Prep for Battle
A Designer Diary on Building Armies in an Imperial Assault Skirmish
“We have stolen a small Imperial shuttle. Disguised as a cargo ship, and using a secret Imperial code, a strike team will land on the moon and deactivate the shield generator.”
–General Crix Madine, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Command iconic characters and soldiers from the Star Wars™ universe in Imperial Assault, a miniatures game of thrilling adventure and tactical conflict for two to five players. In previous previews, we focused on the narrative that emerges as you play through a campaign that pits the heroes of the Rebellion against a single Imperial player.
More recently, though, we turned to the heated competition and battles of the skirmish game. Our last preview explored how gameplay changes during a skirmish mission. Today, Paul Winchester, one of the Imperial Assault developers, shares his thoughts on different possibilities for building a finely honed fighting force from any faction included in Imperial Assault.
Paul Winchester on Building Your Skirmish Mission Army
Have you ever wondered what would happen if Han and Chewbacca ran into IG-88 and a slew of other bounty hunters in a Mos Eisley back alley? What if a squad of Stormtroopers found themselves surrounded by vicious creatures like the Nexu? These are the exciting Star Wars battles that can come to life in the Imperial Assault skirmish game!
Before a skirmish game begins, you must craft a deadly fighting force by spending up to forty points on units and powerful upgrades, as we explored in our last preview. After mustering an army, you assemble a deck of fifteen Command cards that can enhance your army and give your units an array of special abilities. Once both players have constructed armies and Command decks, the mission begins and players compete to gain forty victory points first by defeating enemy units and completing the mission’s objectives.
Each faction offers dozens of powerful combinations of cards and abilities with many different strategies that may lead you to victory. Here, I’ll explore just a few of the opportunities that these three factions bring to the Star Wars battlefield.
Soldiers of the Empire
Each faction in the Imperial Assault skirmish game offers the dilemma of whether your army should include many low-cost units or a few high-powered, high-cost units. This choice has perhaps the most important ramifications in the Imperial faction, which includes the most feared villains and the largest army in the galaxy.
For example, with your forty points, you can secure Darth Vader and the Royal Guard Champion for your squad. Both feature large amounts of health, two defense dice, and some of the most powerful attacks available in a skirmish. These terrifying villains can wreak havoc on your opponent’s squad, especially when combined with Command cards like Pummel and good support characters like the Imperial Officer, whose Order ability gives these powerhouses more mobility. Of course, your opponent earns victory points equal to the deployment cost of any units he defeats, so if he manages to defeat Darth Vader, he will receive a substantial reward.
On the other hand, you could enter the battlefield with squads of Stormtroopers, Imperial Officers, Probe Droids, and E-Web Engineers. While these units are easier to defeat and have weaker attacks than more expensive units, outnumbering your opponent provides two distinct advantages. First, most skirmish missions have objectives that provide victory points as well as terminals that provide you with extra Command cards while you control them. With plenty of Stormtroopers and Imperial Officers on the map, you have more units that you can commit to fulfilling these objectives and claiming terminals. The other main advantage of a large army is that, since activations alternate between you and your opponent, you may have more activations that your opponent. This means that even after your opponent has made all of his activations, you still have half of your army available.
Posting a Bounty
One of your most valuable resources in a skirmish mission is your Command cards, which offer unique special abilities. In response to the power of these cards, several units from the Mercenary faction help you destroy your opponent’s Command deck by using strain.
Whenever a unit would suffer a strain during a skirmish, it suffers a damage unless the unit’s controller discards the top card of his Command deck. Inflicting strain is the calling card of Mercenary units like the merciless bounty hunter IG-88 and the Trandoshan Hunters. Each of these units features the Relentless ability, which forces the target of an attack to suffer a strain in addition to any damage. IG-88 even has the Assault ability, meaning he can attack (and inflict strain with Relentless) twice in one turn.
The Mercenary faction also features the ferocious Nexu, whose attack automatically inflicts the Bleeding condition on its target. A Bleeding unit suffers strain for every action it takes other than removing the Bleeding condition, forcing your opponent to delay and heal the condition or push forward and watch his Command deck melt away. As a combined force, the Mercenary faction can bring a massive amount of strain to bear. If this cumulative strain completely depletes your opponent’s Command cards, all strain is automatically counted as damage, massively increasing your damage output and quickly overwhelming your foes.
The Rebellion’s Finest
When you fight for the Rebel Alliance in Imperial Assault, you may choose to play as the named heroes of the Rebellion, including Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and the heroes introduced in the Imperial Assault campaign. But you also have the chance to command the unsung warriors of the Rebellion: Rebel Troopers. These infantry units can be extremely powerful, but they require a great deal of finesse and tactics to be used properly. If you can maneuver your Rebel Troopers into position, they can bring down any target with their Aim ability, which grants extra damage and accuracy if they have not yet moved on their activation.
You can enhance your Troopers more with Fenn Signis, one of the new heroes introduced in Imperial Assault. His status as an exceptional Rebel foot soldier is reflected in his powerful attack, his Assault ability, and his ability to give fellow Troopers multiple attacks per round, creating a powerhouse firing squad. Still not enough firepower? Enter Luke Skywalker. In addition to being a powerful combatant in his own right, he can inspire his fellow soldiers to greatness by allowing nearby friendly units to reroll an attack die, giving Rebel troopers extra chances to deal even higher damage. Alternatively, you could craft a strike team of Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Rebel Saboteurs, enabling you to quickly sabotage any enemy plans. Whether you command squads of Rebel Troopers, or lead a team of saboteurs into combat, even the most powerful Imperial villains should fear the Rebellion.
In addition to the strategies inherent to each faction, worlds of possible combinations await when you begin delving deeper into Skirmish Upgrade cards and Command cards. Do you wish your Nexu could attack multiple times per activation? Use the Temporary Alliance card to bring Mercenary units into your Imperial army and enhance them with an elite Imperial Officer. Is your Rebel army having trouble dealing with high-defense units, but you’ve already reached the fifteen-point limit for your Command deck? Make room in your army for Balance of the Force and you can use Maximum Firepower, which lets your Rebel Saboteurs unload their ordnance on a single powerful target.
The combination of strategy, squad style, Skirmish Upgrades, and Command cards allows for so many different armies that no two skirmishes will ever be the same. The synergies between cards, units, and missions open worlds of tactical options for surging forward to victory. Good luck in your battles and may the Force be with you!
Ready Your Troops
No matter which factions you play in your Imperial Assault skirmishes, you’ll find a nearly limitless number of possible armies and tactics for you to employ. In our next preview, we’ll turn our attention to two of the central characters of the classic Star Wars trilogy – Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. We’ll explore the extra missions and cards included in the Luke Skywalker Ally Pack and the Darth Vader Villain Pack that expand both your campaigns and your skirmishes! Look for Imperial Assault at your local retailer soon.