Tactical Guide – MC80 Cruiser
This one is a bit old, been holding on to it for a while.
I've been thinking a lot about this ship lately. With Ackbar coming into ascendance the MC80 is one of the easy places where his ability can be abused. I have some experience in using mine, though not nearly as much as my ISD's, so bear in mind that part of this is theoretical and not with indepth analysis backed with tons of plays.
The MC80 is the Rebellion's Heavy Ship, and immediate answer to the Imperial class. Where the Imperial class is supposed to be a high-output damage space mountain, the MC80 is supposed to be the weathering pickle that can withstand blasts from the ISD. This is in fact true, if you can configure your MC80 to get the most out of your upgrade cards. Hull 8 with 15 shields vs Hull 11 with 12 shields is up for debate, and I can show you why I think it can work.
Command 3, Fighter fluctuates between 3/4 depending on version, and Engineering 4. For the most part this functionally matches the ISD.
Command 3 is nothing new. For large ships you will need to plan in advance, though with Leia on the table you can change this. Officers in play can also correct mistakes, but there are more valueble officers that can go onboard than the Officers or liasons.
The Fighter rating is where things start to get distinguished. The (anti-capital) Assault cruiser has a fighter rating of 3, and the Command a 4. Note my emphasis here. Assault Cruisers are generally going to be configured for resisting capital ship attacks and dealing damage… the two defense slots in the trade are not insignificant. For the Attack version to take fighters they need to be high-impact self-sufficient fighters that don't need hand-holding from aces, generally. You could run an Adar Tallon list with something like Dash and a couple of YT-2400s, but for this ship to do it's most, it's not taking fighter squadrons, unless you take the Command version.
The Command version trades a defense structure for an offensive structure, and with Fighter 4 you have the basis for a better fighter command ship. You can take Expanded Hangars to increase fighters to 5, and with a Raymus token you can bring that level to 6. My choice would be four B-Wings and two YT-1300s. ISDs can do this too, if they also have Expanded Hangars and a reliable token provider (like Yularen).
Engineering 4 is where things get disgusting. I mentioned MC80s can withstand ISDs… you can build your MC80s to tank pretty well. Many people are dismissive of shields vs Hull but consider: Engineering 4, plus Engineering teams and Raymus. Note that Engineering teams here -add- one point with an engineering command, they do not -increase-. It's an important distinction, otherwise it would be higher and that would be terrible. Nevertheless with this combination, Raymus can inflate Engineering to 7. -And- you can do this with the fighter combination I just listed above. ISDs can only increase to 6 with this setup because they lack the slot for an Engineering team. A small detail, but remember it takes 1 engineering point to move one shield, and the MC80 has more of them.
I call that combination the Super Repair MC80. Or the everlasting pickle. And it's something I need to defeat as an Imperial player. (It's not that great, revise, fails against multiple attacks). I did think this was some kind of super insurmnountable build until I configured one with Rieekan and died to a double-arced ISD with Demolisher support. So it's great, but only when it has a limited amount of arcs attacking it.
Naturally and unsurprisingly the MC80 comes with the highest volume of firepower available to the Rebellion as of Wave 2. On every arc, the Assault Cruiser trades a blue for a red for slightly better long-range firepower. The AA armament changes as well… Assault Cruisers have two blues and the Command Cruiser trades a red for a blue.
This further highlights the dichotomy between the versions. Assault Cruisers have slightly better Red firepower at the expense of fighter armament. The Command cruiser takes the fighter guns for better hitting power to support the fighters if combat gets in too close… say from a fighter swarm intel-closing with your cruiser.
Since this is the appropriate place, I will mention Ackbar here. Ackbar inflates the MC80's attack rating from 6 at medium range to 8… which is the front arc volley of an Imperial Star Destroyer. Remember I made the firepower comparisons to the ISD… the only thing the MC80 cannot do better than an ISD-II here is that they do not posses a Gunnery team to attack two different ships. This is why Advanced Gunnery is so wanted for the MC80s, to allow them to have that double-broadside arc to match with ISDs.
Along with Ackbar's enhancements (or not, Rieekan could be an interesting choice for the MC80), Both versions of the ship can take Ion Cannons and Turbolasers as their counterpart ISDs can. Naturally you could -outgun- the ISD with Enhanced Armaments by one die, unless the ISD decided to take Slaved Turrets, since broadsides are the strong suite of the MC80.
The selection of Ion cannons doesn't have one that is particularly wanting on the MC80. A standard option would be the SW-7s to make the best out of your accuracies, though Ion Cannon Batteries could deny any Imperial ship the benefits you reap with Raymus. Leading shots isn't a bad selection either since the rebels have no access to a re-roll admiral.
The one area the MC80 has a shortcoming is in movement. This isn't to say the ship is not nimble… with a bank at all speeds and positions, a navigation command can give it the key swing it needs when it changes speed. However on a large base the MC80 is going to be a little disappointing when it comes to speed, and players will likely want to run it as a defensive ship in typical matchups.
There is a school of thought that believes that Engine techs are Mandatory for MC80s. While I'd say this gives the ship some unexpected capability, the combination I listed above to create an eternal MC80 I feel is a lot more worthwhile than getting one extra speed to enter range of enemy guns quicker. But then, I'm a defensive player, one who likes to out-last their enemies.
The MC80 comes with an identical protection suite to the Imperial Star Destroyer. The always-useful brace, two redirects, and the seldom-used and often forgotten contain token. It is adequate and works well for a ship of this size.
But now we will discuss shields. This craft has the most shields of any ship in the game right now, capping at 15. Advanced Projectors can draw upon -any- of that when deflecting any damage. But since we're in a universe where XI7s hard-counter the Advanced Projector, you will have to turn to engineering. Since the MC80 can pump up to Engineering 7 as I have demonstrated, this means when your four side shields are gone, you can spend four points to move one flank to the other side where you've been hit, two to repair a shield, and one to move an additional shield if you feel like it. With redundant shields that's an extra shield. If you're completely wiped out, Engineering 7 nets you three shields to throw up. And two damage cards removed.
What I have just described, if you don't suffer more than four damage on an arc, is three turns' worth of preventing hull damage. And unless your opponent is taking Intelligence officers, you will always use brace as ECMs are mandated for any ship medium or larger that has a defensive slot. If an ISD-II rolls all hits and crits on its dice, you can still cut it in half and take no damage.
Shields are easy to use, disposable, and easily recoverable. Since the MC80 has 15 of them to call upon, move with high engineering and passively increase with Redundant shields (along with ECM comfortably in the other slot), I feel it could out-last an ISD one-on-one.
Suffice to say of course the MC80 can protect itself well with the given upgrades and attention to commands. Hull 8 is concerning now that the universe contains Assault Proton Torpedoes, but this is only one weakness when you can hold off a Star Destroyer's assault.
I have touched upon many of the upgrades in their respective sections already, and some of the combinations I think are particularly effective with the MC80. However, if you wish to explore other possible combinations, first consider what role the ship wants to take in your fleet before you select one or the other and kit it out to your needs. The Assault Cruiser was designed with redundant defense slots so you can take your choice upgrades, such as ECM and Advanced Projectors. While cluster bombs are coming in this pack, I would not use them unless there is a key starfighter squadron you wanted to swat with it (say Rhymer, or Fel if he tries to get into range and attack you).
Command ships have the ECM slot in one space and the offensive slot could be anything as well. You may choose Point-defense re-route to re-roll the blue die when supporting fighters. Boosted Comms and Expanded Hangar Bay are obvious for fighter flexibility.
You may choose to experiment with a Command ship carrying ECMs and a tractor beam if you choose, though I don't think this is utilizing the strength of the particular ship. Still this isn't to say it won't work if you try it.
Home One: The Pride of the Rebel fleet. Home one grants any ship within the measurement stick the ability to change one die of any color to an accuracy result… with no exhaust, no penalty, for every shot those ships take. I'm of the opinion that this card might be borderline broken because of how easily it buffs the entire fleet, especially against the Empire. Since much of the Imperial fleet doesn't have access to ECMs, their brace tokens are completely vulnerable to any accuracy given on a shot. Home One, partnered with Ackbar, allows every ship in the range stick to fire more dice and with better accuracy. If you want an all-destroying capital ship build, Home One with Ackbar is the king of this fleet archetype at the moment.
Independence: The home base ship from the X-Wing flight simulators. Suitably, fighters activated by this ship can move up to speed 4 if they do not attack. One just needs to glance over their fighter cards to see whom would immediately benefit from this: B-Wings and YT-1300s. Most Rebel smallcraft are already speed 3, and while they can use the small boost B-Wings and YT-1300s really -need- it. Conveniently, this makes up a very heavy and very unpleasant strike group and the -perfect- escort for them.
If you are first player and control activation, it is very simple to use your last activation to trigger Independence, fly a hate cloud of these fighters into position, and then activate the next turn to fire with all of them. Combined with the fighter combinations above, you could do this with, say, 8 B-Wing squadrons. With each firing two dice and assuming perfect hits, that's 24 damage you've just dealt. Good thing not everyone can take Quad Laser Turrets.
Otherwise it's worth noting that the described range band easily clears a ship base. As long as these fighters aren't attacking they can jump into position and tie up enemy squadrons that don't benefit from Intel. Since the space brick Scurrgs labor with heavy, B-Wings will do a better job with this.
Defiance: This was the campaign destination in the X-Wing flight simulators, and the ship that was front-line fighting. The effect is nice by shooting at an enemy ship you add a black die to your pool if that target has already activated. Naturally this will either go later in the turn, last, or earlier if your opponent isn't paying attention and is forced to activate sooner. If you manage to double-arc the target, you can do this with both attacks.
Notice though that the card references ships specifically, this will not help against fighters. The ability doesn't seem as spectacular without outside help (I am not certain if this would add-on to attacks enhanced with Opening Salvo and the like), but at 5 points feels adequate.
How to use it:
I have mentioned in the relevant sections the most effective combinations I feel can be made out of this ship, and why as an Imperial commander I'm a little concerned. You can create a pretty effective self-reparing ship with a high amount of fighter command power by leaning on Raymus. You can configure this as an Ackbar-side-shooting and support list and let the dice passively attack for you while you're tanking damage. You can also configure this as an aluminum overcast that rains starfighters, laserbolts, and hate under anyone unfortunate enough to get too close.
There is another line of thinking out there that says the MC80 isn't as worth it as two assault frigates, and in an Ackbar list this may be true for the amount of firepower you get out of such a list (12 dice with gunnery team vs 8). But I think if you wanted to telescope a list to have one ship do these things while others do others, the MC80 will not disappoint. And Home one is definitely worth the cost if you're building a fleet that leans on heavier ships.
But I did test a super-repair MC80 with Gunnery team + XI7 Assault frigates against a somewhat similar opponent with YT-2400s and a pair of Nebulons. I lost one frigate, almost lost the other, and my MC80 was virtually untouched because of how well it was sponging up damage from all comers. Had the game continued beyond 6 turns, I believe I would have had my opponent.
Nevertheless, the MC80 remains a significant rebel staple for players who want slower heavier ships to play with, and a danger to the Imperial side.
- Last edited Thu Jan 28, 2016 3:19 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Thu Jan 28, 2016 1:50 am
Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
I believe there's a rules error in this otherwise excellent piece: A squadron token only allows a player to activate 1 squadron, not 1/2 of his squadron value (unlike an engineering token.)
Edited... I think I had this problem corrected a while ago in person but I didn't edit the article to reflect that before posting. Fixed now.
There is also a typo about anti-squadron die color. You mentioned trading a red for a blue. No ship has red anti-squad. The trade is black for blue.
As for content:
Overall I agree. It is a slow, durable chassis on which to build from, it is absolutely not a ship to run bare. I haven't run it as a carrier yet, but plan to.
Something worth noting is that Home one and Defiance are titles that excel with more ships in your fleet. Home one because it buffs everyone else. Defiance so that you can delay activation as long as possible.
Mon Mothma doesn't work well with this. That was obvious, but might be worth adding.
Dodonna does work simply because throwing that many dice almost guarantees a crit effect when you finally get through the target's shields.
Bel Iblis is in the same boat as he was. Move over all comments about him with assault frigates to here.
Also, I and a few STAW people I play against have referred to the repair MC80 as the/an Equinox. It seemed fitting.
There's also a small error in regard to the Defiance. You don't add one black die to the pool when attacking an already activated ship, you add one die of any color.