Of the many complaints that seem to be cropping up, the rise and dominance of squadrons has been a persistent one. Yet somehow, this far into wave 5, I haven't seen a lot of what I consider one of the best counters: The Flechette Raider.
Before going any further, let me define the loadout:
|The baseline Flechette Raider|
There are a couple of extra flavors you can add to make it even better. Agent Kallus gives you another black die against named squadrons to give you that much more of a chance to trigger Flechettes. Instigator helps lock squadrons in place so they don't squirt away during the squadron phase prior to your shot. If you're not as worried about squadrons moving away, you can grab Impetuous to give yourself a second chance at shutting down that one critical squadron. Taking a title and Kallus starts to get a little pricey (58 points), but if you're neck deep in Rieekan Aces, it is well worth the extra investment.
|The "Fully Loaded" Flechette Raider|
We all saw the potential for this when wave 5 dropped, but enthusiasm for the loadout seemed to fade pretty quickly. Instead, Rieekan Aces builds, now with Biggs included to make them that much more horrific, remain a dominant part of the meta. That's because, as always, the Raider is a rather unforgiving ship. The lack of redirect hurts, especially against squadrons. Still, when flown right, it can completely negate a squadron wing. There are a three things I've found you need to keep in mind to get the Flechette Raider right.
First of all, having first player helps a lot. Yes, this is obvious. After all, there aren't that many situations where having first player isn't a big benefit. In this case, though, the Flechette Raider wants first player almost as bad as Demolisher. As second player, you risk enemy squadrons activating to either get away from the Raider, or just killing it. Alternatively, a ship might just blow the Raider out of the water, freeing up the squadrons to go after a juicer target. Considering how fast the Raider can pop, both of these eventualities are a big risk.
Second, you need at least a token squadron wing, around 50-60 points worth. Like I said, the Raider is at risk of getting popped by the very squadrons it's hunting. I tried running one with the Instigator title, but no squadron support. It just didn't work. You need a little bit of support to help lock down squadrons and force shots at something other than the Raider. A minimal force pairs well with Instigator, preventing Intel squadrons from re-positioning. My personal favorite has become Zetrik, an Advanced, a Jumpmaster, and Mauler. The Raider's anti-squadron battery and Mauler's splash damage work well together to decimate squadron balls. At 54 points, it's not a big investment if my opponent also goes squadron light.
|Splash damage for everyone!|
I think the Flechette Raider is due for a breakout in the meta. JJ already quietly used it to good effect during the World Cup. Keep your eyes peeled at Worlds. I think a Flechette Raider could sneak into the top 4 cut and make a very large impact.