The trouble with Tie Defenders is that I have trouble facing them! Since the choice of titles came out with the Imperial Veterans box, I have had 3 games (Ok – not a great sample size) against various incarnations of this ship – and performed ‘sub-par’ in my opinion.
Let’s remind ourselves of the changes introduced by the 2 titles now available:
Both are strong additions to the ship’s kit and both have caused me problems. Looking at these in turn:
Tie / D Games
Vs Overclocked Wolf Pack
My first game ever with a wolf pack (3 x scouts / Jumpmasters) and this was post the R4 ‘nerf’ – so I was using the overclocked Astromech upgrade to gain a second focus at the cost of a stress. I was up against Ali who was playing a Palp Decimator and Glaive Defender.
I concentrated on taking down the Decimator first – which managed to ping off shields from the scouts while the defender made most use of the /D title with an ion cannon and then a primary attack to whittle down a scout.
By the time I had taken out the Decimator, I was down a scout and low on Plasma torpedoes. Scouts in the end game, despite their 360 turret – are a difficult proposition – especially as the defender was virtually guaranteed 1 damage and an ion token against one and then a second / primary weapon shot. In the end – it was a 2 hull scout vs a 2 hull defender – with the defender shooting first – bye bye scout.
Result: Loss 57-100
Tie /x7 Games
Vs 331 Squadron
My first game was with my 331 Squadron (3 Black squadron Ties with Crackshot, 3 Academy Ties and Howlrunner). Jarryd was running 2 Defenders (Countess Ryad and a Rexler ) with a Palp Shuttle.
I decided to try to take down the Countess first as, in the end game, I thought she would represent the biggest threat. So – that went according to plan, but did use up most of the crackshot cards – a fair trade. Then – mostly due to it being a target of opportunity and trying to deny dice changes, I targeted the shuttle and took that down.
Unfortunately that left me with only an Academy and Black squadron pilot against Rexler. With little or no dice modification (over and above the focus token) and 2 attack dice each, the defender made short work of my injured Black Tie. Then it was a game of cat and mouse with the academy tie – sadly though – with 3+ moves providing an evade dice and focusing for actions, even with shots on the defender – they were mostly avoided. Rexler’s 4 speed white K–Turn also was used to good effect. In the end, it was mission impossible for the academy pilot, who went down fighting (unsuccessfully).
Result: Loss 65-100
Vs Overclocked Wolf pack
My latest game was against Darby, who was flying Maarek and the Countess in defenders and a Palp Shuttle. As with my first game – the Defenders (or at least one of them) needed to go down before the end game or the torpedo-less scouts would once again struggle to close out the game.
Well – that’s where the tactics all came apart – with both defenders taking the /x7 title coupled with my inability to get all of them in arc and range at any one time, the defenders managed to survive. To add insult to injury, Darby used the shuttle well to block my lumbering scouts in a tight asteroid field.
The scouts went down without taking a single opposition ship off the board L – clearly my worst result ever with the wolf pack.
Result: Loss 0-100
General performance of the wolf pack
So I needed to ask myself whether these results were the result of my flying of the wolf pack overall or whether they are specific to the games against the defender (granted that one of the three above was against my tie swarm).
Summarizing my games with the squadron so far, we can see the following:
That’s a reasonable (albeit early) success rate with the list (winning 7/10 games) – when you look at the ones against lists other than defenders, that’s 7/8 wins. So in general, I can’t say that the list if under-performing in any way.
The next question to ask is – are the defenders the ‘bad match-up’ for the wolf pack? It’s probably too early to tell, but let’s do some sums / theory-wing on the match-ups…
- I run the standard overclocked wolf pack that I’ve listed in other blog posts
- Let’s also assume that I’m facing a couple of defenders and have Palpatine in the mix too
- Let’s also (for the moment) eliminate the effects of obstacles on the game
A concentrated fire from 3 x scouts with plasma torpedoes and a second focus (from overclocked) would look like:
So each scout, on average, should be able to generate 3 hits per torpedo – that’s 9 hits.
Now, a Defender has 3 green dice and, if they use the /x7 title, an evade dice and (say) a focus for actions. Thus the defense of a Tie will be:
Thus with the first Torpedo defense – we can round up to 3 (from 2.875) and then on subsequent turns, we can assume that (unmodified) the Defender would be able to cancel 1 hot (1.125).
That means that the defender cancels:
- Hit #1 (3) – 3 evades = 0 hits
- Hit #2 (3) – 1 evade = 2 hits plus 1 shield = 3 (all shields gone)
- Hit #3 (3) – 1 evade = 2 hits (no shields left) = 2 (1 hull left)
Hence we have 2 defenders on the board still, 1 on full health / 1 on 1 remaining hull, BUT, we still haven’t taken Palpatine into account! If we assume we save his dice change for defense, we can save another hit, meaning that we have:
- Defender on full health (3 shields / 3 hull)
- Defender damaged (0 shields / 2 hull)
- Lambda shuttle on full health (5 shields / 5 hull)
All this for the loss of 50% of our alpha strike capability – not a great return. Taking this to its logical conclusion, we could use our second salvo to drawn down the health of the first Defender, or complete the destruction of the damaged one (thus reducing the offensive output of the enemy).
Assuming that we choose to kill at least one ship, that would mean we have to contend with one full health defender and a full health shuttle (with Palpatine) now with only 3 x 2 dice attacks (assuming we’re not in range 1). To be fair, I don’t believe those odds to be in our favor!
So how then can we improve the initial engagement?
- We could use 4-Lom on one of the scouts as crew – this would prevent the use of one of the evade tokens in the defense – the problem is that the wily opponent can use that against another of the scouts’ attacks – thus nullifying the impact (at the cost of an ion token on one of the scouts)
- We could use Zuckass crew on one of the ships – this would mean re-rolling defense dice (let’s assume the first hit for maximum results) – that’s 3 additional stress tokens (in addition to the one we took for using the overclocked astromech) for 3 re-rolls, that means an average return of 1 evade and the defender taking 2 more hits. On average, the statistics mean that we should be able to kill one. The downside here is that we now have 4 stress tokens on one of the scouts – meaning that scout couldn’t launch the remaining torpedo for 4 more turns! It also makes the scout vulnerable to predictability (with the greens all straight or to the left) and action-less and unable to defend itself with anything but 2 green dice.
- We could look to block our target – this would mean that the blocking scout wouldn’t be able to bring its torpedoes to bear, but it denies the defender a focus token. This means that we’d still (on average) generate 6 hits. Thus the defense looks like this:
- Hit #1 (3) – 2 evades = 1 hit plus 1 shield (1 shield / 3 hull)
- Hit #2 (3) – 1 evade = 2 hits (all shields gone / 2 hull left) OR Palpatine for 3 hull left
This indicates that we are 1 hull worse off in our attack, BUT we saved 1 torpedo and haven’t added to our stress through Zuckass. It also means that 1 of our scouts is not stressed and can be less predictable with the next move.
If we could block the defender again, it could be removed from the board ad we end up less stressed and with one more remaining torpedo than with the 3 shot scenario. (i.e. we would have used 4 / 6 torpedoes).
Could this work? I think it definitely requires the wolf pack player to fly better than his opponent, but it seems do-able. Other options would also to look at different builds (Recon specialist instead of Overclocked astromech to reduce the stress impact; use of a “bumpmaster” rather than a torp boat – with feedback array that would reduce the hull by 1 again, but mean that all torps are expended removing 1 defender).
Clearly with only 2 games against defenders (with the wolf pack), I need a lot more experience flying to enable my squad to combat them effectively. Other options may include targeting the Palp shuttle first – something I may need to model up in terms of efficiency (something for a later blog post!)