Quadjumper – Preview Thoughts

We had a bit of a gap in X-Wing news, and now I’m running a bit behind what’s been announced!  Today we’re taking a look at last week’s preview for the Quadjumper, a definite oddity of a ship.

The Dial

It’s impossible to discuss the Quadjumper without talking about the dial. It’s got a major first for X-Wing – the ability to fly backwards. Admittedly, these are red maneuvers, so you can’t easily do them turn after turn, but it fundamentally changes where this ship can go, and makes it difficult to predict, particularly in a close-quarters dogfight.

Outside of the three reverse moves, the rest of the dial has some interesting qualities. There’s no 0 stop move, which it was widely speculated to have, and in another first for X-Wing has a 1 forward and turn, but no 1 bank. This gives a slightly odd movement profile at low speeds, but on the whole I’m inclined to think that the 1 turn is worth giving up the bank for.

It’s got a limited quantity of greens (the 2 forward and banks, and the 3 forward), meaning that it’ll take a little bit of thought to clear the stress from reversing, and the dial caps out at speed 3. White 2 turns and a pair of red 2 S-loops completes the dial, making the Quadjumper a slow but nimble ship which has a lot of options in a tight encounter. As it’s got a Tech upgrade slot, there’s some options for making more of the red moves via Primed Thrusters and Pattern Analyser, although both of these add to the cost of a ship that’s probably best kept cheap.

Upgrades

As with most small ship expansions, there’s only a few upgrades included in this pack (although a possible record seven rules cards…), so I’m going to cover them all in one section.  Something that’s worth noting, while not a new upgrade, is this expansion is another source for the Thermal Detonator, previously only available in the Ghost expansion pack.  Good news for anyone looking to expand their collection of bomb tokens without buying multiple VCXs!

A Score to Settle

The Quadjumper brings us another 0 point Elite Pilot Talent, joining the ranks of Adaptability and Trick Shot. Unlike these, A Score to Settle is a unique upgrade, as it’s linked to the “A Debt to Pay” Condition.

When the ship with A Score to Settle is attacking the ship with the A Debt to Pay Condition, it can convert a focus to a critical hit. However, the same applies in reverse, making this a bit of a double-edged sword. You’ll need to pick what ship you put this EPT on carefully, as well as picking your target with care so you’re not giving your opponent more value from this upgrade than you.

This EPT will work best on ships with lots of shields, a reasonably strong attack, and either a slightly limited action economy or a need to keep their focus token for defence. So B-Wings, G-1A Starfighters, and TIE Defenders are immediate choices for this. A Gand Findsman with A Score to Settle and a Fire Control system can effectively have a target lock and mini-focus on attack, and an evade on defence, making it hit hard and be quite tanky for not a huge points investment.

The B-Wing and Defender are both best looking at one of their named pilots (not least because the B-Wing lacks any EPT generics). Ten Numb with A Score to Settle and Fire Control System clocks in at 33 points, as does Maarek Stele with A Score to Settle and the TIE/x7 title. Maarek in particular gets a lot out of this 0 point upgrade, getting a good chance of using his pilot ability, and freeing his action up for a defensive focus, barrel roll, or a target lock as needed.

I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of Scores to be Settled once this EPT is in play, as it’s very good value at 0 points, although I’m also expecting some cursing at the gaming table when the inevitable crits come through in the other direction…

Scavenger Crane

When you really want to lasso bits of debris, only the Scavenger Crane will do. Probably the oddest upgrade in what’s a odd ship in general, the Scavenger Crane allows you to flip a discarded ordnance, cannon, turret, and modification upgrade faceup when a ship is destroyed at Range 1-2 of you. Note, that’s not an enemy ship, so you can salvage your own allies for parts in a tight spot.

Like all Illicit upgrades, this comes with a downside – after using this upgrade you roll an attack dice, and discard it on a blank result. Still, getting even one use from this puts in on a par with Extra Munitions, and that’s not exactly bad value.

This definitely helps ships that have a single ordnance slot and an Illicit get more from their investment. A group of Binayre Pirates can prove a much more persistent threat with Scavenger Cranes and a missile apiece, and destroying one potentially rearms the rest of them. That said, it’s also a 2 point bump to the cost of each, meaning you’re investing a reasonably sizable number of points in to Z-95s.

The fact it effects Modifications is interesting. Firstly, it’s some useful Boba Fett insurance, never a bad thing if you’ve got a vital upgrade you need to protect. Secondly, it potentially expands the usefulness of Countermeasures, Stealth Device, and most amusingly, the Captured TIE modification…

“Uh, we had a slight weapons malfunction, but uh… everything’s perfectly all right now. We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you?”

I’m not sure that this is going to be an upgrade that really sees any competitive play – Extra Muntions already exists, and while the Scavenger Crane can potentially do a little more than that, it’s also notably more conditional. However, it’s also a wonderfully flavorful upgrade to have in the game, and fits the Scum faction perfectly.

Spacetug Tractor Array

This is a key part of what will make or break the Quadjumper. The Spacetug Tractor Array lets you take an action to assign a tractor token to a ship that’s in your firing arc at range 1. As an added bonus, you can do this to friendly ships as well.

This is a hugely useful and potentially powerful ability. Put on a low PS ship like the Jakku Gunrunner, you’ve got pretty much perfect knowledge of where everything will be, which should make meeting those Range 1 in arc requirements a lot easier than they might otherwise be. Being able to reliably drop the Agility of Defender, Interceptor, or Dengar can massively shift the odds of being able to do meaningful damage, and that’s before you take the repositional ability of the tractor beam into account. Combine it with an Intelligence Agent, and you’ll be able to set up blocks or force ships onto obstacles with ease. Spacetug Tractor Array has the potential to be a game changing upgrade, and if nothing else should mean that your Quadjumpers draw a lot of fire, freeing your other ships up to do their own thing.

And it being able to apply to a friendly ship isn’t without its uses. If you’re in a bad position, it can be worth taking the -1 Agility to get yourself out of it. It’s not something that I see getting used a lot, but has the potential to be a real “Get out of jail free” card when you find yourself in a bad spot.

Even at 2 points, I think this is going to essentially be a must-take upgrade most low PS Quadjumpers.

Unkar Plutt

In his crew version, Unkar allows you to take a damage to take a free action after you collide with another ship. At 1 point, on the surface he feels like a slightly underwhelming Scum version of Chopper, but he really comes into his own when paired with the Quadjumper’s role as a blocker and debuffer.

Slam into someone but still want to tractor them away with your Spacetug Tractor Array? Unkar’s got you covered. Bumped Soontir Fel but still want to kick in your Black Market Slicer tools? Unkar can help as long as you can pay the price. Even in a pinch, pulling off a vital barrel roll after a bump can be a big deal.

All told, it’s a bit of a niche upgrade, but useful in the right build. It’s not something you’ll just slap onto any ship, definitely has a place on the Quadjumper and might be useful on other ships where getting an action is truly vital. I might be slightly over-costed at 1 point, as Chopper does feel like the better deal, but overall I think it’ll see a bit of use.

Pilots

We’re still waiting on details of Sarco Plank, who’s a PS 5 unique pilot with an EPT, but we’ve now had three of the four Quadjumper pilots revealed.

Jakku Gunrunner

Like most support ships (see the HWK, Lambda, U-Wing, and Upsilon), the Quadjumper only comes with one generic pilot. Clocking in at 15 points, it’s relatively cheap, and its PS of 1 is probably a distinct advantage given the Quadjumper’s strong potential as a blocking ship.

However, the core statline (2 Attack, 2 Agility, 0 Shields, 5 Hull) is a little underwhelming for the price. 2 Agility and no shields makes it very vulnerable to critical hits, and it’s 2 points more expensive than a basic Z-95 or TIE Fighter. It’s got a lot more in the way of upgrade slots, but generally speaking those aren’t worth points in and of themselves. I don’t think you’re going to be seeing any bare-bone generic Quadjumpers being flown as filler, as it’s a ship that really needs some upgrades to shine.

With that disclaimer out of the way, 18 points gets you a Jakku Gunrunner with Spacetug Tractor Array and an Intelligence Agent, which is going to be one of the most frustrating ships in the game to deal with. A combination of the Quadjumper’s barrel roll and having access to an action tractor beam is going to make it a disruptive presence on the board – not least since the tractor token getting applied during the activation phase means that all of the ships in your squad can benefit from the lowered Agility of the target. Fly this ship like you expect it to be a budget Biggs with some extra tricks, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in the results.

Unkar Plutt

While Unkar in his crew form is perhaps a little underwhelming, he’s hugely interesting in his pilot mode. At the end of the Activation Phase you assign a tractor token to each ship you’re touching. Even if that’s just one ship, it’s a free tractor token, and it’s worth noting that it doesn’t matter if the ship has bumped into Unkar or if Unkar’s rammed into them, making him useful against both lower and higher Pilot Skills. (Although given Unkar’s PS 3, the former is more likely.)

As with the Jakku Gunrunner, he’s going to draw a lot of hate, so I’d recommend not loading him with too many points. Keep him cheap, cheerful, and extremely annoying for your opponent to have to deal with. That said, at 17 points he’s not breaking the bank, and you can add in some upgrades to notably improve on his ability. Intelligence Agent makes getting those blocks easier, while Ketsu Onyo can make those tractor tokens a lingering hindrance to your opponent’s ships. Throwing on a Spacetug Tractor Array can create blocking opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t happen, as you throw enemy ships into the worst possible position.

If you want a ship to draw your opponent’s ire and be a massive troll on the battlefield, there’s no better choice than Unkar Plutt.

Constable Zuvio

The top of the Quadjumper pilots, the Jakku lawman comes in at 19 points for PS 7 and an interesting pilot ability. When you reveal a reverse maneuver, you may drop a bomb out of the front of your ship, including Action bombs.

This gives you a lot of flexibility on your bomb placement, and potentially allows for some devastating Conner Net or Cluster Mine uses. With an EPT slot, you can bump him up to PS 9, allowing you to make good use of Ion Bombs, Thermal Detonators, or (if you’ve got a lot of points to spare) Proton Bombs after most other ships have moved. All of these can exert a lot of control over the battlefield, and notably diminish your opponent’s ability to fight back.

However, they all add to Zuvio’s cost, and he’s a one-shot one-trick pony without a Scavenger Crane to rearm his bombs. This again adds to his cost, meaning that you’re likely to be looking at 23-26 points for a decent load-out on him, which is quite a lot to be putting into a fragile ship that really needs to get in close to make much use out of his ability. Given the potential of bombs and mines to throw a spanner into your opponent’s plans, Zuvio will be drawing a lot of heat – just like every other Quadjumper.

I think the key factor with Zuvio is going to be can you get approximately 25 points of value from him before he’s burnt down by your opponent? If you can, he’s got the potential to do some incredible control and area denial. If you can’t, it’s going to be some easy points for your opponent to pick up. Just simply on the basis of points cost, I’m not sure that Zuvio’s going to be competitively effective, but I hope to be proved wrong on this.

Final Thoughts

The Quadjumper genuinely brings something new to the game – a ship solely focused around blocking and being a disruptive presence on the board. Other ships have been able to move into this role through a combination of upgrades and repositional actions, but this kind of de-buffing “friction” play style is at the core of what makes the Quadjumper work.

The ability to do this in quite a cheap package makes me think we’ll be seeing quite a lot of them in assorted Scum lists. A Jakku Gunrunner with an Intelligence Agent and Spacetug Tractor Array is only 18 points, as is Unkar Plutt with Ketsu Onyo crew. And with two pilots with EPTs, they’re potentially useful to Mindlink lists as a cheap source of focus action. I’m going to be particularly interested to see what Sarco Plank’s ability is on this basis, as his PS 5 pairs him nicely with several other staples of Scum lists.

All told, this is a ship that I think may have a huge effect on the meta if it gets used well, but will require some solid flying to get the most out of its sub-par statline. I’m looking forwards to seeing it him the table, and to see what (if any) impact it has on the 2016/17 Regionals meta.

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