Sato's BAE has arrived
Malee Hurra (RitR, Rebel, Unique, 26 pts): Malee is Sato's new girlfriend. She's a girl (woman) right? Looks that way to me. She's the first and only Scurrg ace since Nym arrived in the original R&V pack.
She is not that different from Nym in terms of stats. They are both double-brace aces, speed 3/hull 6, with Bomber and Grit.
Speaking of the Grit keyword: A LOT of the RitR squads have Grit, and we're also getting a card that severely nerfs Intel under some circumstance, so we could see a lot more Grit than we used to.
For anti-squad she's got RED+BLUE rather than 2 BLUE (comparable, but more swingy), and 2 BLUE bomber dice instead of BLUE+BLACK (slightly weaker, but produces the same amount of CRIT icons, plus blue dice + Toryn is always good).
So barring her special text, she's a beefy bomber, a bit slow, but gritty, and hard hitting vs ships (but pretty useless vs other squads).
How she works: She hands out a powerful dice mod to ships shooting at an enemy ship; once per activation a ship can SPEND (i.e. toss away) 1 attack dice to turn another attack dice into a CRIT (including a HIT/CRIT if the die is black). Basically she does what Screed does.
Being able to proc crits like that is super-useful for anything CRIT-based, be it Salvation, HIE/ICB or our staple ACM/APT ordnance upgrades.
But there are some caveats (of course there are). Firstly she has to be next to the ship that's being shot at (distance 1). On the other hand, that's typically where a heavy bomber wants to be, so it's not much of a limitation, other than she can't be in more than 1 place at a time. Secondly she can't be engaged by more than 1 at the time of the shooting. If she's engaged by 2+ squadron, tough luck, she does nothing for you.
My analysis: She's a good squadron, and could be useful in any fleet. Her cost, however, a whooping 26 points, means you have to use her ability a lot for it to be worth it. She's also too expensive to run on her own, so she'll probably end up in a big squad ball. But she's eaten 26 points out of that very ball, weakening its other parts. I mean, she's the same price as Boba and 1 point less than MORNA, and she's not even a Rogue.
And while her ability IS very strong, it requires her to get into harm's way to trigger. And harm's way just got a LOT more dangerous for squads with the arrival of the Executor and RitR. So much more useful anti-squad tech now. It's not like she's not good, she is, but you got to time her right. get maximum effect while she lasts, because he's going to draw attention. On the other hand, a coordinated attack using Malee to turn everything into crits vs a key ship in a key round could easily tip the balance and secure a win.
She can also be negated by engaging her with two squads (or Instigator), so you really want to have some form of Intel to enable her to free herself from engagement. Maybe not such a huge limitation; you're probably already bringing Intel, but it's still a limitation. Also, Intel too has been weakened, especially due to Advanced Transponder Net. But OK, feel free to bring Jan. That's already 26+19=45 points out of your allowance.
I feel her cost is limiting her usefulness in anything but a Sato-crit type of fleet. She CAN be good in other fleets as well, but I think her pricing is going to keep her out of most of them. Indeed, her price can be a real issue for a Sato fleet too: Sato already struggles mightily with fitting enough squads and ships - he needs both - and Malee do not make the balancing any easier.
I think she'll see some play, and people will think she's a good squad, but hard to use and hard to fit in because of price. She will probably be a staple in any Sato fleet at 500+ points, and might see extensive use in a variety of 500+ point fleets. We'll see.
Build ideas: Anything that likes crits will like Malee. I already mentioned some above, where I think of her as a crit-enabler for blue and black dice.
Black dice already has OE going for them, you you're not 100% sure to get crits. A risky build strategy would be dropping OE to take another weapons team, and only rely on Malee. I don't think that's viable, as OE also ups the average damage, while Malee forces you to spend a dice.
Always having a crit for that HIE/ICB or Dodonna's Pride might be worth it however, since they lack a good dice mod (no combo with LS, and Vet Gunners aren't that popular).
I'm sure there are some good combos out there I haven't yet discovered. I'll have to test her some more :-D
Grade: C. Very preliminary grade. I think she can be worth it in a Sato fleet, but in the end she's too hard to fit in at 400 and not quite easy enough to trigger.