To keep things simple for our calculations, we ignored squadrons from the equation all together. No doubt, squadrons complicate matters. They are worth nothing on the board if your list is tabled, and a viable strategy, popularized with the "GenCon Special" is to rush in at full speed and attempt to remove all enemy ships before your own are destroyed - against which squadrons are points that are not spent ensuring you have the hull left to survive a reckless attack.
But can squadrons be worked into the equation with the tournament points, and what would list with these squadrons look like?
Squadrons As "Fighter Cover"
This approach uses squadrons as interceptors or close defense fighters to defend against an enemy that is likely to be using a BOMBER heavy attack. Typically, this approach will use a few smaller, inexpensive fighters with a fast speed stat to intercept enemy BOMBERs where they will be unable to join the fight. A-Wings and Tycho are good examples from the Rebel side, while TIE Fighters, Advanced, and Interceptors can all reasonably fill the role on the Imperial side. This is also typically seen with large ships being taken, such as 2 AFIIs or VVG.
The list building approach for this is to ensure that the Fighter Cover being purchased doesn't exceed the 9-1 magic number (149 for a 300 point matchup) when combined with any other Medium ship, and doesn't exceed the 10-0 magic number (79 for 300 points) when combined with any other Small ship (though it may be better to classify the "G" in VVG as Medium to make things work).
Squadrons As "Another Ship"
The first thought is to price your bid on squadrons as another ship when building your fleet. For this, the combined value of the squadrons you select should be less than or equal to the 10-0 magic number (79 - at 300 point lists) for a lost ship, and less than the 9-1 magic number when added to any other ship besides your flagship (149 - at 300 point lists). This ensures that with aggressive play, you can still get a high point score for a table, even if your squadrons are destroyed - a distinct possibility against a squadron heavy list that could eliminate your squadrons. With this in mind, you are probably aiming for the 39-56 range for your total squadron cost - with a focus on anti-ship BOMBERs.
To fly this list against a squadronless opponent, you should be prepared to fly the squadrons independent of fleet activations - this means either flying the squadrons with your fleet defensively, to punish anything that decides to end their activation in close quarters, or aggressively moving to intercept where the enemy fleet is likely to be. Or to have a number of squadrons to be activated, such as the named Ace Pilots, and use one activation to get them into position for several rounds of firing (during which further activations will be unnecessary, outside of regular squadron commands).
Against an enemy with squadrons, you need to decide how quickly you can - or if you are even able to - gain superiority against their fighters. If you can gain the upper hand quickly, use multiple squadron commands to clear the air and get into position for bombing runs. Don't forget that you can move and fire in either order with a squadron command - if you can clear an engagement, always set up for the next attack. If you can't gain the superiority, fly defensively and save your commands - use your squadrons as cover or decoys while you focus on the enemy's ships.
"Screw that!" I can hear you say, "I want to make a Carrier Build work! 1/3 of my points need to be squadrons!" Okay, lets see how we can make this work.
First and foremost, you will need to make your ships as hard to kill as possible. Defensive upgrades in Wave 1 are few and far between, with the Imperials being the worst off. Possibly Tarkin and Engine Tech GSDs to "run away" from any engagement they can't already outfight, and to give extra squadron commands might be an option, or Motti with a pair of VSDs with Gunnery Team to discourage the enemy from getting too close. Rebels can run a pair of AFIIs loaded with defensive upgrades - Mon Mothma makes an excellent Admiral, as does Garm paired with Defensive Liaison. Advanced Projectors or Electronic Countermeasures are both good options to get the biggest bang from your defense token buck. Building some extra offense into the ships is another good step - they need to be the anvil to your squadron's hammer.
But how to you make sure you can dominate on points? Well, first off you need to make sure you get a squadron friendly objective - one that will award extra points to your list so that you can maximize your victory. Precision Strike is an excellent example - BOMBER squadrons have the chance to pick up an extra 15 points once the enemy has hull damage, just by rolling a hit! Especially mean against a ship that you know you are going to blow up anyway, you can rack up a fairly rediculous number of points by trading your "hit" results away before finishing up with a coup de grace. 15 points per flipped up damage card. When a BOMBER squadron is less than 14 points for the most expensive generic, they've earned their keep if they can land one attack.
Another option to give your squadrons a chance to earn their cost back is with Superior Positions - 15 points if they can sneak an attack against an opponent's rear arc. A very easy proposition with a squadron command, or by parking a squadron right in front of an enemy with a speed of 1 or 2. Hyperspace Assault is a decent opportunity to jump some fighters into a position where they can do a lot of damage to an enemy, especially for B-Wings. Contested Outpost is also a good way to get a lot of fighters to a spot where you know they will have a big impact on the fight, especially an unopposed Rhymer Ball.
To do this, you will need to ensure that the right objectives get selected, which means ensuring that you go second. It is up to you to figure out your local meta and know how many points to bid - or even if you need to bid in your meta.
Well, that is it for this discussion. The rest of the week we will be going over Support Team Upgrades and Offensive Retrofits. Until next time!