Competitive Fun with Heart of the Empire

I'm embarrassed to admit that I have been out of the competitive landscape since Worlds in May 2017, especially given that I write and podcast about Imperial Assault skirmish on a weekly basis.  Part of this has been a desire to try the lesser-utilized figures like Jyn, Han, the Inquisitor, etc., and familiarize myself with them.  The other part has been a genuine disinterest in honing a competitive list that likely won't be very meaningful in the wake of Heart of the Empire (I didn't attend any serious tournaments this summer, so my timeline for finding and practicing a competitive list extended well beyond October 2017).

swi46_main.png

Therefore, this week I'd like to collect the lists that I've been theorizing about since Heart of the Empire's announcement, particularly those that I see as contenders in the current meta.  I'm sure these lists will require some tweaking, but these are the archetypes I'm excited to try.  Let's begin!


Rebel Smugglers

This is an archetype that I ran during the Store Championship season.  Originally an attempt to use the Smuggler Command cards to bolster some Rebels I wanted to run, the list actually turned out to be pretty strong, relying on Jedi Luke and Obi-Wan for damage; and Jyn and Lando for control.  The list was extremely fun to play, but I couldn't help but look to Heart of the Empire knowing the Han was going to get a little help.  Since his card was revealed, this is the list I've been excited to run:

Han Solo with Rogue Smuggler - 10 points

Ahsoka Tano - 8 points

Obi-Wan Kenobi - 7 points

Jyn Odan - 5 points

Hera Syndulla - 4 points

Gideon Argus - 3 points

C-3P0 - 2 points

On a Diplomatic Mission - 1 point

Heroic Effort - 0 points

From the previous list, I've shed Jedi Luke and Lando for Han Solo and Ahsoka Tano.  Lando is a great figure in terms of his free rerolls and his incredible surge abilities (Stun and Hide for a single surge is amazing).  However, at 6 points, his damage and health were too low.  I loved running him, but goodbye sweet smuggler prince.

Ahsoka Tano.png

Jedi Luke is also an incredible figure and a competitive one at that, but given that this list relies on the Smuggler trait, I found it valuable to swap him out for the new and improved Han Solo.  I'll miss dropping that obnoxious Son of Skywalker card on unsuspecting opponents at the end of a round, but I think it's a fair trade for the benefits conferred to Han Solo by Rogue Smuggler.

Rogue Smuggler.png

With these changes, the list leverages its pieces quite nicely.  The list has a good set of Smugglers to leverage Command cards such as Tools for the Job and On the Lam.  Furthermore, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka make the inclusion of Force User cards an easy sell as well, particularly the aggressively priced cards like Force Rush and I Can Feel It.  Both Han and Jyn benefit from C-3P0's Distracting ability via Cunning.  Between Hair Trigger and Return Fire, these two can be an incredible nuisance.  

I don't think this list is best-in-class when it comes to removing enemy figures or capturing objectives, but it is flexible enough to engage in both activities.  Every game will require a a choice between these two strategies based on your opponent's list.  It's a fun way to play and I look forward to trying it out again in a new form.


Revenge of the Sith

Like many Imperial Assault players, I am extremely excited about Darth Vader's attachment and want to put him on the table.  However, I've been grappling with where he fits in the larger set of Imperial figures.  I've had a similar problem with Emperor Palpatine in that he appears to have potential, but I'm not sure where.  

Therefore, I think there may be some value in employing a variation of Occam's razor in this case, and going with a list that relies on some easily identified synergies and moving from there.  Here's the list:

Darth Vader with Driven By Hatred - 13 points

Emperor Palpatine - 8 points

2 Elite Riot Troopers - 12 to 16 points

Imperial Officer - 2 points

Zillo Techniqure - 1 point

Note: You may be able to fit more activations in this list (in fact I hope you can), but I don't know the cost of the Elite Riot Troopers yet.

I have a few things I'm going for with this list.  First, welcome to Brawler city.  I've never been particularly excited about the Brawler trait until observing a local player (Patrick Christians, famous Ugnaught player) use it to great effect.  Cards like Grisly Contest and Cripple are extremely powerful and fun to use.  Moreover, we're getting a few new cards with Looking for a Fight and Face to Face that get the Brawler trait closer than ever to being able to support a list built around the archetype.

Riot Trooper.png

In addition to Brawler synergy, the list relies on another straightforward strategy - having Darth Vader attack as many times as possible.  Vader rolls 2 red dice, 1 yellow die, has a free +1 damage, surges for Pierce 3 and +2 damage, and gets a free reroll every attack.  These attack buffs are part of his value and are tempered by the limited times he can attack each round.  Hence, this list's goal is to increase his attacks as much as it can via Emperor Palpatine, Brawler Command cards, and Pummel.

Emperor Palpatine.png

And finally, this list is seeking to leverage some of the Imperial Force User cards, such as Lure of the Dark Side and Force Lightning.  I'm not sure if these will make the cut at the end of testing, but I'm happy to have a list where they won't feel like a complete waste due to a lack of figures that can take advantage of them.

I again see this list as an objective-focused list, looking to capitalize on the space Vader can make for the objective runners.  In either case, I like that it will play differently than most lists and should be entertaining at the very least.


Robot Heart of the Empire

Jet Troopers have long been a staple of Imperial lists since the release of Jabba's Realm - but they stood as the only playable Vehicle.  Not only is this about to change with the release of the AT-DP, but we've also seen a merging of synergy between Droid and Vehicle with the recent Droid wave.  With the release of the Sentry Droids, I see a potentially strong list waiting in the wings:

Elite Sentry Droids - 10 points

AT-DP - 9 points

2 Elite Jet Troopers - 14 points

3 Imperial Officers - 6 points

Zillo Technique - 1 point

Without knowing the final stats for the Elite Sentry Droids, it's hard to tell how powerful this list could be, but there's a high potential for synergy given their traits.  Command cards like Shared Experience, Overrun, and Call the Vanguard all fit comfortably in this list and are quite powerful.

Sentry Droid.png

Moreover, this list presents an issue of target prioritization for an opponent.  Not only does every figure roll three-dice attacks (assuming Sentry Droids are getting some offensive buff at 10 points), but nearly every figure has some kind of defensive bonus (Agile for the Jet Troopers and a free block for the AT-DP).  

I've always been a big fan of lists that rely on a lot of difficult to remove figures, and this is no exception.  A lot of this list will ride on the power of the Sentry Droids, but if they're good I think this list will be a serious threat.


Conclusion

I'm extremely excited for Heart of the Empire and the competitive aspect of Imperial Assault.  These lists may not end up being extremely powerful, but this is where I'm starting.  I'd love to hear what others are thinking as we're all starting anew.  Thanks for reading!

Did you enjoy this article?  If so, I would encourage you to leave me a Facebook review or buy me a coffee once a month via my Patreon.  Thanks!