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ClassicalMoser

Opinion: FFG Dropped the Ball on the B-Wing (Thematically)

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Posted (edited)

Not meaning to be pessimistic, and purely out of desire to see positive improvement, I have to say that the new B-Wing doesn't feel thematic to the true chassis at all.

To start off, I'm absolutely not going to disagree that it is very well priced, has excellent pilots for the chassis (and will probably get more), and is doing quite well competitively. But it almost seems to me that the developers just forgot what the B-Wing was supposed to be when they redesigned it for 2.0. They made it a beefy 3-attack ship that's slow, but knife-fights pretty well. The linked focus-roll was a great nod to the gyroscopic stabilizers as well. It's also pretty aggressively priced to make up for its poor maneuverability.

But the issue I have is that this kind of misses the mark of its intended role within the Rebel fleet. While it certainly could knife-fight if it had to, its primary role was as a bomber and (especially) a heavy cannon ship. They gave it two cannon slots, which seems nice at first, except that there's really not much that these have to offer a 3-primary ship. HLC certainly can help if the bullseyes line up, and Autoblasters with Marksmanship would push a crit through just fine, but the cost will rarely be justified, and especially taking two cannons on this chassis would be a pretty silly proposition.

Yet according to the Canon section of Wookiepedia:

Quote

Two S-foils just below the engine on either side of the main airfoil could be extended to deploy twin ion cannons. It held a total of three ion cannons, and was also armed with a heavy laser cannon, a twin auto-blaster, and two launchers for proton torpedoes. Quad lasers and laser-guided bombs could also be carried.

These things didn't just carry two cannons: They had three. And that was just the standard-issue factory model.

Of course Gameplay > Fluff and I'm not suggesting that we give it a 3rd cannon option, but it doesn't make sense that the cannon-carrier in the game has much less reason to carry a cannon than the Scyk, the Upsilon, or the T-70 (?!?!).

Of course, the damage is done, and there's only so much you can do at this point. The question remains of what they could do to improve the chassis.

The least favorable option would be to errata a ship ability onto the B-Wing. While they obviously aren't going to do this, it makes me wonder why they gave "Linked Battery" to the Upsilon and not to the B-Wing? It would have been a perfectly thematic and balanced fit, at least when priced as high as a B-Wing should be.

Another fairly easy fix, but one that would be fairly unprecedented, would be for FFG to make a change in the point cost document and do one of three things:

1. If the cost of the B-Wing were raised by 5 points across the board, but was then allowed to equip any two cannons for free, suddenly that makes it a toolbox ship that's a bit more expensive than an X-Wing, but has a pretty good variety of options for its armament.

2. Or instead they could keep the cost similar and give a simple discount on the cannons (by 2 points or so) as an incentive to make up for the fact that a 3-primary ship doesn't really need a different arc-locked attack type.

3. Or they could do a "buy one get one free" on the cannons. Buy one cannon and get a second of equal or lower cost for free. Lovely toolbox mechanism.

An entirely different route they could take, on the other hand, would be a gunboat-style configuration suite. Two different configurations makes up for the lack of a ship ability, and could be costed like the Aethersprite's configs to maintain balance. For example:

Linked Battery: When you perform a (cannon) attack, roll 1 extra die. – 7 points

Advanced Avionics Package: After you perform a non-(ordnance) attack, you may perform a bonus attack from an equipped (cannon) you have not used this round. - 12 points

This is kind of spitballing, but I'm curious what the community has to say. What do you think would help the B-Wing find its own niche? I really love the B-Wing. It's just about my favorite Star Wars ship, but I find the way it plays right now fairly boring.

Edited by ClassicalMoser

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I couldn't agree more with this.

I want to get excited about running B-Wings, but as it is the best way to fly them is virtually naked and that just feels wrong to me. 

Ten and Braylen are both great pilots, but both of them have abilities that are all about maximising stress like Soontir Fel and Tycho Celchu did in 1e. I get that FFG are trying to be thematic by saying that good, experienced pilots can compensate for the ship being hard to fly, but the way that actually plays out on the table means the B-Wing is capable of pulling off stupidly tight cornering like the 1-speed Tallon Roll and still getting to mod, and in AS Braylen's case double mod its attacks. 

You're absolutely right that they've ended up a knife fighter when they should be a heavy attack ship, and you're right that FFG have done a bad job of making them a cannon carrier. 

 

I think the problem actually lies with the changes to cannons in 2e. While they make sense, every cannon has been changed in such a way to leave it with least benefit on a 3 attack dice ship like the B-Wing. The fact that cannons now give the defender the range 3 bonus defence die means you can't justify a 3 dice Ion Cannon shot over the primary by at least giving you better odds of doing 1 damage at range 3. The fact that ion cannons now require 2 uncancelled hits to give out an ion token again mean they're not worth taking over the primary shot because you will now always have sacrificed a damage to do that ion token - in 1e, you could play the odds and say that in many cases, 1 damage from the primary would be the most you could expect, so you may as well dish out an ion token too. Those two combined have completely killed the ion cannon on the B-Wing, when it should have been the signature weapon. 

HLC is too little gain for how hard it is to trigger. Jamming Beam is virtually useless even for free. B-Wings take up too much of a list for a Tractor Beam shot to be really worth sacrificing a 3 dice damaging attack for. 

Autoblasters is actually the first cannon upgrade I can see having a place on the B-Wing, as it does at least offer something they can't get from their primary attack. But it turns them into flankers, which is even weirder. 

 

As for fixing it....

I don't know. I think config cards are pretty much the only way to do it. You can't really errata a ship ability onto them, even though it's probably what they need. An errata to ion cannons to make them give out ion tokens on all damage results, or to give them the missile symbol that prevents range bonuses from working or possibly both would be enough to get me using them on B-Wings, and it's the sort of errata that might have happened in 1e.

Other than that, giving them a pseudo ship ability via a config card is basically it. Personally, I want Linked Battery to be more interesting than just an extra die. I'd prefer a slightly different ability that reads something like 

"While performing an attack with an equipped [cannon] special weapon, if it instructs you to spend uncancelled results, you may instead choose any number of uncanncelled results to spend for the relevant effect." 

Essentially, it would let you shoot an ion cannon and choose how much damage you do, and how much you change into ion cannon results. God knows how you clean that language up sufficiently to future proof it and prevent abuse, but I think it could be done. 

Either that, or simply a config that lets you double tap with different cannon weapons. Imagine if you could shoot with both tractor and ion cannons.... It also might give people an actual reason to use Jamming Beam if it let you strip tokens before a followup attack. Maybe something like the following:

"After you perform an attack with an equipped [cannon] special weapon, if the defender is locked you may perform a bonus attack with a different equipped [cannon] special weapon."

Means you have to have a lock, so there's an action requirement - and it also means you can't spend that lock on the first shot, so you probably need to invest even more points in FCS. 

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Copied from what I wrote on Reddit:

Gotta say, I do not want to see *any* more bonus attacks thrown out there. They should be extremely limited, and I think you can argue that they already exist in over-abundance currently.

That aside, I love B-Wings and I love their identity: their dial, actions, and pilot abilities are all amazing and set aside a clear and unique play-style. If you wanted to put a larger emphasis on the B-Wing's strike capability, I would recommend two configurations:

--Gunship Variant (Configuration and Cannon Slot): Add one blank result while attacking with (Cannon Slot) upgrades

--Strike Variant: (Configuration): While performing a (Torpedo Upgrade) attack, you may spend up to two charges from attached (Torpedo Slot) upgrades to add up to two blank results

Both are free, as they require an investment in ordnance for maximum effect. God forbid that you let a B-Wing with Advanced Proton AND Proton torpedoes get within range one of you with a target lock Yes, it's a seven die attack, but costs a minimum of 69 [ayyyy] points and is limited to Init 4 and lower pilots. Also, it's strictly worse than adding dice, as they start as blanks and may only be re-rolled once.

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Unfortunately, with the B-wing doing well, it’s unlikely to get more help. Still, I like the idea of giving it some kind of discount on cannons. As you say, many of these will be situational, so hard to justify the points, but with a discount that makes it possible you have a more interesting ship.

I think the other ship that needs this kind of discount is the Khiraxz with modifications. Then thematically you have a ship that is customized in several different ways.

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1. It isn't/wasn't a bomber. It was a cannon focused capital ship hunter that could carry torpedoes. (Do you consider the X-Wing and Starviper bombers?)

2. Seems like FFG got it pretty spot on to me. Against Huge ships a B-Wing with Bullseye arc weapons (Autoblasters and/or HLC) is going to be a monster. Autoblasters are going to be especially brutal due to how easy of a time B-Wings will have triggering their crit retention with those extremely long base sides and the fat base to line up their bullseye with. Against large and medium based ships it still works decently with the damaging cannons at the same role.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Hiemfire said:

1. It isn't/wasn't a bomber. It was a cannon focused capital ship hunter that could carry torpedoes.

This.

When you try to ramrod every ship into a dogfighting game as a dogfighter, some of them are going to just look dumb.

Maybe when Huge ships are 200-point eligible, the B-wing can be fleshed out into its true role.  Until then, it's not doing what it is supposed to be doing.

It's the same problem with shuttles.  Every single one winds up being an attack craft, because for the most part crew are not useful enough to be carried in something that is not also a gunship.

As for a fix, what if it had a b-wing only, bullseye only 4 die cannon that was moderately expensive?  That might make it be the Big Ship Buster it is supposed to be, while allowing it to remain a naked knife fighter for those who want that. 

Edited by Darth Meanie

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4 hours ago, NukeWash said:

Gotta say, I do not want to see *any* more bonus attacks thrown out there. They should be extremely limited, and I think you can argue that they already exist in over-abundance currently.

Disagree. VTG double-tap is available to every ship with a Gunner, a turret, and an arc primary. Yeah that’s a lot of double-taps going around, but it’s mostly annoying because VTG is too cheap right now. Up the price and that issue goes away.

A double-tap Cannon config for the B-Wing would be thematic, but would also be balanced by the higher cost (of the configuration or chassis), and more importantly, would mean that the B-Wings can use their cannons without making their very decent primary irrelevant.

Remember that very few ships have mods for multiple shots. While the B-wing can with FCS, this means giving up AS and not getting any action every other turn, and depends on effective range control, and it still doesn’t turn focuses.

That said, I’d prefer something more nuanced than a simple double tap, but more effective than what exists. When did you last see a HLC B-Wing on the table? Even at just 4 points and a whole extra die, landing the bullseye at I4 or lower just doesn’t happen, and the generics are always taken naked.

It’s a simple problem: if the cannon is costed well for a 2-primary ship, it won’t be worth it on a 3-primary ship unless there’s another incentive.

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5 hours ago, Hiemfire said:

It isn't/wasn't a bomber. It was a cannon focused capital ship hunter that could carry torpedoes. (Do you consider the X-Wing and Starviper bombers?)

This depends on what you mean by “bomber.” It wasn’t generally used to drop bombs, no (though sometimes it was, in Legends and in Canon) but in the Star Wars universe, the term “Bomber” is used to refer to munitions-armed capital Assault ships, such as the Y-Wing, TIE/sa, B-Wing, and yes, even the X-Wing when needed. Look at what Armada classified as “Bomber” and you’ll see what I mean.

But all that is beside the point. I’m not arguing to make it better at munitions. I’m saying the thing came factory built with three cannons, but we never see any in game, and this needs to be addressed one way or another.

I see munitions as strictly optional on the B-Wing, as with most capable fighter/bombers.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Darth Meanie said:

As for a fix, what if it had a b-wing only, bullseye only 4 die cannon that was moderately expensive?  That might make it be the Big Ship Buster it is supposed to be, while allowing it to remain a naked knife fighter for those who want that. 

You mean like HLC? I thought it was too good to be true when that was first announced at 4 points, but I have since been decisively persuaded (through argument and experience) that it’s still not worth the points. I fully expect to see Autoblasters struggle for the same reason.

Once again, if it’s fair on a Scyk, the B-Wing has nothing to gain from it. 

That said, I keep flying AS Braylen with HLC and expecting him to get better...

Edited by ClassicalMoser

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8 hours ago, GuacCousteau said:

Autoblasters is actually the first cannon upgrade I can see having a place on the B-Wing, as it does at least offer something they can't get from their primary attack. But it turns them into flankers, which is even weirder. 


I too have waited with baited breath each release for anything that will help the b-wing fulfil a more thematic/uniqie roll representative of its design/armaments. Ever since it's art was spoiled, I've hung my hopes on autoblasters being some form of complimentary or double slot canon that specifically suited the b.

But nah, there is no way autoblasters serves that role. Its basically a super weak version of outmaneuver, it'd be worth maaaybe 2, but at that price it'd be OP on the scyk.

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I’ve said before that FFG missed a trick with Cannons in 2.0.

There was a opportunity for them to be implemented as upgrades to the primary weapon rather than being independent weapons in their own right. For example, HLC could have awarded a bonus red dice at range 2-3 in the bullseye arc, and tractor beam could give you the option of cancelling one or more results to apply tractor  tokens. That would have allowed the effects to stack on a ship with multiple cannon slots, like the B-Wing...

Maybe the option for the B-Wing is a configuration that awards a bonus attack after performing an attack which deals no damage? That would give the option of using a jamming or tractor beam as the first shot and following up with HLC or a Primary attack...

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, prauxim said:


But nah, there is no way autoblasters serves that role. Its basically a super weak version of outmaneuver, it'd be worth maaaybe 2, but at that price it'd be OP on the scyk.

To an extent, that's true of all cannons.

But I do wonder if autoblasters might be the first cannon they experiment on with scaled costing based on primary weapon value. This is the first cannon that constitutes almost a flat upgrade to the Scyk's primary. Its basic function is identical to the Scyk's primary, but if you get bullseye at range 1-2, you get an extra die and if you're out of arc at range 1-2, your crits can't be cancelled. There's no real drawback to it at all except for the increased cost.

Obviously that simply isn't true on B-Wings.  The benefit is distinctly lessened on the B-Wings where, in most cases, the shot is either worse than or the same as your primary attack.  

I really think this needs scaled costing more than any of the other cannons. Or, as it is possible, the B-Wing should get a pseudo ship ability in the form of all cannons being discounted on it. 

3 minutes ago, Green Knight said:

Anyway, even without good cannon it's a decent ship. And the I4 aces truly excellent.

As said in the OP, this isn't about the B-Wing being good or not. We know it's solid, it doesn't need a 'fix' as such. This is more about how the B-Wing feels to fly, and what its role in the game should be. 

As it is currently, it's an efficient primary weapon jouster with a weird amount of maneuverability, and some of us feel it should be more of a long range expert relying on heavy weapons and control effects. 

To that end,

5 minutes ago, Green Knight said:

The problem isn't the B-wing it's the cannon selection.

Yeah, the B-Wing kinda is the problem. Specifically, its 3 dice primary and the way that interacts with how cannons work now. Its dial, I4 pilot abilities and linked action also combine to make it this weirdly potent knife fighter. 

Again, the B-Wing is a great ship, and I think the I4s are fun to fly. But I do wish the B-Wing had been designed more in line with its role in the X-Wing flight sims, or the Rogue Squadron games etc. Its supposed to be a heavy weapons platform, but as it is its base stats are simply more potent and more efficient. 

 

I've said a few times that I wish the B-Wing had a 1 die primary and that Autoblasters had come along at the release of 2e. Then you could kit out your B-Wing with whatever combination of AB, HLC and Ion Cannon you preferred. Personally, I'd go AB and IC. 

I stand by that. Maybe it wouldn't have been quite as good a ship, but it would have been more interesting. 

 

Edited by GuacCousteau

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I’m concerned that the push for a good cannon here isn’t considering the balance of the Limited pilots. Like, giving them 2nd ed linked battery just turns them into first edition HLCs. I don’t want that (because I think it’s stupid to put on a platform that can double mod shots every turn), but if you DID want that, it’s not going to be 7 points. That’s the kind of ability that goes on the Upsilon specifically because it’s almost never the right answer. 

First Edition ‘gunner’ effects where you get a second shot should be intentionally limited on a platform where pilots can get multiple mods independently. Let’s not bring that back, it’s not fun to play.

If you want SOMETHING for the sake of fluff, take something like first edition linked battery as a double cannon upgrade: when attacking with a primary weapon, you may reroll one result. Good on the generics, not OP on the limited, and maybe make it limited (one or two pips) if you want to make it cheap enough that otherwise it could be spammed. 

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Without useful cannons, the B-wing is just another tanky 3-attack ship in a faction that is full of those things. It doesn't have a useful niche to fill. With so many options for the same basic concept you're essentially only going to see whichever is deemed the most points-efficient.

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Part of the current weird role of the B-wing comes from large base ships being mostly bad these days. If the meta had more large base ships, cannons (particularly the HLC) would be more useful in the relatively low initiative B-Wings. But barring a significant meta shift or a pilot pack containing an I5 or I6 B-Wing pilot, I think the only way cannons become useable on a B-wing are if they get a config that gives them some sort of buff. 

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Posted (edited)

Apparently, a French Wave 5 leak revealed a System card that essential lets you use your action to skip your action step and become un-coordinate-able

In exchange, you get to calculate or targetlock during engagement

Oodles of ordnance fun for your low I pilots! Especially when the rebellion has access to coordinate-independent focus ala Esege/garven/garven again/two tubes/Kyle etc 

 

Given there aren't many system slot ordnance carriers (****** Kwing REALLY ought to have one!), it's a niche that Bs could fill.

Edited by ficklegreendice

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6 hours ago, GuacCousteau said:

To an extent, that's true of all cannons.

But I do wonder if autoblasters might be the first cannon they experiment on with scaled costing based on primary weapon value. This is the first cannon that constitutes almost a flat upgrade to the Scyk's primary. Its basic function is identical to the Scyk's primary, but if you get bullseye at range 1-2, you get an extra die and if you're out of arc at range 1-2, your crits can't be cancelled. There's no real drawback to it at all except for the increased cost.

Obviously that simply isn't true on B-Wings.  The benefit is distinctly lessened on the B-Wings where, in most cases, the shot is either worse than or the same as your primary attack.  

I really think this needs scaled costing more than any of the other cannons. Or, as it is possible, the B-Wing should get a pseudo ship ability in the form of all cannons being discounted on it. 

As said in the OP, this isn't about the B-Wing being good or not. We know it's solid, it doesn't need a 'fix' as such. This is more about how the B-Wing feels to fly, and what its role in the game should be. 

As it is currently, it's an efficient primary weapon jouster with a weird amount of maneuverability, and some of us feel it should be more of a long range expert relying on heavy weapons and control effects. 

To that end,

Yeah, the B-Wing kinda is the problem. Specifically, its 3 dice primary and the way that interacts with how cannons work now. Its dial, I4 pilot abilities and linked action also combine to make it this weirdly potent knife fighter. 

Again, the B-Wing is a great ship, and I think the I4s are fun to fly. But I do wish the B-Wing had been designed more in line with its role in the X-Wing flight sims, or the Rogue Squadron games etc. Its supposed to be a heavy weapons platform, but as it is its base stats are simply more potent and more efficient. 

 

I've said a few times that I wish the B-Wing had a 1 die primary and that Autoblasters had come along at the release of 2e. Then you could kit out your B-Wing with whatever combination of AB, HLC and Ion Cannon you preferred. Personally, I'd go AB and IC. 

I stand by that. Maybe it wouldn't have been quite as good a ship, but it would have been more interesting. 

 

But it doesn't.

The B-wing is what it is.

So I don't see the point really.

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5 hours ago, PaulRuddSays said:

I’m concerned that the push for a good cannon here isn’t considering the balance of the Limited pilots. Like, giving them 2nd ed linked battery just turns them into first edition HLCs. I don’t want that (because I think it’s stupid to put on a platform that can double mod shots every turn), but if you DID want that, it’s not going to be 7 points. That’s the kind of ability that goes on the Upsilon specifically because it’s almost never the right answer. 

First Edition ‘gunner’ effects where you get a second shot should be intentionally limited on a platform where pilots can get multiple mods independently. Let’s not bring that back, it’s not fun to play.

If you want SOMETHING for the sake of fluff, take something like first edition linked battery as a double cannon upgrade: when attacking with a primary weapon, you may reroll one result. Good on the generics, not OP on the limited, and maybe make it limited (one or two pips) if you want to make it cheap enough that otherwise it could be spammed. 

1e Linked Battery is pretty degenerate. Always-on passive mods are a definite no-go in 2e.

I'm not specifically arguing for a double-tap or for an extra die (LB is cannon only, not primary weapon, so it would be more interesting at least). I would be equally happy with a chassis-specific price drop for the cannons that exist on the B-Wing.

All I really care about is that it has a reason to fill those two cannon slots so it fits in with its role in lore. Those slots are almost always both empty, the only exceptions being Jamming beam (which is free!) and the very very occasional HLC.

As it stands, every cannon that exists is better on the Scyk, the IG-2000, the T-70, the Resistance Transport, or the Upsilon, because they will actually do something meaningful there. On the B-Wing (that has a 3 primary to begin with), the benefit of bringing a cannon is so fringe (control effects only, or very situational extra die) that it's never worth the investment compared to the opportunity cost of Predator and R4 on Wedge.

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Having used B-Wings many times, I have literally never seen a reason to fire a non-damaging cannon when I can fire my primary weapon instead.  Ever.  I like the ideas being floated of cannons that modify your regular shots.  Perhaps they can someday release b-wing-only cannons (like "Linked Tractor Beam" and "Linked Ion Cannon" that let you do the damage of your primary while adding some utility.  Otherwise we'll rarely if ever see any cannons on a platform that is thematically supposed to rely heavily upon them.

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I like the configuration as a way to make the ship more thematic, but so why don't we use the s-foils as a way to do it.

S-Foils Open: When attacking with a cannon secondary you may add one focus result if the defender is in your bullseye.

S-foils Closed: Decrease the difficulty of your 3 and 4 speed basic maneuvers.

It jives with the thematics. Open = all guns blazing. Closed = more speed.

I agree with the sentiment that double taps are too common and not fun.

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, 5050Saint said:

I like the configuration as a way to make the ship more thematic, but so why don't we use the s-foils as a way to do it.

S-Foils Open: When attacking with a cannon secondary you may add one focus result if the defender is in your bullseye.

S-foils Closed: Decrease the difficulty of your 3 and 4 speed basic maneuvers.

It jives with the thematics. Open = all guns blazing. Closed = more speed.

I agree with the sentiment that double taps are too common and not fun.

Except unlike the X-Wings, the only reason the B-Wings have closing foils is for landing/storage.

The B-Wing needs configurations like the Gunboat and Aethersprite need configurations: Not to make it flap around in combat (I love the articulation but it doesn't need gameplay any more than the Striker and Infiltrator do), but to give it a way to do what it was meant to do all along and hasn't been doing. Again, doesn't have to be double-tap or extra die (those would be a little lame tbh, but better than nothing). Just needs some reason to take cannons.

Edited by ClassicalMoser

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12 minutes ago, ClassicalMoser said:

Except unlike the X-Wings, the only reason the B-Wings have closing foils is for landing/storage.

Also for out of combat flight. In combat the "S-Foils" are locked open.

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