While Vader, Chewbacca, and Han are on center stage with their respective attachments, another large change is looming around the corner for Imperial Assault with Heart of the Empire - power tokens. Despite their relatively mundane name, I expect the addition of power tokens to alter the way we view many, if not all figures in Imperial Assault. Let's begin!
Power tokens are a new type of beneficial condition in Imperial Assault, akin to the Focused condition. However, instead of adding an entire dice to your attack or defense pool, these tokens are meant to serve as a much finer and more granular augmentation to a figure's attack and defense. Presumably, modifying a number of figures that lacked damage, surges, or suvivability.
The basic rules of power tokens are:
1. You may spend one power token per attack or defense;
2. A figure can possess only two power tokens at any given time;
3. Figures spend power tokens when an attack is declared (before rolling).
Note: It was actually harder than anticipated to find what the actual rules are going to be. I put this together via the Team Covenant video and the articles released by FFG.
Based on these rules, I'm led to a few conclusions. First, FFG clearly doesn't intend on figures building up a large mass of these tokens, as not only did they limit the total a figure can possess, but also removed any incentive to hoard the tokens as you can only spend one per attack or defense (that said, I could see more expensive figures such as Darth Vader or Jedi Luke appreciating the ability to bank three or four block power tokens before heading out).
Second, power tokens, while strong, are slightly weaker than the effects given by Command cards or Zillo Technique, in that you must use a token before you know the results of an attack. Use a block token and roll a dodge - sorry, you still lose the token. Spend a surge token and roll three surges - the token is gone. This could be frustrating in some cases, but I enjoy that it will encourage players to carefully consider what types of tokens should be given to specific figures.
In my opinion, the power tokens are going to be an excellent addition to Imperial Assault, as the game has been wanting for support benefits that go beyond granting the Focused and Hidden conditions. I particularly see this as a potential boon to Imperial figures, as they don't have easy access to Focus or Hidden, and there are certainly some figures that would appreciate an easy way to add damage to their attacks, such as Stormtroopers and Heavy Stormtroopers. Ready Weapons is one example of this, but I anticipate there will be more coming with Heart of the Empire.
And you get a power token, and you get a power token
Love or hate them, you can't deny that FFG is ushering in the power token mechanic with a decent amount of fanfare. Not only will certain figures and Command cards provide them to your figures, but one of the flagship Rebel heroes will reward you for spending them on attacks. And better yet, she's actually playable.
Let's start with a brief examination of Ko-Tun's stats. For 7 points, you're getting 9 health, 4 speed, and a three-dice attack. While I wouldn't call her a steal, Ko-Tun is certainly worth her points. With a black die, she's likely to survive an attack or two, even from some of the more powerful enemy figures. She's well equipped to fight at range with two blue dice and a green, making her even harder to remove. And finally, Professional and a surge for +2 damage should level out Ko-Tun's offense to a predictable level. Not a bad figure for 7 points.
But, on top of her offensive and defensive abilities, Ko-Tun also brings the benefit of power tokens to friendly figures with Arms Distribution. At the start of her activation, you may choose another friendly figure within three spaces and give it a block or damage power token. Then, if a figure within three spaces spends a power token (of any kind) on an attack, that figure may apply -1 dodge to the defense results, an ability aptly named Dead Precise. Ko-Tun's Command card confers a similar, but more powerful benefit, in Field Supply. Most figures move from mediocre to deadly with a free surge and reroll (ask Weequay players).
While I find the power token distribution a useful ability, I particularly enjoy the -1 dodge effect of Dead Precise. I'm likely not the only person that has considered attempting to remove a C-3P0 or Greedo from a terminal, only to decide against it due to the risk of that figure rolling a dodge. That decision-making process changes entirely with Ko-Tun's ability. An attack from an Alliance Ranger on an Officer or protocol droid holding a terminal all but assures that the figure will no longer be on the board with a -1 dodge. It makes the cost of the attack much more predictable and therefore creates a new set of options for players.
Moreover, what makes me excited is that Rebels are getting a nice stable of support characters that make some of the lesser-used deployment cards more feasible. With Ko-Tun, Hera, Gideon, and C-3P0, the efficacy of Rebel Saboteurs, Echo Base Troopers, and other second-tier rebel figures will increase - and maybe make them more competitively viable.
Power tokens are an intelligent addition to Imperial Assault. The game has needed more ways for characters to interact in a support role that transcends adding dice to a figure's attack pool. Furthermore, this as an attempted fix to some of the problems with the game, namely the high damage of Mercenary hunters. I find FFG to be relatively conservative in its fixes, and this is about as granular of a way to reduce incoming damage as possible. I don't think these tokens will drastically alter the state of the meta, but I may be wrong and at least appreciate the attempt. Ultimately, power tokens will provide a lot of new options for players, which in my opinion is a benefit to the game.