The Post-Nationals Meta: A New Hope for Imperial Assault!

Over the past weekend, 20 brave souls attended the Australian Imperial Assault National championships at Ace Comics Annerley. This was the first major tournament with the newest release, and all eyes were on our nationals as a sign of how the new meta was shaping up.

And boy are things looking up! Rather than do a long write-up of each of my games, I figured it would be more interesting to look at some important facts about the tournament and the format itself.

1. The top eight had all three factions as equally represented as possible.

Around a year ago, the Empire had firm control of the galaxy, with them being near ubiquitous in their appearance at tournaments. In spite of this, the Worlds Top 16 had a nice split amongst the factions, especially as it got closer and closer to the very top.

Since then, however, the Empire has mostly vanished from competitive play. The appearance of Jabba’s Realm issued in a new age of Hunter dominance, with both Scum and the Rebels picking up huge, competitive mains in the form of IG-88 and Jedi Luke, as well as extremely efficient deployment groups in the form of Weequay Pirates and Alliance Rangers. Top that off with the awesome support units accessible by both factions, including newcomer Hera Syndulla, and it was a great time to be a Rebel and/or Scum player.

However, Heart of the Empire has seen the Empire come back in force, with the only two undefeated players from Day 1 (myself among them) running Imperial lists. Following right after them were a mix of Scum and Rebel lists to round out the top 8. Not only was the faction diversity great, but also…

2. List diversity is the greatest it has ever been.

Across the top 8 lists, 26 different deployment cards were used. No two lists were exactly alike, and it was difficult to conclusively say that one was superior to the other (nobody went undefeated). Unlike the previous meta, where lists were reasonably homogenous, the new meta seems categorised by diverse interesting and competitive options.

3. You can actually play famous Star Wars characters now.

Heart of the Empire saw the release of fixes for Han, Chewie, and Darth Vader, as well as the introduction of Maul, Ahsoka, and Palpatine, all of whom are at least very solid. With the exception of Maul, all of these units were featured in the Top 8 for this tournament. Additionally, Luke Skywalker, Jabba the Hutt, Greedo, Bossk, C-3P0, Hera Syndulla, R2-D2, and more aren’t particularly rare to spot performing well. If you want to play your favourite heroes and still do well, you certainly can!

4. Unit design is at an all-time best.

If I were to pinpoint the moment where IA started becoming great, it would probably be around Wave VII (Obi-Wan, The Grand Inquisitor, Greedo). Since then, every wave has brought a plethora of interesting options into the skirmish environment; there’s not a single unit since Wave VII that I haven’t at least considered putting into a team (except some regular versions of troops, but at least the Elites have been great). When EVERY option that comes out is interesting, you know you’re in for a good time.

With all the positives, however, there are still some things that I believe could be improved upon.

1. Maps/Objectives

In the current meta, objectives are pretty much ignored entirely on 2/6 maps, and only partially used on another. This leads to the vast majority of matches turning into firefights, which don’t take advantage of the full range of options IA has to offer. I personally find contesting objectives to be one of the more unique and exciting aspects of IA, and some missions present interesting, alternative ways to play the game (Deception Game and Surveillance come to mind). I hope that future rotations will bring in more interesting map options than are currently on offer.

2. C-3P0 and Gideon need to be reined in.

Unlike any other faction, Rebels have units that have been staples since the dawn of time. Both C-3P0 and Gideon Argus are relics from a time when support units were seemingly underpriced, and mains were overpriced. A suggestion I have would be to restrict their Focus granting powers to unique units (for 3P0) and non-unique units (for Gideon). This keeps them nice and thematic (3P0 aids the heroes, while Gideon is a trooper commander), and isn’t a dramatic reduction to their overall power. Still, it will mean that Heroic Effort lists don’t just run the Rebel Care Package, and Scum can’t just splash the Rebel Care Package into any old Hunter list. It also means you’ll rarely see double focused Alliance Ranger or double focused Weequay Pirate attacks as the first activation of turn 2.

3. They REALLY need to update the FAQ.

There are many, many questions that have gone unanswered for a very long time, or have been ruled on in the corners of the internet and are now difficult to actually relocate. We need them compiled and readily available.

That pretty much sums up my thoughts on the current metagame. In short, Imperial Assault is in the best place it’s ever been, and I continue to look forward to busting out my blasters, lightsabers, and whatever else whenever I can!

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