Monday, October 19, 2015

Commander's Guide - MC80 Mon Cal Cruiser - 50th Article Bonanza!

We've reached a milestone here at the Steel Squadron - this is our 50th article that we've put up!  Admittedly, a couple of those articles were about X-Wing Miniatures (and left us with the ironic web address) and one of them was just proof that I did, in fact, have a mustache and thus was Biggs in Real Life.

But, 50 total!  And to do something special for the big Five-Oh, we're going to go back to what put us on the map - the Commander's Guides!  Still one of our most popular articles months after we put them out.  And today we're going to talk about our first Wave 2 ship, the MC80 Mon Cal Cruiser, being released in the Home One expansion sometime soon (or already in your hands if you won one at Sullust)

The MC80 Mon Cal Cruiser Variants


The MC80 is the first of two Large Ships released in this wave, and both variants come with the same Command value as the Medium ships released so far - 3.  It also comes standard with a Engineering value of 4, putting it on par with Medium ships in terms of total staying power.

For Defense, the Mon Cal Cruiser comes with a Rebel Alliance high of 8 hull, as well as a strong balance of shields on all 4 arcs.  With 4 total on the front and both sides, and 3 in the rear, the ship with its 15 shields is the reigning champion of shields for Wave 2.  For defensive tokens, the MC80 makes good use of those shields with redundant Redirect tokens, as well as a single Brace, and the new Contain token which cancels the default critical result.

It is also the slowest of all the new ships, getting only the VSD like speed of 2 as it's maximum, though it does have increased yaw at its maximum over the VSD - 1 yaw at both the 1st and 2nd pips.  It also has the advantage of taking upgrades to increase its overall speed, namely Engine Techs.

Speaking of upgrades, the MC80 can take an Officer, Support Team, Defensive Retrofit, Ion Cannon, and Turbolaser upgrade, in addition to one of three MC80 titles.

The MC80 emerges as a high value anchor to the Rebel fleet.

MC80 Command Cruiser:

The less expensive of the two MC80 variants at 106 points, the MC80 Command Cruiser has a game high Squadron value of 4, and an Offensive Retrofit slot, giving you the option of taking Expanded Hangers to increase the value to a whopping 5!  With a reliable way of grabbing Squadron tokens such as Raymus Antilles or Garm Bel Iblis as your commander, the Command Cruiser could theoretically start the round off by flinging 6 squadrons directly at your enemy.  Also useful in the Offensive Retrofit is Boosted Comms, increasing your activation range for Squadrons to within Long Range.  Perfect for hammering an enemy ship while staying well away from their Blue and Black dice.

The ship's guns favor the broadside, and the ship has a very wide broadside, taking up the entire side of the ship base.  The Command Cruiser gives 3 Red and 3 Blue out of its side, but only 1 Red and 2 Blue out of the front and rear.  The ship also has a strong anti-fighter battery, putting out 1 Black and 1 Blue when shooting at squadrons.

MC80 Assault Cruiser:

A bit more expensive at 114 points, the MC80 Assault Cruiser loses the Command Cruiser's 4 Squadron value, going down to a still decent 3.  It also loses the Offensive Retrofit slot, instead stacking yet another Defensive Retrofit into its upgrades.  This gives you the unprecedented option to do things like stack both Advanced Projectors and Electronic Countermeasures on the same ship!

It also upgrades each of its arcs toward long range engagements, changing 1 Blue die to a Red in each of its arcs, winding up with 4 Red, 2 Blue on the sides, and 2 Red, 1 Blue on the Front and Rear.  It also increases the range, but loses a bit of the punch of its anti-squadron armament, losing the 1 Black in favor of a second Blue dice.


The MC80 does not work well with all commanders - Mon Mothma in particular does nothing at all for the MC80 as it does not have, and has no way to acquire, an evade token.  Gen Dodonna works about as well as he does with anything else - his big draw in this situation is his relatively inexpensive cost - but doesn't have any real upgrades that take advantage of his special ability aside from the punishing broadsides being likely to put a critical hit onto the enemy's hull.  Garm Bel Iblis gives an MC80 the full 3 tokens his Wave 1 AFIIs have come to expect, but at increased cost and without those tokens really doing more for the ship compared to the AFIIs.

Of the new commanders, Admiral Ackbar is the definite winner for the MC80 - being able to maximize the damage from it's large side arcs and ignore trying to set up a double-arc shot, Ackbar increases the already impressive side arcs by an additional 2 Red, giving the Assault variant an unheard of 6 long range dice.  Gen Reeikan is less impressive, but he does let a heavily banged up MC80 deliver one final set of broadsides - possibly better overall if throwing one away on a Slash maneuver - after all one final shot is better than a big shot you never get to take.

For Titles, you get the option of 3 to work with.  Home One is the premier title, coming in at 7 points and giving other friendly ships within range 1-5 the option to set a dice to a face with an accuracy icon.  Never see a brace again! (at least when other ships are shooting).  It does change a die though, so it definately works better with other ships that are rolling significant amounts of dice, particularly lots of Red, so it has a lot of synergy with Admiral Ackbar.

Defiance is an interesting title, following Paragon's tradition of adding a die to your attack if certain conditions are met.  In this case, Defiance adds 1 die of any color to your attack if you are attacking a ship that has already activated.  Probably best to add Black dice for the best damage / dice ratio, there is still the option of adding a Blue at long range to take advantage of Leading Shots, to guarantee a good result, or just to fish for an accuracy.

Independence is the final title and seems at first glance to be the B-Wing title of choice.  Independence lets you move your squadrons activated by the ship's squadron commands a total speed of 4, but they cannot attack when they make that move.  Good for moving a B-Wing group - possibly escorted by a YT-1300 - into position to make an attack on the next turn.  Or just to fling a bunch of YT-1300s into a cloud of enemy squadrons.

Officers for the ship are a mixed bag.  Leia is, again, not very useful on a Command 3 ship.  Adar Tallon has some synergy with Independence, though just one squadron is affected.  Raymus Antilles is excellent no matter what ship he is on, and can help keep your MC80 alive through bonus Engineering tokens.  Walex Blissex lets you get the most out of your single Brace token, letting you get it back after burning it on two attacks in a single round, or to spite a heavy damaging Intel Officer boosted attack.  Lando lets you gamble on defense, by forcing rerolls of good enemy dice rolls - good for a black dice blast by the GSD that got close enough.

For generic officers, the Liaisons are decent if you have a ready source of banked tokens, such as from Garm.  The new officers though are arguably better - Engineering Captain being probably the best option for a MC80.  Being able to go on the offensive, but switch to Engineering as needed is key as you'll likely be the centerpiece of your fleet, and the target of a lot of enemy fire.  Navigation Officer would be a good option too, especially with a Support Team like Engine Techs, as would Wing Commander if you've got a good clump of Squadrons set up that just need to pop into the fight at the right time - no need to waste dials trying to guess.  The final officer that deserves to be looked at is the Support Officer - the ability to discard all your dials and assign new ones once per game is huge on a 3 Command ship, and could be more worthwhile than all the other new officers at a cheaper price.

Support Teams gives you the big two options of Engineering Team - giving you 5 engineering points on a Dial command (1 hull / 1 shield) or 3 on a token (1 hull) and a total of 7 (1 hull / 2 shields) with both.  Not a terrible idea, and protects against the half-engineering value crit.  The other option is to go with Engine Techs, and zip around at an effective speed of 3, out turning the ISD.  Nav Team isn't amazing, and Projection Experts are more better put to use feeding you shields rather than to giving them to someone else.

For Defensive Retrofits - with the new rules on how XI7 turbolasers work, and only having a single Brace token, the best of the group is likely going to be Electronic Countermeasures.  But with a second retrofit on the Assault Carrier, Advanced Projectors or Redundant Shields can increase your survivability, while Cluster Bombs can make named squadrons such as Major Rhymer think twice before taking a pot shot at your flagship.

Ion Cannons are an interesting option - SW-7 lets you maximize your damage from all your dice if the enemy has already spent most of their defensive tokens - not a terrible idea if you're throwing 3 Blue in addition to 3-5 Red dice.  NK-7 are another good option if you're rolling enough Blue dice - forcing a crit through discards a defense token.  Pair it with Intel Officer to burn through tokens very, very fast.  Also burning through tokens, Overload Pulse probably works better with lots of smaller shots instead of one big shot.  Leading Shots is amazing with the MC80 though, especially with Ackbar rolling lots of extra dice - plenty of blanks to reroll.  Finally, Ion Cannon Batteries can be paired with Tractor Beams to strip command tokens and slow the enemy to a crawl - and eat some extra shields while you are at it.

For Turbolasers, the Turbolaser Reroute Circuits are worthless - no evades to spend.  The obvious upgrades are Enhanced Armaments and Slaved Turrets are obvious choices (depending on how you expect to fly the ship) though both are Modifications.  XX-9s let you use your huge broadsides to push multiple crits onto the enemy hull.  Heavy Turbolasers can work wonders, especially paired with SW-7s and Intel Officers - forcing a lot of damage onto the enemy.  As can XI7s, now that they cannot use redirects as effectively - you can just straight up destroy a smaller ship without them being able to stop it with a single broadside, just by blocking their brace with a single accuracy token.  Speaking of accuracies, H9 can ensure that you always have that accuracy for the brace token.


Centerpiece - The MC80 will, by its very nature and cost, form the backbone of your fleet.  The overall combination of offense and defense make it a very difficult nut to close with, much less crack.

Carrier - The MC80 Command Cruiser is the best natural carrier the Rebels have, though it loses out on being able to take Flight Controllers for more anti-squadron help, 5 activations (with Expanded Hangers or Raymus Antilles) per dial should be more than enough to put a strong alpha strike on enemy squadrons or an enemy ship dumb enough to show up without an escort, and still shoot a fairly ridiculous broadside at long range.

Lead Ship - Though slower than an AFII to lead a line of broadsiders, the MC80 with Engine Techs can cut in hard against a flanker, and no enemy wants to eat two MC80 broadsides in a single turn.

Advanced Gunnery Objective Ship - No one will ever chose Advanced Gunnery against this beast, especially if Ackbar is onboard.  And if they do, you'll show them why it was a very, very bad idea.

Well, that is it for this one.  Thank you all very much for reading along with me for 50 articles.  Here's to 50 more!


  1. Hey Biggs, I have been loving your posts, keep up the good work. I have this weird desire to use 3x Command Cruisers with SW-7 or a combo 2x Assault 1x command, etc. It brings some very terrifying mid-range damage. It leaves me with practically no fighter support but some decent chance vs those pesky fighters.

    1. You'll have to be careful if you do go with something like that - it definitely leaves you without any fighters, and your Anti-Squadron firepower isn't quite going to be able to keep up with bombers nipping at a flank. Your other concern is that you have 3 relatively slow moving ships that will almost certainly be out-deployed. Still, weirder things have worked - give it a try and report back!

    2. Yeah, I get that. I am worried about the fighters, but not to worried about being slow moving. I often use that as a...trap for the incoming ships. Being out-deployed is definitely a problem, but I wonder how that trade-off fairs with the hull, shields, and damage. I plan on trying it soon with a couple friends. -Siizon

  2. I wouldn't take slaved turrets on it. In fact, I don't think I'd take them on anything else than a Nebulon-b or maybe a CR90