Sunday, November 29, 2015

Armada: Some basic upgrade principles

That's a lot of upgrades to choose from.

When it comes to upgrades, I have a few rules that I like to abide by.  Let's just say that there is no definitive rule to how players should buy their upgrades, but there some basic principles that can make the selection process a little bit easier.  After all, there are tons of upgrades in the game and it can be absolutely daunting to a new player on how they go about this complicated process.  Before we continue, I think you should first read over what I said about getting the best value from your upgrades.

Now that you've read the previous article, let's talk some basic rules:
  • Don't buy upgrades unless they're absolutely needed.
  • Cheaper ships don't typically need a lot of upgrades.
  • Bigger ships typically want to see more upgrades.
  • Not all upgrades are created equal.

Let me expand on these points really quick starting with the first point:  Don't buy upgrades unless absolutely needed.  What I mean by this is that if you ever stop and ask yourself if you really need to add an upgrade to a ship, you probably don't really need it.  There's just no point in adding an upgrade to the ship if it isn't crucial to your gameplan and can assist you in what you want to accomplish with your list.  You want to be able to maximize on the effect that the upgrade can play on the battlefield while having the least amount of cost associated with it.  In simple terms, this is min-maxing your profits.  As a simple rule I tell myself when I'm building a fleet, if you're not getting the best bang for your buck from the purchase, it's probably best to just drop it for points elsewhere.

The next two points are actually one in the same, just from opposite sides of the spectrum.  You typically want to keep the cheaper ships cheap, and give the more expensive ships a little extra.  The reason why I say this is is that there's a reason why you took the cheaper ship and not the more expensive medium grade one for example.  Why buy a CR90 vs. a MKII vs. a MC80?  Well, cost is definitely the biggest one here, but the other one is value.  If you need a cheaper ship to fill out your ranks, it's absolutely counter-defeating to add a lot of upgrades on the ship that will offset the primary reason you took it in the first place, which is cutting costs.  You never want to bloat something cheap; instead, you want to selectively pick the best bang for the buck upgrade (if any) that will elevate the ship to greater heights.  Examples of this can be adding Turbolaser Reroute Circuits to CR90s and that's it, or adding Ordnance Experts to Raiders.

The opposite end of the spectrum are the bigger ships that have a lot of upgrade slots.  Don't be fooled by this; just because the bigger ships have more slots doesn't mean you have to fill them all out!  Some of the bigger ships are pretty straight forward.  By this, I mean the ISD-I basically drives itself with its speed-3, monstrous hull and black dice.  The strategy is pretty linear here and the Imperials know that the gameplan is to go into the action and roll as many black dice as possible before exploding in good fashion.  I'll say this again:  Just because the ship has a lot of upgrade slots does not mean you need to fill them.  Instead, you nee to analyze what you want your heavy-hitter to do and how long you want him to stay in the fight.  If the ship is your primary source of damage application on the battlefield, you want to maximize on his damage.  Likewise, if the ship is designed to tank the enemy ship's fire, you want to maximize his defense.  In most cases, the players who drop the ISD and MC80 on the table will need their ship to perform both roles.  Sure, you want to make sure you're taking full advantage of those 8 dice frontal arc shots, but you're also going to need the damn thing to not get pounded to dirt next turn by something of equal magnitude on the other side of the table.  This is why I highly recommend Gunnery Team and ECMs on every ISD-II that you purchase.

This brings me to my last point:  Not all upgrades are created equal.  This is true in two forms:  The first being that there will be upgrades that are great for your list and upgrades that will only bog you down.  For a well-oiled list to run effectively, you want to maximize on as many upgrades that fuels your game plan.  Looking for outrageous damage but lower defense?  Search the highest damaging upgrade combos to maximize on this.  Want to tank a lot of shots?  Look for defensive retrofits and what the best way is to mitigate incoming damage.  The first form really deals with what kind of upgrades you should be looking at for what you want to accomplish.  Just because TRCs are great on a cheaper CR90 doesn't mean it will be more valuable than Heavy Turbolaser Turrets on a MC80 for example.

The second form of not all upgrades are created equal stems from the analogy that one man's trash is another man's treasure.  The point of that was to illustrate that one upgrade on a certain ship will not behave the same way on a different ship.  For example, what is the point of upgrading the CR90 with the HTTs for example?  It's throwing out minimal damage anyway and it will be completely ineffectual compared to giving the same upgrade to an ISD-II who throws out buckets of dice that can take advantage of it.  Another example would be giving something like the Neb-B Engine Techs.  It already moves speed-3 and has a 2-click end turn, so why even bother?  Give the same thing to a MC80 who only moves 2 and now it's a clicking, turning, moving machine that can navigate the battlefield and setup great sweeping shots.  Always look at upgrade options with both eyes open.  Just because the upgrade might not work for what you're trying to accomplish doesn't mean it's bad.  It's typically this kind of knowledge that separates the obvious from the not so obvious, and the tournament winners from the non.

Alright fellas, that's all I got for today.  Enjoy.

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