Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Commander's Guide - Nebulon B Frigate

This article is part of the Commander's Guide series.

Hello again, Commander!  Previously we discussed the CR90 Corvette and the Gladiator Class Star Destroyer, and today we will be wrapping up our discussion on the smaller ships from Wave 1 with the Nebulon B Frigate (NebB).  As before, we will be going over the stat lines for the ship, differences between the two variants, upgrades that the ship can equip, and roles that the ship can fill within your list.  So without further ado...

Nebulon B at it's preferred distance from a Gladiator.

Overall Statistics

The Nebulon B Frigate comes standard with a Command of 2, giving them the eqivalent responsiveness of a Gladiator Class.  They also come with an Engineering value of 3, giving them the chance to remove damage with a dial, or a shield with a token.

Both models also come with 5 hull, again equivalent to a GSD.  Shields are a bit different, with 3 shields fore, 2 aft, and only 1 on either side.  Also of note is that the ship doesn't have a redirect, instead having 2 Brace tokens and 1 Evade token for defense.

The weaponry on the ship is mostly Red, with 3 Red on the fore, 1 Red / 1 Blue on the sides, and 2 Red in the Aft.  

The other big thing to note, and isn't apparent on the card itself, is how large the side arcs are for the ship - they are each twice the angle of the fore arc.  Between the weaponry favoring the Fore, and shields heavily favoring the Fore, this ship requires careful maneuvering to avoid getting slammed by the bigger guns of the Imperials.

With that in mind, the ship has a maximum speed of 3, with it's turning speed directly related to how fast it is moving.  At speed 1, it has a yaw of 1, at speed 2 a yaw of 1 at both 2 and 1, and at speed 3 a yaw of 2 at 3, and 1 at 2.  Because of its need for careful maneuvering, and low yaw values, especially at the low speeds you want during an approach, consider maneuver commands to keep your options open.

Speaking of maneuvering, the Nebulon B all come with a Support Team upgrade, in addition to Commanders, Titles, Officers, and Turbolasers.

Nebulon B Support Refit

The cheaper of the two options at 51 points, the Support Refit (NebB-S) comes with a Squadron value of 1, making it ineffective with a role as a carrier.  It also comes with 1 Blue anti-squadron armament.

The role for this ship offensively is a pure sniper.  With the 3 Red / 3 Shield front, and an evade token, the ship wants to engage from it's front arc at long range, avoiding close range confrontation at all possible.

Nebulon B Escort Frigate

The more expensive option at 6 points more (57 total), the Escort Frigate (NebB-E) variant has a Squadron value of 2, giving it a better role as a potential carrier build, as well as 2 Blue for anti-squadron armament.

With the large side arcs, the ship makes an excellent anti-fighter support platform, for assisting your squadrons in taking down enemy fighters and bombers.  And with the right upgrades can be an effective Escort Carrier build.


The ship comes with 3 options for titles.  The Redemption (8 points) is the first - giving your ships within Range 5 a bonus engineering point whenever it resolves an engineering command.  This is a fairly substantial defensive buff - for example with a 3 Engineering value the bonus point would give you 4 points (2 shields restored) for a dial, or 3 points (damage card discarded) for a token.  With Corvettes and their 2 engineering, you'd have 3 points on a dial, or 2 points on a token.  Assault Frigates go to 5 (damage card discarded and a shield restored!) for a dial and 3 for a token.  Combine with Engineering Teams on your ships for even more ridiculous repairs.  Just note that it doesn't improve both your dial and your token if you spend both on one engineering command.

The Salvation (7 points) takes the sniper aspect of the NebB's front arc, and dials it up.  Now all critical results on the red die (2 / 8 faces) count as double hits.  This bumps up the expected damage return for the red dice from .75 / die to 1.00 / die - a 33% increase in your expected damage from the front arc.

The Yavaris (5 points) improves the NebB-E's role as an escort carrier, by giving squadrons activated by the ship the chance to double attack if they don't move.  This can turn the tide in anti-squadron combat or let you get a double B-Wing strike on an unguarded ship.

For Commanders, Dodonna is kind of the baseline - crit fishing isn't exactly what a NebB is doing, though it is welcome when it does happen.  Mon Mothma gives your NebB more defensive options if a Gladiator gets in close, and a Gladiator will really, really want to get in close.  Brace can only do so much against a Screed Gladiator.  Bel Iblis is more useful here than a Corvette, as you have 2 tokens that you can bank instead of just one.

For Officers, Leia really isn't as effective as when she was in a Corvette, though she could work in a support role with a NebB-S / Redemption always taking Engineering Commands.  Raymus Antilles works well on a Nebulon B going for either a sniper build (Extra dice / reroll) or escort carrier (3 squadrons to double attack!)  Adar Tallon can work, though you'll likely want him on a different ship than the Yavaris, so that the squadron he deactivates can move / shoot, then shoot / shoot.

For non-unique officers, Intel Agent works well, especially combined on a sniper style build with XI-7 Turbolasers - can't Redirect much damage, and now they are running out of Brace tokens.  Veteran Captain can help be an emergency engineering token / maneuver token as needed.  The Liaisons probably aren't terribly effective for this build - unless you are taking Iblis or Antilles, you won't have that many tokens, and with Command 2, you shouldn't be too surprised by what will happen in the round.

For Support Teams - Nav Team gives you a big buff to your yaw while you are doing Speed 1 turns, especially combined with Veteran Captain / Antilles / Iblis, or even banking a Maneuver command on Turn 1.  Engineering Team gives you the same boost above for the Redemption, but just for your ship (and stacks with a Redemption buff) - not enough to turn a NebB into a true tank, but enough to repair a few long distance pot shots each round.  Finally, Engine Tech is just not as useful on a NebB as it was on a GSD or CR90 - due to not having a 2 Yaw Speed 1 maneuver - you'd have better maneuver options at Speeds 1 and 2 with Nav Team for half the cost (8 points vs 4 points).

Finally, for Turbolasers, I've already gone over the XI-7 Turbolaser upgrade, and how well it matches with Intel Agent (and Salvation).  XX-9 Turbolasers also work well with Salvation - a better chance that you'll punch through with enough damage to deal 2 faceup cards.  H9 Turbolasers also can help with long range shots - changing a lone hit to an accuracy to protect a double hit from reroll or straight up removal by an evade.  Finally, Expanded Armaments (10 points) takes your biggest weakness (side arcs) and turn them into something resembling (but not quite) an asset. Although 2 Red / 1 Blue isn't an amazing arc, it does give you a little bit better attack if an enemy does outflank you.


So, with all this in mind, what is a Nebulon B good for?

Sniper - The Nebulon B wants to hang back, out of the brawl, and shoot things long range where it's defensive tokens can do the most good.  It can get even better at this role with the inclusion of the Salvation Title, Intel Officer, and XI-7 Turbolasers, and keep it's facing in the right direction better with Nav Team.

Flanker - What better way to keep your opponent in front of you than to be behind them?  Going hand in hand with the Sniper role, the Neb-B has the speed to reliably outflank VSDs, and at least put an effort at outflanking Assault Frigates.  That being said, against another flanker, the NebB isn't going to win a steight up engagement - best case scenario, it gets around the opponent intact.

Support - Again a role that works complimentary to the Sniper.  Redemption makes all your other ships, especially Assault Frigates, that much harder to kill.

Escort Carrier - Between a NebB-E, Yavaris, and Antilles, that is 6 fighter attacks from 3 ships per squadron command dialed in.  Plus anti-squadron support at 2 Blue dice.  With 3 B-Wings it is a potent anti-Gladiator deterrent.  With Wedge / Dutch it is an amazing anti-squadron shredder.  Without Antilles or Yavaris, it is still anti-squadron support and 2 activations, making it a possible B-Wing carrier or A-Wing interceptor platform.

Objective Ship? - A Salvation NebB might make a good recipient for Advanced Gunnery.  A Yavaris or Salvation would work well for Hyperspace Assault (Player 2 ONLY).  Redemption makes Player 1 on Dangerous Territory not hurt as much.  An excellent ship to hold back from a Fleet Ambush (Player 1).

All around, the Nebulon B Frigate can find a role that in can play in your Rebel list.  In a world filled with blunt instruments, it is the scalpel - the ship where careful positioning and proper support lead it to punching well above it's weight class, without being flashy about it.

Follow these links to excellent sources of additional information and discussion on the Nebulon B on the FFG forums.

Nebulon B - Rebel's Best Ship - by Killionaire
Making the Neb-B more Agile - by Kuthawolf

**Wave 2 Updates**

Post Script

What should we discuss next time?  Do we want to go to the Medium class ships next (the VSD and AFII?) or go over the squadrons?  See anything I missed, or got incorrect - or a role for the ship that I missed?  Comment and let me know!

Want to know when I put up a new article?  Subscribe to the Steel Squadron HQ dispatches today!  Signups are below or on the right of the article.

I've also got a few links on the right hand side of the page - these are good folks that I enjoy, hopefully you'll enjoy them too!