How Stuff Works: Droids

The third entry in the “I played a few games with a Separatist swarm” series (after a couple of tournament reports: Australia Grands and Auckland HST) goes into how some of it works, since its pretty clear to me that a lot of players (including Separatist players themselves) don’t how all the pieces and abilities work.

Networked Calculations

Let’s start with the easy one. The ship ability for vulture droids (and hyenas) is colloquially known that the droids can spend each others calculates at range 1. But it’s not quite that simple, there’s a little more nuance to it.

  • First point, can only spend 1 token from another friendly ship per attack or defense. For posterity’s sake, here’s the rules to support it; Once Per Opportunity found under Card Interpretation on page 2 of Rules Reference v 1.0.6.1. So even if you roll 3 focus results, you can only spend 1 calculate from another friendly ship (and then as many of your own calculate tokens as you want).
  • The second point, is that there are a number of other ways for the droids to spend their calculate tokens, which Networked Calculations does not interact with at all. These include Captain Sear, K2-B4, TV-94, Discord Missiles, Energy Shell Charges and DFS-311. For all these abilities, they can only use their own calculate tokens.

TA-175

Spot the typo/inconsistency

Edit January 2020: New rules reference (v1.1.0) changed the timing here to occur ‘immediately’ when the ship has sufficient damage cards to be destroyed (for the engagement phase, happens in Step 6: Aftermath).

The ‘tricky’ rules bit here is the timing of when the calculate tokens are gained. Let’s look at Destroying Ships on page 9 of the current rules reference (v 1.0.6.1).

What does this mean in practical terms. At each initiative step in the Engagement Phase, every ship at that initiative gets to attack before any destroyed ships are removed, and no calculate tokens are distributed until immediately before the ship is removed (at the end of the initiative step). This is especially meaningful in the initiative 1 (Trade Federation Drone) mirror match, as all the attacks at initiative 1 are resolved before the destroyed ships are removed, so neither player gets any use out of TA-175.

And, looking back at the first bullet point there, this only matters in the Engagement Phase, when destroyed at other times (eg from a Payload), removed immediately and hand out the tokens.

Grappling Struts

When I’ve been playing Struts, I’ve typically asked my opponents before the game if they know how Struts work, and when they say “Yes”, I don’t really believe them, but don’t bother wasting several minutes trying to explain it, and still have it go over their head.

Here we go, the upgrade with so many words it fills up both sides of the card.

Exactly the same text on Landing Struts for the hyena. Different name, same card.

First thing to address, when can you flip the card and change to the ‘Open’ configuration? Well, the card says “overlap an obstacle or debris cloud”, so let’s check the rules for Overlap (page 14 rules reference 1.0.6.1).

Ah, so only “if the ship’s final position would physically be on top of an object”.

But what about if I move though an obstacle and land on the other side, I hear you say. Strut’s lets me ignore rocks I thought. Let’s check the rules for Move Through, which is only half a page above the rules for Overlap.

So Move Through has a separate definition to Overlap, and Grappling Struts only refers to Overlap, so no, you cannot open your Struts after moving through an obstacle, you must overlap it. No matter how trustworthy, or how much you want to believe the person saying it, the rules seem pretty clear, can’t just ignore the obstacles.

And thematically too, a droid flying quickly past an obstacle isn’t going to have time to stop, open struts, bounce off and keep going. They scream past desperately trying to avoid damage like all the other ships.

With the droid now sitting happy on the obstacle, let’s looks at what happens for attacking and defending for the attacks being obstructed.

It’s all about who’s attacking for checking obstruction, as they measure range to the defender. For the droid with struts open, that droid gets to ignore the obstacle it is overlapping and have an unobstructed attack, since the attacker (droid) ignores the obstacle. For another ship attacking a droid on an obstacle, the attack is obstructed since the attacker does not ignore the obstacle. Here’s a visual example:

The attack from Soontir into the TFD is obstructed since Soontir (the attacker) does not ignore the obstacle. The return shot from the TFD into Soontir is unobstructed, since the TFD (the attacker) ignores the obstacle at range 0.

You did it, landed on an obstacle and opened the struts. Next step is understanding how to move off the obstacle. (Less referring to the rules reference here, just explaining situations and examples) The most common ways to move off the obstacle are:

  • Reveal and execute a 2 forward maneuver
  • Do a barrel roll action that finishes not overlapping the obstacle

The only other ways to move off the obstacle are:

  • Become ionized and forced to execute a 1 forward ion maneuver
  • Become tractored and boosted or barrel rolled off
  • The obstacle gets removed via a seismic charge
  • Boost from Afterburners (looking at you DBS-404)

Quick point, stress doesn’t matter. They can take a Panicked Pilot, be double stressed and stay on the obstacle (and clear one stress with the ‘blue’ stop or pivot)

The big takeaway here a lot of players don’t see immediately, you can barrel roll off the obstacle. You get your action step as normal, and ignoring the obstacle at range zero, you can execute the barrel roll through the obstacle as well. And then because vultures are super fair and balanced they can take a linked action into a calculate (and have blue 2 turns to clear the stress, or still be on the obstacle and have a blue stop/pivot).

So what initially appears to be severe dial limitation by only choosing between not moving, or going 2 forward, is really a means for the droids to move slowly. Starting with an initial position on an asteroid facing north (left picture), they can move to all 4 points on the compass (right picture). A pretty epic ability to block any ships thinking of coming in close, while also being unblockable themselves, as in addition to generally moving first, they aren’t executing maneuvers to get blocked.

Yes, they can effectively move backwards from where they were originally facing. Now let’s look at those firing arcs.

From stopping or moving 2 forward, they sure can point that firing arc easily over 270 degrees, basically a turret. They do have to decide whether to pivot and which direction when setting their dial (unlike U-Wings, who can use Sense, or Cassian crew to dial casual and decide later), but still really good.

Other fun benefits of already having the Struts open means you are safe from obstacle damage via tractor beams or take no damage/stress from Rigged Cargo Chutes or Spare Parts Canisters being dropped on top of you (though if it is before you activate, you might end up being unintentionally stuck on it).

So far the only consequence is needing to actually land on the obstacle, but it turns out there are more consequences after leaving the obstacle. If you reveal a 2 forward and execute a maneuver off an obstacle, the Struts are still in open position until you finish executing the maneuver, at which point they close again. This is an issue if you land on another obstacle (or the same obstacle), as they is no window to open the struts and ignore it. You get to ignore the effects of overlapping it, as the Struts are still open while executing the maneuver (no damage, stress or skipped Perform Actions), but after the Execute Maneuver step is complete, you no longer ignore it. That means for Perform Action step any boost or barrel roll template cannot overlap the obstacle, and if the obstacle is an asteroid, you cannot perform attacks.

Similarly, if you barrel roll off an obstacle, the struts are in the open position until after you execute a maneuver, so can’t freely move onto another obstacle (same story as above). Though since you aren’t at range 0 of an obstacle, you execute which ever maneuver you dial in.

Here’s some relevant sections of the rules reference if you want to fact check me.

So tracking whether Struts are open or closed does matter, can’t just say they’re open if on an obstacle, closed if not on an obstacle (unless you’re bad and haven’t discovered barrel rolling off).

Discord Missiles + Buzz Droid Swarms

Launching the buzz droid swarm is pretty straightforward. Then it either overlaps an enemy ship or it doesn’t.

  • Overlaps an enemy ship, the buzz droid controller places the token at either the front or rear guides of that ship (and not overlapping another object). If it doesn’t fit at either guides, the enemy ship suffers one damage, and the buzz droid is destroyed (suffers 1 damage). Typically, you want to place the token in the front guides so that the enemy ship will overlap it again when they move the following turn.
  • If it doesn’t overlap an enemy ship, it just sits there and does nothing

Reading further on the Buzz Droid card, enemy ships at range 0 suffer a critical at initiative 0. Neat.

For following turns, how do you get rid of them? In game terms, they aren’t attached to the ship, just sitting at range 0, so if you move away from range 0, they stop doing damage. If they are behind you, easy enough to move forward and leave them behind. On the front guides however, any forward maneuver will move through or overlap them again, and they get to relocate to range 0 at front or rear guides. You are then forced to maneuver in such a way that they cannot fit at either the front or rear guides (both take a damage and buzz droid is removed), or so it does not fit in the front guides so can move away next turn. Or you can just barrel roll and bypass them. They don’t do anything unless they are at range 0 of an enemy ship or an enemy ship moves through or overlaps them, they can’t move independently.

For more information, look up Remotes in the rules reference (too long to be worth inserting here), but the other noteworthy piece of information, is that they can be attacked in the Engagement Phase, using the agility and hull on the card.

There you go. A few things explained. Go on now, tell me where I’m wrong.

-Nathan, reading out cards and rules via a written medium

2 thoughts on “How Stuff Works: Droids

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