Wednesday, November 16, 2016

State of the Faction - Scum

The first series of articles that I'm going to do on this blog will cover each faction and how they fare against the current meta. I'll go over many of the options the faction has and how well they play. Several of the units will get articles specifically covering them at a later point, but for now they'll get a brief look at them. This first one will be on Scum, a faction I personally don't care to play very often due to the lack of options they have available to them.

The Exceptional

Bossk is possibly the best option Scum has at the moment. With his ridiculous array of automatic abilities and a built-in AoE effect, he excels at both attack and defense. Add in the ability to recover damage and drop conditions at the end of each round to make Bossk an exceptional character.

The Bantha Rider is another of Scum's exceptional choices. At Speed 5 and Massive, the Bantha Rider has no trouble getting into positions to apply Stampede and Trample. Add Beast Tamer to give the Bantha a free move, the Bantha has the potential to Move, Stampede, Trample, and Attack for a large amount of damage spread across numerous figures. And with Command Cards that allow extra attacks or additional damage, the Bantha Rider can be truly fearsome.

HK Assassin Droids are amazing, for more reasons than just the reference to KoTOR. They have great range, good damage, good surges, and a fantastic pair of abilities. In addition to the good damage provided by three dice, these two abilities allow to to reliably roll well and have your opponent reliably roll poorly. Any ability that allows you to mitigate dice spikes is very good, and this has two. The HKs get remarkably better when you can keep them focused, such as through...

The six point package of Gideon and C-3PO, via Temporary Alliance. Of the two versions of Temporary Alliance, I feel that Scum got the better of the two, based solely upon what the other factions have to offer. This pair is the best support in the game, there's very little doubt of that. Scum is a great recipient of this pair (perhaps even better than Rebels) due to the HK droids, which become slaughtering machines with focus. Paying six points for two focus a turn, plus the various effects Gideon and C-3PO can bring is a very good investment. (This will be interesting to see in a month or two, as the upcoming Jabba also clocks in at 6 points.)

The Good

The mysterious bounty hunter himself, Boba Fett. He brings a lot to the table. His Battle Discipline is incredibly flexible, allowing range, damage, or healing as needed, the automatic defensive bonuses are great, and Speed 6+Mobile is ludicrous. His standard surges are pretty weak and he's probably a few points too expensive. Most valuable as an objective runner that happens to be nearly invincible to basic troopers.

Another one of the famous bounty hunters, this low on the list; how sad. Dengar specializes in incapacitating enemies through the application of status conditions. The ability to shoot and apply Stun+Bleeding+Weakened is cute, but he really brings nothing else to the table. (Also, compare him to Bossk...)

Now Greedo's an interesting unit. On the one hand, his damage output and health are both incredible for a 4 point model. But on the other hand, Slow on the Draw is a huge drawback. It's hard to fully block line of sight, and Scum isn't the best for large numbers of bodies to block LoS with. Parting Shot mitigates the loss of a shot if he dies to Slow on the Draw, but that hardly makes up the loss.

The Nexu is a surprisingly irritating unit. Speed 6, Mobile, and Pounce all lead to a deceptively fast unit, with a fair health pool and a white dice with Cunning to make it somewhat difficult to remove at times. The automatic bleed is nice, but the damage on a red+green can be iffy.

Trandoshans are usually seen in Strain lists. With 1 Strain and +1 damage, they can put out pretty good damage, particularly while combined with Under Duress. Their health is not bad, but they're a bit pricey to field.

Wampas are a beater. Two red dice with +1 damage is significant, and a surge for stun or cleave is neat when it comes up. They've got a lot of health with a black dice at a low point cost. Their downside is that they're pretty much pigeonholed into attacking the model nearest to them. Their Speed 3 is poor, but mitigated by Hunger, which extends their danger zone to Speed 5 if there's not an enemy within their melee range. This forces them to attack a figure close to them if Hunger isn't triggered, even if you'd rather hit something else, which limits their tactical flexibility.

The Wing Guard are the closest thing Scum have to front line troopers. With health standard to Troopers and a black dice, they fulfill the role Troopers usually do. They lack the unique rules of the other faction's Troopers, instead having Keep the Peace, which is interesting, but its impact is limited and easy to avoid triggering. They also lack a surge for Accuracy, instead having Recover, which is rare both in needing the recovery (due to generally low health) and in having the spare surge to spend.

The Bad

Hired Guns are laughably bad, with terrible offense and defense  alike. Shooting beyond range 2 is a risky proposition and they've traded the best aspect of the white dice for the worst. They have little use beyond being chafe, and they're useless enough that ignoring them is usually the best approach.

IG-88 is, ignoring point cost, not innately bad. At range 2, he can rip into someone with 2 Red dice, twice, causing a strain each time. The automatic block combined with Recover 3 (twice!) can make him hard to remove without focused effort. But at 12 points he's quite bad. Do you really want to place 1/3 of your army at range 2 of your opponent for a whole round? And if you hold him back, the +2 Accuracy isn't helping much; you're pretty much forced into at least one blue dice, which at that point should just be replaced with HK droids.

Tuskens suffer from being a generalist. Red-Green melee and Blue-Green ranged is useful, but because of it they have no good damage surges and far too little health (particularly for a melee unit).

Ugnaught Tinkerers are an interesting unit. Placing a Junk Droid, which becomes a part of the unit is clever. But one health and no defense means the droid dies to a stiff breeze, which means the Tinkerer itself needs to be closer to the front line to replace it straight into battle, which is definitely not where it wants to be. The Tinkerer is a fair terminal or objective sitter, if nothing else.

Thoughts on Unit Options

Scum has a good variety of options, but they all typically lean towards the glass cannon approach, with high damage but typically low health (I'll say the Bantha counts here, because defense dice are essentially a health multiplier). The options Scum has for front line troopers are Wing Guard or Trando Hunters, neither of which are really good enough to fully suit the role.

Basically any Scum list you're going to see right now is a selection from the best units Scum has to offer, with filler for the rest, hoping the good can balance out the weaker units. This seems to be the approach FFG has taken for balancing Scum, by introducing several very powerful options without really buffing the other options.

Combating 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.

Scum's best options for defeating this is really the same as what I mentioned earlier on how to approach list building: take HKs, Bossk, and the Bantha and hope you can break the Troopers before they break you. The biggest problem to this approach is that all three are glass cannons (Bossk less so, but still susceptible to being killed quickly). If you allow the Troopers to engage you before you can kill two or three, you will lose. The HKs will evaporate and the Bantha will melt, leaving Bossk as the single target of firepower. The rest of the list will not be able to pull through and defeat the Troopers.

The approach I'd suggest is to fill out your list with something annoying to kill, then send those in first, with HKs, Bossk, and Bantha free to attack the distracted or already activated Troopers. Make sure to wipe groups when you can. Killing Blaise is a good idea, so you can start hiding your command cards again.

That's what I see in Scum. I feel it has several good options, but lacks good choices to fill several roles in the faction. I'm looking forward to Jabba's Realm, which looks like it's going to fill several of those holes.

What do you think? Agree with me? Think I'm off my rocker? Feel free to leave a comment letting me know. As much as I'd like to be, I'm unfortunately not the end-all-be-all when it comes to Imperial Assault knowledge... yet.


  1. Great review! I'm going to have to try the Assassin Droid / C-3PO / Gideon combo.

    Do you think the Bossk and HKs being so bad ass makes models like Dengar irrelevant to tourny play?

    1. As much as I hate the idea, probably. Why would you ever take Dengar over Bossk? Less health, less defense, less offense for the ability to toss out a few conditions that generally do very little? Probably not. The height of competitiveness is a highly efficient list combines with the skills to play it. Unfortunately, unless you've either found some crazy combo or have the skills to play a 33 point list against a 40 point list, the list will suffer competitively.

      I will say that this doesn't mean to never run Dengar. Try combinations, look for situations that he excels in, just play around when you can. Because that's how a meta evolves. Maybe Dengar is Scum's secret weapon against Blaise's Troopers and nobody has seen it yet, who knows?