(Sorry for the greatly reduced length - Christmas season plus new responsibilities are keeping me busy and my mind preoccupied)
- First, this is just one way to approach fleet building. Take it as a suggestion, one possible idea for how to build your dream team. It is intended to be adaptable to your situation (ships available, specific arena shard, etc.).
- Second, this guide assumes a general knowledge of ships and their abilities. If you aren't familiar with something, you can use swgoh.gg to quickly familiarize yourself.
- Third, this is relevant to most everyone (barring whales and those who set the meta). The early "focus on the ships whose pilots I already have well-built" phase will not last forever; if you want to stay strong as ships develop further you need to find a balance between leveling your current pilots' ships and setting the groundwork for a strong synergistic fleet later. Focusing on just the early game will see you falling behind when a meta starts to take shape and synergies are utilized better. Focusing on the next phase only will likely weaken your current fleet arena positioning and reduce the rate at which you can prepare for the future.
Below are several teams being constructed in tandem as a few examples of fleet building. While certainly not comprehensive of all strategies or methods, it is an attempt to demonstrate what the process could look like for you. These examples are not necessarily "the best"; instead, they were chosen simply to examine various results from this particular approach to fleet building. *ships will be referred to as their pilot(s) to save time and space.
There are many criteria upon which to build a fleet, but some of the more foundational aspects that will exist in every fleet include:
Synergy: When you focus on synergy, you are trying to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. If you can have multiple ships benefit from each action any of your ships take, you increase your turn efficiency. Just because you have 5 really strong ships doesn't mean you'll win. Maximizing the efficiency of every action you take increases your survivability and damage output. One thing to watch out for though is tunnel vision - some synergies don't get significantly better when the roster goes from three synergistic ships to the full five. In this approach, synergy is chosen at the start and then kept in mind during the entire process.
Fleet Commander: Fleet commanders help dictate the momentum and stride of your fleet. They differ greatly in their bonuses and impact on the battle, and should be chosen with intentionality and purpose.
Defense: While you can skip defense entirely, it is prudent to have some method of slowing down the destruction of your high damage, high value ships.
Offense: What good is a wall if it doesn't have the fangs to murder your opponent? You can't effectively gum them to death, and dentures only work some of the time.
Reinforcements: Choosing who to hold back is important; keeping a fragile ship safe on offense or springing a nasty surprise on your opponent on defense can be extremely valuable and turn the tide of battle.
Selecting a fleet commander can either be the start or the end of your fleet building process, though it is most commonly the starting point. Here each one is used as the beginning of a different fleet.
- Admiral Ackbar: Versatile with his offensive and defensive bonuses, Ackbar is a great commander to start with as his flexibility grants more leniency in which ships you use. Synergy focus will be assists.
- Mace Windu: Completely defense-oriented, this is a popular commander with which people try to run out the clock on defense. Alternating taunts and a lot of protection recovery can make this a difficult wall to break down. Synergy focus will be Republic and taunting shenanigans.
- Grand Moff Tarkin: Entirely offense-oriented. This fleet commander doesn't see much use yet because he has the highest "barrier to entry"; he needs certain ships to work well, but once he has them he shines. Synergy focus will be debuffs (primarily target lock).
With only 5 tanks, there are currently only 4 general ways to do this - Biggs with a target lock gang, Sun Fac against Ackbar and Mace (Tarkin doesn't use too many buffs), Plo and/or Mace with Clone Sergeant/Fives/Rex, or Maul with Retribution on a tanky character. Each has their pros and cons, and each dictates what kind of fleet to use for greatest effect. It is for this reason that defense comes before offense in this approach.
- Ackbar: Biggs is a great starting tank because his ship is the only one that can taunt by itself (pseudo-on demand, too). He also has an assist option on his crew ability, playing into the Ackbar synergy. However, assist-focused ships don't have many options of creating target locks (jumping the gun a bit here but using somewhat common knowledge). As such, it can be helpful to toss in Sun Fac as well. He auto-taunts, acting as a great counter to other Ackbar leads as well as Tarkin leads, and renders Ahsoka far less valuable. (Biggs/Sun Fac)
- Windu: All 3 clones are tanks that cannot taunt on their own, but each has a different strength. Fives generates target locks and is the fastest. Rex recovers a significant amount of protection when in an all-Republic team due to a short cooldown on his crew ability. Clone Sergeant has the most health and higher consistent damage. Rex wants to be out there from the start so he can do as much healing as possible, but he doesn't want to be the primary tank lest he be killed off early. Clone Sergeant is a great self-sustaining tank later in the battle due to his self-heal. Fives is then left as the primary starting tank. However, these tanks are less effective with only Mace's taunt; adding Plo Koon to the mix grants the ability to rotate taunts, giving time to heal the tanks before plunging them back into the fray. (Rex/Fives/Plo)
- Tarkin: Since the focus is target locks, there is no better tank for this fleet than Biggs. The frequent target locks will constantly heal him and reset his taunt timer. Without Mace or Plo's targetable taunt, the only other tank that will work as a roadblock would be Sun Fac; however, Biggs should see enough protection recovery in the opening round to be enough on his own. (Biggs)
Thankfully, there are more than 4 options on this side of the equation. However, simply grabbing the highest damage dealing ships is ill-advised.
- Ackbar: Sticking with the assist synergy, Geonosian Soldier is almost an auto-include. With up to 25% chance (doubled for Separatists) to assist automatically, Soldier sees a lot of protection up throughout the battle. He also has a strong assist attack of his own. Another great choice is Jedi Consular, whose special ability enables a select ally to assist; this opens up a lot of possibilities. You can choose Sun Fac for the target lock on his basic, activating/healing Biggs. You can choose Biggs when he's actively taunting to grant him up to 90% protection up. You can even use it on Soldier for maximum damage and some bonus turn meter reduction. This leaves one spot on the starting team. This is a flexible pick, keeping with Ackbar's theme of versatility. Ahsoka is great to help get around taunts. Boba is a solid damage dealer (though he lacks any direct synergy with Ackbar, using his Seismic Charge twice in combination with Master Plan is a devastating turn for your opponent to suffer through). Wedge lacks the same damage output but has some synergy with assists due to his turn meter gain when activating outside of battle. (Biggs/Sun Fac/Geonosian Soldier/Jedi Consular/Ahsoka)
- Windu: Following the Republic synergy (for the lowest possible cooldown on Rex and more benefit from Plo's crew ability), Jedi Consular is a solid attacker for the Republic because his assist does Special Damage against ships who almost always have much lower Resistance than Armor. Since this team lacks the same consistent damage output as the other two, Ahsoka is a marvelous addition to help bypass taunts and focus down the squishier targets. (Rex/Fives/Plo/Jedi Consular/Ahsoka)
- Tarkin: With only one tank, which relies solely on target locks to do his job, this fleet desperately needs some target locks. They will also activate Tarkin's offense bonus for the fleet. The first ship, practically an auto-include in this fleet, is Vader. His permanent, unavoidable, irresistible target locks are invaluable to the success of this fleet. He stops Plo, Ahsoka, and Ackbar from cleansing target locks, he ignores Rex's tenacity up, and he keeps the target locks burning bright long after their two turn duration. Another ship that thrives off these target locks is First Order TIE Pilot (FOTP). He gains massive speed bonuses from target locks, and his crew ability has no cooldown when attacking them. As an added bonus, he has up to almost 80% chance to apply target lock on his basic to help spread the love if necessary. Boba has a good chance of applying target lock on his basic, too, and brings two powerful AOEs to the fleet (one of which is dependent on target locks). He is also a tankier option for an attacker, to help provide a tad more sturdiness to the relatively fragile FOTP and Vader. The last spot is somewhat flexible; Fives could be used for his irresistible target lock, TIE Fighter Pilot (TFP) could be used for his direct synergy with Tarkin, Ahsoka could be used to help handle beefy taunts (particularly those coming from Mace's fleet). (Biggs/Vader/FOTP/Boba/TFP)
These should be far more intentional picks than simply "next best 2-4 ships", and they should be called into battle with more care than "oh hey, I can bring someone in". There is a time and a place for each reinforcement to be tossed into the fight; learning these opportune moments will greatly increase the impact your reinforcements have on the battle.
- Ackbar: Wedge didn't do quite enough damage to place in the top 5, but he still has some nice synergy with Ackbar. Using him as a reinforcement also increases the chances his DoTs will not be countered by Plo or Ahsoka (they're less likely to be present). Another great pick would be Boba for some strong damage and a mid-battle source of target locks to make Biggs taunt again. Scimitar is beautiful here; his Retribution will give protection up to whomever is stuck with it, and he can easily mess up the opponent's plans when he comes out of hiding on defense and stealths the majority of your team. (Biggs/Sun Fac/Geonosian Soldier/Jedi Consular/Ahsoka | Wedge/Boba/Maul)
- Windu: Clone Sergeant is a great duelist toward the end of a fight, especially when backed by Mace; the additional protection recovery as well as the crit immunity help keep CS alive while he whittles away at your opponent. Since there are only 6 Republic ships right now, the last two won't have a direct synergy with Plo/Consular/Rex. So, pick strong attackers that will help bring some late-battle punch. Poe is a solid solo act whose crew ability has greater impact later in the fight (when there are enemies without protection). He can also give himself offense up and foresight, boosting both damage and survivability akin to Clone Sergeant. Maul fits nicely here because when he comes off the bench he can force yet another pseudo-taunt to further delay your opponent. He also gives up to +32.5% offense to stealthed allies, equipping the Republic with enough damage to push through after Consular and Ahsoka have gone down. (Rex/Fives/Plo/Jedi Consular/Ahsoka | Clone Sergeant/Poe/Maul)
- Tarkin: Fives has an AOE that only hits target locked enemies; under Tarkin, he also has a total of +35% damage on that AOE for every target locked enemy he's hitting. Since the idea of this fleet is to have everyone target locked the entire time, this attack can do a massive amount of damage at once, vaporizing partially-damaged supports and attackers. Since Vader, TFP, and FOTP are all pretty fragile, having a second tank is greatly beneficial once Biggs finally dies. Sun Fac is the only other tank that can taunt on his own, so he's the only other tank that really fits here. Wedge is a great reinforcement here. His DoTs can mean the difference between victory or defeat; his special applies 3 of them on a target locked enemy. At 5% health each, that's a bonus 15% of target's health each turn for 2 turns. Since the goal of this fleet is to strike hard and fast, leaving little standing after a couple rounds, having that bonus damage ticking away can help seal your enemies' fates. (Biggs/Vader/FOTP/Boba/TFP | Fives/Sun Fac/Wedge)
Something to strongly consider is how your fleet will perform on defense. For instance, what are the odds that the AI will probably use your Geo Spy+Maul combo? While it's still early and the AI for ships is being investigated, you should definitely pay attention to how your opponents' ships are run if they're ships either you're using or are interested in using. This part of the guide might be expanded later when more has been discovered, but for now just be mindful of how your fleet is likely to perform on defense.