Imperial Assault news has been sparse the past few weeks, so I thought I would take this as an opportunity to comment on the reveals in the BT-1 and 0-0-0 Villain pack. These are my impressions of these cards, but I admit that there's still a lot to learn about the playstyle and value of these units. If you disagree with my current assesment, I encourage you to share your opinion.
BT-1: Destructive Assassin
BT-1 (BT) occupies an interesting spot in the Imperial arsenal. With 10 health and a three-dice, focused attack (functionally four dice), he is no slouch when it comes to offense and defense. On a standard attack, I find BT’s surges to be average in terms of value. Pierce 2 is excellent for maximizing damage, but I don’t think I will personally be hoping for additional surges over damage to activate Blast 1 and Recover 1. They are obviously better than nothing, but definitely not the best when I’d prefer a way to increase the likelihood of removing the primary target of the attack.
However, where these surges do have the potential to shine is with BT’s Missile Salvo action. In conjunction with Assassin, BT gets to roll three, two-dice attacks on three different targets and apply +3 accuracy to the results. This is very powerful as it gives BT the ability to remove multiple units per turn, as well as Blast and Recover multiple times per turn. Clearly, the ability to heal 3 damage or Blast 3 would provide a lot of value.
The last interesting point I’d like to reference is that BT-1 has the Heavy Weapon and Hunter traits in addition to being a Droid. This is maybe the most interesting aspect of BT-1, as it opens up a lot of new archetypes for the Imperials. Previously, a Hunter-themed Imperial list practically required the use of Temporary Alliance and the Mercenary faction. And even then, a significant portion of the list had to be based around another unit type. With BT-1, Imperials are closer than ever to running a pure hunter list if they’d like. Better yet (especially in terms of list building and encouraging creativity), Imperial players can now splash the Hunter archetype and use Hunter command cards with a reduced fear that those cards will go to waste. Previously, if you wanted to run the Inquisitor with Assassinate, Tools for the Job, or Heightened Reflexes, you had to fear that if he died, a significant portion of your command deck would be valueless. That risk is mitigated with the availability of BT-1.
BT’s command card is also worth mentioning, as for 1 point it is certainly worth considering running in your command deck. I don’t think it’s providing anything amazing, but it could certainly be put to good effect whether BT is behind the bulk of your squad throwing out 4-dice attacks or looking for that second or third target with Missile Salvo. I’m not sure how I feel about morphing the typically one-time use command cards into a permanent upgrade, but that’s a discussion for another time. Special point: the art on Ballistics Matrix is incredible – it embraces the ridiculousness of an assassin astromech.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the flaws with BT-1, as I think the general response to the card is that he’s at the very least aggressively-costed, if not under-costed. At this point, I think his strength may be overstated. First, at 10 health with only a black die on defense, he can fall incredibly quickly. Occasionally I still fall into the fallacy that 10-health is a lot in this game – it’s not. Units increasingly have access to three or four dice attacks, hastening the demise of figures sporting a sole black die. Don’t get me wrong, I think 10 health is great for the points, but I have no doubt that many BT-1s will be removed before they activate over the next few months.
Another flaw I see is that BT-1 has a lot of conditions to satisfy to get the theoretical value of Missile Salvo. I, like many readers, first saw Missile Salvo, looked at the free focus and surge abilities, and thought that this card was ridiculously overpowered. However, it’s important to remember that Missile Salvo allows BT to perform three attacks against three DIFFERENT targets; i.e., he needs to be in a position where he has line of sight and range on three different units. While it’s certainly possible that BT-1 can accomplish this, a skilled opponent won’t make it easy. I imagine that in most cases where BT-1 accomplishes this, he will be in the line of sight of at least the three units he attacked, if not more. Assuming this means BT-1 is going to die as a result, will a single Missile Salvo remove 6 points of your opponents list? I’m not entirely confident about that.
Overall, I think BT is a great addition to the Imperials. Right now, I feel as if the Imperials are a bit pigeon-holed when it comes to unique figures. There’s always room for the Inquisitor or Captain Terro in addition to troopers, but the other unique units are just too specific to really be useful. It’s nice to have a unit that is flexible in that 6-point slot – and is useful even if you don’t want to run a Droid/Hunter archetype list. He stands on his own and that’s what the Imperial Faction needs right now.
0-0-0: Specialized in Pain
0-0-0 has received less love than BT, but that doesn't mean he should be overlooked. I admit, his value is a lot less direct than his droid counterpart, and even less obvious than many of the Rebel support units that provide movement and focus. However, don't let the fact that 0-0-0's value can't be quantified in terms of attack power or focus.
Let's start with 0-0-0's weaknesses. Sporting red and yellow dice, his attack is not very reliable (my opinion after playing many games using Royal Guards). Moreover, a melee attack at 4 speed is less than desirable in the current landscape. With only 8 health behind a black die, moving him into enemy fire will quickly result in his demise. Bottom line - you're not bringing 0-0-0 for his surviveability or offensive prowess.
That said, it's clear that the style of play I've just described is not what 0-0-0 is designed to do. Rather, I see 0-0-0 as occupying a rather unique space in the game as a support unit intended to distract your opponent. There are a few other units in the game that hold this trait, but none as on the nose at 0-0-0.
To be blunt, 0-0-0's strength is to be a nuisance and when you look at him in that way, his strengths begin to surface. Shocking Palm allows him to purposely cause his attack to miss in order to stun a defender. Considering that he rolls a yellow die on his attack, this shouldn't be too difficult to reliably activate. However, if you don't even want to risk the lack of surge, you can also utilize his Invasive Procedure. For an action, 0-0-0 can deal an adjacent figure 1 damage, 1 strain, Bleeding, and he becomes focused. If 0-0-0 happens to survive to his next activation, a three dice attack with Pierce 2 and Recover 2 is quite threatening. Finally, 0-0-0 has the Unnerving ability where at the end of his activation, each adjacent hostile figure becomes weakened. Even if you can't get any other actions off, 0-0-0 will reduce enemy units offense and defense simply by being adjacent to them at the end of his activation.
In my opinion, these abilities reinforce the fact that 0-0-0 is designed to run cover for the rest of your list, not entirely unlike Salcious B. Crumb. At 4 points, 0-0-0 costs a bit too much to be expendable. However, when thrown into the center of an enemy army, your opponent will be forced to make the unpleasant decision of attacking a 4-point droid or engaging the remainder of your army. If your opponent focuses down 0-0-0, the the rest of your army will be free to engage without return fire. However, if they ignore 0-0-0, not only does your opponent suffer a number of negative status effects every turn, but 0-0-0 actually becomes a larger threat by acquiring a focus. It requires you to position your units correctly, but is incredibly strong when executed well.
0-0-0's command card, Eerie Visage, leans into his role of dealing out negative status effects, but I don't see it as a necessity when running him. I think it could be useful on maps that have a lot of open space and if it's drawn early. However, I ultimately think that it doesn't fit well with 0-0-0's playstyle as you can't really afford to have him sit in back waiting for this command card. 0-0-0 is meant for the frontline and unless you have Eerie Visage in the first three turns, I don't see being able to play it.
Like BT, I think 0-0-0 is a great addition to the Imperial Arsenal. Similar to BT, 0-0-0 adds more variety to the Imperial's unique figure pool. At 4 points, Imperial players now have another option on the low end that can be considered along with Officers and Rule By Fear. And, while I think that 0-0-0 could be used in an all droid army, I think he works fine on his own in most lists as well. It's nice to see a new type of unit - if this type of variety continues to be introduced I think Imperial Assault is going to continue to be an excellent game over the coming months.
Even though I haven't played either of these units, I am really excited to give them a shot. Let me know if you have any comments on this. I'd love to hear everyone's opinion. Thanks!