Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Building a Fleet - General Concepts

Now we finally have covered all the ships and squadrons in our Commander's Guide series, it is time to dive into integrating what we have learned into building a list of our own.  For sake of argument, we're going to be using the Wave 1 standard of 300 point fleets.  In this article we will be covering the beginnings of building a fleet of your own - how to take those first few steps and how your ships will work together toward a goal.

Build Your Fleet to Objectives vs Pick Objectives For Your Fleet

One of the first choices you need to make when designing your fleet is if you are going to take a top down approach - picking out a set of objectives and designing your fleet around them, or a bottom up approach - build a good all-around fleet and pick the objectives which best play to its strengths.

If you are designing your fleet to a set of objectives, you will also need to bid to make sure you get the Second Player, and build your fleet to be able to manage handing first activation to the opponent.

On the other hand, if you are building your fleet first, you need to plan for it to be able to handle a range of objectives fairly well, and don't necessarily have to bid.  For this, there are two ways to go: The first is plan around a single objective type - you are guaranteed to face one of 4 Assault objectives, for example - and you can then plan your list around a single objective type.  The second is truly a bottom up approach - figure out which objectives work best for you, until you have filled out 4 of a single color.  Perhaps you'd rather pick Hyperspace Assault as first player, even though you are good with any of the Navigation objectives.

How Many Ships Do You Bring?

Having more ships than an opponent is a considerable advantage.  Being able to make the last activation of the round lets you create situations where your opponent must come to you, moving into your ship's line of fire before you have to activate.  Being Player 1 is an even bigger advantage with high numbers of ships, as you can activate a ship as the final activation of the round, put it into a dangerous position, and activate it again first the next turn, flying it to safety.

The drawback though is that smaller ships tend to be easier to destroy, and cost more to upgrade each one vs a smaller number of heavily upgraded ships.  Bringing more ships also means that you likely have less to spend in the first place for upgrades, as well as Squadrons.  It is more punishing of mistakes - if you mess up and wind up with a ship left in the front arc of a VSD, it is probably going to take it off the board, where a larger ship could have held out for a turn or two.

What Are Some Typical Compositions?

While this is far from an exhaustive list of possibilities, these are a few fleet options you can look into when constructing your first list.  Each have their advantages and disadvantages, but all will get you started on your way to building your first list.

Edit:  With Wave 2 out, this is quite a bit out of date.  Stay tuned for a new update Wednesday!

Twin VSDs - The twin VSD build is a favorite of the Imperials, giving you two really hard to kill ships and a scary number of anti-ship dice out of their two front arcs.  Relatively inexpensive but light on ships, the Twin VSD lends itself well to Carrier style builds and a strong Squadron buy, or to heavy anti-ship upgrades with minimal fighter support.  Motti is an excellent Commander for this build, adding more hull and thus more wiggle room for your ships.  Tarkin is also excellent, taking advantage of the large Command values of the two ships.  The biggest drawback is that it doesn't have very many ships, and all its ships are slow. meaning several objectives will be difficult to clear.  Most Wanted, Opening Salvo, Fleet Ambush, Intel Sweep - all of these are awful for the list if it winds up in First Player.  But letting the opponent have First Player is even worse.

VSD / Demolisher - Combining the best upgraded monstrosity the Imperials have in the Demolisher, with a Carrier VSD for anti-squadron / bomber support.  This list can put a lot of hurt on an opponent very rapidly.  Also inexpensive, but light on ships, it definitely relies on squadron support and commands from the carrier VSD to back up the Demolisher as a heavy hitter.  Its big drawback is the Demolisher itself - if not careful, a well defended enemy can force a trade against the 90+ point GSD,   Also, while the Demolisher is fast, the list is still light on ship numbers and needs to go first, and has more than a few objectives that do not favor it, such as Most Wanted, Opening Salvo, Contested Outpost, and Dangerous Territory.

Three GSDs - The closest thing the Imperials get to a swarm, Three fully kitted out Gladiators and very few to no squadrons have a lot of punishing firepower up close.  The drawback is the lack of squadrons and the need to be that close - while the list will destroy anything that gets into close range, it has basically no long range support, nor anti-squadron capabilities for stopping BOMBERs that are flying in formation with the enemy fleet.  Screed is a favorite Commander for this list, though Tarkin constantly providing Maneuver tokens is a viable option as well.

Two VSDs / Demolisher - Another three ship Imperial build that is light on squadrons - though capable of bringing a few to engage enemy bomber squadrons.  The Twin VSDs bring a decent area denial from their front arc, and the Demolisher can chase down enemies on the flank.  It is expensive to bring this many ships though, and this will limit the upgrades and total number of fighters that can be brought.  A good all-around build, it doesn't mind going first or second, so forget any point bids and cram everything you can onto it.  Motti adds a total of 5 hull to the list, keeping the important ships alive, while Tarkin can add 3 tokens (one to each ship) a turn.  Screed works well too, as both the VSDs will probably be VSD1s.

Two AFIIs - Two Assault Frigates play similar in style to the Twin VSDs in terms of points.  You have the option of going squadron heavy with a carrier style build, or going for heavy damage with Paragon and anti-ship weaponry.  As a two ship build, there are certain objectives you do not want to play, though you aren't as hampered by the VSDs lack of speed.  Garm Bel Iblis was made for this list, though depending on your build Gen Dodonna could be argued.

AFII / Neb-B / CR90 - The baseline rebel build, it could swing either way to Squadron heavy or to Anti-Ship upgrades.  Going upgrade light, you could even cram another CR90 in, though that wouldn't leave much for squadrons either.  The CR90(s) and the Neb-B are weakpoints in this list, meaning they have to be protected to keep them from just handing your opponent free points.  Mon Mothma is the general best Commander for this list.

AFII / Three CR90s - Combining the anchor of the AFII, and a min-swarm of CR90s, this list tries to get the best of all worlds.  It has the space for upgrades to the AFII and limited squadron support.  Mon Mothma really works with this list, though Dodonna could make an appearance for a more offense oriented look.  With the extra ships, this list makes a strong push toward First Player, though Most Wanted / Opening Salvo / Fire Lanes / Fleet Ambush and Dangerous Territory definitely favor it if it goes first.

CR90 Swarm - This build is all about death of a thousand cuts, and making good trades on points.  Squadrons will be minimal if they exist at all (A-Wings only, most likely) and upgrades the same.  The list is all about going first and having the last activation, so a bid for First Player is necessary to utilize the full potential.  Mon Mothma really fits as the Commander, due to the sheer number of evades, though Dodonna could argue for his inclusion as well.

That's it for the General Concepts - a brief overview of ship building.  Next time we will talk about adding Squadrons to your fleet, what roles they have to play, and which compositions will work best for you.


  1. Would it be possible to update this with some typical compositions including Wave 2 ships?

    1. Now there is a good idea for a future article. I'll see about getting that out sometime soon.

  2. You must update this up to wave 4.