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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Armada Ship Analysis: The Nebulon B

Good morning Admirals. Apologies for being sometime between updates! I will attempt to get all of the ships currently released before the pending release of Wave V- hold me to it!

On the docket for today: The Nebulon B as of Wave IV. The Nebulon B comes in two distinct flavors: The Escort Frigate, and the Support Refit. As you can see from their cards below, the Escort Frigate is a fighter-command centric version while the Support Refit is a stripped down jouster. The difference between the two is that, for 6 points, the Escort Frigate gains a second blue Anti-Squadron die and 1 extra squadron command. The roles thus become quite evident: The Escort Frigate is all about commanding (well... Yavaris anyway...) and defending against squadrons while the Support Refit is far more of a jouster.

Both Nebulon Bs offer the same three upgrade slots: an officer, a support team, and a turbo laser. So, let’s dive in on these ships in the new Wave 3/4 world!

The Basics
The Nebulon B is a small base ship with a maximum speed of 3. It's fairly nimble, and it's speed 3 features the "Rebel maneuver" as I like to call it: no clicks at 1, 1 click at 2, and 2 clicks at 3. That maneuver is fairly flexible and allows the ship to try to keep it's very fragile side arcs away from harm.

Speaking of the ship's sturdiness, it's got 3 shields in the front, 2 in the rear, and 1 on each side. That shield arrangement is unfortunately problematic, because the side arcs are so wide they're difficult to keep away from the enemy. Further, the defense token set (2 brace, 1 evade) means your rear shields are next to useless unless you spend an engineering command or token to transfer them. However, it's front is quit robust if you're able to keep that meaty shield 3 between you and your opponent's firepower. Combined with the double brace, the Neb is surprisingly sturdy when taking fire from the front arc... which is difficult to maintain.

The front arc of the Nebulon is armed with 3 red dice. Each side is equipped with a blue and a red, and the rear puts out a respectable 2 red.

The Support Refit
The stripped down Nebulon B Support Refit is really a beast with a fairly narrow role: sniper. Due to it's very weak side arc, positioning is everything! Against larger targets who do not have evades, this ship wants to be as far away as possible: just on the edge of red range. As it moves in closer, it very much wants to carefully position itself to leave its side arcs protected.

The Support Refit just begs for the Salvation title. That brings the potential damage of this thing's front arc to the next level. With a huge variety of turbolasers available, the specific role you want your sniper to play can be tweaked. The most obvious choice in my mind is the Spinal Armament. Chucking 4 dice at long range is not bad for a 67 point ship (Neb B Refit + Salvation + Spinal Armament). XI7s may not be bad if you need to drill through shields. XX-9s may also do work since you're fishing for those crits anyway, and now you can ensure no one gets to use their contains token- plus that brings the cost of the ship to a mere 63. I suppose you could pair Quad Turbolasers with a Home One MC80 but I don't think that has much use here. Still, I think Spinal Armament is the way to go on Salvation.

Edit: I blanked on Turbolaser Reroute Circuit. It's a great card and, frankly, before the Spinal Armament it was my go to for Salvation. However, the Neb B's defense token setup means that precious evade is your only other damage mitigation capability. Omitting it was an oversight, though I am no longer a fan of it on Salvation.

Support Team
The Support Refit could fulfill a secondary role: that of a shield maiden. With Projection Experts in the support team slot, and spamming engineering commands, she could transfer shields to other ships. Frankly, I have yet to see this application be worth it, but as one of a few ships with the slot and a title (Redemption) that makes engineering commands more powerful, it's at least a possibility. In general, I think this slot is best left un-used for the refit. Your sniper build is going to be spamming concentrate fires so Engine Techs is not hugely useful as you want to keep at range not get closer. Engineering Team is awful on this guy for 5 points. Nav team could maybe be useful, again for keeping that front arc pointed the right way... though I'd still go without.

Rounding out the potential upgrades with an officer, you should look hard at Raymus Antilles, and plan to do concentrate fires every turn for +1 die and a re-roll.  Other strong candidates would include Intel Officer to zap braces on big hits, or perhaps Tactical Expert allowing you to set your dial to all navigates/engineerings but make sure you can always do a concentrate fire. Veteran Captain and Skilled First Officer are less expensive choices who can help mitigate a Slicer Tools or allow some engineering flexibility to move those rear shields, but none of them strike me as amazing choices on a 2 command ship. In fact, I like keeping Salvation relatively cheap and would likely just leave this slot un-filled.

The Escort Frigate
One thing I love about the Nebulon B is that it's two variants are really quite different from each other. For +6 points, the Escort Frigate gains +1 Squadron and +1 Blue die in it's anti-squadron armament. That little tweak makes this ship a decent little squadron support boat. Combine that with it's title Yavaris, and you're cooking with gas. I think Yavaris has been the only truly relevant Nebulon B for a while (though Salvation is not bad), and it's still a force to be reckoned with. Some new upgrades in Wave IV make it even more deadly.

Honestly, Yavaris rarely benefits from turbolasers in my opinion. With 2 blue anti-squadron, I find myself more often than not throwing blue dice at squadrons rather than attacking ships.

Support Team
Look, there's really one combo that is far better than anything else you can put on Yavaris right now. Part of that combination involves the excellent new Fighter Coordination Team. On it's own that upgrade is alright- particularly for pulling slower squadrons forward, but combined with the officer below it really sings.

Combined with Fighter Coordination Team, Flight Commander completes the upgrade triumvirate that makes this ship crazy good. Now, Yavaris can do a squadron activation on the dial and declare it's use after moving. Then, Yavaris can soften up enemy squadrons with considerable AA punch (and you DO have Toryn Farr on a Flotilla nearby, right?). Then move forward. Then move 2 friendly squadrons into range of the enemy. And finally, attack twice with 2 (or 3 with a token) squadrons. That combo is killer! For just 68 points, Yavaris is an inexpensive carrier that can take your squadrons to new heights of destruction.

Closing Thoughts
Both Nebulon Bs are fairly inexpensive and fit in a variety of Rebel builds and archetypes. While the Nebulon fell out of favor in the broad community excluding some outlier lists, Wave IV has definitely breathed new life into the ship- at least with the two most popular titles. Personally, I've put it on the table far more in the last few weeks than the months preceding. The future looks good for this ship as well. With the pending release of Sato for the Rebels, your Salvation could be chucking black dice at long range where the hit/crit face is worth 3 damage! Yeowch!

But the ship has a major glaring weakness with those big, weak side arcs. More than once have I seen a full health Nebulon get one shotted by a Demolisher with Assault Proton Torpedoes. Mitigating that weakness is a cross Nebulon commanders have to bear, but learning how to drive it effectively can certainly pay off. This weakness usually means title-less Nebulons rarely see the table. Perhaps down the road we will have more reason to use them, but until then Yavaris and to some extent Salvation will continue to ensure the Nebulon B hits the table.

Thanks for reading! Check back soon for the next installment!

Make sure to check out my extensive Youtube channel for tons of Armada games.

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