Sunday, April 22, 2018

Predicting the Armada World's Meta

We're a little less than a month out from Worlds. Of the three of us, only Biggs is able to go. So as a dispassionate observer (fine, peanut gallery), I thought I'd take a look at what we might expect in this post-errata meta.

I expect to see plenty of large ships, and possibly a significant increase in double large ship builds. Every part of wave 7 helped large ships, so this is almost a freebie. I'll go a step further, however, and predict that the Imperial Star Destroyer will inundate the field. Imperials have shown themselves to be increasingly dominant in the Wave 7 Regionals. Sloane took a minor hit with the flotilla and relay nerfs, but ISD/Demo/Gozanti is a solid archetype. Add to that, Imperials are by far the more effective faction at fielding double large ships, be it Vader double Cymoon (affectionately nicknamed Run! Double Motherfucking Cymoon aka Run DMC by our friend geek over at Cannot Get Your Ship Out), or the Kuat Avenger/Cymoon version that is all the rage over in the UK. ISDs are the name of the game for Imperials right now. Remember the first round of NOVA last year where there were more ISDs than players on day one? Not quite that, but something close.

Squadrons took a good hit, but they're not done yet. The risk levels that we had to deal with back in wave 2 are back now that flotillas won't stop a tabling. However, aside from some flexibility, Yavaris is as potent as ever. Imp squadrons lost no firepower to speak of. They really just got hit with command range. Gallant Haven is the only thing that took a solid body blow, but Biggs, Jan, and YT-1300s put together offer similar levels of damage absorption. So if a player is willing to tolerate the risk and adjust their tactics a bit, squadrons are just as viable as they were before the latest FAQ. Armada players are also notoriously slow to change their preferred lists. I expect there to still be plenty of squadron heavy lists, with perhaps a bit more rogue squadron representation now that relay got a nerf. What I do not expect is for them to totally dominate the top tables like they've done in the last couple years. 

What I do not expect to see is a lot of MSU. The Regionals data shows a pretty conclusive trend: MSU is on the outs. Like the Black Knight, it's been hacked to pieces over the last few waves. There are a lot of opinions on why. Is it the Cymoon's ability to reliably one shot many small ships from long range? Was it flotilla padding taking away activation advantage? Was it squadron builds preventing tabling with flotillas? It's probably a mix of all three, with EWS causing further complications. While I don't see MSU being represented much in the overall field, I do see some positives for a brave counter-meta revolutionary. First of all, two of the three problems for MSU listed above have been addressed by the FAQ. Second, if Raddus is dominant (more on that it a second), MSU is a natural counter. After all, when all your pieces are fairly cheap and equally effective, you can survive the Raddus drop and punch back. I don't see many people braving MSU, but I could see one sneaking into the cut.

If you don't have a plan for Raddus, you better make one. The Kool-Aid Man of Star Wars is a giant wild card going into Worlds. The trend has been building for a bit. It started relatively quietly on Vassal. Then Roquax blew the doors wide open with his win at Canadian Nationals. And that was pre-FAQening. The limitations on flotillas, especially the tabling ruling, have done nothing but strengthen Raddus. He no longer had to worry about hunting down stray flotillas. Instead, he can concentrate on doing what he does best: rip the throat out of his opponent's most valuable piece. Considering how well large ships are currently doing, Raddus is the natural predator. He might not be all that popular in the general population as he does take some practice, but I expect at least one Raddus list to make the cut. He's a nasty bastard.

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