Monday, December 21, 2015

Armada: The Fireball Menace

Seriously though, F this guy.

4x Firesprays 

This is what the vaulted Fireball looks like and something you need to prepare yourself for.

Stats that you should care about:
  • 8 blue bomber dice, 1 black bomber dice, 2 black anti-ship dice, and Vader's natural damage amplifier
  • 19 blue dice AS, 2 black AS from Rhymer and Vader, and Vader's natural damage amplifier
  • Threat range of 3 + Medium Range from Rhymer, which translates to almost speed-5 threat range
  • 38 total hull points, 5 braces and 1 scatter
  • Rogue on all the Firesprays
  • Dengar is the best Intel platform in the game due to his speed and durability
  • Vader provides dedicated AS and Escort
  • Rhymer amplifies the threat range of all squadron's anti-ship dramatically

Saying that the Empire Strikes Back is a huge understatement when fighting against the new Fireball.  The amount of hull points, versatility, immunity to squadron commands, threat range, and damage potential is absolutely insane.  I think all this power stems from the fact that Rhymer offers unmatched threat range, Dengar allowing free movement, and that Firesprays might have one keywords too many.  Rhymer was never an issue in Wave 1 due to the lack of Intel, but once Dengar and the Firesprays hit the meta everything went out of wack.  Now, I'm not saying that this combination is unbeatable, it's just really difficult to handle.  The Fireball gives me an extremely difficult game every time, and it's pretty much point and click with very little downsides.  This is due to it being a snowball of different abilities and synergies all coming together that makes this combo so difficult to handle.  Vader can do insane amounts of damage to squadrons and has Escort to tie down squadrons from killing Dengar, who in turn can jump around at will and loosen up other squadrons that's trying to tie down the Firesprays, who themselves have Rogue and can do a ton of to all targets.  When I first read Rhymer I already thought he was a beast, but at least he could be chained to a rock if he was tied down.  Dengar just had to break everything, didn't he?

Just look at the threat range of this damn thing.

I think this inclusion is going to be one of the biggest threats to the Wave 2 meta.  Sooner or later, everyone will experience it, and if you don't, you're clearly not playing in tournaments.  For big ship lists, or lists running very few fighters, there's going to be nothing from stopping this list from rolling you over.  For everyone who has ever said: Just ignore the Fireball, kill the rest of his ships, I think you vastly underestimate the amount of damage 9 bomber dice and 2 black ant-ship can do to your ships that has a threat range of speed-4.5.  This is not to mention the ISD and Raiders on the other side of the table, with hopefully Motti taking it easy while throwing squadron commands and watching your ships burn from his ISD-II.  In actuality, the Fireball is more maneuverable and hits harder than any capital ship in the game, and shrug off light fighter cover like it's nothing.  It's for this reason that I'm no longer looking at 2 A-Wing builds, or even Tycho and 3 A-Wings as the bare minimum, but looking at 6+ squadrons in order to face this new threat with greater confidence and reliability.  Dengar simply has to be killed or else he's going to let loose his dogs onto your ships and there's very little you can do about it.  Like I said before, every game I've played against a Fireball, I feel like I'm exerting significantly more effort in trying to keep my ships alive, having to execute precision movement with my A-Wings, and making sure they're tying down the right targets, baiting Dengar into sub optimal locations, when all the other player has to worry about is the order in which he should activate this Rogue squadrons.  It's a bad feeling and testament to the threat level of this meta-changer.

Force Dengar into awkward positions with good A-Wing placement.

Wave 2 did a lot of things and opened up a lot of new strategies.  However, I think the paradigm has shifted dramatically when it comes to squadron warfare and ship warfare.  All of a sudden, you have Ackbar and TRC90s putting out so much damage from long-range that Imperial players are caught reeling.  At the same time, you have a self-sufficient super squadron like the Fireball that makes command-reliant Rebel squadrons look like a complete joke.  I'm currently developing solutions to the Fireball "problem", but I think Imperials have a much better time dealing with the Fireball than Rebels.  Part of it is the command-efficiency that Imperials will naturally gain if the Rebel player is taking a good amount of squadrons himself, but the other part comes from the fact that I don't think 2/4 A-Wings is enough these days.  After all, just how long do you think the A-Wings in the above picture can last underneath all that hull and firepower?  Once a few A-Wings die, Dengar will free the Fireball so it can start wreaking godlike damage onto your ships.  It becomes less of a how long can you tie up the Fireball and more of a Dengar must be killed.  You simply cannot outrace the damage done from a list running this combo and expect to come out on top.  At least Imperial players have access to unmatched anti-squadron dice with Howlrunner and Interceptors, and they have an amazing flak platform from cheap 2-black Raiders with Ordnance Experts.

Is it powerful?  Hell yes.  Is it absolutely unstoppable?  No way.  I think with the right list and composition, you can fight this threat off or at least deter it from engaging the rest of your fleet.  Go play some games vs. it and let's think about how to kill it together.

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