Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Phase 3 - Maneuver: Getting There the Fastest with the Mostest

It's time to actually "play" the game you've spent so much time setting up.  Here is where we attempt to either recover from a bad deployment, or push our advantage to the maximum.  I have seen a lot of games won and lost in deployment, but this is the phase that really determines who will win the Skirmish and the actual Engagement.

3)  Maneuver - This phase begins at the start of Turn 1's ship phase, and continues until the first dice are rolled.  This is the part where you position your fleet to get the most advantage during the engagement, and make up for bad positioning from the Deployment Phase.

Key Advantages for this Phase:  Navigate Commands, High Speed / Yaw ships, Maneuver Upgrades.

"Engage Those Star Destroyers" - The Round 1 Navigate Command

The best thing you can do the first round of the game is navigate.  If you find yourself deployed with the wrong speed, you can adjust to the correct speed.  If you find yourself at the wrong heading, you can use the extra yaw to get yourself pointed the correct way.  And if you are lucky enough to find none of these problems are yours, you can stash that navigate command as a token for later.  That navigate token will often be your ace in the hole later for the Disengagement phase, and it never hurts to plan ahead.  Hopefully you have already had a good deployment, and your best and biggest threats on the board can move into position without navigational assistance.

If not, this step is going to be crucial to counter your opponent's deployment advantage, or to take the positional advantage yourself.  Your goal here is to set yourself up for the Skirmish phase and more importantly for your biggest hitters the Engagement phase.

Remember as you go through this article that where your ship is now isn't the only important thing to consider, but also where it can go in the coming turns.  You could be in the perfect spot, but if you're going too fast or not pointed in the correct direction, you might as well not be there at all.  Consider your heading (where your ship is pointing) and your current speed dial (what your speed will be next turn).

"She's Got It Where It Counts" - High Speed / Yaw Units

The ships you have that will be best able to recover from a bad initial position during deployment will be those ships that can go faster (high speed) to limit the time they spend in danger and high mobility (lots of yaw) to modify their position and stay in the correct enemy hull zone / range band and keep their best guns pointed the right way.  Don't discount the extra yaw from Navigate commands when figuring out how to use the yaw to your best advantage.

Of all ships, the Imperial Raider-Class Corvette and the Rebel CR90 Corvette are probably the best for both speed and yaw in terms of correcting a bad positional start.  Both are capable of a 90 degree turn at Speed 2 (The CR90 with a Navigate Command Dial, the Raider Without) and both are capable of a Speed 4, all without any upgrades required.

Also useful during this stage of maneuvering are creative ways to slow your total movement without slowing your actual speed.  Inside turns at Speed 2 or Speed 3 are a great way to change direction and limit how far forward you move.  Doing the "Nebulon Shuffle" from Wave 1 days (yaw one direction at 1, yaw the other way at 2) slows your relative forward motion, maintains your heading, and shifts you laterally across the field.  This is especially crucial when you want to maintain a high total speed either to pounce forward with the next activation, prepare for an early disengagement, or maintain an upgrade like Admiral Monteferrat or General Cracken.

This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface on squadrons, who want high speed to move into position for the Skirmish phase which is very likely to begin in Round 2 or so.  With squadrons that are fast enough and with some kind of move/damage gimmick, you may even be able to move the Skirmish Phase to the Squadron Phase of Round 1.  Consider Rogue squadrons jumping forward to catch enemies moving a little too close off guard, or Mauler Mithel hopping into the middle of a squadron blob.  We'll talk about the Skirmish Phase in our next article on the phases of the game.

"Heavily Modified" - Early Game Upgrades

When do upgrades really help your game?  Very few upgrades will be useful throughout the game, and you're likely paying a heavy premium for them.  7 points worth of Raymus Antilles, I'm looking at you when I say this.  In truth, there are some upgrades that are specifically better in this early stage to help with maneuvering and give you the advantage as you progress towards the Engagement Phase.  They may become useful again during Disengagement where maneuvering and speed again take a priority.

Maneuvering Upgrades - these are upgrades that specifically boost your position in some way:

Engine Techs / Quantum Storm - Making an additional movement is just great as it gives you a greater control of your final position, increases your effective maximum speed, and lets you have greater control over your speed dial for the next round of maneuvering.  The gold standard by which all other upgrades can be judged.

Vector / Independence / Corrupter / Fighter Coordination Team - Extra speed for your squadrons is crucial for getting them into the right spot for a skirmish.  Independence specifically is made just for this early phase in the game, to get the slower Rebel squadrons into position, while the others can be used during Skirmish or later to get out of position squadrons back into the fight.

General Madine / Nav Team / Admiral Ozzel / Moff Jerjerrod - Move control over your ships final position, heading, and/or speed.  These upgrades can be crucial for getting the best possible position from a bad deployment, or maximizing the bonus of a good deployment.  Technically Leia Organa and Grand Moff Tarkin can fall into this upgrade are as well.

Jaina's Light / Chart Officer - Open up more places your ships can reasonably go.  Also acceptable, an Engineering command the next turn, and at least 3 Engineering Value.  Asteroids don't concern you.

Admiral Titus - Literally only usable at the very beginning of the Maneuver phase, Titus is wonderful as he can either make a bad decision worse (putting a ship on a collision course with destiny, or keeping them out of the fight you're setting up), or make a good decision cost something (forcing a Navigate command to be spent instead of banking a token Turn 1).  The best 2 points you'll ever spend as an Imperial, if you can find a ship to hide him on.

Entrapment Formation! - I'm torn on this upgrade.  Unless you take Garm Bel Iblis, there is no way you are going to be using it on Turn 1, when you arguably want that extra bit of speed change the most.  Could be useful during the Disengagement step or during Skirmish to control specifically where you end up, but really not effective during the Maneuver phase unless you plan on discarding it right at the start of the game.

"I've Analyzed Their Attack Patterns.  There is a Danger." - Questions You Should Ask During This Phase

Look at each of your ships and squadrons, then ask yourself the following questions:

1)  When can I get into a good engagement range with this unit?
2)  What will its speed, its line of attack, and its disengagement plan be when it gets there?
3)  What will the enemy fleet look like when it arrives?
4)  With all this in mind, should I even attempt to engage with this unit, or plan on disengaging with it now?

Well that's it for Maneuver, next time we pick up the dice (though probably not the damage deck quite yet) and start the Skirmish Phase!

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