Imperial Assault Nationals Report: Preparation

The Build Up

*puts on Dr Manhattan Voice*

It is early 2005. The eleven year old me is wandering around the aisles of Kmart in Bankstown when he comes across a miniatures game of lightsaber combat. Revenge of the Sith Starter Game, reads the box, with a title that is only a little familiar to me: Star Wars. I convince my mother to buy me the starter set and a couple of boosters. I don’t even bother with the rules yet; the lightsaber wielding cyborg General Grievous and jedi hero Obi-Wan have me hooked. I haven’t watched the movies yet, but a few weeks later, that has all changed. My collection grows and grows, and soon my mother and I have learned how to play pic88999and are loving it.

It is mid 2006. I’ve managed to complete many sets of Star Wars Miniatures and have been playing every Tuesday night. I’ve made friends and bonded a lot with my mother as we’ve gone through tough times as a family. A game of Star Wars miniatures on the dinner table at my grandmother’s house where we’re living is not always possible, but we love it when we do get to play. I’ve learned the names of all the characters in the game, and read tonnes of information on various databases regarding the entire expanded universe of Star Wars. I’m hooked.

It is early 2007. After two years of playing and loving it, my complete sets of the first five sets of Star Wars Miniatures have just sold on eBay. Magic has taken over as my major game, and I just don’t have the time or the money to balance both of them. I keep a few of them for memories, and the majority of my incomplete Bounty Hunters set. They were always my favourite anyway.

It is late 2014. I’m flying to Minnesota for Fantasy Flight Worlds after winning the Star Wars LCG and Call of Cthulhu LCG nationals. It’s my first time overseas, and I’m nervous. I end up having an amazing weekend, and I go home after meeting friends from all over and some of the designers behind my favourite games. I’ve just picked up the Decimator and YT-2400 ships for X-Wing so my mate and I can fly these new ships a little early. I arrive home and start playing X-Wing more and more.

It is mid 2016. Fantasy Flight Nationals are coming around again, and I’m looking forward to playing A Game of Thrones. However, there’s a problem: it’s a two day event. I can’t play on Sunday as I attend church, meaning that I have no chance of taking the event. I could still play for fun, but it’s the most competitive event of the year, and I’d like to have the hope of winning a flight.  Then I spot it, the other game with a flight on offer:

pic2247647_md

I start reading about it, learning all the cards and all the figures, all the squads and all the tactics. I listen to podcasts, watch Youtube videos, read articles and try to get my head around the game. I pick up a core set brand new for $80, and start amassing my collection. I pinpoint all the cards I need and the packs they’re from. Eleven year old me is excited again.

And so began the road to nationals.

 

Assembling the Team

Every single podcast and article I’d read spoke of the meta-defining card: Zillo Technique. It’s not difficult to see why; being able to have control over how much damage is coming your way for just a single point is huge, especially given how important every single action you take in the game is. If my time with miniatures games has taught me anything, it’s that having control in a game of dice is crucial.

It starts to seem pretty clear to me that whatever team I’m going to play, it’s going to have to include Zillo Technique. Spy cards have drawn my eye, with Intelligence Leak and Comms Disruption standing out as powerful control cards reminiscent of the control decks I’ve loved in card games. I’ve settled on a list that looks something like this:

Deployment Cards

2 Elite Stormtrooper w/Cross Training (20)
Elite Snowtrooper (10)
Agent Blaise (6)
Imperial Officer (2)
Zillo Technique (1)
Rule by Fear (1)

Command Cards

2 Reinforcements (4)
Comm Disruption (2)
Grenade (3)
Intelligence Leak (1)
Strategic Shift (1)
Inspiring Speech (2)
Change of Plans (1)
Negation  (1)
Espionage Mastery (0)
Planning (0)
Element of Surprise (0)
Urgency (0)
Take Initiative (0)
Stall for Time* (0)

*I’m uncertain whether this was in the list or not, it was some zero cost card at least.

With eleven units total, I figured I’d have solid potential for map control (by that I mean opening doors, controlling terminals and scoring for objectives), enough damage output to drop larger units (such as the Inquisitor and Obi-Wan, who I expected would be popular as well) and enough sustainability (through sheer unit count and from command card control) to deal with most lists consistently.swi30_the-grand-inquisitor

However, this would not end up being the list I took, for two major reasons:

  1. If everyone else played similar lists to mine, I figured it would likely be the case that I would simply lose due to my inexperience. Given I was coming from virtually no experience, I was nervous about positioning my troopers poorly and getting outgunned because of it.
  2. If this was the meta-list, surely there would be people playing teams to counter it. If I ran into one of those, what would I do?

Effectively, my decision not to play the Empire can be boiled down to lack of experience. There was a final reason, however, that I decided not to play the Empire. It has nothing to do with the strategy of the game, but with the flavour.

I’ve always loved the seedy outlaws of Star Wars.

With Greedo and Bossk seeming like very viable options (as well as appealing to the fanboy in me), I built the following team:

Deployment Cards

Elite Nexu (6)
Elite Nexu w/ Last Resort (7)
Bossk (8)
Greedo (4)
Regular HK Assassin Droid (8)
Gideon Argus (3)
C-3PO (2)
Temporary Alliance (1)
Beast Tamer (1)
Command Cards

Grisly Contest (2)
Wild Fury (2)
Trandoshan Terror (2)
Size Advantage (2)
Inspiring Speech (2)
Negation (1)
Primary Target (1)
Change of Plans (1)
Survival Instincts (1)
Ferocity (1)
Urgency (0)
Opportunistic (0)
Take Initiative (0)
Element of Surprise (0)
Planning (0)

With a smattering of area of effect damage, great mobility and seven activations, this team appealed to me a fair bit. The only thing bothering me was the loss of control from not having Rule by Fear and losing the disruption of the spies; would I be okay with relinquishing that?

The single practice game I had before nationals was with this team against the first team I mentioned on the mission Constant Motion. Whilst I did manage to win, it was incredibly close and nowhere near convincing me that I’d stand a chance against players who were far more experienced than my practice partner (who had also never played a skirmish game outside of the core set).

*Dr Manhattan voice returns*

It is 7.30 PM, the night before nationals. I’m watching A New Hope with my lovely girlfriend. We sit there with delicious lamb and chicken gozleme(s?) (seriously, try out Gozleme King) and relax as we always do. Luke and Obi-Wan have just met Han and Chewie. Han goes to leave the cantina and a familiar face pops on the screen.

“Koona t’chuta Solo?”

greedo-hansolo-gunpoint-tsr

As Greedo gets roasted, I explain the Han Shot First controversy to my girlfriend. She knows I love Star Wars and listens attentively as I harp on about how Greedo gets such a bad rap. As he lies smoking on the table, all I can think is “Poor Greedo”.

It is 9.45 PM, the night before nationals. Adem (my practice partner and very good friend) and I are helping Jaime and Jason do some final set up before the big day tomorrow. As we discuss the games we’ll be playing, Jaime begins discussing how he’s seen the Bantha Rider used to block hallways and secure objectives. As I ponder the Nelvaanian Warzone map I played on, I can see how that hallway could easily be clogged by the bantha. I also know that the beast dishes out huge damage to large armies, and gets around Zillo Technique quite handily with all of its direct damage. Plus, I gain access to some huge command cards in Jundland Terror and Crush. I start to ponder.

download

download-1

It is 12:00 AM, now technically the day of nationals. I’ve removed Bossk from my list and replaced him with a second set of HK droids, but I’m not happy. I’ve been thinking about playing the Bantha Rider, but I can’t work out what to cut in order to make room for it. The logical choice seems to be an Elite Nexu and Greedo, meaning I can play the Bantha Rider with Last Resort. Poor Greedo, I think. I really want to play him, so I start imagining other ways I can get the Bantha Rider in. What if I cut the second HKs? What can I spend five points on?

It is 1:00 AM, the day of nationals. I’ve spent the five points upgrading my HKs to Elites and giving them Explosive Weaponry, and putting a Last Resort on my Bantha. I feel like I no longer have enough activations, and my HKs still feel too squishy. I’m not happy.

It is 1:30 A-M, the day of nationals. I’ve decided to comb some forums again for some inspiration. I look for Beast Machines lists, a name I’ve come to associate with Bantha/HK lists that were popular for a while. I find a creatures list from a while ago, and something catches my eye. A five point unit I hadn’t considered at all.

wampa

I think about it more and more, and I start putting together the command deck. I like it a lot. I’ve still got my seven activations, and my Beast Tamer is even better now. The Wampa hits almost as hard as Bossk does, and can take an activation or two to take down just for five points. Plus, he’s got traits that compliment my deck perfectly. I look at the team staring back at me. I’m very pleased. Yes, I think to myself, this is what I was looking for.

It is 9:30 A-M, the day of nationals. I’m eating eggs and raisin toast with my girlfriend while I try to explain to her the final dilemma I’m having; Size Advantage or Wild Fury?

sizeadvantagewild-fury

“One of the cards is quite safe” I explain, “It’s going to be good often but never great. The other one, however, is swingier; sometimes it’s going to be awesome and open up doors that wouldn’t otherwise be there. Other times, it’s going to do nothing”.

“Which one do you think is more fun?” she asks.

“The swingy one” I reply. I have my answer. It’s time to go have fun.

 

 

 

 

 

Fuzzy Friends

swi31_card_greedo

The main man, poor Greedo no longer!

Deployment Cards

Regular Wampa (5)
Elite Nexu (6)
Bantha Rider (9)
Regular HK Assassin Droid (8)
Greedo (4)
Gideon Argus (3)
C-3PO (2)
Temporary Alliance (1)
Beast Tamer (1)
Devious Scheme (1)

Command Cards

2 Jundland Terror (4)
Crush (3)

Wild Fury (2)

bantha-rider

Time to stampede my way to victory!

Grisly Contest (2)
Survival Instincts (1)
Ferocity (1)
Negation (1)
Primary Target (1)
Disorient (0)
Planning (0)
Take Initiative (0)
Opportunistic (0)
Urgency (0)
Element of Surprise (0)

Join me in my next article as I talk about my tournament experience, and go over how my team fared against the top competition in the country!’

Until next time, MTFBWY.

Card images taken from boardgamegeek.com, fantastyflightgames.com and imperial-assault.wikia.com

Liked it? Take a second to support ATGN on Patreon!
One Comment
  1. October 8, 2016 | Reply

Leave a Reply