"We need to demonstrate martial ability. The Empire is a hammer striking down disorder, not a knife slipped between unsuspecting ribs." - Admiral Sloane
It's time for US Nationals. By the time this is posted, I'll be playing in the Friday wave, trying to fill the seat vacated by 2 time Champion Quynh "Ice Qube" Nguyen, who will not be competing in favor of acting as Marshal for the event. In a world filled with Boarding Team Avengers and... whatever the Rebels are trying to do these days, an Imperial commander needs to be smart in dealing with their opponents both without and within.
Sloane's Steel Squadron - 400/400
(Flagship) - Quasar Fire I-Class Cruiser-Carrier (54+40)
- Admiral Sloane
- Admiral Chiraneau
- Flight Controllers
Victory II-Class Star Destroyer (85+10)
- Gunnery Teams
- Disposable Capacitors
Raider I-Class Corvette (44+7)
- Ordinance Experts
- External Racks
Gozanti-Class Cruisers (23+16)
- Minister Tua
- Electronic Countermeasures
- Slicer Tools
Squadrons - (117)
- Darth Vader
- Ciena Ree
- Jumpmaster 5000
- Mauler Mithel
- Valen Rudor
- Black Squadron
- Lambda-Class Shuttle (x2)
The idea behind the Sloane's Steel Squadron is to overwhelm the opponent with potential bad decisions, and take advantage of their mistakes. It starts right from the beginning, giving almost any opponent decision of First or Second Player in order to pack in as many goodies as we can into our list. Our heaviest hitter is a mostly stripped down VSDII, which is still geared to hit hard from down town with Disposable Capacitors and Gunnery Teams, and can also support the squadron game with its 3 squadron value. At just 95 points, it hits above its value, and can threaten a large area of the board. And as the "largest" and slowest ship in the fleet it presents itself as a priority target we can afford to lose.
The Quasar Fire we can less afford to lose, that is why it is our flagship, and has other roles besides hitting the enemy. With Flight Controllers and Admiral Chiraneau onboard, it helps us react to and win the fighter game. Because our fighters contain 2 Lambda-Class Shuttles, it can do so safely away from the fight, hanging around the outskirts and putting its engines to full power if it is threatened. Admiral Sloane, as the Commander of this little Imperial excursion, boosts every squadron I have in some way (more on this later).
Speaking of hitting above its weight class, the Raider I-Class Corvette lets us make one glorious attack on something between External Racks and Ordinance Experts. The best way to make use of this is a double arc attack with 2 Blue / 2 Black from the front and 1 Blue / 3 Black from the side. Concentrate Fire to taste. It can also work as a flak platform to help win the squadron game faster, if necessary.
Finally, we have the crown jewel of unforced errors, the Supressor. It does not hit above its weight class, rather it functions as an escort to the other heavy hitters. For one thing, with Minister Tua and Electronic Countermeasures, it is very difficult to bring down. Some fleets will find it nearly impossible. It can also join in the squadron pushing fun if it needs to, but prefers to leave that to the big boys and focus on getting into the right position. And the positions it can get into... The title itself is annoying, allowing us to target a particular defense token to exhaust, and then following up with squadrons from later activating ships. Slicer Tools also help us either win the squadron battle, by wasting enemy squadron commands or by preventing careful maneuvering / engine teching, clutch repairs, it lets us dictate the opponent's actions. Did I mention it is hard to kill? Once the opponent realizes what it is capable of, they will spend a LOT of resources hunting it down, resources that could be spent on our more valuable ships.
Finally, we have our squadrons. Every squadron on this list is in some way helped by Sloane, either attacking ace squadrons (Vader), attacking enemy ships (Lambda-Class Shuttles / Valen Rudor), or both (Ciena Ree / Jumpmaster 5000 / Mauler Mithel / Black Squadron / everyone but Vader with Flight Controllers). Here are the elements:
Interception - Ciena Ree / Valen Rudor - These two are capable of going off by themselves and holding down a LOT of enemies. I watched Ciena take out a Morna / Jendon combo over 3 turns of shooting.
Sniper - Darth Vader / Lambda-Class Shuttle x2 - Darth Vader wants to hang around the edge of the fight initially, as he is a heavy hitters for his points and is hurt, rather than helped, by his Escort ability. We'd rather the opponents shoot other things. Lambda-Class shuttles as well don't want to be in the thick of the fight, they want to gang up on things in the periphery or help with objective token moving, while staying in range to Relay.
Brawlers - Mauler Mithel / Black Squadron / Jumpmaster 5000 - Black Squadron is there to die. 9 points to make sure the first (two?) attack(s) hit him is a very worthwhile investment. Mauler Mithel is likely the next to die, as soon as the opponent realizes Admiral Chiraneau exists. To help them forget, the Jumpmaster 5000 exists to fly into the scrum and make everyone else Heavy. Hopefully he's enough to give me two turns of Mithel fun.
When the squadron battle is over, hopefully quickly, my remaining squadrons are all capable of transitioning over to anti-ship efforts thanks to Sloane (or in Vader's case just by being naturally good at anti-ship stuff).
I'm betting I will be Second Player a lot with this list, which is why I have included objectives that not only help me, but are also likely rarely seen in a major tournament setting. Targeting Beacons have been getting some press, but are mostly ignored as they don't give points (Most Wanted, Precision Strikes, Advanced Gunnery). But with a VSD that wants to reroll long range attacks, and Lambda Shuttles wanting to move objective tokens, it is a natural fit. Plus it doesn't help the opposing player at all, which is a crucial point in its favor. Do not underestimate the power of being able to reroll 2 Red dice, consequence free.
Both other objectives I chose not only involve token manipulation, but also Dust Clouds (block all attack dice if obstructed), which is wonderful. For one thing, very few players will have extensively played with these objectives, much less with Dust Clouds. I played one game with Jamming Barrier where I more or less hid a Quasar Fire behind a dust cloud the entire game, ultimately winning it for me. Jamming Barrier as well is a great objective, as it lets me dominate the skirmish part of the game (moving the barrier before I shoot / hiding behind it for enemies long range shots) and reposition it to my flank once the main engagement has begun. Again, not an objective that gives points, but gives extra defense to my list instead of Targeting Beacon's extra attack.
Finally we have Salvage Run, or "Give Biggs 80 Points, and force a brawl in the middle of the board". Other articles have described how you can set the Salvage Run up to essentially ensure that you take all the tokens, and I have 2 Strategic Squadrons to make it happen.
Demolisher - Can't engine tech if you don't have Navigate commands! Suppressor needs to line up against Demolisher to ensure it can't get the jump on something bigger and more vulnerable.
Boarding Trooper Avenger - If the opponent is dumb enough not to either bank a token first turn or stack some kind of token generation on the Avenger, then Suppressor will stop that problem. Otherwise, the easiest target, the VSD II, is cheap enough to be worth the trade. Besides, Avenger would likely have gotten an accuracy anyway.
Scatter Aces - Sloane exists.
Non-Scatter Aces - Mauler Mithel adds unbraceable damage to the group, and Admiral Chiraneau and Flight Controllers let us do goofy things to ensure our squadrons are in the right position at the right times.
MC30cs - See Demo - hard to position yourself right if you aren't pulling Navigate commands.
Well, good luck and hope I saw you all at breakfast!