Three-Time World Champion Daniel Taylor Prepares for the World Championships
“I will start my operations here and pull the Rebels apart, piece by piece. They will be the architects of their own destruction.”
–Grand Admiral Thrawn
What will we see at the 2019 Star Wars™: Imperial Assault World Championship at AdeptiCon? Will we see the galaxy's Mercenaries continue to profit amid the chaos of the Galactic Civil War? Will we watch as Grand Admiral Thrawn concocts a plan to bring the Rebels to their knees? Or is this the year the Rebel Alliance finally wins?
The Rebels have fought their way to the Imperial Assault World Championship final table twice, but have never won. Desmond Miller played Rebels in the 2016 World Championship Finals, and Greg Monson played them to the final table of the 2018 World Championship.
But now the Rebels have gained the support of Kanan Jarrus , Ezra Bridger , Zeb Orrelios , Sabine Wren , and the other members of their Spectre Cell . These new Rebels have proven wildly successful in the current metagame and lead us to wonder: just what would it take for the Rebels to claim the 2019 Imperial Assault World Championship?
As we look forward to the 2019 World Championship tournament in Schaumburg, Illinois, we put this and other questions to three-time World Champion Daniel Taylor.
An Interview with Three-Time World Champion Daniel Taylor
Fantasy Flight Games (FFG): Hi, Daniel. Thanks for talking with us today! I know that AdeptiCon and the 2019 Imperial Assault World Championship are getting closer. How do you feel about your odds of going four in a row?
Daniel Taylor (DT): Hah, who knows? I've had pretty good luck so far. But there's a lot of good competition that's been developing, so it will be a challenge to keep it up.
FFG: I don't think you can chalk up three victories just to luck, and we don't want to get too deep into the metagame just yet, but what have you seen of this upcoming competition? Are you seeing a lot of new players, or are you seeing the current player base raising their game by developing new skills?
DT: A little of both. There's a pretty good community of players that talks and plays together. Some of the community podcasts like Zion's Finest do a lot to help people communicate about the game.
FFG: How much of the game do you see in the command deck—versus the deployment and upgrade cards—versus your knowledge of the map and objectives?
DT: The command deck is absolutely a very important part of the game. How you build the command deck can greatly affect your figures' mobility, damage, or survivability, depending on what you choose to focus on. Movement cards like Urgency or Fleet Footed —versus damage cards like Positioning Advantage —versus defense cards like Brace for Impact . Cards like Celebration and Rebel Graffiti also can change how you approach a match.
FFG: Would you say you focused on the same blend of those aspects over the past three years?
DT: I always try to focus on how I can get the most out of my figures with my cards. For example, at last year's World Championship, I played almost the exact same list as someone else, but I played Urgency instead of some other command card they played. And there were definitely times where being able to use that card helped me win a game.
FFG: Does that mean you're of the school that uses cards to mitigate weaknesses or the school that maximizes strengths?
DT: Cards fall into a few different categories. There are cards that help you solve dice problems by giving rerolls or adding damage. And there are cards that let you solve positioning problems. Then there are all the other random tricks you can do, like point manipulation and stuff.
Fixing dice and positioning seem to be the most valuable, so that's generally what I focus on when list building.
FFG: Okay, let's step back for a moment. I'd like to know how you first got started with Imperial Assault.
DT: One of my friends bought the game the first year it was out—I'd never heard of it—and we played the campaign. We pretty quickly realized the game was super interesting, and when I found out there was skirmish game and there would be events, I couldn't resist getting it for myself and going to compete. We missed the first Worlds since tickets had already been sold, but I've been hooked since.
FFG: Have you continued to play the campaign as well as the skirmish?
DT: We've played each campaign at least once, except for the latest one and the newest app campaign. We've played a few of them multiple times, switching heroes and who plays the Empire.
FFG: Do you feel that playing the campaign adds to your appreciation of the skirmish, or vice versa?
DT: They're similar, yet completely different kinds of games. The skills you learn in one can definitely help out in the other though.
FFG: What is it that you like about the skirmish game?
DT: Skirmish gives you the opportunity to customize your team exactly how you want when you go to take on the other player. It also provides for a quicker way to get to the most exciting battles, as you don't have to go through the early stages of the campaign where you don't have very many abilities. You lose the teamwork aspect of a campaign, but you can still work with your friends to try to come up with the best lists to use.
I'm a very competitive person, so I have lots of fun in finding the right moves to win.
FFG: So you like the whole "puzzle to solve" aspect and the focus on finding the right decisions to outmaneuver somebody?
FFG: But did you come to the game because of Star Wars?
DT: I really like Star Wars, but there are way bigger fans than me. The fact that the game draws from Star Wars means the battles will always be super cool.
It also brings a lot of players to the game—and makes its battles “pop.”
FFG: Do you mean that the fact that the game’s based around Star Wars battles means the figures look cool and can do cool things in ways that connect with your experiences as a fan?
DT: Exactly. It would still be a good game with a different skin, but Star Wars might be the edge that makes it something special.
FFG: All right, let's dive into more of the competitive stuff now… What do you enjoy about the tournament scene? Can you walk me through your approach to the Store Championships season? And the Regional Championships?
DT: I love seeing all of the different lists that people come up with and debating about which choices or options are better and why.
I don't really have a specific approach for the various tournaments other than playing games and trying out various things.
FFG: Do you end up using these events to experiment? Or refine your list of choice?
DT: I'm always experimenting with different lists, so I try to bring a different one to every event.
FFG: At what point do you start settling into your World Championship list and practicing with it over and over?
DT: Last year, I had no idea what I was playing until maybe a week before. It's so hard to decide sometimes. There's almost always two to three lists that I feel are very powerful, and even then you can usually customize one or two things about them.
FFG: What have you seen at the events you attended recently? Any surprises? Anything that caught your eye as particularly fun or formidable?
DT: Spectre Cell is obviously the biggest meta-shaping list at the moment. You have to bring your best—otherwise you can get absolutely wrecked by it.
Other than that, there are still a few options in each faction.
- For the Imperials, Darth Vader and Grand Admiral Thrawn are very popular, but what exactly goes best with them is still hotly contested.
- For the Mercenary faction, IG-88 tends to be a common factor, but which other Mercenaries you bring or who you bring in from Rebels can have a big impact on how your list plays.
- For Rebels, Han Solo is going to be in pretty much any non-Spectre list, but whether you have Alliance Rangers , or Drokkotta , or Sabine Wren, and what other combination of support figures is still up for debate.
In any competitive game, you're generally going to find that anywhere from two to four archetypes show up as the lists to beat.
FFG: Care to predict which of your Top 4 lists is going to win the World Championship in March?
DT: Oh, tough… I said I couldn't figure out these things until the week before!
Right now, though, maybe an IG-88 Mercenaries list has the best options—although Han Solo and friends could certainly make a run for it. They made it to the finals last year.
FFG: If a new player were to talk to you about getting started with the skirmish game, what advice would you offer?
DT: Find the community members who have compiled various purchase guides and new player resources. There's a lot of good info already out there. And have fun, since that's what the game is all about!
Pursue New Operations
Which list do you believe will prevail at the 2019 Imperial Assault World Championship? Will the Rebels find their way to victory with Spectre Cell or Han Solo? Will the Mercenaries recruit the right army once again? Or will the Imperial leadership outwit everyone, deploy their troops effectively, and restore order to the Galactic Empire?
Share your thoughts in our community forums. Tell us what you'd play. Let us know how you prefer to use your command cards. Then stay tuned for our report from the 2019 Imperial Assault World Championship!