to juke. 

From the article: " Lone Wolf triggers in a ton of useful ways.  When the Defender is split wide from the rest of the squad, it triggers Lone Wolf pretty regularly.  This gives the ship even better defense if it gets targeted, and if not, maximizes the offense by providing extra attack modification.  It doesn’t make you lean so heavily on the Evade token, which means you get more out of the lower speed moves, making you more unpredictable.  "

54 minutes ago, player3010587 said:

but their role as endgame fear-mongers (hence, the cost is a feature, a la Kylo/Poe).

From the article: " The easiest win state for the Defender to achieve is to kill enough stuff that it wins on time.  If you drop their points too much, it lets you fit enough other things in a list that help you achieve that condition.  That is not a fun way to play, as either the Defender or the opponent. "

 

It looks like your concerns were already identified (3,4,5), or explained (1,2).

Edited by GreenDragoon

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Posted (edited)

I also loved the 1.0 Defender, so this was literally the first ship I started experimenting with in 2.0, starting with Rexlar and then on down the line to Ryad and even generics in different builds (like Palp/Deltas). My feelings:

- If you fly Defenders against other top meta ships, they're just not quite there for the cost.  I think with small adjustments in points (some ships going up, some defenders coming down), I think they're going to start seeing more play, but...

- The point about win condition and play style is definitely one to take into account.  Everyone was hating on Kylo recently and how horrible it is to have to play against Kylo who kills and then flys around for time.  Do we want more top ships like that? (I personally don't mind, but it's something to keep in mind when discussing changing the ships seen the most.)

- Palob.  I think Palob is a big reason many abandoned Defenders in tournament lists.  Palob takes your evade for himself, which is huge. So much of the power of Defenders is that extra evade.  It then has a domino effect negating Juke as well if you have that.  Still, there are lots of Juke Phantoms out there and Whisper, and Palob hurts them almost as much, so it really does come down to cost on the Defenders.

Just as a rough comparison here:

Ryad + Advanced Sensors + Outmanuever = 100

Boba + Marauder + Han Gunner + IG-88 D + Shield Upgrade + Seismic Charges = 100

Now one of these has perhaps an undercosted ship and the other perhaps an overcosted ship, but this is the current points.

Edited by dadocollin

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Posted (edited)

Defenders just get outbid, out-firepowered (raw damage or # of arcs on target per turn), and simply can't outkill what they need to kill to win in a lot of games.

The 185 point Soontir/Red/Whisper list will put a hurting on it.

Quad Juke Phantoms will bully it to no end.

Heck, even a barrage bomber swarm will force the defender player into a lot of very hard engagements.  And that's within their own faction.  

It's a great ship and very potent in an end game situation.  But it's got a lot of stuff out there that feasts on it in the early/mid game.

Edited by viedit

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As much as I love the Defender, they are currently overpriced (especially Vessery).  They are pretty durable, but their offensive is quite poor for their points.  The lack of a mod slot hurts them as well, as they are one of the few (or only) 3 agility ships that a stealth device or shield upgrade would be worth the points.  The cannon and missile slots are also fairly useless with the current offerings.

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2 hours ago, player3010587 said:

 

 

 

1 hour ago, GreenDragoon said:

 

It looks like your concerns were already identified (3,4,5), or explained (1,2).

GreenDragoon did a pretty good job making the points I would have made.  

I won't say the way I've built it is the only way to play Rexler, but I do know that it works in most games, and is not far out of the upper tier of Extended ships.

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Posted (edited)
56 minutes ago, LagJanson said:

Is the Defender overpriced or is it the other dominant Imperial toys currently underpriced?

A question to seriously look at hard.

What's the real difference? Cost reference point is somewhat arbitrary, what matters is the defender is behind the curve.

There are ships that produce more firepower while costing less and having the same defense/cost. Its just mathematically behind.

I think it's intentional on FFG's part. I feel like they made a list of things to be intentionally costed out of meta on 2.0 launch and defenders were on it, probably because it was felt they had already has sufficient time in the sun. Now it's effectively shadow banned.

Edited by prauxim
sp

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Rexlar with advanced sensors is a monster for sure. The question/ problem is what do you put with him that can wreck enough stuff to get him to a point where he almost can't lose? 

I'm struggling with this question at the moment. RAC is one option I'm looking at as he takes so long to kill, but again, can he wreak enough havoc to leave rexlar in a strong spot? I'm not sure yet. 

In one of my test games Rexlar soloed 4 barrage bombers (various levels of hurt) only been hit twice (once was for 3 with an evade, lone wolf and 4 defense dice) but never lost hull. 

Another possible partner is 2 Juke sigmas...

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Between both editions, I've only flown Defenders a handful of times but they just seem too delicate for the points.  I've never seen one survive more than three shots at it, which I regularly see theoretically weaker craft like Interceptors do.  I'm sure that some of that is just bad luck with the dice, but I think part of it is simply not having access to the same tricks other ships have, or having to make an expensive craft even more expensive to include them.

I really want to like the Defender, but currently, I would fly literally any other Imperial ship over them.

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, Roundy1161 said:

Rexlar with advanced sensors is a monster for sure. The question/ problem is what do you put with him that can wreck enough stuff to get him to a point where he almost can't lose? 

I'm struggling with this question at the moment. RAC is one option I'm looking at as he takes so long to kill, but again, can he wreak enough havoc to leave rexlar in a strong spot? I'm not sure yet. 

In one of my test games Rexlar soloed 4 barrage bombers (various levels of hurt) only been hit twice (once was for 3 with an evade, lone wolf and 4 defense dice) but never lost hull. 

Another possible partner is 2 Juke sigmas...

2 Juke Sigmas is definitely a solid addition. I've done that and it works.  Soontir + something is good.  RAC seems real solid if he comes down just a bit, but I've not played it.   I've done a little 2-ship lists with Rexler and Whisper or Redline, and that's been at least competitive. 

Edited by Biophysical

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1 hour ago, HolySorcerer said:

A defender is going to cost 40-50% of your whole list and brings three red dice to the table.  That is a lot of weight to pull for a small ship with a predictable dial.

Defender's are a good ship. 

Are they better for their cost compared to what Whisper, Redline or Vader are bringing to the table? No. Kinda answers the question I suppose.

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1 hour ago, LagJanson said:

Is the Defender overpriced or is it the other dominant Imperial toys currently underpriced?

A question to seriously look at hard.

I’d flip it like this, that the things that are toughest on it also tend to be, ahem, aggressively costed.

Palob in particular is a problem. And one that hurts Imperial ships in particular. Really the current meta scum ships are what is keeping defenders from more play. I fly them, to good effect, but it ain’t easy.

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2 hours ago, Biophysical said:

2 Juke Sigmas is definitely a solid addition. I've done that and it works.  Soontir + something is good.  RAC seems real solid if he comes down just a bit, but I've not played it.   I've done a little 2-ship lists with Rexler and Whisper or Redline, and that's been at least competitive. 

I've also tried Duchess w/ Fifth Brother and Predator with Kagi, feels ok, and provides some defense against torps, but running 0 bid

Duchess/Juke/5th Bro and Sabacc also seems solid, but quite a lot more fragile. If you lose the strikers early it makes it very hard for Rexler. One game I parked Duchess on a rock (still adapting to strikers), lost Sabacc early and was Rexler vs full health L'ulo and Poe. Couldn't quite get there, but advanced sensors was worth every bit of its 8pts as I could put Rexler in spots they couldn't cover. The boost white 4k is obnoxiously good.

However I do agree with the view that it is a lot of points for a 3 die primary. They don't do Vader levels of damage for similar points, however they also don't take Vader levels of damage, so last a lot longer to plink away at the enemy...not that Vader is a great benchmark of an appropriately costed ship in the meta.

How do people that use them fly them? I find I am always banking that focus/evade to double down on their tankiness. I don't often take target locks as I fly them very defensively. I need Rexler to get to the late game. However this feels bad when you often hit for 0 (I've been running Lone Wolf, again focusing on defensive traits)

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Defenders going down could really just add to the problem. There's no question that the current top dogs need to drop a bit, and when they do, you can all start chewing on things with Defenders.

Its a very strong ship. Its value is not in throwing lots of red dice in the 1st couple rounds, but throwing it's few the whole game long and/or making you react to where it's going. Because it's going be there a while if you don't.

I do think Rex is the best pilot, so it makes little sense that he's the cheapest. All would be fine around 84/86, with a reshuffle. 

100pt Boba vs a 100pt Rex is a battle I would happily take on. Tbh, I'd rather use Ryad, but I'm considerably less confident of victory.

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8 minutes ago, Roundy1161 said:

How do people that use them fly them? I find I am always banking that focus/evade to double down on their tankiness. I don't often take target locks as I fly them very defensively. I need Rexler to get to the late game. However this feels bad when you often hit for 0 (I've been running Lone Wolf, again focusing on defensive traits)

I've run up against that exact same thing, playing him the exact same way.

I'm still experimenting with squads but I'm finding I like to have another end game ship. Currently, I have 1 I intend to lose 1st (Vermeil) and 1 I intend to lose last (Echo). The Defender piles into the mid game to mess things up. That way, you can let it get banged up a bit, to push the damage through while it has help. Hopefully, it takes a lot of things with it. If it just refuses to die, it's all win. 

Just don't lose no.1 in the 1st engagement to 2 TIE/fo's like I did tonight :D

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27 minutes ago, Roundy1161 said:

How do people that use them fly them? I find I am always banking that focus/evade to double down on their tankiness. I don't often take target locks as I fly them very defensively. I need Rexler to get to the late game. However this feels bad when you often hit for 0 (I've been running Lone Wolf, again focusing on defensive traits)

The squad I've run the most with Rexler is Soontir with a Saber Squadron Ace.  The Interceptors deploy to one side and Rexler is on the other.  Generally, it's fine if the go after Rexler because he's tough enough that he can shrug off a couple ace attacks, or he can Advanced Sensor his way out of massed efficiency attacks.  That leaves the Interceptors free to shoot stuff.  Usually people go after the Interceptors.  This is fine if they last long enough, but sometimes dice or your plans don't work and you've got Rexler against the world, having taken very little down while losing the Interceptors.

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2 minutes ago, Biophysical said:

This is fine if they last long enough, but sometimes dice or your plans don't work and you've got Rexler against the world, having taken very little down while losing the Interceptors.

That's why I've gravitated to RAC. Defensive dice don't matter, but variance in crits can just say 'sorry you lose' which feels bad for sure. 

My RAC build has been Trick Shot, Tua, Hotshot Gunner, stripping the focus to dull their offense is good, reinforce is so strong on RAC. Also playing on the fact that I'm likely going to be given first player, lets double down on shooting first with hotshot.

Not sure whether Juke or Lone Wolf is stronger on Rexler holistically. 

Juke is a straight up offensive improvement, whilst the value in Lone Wolf for me is the defensive gain. 

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1 minute ago, Roundy1161 said:

That's why I've gravitated to RAC. Defensive dice don't matter, but variance in crits can just say 'sorry you lose' which feels bad for sure. 

My RAC build has been Trick Shot, Tua, Hotshot Gunner, stripping the focus to dull their offense is good, reinforce is so strong on RAC. Also playing on the fact that I'm likely going to be given first player, lets double down on shooting first with hotshot.

Not sure whether Juke or Lone Wolf is stronger on Rexler holistically. 

Juke is a straight up offensive improvement, whilst the value in Lone Wolf for me is the defensive gain. 

My problem with Juke is that when Rexler is the only one left, so often Juke does nothing.  They just spend the Focus and go on with theirlife.

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Posted (edited)

Absolutely, and offensively, if they don't have a focus, it is only marginally better than a re-roll anyway. So late game the re-roll from Lone Wolf is stronger on offense than Juke is, plus still gives the defensive option.

Edited by Roundy1161
I stuffed up maths

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I haven't lost with Delta/Delta/OGP yet.  Haven't flown it in a while, because of that.  It's a fairly small sample size, and not always against top-meta lists, but I've beaten Whisper/Rexler/[3rd] twice (some good luck in either case, but that's always part of the game).  Most of the games haven't been too close.  Last 3-game tournament, I didn't lose a ship.  Only one game yet have I lost 2 ships.

Some thoughts:

  • Clearly, the capacity of a defender got a massive buff.  An extra shield, better upgrade slots, blue banks without upgrades, and the massively useful Boost action.
    • The article cited has a good frame question.  Are Defenders too Good to be Viable?  I think they're incredibly good.  They might be too expensive to use effectively.  I kinda think it's more of an open question than settled fact.
    • I think a better example of a "Too Good To Be Viable" ship is the Aggressor.  IG-88s have the same price issues as a Defender, but Droid Brain isn't Full Throttle, and they don't have white flip-moves.
  • The list (and generic Defenders) are under-rated and slept on.  72 isn't cheap, but my term for them is an Engine of Inevitability.  They last a long time, get a lot of modified shots with their K-Turns.  It just adds up over time.
    • Another thing bouncing around my head.  Since they keep full defenses while K-Turning, I feel like I K-Turn more often on them than I might on something else... There are probably times I could K-Turn on other ships but don't, since I'm a little damage and want to have a focus token to protect myself.  So I wind up without a shot as I circle around more slowly.  Defenders can just take the direct path, K-Turn and get the tokens.
  • I've still never tried any Defender other than a Delta.  Haven't seen the need.  Just Juke on Onyx/Rexler seems fine, but I'm nervous about the 100-point loaded versions.
  • I'd agree with the two folks interviewed on their loadouts.  Maybe FCS on a generic (red dice mods, while having double-token for pure defense... nice), Juke if you run the Onyx.
  • These seem like the kind of ships with an... upper bound.  I think they're great at the store level.  I'm not sure they can hang at top tables large tournaments.  But I'm also not aware of many folks running them.  I have a store championship card... if it's valid somewhere that's Extended, this is what I'll fly.  For science, if no other reason.
  • If they're too expensive, I don't think they should be made cheaper.  Luke Skywalker gunner pays a pretty hefty tax for ease of use.  Defenders aren't quite as easy to use, but they're not quite as highly taxed.  Defenders feel like a ship which could be oppressive at the casual-night level.  I'd rather keep them highly priced for this reason, than bring them to a point where they're high-meta ships in tournaments.  I have three main reasons for thinking they're fine where they are.
    • First is that they had a good long time as strong ships in 1e.  Imperial Veterans brought them from unplayable to good, but post-IV, they've always been solid ships to just bring.  Not always the ones winning major tournaments, but almost always something really decent.  An upper bound to their performance, perhaps.
    • Second is that they are... admittedly... a little boring.
      • 4k
      • 4k
      • 4k
      • 4k
      • 4k
      • 4k
      • This is also why the Boost is so great.  You can change the angles of your K-Turns, or you can even do a 3-hard into a boost, followed up by another 3-hard the next turn, and you've looped around in a way which is far less boring.
    • Third is that I think the Delta is still totally playable, and possibly most of the other pilots.  They aren't S-Tier, but I think they are almost surely at least B-Tier.  They're close enough to being good that I don't think they ought to be in the first point adjustment.  If Phantoms/Redline/[so much Scum]/Proton Torpedoes get tweaked, made a bit more fair, Defenders might end up being a bit better in comparison.  I don't necessarily think they need reductions, but if they come, they ought to be in the second round of adjustments in July-ish or whenever that happens.
      • There are clearly ships which are way more overcosted, which are far less viable than Defenders.
5 hours ago, LagJanson said:

Is the Defender overpriced or is it the other dominant Imperial toys currently underpriced?

A question to seriously look at hard.

I tend to come down on the 2nd option.  Whisper, Redline, Vader crew, etc. are probably a bit underpriced.  Defender might be a hair more expensive than it needs to be, but I think it's closer to "correct" than the TIE Phantom.

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I pulled my Defenders out last night and had a go against Poe, Pava, and 2 Green Squadies. I ran Juke Rexler, Juke Onyx, and Seyn.  The game went to time with Seyn and a Green Squadie destroyed, Poe on one hull, and Onyx on 1 shield. My thoughts are this list is similar to my Tie D's + Countdown that took me to top 32 at Adepticon 2018.  It doesn't have the straight up offense that the Tie D's had, but the evade makes them last so much longer.  Without TLTs in the game, you can afford to play the long game and choose unpredictable moves that can catch your opponent napping.  The secret is knowing when to forego the fast moves and dialing in a one bank.  Sometimes going slow and grabbing an evade is enough to keep you in the fight.  I need some more practice against top tier lists, but the Defenders may make another appearance at a system open this year.

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Not gonna' lie dudes, the TIE Defender is the last ship I'd actually pick for almost any Imperial squadron. Not when I can take two of something else to spread across the board and proc more effects.

The Defenders are great platforms but that you can only EVER run TWO is a SIGNIFICANT problem for them. If you could run three, and that's without much added on, you suddenly have a very potent Imperial option.

One that simply cannot yet exist due to poor point costing choices by FFG.

 

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