Friday, December 18, 2020

Armada 1.5 Era Commander's Rankings

Any time a new wave comes out, we hop on to do a Commander Ranking!  This is a little bit like a sports Power Ranking where we look at how a commander has been performing, and look ahead to see how we think they might do, but mostly assessing what we feel is their relative power at this current point in time.

There's been some changes.As always, a description of the tiers:
Ω Tier - A card that works all by itself.  It is overpowered and undercosted, and changes the way the game is played in some fundamental way.  "Broken".  Ur-Example:  Rieekan, back when he wasn't limited to once per turn.

S Tier - A card that is very good, without needing anything else to work.  Does something substantial or meta shifting while being inexpensive.  Easy to use.  Something you would say is an "Auto-Include".  Example: Maarek Stele - The key word here is “auto-include”.

A Tier - A card that is either good without needing any other card, or something that is excellent with  other cards supporting it.  Example:  Comms Net - It’s been good for a long time to the point where people ask “what ship in the new faction is going to be able to use it?”

B Tier - A card that can work very well in certain situations, but at least decent in most.  Good when paired with other cards, or just decent alone.  Maybe hard counters a common archetype.  Example:  H9 Turbolasers - Accuracies are good, and sometimes having one all but guaranteed is exactly what you need, but they aren't always what you want.

C Tier - A bland card.  It might only be okay, or maybe only considered for some niche situations.  It may require several other cards, or something outside of your control to "work".  It might soft counter a common archetype, or hard counter an uncommon one.  Or it might just be something okay, when there is another card that does the same thing, but better.  Example:  Slaved Turrets - I mean, sure.  I guess.  But there’s better stuff out there, no matter what scenario you’re thinking of.

D Tier - A bad card.  May only be okay in niche situations, or puts unnecessary restrictions or costs onto things that something else does better.  Clearly outclassed, or doesn't do anything useful.  Example:  Redundant Shields - A shield back at the end of the round, after you’ve been shot to death, at the cost of a defensive retrofit slot?

F Tier - Worthless.  Do not take this upgrade.  There is no reasonable scenario where it would be useful.  Taking nothing at all would be a better use for your points.  Ur-Example:  Point Defense Reroutes

Here’s something weird, we always do a predictive power ranking, looking at previous success and then into the future to see where a commander will likely be, which is why Romodi and Agate were included in the previous ranking.  This time it is going to be more difficult, because commanders got buffs, we have 4 new commanders from new factions…

We’re going to have to be really good or really bold to predict how things are going to shake out.  So let’s do it anyway!  Side note:  When putting these in order with the tiers the tie-breakers are as follows:  1) Plus or Minus Letter Grade, 2) Relative Gain or Fall, 3) Highest Individual Rank Given, 4) Alphabetical

Ω Tier

Nobody has made Omega Tier because Truthiness doesn't like to compliment things and Shmitty is in teacher mode where only A's exist. Only Biggs dares to speak the truth to you all!

S Tier

Admiral Sloane - Overall S- (No Change):
Biggs: Ω - Sloane is the best the Imperials have, and squadron rules changes only help her. Oh? Small squad balls more viable? Here’s 134 points of pure fighters that can also hurt ships to either eat your 60-90 points of fighters, OR mulch your capital ships. Ozzel gives you some Imperial variety, but Sloane’s fighters are still better.
Truthiness: A - Great squadron commander, but frankly a hair overrated. I personally have never struggled against her, so it’s hard for me to really understand why she’s so reviled as “overpowered.” There’s also an awful lot about 1.5 that was not kind to her preferred style of play. I’m sure she’ll continue to do well, but there are some warning signals flashing.
Shmitty: A - Makes Imperial Squads from specialists to generalists. Good stuff. I think the 4 ace limit doesn’t hurt her much, just changes things up for her.

A Tier

Commodore Krysta Agate - Overall A+ (+1/3)
Biggs: Ω - Since ECM got worse, Agate gets better.  An extra brace on a large is just HOT.  She’s clearly the best rebel commander right now, even with updates to other commanders.
Truthiness: A - Do you have a large ship? Why is Agate not on it? It goes beyond that too. I’ve seen perfectly viable lists using her in different and interesting ways. She is the most interesting and flexible Rebel commander at the moment by quite a bit. Before Yavaris got nerfed, Irishmadcat was flying Agate on that ship to really good effect. Rasproeus has a hilariously janky CR90B flagship that works way better than it should. Double bracing MC75s are wonderful. I continue to love double redirect/EST Liberties. And the fact of the matter is the Starhawk wants her stapled to the command chair. Agate is ruling the roost at the moment, and it’s not even really all that close.
Shmitty: B - I don’t really get the hype, but she does not suit how I play at all

General Romodi - Overall A+ (-1/3)
Biggs: SAdding 1 red die per attack at 0.75 damage (if you can trigger your ability) while also setting up to take 1 die less from your opponent… If you’re not going squadrons, then why are you taking anything else.
Truthiness: S - The current king of Imperial commanders in my opinion. He completely upends how obstacles are placed and how ships maneuver around those obstacles. Done right, he adds a die to your own ships and takes away a die from your opponent. Obstacle control objectives, such as Asteroid Tactics, are an absolute nightmare in his hands.
Shmitty: B - I think the Imperial admiral with the most potential going forward.

Kraken - Overall A (New Commander)
Biggs: A - Damage is good. He’s a sorta Screed effect without having to toss a dice, and with a fairly easy proc effect.
Truthiness: A - He requires a bit of coordination, but he is exceptional. Being able to give yourself an IF style effect or a guaranteed accuracy is nothing short of spectacular. If you can get the hang of coordinating multiple ships on target, Kraken is absolutely your guy.
Shmitty: A - My favorite new admiral.  If there were tournaments to play in, I would be winning them with Kraken.  Immediately competitive with the GCW factions

Garm Bel Iblis - Overall A- (+2/3)
Biggs: ATurn 1 AND Turn 4?  Don’t mind if I do.  Garm just gets better, and you know how much we like Garm.
Truthiness: B - He got a bit more flexible, tokens got a bit more important, and activation spam is no longer nearly as much of a problem. All in all, I have to concede Garm is looking positively mainstream right now. 
Shmitty: A - I don’t know that the round flexibility matters a ton, but it’s nice to have.

Moff Jerjerrrod - Overall A- (-2/3)
Biggs: BIf Ozzel is better, Jerry gets worse.  The damage taken for a movement bonus is not great when you’ve got a cheaper commander that can change speed for you, and since any medium/large flagship can take a fleet command for a one time boost...
Truthiness: A - Turning better in this game is great. Turning better without needing a nav command is fantastic. Jerry dominated the last round of Primes, so until I see something unseat him, he remains on top for me.
Shmitty: A - Still very, very handy

B Tier

Grand Moff Tarkin - Overall B+ (+2 1/3)
Biggs: AHe’s been… well… not good is the best thing I can say about him.  But for 10 points less?  He’s like a better Garm Bel Iblis and you know how much I love Garm.  The fact that many things really, really want tokens these days just makes him even better.  I think we see him rock in the coming months.
Truthiness: B - Much better than he used to be, and opens up some interesting options for Imperials. I remain skeptical only because I remain skeptical of token juggling being a game changer of an ability. That said, there are some combos out there that have me very intrigued.
Shmitty: B - I’ve used him before and he was solid.  I think the points drop is a big push in his favor and the new upgrades that make tokens more valuable also help out.  I expect to see better things form Tarkin in the future.

General Cracken - Overall B+ (+1 1/3)
Biggs: BEvade rule changes make Cracken better without actually changing anything about the card itself.
Truthiness: A - Despite getting absolutely no changes, I think Cracken might quietly be the Rebel winner of 1.5. With activation wars no longer as much of an issue, Cracken can focus on bringing the fast combat ships he loves. And those combat ships have evades. Lots of them. I suspect we might see a resurgence of the old school CR90 spam Crackenator in the coming meta. Long range resilience against Onagers? Check. Cuts down the power of salvo? Check. Uses those beautifully buffed evades? Check. Don’t sleep on Cracken.
Shmitty: B - The buff to evade makes him much more interesting.

Admiral Ackbar Overall B+ (-2/3)
Biggs: BRomodi is a comparable effect for a lot cheaper, but 2 dice is a decent amount of dice still.  Ackbar will continue to be a fine if uninspiring choice.
Truthiness: B - Same as he’s always been: an expensive, broadsiding, powerhouse. Ackbar will remain a nice, steady part of the meta.
Shmitty: A - More dice are always a good thing.

Admiral Raddus - Overall B+ (-2/3)
Biggs: BRaddus SHOULD be better than he is, but he’s getting lost in the large number of “good, but not amazing” Rebel commanders.
Truthiness: B - Blue fish is still around, but he’s mainly a double large kind of guy these days. It’s still a very disruptive force, but his drop is now much more predictable. He still is the main culprit for Madine being out of a job.
Shmitty: A - I think he’s great

Grand Admiral Thrawn - Overall B+ (-2/3)
Biggs: BSloane has replaced Thrawn as the go-to Imperial squadron commander, and now Ozzel has replaced him as the non-fighter squadron commander.  Thrawn is without a true home once more.
Truthiness: B - Still a solid commander. He’s been successful with a wide variety of lists. His flexibility should not be underrated.
Shmitty: A - Blue smurf is still gonna be able to do good work.

General Rieekan Overall B+ (-1)
Biggs: BIs this where we see the end of Rieekan?  4 more points is yet another nerf to the big guy, and with Mothma, Leia, and Cracken cheaper...
Truthiness: B - The Zombie Lord got hit, but as seems to always be the case, I’m sure someone will continue to leverage his ability well. He is just a fundamentally solid commander, even at a few more points, he’s still worth it.
Shmitty: A - Still useful, still haven’t actually played with him

Admiral Ozzel - Overall B (+1 1/3)
Biggs: ANu-Ozzel looks HOT for non-Sloane squadrons.
Truthiness: C - After a few weeks and seeing a few games, I’m still not particularly impressed. We’ll see if someone really cracks the code here. Ozzel still seems like he has unlocked potential. I could see his stock rising as time goes on, but I’ll have to see it to believe it.
Shmitty: B - I expect his ranking to go pretty high after people learn to exploit his ability.

Count Dooku - Overall B (New Commander)
Biggs: AI feel bad giving him and Kraken both A’s but they’re both GOOD.  Dooku is a Surprise Attack for every situation.  Very nice.  Raid seems to be only good if you have a lot of it, and Dooku has 3 rounds of it.  You basically win the squadron game just by bringing him.
Truthiness: B - When he has a good match up, he can be devastating. When he doesn’t, he can feel lackluster. I suspect he’ll be the Separatist squadron heavy commander for a while, used mainly to shut down opposing squads on critical turns.
Shmitty: C - He’s fine, but have you seen Kraken?

General Obi-Wan Kenobi - Overall B (New Commander)
Biggs: A Only hampered by single redirects on each ship.  If we get a double redirect ship he’s going to be AMAZING.
Truthiness: B - Obi is the default Republic commander, and I don’t expect that to change. He makes one of the most common defense tokens flat out better. His only weakness is accuracies, but that means your opponent isn’t using those accuracies on an Evade, Brace, or Salvo. His damage mitigation can very quietly pile up over the course of a game. If he ever gets a double redirect ship, look out. He’ll be pretty scary.
Shmitty: C - He will be better, but for now he is meh

Bail Organa - Overall B (New Commander)
Biggs: BThrawn, but not Thrawn, but at will instead of pre-planned.  Bail is the Tarkin / Garm of the Galactic Republic First Wave.  He’s there to hold your hand while you learn what you’re doing, and maybe will be deadly in the right hands.
Truthiness: B - Both more limited and more flexible than Thrawn, Bail is a solid buy. I expect him to be the main go-to for Republic squadron heavy play as he allows your carriers to use the all important navigate command while continuing to push squadrons.
Shmitty: B - I love the flexibility

Mon Mothma - Overall B- (+1)
Biggs: AMon Mothma’s changes make her less expensive and better.  Cheaper by 3 points, cancelling dice at medium range, rerolling multiple dice at close range… she just looks GOOD but we’ll see if that’s enough to make her GREAT.
Truthiness: C - She’s certainly better. The jury is out on whether that’s enough. Her preferred ship remains the MC30, which is undeniably harder to use in 1.5, especially in large numbers.
Shmitty: C - I really don’t know what happens to Mothma going forward.

Commander Juan Sato - Overall B- (+1)
Biggs: BSato got cheaper, and Hammerhead APTs got cheaper, but evade rules got better.  Is that enough for him to turn the corner?  
Truthiness: C - A lot of supporting parts got cheaper and/or better, but Sato’s main problem remains. He is stuck in a perpetual paradox of both having too many and not enough squadrons. He needs enough squadrons to stick around and paint targets, but he can’t invest so many points that he doesn’t really get much use out of his ability.
Shmitty: B - Much better for a variety of reasons.

Darth Vader - Overall B- (+2/3)
Biggs: BMore damage is good.  Still kinda pricey for an Imperial commander.
Truthiness: C - Frankly, he got killed by the officer version of himself. Vader officer is really really good, so why would you bring the very expensive commander version? Pick a different commander and grab the one point officer to choke your other officers out. There’s too many better ways of getting dice control.
Shmitty: B - Still my favorite Imp admiral to play.

C Tier

General Leia Organa - Overall C+ (+2)
Biggs: B10 points cheaper is a hell of a buff, and gets Leia to “decent” bordering on “great”.
Truthiness: C - Better, but that downside is still pretty bad. I’m sure Geek will continue to bang his head against this wall. Afterall, I’m sure 10 points was the only thing holding her back.
Shmitty: C - Potentially much better, but still pretty low tier

Admiral Piett - Overall C+ (-2/3)
Biggs: AIn a world filled with more tokens, and commands, Piett is just getting better.
Truthiness - C - The SSD was really the only place where Piett was much good. With the SSD nearly dead in the competitive environment, I don’t think we’ll see much Piett. I’m sure there will be some who hang to him as part of a super-powered single activation strategy, but he’s just not that good. He really doesn’t do anything Thrawn doesn’t do. He’s just a little cheaper and much more limited.
Shmitty: D - I’ve seen interesting things done with him, but could an admiral be less my playstyle?

Admiral Motti - Overall C+ (-2/3)
Biggs: CMotti is the baseline for which to judge all other Imperial commanders.  I don’t think there’s a reason to take him these days with the other good, quality commanders you can choose from.
Truthiness: B - Still the nice easy default. Nothing really different about him.
Shmitty: C - Boring, but not dying as quickly never goes out of style.

Admiral Screed Overall C (-1/3)
Biggs: B - I’m not sure if Screed has gotten better or worse on balance.  Screed being able to generate criticals on demand does mean that you can drop a key critical effect on your opponents, but the cost of a die, and evades working at close range… maybe he’s more useful to try and get a 2nd critical to brute force it through, maybe he’s worse because criticals just aren’t anything you want to go for anymore.
Truthiness: D - Screed’s go-to critical effects got worse in 1.5. There might be a niche for him with blue beam Onager, but there are enough ways to control dice now that Screed doesn’t really cut it.
Shmitty: C - Guaranteeing a crit effect is huge, but that’s really his only schtick and I haven’t seen it really work in some time.  With the major crit effect weapons now being exhaust a fleet that used him over OE might have some traction.

General Dodonna - Overall C (-1/3)
Biggs: BStill here, still 20 points, still boring.
Truthiness: C - The cheap Rebel commander role has largely been stolen from Dodonna by Agate. His ability is nice, but with APTs hit in 1.5, it’s hard to see a Dodonna crit based strategy really being worthwhile.
Shmitty: D - He’s been overrated for years, 1.5 does him no favors.

General Madine - Overall C (-1/3)
Biggs: C - "Clicks" Madine just doesn’t seem to inspire like some of the other commanders.
Truthiness: C - Fun to fly, but just way too expensive. He is all but locked into a single command, really limiting what kinds of lists he likes. On top of that, other commanders that like the same kinds of fleets just tend to do it better.
Shmitty: C - I like his ability, but it doesn't always translate into winning games.

D Tier

Admiral Konstantine - Overall D (+1)
Biggs: DBetter doesn’t mean good.
Truthiness: D - He’s more usable, but I doubt that sees him break out. Maybe someone can make him sing like the few that have done well with Palps, but I suspect Kon will remain firmly in the “coaster” pile of cards.
Shmitty: D - Easier to use his ability, but you still have to turn that in to winning an actual game

Emperor Palpatine
- Overall D- (-1/3)
Biggs: FStick to politics, Sheev.  If Konstantine and Tagge are better, someone has to be worse.
Truthiness: D - He has been kind of sort of successful in some hands, but he’s pretty overcosted. He’s another one of those commanders you think someone might be able to take to the next level, but it never manifests.
Shmitty: D - Hard to use correctly

F Tier

Grand General Tagge, Lord of the Trash Heap - Overall F+ (+1/3)
Biggs: DTurn 4 is so much better than Turn 3 / Turn 5.  You can pick Turn 2 or Turn 6 depending on how many Onagers are across the table from you.
Truthiness: F - Yeah, he’s still absolutely awful. Take away the non-consecutive rounds limiter and he could be good. But alas, here we are. The flexibility with the rounds doesn’t really change anything. Since you’re probably going to want rounds 3 and 5 most times anyway, Tagge is essentially the same as he’s always been.
Shmitty: F - Trash

Biggs Average: 3.32 - B+
Truthi Average: 2.68 - B-
Smitty Average: 2.46 - C+

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