GAME 4: 2 – 1
If you haven't read my summary of Game 3, do so here!
In the hour preceding the start of the tournament, I laid out all of my Command cards in front of another local player (North Dakota), and asked about his thoughts on my Command deck. I had pretty much decided on my 1, 2, and 3-point cards, but was open to replacing some 0-point cards. One of the cards on the chopping block was Overcharged Weapons, as it has a relatively limited use. Essentially, it’s only useful if I have a group of Jet Troopers that have already lost a figure, and the other figure is in a position to attack an activating enemy figure. In its defense though, the benefit of performing an attack outside of the normal course of activations is relatively high compared to its 0-point cost. In that moment, that player recommended that I take out Overcharged Weapons and replace it Urgency, or some other 0-point card. After some further input from other players, I decided to leave it in, as I figured that these last minute adjustments just prior to the tournament probably weren’t all that wise. If it were the week or day before, it’s possible that Overcharged Weapons would have been out of my Command deck.
It’s small decisions like these that can alter the course of some games. As much as Imperial Assault is a game about positioning, risk, and reward, it’s still a game with a certain degree of chance. Some of this chance can be played around. For instance, you would be foolish to position your figures in a way that doesn’t account for an opponent playing Take Initiative, Son of Skywalker, or Grenadier, even if you weren’t certain that it was currently in your opponent’s hand. It’s hidden information. Understanding the potential of that information is part of the game.
Yet, like all games with an ever-expanding card base, I’m sympathetic to the argument that you can’t possibly anticipate every card in your opponent’s hand. Clearly, there will be a set of non-meta cards that fail to rise to the attention of some players. Whether this is a good or bad aspect of the game is a discussion for another day. Regardless, one can’t deny that there’s power in possessing a play that your opponent cannot anticipate, and that will be apparent in Game 4.
Game 4 was played on ISB Headquarters, using the Reconnaissance mission. My opponent, D, ran a Rangers/Jedi Luke variant featuring Elite Echo Base Troopers. He started in the top deployment zone and I started in the bottom. I had initiative. Similar to C’s list, my concerns were pretty straightforward. I couldn't allow the Rangers have free shots on my figures – I need to force them to come to me. To this end, I decided that holding up in the side hallway would again be the best course of action, as the Rangers don’t have an easy approach to this position. An added wrinkle was going to be the Echo Base Troopers. Not only can they take a punch, but with a focus, they can throw a green, green, red dice pool. At 4 points per figure, that’s not bad. Moreover, there was no longer an objective on the left side of the map, so the likelihood of my opponent splitting his forces was low.
And then, of course there’s the problem that is Jedi Luke Skywalker. My list runs acceptably well against Jedi Luke, as all of my units rely on raw damage, and Jedi Luke lacks any serious damage reduction in the form of blocks. That said, a well-timed dodge or Son of Skywalker can end the game for me, so I can’t really go into the fight as headstrong as I’d prefer. Or at least not without a little help.
There’s a phrase used in card games – “drawing the nuts.” If you’re unfamiliar, it means that you’ve drawn the strongest possible hand of cards in a given situation. I would suggest that my opening hand was close to that: Ferocity, Call the Vanguard, and Overcharged Weapons. I knew I had an opportunity to remove Jedi Luke before he became a problem, as I could possibly perform three attacks before Jedi Luke activated in the second round.
Similar to the previous game, I moved my units into the center hallway, tucking a set of Jet Troopers into the hallway on the right, hoping to avoid Ranger fire. However, midway through this activation I decided to change my plans. Originally, I was going to move all of my units into the side hallway again, but D opened up his door relatively early in the round. Luke moved out and removed a Jet Trooper in a single activation, which was not the way I wanted to start the game. However, this did leave Luke within two spaces of another Jet Trooper, therefore Overcharged Weapons would activate with Fly By during the next turn. I decided to go aggressive with Captain Terro to set up my removal of Luke – not only would this allow me to Flamethrower Luke, but also set up for an attack using Ferocity.
After Terro’s activation, all that was left was D’s Elite Rangers. If I recall, he was only able to attack with two of the three, but was still able to push 11 damage onto Terro, leaving him with only 2 health. This presented a new problem – D now had the ability to remove Terro simply by deflecting two attacks into him over the course of my attacks from Call of the Vanguard and Ferocity. This wouldn’t be the end of the game for me, but certainly wouldn’t be the preferred outcome. I played Ferocity at the end of round one, and dealt 5 or 6 damage to Jedi Luke. Without his free evade and no dodge on the defense roll, Terro dealt a significant blow. I was further relieved to find out that my opponent chose not to deflect into Terro, but rather into an undamaged Jet Trooper. Round one ended and I grabbed 6 VPs via my camera and D received 4 VPs, putting the score at 8 VPs to 6 VPs in favor of D.
Initiative passed to my opponent and now was the time to see if my plan would pay off. I played Call of the Vanguard and performed another attack with Captain Terro against Jedi Luke. Again, Luke took about 5 damage, leaving him with 4 or 5 health remaining. I moved Terro into the hallway on the right to shield him from any further attacks from Rangers or Echo Base Troopers. D again deflected into a Jet Trooper and proceeded to activate Jedi Luke.
Another Jedi Luke activation likely meant a dead Terro, and possibly another dead Jet Trooper. I could likely weather this loss, but Luke’s removal would mean a big swing in my favor – and that’s exactly what happened. Luke activated and I utilized Overcharged Weapons with my Jet Trooper. Still weakened and lacking a dodge, Luke was removed then and there. Moreover, since Luke had activated, D’s activation was over and I was able to activate Terro, Flamethrower D’s Echo Base Troopers, and retreat to safety.
There isn’t much more to say about this game, as at that point D’s offensive output was relatively low. I still had three healthy Jet Troopers, four undamaged Heavy Stormtroopers, and Captain Terro safely tucked away in the back of the side hallway. Over the course of the next few rounds, D would steadily lose his remaining units and I would win on points. I now had a 3 – 1 record, far better than I had expected.