|If you don't think you need it, you probably don't.|
This is going to be another one of the posts that talk about upgrades for the most part, so get ready. Remember that article I wrote a while back that talked about the basic upgrade principles? Well, I want to expand on that a little bit because I've been using a few terms pretty frequently in my articles.
Well I don't like to use the term "mandatory" when it comes to list building, there's just some upgrades that are complete gold for a particular ship. Around the same note, there's a few upgrades are are absolutely vital to your strategy as well. So for the lack of a better word, yes, I'm referring to those upgrades that you absolutely cannot go without because you feel that they're integral on making your list work. Before I get all worked up on trying to explain things too much, I'll just throw out an example using my own list.
My current Ackbar list has undergone a countless amount of games and have seen a tremendous amount of revision.
Here's the latest:
MC80C, Ackbar, Home One, Engine, Intel, XI7, Leading Shots, ECM
MKIIB, Gunnery Teams, ECM, XI7
Let's take a look at the MC80 Command in this case as it's the most heavily upgraded. Out of all these upgrades, which ones do I feel like it's a must for the ship and the strategy I'm trying to outline? Well for one, Ackbar is the only true mandatory in there so let's not count him at all. This leaves us with the rest of the upgrades named above, and I'll tell you first hand that most of them are there to execute my strategy. For the actual ship itself, I think ECMs is the only mandatory upgrade. What?! What about Engine Techs? You wrote an entire article on why Engine Techs are a must-buy on the MC80! Yes, while this is very true, I think Engine Techs are essential to my particular strategy. I'm using the MC80 Command as a pure damage platform and in order for me to maximize on that, I need superior positioning so I can shoot from both side arcs. Is it actually mandatory for the ship itself? Not really. That's because I lump ship-specific upgrades in the category that regardless of your strategy, you should have this upgrade. ECM is the only one that fits here because no matter what your strategy is, you're still going to be taking damage from the likes of the ISD.
OK, that basically leaves us with Engine Techs, Intel Officer, XI7s and Leading Shots. Home One is vital to my strategy on improving the rest of the fleet with accurate, powerful firepower. That's why I have Ackbar in the MC80 in the first place, so that's our first mandatory upgrade that's strategy-centric. Out of the rest of the upgrades, I would say that all of these are there to support my strategy of damage and control. Since I'm building my MC80 to be a battleship, it needs to be able to deal a lot of damage. This is why XI7 would be be the first upgrade I take after Home One and ECM, followed Engine Techs. Why Engine Techs? Because if you're not setting up good shots and getting good angles, you're pretty much playing with half a ship. When it comes to Ackbar, you throw out a lot of dice but you're forced into only shooting from your side arcs. It would be a huge shame if you had the opportunity to rake your opponent's fleet but you're unable to set it up.
Intel Officer and Leading Shots are actually luxury upgrades. Intel is there to bully the Brace, but if they're already exhausted by say, a shot from your MKII and you roll an accuracy, you will get the same effect. Leading Shots is purely luxury in the fact that you're looking to round out your damage output. Since you're throwing more reds with Ackbar, it's important to make sure those blanks go away when you absolutely need your ship to do damage. After all, if you're already taking the other upgrades to do damage, you might as well make sure that damage is consistent. However, the one thing that really sticks out here is that I value both the Intel Officer and Leading Shots to be more important than the luxury upgrades I have on the other ships in my fleet. If you want to carve out the points even further, I would definitely take Intel on MC80 over the XI7 because of the larger damage capacity and the fact that the MC80 itself doesn't get Home One's accuracy bonus. Furthermore, I would take Leading Shots over the Tantive IV because my strategy is to push as much damage out as possible.
When it comes to looking at the rest of the list, the upgrades I have on them is what I would considering mandatory to my strategy. They're pretty much barebones now, free of all upgrades I would consider to be luxury. TRCs drastically improve the damage potential of my CR90 and XI7s do the same on the MKII. Gunnery Teams are there to give me the firepower of another ship if I'm planning to play the like a congo-line. Intel has been pulled due to its redundancy under Home One, and no other upgrades are needed on the MKII. The Tantive IV or Jaina's Light titles are also missing because they are also what I consider luxury items. Those titles are good to have, but not needed in the grand scheme of things in which I'm looking to do big damage with a huge bid to go first. Can I fit a Tantive IV in there? Sure, but am I willing the 393 bid vs. the 390 in a serious event? Probably not.
In summary, my best advice when it comes to min-maxing your list is to evaluate your lists in this order: Look at mandatory upgrades first, the upgrades that are most effective with your ships and support the strategy that you're going for. Cut everything else. Then look at your current upgrades on all your ships and see if you have any redundancy, or you don't feel like you really need. Those are then considered new luxury items, and fit within the category of "nice to have, but not vital". Cut those as well. Now, rinse and repeat a few times until you feel like you're in a good place and then playtest enough that you start questioning the list again. Then the cycle starts anew.