True Professionals. Dead Precise.

What Heart of the Empire Adds to Your Imperial Assault Skirmish Games

"Bring 'em on! I prefer a straight fight to all this sneaking around."
     –Han Solo

One of the greatest things about Imperial Assault is the fact that it's really two games in one.

In the campaign game, Rebel and Imperial players clash over a series of missions, then use the experience they gain to better prepare themselves for their next encounters—mastering new talents, purchasing new equipment, and recruiting powerful allies to their causes.

This campaign experience is deeply immersive, allowing you—if you're a Rebel player—to think of yourself as a single hero, committed to the Rebel cause, and as you guide your hero's growth over the course your adventures, you invest yourself in that character. Alternatively, as the Imperial player, you get to play the role of puppet master, manipulating a seemingly endless array of troops, working with a set of class cards that allow you to use your experience to further refine your methods.

In our last preview of the upcoming Heart of the Empire expansion, we explored much of what its new heroes, units, class cards, and missions bring to your Imperial Assault campaigns.

But there is another way to play—the skirmish game.

While Imperial Assault campaigns lead you through series of adventures that echo all the dramatic and sweeping sorts of storytelling you expect to find in the Star Wars galaxy—complete with narrative arcs built from plot twists and rising action—skirmishes are fast and furious tactical combats.

Blast into Action

Heart of the Empire expands your skirmish options with no fewer than ten new deployment cards, sixteen sculpted figures, three skirmish upgrades, and ten command cards. Rebel players gain access to skirmish versions of the expansion's new heroes— Ko-Tun Feralo , Jarrod Kelvin , and Drokkatta —as do those fans of the Mercenary faction who are willing to broker a Temporary Alliance with them. Imperials, on the other hand, gain access to the expansion's new Riot Troopers , Sentry Droids , and AT-DP .

These units bring some potent attacks and tactical flexibility to your armies, along with abilities like Professional and Dead Precise that ensure they'll make the most of their attacks.

Meanwhile, the expansion's final unit, the Clawdite Shapeshifter , enters the game as a devious member of the Mercenary faction, coming with new rules for the Form cards that make her a truly slippery and versatile villain, able to shift from one form to another at the beginning of any round.

For example, if you recruit a Clawdite Shapeshifter into your army, you might have her begin play disguised as a Senator , storing up power tokens and handing them out to nearby allies. Then, as the combat spills into the nearby streets, she may shift forms into that of a Streetrat , using her enhanced movement to rush into melee against an unsuspecting opponent and cutting deep with an Assassin's Blade.

Combined with the range of units and their abilities, the Clawdite Shapeshifter's three different form cards go a long way toward ensuring that your skirmishes in the streets of Coruscant go in all new directions from those you've previously fought.

But the expansion's units and form cards aren't all it brings to shake up your skirmishes; it also introduces new skirmish maps and missions, command cards, upgrades to three of the game's most iconic characters, and a new map for the four-player skirmishes you can enjoy either as team battles or chaotic free-for-alls.

Among the new command cards from Heart of the Empire, you'll find plenty of ways to bring your new power tokens into play in your skirmishes. Starting with Ko-Tun Feralo's signature Field Supply , these command cards allow you to stockpile power tokens to power later attacks. And your Troopers, Guardians, and Wookiees can gain some of the versatility power tokens enable by playing Ready Weapons or Battle Scars .

But it's not just your Troopers, Guardians, and Wookiees that benefit from the new command cards. You'll find command cards that enhance a range of unit types, including Droids, Vehicles, and Heavy Weapons.

In fact, it may be the Heavy Weapon trait that gains some of the most interesting support as the Collateral Damage card opens the door to all manner of new tricks, and Heavy Ordnance can be added to your command deck—for zero points—to deal an extra damage to a figure or to open new pathways through a map—quickly and forcibly.

Finally, if anything in the expansion is likely to make as large an impact on your skirmish games as the AT-DP's powerful laser blasts, it's likely the arrival of three new skirmish upgrades—one each for Darth Vader, Han Solo, and Chewbacca.

A Classic Trio

We already had a look at Darth Vader's Driven by Hatred in our announcement of Heart of the Empire, but it's difficult to say too much about how this may change the Dark Lord's role in your skirmish games.

Since the release of the Core Set, Darth Vader has imposed his will upon the battlefield with his sheer Brutality and his daunting defenses, defenses that were further enhanced when Zillo Technique was released with the Agent Blaise Villain Pack.

Nonetheless, the Sith Lord's steep deployment cost of eighteen points has kept him out of many skirmish lists, as Imperial players have frequently valued sheer numbers of figures and activations over Vader's singularly destructive attacks. But by allowing you to recruit Vader for five fewer points, Driven by Hatred dramatically shifts that balance between the number of attacks and attack efficiency. The card forces Vader to forsake his Brutality ability, but it doesn't slow him down very much since it also provides him a built-in one-point boost to his damage, allows him to reroll a die each time he attacks, and allows him to attack once—with one less attack die—at the end of each round… unless, of course, you choose to follow the two free points of movement Vader gains from his hatred with a free Force Choke instead of the attack. All told, Driven by Hatred gives you an all-new way to make your opponents fear the Dark Lord of the Sith.

Driven by Hatred, Darth Vader will barely slow down while he takes out a whole unit of Rebel Troopers with his lightsaber blows and Force choke.

Heart of the Empire also supplies the good friends Han Solo and Chewbacca with their own skirmish upgrades. As with Driven by Hatred, these upgrades— Rogue Smuggler and Wookiee Avenger —assign negative deployment costs to the characters and strip away one of their signature abilities to leave them with a host of new ones.

Even as it drops Han Solo's deployment cost by two points, Rogue Smuggler transforms him from a Leader who can draw attention away from other figures with his Distracting ability into a fast-shooting pilot who would prefer a straight fight to all the sneaking around he might otherwise have to do to score a mission's objective points.

And Rogue Smuggler gives Han some pretty good reasons to prefer the blaster fight. With the upgrade, Han can use his Return Fire ability even if an attack hits him, and he can exhaust the upgrade to interrupt to perform an attack. Yes, altogether, Han Solo can now make three attacks per round, and he makes all of them with the blue, green, and green dice from his trusty heavy blaster pistol.

Meanwhile, do you remember when Han Solo warned C-3PO that Wookiees were known to rip people's arms out of their sockets when they lost? Well, Wookiee Avenger is the card that helps Chewie make sure he doesn't lose.

Even as the upgrade reduces Chewbacca's deployment cost by four points, it divests Chewie of his Protector ability, and allows him, instead, to unleash the full force of his Wookiee rage. This translates to a permanent one-point boost to all his attack damage, as well as the ability to use his Slam action without an action. The upgrade also allows you to take Chewbacca's signature command, Debts Repaid , straight into your opening hand.

This means you and your opponent can both count on Chewbacca's retaliatory shots whenever one of your Rebel Troopers falls. Or C-3PO . Or Drokkatta. No matter who falls first, Chewbacca can rise up in outrage, readying his deployment card, and focusing before going on another rampage with his bowcaster and Slam and built-in damage. Finally, the cost reductions from Wookiee Avenger and Rogue Smuggler now allow you to field the four main heroes from A New Hope all together—as though you were leading Han Solo, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker , and Leia Organa onto yet another thrilling mission to save the galaxy.

Never tell me the odds! Can a team of Han, Chewie, Luke, and Leia win a game? Maybe, maybe not. But with Heart of the Empire, it is at least now possible to play the team in your skirmishes.

Impressive, Most Impressive

Imperial Assault skirmishes are thrilling and tactical combats in which your every action and every activation has the potential to change the course of the battle. You may play your skirmish as a short interlude between the chapters of your ongoing campaign, or you may focus on your skirmishes, enjoying them for the competitive contests they can be. And these fast-paced blaster fights get even better with all the new units, upgrades, command cards, and four-player rules from Heart of the Empire.

There's no limit to the ways you can enjoy the Star Wars universe, and there's no limit to the fun you can have with the ground-based action of Imperial Assault.

Control your fear or release your anger; Heart of the Empire (SWI46) gives you everything you need to destroy your enemies in blazing skirmishes. Pre-order your copy today!

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