Well – I am a little contrary in nature, so when there’s a top tier archetype list going around, I tend to not jump on the bandwagon early (if at all … I’m looking at you Defenders!). So when I say I’m looking at Jumpmasters – you’ll know what I mean.
Confession: I own 3 jumpmasters
Mitigating factor: I never played the “Wolf Pack” prior to the first “nerf” (i.e. the R4 Agromech FAQ)
Yes, that’s correct; I never played the wolf pack when they were strongest, only starting the list during the “Overclocked R4” phase (i.e. between the first and second “nerfs”). This list did reasonably well and I even took it to a store competition in Tasmania and did reasonably well. Having said that, the list was successful, but seemed to lack something in the enjoyment stakes for me – it never gave me the buzz of flying Brobots or a Tie Swarm for example. As a result, I veered away from the list for a while (refer to my ill-fated flirtation with Whisper and the Decimator!).
Now enter “Nerf #2” – FAQ detailing that the EPT: Deadeye is only for small ships now. Ouch – this will have MUCH more of a play-ability effect on the “poor” scouts (ok – ok – I know that they weren’t poor …). At PS2 and now with no obvious mechanic to modify dice after taking a target lock, it looked grim.
Hence now I’m interested again – is this list (or variations therein) still viable? What would such a list look like?
So – challenge accepted. The primary issue is that now you will need a target lock to launch your favored Plasma Torpedoes. The simplest solution is just take a target lock when available and shoot. Sure that works, but it doesn’t maximize your return for hits, i.e. without anything but Guidance Chips to assist, your average return for a shot would be:
Not bad – but short of the almost guaranteed 4 (plus one shield) that you used to get in the first incarnation of the squad. Is there a way to improve this? Sure – but it comes at a cost (what doesn’t?). If we use the K4 Security Droid as crew, we can obtain a free Target Lock when we perform a green manoeuvre. This frees up our action for a focus. This would then mean that our average return for a shot would be:
Nice! We increase our shot efficiency by 25% at a cost of a 3 point crew upgrade. So for 33 points we get a Contracted Scout (Extra Munitions, Plasma Torpedoes, K4 Security Droid, and Guidance Chips) thus can fit 3 still in a list. For an added bonus, we can now add Adaptability as an EPT for an additional point of Pilot Skill and still come in at 99 points for the squad.
The downside? Remember the asymmetric dial of the Jumpmaster? That’s right only “1 (straight, left bank, left turn)” and “2 (straight, left bank, left turn)”. So if your opponent is travelling to the right of your ship – K4 doesn’t kick in. This means that you’ll need to be much better at flying them and planning your attack runs, possibly hugging the board edge and flying counter-clockwise.
The next complication is taking a target lock (whether with K4 or via an action) – with PS 2 (or 3 with Adaptability), you’ll almost certainly be moving before many of your opponents, which means that, certainly for what would have been your initial salvo in the Deadeye era, you won’t be able to obtain a target lock as your opponent will be out of range (as the higher PS ships move after you). The practical effect of this is that your first shots will likely be a native 2 dice with focus and you’ll take some damage from your opponent before you can strike with the ordnance.
Turn zero (or obstacle setup) possibly also becomes more important (though this was still the case with previous list archetypes) to allow for the strategy chosen …(1) cop an initial barrage of damage to set up your strike or (2) fly around the board for the optimal green move / strike. I’d like to be able to say that I have some guidance here, but I don’t. I’m still working through the best setup and the only thing I’ve settled on is trying to set up an obstacle in my right hand corner at range 3 from both edges – this stops my opponent placing one at rage 2 and cramping the logical starting point for the scouts.
Given these complications, I personally have chosen to veer away from the pure 3 x jumpmaster archetype, preferring to drop one for the dreaded “Party Bus” (YV-666 Trandoshian Slaver, Dengar crew, Zuckass Crew, 4-Lom crew) coming in at 34 points. This provides a different dynamic to the list and is gold against higher agility opponents.
End of “Theory Wing”
“How does it play” you ask? Well so far, I’ve had 2 close games with the list – both wins against good players, but VERY close:
Game 1: vs Ryad (Defender), Vessery (Defender) and Omega Leader (Tie F/O).
My opponent in this game (Dion) applied a lot of focus to the YV early on – this allowed me to eventually get 2 plasma’s off (one from each scout) – one on each of the defenders. He flew well to deny me the ability to focus fire on any one of his ships. Mid game I traded one scout for Ryad but had lost a lot of health on the YV. The second scout managed to dispatch the second defender, which left me with an out-of-position YV with 2 hull and a jumpmaster (5 hull remaining) against a full health Omega leader (with stealth device). This is where I realised my mistake in not burning down the Tie F/O early. The better dial meant that he could get behind my YV and finish it off. With only a one-on-one fight, it was able to target lock the jumpmaster to prevent any dice modification!
So it became a slug fest of a 2 attack / 3 agility (+ Stealth Device) front arc ship versus a 2 attack / 2 agility ship with 360 degree shots with one more health. In the end, that one more health and the 360 degree shooting made the difference, though this could have easily gone either way!
Lesson: should have damaged the Tie F/O early and made it lose the Stealth device before it came down to a one-on-one with the scout! Also need to work on focused fire.
Game 2 vs VCX-100 (Choppa), Attack shuttle (Zeb – docked), T70 X-Wing ( Niem Numb)
This ended up being an interesting game for the wrong reasons, my opponent (Darby) completely out-flew me in the early game, stripping off the shields from one scout and taking one off the other before I had even damaged one of his ships! The 4 dice (5 dice in range 1) from the Ghost was a telling factor – especially as my moves were obvious with trying to perform green moves for Target Locks! Also Nien Numb was acting as a mini stress bot – limiting my options further.
I focused on burning down the Ghost but didn’t do that too well – losing one of the scouts without it ever getting off any ordnance! However go down it did while I sent the YV against the X wing. Launching the shuttle from the dying Ghost and realising the danger that the party bus represented to the X wing, my opponent made that his next objective – though this was at the cost of the shuttle, which copped the last plasma from the remaining scout.
Again that left the remaining scout against a damaged X wing – the health equation slightly in my favour this time (1 shield, 5 hull vs 2 hull remaining) but facing a 3 dice vs 2 dice attack deficit. In the end, the jumpmaster proved up to the task.
Lesson: should maximise the use of the Party Bus (Dengar and Zuckass specifically) against the higher agility opponents.
So what’s next? Well – the games have shown me that either I need to either:
- Improve my flying enormously or risk being unable to launch all of my ordnance
- Launch my ordnance without further dice modifications so as to mitigate against losing them when the ship is destroyed, or
- Look for another option in terms of the build.
If I were to keep playing the build as it is, I’d chose option 2, as losing ships with 2 plasmas unused is a complete waste of offensive potential. However, I have determined that there may be a tweak to the build that may means that it flies very much like it did during the Overclocked R4 era – so stay tuned!