Wednesday, November 30, 2016

State of the Faction - Rebel

The second of three articles covering the various factions and how they fare against the meta. The last one was Scum, which you can find here. This week is covering the Rebel Alliance, a faction I enjoy playing due to their unique and interesting rules and units.

The Exceptional

Luke Skywalker, Hero of the Rebellion! The protagonist himself in his younger, more blaster-equipped form, boasts a good selection of both offense and defense. His attack pool and surges are both quite good, with the added option of dropping to a Red-Yellow in return for gaining Pierce 3. He has a white dice with +1 block for defense, which alongside Recover 2 can be quite annoying. His most unique trait, however, is Inspiring, which allows other figures near him to reroll attack dice, which is an ability no other model possesses. Although he's a bit expensive, Luke brings a lot to the table by himself and can also boost the effectiveness of the rest of your army.

The other half of the twins, Leia brings several interesting rules to your army. Her attack pool and good surges with a white with +1 countersurge for defense provides her with a fairly decent offense and defense, but her true value lies within her abilities. Battlefield Leadership allows another figure near her to attack the same target as her, at no cost to herself. Alongside that, Military Efficiency is a surge ability that allows her to shuffle a used command card back into her command deck. Leia gives you a good mixture of offensive capability and tactical flexibility, particularly when combines with another highly powerful figure.

Obi-Wan Kenobi returns to us as a Force Ghost. But for a ghost, he has a suprisingly good offense, between his attack pool and his surges, and a good defense, with a black dice and +1 countersurge. He makes a solid beater and when he dies you can focus another figure. But Old Ben has a unique trick up his sleeve in Alter Mind, which means that most basic troops and several of the cheaper uniques cannot interact or contest, which is a huge advantage in terms of objective power. These allow Obi-Wan to have the flexibility of using his offensive power to win games, or sit on objectives or terminals to prevent the opponent the ability to control them.

Lando Calrissian is a deceptively resourceful model (aptly). Green-Yellow on offense is fine and a black on defense is pretty good (he strikes me as a white dice sorta guy, though), but his true power comes from his abilities and how they interact. The first, Resourceful, allows him to reroll a dice on offense or defense. A really good ability, seeing as any way of mitigating dice is really good. The second, Gambit, allows him to swap a dice for another color whenever he rerolls a dice. The ability to swap his dice for whatever he needs at the time is really powerful. It's neigh-unheard of flexibilty, particularly since you can choose which dice to replace, potentially turning a poor roll into a more opportune dice for the situation. Combine with Luke for the ability to reroll and exchange both attack dice. Shenanigans ensue.

Back to the pair we saw last week, Rebels get Gideon and C-3PO at a 1 point discount over Scum! This pair lets you turn some of your signature heroes into absolute monsters, with great surges and usually four attack dice. Focus is really, really good, and Rebels have some of the best access to it, particularly through this pair.

The Good

The Alliance Smuggler is a solid 2 point filler. It has a Green-Yellow for an attack, which is alright with Pierce 1. Surge for Stun can be pretty useful, if you can deal the damage to get it there (unless it's a Bantha, at which point you just enjoy the 5x return on investment). Slippery and a white dice can make shooting it difficult, seeing as the white can prevent surging for accuracy. Also a good objective runner, gaining two movement points when picking up an objective or opening a door. It may not be the MVP of the game, but it'll probably be a good two points spent.

Davith is the cheapest Jedi we have, clocking in at only 6 points. He brings both the Spy and Force User traits, both of which are quite good. He's got a particularly high health pool for his cost, but his attack pool is pretty weak, though the Pierce 3 sorta helps. Fell Swoop is somewhat interesting, allowing him to make multiple attacks, though making him particularly surge-needy, requiring 3 rolled plus one from hide to be fully effective. He's certainly not bad, but his attack pool really limits his ability to affect the game.

Diala is a hero from the core set boasting a decent statline, with decent health and a speed and defense typical to Jedi. Her attack pool is decent, though with no surges for straight damage, although the presence of a red dice mitigates this. Her two abilities are rather good, however. Foresight makes the white dice a major pain to get around and makes it generally reliable to get something beyond a blank. Shattering blow is a neat ability, having the ability to turn any command card into Element of Suprise, though the benefits of this (at least against black dice) are debatable seeing as her best damage surge is for cutting through defenses anyways. Diala is a solid hero, but unfortunately overshadowed by several of the Rebellion's other options.

Echo Base Troopers are the Rebellion's heavy trooper. With a good health pool and a black dice, they're fairly resilient. Their attack pool is Blue-Green, but they can swap the Blue for a Red if the target is within three spaces. This combined with a very standard surge selection makes the Echo Base Troopers capable of putting out respectable damage at close range. The major downside to this is that with only the Green dice adding Accuracy, attacking outside Range 1 has a disposition for missing; Range 2 is questionable and Range 3 is outright lunacy.

Fenn Signisis the Rebel Trooper leader from the Core set. His attack pool is decent, but his surges are mediocre. Assault helps negate the lack of good surges some. His defense is fair, with a decent health pool and a black dice, but no automatic surges. Giving a single Trooper Assault can be cute (Particularly with Rebel Troopers and Aim), but nothing revolutionary.

Gaarkhan is the wookie from the core campaign. At ten health and an automatic block, he's pretty tough to get through. Red-Yellow is pretty good, Pierce 1 is a bit lacking, but the surge for Focus definitely adds to Gaarkhan's damage output. Charge by itself is a bit of an odd ability, seeing as saving an action is better in the campaign than in skirmish due to being able to make multiple attacks, but Enraged enables just that. After taking even one damage, Gaarkhan gets the ability to make multiple attacks. This can result in a sweet move-attack-attack, all focused. Should have just let the Wookie win...

Jyn Odan is another hero from the core box. At six health she's a bit soft, but Cunning is a step towards mitigating that. Green-Green is an unusual attack pool, but a decent one, particularly with the surges she has available to her. Nimble is a bit neat, allowing her to run away a bit after being shot. But her main trick is Hair Trigger, which lets her perform an attack targeting a figure right before it activates. With Stun paired with Pierce 1, there's a fair chance she'll Stun a figure when it activates, potentially causing problems for the opponent. This is one of the few abilities that let you activate during an opponent's turn.

Loku is a Mon Calamari sniper from the Return to Hoth box. He's a pretty cheap hero with low health, but his damage output is pretty decent. Blue-Red is a fair damage pool, with a +1 damage and a Pierce 1 surge. He has +2 Accuracy anytime, meaning his minimum accurate Range is 4. Set your Sights lets him ignore figures and adds yet another +2 Accuracy, bringing the minimum to 6 Range. And if he kills a figure, he becomes focused. He's pretty good at picking off damaged or basic troops, once he's become focused. Set your sights being a double action means that he's best finding a good sniping position and sticking there. 

Mak is the Bothan sniper from the core box. At 3 points he's another cheap hero with next to nothing for health. His attack is Blue-Blue, giving him a very long range and somewhat low damage, mitigated by +1 damage surge and a Pierce 2 special surge. If Mak kills someone with the Pierce surge, the opponent must discard a random card. Not a reason to go out of your way to take him, but useful when you do. Also has Priority Target for sweet sniping action! If you do take Mak, be sure to keep him safe. The Rebellion doesn't need any more Bothan casualties.

An unlikely hero, MHD-19 is a medical droid from the Hoth box. Blue-Yellow with a surge for focus isn't terrible on offense and his health with a black dice is fine defense. His value comes from his special actions, one to heal 3 and another to deal 1 damage and weaken. It's useful, but at 5 points it strikes me as a bit too much investment for a healing unit when the Rebels have so much access to Recover on its worthy characters. Plus, it competes with Gideon and C-3PO for support points.

An Ithorian spy, fancy that. They always were trouble. Murne Rin's attack pool is greatly improved by the +2 surge and his health is fair with a black dice. Bringing both the Leader and the Spy traits gives Murne a place in multiple styles of lists. False Orders can be useful, particularly against elite troopers, particularly when you can force them to spend their focus onto their own army. Field Report is cute, but I've rarely been had the ability to use it. It's useful when it comes up.

R2-D2 is the iconic droid from all of the movies. His attack is weak but has the potential to get one or two damage through, perhaps stunning the opponent. His defense is truly admirable, with a really high health pool for the cost and turns the worst side of the white dice into an X-Man, which makes that white dice truly terrifying. Scomp Link to draw cards is really useful, turning R2 into the best terminal sitter in the game. Service... is something I've never seen used. Literally ever. It's fluffy, though.

Rebel Saboteurs are a glass cannon unit, with low health on a white dice, but boasting a Red-Yellow for attack. Overload allows them to use a surge twice, meaning Blast 2 or Pierce 2, with the ability to Stun tacked on for additional utility. Both Red and Yellow dice are rather fickle, which makes them a perfect unit for attaching Targeting Computers to, conveniently allowed by their status as a Heavy Weapon. (I guess bombs are heavy weapons? But how does a targeting computer work for a thrown bomb?) Their range reflects the fact that they're throwing bombs, which is usually going to force you to move into a position you can't miss from. Also, they're Spies, so you can take the fun command cards that entails.
Rebel Troopers are the most basic of linemen for the Rebels. Blue-Yellow is a bit weak, but buffed by the +1 damage and +2 Accuracy from Aim makes it rather decent. The health is rather standard for basic troops, but the white dice makes them a bit soft. The Elites have Get Into Position, which allows them to go into combat focused. Between focus and Aim, the Rebel Troopers have a very large potential for damage.

Saska Teft is the Rebel equivalent of Temporary Alliance, but with half the effect and for sextuple the price. Her attack pool is mediocre with fair surges and her health pool is decent with a white dice. Unstable Device is unlikely to do much, but could be useful on occasion. The only reason to take her is for her Shady Contacts, to bring in a Scum deployment card, but the merit of paying a 6 point tax for a single deployment card is uncertain.

Verena Talos is an operative hero from the Return to Hoth box. She specializes in close quarters fighting. Her attack is a bit weak for the price she costs, but her defense of an automatic countersurge and a black dice is decent. She can "borrow" the weapon of someone she's grappling with and she has a surge to take a stab with her knife. She's a very interesting brawler, but very expensive for a two dice attack.

Wookie Warriors are the tankiest unit the Rebels have access to. Their attack is pretty decent, with decent surges, but their extremely high health combined with a black defense dice is extremely resilient. Their biggest problem is making it into combat. Speed 4 with no reach catches... approximately nobody. An E-Web, maybe? If they don't want to be hit, they can stay outside of your range forever. But maybe that's what you want.

The Bad

Chewbacca is the beast he should be. His attack pool is good, his defense pool is good, his surges are good, he's got Slam to deal unblockable damage (and is one of the rare push effects), and he has Protector to protect his allies. But he's 15 points. Unlike many other very expensive units, he has no way of getting more than one attack. Slam could make up the difference, if it didn't require starting adjacent to really use. He's really expensive and hard to kill, but he doesn't pull his weight, which truly is a shame.

Adding insult to injury, Han Solo joins his Wookie friend at the bottom Tier. Han Solo is no slouch on offense, with a good attack pool and good surges. Defensively, his health pool is a bit small on only a white dice. Cunning adds some blocks to it, but he's really susceptible to dying quickly. Return Fire is reliant upon rolling an X-Man, which comes and goes. Distracting is obviously meant to be paired with Chewbacca's Protector, but is useful enough on its own. Han Solo is far too weak to survive by himself. He needs something more to make him worth his 12 points. Some automatic defenses? More attacks? Maybe gaining Lucky (both increasing defenses and enabling Return Fire)? Regardless, it's just disapointing that the dynamic duo remains on most everyone's shelf.

Biv Bodhrik is a beater from Twin Shadows. He brings a beefy dice pool, with the ability to take a whack with the gun itself beforehand, making his damage output quite significant. Into the Fray gives him a block automatically on top of his black dice. But his small health pool and a lack of decent surges makes him tough to justify bringing.

Thoughts on Unit Options

Rebels have the most options of any faction, with as many heroes they have access to. They have some of the best uniques, with most having good attacks, good defenses, and good utility. Usually some recovery mixed in on the more expensive ones. They have access to a good range of troops, ranging from the basic Rebel Troopers, to the heavy hitting Echo Base Troopers, to the glass cannon Rebel Sabetours. They've got wide access to numerous traits, including Spy, Leader, Trooper, and many more. And we can't forget the best support units in the game, Gideon and C-3PO.

One defining thing Rebels have is that there's not really many bad options. Most everything is decent enough to consider putting into a list. It tends towards softer units with more utility than other factions.

Combatting the Meta

The current meta is that of elite Troopers, with good health and damage output, though typically lower numbers. Often backed by support options, be it Blaise with his command card shenanigans or Gideon+C-3PO for focus.

There's two options when dealing with a meta, beat it or join it. Rebels can do either. Rebels have very good Trooper options that, when combined with Gideon, C-3PO, and perhaps Luke or Leia, can easily play into another Trooper list. Or it can go with other options. Rebel Spies have merit, All-Heroes has been in the works since the game released. With as many solid options that Rebels have, there's no shortage of lists to play.

I see Rebels as a utilitarian faction with numerous tricks backed by a solid line of options. It looks like Rebels are about to be bolstered with Jabba's Realm, which will be fun for Rebels almost as much as it will Scum. Jedi Luke is coming...

But that's my thoughts. What are yours? Any conflicting opinions or questions left for me would be greatly appreciated.

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