Saturday, 16 November 2013

Cloaked Mines!!!

Not the best picture- Apologies!
Let's dive right into the big baddy of the Attack Wing Metagame - CAPTAIN SAR!

Ha. Nope. It's Cloaked Mines.

Okay, we need to talk first about the Attack Wing metagame and how it has evolved so far. It won't be long, because the game hasn't really been out for very long.

In the beginning, there was Wave 0, and missions were good. You opened the TOS Enterprise and played the Kobiyashi Maru... and the Federation Lost, and the Klingons won... and all was flavourful and good. Everyone was happy with the Mutara Nebula. Sure, there were those who played an X-wing style deathmatch, but most people saw the possibilities of the missions and wanted to explore. Things were good at the beginning.

Enter the first Organized Play Event. I may revisit OP1, but I think a lot has already been written on the subject, and I don't know of a lot of you that are still playing OP1. OP1 was an odd duck. Most people who were playtesting OP1 found that destroying Deep Space Nine was a fantastic tactic, opening up the playing field for maneuvering your ships to be able to destroy your opponent's ships- who may have just been caught off guard by a now destroyed deep space nine. Those who explored this idea all kind of came up with their build. In OP1, most ships were good, and player skill played a HUGE part in winning (because most players at OP events were new players, and those who had some experience with x-wing were at a great advantage).

OP events are one aspect of the competitive metagame, and OP2 was a pretty terrible way to follow up the fun of OP1. See, OP2 restricted movement. In a game of Attack Wing with restricted movement, the game becomes a joust. Sure, YOUR game may not have been a joust, but that's not the majority of games that were happening in OP2. This led to the proliferation of the Klingon Attack Build. Some people played OP2 with Wave 1 ships, but the big game changer, cloaked mines, didn't really have much opportunity to shine in OP2, what with the restricted movement. I can elaborate on this further, if any of you need me to do so.

Okay, so the impact of Wave 1 didn't really rear its ugly head until OP3. These things work together to create different metagames. The Wave 0 OP1 tournament had a different metagame than the Wave 0 OP2 tournament, which had a slightly different metagame than the Wave 1 OP2 tournmament. Scenarios play a big part in the metagame.

So Wave 1 OP3 is a big kettle of fish, and part of the issue is that the movement phase is so open, and into that gaping movement chasm steps the Cloaked Mine.

Cloaked Mines (Romulan/I.R.W. Praetus Expansion)
During the Planning Phase, you may discard this card to place a Minefield Token within Range 2 of your Ship (in any direction) but not within Range 2 of an enemy ship. If an enemy ship passes within Range 1 of the token, roll 3 attack dice (-1 if the target ship immediately performs a [Sensor] Action). Any [Hit] or [Critical] damages the target ship as normal. The affected ship does not roll any defense dice.
Cost: 3

Okay. First of all, cloaked mines have a number of FAQ rulings that can be found here:

Those are important because it's easy to think that you get hit twice in overlapping fields, but you don't. How they work is somewhat counter intuitive, so read up on that FAQ and understand it before you play against or with cloaked mines. Don't get caught by an unscrupulous opponent.

There are some people that think these things are overpowered. I think they are very efficient for what they do and that makes them very good, possibly overpowered. I've argued on various forums that they are not overpowered, but I can see the argument on the other side. There are ways to avoid minefields, and your maneuvering will be a very large factor in your success against a cloaked Minefield.

What's the maximum number of Mines that could be used in a game?

10 Mines. You take 5 Bird of Preys and throw 10 mines on them. That's a 100pt list. I think that's ridiculous and runs into a lot of problems, but god bless you, you could run it. Of course, you'd need to buy 10 copies of the Bird of Prey. For the most part, you don't want your mine fields to overlap, because you lose out on surface area for your mine field. I'm not too keen on doing the math tonight, but a 10 mine minefield will likely cover about half of the standard play area.
My issue with the above list is that you're paying 30 pts for, at the most, 3 attack dice per ship per turn for every ship in the minefield. Your ships are quite terrible, and will go down to a stiff breeze. Your strategy is entirely apparent- you intend on staying in the minefield. Your ships won't be in formation, because you'll need to lay the field down asap. You'll likely have the minefield down before your opponent can get to you, but there's a lot of game left to play now, and your ships aren't in formation. You'll be losing a ship per turn, and it's simply a game of cat and mouse. It'll be a very hard game, but it'll be winnable for a non-cloaked mines fleet.
10 Mines, 5 Bird of Preys is not an I Win button. The smaller the mine field, the more difficult it gets for your ships to stay entirely within the field. That opens up your ships to attacks at range 2 and 3. Is 5 Mines an I Win button? I still don't think so- if your opponent's plan is to create a linked minefield and stay in that minefield, he's limiting his movement to a very small area and you should be able to stay on the periphery and take pot-shots.

All of this is subject to time limits, but if your opponent is committed to either winning or tie-ing, perhaps you should consider the same kind of strategy. 

The thing to remember is that the cloaked mine shifts the metagame. In OP2, Klingon Attack Builds were tight formation, heavy attack, all cloaked and all business. Cloaked mines wreck that build. That isn't to say that the Klingon Attack Build is dead- because it isn't, but there needs to be more attention paid to the right time to cloak and the wrong time to cloak, when to move into the minefield, and when to avoid it.

I'll revisit the topic at a later date because this article is pretty long as is. Let me know if you think they're OP and give me some reasons! 


  1. Sorry, but you have a lot wrong in this analysis. First, it doesn't take 10 mines to effectively fill 1/2 the board. It takes about 4 well placed mines.

    A 4 token field is not very small. With a planet in the middle it will effectively cover about 1/2 the board. Yes, the corners and a small edge along the sides are left open, as is the planet, but there isn't much space on that side of the board to maneuver easily without hitting a minefield. And by that time the Cat has already committed to the Mouses side of the board. Their choices are then not good.

    Yes, once the mines are down it becomes a cat & mouse game. The mouse (mine layer) should NOT try & stay in the mine field. They should lead the enemy through the field. 2 mines drop on Turn 2, with mines 3 & 4 drop on Turn 3 or 4 at the latest. Then put out enough targets for the Cat to tempt them into the field. Sure, eventually all the mice are out of the field, but by that time each Cat has taken 12 (or more) attack dice that they can't defend against. That's 6 undefended hits per ship average! Not counting the occasional pot shot from the mice, or, in a good fleet, the Mouses big brother that is helping push the Cats into the field. Sometimes the Mice are their own big brother, with ships like the D'deridex or the Galor able to carry mines. Galor can carry 2!

    If the mines overlap in some places that's okay, since the enemy will take damage from both if/when they completely leave the 1st mines area. So a very fast move can get a ship from outside 1 area through it and into mine area 2 if there's some overlap. The key for the enemy to not move that fast & land in the overlap in a single turn. Then it's 1 mine attack that turn, not 2. Assuming the enemy decides to traverse the field, which it really shouldn't do. It should turn around and try to catch the mine layers from the opposite side. The problem with that strategy is a) turning around takes time & exposes the rear and b) the mine layers can also turn around.

    I've seen some really good mine fields dropped in person (I haven't seen any on BGG yet) and I've seen the Cat do exactly what it shouldn't. Those games are massively frustrating for the Cat.

    Cloaked Mines are way more effective in numbers than the OWPs from month 2. I'll take a 4 die attack I can defend against over a 3 die attack I can't every day of the year.

  2. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for posting. I appreciate the time you took to write out that detailed analysis of the cat and mouse aspect of Cloaked Mines.

    So, it isn't really a big point, but you're definitely wrong about 4 mines effectively covering half the board. (although I acknowledge that you're writing from the perspective of OP3, I should have been clearer that I was talking about a theoretical blank field).

    My math puts the area of the cloaked mine and the footprint at about 530.66 cm.

    The area of a 91cm X 91 cm board is 8281cm.

    Four mines has an area of 2122.64, which is approximately 25% of the area of the standard board. If one is running into mine fields on a consistent basis with them only covering 25% of the board, I suggest different tactics.

    For OP3, assuming the planet token has an area of 153.86cm, in OP3, 4 mines will still cover only barely more than 25% of the board.

    So I dispute that 4 mines can cover 50% of the board even with the planet token occupying the middle of the board. I do not discount the edges of the board as unplayable area.

    I acknowledge, however, that about 8 mines is the correct number of mines to cover 50% of the board.

    I dispute that a good opponent will follow the "cat" through these minefields, and I would think that a good opponent should be able to take care of one of the mine layers asap.

    There are also tactics, which I'll explore as I continue, that should be able to mitigate the value of cloaked mines- I definitely think that the Engage Build with high captain skill will be able to effectively counter the build.

    You and I could probably discuss for hours the strats and counter strats, back and forth. Generally though, I wanted to make the point that Cloaked mines hurt the builds that rely upon cloaking and high attack values, and instead increase the value of previously discounted actions such as scan, and have also increased the value of shields. If I wasn't particularly clear about this stuff, I apologize and will devote another post to the topic, and definitely will take pictures to make my points.

  3. Mathematically you are correct, 4 Cloaked Mines and their range can't cover half the surface area of the board. But functionally they do. With a "standard setup" of a 6" planet in the middle (not just OP3 but most games) the Cat (non-mine layer) must choose to either 1) go through some of the mines, 2) push to the outside and try to skirt the edge of the board, or 3) turn around and not enter the minefield at all. #3 is the best option, but only #1 gives any real chance of killing any enemy ships. #2 adds several turns of movement while the enemy can continue to run away.

    I can't upload photos but here's an example to show what I mean. This is from the view of the attacker (Cat), passing the planet on the left. The first mine, with the range ruler under it near the straight 5, is placed at the beginning of Turn 2 after the Cat has committed to going left. The second mine, directly north of that between the bank 3 & straight 3, is also dropped on Turn 2, probably underneath one of the mine layers. The other 2 mines are dropped on later turns (3 or 4) after the Cat has committed (which they really shouldn't do!). There might be a chance to eliminate one of those mine layers before it drops but it would be at range 3 and have to get very lucky.

    All of these movement templates either pass through a mine field or leave the ship within range 1 of a mine. The sole exceptions are the Straight 5 and the Bank 1 on the far left, but if the Cat starts on the bottom (missing the 1st mine) and ends at the top, what are they going to do next? They missed 1 mine and will still hit several more.

    There are counters to this but they either mean not engaging or blowing through the mines as quickly as possible and still taking all the damage. Yes, I consider the edge of the board "not engaging" because it would take so much longer to catch someone by sticking out on the very edge of the board. How many turns would it take to circle the planet at Range 1 vs Range 3+. I'm just guessing about twice as long. I haven't tested that yet. And the mouse can stay in tight w/o damage.

    I still contend that, effectively if not mathematically, 4 Cloaked Mines will control half the board if there's a planet. Or close enough to 50% as to make no difference.

  4. Thankfully I only saw one Romulan player at our last event and I think he only brought one copy of the mines (as he only buys one copy of each expansion). I fully expect to see them again at tomorrow's event from a different player...and quite likely there will be multiples this time. I have to say I'm not looking forward to multiples of them on the table.

  5. Hey this is an old thread but I just played a 100 pt/3 ship game last night and cloaked mines won it for me. They are pretty powerful for a few reasons.
    My fleet consisted of the Romulan Drone Ship with three cloaked mines and 2 Valdore ships (Vrax and Valdore).
    I used the mines to close part of the board off and to separate my opponents ships. Most people will not intentionally fly their ships through a mine field even though the odds of damage are not that great. It's a mental thing.
    The fact they can be used as a line of sight blocker is great as well. I dropped a mine directly between myself and an enemy ship and saved myself from an attack. That's huge.
    The fact that mines don't go away is also huge. It's basically like having an indestructible, static, 3 attack dice ship for the whole game.
    I think they should only last a certain number of turns or a certain number of hits. I'm glad I won but the truth of it is that cloaked mines are overpowered.