Some abilities require a deft touch and solid judgement to maximize. Others just require a little mathiness. ChahDresh looks at a few of the latter.
There are plenty of abilities out there that are wholly contextual in their use. No one can tell you ahead of time when to use Autothrusters for a red repositioning action. You have to judge for yourself when Lando would rather have an extra action or a less-predictable maneuver. On the other hand, some pilots have abilities that are no-brainers that you should use at every opportunity, like Luke Skywalker.
There are, however, certain pilots and upgrades that are “solvable”. Sometimes, we’re trading one option for another, and there is a mathematically right answer as to what to do. That’s what this column is about. We’re going to look at a handful of abilities or effects that offer offense or defense in different ways, and determine which we should do and when.
I don’t expect people to go memorizing all of these. If you plan on using one of these ships or cards, on the other hand, I hope you find it useful—and maybe it can help inform you on whether or not it’s worth fielding this stuff at all.
We’ll start with a softball…
SEVENTH SISTER: Should I use a Force token to turn an eyeball, or save to use her ability?
This is a decision you make after you see your dice results, and that leads us to a very easy answer: always turn the eyeball. Seventh Sister’s ability yields, at most, one fewer evade result; but adding an extra hit result is just as powerful as taking away an evade result. That’s the best case! In reality, her ability is only even that good when the enemy has an evade token. In no other circumstance is the enemy guaranteed any evade results at all (green dice are fickle). If there’s even a chance the enemy won’t roll up an evade result, you’re nerfing your offense using her ability over turning an eyeball.
And all of that’s saying nothing of the fact that it takes *two* Force to use her ability!
Now: if you have a target lock, your best course is to spend the lock to reroll the eyeball and hope you can save her Force for her ability… but if that reroll comes up eyeball, you’re better off turning it.
(This is all an extended way of saying Seventh Sister isn’t very good.)
GRAND INQUISITOR: Should I use a Force to use his ability, or save it to modify the attack/defense?
Unlike with Seventh Sister, this is a choice you have to make before you see your dice results, which makes it a little trickier. Nevertheless, there is still a right answer.
On offense, you should always use Inqi’s ability, although the margin is closer than you think: for an unmodified attack, you’ll be getting an extra half-hit with the extra die, as opposed to an extra 7/16s hits by using the Force as a mod. If your shot is modded, the math is much more firmly in favor of adding the range bonus. (Obviously if you’re focused the Force token would be strictly duplicative and the answer is always “apply range bonus”.) This is where I am obliged to point out that getting mods is harder than before, since arc dodgers are spending more of their limited actions repositioning and Inqi can’t just go “TOKENS TOKENS TOKENS” and get them all.
On defense, the answer changes. Because you’re rolling three dice (as opposed to the two you get on attack), you’ll more commonly get a focus result you can turn. (37/64s of the time you’ll have at least one eyeball.) That’s a bit more than half an evade result. If your opponent is making an unmodified attack, he’s only getting an extra half-hit out of his range bonus die. That means that if the attack is unmodified, use your Force on your defense roll. On the other hand, any modification to the attack makes that extra die super-scary—even a humble focus token pushes the value of that die to 3/4s hits. If the attack is modified, always deny the attacker his range bonus.
LT KESTAL: Should I save my focus for his ability, or turn eyeballs?
We tackled this question in 1.0, and the cleanest way we found to present it was with a flow chart. This time it’s a little simpler.
If you can turn two or more eyeballs, do it. Obviously if you didn’t roll any eyeballs you save. If you rolled only one eyeball, save it to debuff your opponent only if:
- You’re the only one shooting him, AND
- He has an evade token AND a Force/focus/calculate AND at least two dice, OR
- He has a focus and at least four dice
That’s a pretty limited set of scenarios, which means Kestal’s ability is *rarely* useful at all. The poor guy will likely only see tables when someone wants an Ini4 TIE Aggressor… and given how poor the TIE Aggressor is right now, that doesn’t seem like a common scenario. Similarly, Double Edge is basically never worth it, since you can get a better version of his ability for a small premium by giving a generic pilot Veteran Turret Gunner.
C-3PO: What do I even do with this guy?
Ah, FFG, look what you’ve done! You’ve taken a guy who has a mathematically right answer and done everything in your power to obfuscate that answer!
Okay, here we go. I’m going to keep most of the math under the hood this time because there’s a lot of it and it involves some kinda long fractions in places, so we’ll try to keep it punchy and conclusion-based.
If you’re the Millennium Falcon, you’re always better off evading. At best (defending one time), proccing C-3PO and defending with the second token matches the Falcon title’s evade action. In all other cases the Falcon’s “reroll + spend at the end” is strictly superior. Conceivably you could take both with Lando, but you’re still not *that* tanky and you’re spending a heinous number of points on a ship with almost no offense.
Always guess “one”. A modification of the 1.0 rule of always guessing zero. Since you can’t guess zero, “one” is the most common result you may guess, whether you’re throwing 1, 2, or 3 dice. Corner case: if you have to dodge every single hit to survive, guess the smallest number you can that’ll let you evade the attack. Just know you probably won’t get it.
If rolling 1 or 2 dice, C-3PO’s ability is stronger than saving the token to turn an eyeball. This matters when you’re planning out how to defend multiple attacks. Your plan should be to use C-3PO against each attack. That said, the first time you have the opportunity to turn an eyeball, do it.
Contrariwise, at three dice the token is better saved to turn an eyeball. Again, stay flexible: if you get to the last attack of the round and you still have both calculate tokens, spend one on 3PO and plan to spend the other on an eyeball.
All of this leads to the true lesson: unless you’re Leebo, strongly consider Jyn Erso instead. 3PO gives you the luxury of gently modding an attack and a defense, or more strongly bolstering your defense. Nothing can duplicate that. On the other hand, if defense is what you care about, Jyn Erso is vastly cheaper, nearly as good, and much easier to use. Look at the above list of guidelines! If you don’t follow them properly, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice. C-3PO is only stronger if played properly, and otherwise is a weaker choice. In the heat of battle, you might not have brain cells to spare on the droid. (Even Leia eventually had to yell at him to shut up.)
That said, if you are Leebo and you can recycle calculate tokens ad infinitum, by all means take C-3PO along for the ride. They synergize very well together. Whether that’s a ship worth taking in a broader sense (at a cool 114 points) is an open question. You’ve got the defensive capability and peak offense of Luke behind more hull and shields, but you’re not outrunning people, you’re not dodging them, and you’re praying you never need to rotate your arc. It’s a tenuous existence.
By the by, if all you’re after is two calculate tokens, Scum can match that with IG-88D for a mere four points. Don’t look now, but Scum-only crew options are killer again…
~”Never tell me the odds”