Thursday, March 7, 2019

I have a Pelta Problem

I REALLY like Fleet Commands.

I also generally prefer flying Rebels.

This means I have been compelled to make more and more use of the Pelta in my Rebel fleets.

The Pelta is not a good ship.  

Phoenix Home from Rebels, it didn't last very long in the show...maybe that was a clue for Armada players.
It is in fact possibly the worst ship that the Rebels have.  But I keep using them because I always find that the Fleet Command that they bring to the table is worth the perceived dead weight of the Pelta.

So I have been playing a lot of games with the Pelta.  And with all that experience I have found that they are in fact, pretty awful.  But they do have a few places that they can contribute and the Fleet Command is consistently worthwhile.  So, if you are like me and a fan of Fleet Commands, let's look at what it takes to get the most out of an unfortunately inefficient ship.




So, what is a Rebel Admiral to do?  Fleet Commands are powerful, but the Pelta is decidedly not.  When it comes to the Pelta, you need a plan.  My plan would start like this:
  1. How does it support the rest of my fleet?
  2. How do I build it to do that as efficiently as I can?
  3. How can I get the most out of it on the table?
How can the Pelta support your fleet?

This is where you start as the Pelta really can't just be dropped in to any fleet, it is too slow and has too anemic firepower to just be plug and play.  The Pelta has a couple of ways it can make your fleet better though.  The first with Fleet Commands and the second as a pretty solid squadron pusher.  Let's start with the Fleet Commands:
  • Intensify Firepower! - Biggs has already written in detail about just how good this card is.  It is easily the most efficient dice modification option in the game.  This card alone can justify the Pelta's presence in just about any fleet.  It compares pretty well to most of the other dice modification options in the game for a very reasonable cost.  That is even before taking into account that it works on every ship in your fleet, every time that you shoot.  One IF! can replace SW7s, TRCs, Leading Shots, DTTs, etc all across your fleet.  It is the best offensive upgrade for the Pelta and it supports every other shot you take.  You really don't need anything specific about the fleet you want IF! to support, but it benefits red dice the most.  It also benefits fleets more that are going for lots of attacks over single kill-shots.
  • Shields to Maximum! - STM! was pretty heavily derided when it was first released as the worst of the Fleet Commands.  I've played with it some and I think it is probably the most niche of the Fleet Commands.  It only really works well when your opponent is spreading damage around your fleet.  Well, most competent opponents will try to avoid doing just that.  Where STM! shines is with the Task Force: Antilles title of the Hammerhead.  That title allows you to spread the damage around and then recoup it with STM!.  I've used STM! and TF:A to recover around 20 shields in a game fairly regularly.  Outside of that, it just isn't good enough to be worth the trouble in most cases.
  • Entrapment Formation! -This Fleet Command is as much about pressing the easy button as anything else.  Speed changes are frequently handy in Armada to avoid collisions, obstacles, or double arcs.  The need to change speeds on the fly is a big part of why many players bank Nav Tokenss on their first turns as a matter of habit.  EF! allows a player to spend much less time spamming Nav Commands allowing them to focus on Squadron Commands, etc.  If you have other commands you know you want your ships doing, EF! can give you a lot of freedom.  Where EF! comes up short is that it really only replicates what a Nav token already does and those can be banked or handed out by a Comms Net flotilla.  So while it does a powerful thing, it doesn't do anything unique like the other Fleet Commands.  If we had a Fleet Command that allowed extra yaw rather than speed changes, that would be amazing.
  • All Fighters Follow Me! - Go-Go Turbo B-Wings!  This Fleet Command is the great for getting those slow, but powerful Rebel Squads where they need to go.  It helps B-Wings get to their targets, but also can help your X-Wings or E-Wings actually get off the alpha strike against the faster Imperial squads.  AFFM! is a Fleet Command you might only need once per game, but that one turn it can help you absolutely win the squadron game.  I think I have seen this one used the most of any of the Fleet Commands, although I think it is one of the more limited ones.  It only triggers while actually using a squadron command, whereas each of the others helps out regardless of what your ships are doing.
Aside from bringing a Fleet Command the Command Variant is also a fairly effective carrier.  Of course, the Rebels already have a few good carrier options to choose from.  The Pelta doesn't have the low cost of the GR-75, the Yavaris title of the Nebulon, the ability to take Flight Controllers like the AF Mk II, or the native Squadron 4 of the MC80H.  It does however bring a unique set of upgrade slots to the Rebel fleet.  The combination of a Support Team, Offensive Retrofit, and double Officer lets you bring some particularly effective combinations for a carrier.  Imagine a Pelta with Flight Commander, Adar Tallon, and Fighter Coordination Team.  It can use FCTs to push the squads, then activate them after, and still leave one to double activate with Adar.  No other ship can do that.  I like them with Expanded Hangar Bays to push 4 squads each round.  Not as cheap as two flotillas, but concentrated firepower in one activation is valuable too.

Even when using a Pelta as a carrier I still don't think I would bring one without a Fleet Command.  They are just too good.

So, if you can find a fleet where one of those Fleet Commands can benefit you there may be room for a Pelta in your fleet.

How do I build the Pelta efficiently?

The Pelta is not an efficient ship.  For a similar cost to the Pelta you can get ships with more firepower and speed.  Overall though the Fleet Commands can have a huge an impact and make the otherwise inefficient Pelta worth bringing.  The key with Fleet Commands is to make sure that you can trigger them when you need to.

Fleet Commands like IF! and STM! will generally want to be activated turns 3-6 and occasionally on Turn 2 as well.  AFFM! may only need to be activated once or twice in a game, but more never hurts.  EF! is strange in that I can see using it on all 6 turns, but it may only be needed for one or two of them.

In order to use your Fleet Command you need to either feed it a matching Command Token or discard it.  The discard is great in a pinch and always the right choice on Turn 6 or if you are certain your Pelta is about to die.  Other than the discard you will need a source for your Command Tokens.   
  • One option is to just discard your dial each activation for the token to feed the command in the next turn.  This is less than ideal as it pretty much shuts down other options for your Pelta to participate in the game.  This is an especially bad choice with AFFM!.
  • Raymus Antilles is a solid, though expensive choice.  He lets you use the command and have the token to feed to the Fleet Command the next turn. 
  • Comms Net Flotillas are an ever popular source of command tokens.  At 20 points they fit into most fleets pretty easily.  Probably not something you want to dedicate to just feeding your Pelta, but you do at least gain an activation out of it.
  • Garm bel Iblis, space dad himself, is a great choice for the tokens to feed a Fleet Command as long as you bring his bestie - Ahsoka Tano.  She takes your Garm bucks and turns them in to the right currency to keep your Commands rolling.
  • Veteran Captain and Hondo Ohnaka - Both of these officers can get you tokens as a discard effect and are relatively cheap.  Not ideal for a Fleet Command that you want to spam, but great for getting an extra use out of them before you would discard.
Once you know how to feed the Fleet Command you need to decide what else you want your Pelta to do.  The trouble is that the Pelta is already relatively over-costed for its base stats.  Putting more points in to the Pelta quickly leads to diminishing returns and a big juicy target for your opponents.  Let's go over some of the better options for each of the Pelta's upgrade slots.
  • Title - The Pelta only gets the one title, Phoenix Home, but it is at least an interesting one.  Most players tend to take it for the extra officer slot, which is a pretty solid choice.  You can get 2 squadron supporting officers on your carrier as an example.  The ability to store 4 tokens rarely comes up outside of Garm fleets.  He still only gives the Pelta 2 tokens at the start of the game, but it can then bank its way to 4 tokens in the first couple of turns.  Burning 4 tokens in a round is an amusing Armada achievement.  As a general rule you should only grab this if you have a very specific plan for the second officer slot.
  • Officer - For me the officer slot usually ends up supporting the Fleet Command.  If you don't go that route there are a couple of interesting options.  The Assault Variant is a solid flack boat and for that reason, General Draven can fit here pretty well.  Flight Commander makes a solid choice when combined with Fighter Coordination Teams.
  • Support Team - There are 3 choices here depending on what you want.  The Pelta can push around 3 squads with Fighter Coordination Teams and that is a reasonably inexpensive way to get your B-Wings and YT-1300s where they need to go.  When running an STM! Pelta, Projection Experts has some synergy with the Repair Commands you will be running.  Some players like to throw Engine Techs on here to fix one of the Peltas biggest shortfalls, speed.  It does the job, but is expensive in terms of points and commands/tokens.  You generally aren't wanting to close quickly with a Pelta, Engine Techs are generally more useful for escaping from trouble.
  • Ordnance - With the lack of access to Ordnance Experts to fish for crits, ACMs and APTs are usually a poor choice Assault Pelta.  Most commonly a set of External Racks can be nice for a little extra punch.
  • Offensive Retrofit - The Command Pelta is generally a carrier and this upgrade helps with that Boosted Comms is frequently a good choice as it lets you stay further from the fight.  Expanded Hangar Bays also can come in handy.  When running an IF! Pelta I like Disposable Capacitors here for a little extra punch at long range.
The Pelta is not a place to throw upgrades just cause you can.  If you have a job for the Pelta to do, put the upgrades there that get that job done.  Worry less about trying to cover its weaknesses and focus on making sure it does what it needs to do.  Anything more is frequently a waste of points.

What do you do with a Pelta on the table?

So we have a points inefficient ship that we have brought to support our fleet, what now?  Sometimes the Pelta's role on the table is easy.  A Command Pelta with FCTs is going to be wherever it needs to be to push the squads around.

Overall though I think it is best to treat the Pelta like the second-rate ship that it is and use it as your second wave.  I've written on both this blog and my old one about the usefulness of "Trailers" and "Slashers" in Armada.  Essentially you try to set a ship in a position to kill off wounded enemy ships.  The Pelta is not fast enough to dodge around and be a flanker and it isn't tough enough or have the damage output to win a slugging match.

It does though have just enough firepower to get in the last couple of damage points needed to kill something that the rest of your fleet has pounded.  Likewise it is just tough enough to last through a couple rounds of low level incoming fire.  So, having the Pelta trail behind the rest of your fleet and attack anything damage or trying to escape is just the trick.  It also doesn't matter how stupidly slow the thing can be.

So, don't avoid combat with your Pelta, but don't lead the way with it either.  Send some other ships ahead and let your pokey, old Pelta come in and sweep up the mess.  This is a role where it can excel, while still bringing the support that a Fleet command gets you.


Is the Pelta a good ship afterall?

No, not really.

It's just too ineffcient to ever really be "good".  But if you bring a Pelta with a plan it can be part of a good fleet and even contribute to making that fleet great.

I know I will be playing them for the foreseeable future at least as I can't seem to get off of my Fleet Command addiction.

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