Wednesday, 22 August 2018

A Wretched Hive - Reviewing the Scum & Villainy in Second Edition with PhilGC

So it seems like a lot of people liked my review of the Imperial Navy's options for 2nd Edition, so much so that they were eagerly asking when I'd be reviewing the Scum and Rebel options.  And that'd be great but I've spent most of my time thinking about Imperial ships and squads and I realised that I don't really have half a clue about the other two factions.
Fortunately, though, I knew a couple of men who did and they've very kindly agreed to help me (and by extension you) out and share their knowledge and insights into their specialist factions!
I might be back at the end of the blog to chip in a few thoughts of my own, but otherwise I'm going to waste little time in handing over the reins of my blog to none other than Gold Squadron Podcasts inaugural Best Blog award - the man behind the 'such an x-wing hipster' blog: Phil GC!


Hi, Phil GC here, on someone else’s blog!  Other people are contributing to my blogs and David asked me if I would like to contribute to his.  Following on from his excellent post about ships of the Empire in 2.0 he asked if I could take some time to look at the faction that I am most associated with, Scum and Villainy, so that was an easy yes. 

Towards the end of X-Wing 1.0 Scum had a bit of a rough ride, all the wave 14 toys went to improving the Empire and those pesky Rebels, but 2.0 is a whole new world.  So many changes, so much that might just suit Scum.  There are still plenty of unpleasant tricks to be pulled.  I’m pretty sure that as a faction Scum might have the most options for controlling our opponents, but we also have aces to die for, some great synergies, and a vast array of.  Summarising every pilot in the faction is a monumental task, so as David did I have broken it down by chassis.  Please bear in mind these are just my musing based on what I have seen of 2.0 so far, and the landscape changes daily at the moment.  Initial impressions is what we have here and in 3 months time I’m fairly sure that the whole thing will read incredibly differently.

I’ve included a build per chassis just as starting off point for each ship, they’re not extensive, their probably not optimal, but I hope they give an idea of something the ship can do in 2.0.  Some are quite janky while others slightly more streamlined, but as I haven’t had a chance to fly all these ships multiple times and try a load of things out yet they are mainly just hypothetical.  There are better pilots and list-sculptors out there than I who will have seen combinations that I just won’t and I look forward to seeing what they do with this faction.

So, anyway, enough of that.  Let’s talk about space ships.  

(please don’t shoot me if I don’t really like your favourite ship, I’m a blogger, I have opinions, they are most definitely not always correct)

Aggressor Assault Fighter  (or as we all call it, “the IG”)

First Edition saw this ship reach unbelievable highs with notable pilots like Jesper Hills and Simeon Dellapina winning some pretty prestigious events with it.  When it was first released it totally changed the game, it was such a diverse chassis that you could do so many things with it, initially it was all about damage, then towards the end of the game it became all about control.  Autothrusters, focus, evade every turn made it tanky as hell.  Advanced sensors made it unblockable.  IG-B and C gave it fierce action economy and consistent damage output, a brace of these were a match for most things, but they ate all your points.  There were so many must-have options that you were never getting another ship in there with them.

Second Edition see’s massive changes to the ship.  Firstly it’s been promoted to a Medium base size (so is less good at blocking), no Push the Limit for action economy, restrictions with Advanced Sensors equally changing the way it functions.  Essentially there is no “this is the best build” default on the ship as yet, which will have list builders very excited.  More importantly because of the changes to the upgrades it looks like having a third ship in the list could well be an option.  As the IG is less tanky that it was in 1st ed the choice of third ship is going to be hugely important, but a HWK with some simple toys on it to improve their efficiency could well be something we see on tables a lot.

Pros – Versatile with a lot of options
Cons – not nearly as tanky as it was in first edition

Build to look at: IG-88 A and B, Advanced Sensors, Ion Cannons and Tractor beams.

BTL-A4 Y-Wing

First Edition.  A few people played with Kavil but the standard Unhinged Astromech with Twin Laser Turret x4 was the default.  It’s a list tried by many but at its peak Seb Brady was probably the most elegant flier of what many consider to have been a blight on X-Wing.  It was a little dull… and unlike the rebels who could use Y-Wings as the dependable and frustrating Stress Hog, Scum had very little use for the ship outside of the standard build.  Something else was generally a better option unless you were flying them en-masse. 

Second Ed.  The addition of the Gunner slot and a load of other options make the Y-Wing look like it is going to be a very good Jack of All trades ship, possibly a default “I need a half decent filler ship” candidate.  The rebalancing of their shield to hull ratio means that crits will land sooner and they will feel that but at less than 40 points with a turret you can do a lot worse than a budget Y-Wing.  Drea Renthal looks like she could be a must-have for anyone looking at taking a tie swarm as she is kind of similar to Howlrunner in what she does, but we’ll address the notion of the Scum Swarm a bit later.

Pros- Diverse build options for a multitude of roles
Cons – still has one agility and a worse shield to hull ratio

Build to look at:  Kavil, R4 Astro, Han Solo Gunner, Trickshot, Ion Cannon Turret

Customised YT-1300 Light  Freighter – Erm, Scum Falcon.

Welcome to the new shiny, put-everything-on-it-and-its-really-good ship.  So cheap for a basic one, I mean you can run four of these things in a list.  

Sure you’ll probably lose a lot if you do but you can. 

The two dice primary has come in for a lot of criticism, as has the less health unless you take the Espace craft, but when you look at crew combinations with it and the fact that you can have Scum Han (personally I thought the Solo movie was excellent) putting out A LOT of red dice a turn if you build it right then you have potentially a very good ship.  Even fully loaded it’s likely to be cheaper than a Rebel Falcon.  The pack includes some fantastic crew options though, so that alone makes this ship worth buying.  Expect to see “Fat Han” builds teaming up with the likes of Fenn Rau to be about (basically the Scum Version of the old Jake Han lists like Jack Mooney saw great success at worlds with).  However, in the early stages of 2.0 many of us are expecting the TIE Swarm to be king, and those of us who remember them in their 1.0 heyday know exactly how fast a 1 agility ship will melt in front of Howlrunner and her co-horts.

Pros – Fast moving, multiple valid builds, cheap
Cons – 2 dice basic primary attack, 1 agility, points add up fast

Build to look at: Han Solo, 0-0-0, Latts Razzi, BT-1, Rigged Cargo Chute, Engine Upgrade, Trickshot, Lando’s Millenium Falcon

Escape Craft

Is this the thing that just makes the Scum Falcon better, or does it offer its own rewards? Well, yes and yes.  The additional shield afforded the falcon are really useful, the fact that it can spend them and then undock and do its own thing is brilliant, and that ability alone gives you huge tactical options.  And don’t forget it can co-ordinate, which is immeasurably useful and the cheapest co-ordinate in the game.

It allows for a lot of tactical options on the falcon, do you lose the shield on the Falcon first, allowing L3 to kick in, or do you use the shuttles shields up and throw it out there as a homing missile?  The choice is very much yours, just as the Falcon will be able to do a lot of things thanks to it’s options the Escape Craft further increases the versatility of the ship.

Pros – Cheapest Co-ordinate in the game, makes the Falcon better
Cons – None really, if you’re taking a 1300 surely you take one of these too?

Build to look at: L3-37

Fang Fighter

In 1.0 the Protectorate as it was then, enjoyed quite a large moment in the sun.  When Mindlink was a thing Old Fangaroo (Teroch, Fenn and Manaroo) and Parattanni (Ventress, Fenn and Manaroo) were massively successful lists.  Mishary Al-Farris took Parattanni to the very top of the game when he won the UK Open in 2017.  Fenn Rau was a monster with multiple focuses and a target lock, and until the arrival of Nym he was a stable in tournament winning lists everywhere, then much like Miranda killed Soontir Fel, Fenn suddenly vanished.  The Protectorate only really saw two ships being used -  Fenn for his obvious hitting power, and Old Teroch who was fantastic against the TIE Defenders and their token stacks.

In 2.0 we have a ship that can dogfight with the best of them.  The changes to the old Concord Dawn Protector Title so it works at range one regardless of arc make this ship scary for a lot of people, and it is one of the answers to the TIE Swarm, simply because it has a lot of red dice and auto mods on it’s green dice.  It could never take an evade anyway so the linked actions of boost/roll focus make a lot of sense.  Fenn and 3 basics, or Fenn, Old Teroch and Kad Solus with Fearless can both do a LOT of damage to a bunch of TIE fighters.  It doesn’t have access to a lot of extra toys, but Fearless is pretty much the only thing it needs.  Changed to action economy says that lock focus is going to be a lot harder to get so that Fearless mod is going to be very useful.  Expect to see them a lot.  

If 2.0 become the dogfighting extravaganza we hope it will then the protectorate is going to be a very useful tool in the Scum Arsenal

Pros – arguably the best Dogfighter in the scum faction potentially the best Dogfighter in the game
Cons – Not a huge amount of upgrade options

Build to look at: Fenn Rau, Fearless

Firespray-Class Patrol Craft

So, my specialist subject.  In 1.0 the firespray was a great jack of all trades, which ultimately made it very expensive to get it to do what you wanted it to do.  With perseverance it was an absolute game winner but far more fragile than it’s 10 health and 2 green dice implied.  Some people have some success with it, but it’s place in the game was sadly less prominent than many people would have liked.

But now, ooooh, the Firespray is going to be a great jack of all trades, and kitted up it is still going to be pretty expensive.  That said it looks better, partly cause everything else possibly looks slightly worse.  The three titles available to the ship are going to define your build options a lot.  Slave 1 to me seems not great.  If you trigger it’s main ability then you’ve probably put your dial down wrong anyway.  Andrasta on Emon is going to be monstrous, and he makes a strong case for being the best bomber in the game now.  Marauder though, this it THE title I expect to see people using the most.  Adding a gunner slot, a re-roll out of the back, here’s my stapler and here’s my Boba card, sold, done, sorted.  

Again the load out is going to be important.  Reinforce and the inbuilt boost are big yeses.  We’re going to see a lot of sprays about.  Boba played well should handle swarms and with enough points for an ace wingman or a couple of cheap Fangs to play with there are going to be some really good list options out there.  Pretty sure it will feature somewhat heavily in some blog somewhere.

Pros – huge versatility, but every man and their dog is likely to be flying Boba
Cons – losing the hard three actually really hurts when dealing with multiple ships

Build to look at: Boba Fett, Marauder, Perceptive Co-Pilot, Han Solo, Seismic Charges, Fearless

G-1A Starfighter

The Misthunter, Now with purpose! It’s not just a bad B-Wing for scum.  Sure it still looks like it can get burned down fast, but the pilots are better, the medium base is an improvement for it, and it gains a health.  Most importantly: It can Jam! In a world where tokens are going to be hard to come by Jam is a really powerful tool.

Personally I’m still yet to be convinced how good it is going to be, I’m not full of faith in B-Wing style ships but if you’re building a list based on stress, then Ventress in a Lancer and 4-Lom are probably not bad places to start.  Control is hard to come by (thankfully!) and ways of stacking multiple stress seem greatly reduced.  (Here’s a hint, put 0-0-0 in with Ventress and 4-Lom and your opponents aces are suddenly having a very bad day)

Pros – 9 health, cheap, big gun with good pilot abilities, will excel as part of a tricksy list
Cons – 1 Agility, not a stand alone ship

Build to look at: 4-Lom, 0-0-0, Advanced Sensors, Elusive, Mist Hunter

HWK-290 Light Freighter

So I’m confused.  There are 3 Light Freighters in the scum faction.  The 666 and the Falcon are two, the third is the HWK, surely it’s a “super light” freighter in comparison to those two.  But anyway, enough of that, on to the ship!

The prize for most improved scum ship goes to, drum roll please, the HWK-290! Infinitely better dial, an extra red dice, access to a seriously good title and the pilots are seriously good at messing with people.  In 1.0 Torkil and Palob were the stars, but since the changes to his ability, and the changes to Ion Dace might actually see some table time! You want to mess up a Falcon or Ghost with a load of Ion really fast, Dace is the man to do it! 

The other two have actually taken a bit of hit in terms of their effectiveness, but the rewards for good flying are there, again mentioning lack of tokens, Palob will set peoples teeth on edge when he just nicks their only mod, (which means that when Ventress stresses you then you don’t have the green token to stop her… just saying).

Pros: a cheap support ship that can now actually contribute to a fight
Cons: Pilot abilities are a bit harder to trigger

Build to look at: Palob Godalhi, Lando Calrissian, Moldy Crow

Jumpmaster 5000

Well, it’s back, and it is VERY different.  For a start the dial has changed dramatically, it really is only happy turning right now, and no white sloop.  To balance that though it is quite substantially cheaper.  Dengar with the title is now 72 points, that’s 36 in old money, 9 points cheaper.  The turret is much less efficient, it being red to move it, the big base barrel roll is stressful (which let’s be honest is for the best) but it’s still going to be a tasty ship BECAUSE it is so much cheaper.  Sure it’s not as good as the 1.0 variation but you can fit more around it, so is Dengar more of a team player? Ultimate yes, he will now fit well in a three ship build and he still carries the threat of the double tap.  Tel is still annoying, and Manaroo is still not as good as she was pre-nerf.  

I think that the Jumpmaster has had one of the biggest hits in the Scum Faction.  However you still have a cheap PS big ship with a big gun that flown right can shoot twice a turn.  Lets face it, it had it’s moment in the sun in 1.0, probably sharing the title of Most Crowned ship with Miranda.  With the unstoppable action economy of Dengar, K4 Security Droid and Expertise be missed? Obviously, by those who love the jumpmaster at any rate.  

Pros: It’s cheaper and plays better with other.
Cons: It’s turning circle just got really bad, will other ships in the faction do it’s job better?

Build to look at: Tel Trevura, R5 Astro, Deadman’s Swith, Hull Upgrade, Expert Handling, Punishing one

Khiraxz Fighter

I’ve always like the Khiraxz, but have never bought myself to be able to love it.  I’m not sure I can in 2.0 either.  It’s got a big gun, it can take three modifications, it’s got a blue 3 forward now and can barrel roll.  All of which it sorely needed, it used to feel like a “not so good” X-Wing, and it now feels like a “still not so good” X-Wing.  

Talonbane was a 9, he’s now a 5, so that’s worse, he is a cheap cannon, being one of only two pilots able to throw 5 attack dice without too much effort (the other obviously being Fenn Rau) but if your comparing the two as dogfighters only one ship wins that.  With less splash damage, the most popular pilot is going to be less effective.  Without Harpoons what will Captain Jostero do? Wait for someone to land on a bomb? Well that seems a somewhat inefficient way to play.

Pros: Erm, it’s cheaper
Cons: It’s still not as good as other things in the faction that do the same job (cough, Fangs, cough)

Build to look at: Graz, Contrabrand Cybernetics, Ion Missile, Afterburners, Outmaneuver

Lancer-Class Pursuit Craft

The birth place of the mobile firing arc! 2.0 owes this ship a lot.  In 1.0 it was successful as part of Paratanni and also in a Twin Lancer list.  In built control, a good range of actions and reliable guns saw the Lancer become very popular with the likes of Twiggy Williams and Tom Reed achieving some serious success with it.  But how does it fair in 2.0?

It’s guns aren’t as good, it’s shield to hull ratio isn’t as good, and at 84 points Ventress is the most expensive ship in the game.  However the Lancer has always been good for what it adds aside from the guns.  The tractor beam, the stress from Asajj, they made the list up as much as the guns, and I think the lancer is going to find a place in a lot of lists because of the control element it adds to the game.  It’s still super fast, Ventress can still take Latts, and you can still throw small base ships around with Ketsu at the start of combat.

Pros: A great centre piece ship in a scum list designed to control the enemy
Cons: those 2 dice attacks out of the sides and the back are significantly less scary

Build to look at: Asajj Ventress, Latts Razzi, Heightened Perception

M12-L Kimogila

It’s another B-Wing type ship, so you can guess my feeling for it based on earlier comments.  I’ve never been able to embrace the Kimo in 1.0, finding it unwieldy, but it’s been a part of the very successful scum alpha strike list, and very cost effective.

It bought us the bullseye concept and has kept it’s ability, which is one of the BEST baked in abilities in the game.  No mods of defence dice is not to be sniffed at.  Dalan is able to regen now, which is a big ability, and Torani can still put damage into multiple things.  One more health is not to be sniffed at either, and medium base makes it faster.  Point for point it’s a better munitions carrier than the Khiraxz as it can reload, but for me the love stops there.  A decent arc dodger will simply tear it apart.

Pros: Reload
Cons: It has to live long enough to reload

Build to look at: Dalan Oberos, Concussion Missiles, Shield Upgrade, Predator, Advanced Proton Torpedoes, R3 Astromech

M3-A Interceptor

So, 1.0, the M3-A, it did… erm….  I’m struggling here.  It never cut it as a swarm ship, it never really made it as a filler ship.  But it could have a place.  When we looked at the Y-Wing I mentioned that Drea might work in a swarm, if she does then it will be along with Serissu and a whole bunch of M3-As.  Without Howlrunner it won’t be as good at killing things, but with Serissu it will be better at not getting killed.  I still think the TIE Swarm beats it but it is an alternative for those not loyal to the Emperor.

Its dial is good, three hull and a shield with three agility is pretty good, lots of small attacks could be good too.  In the right hands it could be a very good ship, but it doesn’t capture the imagination the same way that a TIE swarm does.

Pros : Cheap, very cheap.  The one bank on the dial could give it positional advantages over other swarms.
Cons: Blank out once and you have a dead ship on your hands.  Probably best not to blank out.

Build to look at:  Cartel Spacer, Ion Cannon

Quadrijet Transfer Spacetug

The rebranding of the Quadjumper, which was definitely one of the quirkiest ships in 1.0 has given us something very interesting in 2.0.  It never really shone, clever players killed it first because tractor beams are annoying, and with no shields it did tend to just die.

In its most basic form it is laughably cheap! Try flying a few with Kath Scarlet and see how you opponent enjoys just taking damage.  Reducing agility is probably the most important bit of tractor beaming people, even more so than throwing them around, it just makes all your guns more important.  A great filler, a proper annoyance, or even as a swarm there is a lot that these things will be able to do.  Worth taking in numbers too, because lets be honest, who doesn’t find the idea of throwing a decimator around the table highly amusing?

Pros: Cheap and annoying
Cons: No shields mean that those crits really hurt when they land.

Build to look at:  Constable Zuvio, Ketsu Onyo, Seismic Charges, Contraband Cybernetics

Scurrg H-6 Bomber

Another ship so suffer because of its overwhelming success in recent months.  Nym, primarily in his rebel form, had been “a bit good” since he arrived.  The dial has been made slightly worse, the it can’t fire munitions, the Bomber is just a bomber now.  The barrel roll is red.  It’s hull to shield ratio is following the trend of being worse.  All things that have pulled it down somewhat in potency, but as you’d expect it’ll be cheaper.  

For scum players with a bomb fetish look no further than Nym and Emon in his Firespray.  Trajectory simulator is going to be good, even though bombs are not quite as ridiculous as they were a smart player will be able to use Nym to make people fly very cautiously and control large areas of the board.  Add in the option of an Ion Turret (now that the TLT has joyfully been retired from our lives) and you can add a chunk of control to your list.  But at one agility you can expect any scurrg to get burned down fast.  

Pros: Arguably the best bomber that Scum can field.
Cons: It’s even more fragile than it was in 1.0.

Build to look at: Sol Sixxa, Cad Bane, Seismic Charges, Proximity Mines, Ablative Plating, Ion Cannon Turret

Star Viper-Class Attack Platform

Loved by many, but flown by few the Star Viper scores epically in the rule of cool stakes, but never really shone in any truly successful lists.  The biggest problem with the Viper is that the pilot abilites aren’t all that good.  Thweek came along and gave you essentially “infinite” pilot skill, but Guri was always the real queen of the chassis.  The Star Viper has always been a one pilot ship and I can’t see that changing.  Dalan and Xizor just aren’t very good.

Guri jumping up from PS5 to I5 is huge, but don’t be fooled, she’s not an easy ship to fly.  Positional play with the Star Viper is unlike anything else you can pick up.  The banked rolls can give your opponents huge headaches, but you need to keep your options open to make the most of them.  A trapped Star Viper dies fast and hard.  There is no way that Guri could have been allowed to be I6, or any other Viper for that matter, they would be absolutely untouchable as arc dodgers.  Anyone flying Soontir, Fenn, Wedge, Poe or any of the other I6 aces is going to make your Star Viper their number one priority, because if Guri is allowed initiative supremacy she will kill things, a lot.

The addition of the Virago title is expensive, but I think it is totally worth the investment.

Pros: Guri is arguably the best pilot in the Scum faction
Cons: Star Vipers are arguable the most tricky ships to fly in the Scum faction.

Build to look at: Guri, Virago, Outmanoeuvre, Fire Control System, Afterburner  

YV-666 Light Freighter

The 666 fell away in popularity in the game.  It took damage fast and was too unwieldy to combat anything that moved after it with repositioning options.  But now it has a trick, and what a trick it is.  I think Bossk is going to retire from his place as “only real pilot” on the 666 because Moralo Eval is ludicrous! The ability to willingly fly off the table then chose to fly back on is nuts.  It totally removes all the weakness of the ship, you can essentially fly of any board edge and K-Turn, then come back ANYWHERE along the board edge.

The party bus crew options we were used to in 1.0 are not the same as what some clever soul will make them in the new world.  It’s big guns, it’s 180 degree front firing arc, it’s 12 health all mean that it could well be a surprisingly potent ship in 2.0.

Pros: Can control huge areas of the board.
Cons: Don’t let something get behind you!

Build to look at: Bossk, 0-0-0, Latts Razzi, GNK “Gonk” Droid, Contrabrand Cybernetics, Electronic Baffle, Fearless

Z-95-AF4 Headhunter

Another ship that didn’t see much love in 1.0, will it get more in 2.0? Possibly? It’s cheap, you can fit a lot of them in.  It’s only real change is a red barrel roll.  I find it slightly sad that it is red, it’s a small ship, surely it is slightly more agile than a scurrg or a jumpmaster, but hey, it’s cheap.  It has to be compared to other small ships, like Tie Fighters and M3-As which I don’t think it does favourably.  

Filler ship? Cheap blocker? Part of a swarm? Yeah.  But it’s never going to be a star in your list.  

Pros: Cheap and utterly disposable
Cons: Cheap and utterly disposable

Build to look at: Black Sun Soldier, Intimidation 

I want to thank David for letting me share my thoughts on his blog.  This is something that I have really enjoyed writing, but I have avoided getting too stuck into 2.0 while 1.0 has still been going.  I imagine I’d get bored if I had to talk about Imperial and Rebel ships! So thank you Mr Sutcliffe for letting me talk about the Scum without having the responsibility of having to talk about other less “me” things.  


Back to your regular host... 

See, there's no way you'd be getting all that good stuff if you'd asked me to write about Starvipers or Kihraxz's - I can't even spell them, let alone fly one!  Massive thanks for Phil to taking the effort to do all this for me, and in super-quick time too!  If you've never checked out Phil's blog before (which I'm sure you have - it was Blog Of The Year for christ's sake!) then you can find more of his love for the Scummy side of life here...

I'm not really going to add a lot extra to what Phil has said, but I do think there's one interesting thing that reading his review has really brought to my mind.  Two blogs ago I talked about my approach to 2nd Edition squadbuilding and my constant fight to avoid putting upgrades onto ships just because there was a slot, and yet all of Phil's builds to look out for were chock full of upgrades.

So Phil's idea for a Quadjumper was this:
  • Build to look at:  Constable Zuvio, Ketsu Onyo, Seismic Charges, Contraband Cybernetics (46pts)

Where mine would probably be more like this:
  • Build to look at:  Jakku Gunrunner (28pts & you're allowed 0-0-0 if he's not already used)

Time again I knee-jerk winced a little at the expensive loadouts Phil suggested, but on reflection I think there's more than just a right or wrong way of approaching this.  I think it's the Scum mindset to want tricks and angles to exploit and confuse the opponent, and just as much I think it's maybe in my Imperial nature to just want more basic efficiency - more cannon fodder and no-good Stormtroopers to throw at the enemy.  It's been really interesting to read another point of view and it's made me rethink and revisit some of the decisions I've made, which is always healthy to do.

So as Phil slam-dunked it all that's left for me to do is to repost the Scum squad costs compared to 1st Edition...

...and the results of the Community Poll that asked players which ships they thought were going to be best!

Next up I'll have another special guest to talk to us about the Rebel Fleet in 2nd Edition!

Monday, 20 August 2018

The Empire Strikes Back - Reviewing the Imperial Navy in Second Edition

The Second Edition prep clock is ticking and we're already and T-minus 1 month and counting.  I've only had time to get a few physical games in on the table of 2nd Edition but I've been doing a ton of reading/thinking/talking about the game in the meantime.  As I've already said I'm planning on focusing on the Imperial faction and I want to begin that by laying out my thoughts on the ships available to the Imperial Navy on launch date.

First of all I think it's worth reposting this chart which shows the points cost of the ships in 2nd Edition relative to how much you had to pay for them in 1st Edition.  That highlights two big things for me:
  1. Compressed cost in a ship means named pilots are more often worth taking over the cheapest generics
  2. Huge entry level points discounts on a few ships, most notably the TIE Bomber and TIE Punisher

And secondly, so that you're not just listening to one man's opinion on the world (especially a man with minimal table time) I asked the X-Wing community to rate the Imperial Ships 1-5 stars, and here are the summary results of that poll.

It's probably worth bearing in mind some of the above results as well when you're reading through my review.  Sometimes I agree with the common consensus (eg. that the new TIE Phantom is pretty good, that Punishers aren't garbage) and sometimes I disagree (eg. I think there's more potential in the Gunboat than people seemed to, I'm nervous about the Defender being worth its points).

As a really (really) broad rule of thumb my approach to 2nd Edition is really simple: if something was good in the last days of 1st Edition FFG probably overcosted it in 2nd Edition.  If something was bad in 1st Edition it's probably pretty good in 2nd Edtion.  That rule doesn't hold true for everything but I think it's not a bad place to start!

And so without further ado, on to my review of the ships at the Empire's disposal...

Imperialis Generica

In my view there's no ship more iconic to Star Wars than the TIE Fighter.  The heroes might change - it could be an X-Wing, a B-Wing, the Falcon or the Ghost - but they're always up against TIE Fighters and it's the distinctive shape and sound that defines what we think of as a Star Wars space battle.

In 1st Edition the TIE Swarm was one of the earliest dominant squads and continued to terrorise the game essentially unchanged for several years, so much so that for a lot of veteran players the decline of the competitive TIE Swarm is taken as a marker for when things started to go wrong with the balance of the game.

Never fear, though, for in 2nd Edition X-Wing the TIE Swarm is back with a vengeance!

While almost every other 1st Edition squad archetype has taken some serious hits in the conversion to 2nd Edition the TIE Swarm has, incredibly, actually been hugely buffed by the addition of the 'Inferno Squad' pilots from EA's Battlefront 2 video game.  The TIE Swarm was always hugely dependent on its captain, Howlrunner, but in Iden Versio the TIE player now has a Get Out Of Jail Free card for Howlrunner in the initial joust, ensuring the swarm packs a punch later into the game.  There's also powerful new pilot abilities on the other Inferno Squad pilots and you can expect to see Gideon Hask, Seyn Marana and Del Meeko almost as often as Iden and Howlrunner.

There's probably two key archetypes to be aware of in the TIE Swarms that are coming to a metagame near you.  There's the 'Inferno Squad' list with 6 named TIE Fighters, and there's the 'TIE Academy' squad with Howlrunner, Iden Versio and 5 Academy Pilots in a 7-TIE swarm.  The smart money of the players I know who are big TIE Swarm fans is on the TIE Academy being the best of the two variants but I think you'll see Inferno Squad much more often, not least because a Conversion Kit and Core Set only bags you six TIE Fighter dials!

+ Incredibly strong & synergetic pre-built squad straight out of the box
+ Proven 1st Edition strategy has been buffed for 2nd Edition

- Little flexibility in squadbuilding or tactics
- They're going to be abso-fucking-lutely everywhere

TIE Bomber
Ammo Generica

As much as TIE Bombers are a popular ship from The Empire Strikes Back, and as much as they were given a revisit in Imperial Veterans, the 1st Edition TIE Bomber's competitive appearance were really restricted to some cameo roles for Deathfire (who was awesome) using Long-Range Scanners, Cluster Mines and Harpoon Missiles to deliver a real threat for little cost.

You know what's not in 2nd Edition?  Deathfire's ability, Long-Range Scanner, Cluster Mines or Harpoon Missiles.

What is in 2nd Edition, though, is OH MY LORDY but they're cheap, and on top of that price discount they've had a decent buff to their dial and a new ship ability added on top.  In most cases the TIE Bombers are going to fall foul of the old problems that Torpedoes and Bombs had (getting a target lock at low PS, and surviving long enough to fly past the opponent and drop bombs on them).

But... and it's a very important 'but'... Barrage Rockets exist and you don't need a Target Lock to fire them.   Equip a TIE Bomber with Barrage Rockets and what you get, pretty much, is a 1st Edition X-Wing for 34pts.  3 red dice, 6 health, 2 agility, white 2 and 3 turns on the dial - it's a Rookie Pilot with a 35% cost saving.  Yes it all goes wrong when you have to K-Turn or Barrel Roll and can't focus, but it's still a very strong option and I don't know how I feel about that.  

Actually, yes I do, and the answer is that I don't feel great about it.  I hope the points cost on TIE Bombers and/or Barrage Rockets is increased by the time 2nd Edition is properly released.  Right now the sheer punchiness of Barrage Rocket TIE Bombers is a powerful disincentive to use a bunch of other ships like the TIE Strikers, TIE Aggressors, Gunboats or TIE Interceptors that should really be filling that cheap jouster slot in the Imperial Navy.  

+ Significant points reduction from 1st Edition
+ Barrage Rockets turn them into a super-cheap jouster
+ White 2 Turn is a real help for their dial

- Without Deadeye or Long-Range Scanners it's tough to fire most ordnance at low PS

TIE Aggressor
Imperialis Platypus

Evolution is a funny thing, a force of mother nature that sees animals change over time in an attempt to survive every available niche in the environment.  It can lead to some truly glorious creatures perfectly adapted to their habitat, honed hunters and trackers who've been shaped over millions of years to be most effective and efficient killers in order to survive.

Sometimes, though, mother nature makes a mistake and the process of evolution leads to a strange dead end like the Duck-Billed Platypus, an animal that can't decide if it's trying to be a duck or a beaver.  The TIE Aggressor is one such mistake - too slow and puny to be a fighter and too weak and fragile to be a sturdy missile carrier, the only thing the TIE Aggressor has going for it is that it can equip a turret.  Turrets are a lot worse in 2nd Edition.  

Somebody put this poor guy out of its misery.

+ It's cheap enough

- No strong turret upgrades
- Poor relation of any other Imperial ordnance carrier

TIE Striker
Imperialis Sloopus

Almost everyone agreed that TIE Strikers were awesome fun in 1st Edition.  Unfortunately almost everyone also agreed that 'fun' didn't mean 'good' and although you occasionally caught sight of a TIE Striker hiding in among stronger friends they rarely made it into competitive squads.

Second edition is a lot kinder to the TIE Striker - there's no hordes of Twin Laser Turrets mowing them down before they can close enough to do damage, and with red dice in general being weaker they might even not crumple like a wet cardboard box before they get to fire.  These two factors mean that the Striker's promise of bringing cheap red dice is all the more alluring.

+ TLT had always held it back in 1st Edition
+ Cheap source of 3 red dice
+ Fun to fly

- No Lightweight Frame makes them a bit squishier
- Great as a filler/flanker but can they really beat out other options as jousters?

TIE Interceptor
Imperialis Velocitus

TIE Interceptors went on a real journey in 1st Edition, boosted from being the unwanted larger cousins of the TIE Fighter to the best ships in the game before being dumped back down as glass cannons that were mainly glass and not actually that much cannon.

In 2nd Edition the Interceptors find themselves without most of the things that made them great in 1st Edition, but also enjoying that a lot of their worst enemies have gone away too.  Although flimsy both Soontir Fel and Turr Phenir are very cheap to field on the table and so long as you don't load them up with too many extra upgrades they could be pretty efficient ways of frustrating opponents with their arc-dodging ways.  It'll require some recalibration of player expectations, though - they're more of a nuisance for your opponent to swat away than they are a bulletproof centrepiece as in 1st Edition.

+ Without their key 1st Edition upgrades they come in very cheap
+ Autothrusters ship ability is great
+ There are no Cluster Mines in 2nd Edition

- Without their key 1st Edition upgrades they come in very squishy

Alpha-Class Starwing (aka. The Gunboat)
Ammo Slammus Bammus

When the Gunboat was first released I pointed out just how damn expensive the named pilots were, and it turned out I pretty accurately predicted that it was the basic Nu Squadron pilot that offered the most value (even if I got their actual loadout wrong).

In 2nd Edition it might be the opposite that is true as the gap between cheapest and most expensive pilots has closed dramatically - from the equivalent of 16pts to just 6pts - and without Deadeye or Long-Range Scanners it's that much harder to use missiles or torpedoes at lower PS.  I feel like the Gunboat is a bit of a sleeper hit in 2nd Edition - the basic chassis is proven, the statline is good, SLAM is great, the elite pilots are costed really well, it's just maybe going to take a bit of work to unlock their right role and loadout.

+ Named pilots are much cheaper than they were in 1st Edition
+ Proven to be a robust & flexible platform

- Without Deadeye or Long-Range Scanners it's tough to fire most ordnance at low PS
- Cannon slot is a lot weaker with the new HLC

TIE Punisher
Ammo Maximus

I love the sheer brutal ugliness of the TIE Punisher and was one the few players to actually put it into the table with any regularity in 1st Edition.  It was almost certainly the worst ship in the old game, though, as it was hugely expensive and laboriously slow.

The 2nd Edition TIE Punisher comes with a massive points reduction that finally makes up for the fact you need to invest in armaments to justify bringing them in your squad.  The pilot abilities on both Redline and Deathrain are really good and they bring Trajectory Simulator and Proton Bombs to fend off TIE Swarms.  

Right now the TIE Punisher is proving one of the surprise hits of early 2nd Edition squadbuilding, even if it still has all the maneuvering capability of an arthritic Hippopotamus.

+ Huge points saving on 1st Edition
+ Named pilots have great abilities
+ Trajectory Simulator makes bombs more threatening

- The dial still isn't anything to shout about

TIE Advanced Prototype
Imperialis Inquisitio

In 1st Edition the TIE Advanced Prototype was known as the 'Inquisitor's TIE' and it was fitting as he was only pilot you ever really saw in it.  A pocket Push The Limit ace, the Inquisitor was a tricky and frustrating target to bring down for a bargain cost.

In 2nd Edition the TIE Advanced Prototype fits Supernatural Reflexes just as well it did Push The Limit in 1st Edition, and with its ability to chain a Focus action off the Boost/Barrel it got from Supernatural Reflexes the Prototype is a reliable source of dice mods an actions on top of its force-based repositioning.  Unfortunately the added cost of Force users means that you're paying a real premium for all that trickery and the danger is an end result of a ship that can float like a butterfly and sting like a butterfly... while costing as much as a bee.

+ Force points on generic pilots
+ Natural home for Supernatural Reflexes
+ One of the few ships able to stack Focus & Evade

- You pay a lot of points for a ship with minimal stats

Lambda Shuttle
Palpibus Tyderium

In 1st Edition the Lambda Shuttle was the lumbering 'space cow' that almost solely served to ferry Emperor Palpatine about.

In 2nd Edition the Lambda looks set to play a different role with a stronger basic chassis (rear arc!) meaning it isn't quite so offensively limited, and with the inbuilt promise of the excellent coordinate action replacing the dependency on the crutch of Palpatine.  Its a better ship but it remains to be seen where its new role fits into the 2nd Edition Imperial plans.

+ Significant buffs on the old 1st Edition chassis
+ Coordinate!

- The Emperor's not what he used to be
- Still a space cow

TIE Reaper
Palpibus Sloopus

The TIE Reaper has smashed into the final days of 1st Edition with all the subtlety and care of a runaway freight train.  It's bonkers how good the Reapers and Krennic are for their cost.

Everything that made the Reapers good in 1st Edition is worse in 2nd Edition.  Their dial is worse, the Jam action is worse, Jam tokens themselves are worse, Krennic is worse, ISB Slicers are worse, Lightweight Frame is gone.  What's left is a pretty decent raw stat line to joust with but losing the white 1 Turn means the Reapers are really going to struggle to turn around in a dogfight without relying on their sloop.  That's probably exactly as troop transports should be but it's a big step back from 1st Edition.

One thing I would note: I think by now everyone is aligned on the danger that Major Vermeil is in 1st Edition but in 2nd Edition I suspect it's the forgotten man Vizier who will be the best TIE Reaper pilot.  Vizier's pilot ability is good for two reasons - firstly you can Coordinate as a white action rather than taking stress (though you can always buy Tactical Officer for a white Coordinate), but more importantly you can Coordinate with your pilot ability and then reveal a sloop... and with these 2nd Edition dials your Reapers are going to want to sloop a lot!

+ Solid stat line

- Almost everything good in 1st Edition is worse in 2nd Edition
- Red 1 Turns is a massive nerf to their maneuver dial

TIE Advanced
Imperialis Vadus

In 1st Edition the TIE Advanced was all about Darth Vader and the other pilots were really weak by comparison to their Rebel counterparts in the T-65.

In 2nd Edition the TIE Advanced is all about Darth Vader and the other pilots are really weak by comparison to their Rebel counterparts in the T-65.

To compound that I have some doubts about Vader as without an Evade action to 'turtle' or a native Boost to arc-dodge he's living on borrowed time burning charges from his Afterburners, or health with Supernatural Reflexes.  A fully-loaded Vader with Supernatural Reflexes is nearly 95pts and you can build a much better Luke for those points than you can Vader.  Dont get me wrong, I'm sure Vader can put in a real shift on the table and get a lot done but his long term survival chances aren't that great considering how many points you have to spend to put him there.

+ Darth Vader
+ Better dial, solid all-round stats

- Anybody who's not Vader seems underwhelming
- No Evade action

TIE Phantom
Imperialis Peekaboo

No ship in the game has been so dramatically redesigned as the TIE Phantom.  In 1st Edition the Phantom was a glass cannon and a flat track bully with Whisper dominating most things that had lower PS but losing hard against anything that was higher. 

2nd Edition has been recalibrated in a really welcome way, with a new ship ability replacing the old crutch of Advanced Cloaking Device and high PS.  Bringing the red dice down a notch also serves to reclassify the glass cannon element and the end result is a much more balanced and playable ship at a new lower price point, albeit one that's going to require players coming to it with a fresh pair of eyes instead of trying to compare it to it's 1st Edition counterpart.

+ Attractively priced with built-in recloak
+ Freed from the crutch of Advanced Cloaking Device
+ One of the few ships naturally able to stack Focus & Evade

- They hit a lot less hard than you remember - 1 less red dice and no FCS
- You'll benefit from the extra green dice of being cloaked far less often

TIE Defender
Imperialis Rex

It took FFG a long while to get Defenders right in 1st Edition, pricing them out of the game to begin with then buffing them to the moon with Imperial Veterans.  By the end of 1st Edition they were probably about right.

The 2nd Edition Defenders are back to being super-expensive but they've retained the key buffs from Veterans and added more hull and a white Boost!  The new Defender is a fearsome beast that can do pretty much everything, but without a strong action efficiency buff my fear is they can't do all of it at once and won't be able to benefit fully from all their new toys and justify the added cost.

+ The most complete Starfighter in the game
+ Addition of Boost gives them a powerful new tool
+ Can stack Focus & Evade so will take a lot of work to kill

- Oh wow, are they expensive!
- Actions spread thin trying to do everything a Defender is capable of

VT-49 Decimator
Palpibus Extremis

The VT-49 Decimator has long been the Imperial go-to for players wanting something close to the Rebel's YT-1300 experience of flying a fat turreted ship, and in 1st Edition the Decimator certainly had plenty of opportunities to shine.  As a fat turret, as a vehicle for Palpatine, and finally as a home for Kylo Ren the Decimator had multiple runs into the top echelons of competition.

I was really excited for the Decimator in 2nd Edition, especially when I saw some of the powerful Imperial crew options, and I had some money on Double Decimator being a strong squad archetype.  

That money was lost when the points costs were revealed and my plans got stung by the hefty extra cost of a lot of the crew options, especially those with a Force point.  The Decimator remains a tough old bird but what I've really noticed in my attempts to create a squad with it is that ALL the upgrades that made it really sing in 1st Edition are gone - there's no Rebel Captive, no Engine Upgrade, no Kylo Ren, no Veteran Instincts, no Gunner.

I'm not ruling out the Decimator entirely and I think there are some good crew available but the move to a 'bowtie' arc and loss of Boost engine is a real double whammy to a ship that was already on a ticking clock of damage with its 0 agility.  I'm not sure the 2nd Edition Decimator's 3 red dice can ship damage out fast enough to justify it's huge points cost.

+ Reinforce & 16 health means they take a lot of punishment
+ There's some juicy Imperial crew options

- Pretty much everything that made them work in 1st Edition is gone
- Reinforce may only delay the inevitable

Signing Off...

Overall the impression I've had from the community is that they're really excited by what's in the Imperial Conversion Kit and I broadly agree.  I'm feeling a lit bit hesitant about trying out any 90pt aces like Darth Vader or Colonel Vessery just because I can buy so many more red dice for those points, so my focus is a lot more on how to to get 4 or 5 ships I like into a single squad.  I'm also especially a fan of the TIE Punisher for its ability to lob Proton Bombs at oncoming TIE swarms with Trajectory Simulator...

And so there you have it.  My opinions are still forming, and will continue to form the more playtime I get.  I'd love to hear what you think - where you agree, where you disagree.

And anyway, I'm starting to get a bit excited about a couple of Scum squads.  But that's a story for another time...

Friday, 10 August 2018

"You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned" - Approaches to Squadbuilding in 2nd Edition

X-Wing Miniatures Game Second Edition is nearly upon us and that means pretty soon you're going to need a squad!


What's worse is that instead of just having a few new ships to weigh up and decide how to fit into your existing plans, this time you've got A WHOLE NEW GAME to get straight before can even really start.

Double uh-oh!!

And what's worse than that is because it's a brand new game there haven't even been any big tournaments yet so you can't netlist something and just wing it with that.

Triple uh-oh!!!

It really does seem like there's nothing else for it.  We're just going to have to get our hands dirty and work out how to build squads in 2nd Edition...

What's not in this article:
  • The best squads in 2nd Edition (because I don't know what they are)

What IS in this article:
  • Some general pointers about how to approach squadbuilding for 2nd Edition (and some squads that hopefully don't completely outright suck).

The Needs of the Many Outweigh The Needs of the Few.  Or the One.

In my travels across the many forums and chat channels of X-Wing 1st Edition I saw that a lot of players were really focusing on maximising their individual pilots rather than looking at the overall health of the squad.  

I'd see people ask questions like "what's the best loadout for Ketsu Onyo" or "I really like this Corran Horn build, what should I play with it?" as real calling cards of this type of thinking.  Fix a pilot, find something to fly with it.  

It's never really been my approach to squadbuilding and I've always tried to have a clear line of sight on bringing an overall strong squad over a single really powerful pilot (that's how my 'Nettling Imps' squad came about, by trying to bring in Quickdraw for a budget price).  That said, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that in the final days of 1st Edition my approach was starting to hold me back, and the sheer number and power level of upgrades that you could throw onto a single ship was capable of creating a game-winning piece on the table - that's your Captain Nyms, your Timewalk Assaj's, your Sensor Jammer Ghosts, and ultimately the '100pt' Reys & Mirandas were the final form of this line of thinking.

I'm pretty sure that 2nd Edition will require players to unlearn those instincts to fill every slot, maximise every stat, create all-conquering heroes and unstoppable behemoths.  It's just not possible in 2nd Edition with the current cardpool, and what's more the cost of attempting to do so will suck oxygen out of the rest of your threadbare squad.

There's three overarching factors that I think create this dynamic:
  • Upgrades are worse.  There's no Push The Limit, no Glitterstim, no TLT, Autothrusters or Expertise.  There's not even a K4 Security Droid, Rey or Kylo Ren and a lot of the upgrades that have survived the move to 2nd Edition are either worse (Lone Wolf, Fire Control System) or significantly more expensive (Stealth Device, Engine Upgrade, Saw Gerrera).  If you're trying to kit out a super-Ace you're fighting uphill all the way to pay more points for worse upgrades.  Sure it feels nuts to leave Soontir Fel naked with barely any upgrades to cover his modesty but when the upgrades are what they are, and they cost what they cost... it's probably a pretty smart move.

  • Evade tokens are worse.  A lot of the very best ships have been ones that are super-hard to kill, and those are also usually the ones you're happiest to load up with upgrades.  That mechanic worked both ways - often it was upgrades that added to a ship's survivability that were the first to go on, and also once you'd established that solid base for a ship you could be more confident in spending points further points piling on offensive upgrades.

  • Ace pilots are better value.  Below there are three tables that show the relative points cost of ships in 2nd Edition vs their 1st Edition counterparts and one of the most striking thing across all three factions is how much the points costs for each ship have been squeezed a lot closer together.  By that I mean that the top ace pilots for each ship are much closer to the base generic cost of the lowliest pilot - Ten Nunb, for instance, in only 50pts whereas his 1st Edition counterpart would have equated to 62pts, a massive 12pt saving!  This dynamic creates a stronger incentive for you to, for instance, discard an Academy Pilot in favour of bringing Del Meeko, and that in turn means that the points you'd often be spending on Upgrades in 1st Edition are maybe best spent on just buying better pilots in 2nd Edition.

Click to Zoom!

Rebel (YT-2400 includes HLC/Outrider)
Click to Zoom!

Scum (Scyk includes Heavy Scyk title)
Click to Zoom!

So with all that in mind, what's the better approach to squadbuilding?  The 1st Edition approach would be to maximise a Millenium Falcon and field a fat Han Solo with as much action economy as possible, maybe support him with Fenn Rau in the Sheathipede.  The 2nd Edition approach might be to shave as many as 25pts off the Falcon relatively painlessly, keep the action economy by playing Lando instead, and field a punchy Ghost as my wingman...

More Is More

If we believe that filling every slot to maximise our pilots in 2nd Edition is a poor points investment then it should follow that a very good investment of our points is on just putting more ships onto the table, even if that means they're naked.  For players who have joined X-Wing in the last two or three years that sounds like madness, but to be honest it was pretty standard for a lot of the earlier period of 1st Edition X-Wing and it seems like a trend that's going to come back.

I can use a couple of squads I've been tinkering with as great examples of this...

One of the first things I really hooked into with my Imperial squadbuilding was the awesome synergies you could get from pairing Lt Sai with Soontir Fel.

If you've not seen this combination before, it goes something like this:
Lt Sai moves and takes a Coordinate action, giving Soontir Fel a Focus action.  Because Lt Sai also has a Focus on his action bar he takes a Focus token too (and if he's got the Lambda title he can get a Target Lock as well).  Soontir banks his Focus token than uses Autothrusters to chain a red Barrel Roll action off it.  Soontir reveals a blue maneuver then takes an Evade action and chains a red Boost action off it to dive into Range 1 of his opponent and trigger his Bullseye arc for a second Evade token. 
Two actions = 3 Focus tokens, 1 Evade token, 1 Target Lock, 1 Boost, 1 Barrel Roll!

Once I'd loaded out Sai and Soontir I needed a third ship and the obvious choice was the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader.  I kitted Vader up with everything a growing boy could need until he cost a whopping 93 points!  For that money I worked out I could buy a Decimator instead of just a TIE Advanced, and then better yet again I could buy a hefty TIE Punisher and bring a 4th ship in a canny little TIE Striker.  Or maybe, better yet again... I could trade that supernatural Darth Vader our for 4 whole TIE Fighters!

The second example came when I picked up a list that was shared which looked to maximise what Lando Calrissian's version of the Millenium Falcon could do.  I'd probably been guilty of dismissing Lando and his glorified Outer Rim Smuggler but this squad really made me sit up and take a second look as it was entirely possible that the Falcon could be throwing 4, 5 or even 6 red dice on a pretty reliable basis as it scooted around outside debris clouds picking up extra dice from all over the place.

The original list paired this tricked-out Falcon with a discount Asajj Ventress but I tinkered with it a little bit and scraped points together for a pretty much fully loaded Ketsu Onyo alongside the Falcon.  But when I was discussing the squad and trying to get other people excited about it they pushed back and made the (I think correct) observation that I was still guilty of throwing upgrades on to maximise the ship when I should be trying to keep it lean and bring something else instead.  It was a fair comment, and certainly in upgrades like Engine Upgrade, Dengar and the Autopilot Drone I was sinking a lot of points into just trying to make the Falcon arc-dodge a bit and stay alive a little longer... they weren't really changing it's damage output at all!

And it turned out I could rejig my squad entirely and fit a whole third ship in to create something much more robust.  I kept the damage of the Falcon build, added a tough old Trandoshan Slaver to host Lando's party, and even had points left over for a whole Scurrg bomber that could lob Proton Bombs at incoming TIE Swarms!

Steal With Pride

When the 2nd Edition unboxing videos landed and we had 60+ ships thrown at us all at once along with a slew of brand new pilots, mechanics and upgrades I'm sure I wasn't alone in feeling a little overwhelmed.  

Where the hell was I supposed to start?  Sure I could focus on Imperials as my faction of choice, but if I did make an Imperials squad how the hell was I supposed to judge if it was good enough if I didn't even know what the other 2/3rds of the card pool even were?!?

I started doing something that was at first unintentional but then rapidly became a deliberate strategy once I realised what the benefits were... I started doing what everyone else was doing.

I don't mean that I was just copying other people's squads verbatim, but what I began doing was making a real effort to pick up squads that people had posted and, even if it wasn't something I was especially interested in, see if I'd have built it the same way they had.  At first this was just because I was a bit bored and had five or ten minutes to waste cross-referencing what all the Scum crew did with their points cost just to see if I'd load the ship differently.  Then after I'd done that for a couple of squads people had shared I realised... I now knew what all the Scum crew did.  And I knew what all the Pilot Talents did.  And most of the Gunners.  And that Illicits.  

And not just that I knew what they did but I was learning their synergies and interactions.  I knew that Lando Calrissian crew and IG-88D cew was a powerful combination.  I knew that other people seemed to like Dengar but I wasn't a fan, I knew that old stalwarts like Fenn Rau were probably a bit too expensive but that Palob in the Moldy Crow was probably a great investment.

An Imperial Silo.  Possibly.
I made it a part of my 2nd Edition prep to not just look at somebody else's squad and go 'huh, looks neat' but to really go into it, pull it apart, see how it was working and then put it back together.  

I think that's been paying real dividends in how quickly I'm learning the 2nd Edition cardpool, but it's also played a really key role in expanding my horizons from just the Imperial silo I would have been exploring if left to my own devices - a silo not just of Imperial squads, but of my type of Imperial squads.  

Two weeks ago I was locked onto the Sai/Soontir axis of efficiency, but as I begin to coax my playgroup into playing some proxy games of 2nd Edition two of the three lists I want to play aren't even Imperial - they're Scum!

So if you're feeling overwhelmed by 2nd Edition - like I was - don't be afraid to steal other people's ideas with pride (and add your own twists along the way).  You'll learn a lot in a short space of time and I found it much easier and more interesting than starting from a fresh blank canvas every time.

Y'all Come Back Now, Y'Hear?

And there we have it, or as best as I can muster at the moment.  I can't claim to know what the best squads are in 2nd Edition, nor even that the squads above are the best ideas I've managed to come up with so far (of the three squads I said I want to play most, only one is shared above).  But I think in sharing the thought process behind both how I'm going about learning 2nd Edition, and some of the broad stroke assumptions that I think we can make about how it's very different to 1st Edition, hopefully I've been able to give you something to think about, and maybe even some new lines of enquiry that will send you to explore the 2nd Edition cardpool in your own way in the near future.

This is an exciting time, as myriad opportunities and options open up before us and the hard reality of tournament competition has yet to mow down many of those ideas.  Don't be scared to plunge into deckbuilding for 2nd Edition while it's still new.  

After all, everyone loves leaving the first footprints in fresh clean snow, right?  Don't be waiting for it to all turn to brown mush after the others have walked on it!