We’re a couple months in to 2.0 now and we’re starting to get decent data on what things we can officially call “Good”.
Some of these things are expected: Fenn Rau being Good surprised no one, for example. He was expected to be Good because of his unassailable Initiative 6 and shades-of-1.0 red dice inflation. Other things were expected to be Good, but perhaps not THIS GOOD. Still others surprised everyone by being unexpectedly awesome. All of this is showing where our pre-release expectations were right or hilariously wrong.
There’s no fun in reiterating, “Yeah, the stuff we knew would be Good is Good”, so we’ll avoid that. We’ll focus instead on the latter two categories: stuff that is better than we thought it would be, and stuff that surprised us completely.
People were hoping, yearning, pleading for Boba Fett to be good (the cult of Mandalore is strong). Even those with no emotional stake expected Boba to be good. I don’t think even his most ardent supporters thought he’d be a monster of this caliber.
Boba has turned into a tanky middleweight, someone who can adapt to any situation he faces. When he’s got an opening, he can dive in with his high Initiative and native boost action, get action economy for days with his pilot ability, Han Solo gunner, and one of Scum’s terrific crew choices (like 0-0-0 or IG-88D), then disengage while still scoring highly-modified shots out the back. When not favored, he’s slippery: sharp turns, a medium base that makes him faster than most anything chasing him, and a rear arc and bombs to punish reckless pursuit. He can do it all.
General principle: if something seems 1.0-ish, it’s probably splendid in 2.0. Redline’s 2.0 incarnation is more 1.0-ish than his 1.0 self. Being able to acquire a lock after any action is ridiculously good: with no effort at all Redline can push double-modified ordnance shots on people. Or, he can reposition with either the boost or (red) barrel roll, score a lock against an enemy who thought himself safe, and unload. Or, when he wants to disengage, he can reload and score the lock he needs to shoot on his way out, and come back in good to go. Options galore. Toss in Tragedy Simulator for anti-swarm tech and you’ve got a guy who’ll do a lot of damage before he gets dragged down—and you can bet he’ll be a priority target, between his damage potential and low defenses. All of this, and a generous Ini5, comes at a very reasonable points cost. Deathrain may be more fun, but he’s more fun in the same way that a cartoon mallet is more fun than a sledgehammer: one entertains you, and the other does work.
Of course, Redline wouldn’t be able to reach his full potential without…
We spent so much time talking about offensive upgrades that got nerfed in 2.0 that we probably overlooked these bad boys. Not only did they not get nerfed—they’re significantly better. One copy buys you two shots. Not needing to spend your lock to shoot them is what they needed all along. They’re highly accurate by themselves; access to extra focus tokens or the Force makes them extremely accurate. They push crits through, taking advantage of the unforgiving damage deck and more favorable hull/shield ratios. In a world where pretty much nobody can get four evade results in one roll, these things can score four hits/crits with scary consistency. They kill stuff very well.
The Quadjumper is the beating heart of an archetype that didn’t really exist before: the Scum Swarm. The price point is low enough to field seven (!) of these guys, or some mix of them and Z-95s, or six swarm ships and Drea Renthal. Two-dice attacks have to be given due respect these days, particularly against targets with debuffed defense dice. Quadjumpers debuff defense dice; the self-synergy is real. The more attacks you have, the more powerful that effect is. They’re just tough enough that anti-swarm tools (like bombs) don’t totally ruin them and Pro Torps don’t one-shot them. They have close-in tricks galore: backing maneuvers, one-turns, S-Loops. And if anyone tries to use the old standby of dragging the swarm through the rocks to break it up, Quadjumpers make those same rocks their deadliest weapon. People were terrified by the prospect of the TIE Swarm returning to dominance. Instead we got these guys, and that might be worse.
Oh, and at their price point, they’re also terrific throw-in ships—again displacing Academy TIEs as king of this category. What a value.
In some quarters, the immediate reaction to Whisper’s 2.0 reveal was “OMG THEY MURDERED WHISPER!” As it turns out, not so much. Her gross firepower and maximum potential took a hit, this is true, with the loss of a red die and Fire Control System. However, the liberation of her talent slot and the revision to how Phantom cloaking works freed her up to take (and always be able to power) Juke. Juke combines oh-so-sweetly with Darth Vader (crew). Together, they allow her to approach her former offensive potential, especially in a world of de-escalated defense. Meanwhile, the general decrease in offense means that she doesn’t have quite the same level of vulnerability while decloaked (with an extra point of hull to boot). All this for a modest decrease in points that lets her slot in as a mid-level ace to complement jousters, or the third wheel in a triple aces list. Not too shabby.
That said, you still probably want to avoid Fenn Rau.
It seems safe to say that medium bases are really working out for most ships that are getting them. The Firespray, for example, is much more playable going down from the large to the medium; ditto the U-Wing. Oddly, though, the ships that went up from small to medium also seem to have benefitted. The Punisher now gets a lot of extra movement with its boosts and new barrel roll action. And good ol’ 4-LOM now has a much larger footprint to use his ability.
Boasting a dial full of ways to self-stress and Scum-only ways to get actions anyway, 4-LOM has become an anchor in many Scum lists. Given that aces often view extra stress as a death sentence, 4-LOM can create “do not fly” zones on the board. By moving and sticking to valuable locations on the table, 4-LOM can deny access to those locations, force the enemy to disengage, or break up their formation. It’s a similar function to that provided by Tragedy Simulator, where the threat is almost as valuable as the effect. Not bad for an angry protocol droid.
The HWK was a leading candidate for “most improved” ship in 2.0; it definitely had the most improved dial. While the Punisher has a lock on the overall title of Most Improved, Palob has nevertheless shown his mettle. Palob slots into generally the same role as 4-LOM for similar points, providing an anchor for ace(s) to play off of. Palob’s ability is the equivalent of two extra actions (one taken away from the foe, one added to you) when it triggers. It’s enough to scare some foes away from the focus action entirely, or at least away from Palob’s orbit. While you don’t want to overload Palob (he’s still driving a HWK, after all), that crew slot gives access to some of Scum’s all-stars, while Elusiveness and Engine Upgrade are solid value choices.
…BUT WHAT ABOUT REBELS?
The thing about Rebels is this: nothing about them seems surprisingly good at present. We expected X-Wings to be Good, especially Luke and Wedge, and they are. We expected that turrets and regen would take a hit, and they sure as heck did. We expected things like Y-Wings and U-Wings to be Fine, rather than Good, and by and large they are. Generally, if we’ve had to revise expectations for Rebels, it’s been downwards rather than upwards. Rebel Salads, for example, struggle against tractor beams (which crash their formations) and Trajectory Simulator bombs, both of which are everywhere.
This is reflected in tournament results: X-Wing-based Rebel squads are doing alright, but we expected them to, and the rest is largely Imperials and Scum.
One possibility to keep an eye on: the so-called “Galaxy Note 5”, based on Warden K-Wings with Barrage Rockets and a mix of bombs. I’m not prepared to call them Good, not yet, but they bear monitoring.
What are you seeing unexpectedly rise to the top of your local meta?