So, Barnes & Noble did it again; releasing stuff before the official “street date” as part of an alleged deal with their distributor, don’t you love big business?
Despite having a Fireball pre-ordered with my FLGS like a good loyal hobbyist, I ended up acquiring another one anyway (who knows, flying two might be fun) and thought I’d give it a spin last night at the local store. With new points out, it was likely to be a busier night than it has been recently, with less Legion and more X-Wing taking place (there was even an Attack Wing game, but we don’t talk about that game any more!)
Let’s look at the ship first; overall, not terrible. Six hull (reduced to five at setup) with Astromech, Missile, Illicit, Title, and two Modification slots for 26 points. It’s a Headhunter on steroids. Dial isn’t terrible either, blue one forward/banks and two forward, with red three turns and four forwards. No K-Turn ability but the Tallon Roll is nice, not that you’d need it with the ability to turn hard one and then SLAM another one.
Speaking of SLAM; the action bar isn’t terrible, either. Focus, Evade, Barrel Roll and SLAM are pretty nifty on a low-Initiative ship with two attack and two defence dice; even if you don’t use the “Explosion with Wings” ability, it’s a pretty sharp blocker. I could see it being used in the same manner Torrents were used in the 2 Jedi/2 Torrent lists we saw rising to the top a few months ago.
Explosion with Wings
This is an interesting ability; Deal 1 facedown damage card at setup, after you SLAM, flip a facedown damage card to not take the Weapons Disabled. When paired with the Kaz’s Fireball title, you get to choose which card you are dealt at setup so long as it has the ship trait. For me, the no-brainers here are either a) Damaged Engine when paired with an R4 Astromech, or Disabled Power Regulator which turns the ship into an infinite-use Black One.
However, when you have more than one facedown damage card, the little booklet says you have to shuffle them and your opponent picks which one. This bit me hard on the arse last night when a 5 damage Kaz got a Direct Hit! flipped over and ended his day on a negative note. Bear this in mind when considering that last-chance attack; it might not be as worthwhile as you think!
“Kaz’s Fireball”: “Setup: When you resolve Explosion with Wings, you may search the damage deck and choose a damage card with the Ship trait: you are dealt that card instaed. Then, shuffle the damage deck.
You can perform actions of damage cards even while ionized.”
For two points, this is a pretty nifty title; you get to pick which damage card you take at the beginning of the game as long as it has the “Ship” trait; there are several different tactics for this, including (if you have no desire to SLAM anywhere) siphoning out a Fuel Leak or Direct Hit from your deck and reducing the chances of that card ruining your day later on.
The ability to repair damage cards while ionized is also pretty handy; damage piles up on the Fireball and if, like me, you keep using the Disabled Power Regulator crit and then find yourself with a Console Fire or Fuel Leak, you might find your day gets really bad really quickly; being able to clear the Ion and repair a damage? Pretty nice, especially if you have the R1-J5 Astromech aboard.
Pilot Ability: “While you have 2 or fewer stress tokens, if you are damaged, you can execute red basic maneuvers even while stressed. If you are critically damaged, you can execute red advanced maneuvers even while stressed.”
33pts for Initiative 5. Not bad! The ability isn’t terrible either, being able to still move at speed four in a straight line or do those three hard turns around an obstacle even while stressed (though good luck shedding those stresses without an R4 Astromech). Damage card faceup? Why not try a Tallon Roll instead?
I think you take Yeager for the I5 as opposed to his ability, in this case. At three points less than Tallie, however, I think you need to be very careful when considering putting him in the list.
Pilot Ability: “While you defend or perform a primary attack, if the enemy ship’s initiative is higher than the number of damage cards you have, you may roll 1 additional die.”
Kaz sitting at 40pts is an interesting place to sit for a pilot in the Resistance; Tallie and Greer are both four points cheaper, the soon-to-be released Zizi is the same points, and L’ulo is only three points more; all for ships with equal or higher Initiative. Rookie T-70s are similarly costed, though they crucially have shields to soak those early crits that might sneak through.
Kaz is an interesting pilot: utterly useless against ships that are I1 with three attack or agility unless you fork out on an R5 Astromech to repair that first damage card, but surprisingly effective against Aces (if you can keep them in arc). I flew Kaz three times yesterday, and he was an annoyance (like in the show) to I5 and 6 ships in all three games, right up until the damage started to pile up and suddenly he was dead. He needs to be flown more carefully than I’ve managed so far, perhaps on a flank and use those initial SLAM actions to get into a more advantageous position; running him with anything more than Heroic and Kaz’s Fireball is probably a mistake, though a case could be made for Advanced SLAM if you’re like me and want to be particularly aggressive.
Pilot Ability: “Before you expose 1 of your damage cards, you may look at your facedown damage cards, choose 1 and expose that card instead.”
Not terrible! If you were looking to put a single Fireball in as an annoyance/blocker, Bucket at 29pts is a steal. Getting to look before you pick which card which card to expose is huge; I wonder if this works with abilities like Rexler or Thane Kyrell? This guy can SLAM about all day and not care about accidentally flipping a Direct Hit or Console Fire or any of those other nasty cards that nobody wants.
Also, he can take an Astromech, which is just weird…
“While you have 2 or fewer stress tokens, you can perform actions on damage cards even while stressed.
After you repair a damage card with the Ship trait, you may spend 1 charge to repair that card again.”
It’s an R5 on steroids! Being able to repair while stressed may be crucial to the survival of not just a Fireball pilot, but a T-70 or Resistance Transport as well. Better than that, the ability to discard a damage card when it repairs is a great way to keep your ship healthy, especially if it repairs automatically (like, you guessed it, Disabled Power Regulator)!
At six points it’s a bit pricey, but probably worth it if you can manage your damage cards and charges properly, and ensure you’re engaging in such a way that you can get the most out of the repair ability while also ensuring you’re not just going to take that damage again.
“You can perform the SLAM action even while stressed. If you do, you suffer 1 critical damage unless you expose 1 of your damage cards.
After you partially execute a maneuver, you may expose 1 of your damage cards or suffer 1 critical damage to perform a SLAM action.”
Right now as far as I’m aware, only the Fireball can take this as it’s an Illicit that requires the SLAM action, but I might be mistaken. For 2pts, this isn’t bad as a get out of trouble card, the risks don’t outweigh the benefits and if you only need to use it once to keep yourself from being trapped at range one of a swarm, it’s earned its points back!
I like it. It handles like a Z-95 or X-Wing with a few extra toys to play with. I think we’ll mostly see the Generic as a blocker or swarm ship and Kaz as a pocket ace, though I do hope I’m wrong as Yeager and Bucket both seem to have their place as well.
I think these things need to be kept cheap, Kaz at anything more than 45pts may as well be replaced by an A-Wing (Greer/Tallie with Optics and Heroic is 40, Zizi is 45), and even then I do wonder whether he’s the better choice. Regardless whether a Fireball is the right choice for a list, it’s usually the fun choice, and that’s important in a game that, for me, very nearly got left on a shelf after PAX and not looked at again.
This is what I’ve tried so far, with and without R1-J5:
Kazuda Xiono (40)
Advanced SLAM (3)
Kaz’s Fireball (2)
Fun? Yes. Good? Not in my hands. That said, I was flying with Poe and Nien and I’ve forgotten how to fly Resistance Aces, apparently. Perhaps in a four or five ship list with less upgrades? We’ll see. I’ll probably still favour the RZ-2 over the Fireball competitively, but only time will tell…
I hope you all enjoyed my 1600 word (ouch) review! If any of you got this far, thank you so much! Fly safe, be well, take care of each other, and so on!