6 May 2016 | Star Wars: Armada

A Different Sort of Strength

A Preview of the Rebel Transports Expansion Pack for Star Wars™: Armada

"All troop carriers will assemble at the north entrance. The heavy transport ships will leave as soon as they’re loaded. Only two fighter escorts per ship."
     –Leia Organa

There are just two expansions in the third wave of Star Wars™: Armada expansions, and only one for the Rebel Alliance. Still, that single expansion and its ships stand poised to make a major impact upon the course of the Galactic Civil War, and all without the benefit of attack dice. It turns out that attack dice are overrated…

Just like the Gozanti-class cruisers that we saw in last week's preview of the Imperial Assault Carriers Expansion Pack, the flotilla of Rebel transports from the Rebel Transports Expansion Pack enters the game as a tactically flexible ship that you can outfit with any of the different Fleet Support upgrades to perform different roles, depending upon the overall strategy that best fits your fleet. Unlike the Gozanti-class cruisers, however, the Rebel transports do not exist primarily as fleet support, they exist entirely as fleet support. In fact, when you field your flotilla of GR-75 transports as GR-75 Medium Transports, they fly across the battlefield with zero inherent ability to damage other ships.

At this point, newer players might be asking themselves, "Why would I want to play a ship that lacks any ability to damage other ships?" It is a perfectly valid question, but an even better question may be the one that the veteran players are likely asking themselves: "How many transports can I afford to run?"

Why Would I Want to Play a Transport?

There are two types of Rebel transport flotilla in the Rebel Transports Expansion Pack—the GR-75 Medium Transports and the GR-75 Combat Retrofits .

Of these, only the GR-75 Combat Retrofits feature any battery armament, and then only a single blue die from the front and rear hull zones. Still, as we discussed during last week's examination of the Imperial Assault Carriers Expansion Pack, a flotilla's true value is not a function of its firepower, but of its ability to enhance your fleet's tactical synergies or to provide additional tactical flexibility.

To this end, we look at what the transports provide in terms of upgrades and statistics, thinking about how they can best serve your overall strategy. Both the GR-75 Medium Transports and GR-75 Combat Retrofits feature the same array of upgrades: Officer, Fleet Support, and Offensive Retrofit. Of course, each can also equip a Title upgrade, as well.

Beyond these, we have the flotillas' attributes: Command of "1," Squadron value of "2," and Engineering of "2." These make your Rebel transports extremely nimble and tactically flexible. Also, because the cheaper of the two transport flotillas weighs in at just eighteen points, even as the Combat Retrofits still weigh in at a mere twenty-four points, they become a highly efficient tool for coordinating your fighter or bomber squadrons, especially when equipped with an Expanded Hangar Bay .

Meanwhile, the transports have only three hull and only one point of shields in each of their hull zones, so they are not bound to be commonly employed as combat vessels—even the GR-75 Combat Retrofits—and their Engineering value of "2" is not likely to get you thinking about long-term sustainability, despite the flotillas' fantastic ability to avoid a couple shots each round with their scatter and evade tokens.

Instead, just as with the Imperial Assault Carriers, you will find the Rebel transports defined by their Fleet Support upgrades. Equip your GR-75 Medium Transports with a Bomber Command Center , Expanded Hangar Bay, and Adar Tallon , and you have a forty-one point command vessel for your squadron strikeforce of Luke Skywalker and two Scurrg H-6 Bombers.

Alternatively, you can equip your GR-75 Medium Transports with Leia Organa and the Repair Crews upgrade, and you have a twenty-five point flotilla that can routinely rescue your other ships from the brink of destruction, discarding a damage card and ensuring that they will have an Engineering command at the tops of their stacks when they need them most.

Altogether, the Rebel Transports Expansion Pack features four Fleet Support upgrades—Bomber Command Center, Repair Crews, Jamming Field , and Comms Net . Of these, it shares the Bomber Command Center, Jamming Field, and Comms Net with the Imperial Assault Carriers, and exchanges the other expansion pack's Slicer Tools for the Repair Crews upgrade. Still, one could imagine a flotilla of GR-75 Combat Retrofits heading to battle with Slicer Tools in a fleet commanded by General Rieekan .

In fact, given that General Rieekan compensates so well for the transports' extreme vulnerability, one might even go so far as to say it is possible to imagine him commanding a good number of Combat Retrofits to battle in future fleets, each of them preceded by two or more squadrons. And this brings us to the next question…

How Many Transports?

As one would expect, the number of Rebel transports you will want to run in your fleet corresponds directly to what you hope they will accomplish, but their low, low, low fleet-point cost makes it easy for multiple transport flotillas to accomplish multiple tasks in a single fleet.

Given that you need a commander, and the cheapest commander is currently General Dodonna at twenty fleet points, your fleet could contain a maximum of twenty-one GR-75 Medium Transports or fifteen GR-75 Combat Retrofits. Of course, those fleet builds would hardly prove effective, due to their shortcomings in the attack dice category. However, as you begin to explore what you can do with one-hundred fleet points worth of squadrons, you might consider that if you chose to fly three transports, one of which had an Expanded Hangar Bay, they could command up to seven squadrons, enough to bombard your enemy's ships with six B-wing Squadrons and to send Tycho Celchu to head off any fighter wings.

The best part of this arrangement, though, is that it allows you to enhance your bombing runs with Bomber Command Center and keep your larger ships focused on what they want to do—contesting your objective against your opponent's larger ships. If you no longer have to use the commands from one- to two-hundred fleet points worth of ships to direct your squadrons, those ships can perform more effective attacks and maneuvers.

As an added benefit, the addition of three transports provides you a means of control over the flow of battle. Since you and your opponent exchange activations each round, you can use the extra activations that your transports provide you to maneuver them along the edge of the battle early in the round, forcing your opponent to move his larger ships within range of your unactivated Defiance or a whole swarm of CR90 Corellian Corvettes to which Admiral Ackbar has added two red dice each.

The Rebel player begins the round by activating his flotillas of Rebel transports, forcing the Imperial player to move her Imperial-class Star Destroyer into range of the Defiance. This allows the Rebel player to fire with the Defiance at the end of this round and, if he has initiative, to fire again at the beginning of the next round.

With so many points invested in your squadrons and bomber strategy, you could further enhance their accuracy by running Toryn Farr . You might also consider protecting them with the Gallant Haven , which you could protect, in turn, by equipping it with Redundant Shields and by running Repair Crews on one or two of your transports.

But what if the enemy decides not to focus on your Gallant Haven but on the transports, themselves? Well, you could maintain a speed of "3" and rely upon the expertise of the new commander, General Cracken , whose ability would allow your transports to treat all the incoming attacks as obstructed. You could also equip one of them with the unique Bright Hope Title, which simply subtracts one point of damage from any attack not fired at your flotilla's rear hull zone. Alternatively, you could equip one with a Comms Net to ensure that not only would your Gallant Haven have your transport's Repair Crews working round the clock; it could assign its own engineers to damage control in a flash. Or it could even command your squadrons in a pinch.

It is this sort of flexibility that ensures your flotillas of Rebel transports will always be useful, and the second Title in the expansion reinforces this flexibility. For just one fleet point, the Quantum Storm provides your transport the ability to burst forward, such as when you want Adar Tallon to get back into range of Luke Skywalker or Han Solo .

The Quantum Storm executes a speed "1" maneuver, getting Adar Tallon within range to ready Han Solo after commanding him to attack with a squadron token and the flotilla's next activation. Because Han bears the Rogue keyword, this means he will be able to move and attack twice in the upcoming round.

So how many Rebel transports do you want in your fleet? You will almost certainly benefit from one to three. Beyond that, it will take a good deal of imagination to make use of a greater number of transports, although there may yet be someone looking to run a swarm of GR-75 Combat Retrofits in a fleet utilizing either General Rieekan or General Dodonna. After all, with the odds stacked so heavily against them, the brave and noble crew and captains of the Rebel Alliance and its transports may be willing to sacrifice themselves in order to bring down an Imperial-class Star Destroyer and win a meaningful victory in the Galactic Civil War.

Imagine the Possibilities

With its new flotillas and their Fleet Support upgrades, Armada Wave III is destined to make a major impact on your ongoing fleet battles—all without added piles of attack dice. How will you make use of the Imperial Assault Carriers Expansion Pack and the Rebel Transports Expansion Pack? The possibilities are myriad, and we invite you to share those that you imagine with the other members of our community forums.

Stay tuned for more news about these exciting expansions. In the meantime, head to your local retailer to pre-order your copies today!

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