Angled Deflectors, Expose and Opportunity Costs

Following (yet another) FFG *let’s just say* mishap last week, the remainder of the cards for Wave 4 have been revealed, and despite the absence of point costs, they can still be somewhat interesting to talk about.

Here’s one of those cards (rest found at the bottom of the page):

Angled Deflectors

Modification
Small or Medium Ship, Shield value of 1 or more
-1 Shield (Yes, subtract a shield)
Adds white Reinforce action

The initial response I saw for this card, when it made it’s way online, was that it was going to be near universally busted. And yet there I was staring at it, wondering how it could possibly be good at all. With some more thought and seeing more opinions I can see there are some corner cases where it will likely be degenerate, but still the first card it reminded me of was Expose from 1st edition.

I’ve rewritten these opening statements 5-6 times and whatever, I give up now.

Expose

Talent
Action: Until the end of the round, increase your primary weapon value by 1 and decrease your agility value by 1.
4 points.

History Lesson: Expose was universally considered to be a bad card, seeing no success or play (outside a few corner cases on multi-action Decimators). And the main reason for that was the ability cost requiring an action, and benefit gained was less than the opportunity cost of a different action, on top of spending points on the upgrade card.

The ability itself is not inherently bad, as L’ulo L’ampar has effectively the same ability as a passive ability in 2nd edition, and he sees an awful lot of play with success. L’ulo is undoubtedly very good. But if L’ulo’s text required an action, it would be a heck of a lot worse. (Focus + boost/rotate + “Expose” sounds a whole lot better than just “Expose” + boost/rotate)

So back to Angled Deflectors. Under the assumption it will cost some positive number of points, You’re paying points to LOSE A SHIELD, and gain access to another action that may be better or worse than the action you would otherwise take (opportunity cost). A Shield Upgrade (for +1 shield) costs at time of writing 3,4,6,8 points (when agility is 0,1,2,3), so maybe Angled Deflectors will have a negative point value to compensate, but I see that being quite unlikely and there will almost certainly be a cost points-wise.

Reinforce

For anyone who doesn’t know how Reinforce works, here’s the (surprisingly long) entry from Rules Reference version 1.0.4.

The key part being: “During the Neutralize Results step, if the attack would hit and there is more than one hit/crit result remaining, one evade result is added to cancel one result.” This sets it firmly aside from 1st edition reinforce, in that for the reinforce to block a damage, at least one point of damage will go through.

For those keeping track, that’s 2 damage suffered (minus 1 shield, damage required for reinforce) before Angled Deflectors stops it’s first damage.

It’s not all bad. Reinforce is a good action in the right situations. It does not require the token to be spent to gain a benefit from, an advantage over other green tokens (focus or evade). Though not spending it is pointless without reusing it that round, so a second damage must be taken to use the reinforce twice.

So reinforce is good when taking attacks with 2+ uncancelled hits, or multiple attacks with 2+ uncancelled hits. Not exactly scenarios you want to be in. Against a single attack, an evade token is always better, and a focus token can be better as well.

There are way too many permutations to map out all the scenarios where different green tokens are better, depending on agility, number of attacks, dice + dice mods for those attacks etc etc, so I’m not going to bother to try.

Here’s some math showing damage suffered for ‘best’ case scenarios (‘best’ meaning maximizing reinforce usage):

Again, shout-out to X-Wing Probability Calculator.

The highlighted boxes show where reinforce is the best green token for minimizing damage, which to be fair, is most of this table of awful, but not too unrealistic, situations. But one must of course remember, Angled Deflectors removes a shield at the list-building stage, so unless these awful situations are happening more than once per game (in which case, you’re probably dead), one should add a damage to each of the reinforce entries.

Not looking quite so good now huh

Yes, these situations are cherry-picked to be bad, because that’s where reinforce provides the most utility, but in less bad situations, the other green tokens become comparably much better, making reinforce not worthwhile. Against a single attack, an evade token is straight better (I know not all ships have the evade action).

Focus+evade get better when stacked. Reinforce can only get marginally better when stacking mods, because 1 hit must go through for reinforce to trigger, so reinforce can often end up doing nothing.

Here’s some more maths done by a fellow internet goer on the FFG forums (Link), but there are limits to how much the math can tell us, with the sheer number of permutations as to how a game might play out with incoming attacks.

And then of course, no action on offense.

Usefulness?

I think it’s pretty clear this isn’t a universal card. Putting it on a B-Wing to basically turn it into a … um …

A pretty clear example of why spending a few points on giving a small/medium based ship the reinforce action isn’t necessarily good

Ahhh…. yeah, nope.

Or aces? I’ve seen Vader and Soontir suggested in places. Soontir (1) has an evade action, or (2) why would he be taking 2 2+ hit attacks in a single round? No, just fly better, not getting attacked is far better than having any number of green dice or green tokens. Similar for Vader, don’t take the attacks with 2+ hits. Even with reinforce, health will be dropping alarmingly quickly, minus 1 shield at list building, 1+ damage each time reinforce triggers.

Reinforcing your ace is planning for it to take damage. And you don’t want to take damage.

Where might it have a home then?

Support ships seem to be the best option. Both Biggs and Drea sound potentially gross with reinforce. This type of ship already has a target on it, so will be under heavy fire to maximize the benefit from reinforce, and they are generally not taken for their own offense, so losing any dice mods there isn’t a big loss.

The other option might be on ships that access to multiple actions, as to have an offensive dice modifier as well. This can come again through a support ship, providing a coordinate to the Angled Deflectors ship. Lt. Sai being able to coordinate a reinforce, and get a reinforce back sounds decent.

Conclusion

It’s bad. Not universal, or spammable, but will likely have a few niche uses.

There’s only a single copy in the Resistance Transport box, which is a complaint I’ve seen. That’s annoying, no doubt about it for non-Resistance players, but I don’t think they’re missing much, and in theory it will come out again sooner or later. And to repeat myself, I don’t think it’s universal, or spammable.

Negative points on this would be interesting, and open up a lot of options (cheaper ships with 1 fewer shield, Shield Downgrade), but probably is a really bad idea, and I don’t see it happening.

What are you giving up, rather than simply what are you getting. You get access to the reinforce action, but you’re giving up a shield, and the benefit from any actions you would have otherwise taken.

-Nathan

Here’s a list of the ships that meet the requirements to equip it: (Small or Medium base, 1+ shield, Modification slot)
– Aggressor Assault Fighter
– Alpha-class Star Wing
– ARC-170 Starfighter
– A/SF-01 B-Wing
– Attack Shuttle
– Auzituck Gunship
– Belbullab-22 Starfighter
– BTL-A4 Y-Wing
– BTL-S8 K-Wing
-Delta-7 Aethersprite
– E-Wing
– Escape Craft
– Firespray-class Patrol Craft
– G-1A Starfighter
– HWK-290 Light Freighter
– Kihraxz Fighter
– M3-A Interceptor
– M12-L Kimogila Fighter
– Naboo Royal N-1 Starfighter (presumably)
– Resistance Transport (presumably)
– Resistance Transport Pod (presumably)
– Scurrg H-6 Bomber
– Sheathipede-class Shuttle
– StarViper-class Attack Platform
– T-65 X-Wing
– T-70 X-Wing
– TIE Advanced x1
– TIE/ag Aggressor
– TIE/ca Punisher
– TIE/fo Fighter
TIE Interceptor with Shield Upgrade (maybe)*
– TIE/ph Phantom
– TIE Reaper
– TIE/sf Fighter
– UT-60D U-Wing
– Z-95-AF4 Headhunter

TIE Interceptor with Shield Upgrade is maybe, because (1) I can’t be bothered looking up the rules to figure it out, and (2) it will come down to whether or not the official builder app allows it, and then the rules will change/not change to match. (Also, hot tip: you don’t want to put this on a TIE Interceptor anyway)

And here’s the other cards revealed that we hadn’t already seen. I think this is all of them, but nobody made a nice album anywhere that I could find, so I might have missed one or two.

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