Let's take a look at the Raider, and see what's under the hood of the new Imperial support ship.
|The Raider Class Corvette, covering the far Left flank with a GSD|
The Raider Class Corvette (Raider) is only the second small ship for the Imperials, and the cheaper of the two compared to the Gladiator Star Destroyer. It is also significantly different in terms of its armament and role. It has an Imperial low Command value of 1, giving it great flexibility in defining its engagement, but only the ability to hold onto one token at a time. It's Squadron value is equally low at 1, making it an inefficient option for supporting squadrons with commands without further upgrades. It's Engineering value of 2 continues the trend of putting it on par with the CR90 Corvette, and letting it repair a single shield per command, or a hull if given a command dial and a token.
For defense, the Raider sports 4 hull, and protects that hull with 2 shields on each of its arcs. It's defense tokens give it a better shot of surviving long range fire, with two Evades and single Brace. With no redirects, however, engineering commands or careful maneuvering will be needed to make the most of your 8 total shields.
For offense though, the Raider is a ship that wants to get up in the face of its opponent, sporting nothing but Blue and Black dice from its arcs, though those arcs change based on the variant. Both variants do sport two anti-squadron dice each, though the colors again are different.
It is also the fastest ship the Imperials can field without upgrades, being able to naturally ramp up to speed 4. It is, however, most maneuverable at speed 2, getting a double yaw at both pips, retaining the double yaw at speed 1, but losing it at higher speeds. At speed 3, the ship gets a single point of yaw at the 2nd and 3rd pips, and at speed 4 it gets that single point at the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th pips. And unlike any other small ship thus far, it cannot take a Support Team to improve its speed or maneuverability.
The ship does come with some interesting upgrades: In addition to the Commander, Title and Officer the Raider can take a Weapons Team and Offensive Retrofit, in addition to weapon specific upgrades based on variant.
|The Raider gets ready to flank the edge of the rebel line.|
Raider I-Class Corvette:
The Raider I is a missile boat, in the spirit of it's bigger brother the GSD. Smaller, cheaper (44 pts) and with less of a reach on its front arc, it still comes with the chance for an Ordinance Upgrade, as well as a Front Arc of 2 Blue and 2 Black. The Side Arcs and Rear Arc are a less thrilling 1 Blue / 1 Black and 1 Blue respectively. The ship also has a heavy, if close range, anti-squadron battery, at 2 Black dice.
For the Ordinance Upgrade, Admiral Screed with Assault Concussion Missiles or Assault Proton Torpedo can let the little guy punch out of it's weight class, or Modifications like Rapid Reload can make its Side Arcs a little more scary bringing them to 1 Blue / 2 Black, or Expanded Launchers can give you a truly terrifying Front Arc on a 57 pt fast ship, at 2 Blue / 4 Black.
Raider II-Class Corvette:
If the Raider I was a missile boat, the Raider II is an Ion Cannon platform. Slightly more expensive at 48 pts, the Raider II comes with an Ion Cannon Upgrade slot, as well as a 3 Blue / 1 Black Front Arc to go with the standard 1 Blue / 1 Black Side Arcs and 1 Blue Rear Arc. It also packs a slightly less lethal anti-squadron punch, but with better range, at 1 Blue / 1 Black.
For Ion Cannon upgrades, the "I'm tossing a ton of dice" upgrades are not your best bet, ruling out Leading Shots and SW-7 Ion Batteries in favor of crit effect Ions. Overload Pulse is one obvious solution, working very well when paired with an Avenger ISD to set an enemy up for a devastating hit. Other options are NK-7 Ion Cannons to strip enemy defense tokens for good, or Ion Cannon Batteries for stripping maneuver tokens away in preparation for a Tractor Beam from a different ship.
The Raider works well with all Imperial commanders. Obviously, Screed likes either Raider variant almost as much as he loves his Gladiators, feeding them crits to use with their Ions and Ordinance. Motti gives each Raider a much needed extra hull, and at 44 pts each for a Raider 1, it is almost the cheapest cost per hull point you get off of Motti (VSDs are still the best). Tarkin loves handing out more tokens, and Raider's cheap cost lets you hand out even more than usual, plus he lets you actually repair hull with a free token and a command. Vader lets you take advantage of the redundant Evades to reroll your attacks. And Ozzel, who comes with the Raider, gives you the chance to throttle up and down past the kind of anemic Speed 3 between Speed 4's zoom, and Speed 2's hard turning.
Impetuous (4 pts) is about close fighter support, giving you a "gunner" type ability for shooting a single squadron from an arc that you would otherwise not bother attack squadrons from. It even looks like it will let you attack squadrons, then get a free crack at one of the attacked squadrons as it doesn't have the same restrictions Gunnery Teams come with. This turns the ship into a versatile anti-squadron platform, letting you focus on an enemy squadron that needs to be destroyed and still fire at enemy ships.
Instigator (4 pts) is the other title which has been getting the most talk. It lets you treat Squadrons at Range 1 as though they were engaged by 2 additional squadrons, pinning them in place no matter what non-Chirpy shenanigans the enemy might have planned (Admiral Chirneau still works, but Grit or Intel does not.) Some drawbacks to this - first if you don't have any fighter cover engaging them as well, the enemy squadrons can attack the Instigator, though if any other squadrons are present (except Heavy ones - they do not keep engaged ships from attacking ships) they must be attacked instead of the Instigator. But even then, better they are attacking your cheap 48 pt Raider instead of moving and attacking the ISD they really want to bomb. If you move a Raider to grab them first activation, then move him again as the last activation, he can eat 2 full turns of squadron commands (assuming he can live through the attack) keeping the squadrons pinned in place the entire time. Not a terrible trick to use.
Officers for the ship are definitely an odd mix. The Liaisons and "Super Liaisons" are effectively worthless, combined with Command 1, as is Support Officer. Veteran Captain is a possibility to give you a once per game super-engineering dial to fix a critical, or a double navigate speed change (3 speed with Ozzel!) to either slide into a good shooting slot or zoom away from trouble. Intel Officer is a bit pricey for the cost of the ship, but combined with a Raider II and NK-7s, you can really focus down enemy defenses.
For named officers, Admiral Montferrat (5 pts) comes with the ship and can keep a zooming Raider alive that much longer by making it obstructed while traveling at high speed. Isard actually finds a nice home on a Raider, being an inexpensive officer for a support ship to take. Wulff lets you do funny things with your one command token, like become an escort carrier with an effective Squadron Command of 3, or do what the Veteran Captain would let you do, but multiple times per game provided you set it up right. Captain Needa (2 pts) is worthless for the Raider; though it would be funny to see a ship with 3 Evades, it would probably be just your opponent laughing. Finally Admiral Chirneau is not meant for Squadron 1 ships, even if they can take an Offensive Retrofit.
Weapons Teams likely only have 2 real options to be taken by the Raider. Gunnery Team is a lot of points to spend on Blue Dice, though being able to shoot forward at both a ship and squadrons is nice if not particularly worth 7 points. Flight Controllers are similarly not worth the cost on a Squadron 1 ship, though maybe worth it combined with Expanded Hangers / Wulff for escort carrier duties. There just aren't the dice being thrown around to use Sensor Team either.
Ordinance Experts (4 pts) can be used with Raider Is to maximize the chance to fish for that crit on the black dice, or just to improve the damage each one will do if you don't take Vader (or reroll again with Vader if they sucked the first time), and to make their anti-squadron dice that much more likely to hit (giving an average damage of 1.875 per attack). Ruthless Strategists (4 pts) further emphasize the anti-squadron attacks you make, letting you give a damage to a friendly squadron to deal 1 damage to the enemy each time you attack (and each squadron that you attack!). Park a TIE Bomber in the middle of the enemy and fire away!
Offensive Retrofits give you some interesting options to kit out your Raider. Boosted Comms are probably not the best use of your point, but Expanded Hanger Bay can give two TIEs the commands to escort you into the fight (or 3 with Wulff!). Tractor Beams are probably not the best idea on a small ship, though you can use it to slow other small ships in conjunction with other big boys. Point Defense Reroutes aren't very useful at all for the Raider I and barely useful for the Raider II. The big winner though is Quad Laser Cannons for an unescorted Instigator - crash into the enemy Bomber formation and dare them to take a shot at you with your Counter 1.
Anti-Squadron Escort - The ship is built first and foremost to be able to support TIEs in swatting enemy squadrons out of the sky. Between both titles, Quad Laser Cannons, Ruthless Strategists, and Ordinance Experts, you have a lot of ways to customize the Raider to do just that.
Opening Shot - NK-7, Overload Pulse, Assault Proton Torpedo, all good options to open a round of shooting.
Pocket Carrier - I've said it before, but Wulff and Expanded Hangars give you 3 squadron activations on a 56 point ship. That's not a bad cost for that many squadrons. With just Expanded Hangars, that's 49 points on a Raider I and you've got 2 activations.
Swarm - 4 dice at close range from your Front Arc, and only 44 pts for the Raider 1 means you can fit a lot of them into your list.
Blocker - Not as robust as a GSD, or as dangerous, but cheaper to throw away as a sacrificial blocker to let your other ships slip into range.
Flag Ship?! - One of my regular opponents (Chris!) has been dropping his Admiral onto a Raider with Admiral Monteferrat and zipping him around at Speed 4. It's annoying, and hard to kill when he doesn't spend any time in your good arcs. Something to think about.
Well that's it for the Raider! Next time I do a Commander's Guide I'm going to try to cover the Imperial Star Destroyer. We'll see when I can get that done. Until next time guys!