Alright, let’s get down to business right away with this topic. Personally, I think XI7s are the best offense upgrade in the game. Not including things like Gunnery Team or Intel Officer because those are more utility pieces, I view XI7 as a damage pusher and nothing else. If you want raw damage, XI7s are the best go-to turbolaser upgrade on a ship that can throw a good amount of dice. For tiny ships like CR90s or MC30cs that can push damage with TRCs due to their double Evade, I would strongly recommend those on those kind of ships. However, when it comes to any of the bigger ships; including but not limited to the ISD and MC80, the Rebel Assault Frigates can also benefit from doing more damage as long as they have Ackbar on the field.
Now, what about Heavy Turbolaser Turrets and do they have a use? Yes, I do they have a use but they have a more specific use. They’re not as flexible as the XI7s because of a number of things. They are useless on ships that do not have a Brace option, they are weaker in the current metagame because more ships that matter have Redirect, and they generally push less damage when Brace is not available. Both the XI7s and HTTs benefit from ships that can throw a lot of dice, because you want to be able to push out as much damage as possible on certain hull zone. Remember the wording I’m using here: Specific hull zone. More on this later. It’s also really important to note that the more dice you throw, especially when you throw both red and blues that your chances to score an accuracy result goes up dramatically. There’s simply more chances you will be able to lock down the Brace token as a result.
Let’s pretend that the target that you’re shooting at is an Imperial Star Destroyer at full health into the front hull zone. That means the sucker is packing 11 hull points, 4 shields in the front and 3 on each side. Now, let’s say that you roll some big dice and score 8 hits on the sucker.
Heavy Turbolaser Turrets:
With Brace available, the opponent elects to only brace and take 4 damage to frontal shields.
Without Brace available, the opponent elects to redirect to the left hull zone, takes 4 to the front, all 3 shields on the left, and takes 1 damage directly to the hull.
On the second shot assuming the same number of hits, and with Brace available, the opponent elects to only brace and take 4 damage directly to the hull.
On the second assuming the same number of hits, but without Brace available, the opponent elects to redirect to the right, saving 3 damage, and takes 5 damage directly to the hull.
With Brace and Redirect available, the opponent elects to brace, redirect 1 to the left/right hull zone, and take 3 damage to frontal shields.
Without Brace available, the opponent elects to redirect to the left, can only redirect one, so he takes 7 to the front, losing all shields and taking 3 damage directly to the hull.
On the second shot assuming the same number of hits, and with Brace available, the opponent elects to only brace and redirect right, and takes 3 damage directly to the hull.
On the second assuming the same number of hits, but without Brace available, the opponent elects to redirect to the right, saving 1 damage, and takes 7 damage directly to the hull.
As you can see here, the XI7s outperform the HTTs when you want to damage directly to a certain hull zone. Most of the time, depending on your strategy and fleet construction, you want to put out higher, more consistent damage onto a naked hull zone (no shields) so you can push unmitigated damage onto the ship as fast as you can. HTTs do something that’s somewhat opposite of that in some cases, because it’s a defensive combo-stopper. It’s strongest point is that it forces your opponent to Brace and only Brace if he wants a chance at reducing the savage amount of damage that’s being inflicted these days by ISDs and MC80s. If he does anything else like Evade or Redirect, he’s simply going to eat a greater amount of damage.
Something that I haven’t mentioned here but I mentioned earlier is that XI7s are much better when shooting at ships like MC30cs and CR90s, two ships that I see a good amount of in the current Wave 2 meta. Why? Because they only have Redirects as their primary source of damage reflect outside of Evade. If you throw say, 4 damage into the CR90 from long range, HTTs have absolutely no effect on that outcome. Your opponent will still be able to Evade and Redirect whereas for the XI7s, their Redirect will be severely weakened. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Raiders have Brace with double Evades, so 4 damage on them will result in a brace for 2 for 2 shields. With XI7s, you will also do 2 damage after Brace because there’s no ability to Redirect. It only gets complicated when you’re shooting at ships with all 3 evasive options such as Assault Frigates and Gladiators. HTTs makes it so they can’t evade or redirect if they want to brace to full effect, so they will beat XI7s in that regard as long as a lot of damage is being inflicted where Evade, Brace and Redirect can ALL contribute to the damage result. Like if an MC80 Assault is shooting with Concentrated Fire at long range with the Defiance title with Ackbar and HTTs and manages to score big numbers, then yeah, it’s probably going to do more damage to that Assault Frigate at long range than XI7s. More than likely though, when it’s just Brace and Redirect, XI7s will outperform HTTs when it comes to doing damage.
Lastly, I want to mention the key factor when determining realistic battlefield conditions in Wave 2. Ships are throwing more dice and with more dice comes more accuracies. That means the chances you will completely negate Brace is pretty high, especially on ships without ECM. Furthermore, Home One hands out free accuracies without reducing damage in most cases and Intel Officers can permanently erase Brace. If your goal is to spread damage, and your battleplan will be doing damage from long range, against ships that can Evade, Redirect and Brace on the same attack, and don’t care about accuracies, then HTT is a cheaper, more effective option than XI7s. For everything else, XI7s simply do more damage to a specific hull zone, works better vs. the current meta, and works better in conjunction with accuracy dice.
Hero is a veteran tabletop wargamer and video game designer. He is the man behind HERO's Gaming Blog. He specializes in Warhammer 40k, X-Wing: the Miniatures Game and Star Wars: Armada. He began writing for BoLS in 2010.