Resistance is Futile OP3; Battle Report 1

A three-for-one post today, as I’ll be sharing my experiences with two tournaments on back to back days, as well as the design methodology that went into one of the lists.

Following the second Organized Play scenario of Resistance is Futile, I took a break from Star Trek: Attack Wing. This was partially due to time constraints around the holidays, partially due to frustration with the new rulings coming out from the support forums, and more than anything else due to a month long delay in shipping of the OP kits to venues. With the kits arriving shortly after the start of the new year, though, it was time to dive back in and see what I had missed.

My first event I approached as a casual warm-up. Having built up a sizable lead in the series standings, I was pretty much guaranteed the grand prize just for showing up. And rather than using the official scenario, the TO for this series elected to give the player winning initiative the option of several sets of terrain to place on the field, but it was otherwise a 120 point Ship-Pure brawl. Thus, I couldn’t actually practice the RiF 3 scenario here, and there wasn’t much tactical analysis to be done on the event. I made the mistake of trusting cloaking and (thus the luck of dice, which failed me). My record on the day was 1-2, cruising to the finish and collecting my copy of Tactical Cube 001 anyway.

The most significant event of the day was being blasted off the table by the new Deep Space Nine. In retrospect, I had plenty of maneuverability to isolate the station, and all the firepower I could need to take it out before my opponent’s other ships could fully engage. But for some reason I chose naively to ignore the station, thinking that I could avoid its’ range and firing arcs.

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With maneuverability to spare, I really should have rushed straight at the station while the Federation ships slowed to turn around.

After the event was completed, I went back to the participation prizes that were handed out for the event, including the aperture token to be used in the provided scenario. Having some free time and an idea tickling around in the back of my head, I looked back over my review of the scenario and went to work on finalizing the plans I had first dreamed up four months prior when the scenario was first announced – getting off the map as quickly as possible.

The way the scenario is designed, it’s almost impossible to get ships back to the Alpha Quadrant for bonus points, because they’ll take so much damage along the trip. It’s more manageable to destroy the conduit behind yourself, as you should be damaging the conduit faster than it damages you with most ships, but that doesn’t help if you’re limping in with only one or two hit points remaining, and nothing you bring along can help you other than the basic statistics of your ship. But escaping not only saves that ship, but grants you bonus points, as does destroying the conduit.

The store I was to play at the next day uses fleet points as the primary determination for standings, building the win/loss record in as bonus fleet points (25 for each loss [participation], 50 for each win). As a result,  losing the match but escaping to the Alpha Quadrant was worth a few more points than the bonus for winning, even if you didn’t manage to destroy the conduit, and way more if you did! But since you lose the game if your last ship on the game board is destroyed (regardless of whether or not anything escaped), and the exit was going to be so brutal to reach, most players had already hinted that they would be ignoring that part of the scenario and attempting to out-joust the enemy in the safe area of the map.

This particular store chooses to ignore the Wizkids’ recommended fleet format, instead allowing up to 90 points out of 120 to be spent on a single ship and not requiring the 3 ship minimum. In the past that has caused a lot of juggernaut builds to appear with minimal support, but I had heard that Borg Cubes and such had fallen out of favor there lately, being quite vulnerable to the new Dominion First Wave Attack Fighters and Federation “Fighter Squadron 6″ expansions.  I figured I might go against the grain and see if I could make it work to bring a Cube or something similar using every point I could spare from the escaping ship.

So I had two primary design elements in mind for the list: Build an escape ship, and build a juggernaut. In more detail, the escape ship needed to be as cheap as possible beyond 30 points, needed to be able to at least have a chance of destroying the conduit, and needed get into the conduit as quickly, taking minimal damage along the way. The Juggernaut needed to be able to duel with the entire enemy fleet on a 36″ by 18” playing field, and if not win, at least score 50-60 points worth of its’ own kills before it went down. As an additional consideration, I asked another player for his thoughts on the strategy at hand, and he really liked it. As a result, I needed to build in a few contingencies to my plan so that my Juggernaut build could defeat his, without weakening myself too much to other archetypes.

For the escape ship, I chose a generic Intrepid class. At 28 points, the Intrepid was above my mental budget for an escape ship, but with eight total hit points, four attack and two evade dice, it stood a good chance against the conduit if I could get it there quickly enough, and the availability of a white 6-forward on its’ dial meant that it would be better suited than any other ships to reach the conduit in a hurry. In fact, I had suspected for months that it could be done in a turn, but I had never sat down to test it before.

I had already two abilities that would be useful in boosting the Intrepid towards home: The Dominion Independent Flagship resource (gives a friendly ship at range 1 a free maneuver), and Picard Maneuver (Action: If you performed a 3, 4, or 5 forward this turn, discard this card to perform an additional 5 forward maneuver, take an Auxiliary Power Token, and all attacks against you this turn are with -4 dice). I didn’t love Picard Maneuver though, because it was expensive, it would actually force me to slow down to use it, and the scenario already had a ruling in the FAQ that stated the Borg attacks wouldn’t be affected by this text. Still, it was a starting point.

Next, I needed to figure out who would carry the talent. I needed a cheap captain with an Elite Talent slot, but I also needed a high Captain Skill, because I didn’t want to have to chase the Intrepid with my other ship to give the extra maneuver, the Intrepid had to move second. My first thought was Christopher Pike, he provides a good balance of skill (6) and cost (4), has a talent slot, and he would make crew on the ship cheaper, potentially giving me cheap cannon fodder to throw at the conduit. Rather than writing anything down, since the build was changing from moment to moment, I was just pulling cards that I planned on using out for reference, and Pike wasn’t where he was supposed to be in my card folder. Instead, I saw Benjamin Maxwell, who would be a skill 7 for the same cost, but before I could retrieve him, I also spotted the Stargazer version of Picard – same skill and cost as Pike, but his ability (Action: Disable all of your active shields and perform an additional green or white maneuver) was better than the Picard Maneuver, and eliminated the need for that 5 point card. I set up the map and tested the maneuvers – 6 forward (from the flagship), 6 forward (from the maneuver dial), 6 forward (from Picard) –  for a total of a 20 forward (when including the size of the base between maneuvers). The Intrepid was across the token and off the board with room to spare, weighing in at 32 points.

So that left 88 points for our combat beast, 10 of which were dedicated to the flagship card to make it all tick. At first, Tactical Cube 138 was an obvious choice, with two sets of ablative armor for a total of 70 points and 27 health (when including the flagship). But the players in my homebrew X-Wing RPG have taught me that without any sort of defense, 25 hit points can disappear really quickly. Thinking to the prevalence of the new fighters, I realized that I needed some deterrence and easy hits on them.  Cloaked Mines were immediately loaded in to my tech slot.

I started leafing through my crew cards, still feeling like I didn’t have enough defense to stall the game out if the matchup was bad for me, and I ran across One (Action: Discard this card to perform this action. For each damage your ship would take this turn, disable one Active Shields instead of destroying it. If you have no active shields, any excess damage is applied to your Hull as normal.) Against a full onslaught, that would be up to 9 extra hit points in and of itself. And if I could find a way to use it multiple times, that would just be silly. Accordingly, Weyoun was immediately added as the captain, who can be disabled to stop a card from being disabled or discarded. A cheap 3 point Admiral was added to the Intrepid to make sure that Picard could still move after Weyoun, and two points left over, with only weapons slots remaining on the Cube. The thought came up of trading in one of the Borg Ablative Hull Armor upgrades for a Transwarp Conduit card in case a bad situation came up, but the planning session pretty much stopped there, we would each tailor the build from that point to our liking and show up the next day ready to rumble.

David & Goliath

Intrepid Class – 28 (USS Voyager)
Jean-Luc Picard – 4 (Stargazer OP Prize)
Adm. Maxwell Forrest – 3 (Enterprise NX-01)

Borg Tactical Cube – 44 (Tactical Cube 138)
Flagship Independent (Dominion) – 10
Weyoun – 5 (5th Wing Patrol Ship)
One – 4 (RiF blind booster pack)
Energy Dissipator – 11 (Gor Portas)
Cloaked Mines – 4 (I.R.W. Praetus)
Transwarp Conduit – 6 (Soong)

Total: 119 points

We have the slingshot ship, and the hulking beast ready to take on an entire army alone, so the name seemed mostly appropriate. Nothing changed about the Intrepid, but I did switch upgrades and tactics with the Cube a bit. I was concerned more about dealing damage than I was surviving it, so one Borg Ablative Hull Armor was sacrificed in favor of the Transwarp Conduit. That way, I could move up, drop mines, and move back to my board edge, waiting for the enemy to come to me. Then once they had cleared the mine field, I could hop over to the opposite side and make them chase me back again. The other BAHA was dropped. I elected to use the generic Cube, and I spent three of my remaining four points as well in order to afford an Energy Dissipator – in case I found myself facing Borg (perhaps in a likely mirror match with my friend who helped with the design), the Energy Dissipator would be a guaranteed method of bypassing shields, and perhaps preventing any return fire at all. The last point was left on the table as an initiative bid, for once I wanted to be shooting first whenever possible.

 

Round 1

Opponent:

Constitution Class – 20 ()

Constitution Class – 20 ()

Constitution Class – 20 ()

Dominion Attack Fighters – 20 (First Wave Attack Fighters)

Dominion Attack Fighters – 20 (First Wave Attack Fighters)

Dominion Attack Fighters – 20 (First Wave Attack Fighters)

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List Commentary: Well, here’s that fighter-heavy meta everyone’s been discussing. If I let myself get swarmed, that’s around 30 attack dice per turn coming in on my Cube. I have one attack per turn with my Cube, which would have to roll above the statistical average to kill a Constitution class ship in a single attack, and destroying the fighter squadrons would take 4 attacks each. Not looking good, but… I have mines, so we’re even.

Battle: So at this point, we’re reading through how to set up for the battle, and I realize I’ve made a potentially grave mistake. All of my planning for getting the Intrepid across Borg space in a single turn, and I assumed our deployment zone ran up to the edge of Borg space, but I was very wrong in this assumption. Accordingly, I took a 6-Forward with the Intrepid on turn one, but didn’t trigger any extra abilities, and found myself right outside of Borg space, no harm done. My opponent surprised me by turning his whole fleet towards the conduit, but didn’t move far.

The next turn, I used the flagship’s extra movement and a 6-forward on the Intrepid’s actual movement, and found myself in the conduit without needing Picard’s ability. That meant that I could have still made it the first turn. My opponent’s Constitution class ships backed up, beginning a shuffle in place that would continue for much of the game – they were only there for cleanup, he didn’t want to risk losing them. The fighters closed in, but I knew they couldn’t move extremely fast and had limited range, so I was able to take a few long range shots for free hits, and I dropped my mines in their way, but my opponent had no choice but to continue. Hit after hit; the mines battered the fighters, whose first wave of attacks were canceled by One.

I lost a couple of shields, but finished the fighters off before the Constitution Class reserves could arrive to help, and I was able to knock out two of those as well, the second just as time was called in the match.

Round 2

Opponent:

Borg Sphere – 38 (Borg Sphere)
Tactical Drone – 3 (Borg Sphere)

Borg Sphere – 38 (Borg Sphere)

First Wave Attack Fighters – 22 (First Wave Attack Fighters)

Dominion Attack Fighters – 20 (First Wave Attack Fighters)

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List Commentary: My opponent had downplayed this list from the moment he walked in the door, saying that he didn’t expect much out of it, but I didn’t buy it. I had beaten him several times in the past by throwing more dice with basic Borg ships than his upgraded ones could manage. Now he was essentially running a newer version of what I used against him to such success, trading in a captain and a Borg ship for two squadrons of fighters. This was a lean and mean build that would be hard to beat with 120 points, and I was throwing 84 at it.

Battle: Having learned last time that it was possible, I sent the Intrepid off into the conduit on turn one. My opponent rolled well for the Borg, and I was forced to flee to the Alpha Quadrant almost immediately, having sustained heavy damage.

Back on the board, the Borg Cube shuffle caused some frustration for my opponent, who had engaged first with his fighters who did their best to dance around my mine field. I took no damage on the first wave thanks to One, but I misplayed the next turn. Expecting to be out of range or firing arc of all the enemy ships, I re-enabled Weyoun rather than triggering One again, and I lost all my shields that turn as a result, making the re-use of One pointless. Completely trapped the next turn, I hopped away with Transwarp Conduit, rolling back into the action with a better position the next turn. Thus, I managed to catch his damaged sphere in range, and killed it before it could return fire. I was still blasted by the rest of the fleet, but barely alive, and feeling good about my chances.

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One sphere down, and one to go, but there’s trouble brewing with those fighters!

At this point, I switched gears and moved in for an all out assault. With his remaining sphere firing well after my cube, I was able to hit it with the Energy Dissipator, bring down the shields, and put major damage on his hull with a follow-up shot, and risked no return fire. Unfortunately, as you might be able to see in the photo above, one of the fighter squadrons barely had me in arc, and was able to finish off the Cube. It was a loss, but I still scored points for his sphere, my Intrepid, and the bonus for escaping. Hopefully that would be enough to keep things close.

Round 2

Opponent:

Voyager (USS Voyager)
Picard [8] (USS Enterprise E)
Once More Unto the Breach (I.K.S. Kronos One)
Transphasic Torpedoes (USS Voyager)
…?

Bioship Alpha  (Bioship Alpha)
Kirk [9] (USS Enterprise Refit)
The Weak Will Perish (Bioship Alpha)
Quantum Singularity (Bioship Alpha)
…?

Sideboard
Transphasic Torpedoes (USS Voyager)
…?

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List Commentary: I got used to no upgrades on ships, so I forgot to take notes on exactly what else these two were carrying, but these are the items that were used in the game.

Battle: My Intrepid was off the board and doing its’ thing from the word “go”, so now it’s a 2v1 matchup for my Tactical Cube. With less ships than any other fleet I had faced thus far, my mines didn’t do much good. But One did his job, and did it properly this time, canceling heaps of damage for two consecutive turns. I normally laugh off anyone that uses a set, let alone two of them, but Transphasic Torpedoes and good die rolls had me hurting badly. Fortunately, I was able to turn the tide in my favor by a stroke of luck of my own, landing a hit with my Energy Disruptor to drop Voyager’s Shields, and following up with a Target Lock assisted blast that shredded through its’ hull in a single turn. From there, it was relatively simple cleanup against the Bioship, and a full win for my fleet.

Final thoughts:

My friend with a similar build went 3-0 on the day, playing smarter and doing better in round 3 against my round 2 foe than I had. But he got greedy, and left his escape ship in the conduit for one turn too many in one round, losing the ship and all associated bonus points. Accordingly, with the unusual scoring system in place at this venue, I managed a victory on the day, beating him out by a matter of around 13 fleet points, despite my 2-1 record.  Despite not facing his fleet, for which the Energy Disruptor was intended, the expense of 11 points was well worth the use I got out of it. Having the Energy Disruptor on the cube is practically priceless in venues that allow it; the Cube’s relative immunity to losing actions from collisions along with its’ large base makes it very difficult to avoid.

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Start to Red base: Flagship bonus movement. Red to Green base: Normal movement. Green base to end: Picard’s action movemovement.

It’s not every day that you get to say you performed a 20-forward with one of your ships. But it’s perfectly possible, and then some. (Add in Romulan Pilot [Aj’rmr OP Prize] for another 4 [3 + base], Picard Maneuver [Stargazer OP Prize] plus Riker [Enterprise E] to trigger it, and you’ve got another 6 [5 + base] to add in, for a total of a 30-forward. My (very rough) calculations say that a maneuver of that length would take a ship from one corner to the other of a 36″ map, and slightly off. You know, just in case we get a weird enough scenario in the future where that might be required.

— The Tabletop General