The Upgrades - Rather than starting with a particular ship, I wanted to talk about the new upgrades that are available. It seems like each potential upgrade slot has some kind of new, exciting option available to it. I am really loving the variety. Looking just at the Turbolaser upgrades, there are some great new options. Still, none of them seem obviously better than the Wave 1 choices. I am excited to try many of them out, but Enhanced Armaments and XI7s will still see plenty of use. Turbolaser Reroute Circuits are the first option that allow you to really increase the number of hits you are scoring, rather than just monkeying with defense tokens or adding dice. I think they have done a fun job of expanding the design space with the upgrades and hope they can keep that up through future waves. The new upgrades will definitely make fleet building both more fun and more challenging. You should be able to really customize your fleet to suit your personal playstyle.
The ISD - Probably the most anticipated ship in the game. I have a couple of local friends who have been waiting for the appearance of the ISD before buying into the game. Massive firepower, great durability, and decent speed make this thing a beast. It should set the upper end of the power level in the game for some time.
In many ways though, the ISD is very similar to a more expensive VSD. More hull, more shields, more guns, and more points. Many of the same tactics will work both with and against the ISD as the VSD. We do get some new possibilities though:
- Speed 3 - This probably has people the most excited, but I am not so sure. Speed 3 on this will not be as useful as speed 3 on an Assault Frigate for instance. With most of the firepower concentrated to the front, too much speed 3 will let opponents sneak past you more easily. I like them combined with Ozzel to close quickly using Speed 3, then drop to Speed 1 for the pounding. The real gain seems to be the increased amount of Yaw at Speed 2.
- The ISD was also the first ship we saw to have 2 of the same upgrade slots. This should allow for some good/unique combos as the upgrade pool grows.
- A Defensive Team slot! This is actually pretty amazing and really why the MC-80 had to be only Speed 2. I think it is a fair trade. Being able to drop in Engineering Teams, Nav Teams, and Engine Techs is totally worth the trade. This upgrade slot means that the MC-80 can actually turn up to 4 clicks of Yaw! That is some fantastic maneuverability and much more useful than Speed 3 would be.
- Like the ISD, one version of the MC-80 allows for double upgrades. In this case, Defensive Refits. Again, this should allow for some fun combinations.
- The lack of Offensive Teams was a big surprise. It takes away the option for Gunnery Teams that could get the most out of those huge broadsides. Advanced Gunnery almost becomes a mandatory objective when using MC-80s. It will even be worth grabbing when you go first if your opponent has it.
- One of the places that the Raider stands out is in low speed maneuverability. At Speed 2 it gets 4 click of Yaw with no special upgrades or commands. That will really make it an excellent flanker as it can quickly bring its guns to bear.
- For a low priced ship, the Raider also packs a very strong punch. Despite all of the anti-fighter upgrades, you can easily throw some Missile or Ion upgrades on it and have it become a threat just about anywhere. At close range it will melt, much like the CR-90.
Where the Gladiator likes to hunt, I think the MC-30 will be better as an ambush ship. You want to try use that mobility to get into someone's flight path and wait for them to come to you. Then, you can hit them hard and fly away. Probably easier said then done.
- The MC-30 is the first small ship with 4 Defense Tokens. This will really help it out and make it tough to damage at long range. Its hull + shields is the highest of any small ship, but without the Brace token, it won't last long. Both titles go along way to making it more sturdy, but are expensive.
- It has an interesting maneuver chart, with that Speed 3 sweet spot. That Speed will probably get them into a lot of trouble.
- The Torpedo Frigate is the first ship to get a Turbolaser upgrade that doesn't natively roll red dice. I had been looking forward to using Leading Shots on them, but I think XI7s will have to do.
Red Dice - The other big theme I noticed in Wave 2 is that Red Dice are EXPENSIVE. We saw that in Wave 1, but for some reason it sticks out even more in Wave 2. Statistically they are the worst dice, but that extra range means they get to roll in every attack. I'm going to have to work out the geometry of how much more surface area you get with red dice versus the other colors.
Nothing is Obsolete - What I am really seeing is that so far Wave 2 has made nothing from Wave 1 obsolete. Some things maybe got better or got their role more defined. Overall though I think the new wave just makes the game much richer and deeper.