Monday, June 25, 2018

BA in Art History - Making Thrawn Work

Okay, so honestly there isn't a whole lot to making Thrawn "work".  Take Thrawn, dial up 3 Navigates, then set your dials on Turns 3, 4, and 5 to anything else.  That was easy, next!


Thrawn's problem isn't that he isn't good.  He is.  The problem is that you can accomplish what you can with him in a variety of other ways, most of them cheaper or better than taking Thrawn.  Consider the following:

Maneuvering (Navigate):  
Thrawn = +1 Yaw, Speed change, different dial command (can't stack yaw)
Ozzel = +1 Yaw, Speed change x2
Jerry = +2 Yaw, different dial command (Can stack yaw / speed change)
Tarkin = Speed change, different dial command (Can stack yaw / speed change)

Defense (Tanking):
Thrawn = +Engineering, different command dial (or +1/2)
Motti = +hull, no wasted commands
Tagge = +defense tokens (Maybe?  Bad example)
Tarkin = +1/2 Engineering, different command dial (or + Engineering)

Thrawn = +Squadron Activations, different command dial (+1)
Sloane = Squadrons are better
Tarkin = +1 activation, different command dial (+squadron)

Thrawn = +1 Die, different command dial (+1 Reroll)
Screed = +2 damage floor
Tarkin = Fuel your "Intensify Firepower!" upgrade card

Simply put, pretty much every other commander is just straight up better at something.  Except for Thrawn, who is more expensive and not better (but more flexible with Sovereign and gives you bonuses every turn).

So, what can we do with Thrawn?  We need to look at what ships want two commands in a single turn, and at least 3 different types of command over the course of the game.  Unfortunately Imperial ships tend to be specialized.  Quasars, for example, are never going to concentrate fire.

In addition, how do we actually use Thrawn?  Do we form a plan and and try to predict the game either when the dials go down after deployment, or do we go one step further and plan our game out before we even show up to the match?  I think the benefit of Thrawn is in flexibility.  Being able to say "at some point I want to be able to do something."  His canonical flagship works in the same way - letting you change your plans on the fly to do the most useful command in the moment.

Let's split the difference.  Let's have a plan, but embrace tactical flexibility.

Here's my starting point:

The List:

Assault: Advanced Gunnery
Defense: Contested Outpost
Navigation: Dangerous Territory

Imperial II (120)
• Grand Admiral Thrawn (32)
• Gunnery Team (7)
• Leading Shots (4)
• Chimaera (4)
• Entrapment Formation! (5)
= 172 Points

Imperial I (110)
• Governor Pryce (7)
• Boarding Troopers (3)
• Leading Shots (4)
• Avenger (5)
= 129 Points

Gozanti Cruisers (23)
• Comms Net (2)
= 25 Points

Gozanti Cruisers (23)
• Comms Net (2)
= 25 Points

Raider I (44)
• Ordnance Experts (4)
= 48 Points

With the recent FAQ regarding being able to change Thrawn dials into tokens, Comms Net Gozantis are going to be able to either pass the Thrawn command or their own as a token to the ISDs, while still having their own command available.  This will ensure that Chimera will have the correct tokens to fire its Fleet Command! at the right time without spending it.  It also means that we can hand a Squadron token to Avenger before it gets into the thick of battle.  We have the chance to do both planning - Governor Price's ability and Thrawn's dials - and amazing tactical flexibility if our best laid plans go wrong.

And all for the cost of needing to think at least 1 turn ahead.

I was a bit disappointed I couldn't fit any squadrons into the list.  I have been having a good time spitballing TIE Bombers / Ruthless Strategists with Thrawn providing alternative commands to the squadron pushers or pushing them with his command.

The general idea is as follows, with the ability to change the commands as conditions dictate:

Turn 1
Concentrate Fire / Engineering / Navigate for Thrawn Dials
Speed 2 for maximum flexibility.  Pryce Round 2 or Round 3 depending on enemy setup / speed.
Combat ships navigate, Goz 1 navigates, Goz 2 squadron
Pass tokens > Chimera gets navigate, Avenger gets squadron

Maneuver Phase (if applicable)
Trigger Entrapment Formation!
Combat ships Navigate (or Concentrate Fire if at Speed 2).  Goz 1 Concentrate Fire, Goz 2 Navigates or Concentrates Fire.

Skirmish Phase
Trigger Concentrate Fire Thrawn Dial
Trigger Chimera's Intensify Firepower!
Combat ships Navigate (or Concentrate Fire if at Speed 2).  Goz 1 Concentrates Fire, Goz 2 Navigates or Concentrates Fire.

Engagement Phase
Trigger Engineering Thrawn Dial
Trigger Chimera's Intensify Firepower!
Combat Ships Engineer or Navigate, Goz 1 Navigates, Goz 2 Navigates

Disengagement Phase
Trigger Navigate Thrawn Dial
Trigger Chimera's Shields to Maximum!
Combat ships Navigate or Engineer, Goz 1 Engineering, Goz 2 Engineering

Now all our ships can maximize how good they are at every aspect of what they are trying to do.  Navigating like they have Ozzel, Shootin' Good, and repairing damage sustained as soon as the fire comes in.

Gonna have to put this on the table on Wednesday with my Fleet Patrol and see how it works.  I'm hopeful for a good showing.


  1. Weird it wouldn't let me comment as my name....comes up with errors. It's Mogrok by the way :) I find thrawn is good in CC as well to prevent your carriers from being sliced/cham'd. Otherwise yah he is too expensive much like Tarkin that only gains benefits the more ships you have.

  2. Aren't you missing the one ship that benefits from Thrawn the most? That would be the Victory-class Star Destroyer.

    This is a ship that wants/needs two commands each turn. It relies on NAV but also wants to either push squadrons or to concentrate fire.

  3. I'm just going to drop by and mention that Thrawn, Chimaera and Dominator could potentially result in memes

  4. Just as an update, because it's not worth a full post: Played in the fleet patrol, and had first round bye / narrow win against another Thrawn player, so... not a definitive result by any means.