Let’s take a look at the new Onager class Start Destroyer expansion.
The Onager Star Destroyer is the new large Imperial ship coming out alongside the Rebel Starhawk in the upcoming Armada Wave. This, frankly odd, ship promises to add new mechanics and options to the game. FFG has released a teaser showing off much of the new stuff, so let’s dig in a take a look.
The Onager introduces the ignition weapon mechanic, and the ship is really based around using this. Ignition is a new type of attack, that lets you deliver powerful shots at longer ranges then previously possible. Ignition attacks come with their own battery armament and firing arc, the Onager’s is a narrower version of its frontal arc, but I suppose in theory this could vary on other ships. To fire an ignition attack you have to use a targeting token. In its basic form you can place a targeting token in your special arc and at close range at the end of your ships activation. Then at the start of the ship’s next attack step it must perform one ignition attack, this attack must be in your front arc and draws range from the targeting token, not your ship.
Now as a base rule mechanic, this is kind of OK. It’s a complicated and limited attack that has a smaller arc but does get you what amounts to an extra range band. On it’s own that wouldn’t be too crazy. However as we will see going forward there are a lot of ways to get different types of ignition attacks, or buff them, making an OK weapon into a great one. There are a couple of still unanswered questions about ignition attacks as well. Does it count as one of the ships two attacks? Can a ship only fire off of its own targeting token, or can you use a friends? Do all your cards work on ignition attacks? These are things that could really change how we view ignition attacks.
The Onager, like most ships comes in two variations. The Testbed, is a stripped down basic version of the ship. Its stats are not super impressive, with mediocre guns, horrible shields everywhere but the front and bad command and squadron, with only an OK Engineering. It’s got 10 hull which is nice, but only three defense tokens, a brace, redirect and the new salvo token, if this ship starts getting hit it will go down. The upsides are the speed three, and the two weapon teams and one support team upgrade slots. This means you can take engine techs on the Testbed and give it move 4. I think the tactic here would be to use that to flank outside of the battle with the Onager and take shots down range at the enemy. It super gun is solid, with 4 red dice and a 3 black, but you are really going to have to upgrade the ship to get back its points.
The second version of the Onager is the Star Destroyer version. Here the ship is upgraded to be a little better in combat. It gets an extra dice on each facing and both an extra anti-squadron dice and an extra dice of squadron control. Its’ super gun switches over to 3 red, 2 blue, 2 black and it loses the support team slot for a turbolaser slot. For the extra 14 points I’m not sure if it’s worth it here. What you are really paying for is the extra battery guns, but it feels like if the Onager is doing its job those will be out of range a lot. Still both ships have a place.
Like the Starhawk the Onager has the new super weapon upgrade slot and it has two powerful choices: The Orbital Bombardment Particle Cannon changes your ignition range to long. This by itself is pretty great, as it basically gives you a 6 range attack, twice that of any other ship. In addition on a red crit you can do splash damage to ships and squadrons near the target. Note this damage affects all ships and squadrons so watch out for friendly fire. This is great for not only hitting enemies at long range, but breaking up formations. It seems a good fit for a Testbed with the 4 red dice and a veteran gunners.
Superheavy Composite Beam Turbolasers meanwhile give you an ignition range of medium, which is very solid. They deliver a more focused attack, dealing an extra point of damage for EACH red or blue crit you roll. This has a pretty high potential. I think overall you will always be taking one of these two on your Onager.
General Romodi is the new commander for the Empire, and he’s got a very interesting ability. In essence when a ship is making an attack that is obstructed (by a ship or obstacle, not a card effect) instead of losing a die you gain a red die. This is pretty interesting but I think will be hard to pull off regularly. Still at 20 points he’s cheap and a couple extra red dice here or there could turn a game.
Gunnery Cheif Varnillain is a pretty strange weapon team upgrade. In essence she lets you bank a die that you can swap out with one in your attack pool. Now she doesn’t add extra dice, but can make attacks more accurate. If you go first, she gets a blank red dice, you can start swap this out with a good dice, to build up a more powerful attack later. If you go 2nd you get to start with a red dice on any facing you want. I think she’ll be most useful in swapping out a crit, if you rolled two, to make sure you have one when needed.
Reeva Demesne gives you the ability to ready a defense token once a turn. It’s a nice little boost to your defenses and not bad at all.
Cataclysm, the first of three titles, lets you place your targeting token at the start of the ship phase, for the cost of a concentrate firepower token. This does give your ship a little more flexibility in its shots so it is nice. Since you have to already have a concentrate firepower token in order to use this, it does mean you can’t normally use it on the first turn. However if you where to combo this with either Tarken, or be playing Precision Strike, you could start with a token, and potentially get off a powerful first turn shot into the enemy lines. You could maybe even combo this with Titus or a Grav Well Projector to hit an enemy ship while they where at speed 0.
Sunder gives you a crit effect that lets you discard the title to remove an enemy upgrade card, your choice of offensive retrofit, defensive retrofit, shields, ordnance, ion cannons or turbolasers. While this can be useful to mess up some key enemy combo, Sunder’s 10 point cost means that normally you will be spending more to remove the card then they paid for it.
Rakehell, is the last of the titles and has a cool effect. The title lets you still turn your ship a bit when you are at speed 0. In essence this is the title for your Oanger with the Bombardment Cannons that wants to sit way back and take pot shots at double normal range. Overall its a cool compliment to an interesting if tricky ship.
Let us know what you think about the Onager, down in the comments!