Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wave Analysis - Jabba's Palace

Jabba's Palace is probably the wave that I've been the most excited for, out of all of the waves I've seen since I've started playing IA. I'm excited for the options each of the factions are getting. I'm also excited that all of the options look quite usable. It seems that FFG has found a power level that it's mostly comfortable with and most of this wave looks like it's very close to it. I've not seen much that seems terribly overpowered, nor much that's underpowered. It seems to be a good time to be an Imperial Assault player.


Jet Troopers are an exciting addition to Imperials. Blue-Green attack, Trooper levels of health, Black dice, 4 Speed. Just what Imperials needed! But Jet Troopers are actually quite interesting.

The basic functions at an identical level as 2/3 of a basic Stormtrooper unit. But although they lose Squad Training, they gain Mobile, Agile, and Jets. Agile lets them trade a block for a countersurge, which is hugely powerful and can increase their survivability significantly. Jets gives a movement point after attacking a target within two spaces, which is useful but not a huge boon. They also gain the Vehicle keyword, which doesn't have as good of command cards as Troopers or Heavy Weapons, but there's a few that seem neat with Jet Troopers (Overrun, for example). Overall, I don't see myself running the basics over something like two Officers for the same points, but it's a neat option.

The elites make an interesting jump, going from 2 to 4 cost per unit, and they do indeed resemble elite Heavy Stormtroopers more than they do elite Stormtroopers. Compared to the basics, they have an expected upgrade in surges, a significant upgrade in health, and they exchange Jets for Fly-By. Fly-By is the most exciting ability of the unit. While attacking a target within two spaces, add a Blue dice to the attack pool, then gain 2 movement points. Blue-Blue-Green is a very respectable attack pool. Agile is even better here, as a Black dice with reliable access to countersurges on a hefty health pool like the elites have is a major advantage.

I see myself running Sorin with a pair of elite Jet Troopers. These may be the durable troop that that list needed.

Dewback Riders are fairly interesting. Cheap, good health, a solid attack with good surges, a decent non-attack combat action, and Mounted. Mounted gives 3 movement points at the start of an activation, making the Dewback either very fast or able to use both actions for combat. I can see Mounted, Shock Lance, Attack being potentially very harmful. Additionally, with both the Trooper and the Creature traits, there's potential for some very good command card combinations. Also, the idea of a Stormtrooper having increased accuracy because he's standing next to a dewback amuses me.

Captain Terro is a character Dewback Rider. He has increased health and speed, has a marginally better surge arrangement, and exchanges Shock Lance for Flamethrower. Flamethrower has an AoE effect, does one damage and one strain, and weakens whoever it affects. It's a good upgrade compared to the somewhat unreliable Shock Lance. He also gains the Leader trait, which is nice.

With the Dewback and Terro, I feel FFG has found the right approach to Weaken. It's not strong enough to warrant choosing a surge for it over damage (in most situations), but with a non-avoidable ability that happens to tack it on, I feel it is appropriate. It's a good way to incorporate Weaken back into the game.


 Alliance Rangers are the first real generic sniper unit for Rebels. Their basic is at an elite trooper level. Two Blue with +1 Accuracy and a surge for +2 is ridiculous range. While the 2 Blue is somewhat light on damage, the surges for +2 and Pierce 1 seem like it'll deal decent damage. Sniper is an interesting rule, allowing a reroll at Range 5 or more. Guerrilla is just an added bonus, becoming Hidden after a kill. With Trooper and Hunter traits, there's numerous good command cards to be had. I see myself mostly using the basics as they stay within that 3 reinforce cost.

The elites just have more health, automatically have Pierce 1, and can reroll 2 dice instead of 1 with Elite Sniper. Really not much worth it at the cost of losing Reinforcements.

You know what good snipers need? Focus. You know what Rebels have? Gideon and C-3PO. I see these viably competing with HKs. Little less individual damage, but more health and without the Temporary Alliance tax. Who knows?

This is the Luke Skywalker we've been wanting. His attack pool is good, has the typical Pierce 3, but he has an automatic +1 damage and a surge for +1. His health pool is quite large, has a white dice and an automatic countersurge. I almost like his old automatic block better. It's an oddly light defensive array. I'd have gone with the ol' RGC Black-White. (RCG is a really good comparison with Jedi Luke.) His abilities are quite interesting. Deflect does a point of damage after a ranged attack resolves on Luke or a adjacent friendly, which is neat. Heroic, however, is the shining ability, which lets Luke perform an attack without spending an action, which circumnavigates the one attack restriction. He can make two attacks, or Force Speed double-move and still make an attack. Luke is an interesting offensive attacker that I'm not sure I'd twin with Leia. What am I saying? Son of Skywalker is disgusting with Jedi Luke. Doing it repeatedly would be hilarious.


 Gamorrean Guards are a generic beater for Scum. They boast a good health pool and a black defense dice. Their attack is an interesting Red-Red, with Reach and a surge for Cleave. The basic has an innate -1 damage, Gamorrean Honor, which gives a reroll against ranged attacks, and Laboured attack, which allows a reroll on attack at the cost of a strain. The elite has a better health pool, upgraded to Gamorrean Honor Guard, which gives an automatic block against ranged attacks, and upgrades Laboured Attack to Professional, which is a free reroll on attack. The Gamorrean Guards are a high damage dealer with good health, extra defenses against ranged attacks (which are the vast majority of attacks made), and access to rerolls. I'm not certain how often I'll take them, because I don't favor melee in general, but I can see them being good for scenario, with high damage, high health, and a large area of control with Reach.

 Weequay Pirates are a trooper-equivalent that Scum desperately needs. They're a little healthier than most troops and have a Green-Green attack pool. With automatic accuracy and standard surges, they're a decent standard choice. Their interesting aspect is the ability Raider, which can reroll any dice rolled during an attack, either the attacker's or defender's. The elites have Prowl, which is an action to become Hidden. The Hunter and Smuggler traits add a bit of flavor to the command deck (more in line with a Scum theme), but also prevents the standard Reinforcements+Grenadier that makes Troopers so good. Overall a solid choice, and I see these being prevalent as a good line trooper. Also, these now beg the question: why would you ever take Hired Guns?

The Rancor is the big attraction for Jabba's Palace. The Rancor is a monster, as is to be expected. A huge health pool, a devastating attack, Reach, Brutality, all add to the Rancor's offensive prowess. But the Trained ability lets you turn around the Rancor's focus, switching Brutality for a second Black on defense and the ability to interact. This second Black dice is crucial, as it makes them largely immune to standard attacks from, say, Troopers.

The Rancor is a fascinating unit. It's flexibility is very strong, meaning you can tank up on an objective or smash your way through enemy lines. And at only 10 points, it's a bit of a steal. There are so many options available to it. The first thing that comes to mind is a Turn 1 Trained+Move x3 with Beast Tamer, then Turn 2 Trained or not depending on the situation. If it gets shot Turn 1, those shots are largely wasted, but it just as much can't be ignored. This'll be an interesting addition to scum for sure. And I'm expecting double Rancor to be a thing; calling it now.

Darth Vader, Temporary Alliance, Rancor x2, Zillo Technique = 40 Points. Just a though and a pile of black dice.

Jabba is perhaps the most unique figure to date. He's going to seriously change how Scum generally works. I'm thinking bringing in Rebel supports is going to wane heavily in favor of Jabba. He's got so many abilities that it's ridiculous. He's generally meant to stay in the spawn and hide, seeing as his speed is terrible and none of his support abilities have a Range or LoS requirement. For combat, he has a basic melee attack with no surge abilities, and an action to cause three strain to a nearby opposing model. He has an ability to focus any Scum figure in his army, which is huge and will allow him to reasonably replace Gideon and C-3PO. He has an ability to draw a command card, which will probably be one of the most used abilities. I see a general turn for an unthreatened Jabba being Incentivize-Scheme. He has a double action to spend 2 VPs to have a Scum model make an attack then gain two movement points. This is the first ability to spend VPs, and while it seems like a huge waste to spend your victory condition to make an attack, it could easily change the actual flow of the match, potentially earning more points than invested.

But the price of spending VPs is mitigated by Jabba's final rule. If I had to point to anything from this wave and say "This here. This is broken and overpowered.", this would be it. Every time a hostile figure is defeated, gain a VP. This is fairly obviously targeted at the major complaint of the meta Trooper lists, that Reinforcements and retreating the last model would prevent gains of any points from Trooper units. Now a double Reinforced elite Stormtrooper unit is worth more than a third of the game. It makes every unit at least one point more valuable. And this is huge.

What gets me about it is that I see it as saying "Scum is a weak faction, as it should be. To mitigate that, you get a handicap if your opponent is Scum. Rather than have Scum become better, we're just going to have them play the same game differently." I don't like that. Jabba begins to remind me of Blaise in that when you field him, you stop playing the same game as your opponent. Blaise removes the guessing game inherit in command cards, whereas Jabba fast-forwards the game for Scum.

Let's make a hypothetical scenario. On one side is an Imperial, fielding only models with a figure cost of exactly 2. That means I have 20 figures. (Note to self: Field this list.) On the other, a Scum list. Without Jabba and ignoring scenarios, kill 20 models to win. With Jabba, you only have to kill 14 to win. That's 30% faster. In this scenario, Jabba eliminated literally a third of the game. Yes, not every list has 20 models, but I anticipate that the extra VPs from Jabba will have a significant impact on the game flow.

Vinto Hreeda is a new Scum hero. He's a gunslinging Rodian, apparently more successful than Greedo was. He's fairly cheap, has good health, a fair attack with good surges, fires twice, and can deals unmitigated damage at closer range. Overall, he seems fine, fun to play, but I would take a serious look at Weequay Pirates compared to him.

Onar Koma is another Scum hero. He's got a huge health pool and a viscous attack, with interesting surges that promote more damage at closer range, but no defense dice. Rush seems good for positioning tricks, Get Down is good, but limited to once a round, and Immune is neat, but provides no damage blocking. Overall, he's a good damage dealer, but seems to compete with the more durable Gamorrean Guards, with defense dice and defensive abilities, who also have twice as many attacks and the ability to reroll attack dice. There's potential for Onar, though. He'll require a bit of testing to know for sure.

Shyla Varad is a Mandalorian Scum hero. Of all the heroes, Shyla is the one I'm most excited for, because Mandalorians are cool. She has an interesting toolkit, with Green-Green-Yellow with good surges, a lot of health with a Black dice and an automatic countersurge. She has a whip to pull enemies closer and has Responsive to either heal one or gain a movement point each activation. A really useful spread of abilities, but at 8 points you have to do a lot to make a hero worthwhile. I hope she turns out well.

What this means for: Imperial

I don't see Imperials changing much from this wave. I doubt either Jet Troopers or Dewbacks make it into the meta list, as much as I'd like to see either there. Both seem quite usable, but in more niche lists.

What this means for: Rebels

Twins is bigger than ever. Jedi Luke is the centerpiece of a meta list, but features prominently across the faction. Rangers are decent, perhaps replacing Echo Troopers as the heavy choice.

What this means for: Scum

Jabba is huge. He makes it into nearly every meta list. Rancor is big, makes beast-centric lists better than ever. Weequay Pirates and Gamorrean Guards allows more variations of lists than previously seen. The heroes remain sheltered in campaign mode.

What this means for the meta

Troopers is still really good, but not as overwhelming as it is now. Everybody got something to deal with them. Blaise still screws over the game, Jabba begins to do the same. There is more variety amongst the meta. Rebels fall behind the other two, next in line for a game-changing (literally) hero.

So, now here's a question for you: What do you think? Did I nail it? Was I way off point?


  1. This was a good read on my drive home yesterday. :) Given that with good placement a hired gun can attack twice it is useful, but perhaps it is more useful in campaign where you can replenish lost gunners cheaply.

    In general you may be spot on. I think there will be more dewbacks and jet troopers on the board than you expect because they add variety and speed. Which brings me to a question can you use Vader's finest on jet troopers and give them 3 movement points?

    1. Thanks! I've spent the last couple of days playing with Terro and Jet Troopers, and I have to say I've been terribly impressed. Jet Troopers have scary high damage, combined with their speed and mobility. Terro has done great damage and there's very little stopping a Speed 8 Dewback charging into battle.

      And yes, Vader's finest would work with Jets and Fly-BY just fine. That's an impressively fast Stormtrooper...