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Are Z-95s Any Good?

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They look like they have potential, being cheap, having Swarm, and having the possibility of two hits per die.  On the other hand, they are only speed 3, hull 3, and don't have Bomber.  Does their price offset their drawbacks, or is it just better to go with tougher Squadrons?

I think a list with 19 of them would probably be cleared pretty quickly, but it might be fun to try once...

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I've tried all Z95s they died horribly. I think they would make a good second line fighter much like the TIE but unlike the genaric TIE I would avoid using just them. But tossing in an extra two or four to a medium bomber ball that already has escort for some extra anti-fighter could work well. 

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They are ok for the points but you soon come up against squadron control limits when you decide to put lots of them in a list. You can start to spend a lot of points on Expanded hangars or officers like Raymus to get them all doing what you want where as a list with about half that number of X-wings would not need these upgrades to operate well. 

Red dice are fickle and can give extreme results (admittedly either way). I remember using 4 Z95s in a game, over 2 turns I threw 24 red dice with 8 swarm rerolls and inflicted 3 damage (2 of them were scattered). Red dice also have half the accuracies of blue dice so polishing off scatter aces can be frustrating. 

Speed is a small problem compared to the humble TIE fighter but a lot of rebel fighters are speed 3 so it isn't like they are slowing their comrades down. AFFM can be nice and an FCT on a Pelta, MC80 or Nebulon could shuffle things along. 

3 Hull is weak and you are vulnerable to Flak and Mauler Mithel's ramming attacks or Fel's auto damage. However Rebels have the best Escorts in the game so if your fighters include Jan, 2-4 X-Wings and maybe Bigggs then a pair of Z95s can hang around this fight - shooting away with swarm rerolls and only occasionally getting attacked by things that ignore the escort rule. Reserve hangar bays can also recycle a Z95 during the game. 3 points for a damaged 7 point fighter isn't as good a ratio as the Imperials can manage (3 for 11 or 12) but could be useful all the same.

Massed Z95 lists suffer from fragile hull, decent enemy flak, lots of counter(2) squadron opposition and it has squadron control issues. The double swarm reroll from Blout will help but I still recommend Jan + 2-3 X-Wings/YT1300s as a central core for protection. 

 

I have included Z95s when I need one extra squadron to keep the numbers up. In Sato lists I like 1-2 of them as you just need to keep some squads alive to get the dice colour changes. A Z95 on an obstacle can come out later in the game and help.
I also include them as additions to a Jan/X-Wing force where they are less vulnerable due to the escort. 

Edited by Mad Cat

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I've flown this following squad composition a few times.

 

Squadrons:
• Jan Ors (19)
• Lieutenant Blount (14)
• 2 x X-wing Squadron (26)
• 10 x Z-95 Headhunter Squadron (70)
= 129 Points

 

There were some lucky rolls with all those red dice, I remember. But I also remember a lot of blanks and squadron taken off the combat area without having done much...

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They are craphazardly awesome at clearing out other squads. 7 points for some little turd that randomly throws 5 damage and wipes out an Xwing or a TIE Advanced in a shot is awesome. 

 

Jeezus Lordy they evaporate under the slightest of flak though. So if you want mileage, I second the general idea that Grathew put out. In a squadron wing that already has good meat, a couple of Z95s can make good filler.

 

A favored combo I tried and need to bring back was to bring Blount, 2 Z95, and Dagger squadron as part of a bigger squad ball. If your generic Z95s survive the squadron fight, have them flee from enemy ships and have Dagger and Blount follow the rest of the wing in. 

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One mildly fun combo I've used is to pair one with Dutch, when you don't have any escorts, in a medium sized squadron ball.  Dutch is sort of a soft escort because he is normally the target due to his annoying ability, but can take some damage with 6 hull and double braces on the way out.  The Z95 then gets to trigger swarm off him while he's alive.  If they instead attack the Z95, you are keeping Dutch alive longer so that's not bad either!

As said above, one is also good with Sato, you can just have it cheaply spot things and maybe stay on an obstacle to make it harder to one shot.  This would be even better with reserve hanger bay, if its destroyed, you can place it again, and still possibly get more value that turn from its spotting.

I've played someone who brought 3-4 with flight controllers, which actually worked pretty well, with a decent number of squadrons.  This gives them a blue die and lets them interact with Toryn Farr, which gets around the drawback that she doesn't buff them at all if you are including her.  It makes them much more reliable too.  How to set this up ideally myself I have not yet really thought about.

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They are utterly rubbish and should only ever be played with for fun....

1)  quality is all about reducing common cause variation, red dice have stupid levels of common cause variation.

2) Three hull means they die when hit so they need to Alpha strike to earn their points, guess who only goes speed three and will always therefore be jumped by tie fighters or ground to dust by heavy fighter.

Effectively it’s a perfect storm of shitness: slow speed, low hull and inconsistent damage...

 

 

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3 hours ago, JolliGreenGiant said:

One mildly fun combo I've used is to pair one with Dutch, when you don't have any escorts, in a medium sized squadron ball.  Dutch is sort of a soft escort because he is normally the target due to his annoying ability, but can take some damage with 6 hull and double braces on the way out.  The Z95 then gets to trigger swarm off him while he's alive.  If they instead attack the Z95, you are keeping Dutch alive longer so that's not bad either!

As said above, one is also good with Sato, you can just have it cheaply spot things and maybe stay on an obstacle to make it harder to one shot.  This would be even better with reserve hanger bay, if its destroyed, you can place it again, and still possibly get more value that turn from its spotting.

I've played someone who brought 3-4 with flight controllers, which actually worked pretty well, with a decent number of squadrons.  This gives them a blue die and lets them interact with Toryn Farr, which gets around the drawback that she doesn't buff them at all if you are including her.  It makes them much more reliable too.  How to set this up ideally myself I have not yet really thought about.

The Flight Controllers/Toryn Farr combination is a really neat idea.

 

I haven't used z95s but I have played with generic TIEs a lot and my experience makes me think that getting the first attack in is essential.  Much harder with a speed 3 fighter than a speed 4 or 5 TIE.

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2 hours ago, player3691565 said:

 

1)  quality is all about reducing common cause variation, red dice have stupid levels of common cause variation.

I'm sorry, what? 

I could understand if you spoke about reliability, but quality? Its risk vs reward, low risk low reward isnt a higher quality than high risk high reward. 

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1 hour ago, Hedgehogmech said:

I think the biggest issue is requiring more than 2 for maximum effectiveness, in a pack you rarely want to buy more than one of...

This is my main issue. If I could get my hands on some without buying 3-4 packs. I would be happy.

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4 hours ago, Ling27 said:

This is my main issue. If I could get my hands on some without buying 3-4 packs. I would be happy.

2 packs to make 4 stands seems enough imo. Mass Z-95s don't seem to be a thing(unless rhb proves me wrong) as they don't have the speed and thus *higher*  possibility to alpha as Ties. Also they can't bomb/disable like Sloane Ties so their utility en masse ain't rly there. Small numbers assisting X-wings/escorts seem the way to go.

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Well, the Z-95 is good to get an odd number of fighters up to an even number cheaply. So a potential +1 deployment for 7 points isn't worthless.

And when paired with another more important unique fighter (which, yes, is any of them), one Z-95 is like engagement insurance. So being an enemy fighter speed bump isn't worthless.

But they are of limited utility yes.

PS I painted my Z-95s with a "squad leader" with a different paint scheme than the other two fighters because they die so much I like to joke that the "squad leader" is the only guy who survived the last engagement so he's in a different fighter. 

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Z-95s are not ment to be run en masse, but are great at supplementing firepower or rounding out squad complements. 

The heaviest Z-95 wing I ever ran that was successful at what is was wanting to do was this: 

• 2 x X-wing Squadron (26)
• Lieutenant Blount (14)
• 3 x Z-95 Headhunter Squadron (21)
= 61 Points

X-wing act as speed bump it will hold off a squadron list longer than you think and with two rerolls with Blount it's not bad at thinning things out a bit.

Edited by xero989

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On 10/4/2019 at 10:19 PM, Ginkapo said:

I'm sorry, what? 

I could understand if you spoke about reliability, but quality? Its risk vs reward, low risk low reward isnt a higher quality than high risk high reward. 

It actually is according to improvement science.

The quality of the output of any production process is determined by the level of common cause variation within the system. A higher “quality”  system has low common cause variation, a system with a higher level of common cause variation will produce a poorer level of quality. The product in this case is consistent damage output.

The concept comes from quality improvement science in which the fundamental aim is to reduce variation, the basic premiss being its better to know you will get 2-5 damage ( Lando using a defence token )  than hope you will max out with a head hunters 0-6 damage. Remembering the concept mainly comes from sectors in which variation can be very bad news ( Such as health:).if optimal door to needle time for a life saving treatment is within 20 mins  your aim is to create a system with a common cause variation  of between 10 to 20 mins door to needle time  ( a high quality system  ) if your system had a common cause variation of between 5 to 25 mins, you may get faster treatment that the high quality system ( higher reward in getting treatment earlier to some, but then their is a  risk in that you may just kill someone) this is a low quality system because of the high level of common cause variation.

You can use this concept in armada, treat your lists as systems that deliver a product ( your win ) deciding what outputs  you require to get the product ( specific damage etc) then designing in reduced common cause variation ( increase consistency) to make a high quality system. 

 

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It's with noting that their swarm reroll is technically more powerfull than a tie fighters.

Maths time. Presuming we don't need accuracy. I think ties are much better when accuracy is desired.

Both red and blue dice average at 0.5 damage per dice. Nice and even so far.

Now a reroll is typically worth as much as an extra dice except in the edge case where all intial dice hit. 

Now this edge case occurs on tie fighters 1/8th  (12.5%) of the time. But on headhunters it only occurs 27/512 (5.273...%) of the time. 

Thus headhunters actually do slightly higher average damage than tie fighters as they get to use their swarm dice slightly more often while having the same average damage per dice.

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I agree in general that consistency is important and of merit competitively, even if average damage is the same (or as Kastor points out, slightly higher.)

However, I don’t consider Z-95s an offensive fighter (slow, vulnerable to flak, poor against ships) but a support craft or deterrent designed to sit far enough back to punish bombing runs and help flak without getting jumped.  And in this role, their swinginess can really keep your opponent guessing and taking risks, not you.

I’ll never forget the time Blount one-shotted one of my obstructed A-wings.  Unlikely as it was, that A-wing arguably shouldn’t have been there, just because it was unsafe.

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6 hours ago, player3691565 said:

The concept comes from quality improvement science in which the fundamental aim is to reduce variation.

To break this down; "if your aim is to reduce variation then reducing variation creates higher quality."

This is a non argument as you have to first justify why reducing variation is the fundamental aim. In Armada this is not appropriate. Maximising damage and kills is the fundamental aim. Were not producing cheese sandwiches here. 

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1 hour ago, Ginkapo said:

To break this down; "if your aim is to reduce variation then reducing variation creates higher quality."

This is a non argument as you have to first justify why reducing variation is the fundamental aim. In Armada this is not appropriate. Maximising damage and kills is the fundamental aim. Were not producing cheese sandwiches here. 

Agreed. Don't forget sometimes the only way to beat a highly reliable build flown by a superior commander is with a risky build flown by a lucky one. 

It's what the rebellion is built on. 

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5 hours ago, CMDR Kastor said:

Agreed. Don't forget sometimes the only way to beat a highly reliable build flown by a superior commander is with a risky build flown by a lucky one. 

It's what the rebellion is built on. 

 

7 hours ago, Ginkapo said:

To break this down; "if your aim is to reduce variation then reducing variation creates higher quality."

This is a non argument as you have to first justify why reducing variation is the fundamental aim. In Armada this is not appropriate. Maximising damage and kills is the fundamental aim. Were not producing cheese sandwiches here. 

The sandwich comment made me laugh, improvement science is actual about trying to understand and reduce variation within complex systems. It has worked for some of the most complex systems ever created by humanity, in which variation always plays a part. It’s a very well evidenced and known that reducing common cause variation improves your chances of getting the outcome you want. So to think you can’t use a concept in a game which improves the chance of an airliner landing or a multiple trauma victim surviving misses that fact that a simple game is no more that a basic set of processes with some inserted variation.  

So the outcome in armada is Wining with the highest possible number of tournament points. This is actually the fundamental aim.   Damage and killing ships are part of the outputs of system components, other outputs include damage reduction, ability to ensure components are in a usable state ( in the right place and alive etc). If you break down your system ( list and game style) you can look at what level of common clause variation is acceptable for each output and if you can change the level of variation....then you test it to see if it works or not.

 

 

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To decide if a squadron (or any other unit) is "good" for a purpose, I always compare what I get for the points invested.

For example: The TIE Defender is a better squadron, than the TIE Fighter. But it costs 16 FP the latter 8 FP. So you have to compare 1 Defender against 2 TIE Fighter. Or you divide the damage output/hull points through the FP-cost.

The Z-95 is the cheapest squadron in the game. Three red dice against squadrons are worth 1.5 average damage, with a swarm reroll nearly 2. The investment is only 7 FP. That makes it the best (generic) damage output/FP against squadrons you can get as a rebel player. In Hull/FP the Z-95 is only good middle class, Y-wing, YT-1300, VCX-100 are better. Even anti-ship its a fairly good investment. 0.5 average damage for 7 FP (14 FP/hit) is a bit better than A-wings (14.7/hit).

Vulnerability against First Strike and flak is a minus. Some of it you can soak up, pairing it with Escort-squadrons. Your opponent should have a better game to go for than your Headhunters or you will loose them relatively soon. (Not a good idea to bring them together with Counter-squadrons). They are good to fill the lines of X-wings or Y-wings or provide a bit of cheap protection for the flanks of a Nebulon or Liberty.

If there would be half the amount of Swarm-shenanigans for rebels as there are for imperials and less First-Strike-meta, I'm sure, we would see a lot more of Z-95.

 

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