Fleet Troopers

Fleet Troopers 1

We totally got this.

Welcome to the third deep dive.  This week, we are kicking things off with your favorite pistol wielding red shirts.  Um, sorry… blue shirts.

I’m pretty stoked to talk about these guys.  I mean, who wears a collared shirt to a battle?  I love the look with the vests and the tactical pants and boots.  I think they call this dress code “business tactical.”  They’ll certainly be the most well dressed chaps to ever shoot your plastic dudes in the face with a shotgun.

Seriously though, for guys* that are mostly known for getting ruthlessly murdered by Vader (and Stormtroopers), Fleet Troopers pack quite a punch.  Fun fact: Fleet Troopers with a shotgun do the third most average wounds to a Stormtrooper squad of any weapon/unit in the game, behind only Vader himself and the AT-RT flamethrower with 6 targets.

Pros:

  • Extremely high damage (especially with a Scattergun)
  • Only non-character unit with access to Pierce (so far)
  • Good synergy with Rebel command cards (especially Leia)

Cons:

  • Short range
  • Very squishy
  • Pricey for their durability
  • Bonus ability (steady) is highly situational**

Overview:

Fleet Troopers 2

44 Points (11 per man).  Same price as a Stormtrooper unit, which is to say they are 10% more expensive than Rebel Troopers.

1 Wound, 1 Courage.  Same as every other Corps unit.  Keep them close to a commander.

Offense:

Alright, here’s where things start getting interesting.  DH-17 Blaster Pistol.  Two white dice, surge to hit.  We’ve already established white dice are terrible.  White dice with surge?  Not terrible.  Two white dice per mini with surge?  Now we are in business.  Fifty percent more average hits that a Rebel Trooper and twice the crit chance.  6/8(2).***

Same black melee dice as every other Corps unit.  You want to be shooting stuff, not slap fighting.  Last resort.

Ready 1: Kind of window dressing.  It is a nice to have in the rare instance that you use Standby, but you could leave it off the card and it wouldn’t change their awesomeness at all.  Unlike a lot of other units, Fleet Troopers are not defined by their special unit keyword(s).  View it as a bonus, not a necessity, and you won’t be disappointed.

Defense:

White dice with surge.  The same cloth armor that Rebel Troopers wear, except these guys shop at Express instead of Duluth.

Importantly, unlike their squishy colleagues, Fleet Troopers lack Nimble.  They still can certainly benefit from dodge tokens (and indeed I would recommend it in a pinch) but don’t get nearly the same turn-long utility out of them.  Keep them in cover or out of sight entirely.

Note: As per usual, all stats shown include the supplement of dice from a full squad (5 DH-17s) unless noted otherwise.

Weapon Upgrades:

Fleet troopers can load up with two different heavy weapon options: the Scattergun and the MPL-B Grenade Launcher.  I’m definitely more in favor of the former than the latter.  We’ll dive into specifics, but the Scattergun does as much or more damage to troopers in nearly every scenario, costs two thirds as much, and doesn’t have exhaust.  The Impact is what you are paying for with the latter, and as with its Ion cousin there are better sources of Impact in the Rebel toolkit.

Like Stormtroopers, Fleet Troopers have surge to hit and thus throw grenades at 5/8.  Unlike Storms, this is actually a downgrade in their hit and crit chance; 5/8(1) vs. 6/8(2).  There’s still a case for taking them, especially Concussion grenades, as you only need to throw one to get the Blast keyword, which would be pretty murderous combined with a Scattergun.

Here are the wounds by target for the most popular loadouts.  Unless otherwise noted, green/blue is good, red is bad.

Fleet Troopers 3

High level takeaways:

Naked Fleet Troopers are not terrible, at least compared to taking other corps units naked.  It is still objectively better to have the heavy weapon.

Take a gander at the pierce immune columns vs. the normal ones.  This is the first time it has mattered, and it demonstrates how good Pierce is.  That scattergun is worth about an extra wound every time you shoot.

The scattegun does substantially more damage to troopers than the MPL-B.  What about cover, you ask?  We’ll get to that below…

The MPL-B pushes through a significant number of Impact hits.  The most, in fact, of any non-Impact Grenade equipped Rebel Unit.  Luke’s saber out-damages the MPL-B against armor because of Pierce, but not by much.

Scattergun Trooper Upgrade

Fleet Troopers 4
This is my boomstick.

The scattergun might just be my favorite weapon upgrade in the game.  Who can say no to a shotgun?  It is currently the only non-character weapon with Pierce.

Fleet Troopers 5

Random tangent: I don’t know about the lack of a stock.  I’m pretty sure the recoil would hit this dude in the face if he fired it like that.****  Maybe it obeys the same laws of physics as TIE fighters exploding in space…

Anyway… 23 points.  A steal if you ask me.

Two red dice with surge to hit, range 1-2, and the hotness, Pierce 1.  The range is short, but not flamethrower short.  Range 2 is decent, especially if you play with a fair bit of Line of Sight blocking terrain.

Like the DLT-19, the two red dice with surge to hit are super reliable.  Unlike a Storm squad with DLT-19, the rest of your squad is throwing twice as many dice.  10 white dice and two red with surge is no joke.  Personally, I just love to say to my opponent, “excuse me.  May I borrow some dice?  I’m afraid my dice pool is just too large.”

Let’s talk about Pierce, because that’s what makes this thing so good.  Pierce cancels a block after your opponent rolls his saves.  He rolls all his dice, he gets one or more saves, and then you cancel one of those saves.  It is worth nearly an entire wound every time.

As you might expect, Pierce is more cost-effective on a unit with red dice for saves, since you are more likely to actually net a wound out of it you wouldn’t otherwise.  Storms and Snowtroopers are great targets for Fleet Troopers.  Eventually the Imperial Royal Guard will be as well (that staff only gives them melee pierce immune), but that is a long way off.

Why do I have such a mancrush on these sharply dressed fellows?  Lets take a quick gander at the top 13 most efficient sources of wounds vs. red defense die (Storms).  The table is ranked by wounds per point vs. red defense die.  I went down to 13 to include the scary laser swords.

Fleet Troopers 6

Who’s number 1?  It’s not really even that close.  Get you some Fleets.

Splitting fire:

I almost never find myself splitting fire with Fleet Troopers, as they excel so much at doing an excess of damage to a single target, but let’s look at how effective splitting fire against cover is, just for posterity:

Fleet Troopers 7

The DH-17 half of your dice pool is still decent, but you’re basically taking the Scattergun off the table by splitting.  You are also removing the Scattergun’s Pierce 1 from the rest of your dice pool, which is a huge reduction in output.  I wouldn’t recommend splitting fire unless your targets are in the open, and even then you risk wasting Pierce with only two possible saves.

Alright, so what about the Fleets’ bonus ability, Ready 1?  There’s a whole section on using Standby below, but let’s just take a gander now at how much the Scattergun benefits from an aim token:

Fleet Troopers 8

Aim is pretty nasty when you have so many dice and Pierce.  You have a decent shot to wipe an entire trooper unit in the open.

Let’s move on to the Scattergun’s exhausting cousin and then we’ll compare the two.

 

MPL-57 Barrage Trooper Upgrade

Fleet Troopers 9
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a governor to… wait, did I use this joke already?

I’ll be honest, I really hate this thing.  Not in a vacuum, but it seems really hard to justify vs. the Scattergun.  Can you hate a grenade launcher?  Alright, maybe not.  Let’s just say it is not my favorite for the point cost.

Fleet Troopers 10

33 points.  Pricey.

Two whites, one black with surge.  Not terrible, 11/8(3).  This makes your total dice pool with a full unit 12 whites and a black with surge 41/8(13).  Not as nasty as the Scattergun but still rather scary.

Range 1-3, though it might as well be 1-2, since your DH-17s are 1-2.  Exhaust, ugh…  and finally, the bits you are paying for: Blast and Impact 2.

Alright, so Blast is a really good keyword.  Your entire attack pool ignores cover.  You can’t just look at it in a vacuum, though, and assume that just because it has Blast that it is better against cover than the Scattergun, because there are other really good keywords out there.  Like, say, Pierce.

Here is the breakdown of the MPL-57B and the Scattergun, with and without Cover 2.  Both include the DH-17s from the rest of the unit in their pool except the bottom row.

Fleet Troopers 11

When comparing any weapon with Pierce, it is important to take things all the way through to wounds (boxed in red).  The Scattergun does significantly better than the MPL-B against targets in the open, which should not be surprising.  What is surprising is the Scattergun also does more wounds to red dice units (non-armored), even in heavy cover.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  First, the Fleet’s dice pool is so large the static benefit of cover is somewhat lessened to begin with.  The second, as previously alluded to, is because of Pierce.

The MPL-B does do slightly better against white/surge defense die units, as the impact of Pierce is lessened in such situations.  It is not, however, so much better that it justifies the exhaust and extra 10 points.

What about the extra range?  The MPL-B is range 3, so in theory you can fire it by itself against a farther target.  Take a look at that bottom row up there.  That is what it looks like when you just fire off the MPL-B by itself, without the DH-17s.  You might be able to land a suppression, but the damage is not very meaningful.  I doubt you want to waste an exhaustible weapon just to throw down a suppression token at range 3.

So what are you paying for, exactly?

The difference is in the Impact damage.  The MPL-B does about a wound and a half better than the Scattergun against targets with armor.  In fact, the MPL-B is the most efficient source of Impact in the game (so far), even more so than the HH-12.  The threat range is extremely short for an Impact weapon though.  At that range, I would almost rather just give a Scattergun unit Impact Grenades and save 5 points.  Additionally, Rebels don’t have the same Exhaust mitigating tools Imperials get from Veers, which makes taking a short range Exhaust weapon even harder to justify.

Given how effective a Scattergun equipped unit is at mulching troopers at close range, I would personally leave the MPL-B at home and let your AT-RTs do the armor hunting.  If you run flamethrower AT-RTs, you could try some testing with the MPL-B, I suppose.

Other upgrades – Environmental Gear

I don’t usually talk about the gear upgrades, as there isn’t much to discuss quantitatively.  However, I think Environment Gear deserves special mention on Fleet Troopers.  It allows you to ignore the difficult terrain movement penalty, which is exceptionally useful on a close assault unit.  And it is only three points!

Defense

I’m not going to spend much time on defense for Fleets, given that their situation is nearly identical to Rebel Troopers, which was covered extensively in the Rebel Troopers article.  Here’s the table again for how a white/surge unit benefits from cover and dodge:

Fleet Troopers 12

Obviously Fleet Troopers lack Nimble so you won’t get as much turn-long mileage out of a dodge token.  It still helps quite a bit, though.

A Fleet Trooper unit’s threats are basically the same as a Rebel Trooper’s.  Flamethrowers and laser swords are to be avoided at all costs.  Don’t get caught in the open against a Z-6 or DLT squad either… they will tear up your expensive Fleets pretty quickly, no matter how cool those helmets look.

Damage Degradation

Fleet Troopers lose a lot of offense each time a trooper goes down, since those DH-17s are throwing two white/surge dice.  Here’s that chart again:

Fleet Troopers 13

You want to avoid bleeding casualties, if at all possible.  This goes without saying generally but is even more important when so much of your output is tied up in ablative wounds.

So you have a high damage unit with short range and dress shirts for armor.  How do you get them to the enemy without taking too many casualties?

Tactics

There are basically two delivery methods for Fleet Troopers: mobile cover (offensive use) and ambush (defensive use).

Which of these I choose tends to depend on what objectives I have and how much Line of Sight blocking terrain is on the board.  Let’s talk about each method briefly.

Mobile cover: Run two Fleet Trooper units up the table with Luke and two AT-RTs (either naked or with flamethrowers).  The idea here is target saturation; you have a gaggle of extremely dangerous close assault units, and your opponent can’t shoot all of them.  Further, the AT-RTs can provide mobile cover to Luke and the Fleets.  This method was used by Riggins to great effect in the Invader League on TTS.  It works a lot better with two Fleets than one.  Notably, this strategy is going to get a lot more viable coupled with Han’s Reckless Diversion once Han is released.

Ambush: If you only have one Fleet unit, you might want to use them defensively.  Hide them behind something big and hard (I mean terrain… come on folks).  Like a solid, thick Endor log or a nice long radar antennae.  Try and focus on objective cards that necessitate fighting around an area.  I’ve actually had quite a bit of success with them on Breakthrough, holding my zone with Leia and a Rebel Trooper unit.

Standby can be useful here, but remember it can be removed if the Fleets receive a suppression token.  Don’t use it in the open within range of something that can just shoot it off.  Use it around the corner of Line of Sight blocking terrain, with short fire lanes.  Personally, I find myself popping out with No Time for Sorrows and snapping off a volley more often than just waiting around a corner with Standby.  Alternatively, you can use Somebody Has to Save Our Skins for a nice one-two punch.

High level takeaways

  • Fleet Troopers dish out the pain.  Take the Scattergun and don’t look back.
  • The MPL-B is objectively worse unless you are using its Impact damage.
  • Fleet Troopers are very fragile.  Don’t let them get caught by themselves in the open.
  • Use Line of Sight blocking terrain to shorten fire lanes.
  • Don’t expect anything out of Steady and you won’t be disappointed.

 

How do you use your Fleet Troopers?  Do you like the MPL-B?  Feel free to discuss in the comments!

 

Fleet Troopers 14
We got this right?  Right??!?!?

*There is, in fact, one chick in the unit.  I thought it was all dudes at first, and then while I was assembling them, I was like… no dude has that kind of badonkadonk.  She definitely was not in the first scene of Episode IV.  I would have noticed.

**I’ve discovered that situational is nerd-speak for bad.

***The standard shorthand for writing hit chance (hits/8), lacks a way to account for the impact of crits.  I just went ahead and added the crits after the hits/8 in parentheses.

****I definitely don’t know from personal experience what it is like to hit oneself in the face with the recoil of a high powered weapon.  I definitely did not give myself a black eye once while improperly firing said weapon on a manly excursion in the woods, nor did I earn any subsequent ridicule from my man-friends after definitely not injuring myself in such a fashion.

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