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Star Wars Imperial Assault

Star Wars Imperial Assault

“Let the Wookie Win” – Playing Chewbacca in Imperial Assault

I’ve always been fond of our most well known Wookie friend. He’s like a big teddy bear, until he gets angry and decides to rip off your limbs.

It’s a bit of an understatement that Chewbacca was sub-par prior to his Wookie Avenger attachment in Heart of the Empire, which released late last year in 2017. Basically, he cost a little too much for a figure that always felt short on actions. Fantasy Flight improved Chewy by giving him the ability to do an extra damage when attacking, Slam for free (without spending an action) and start with his Command Card at the beginning of the game. Although Chewy lost the ability to Dodge, these are some very welcome changes.

All that said, Chewbacca is still very challenging to play. His Command Card is seemingly at odds with his play style. He wants to be in the fight, but he can still go down pretty quickly. Since your opponent knows you have Debts Repaid, they can just focus on Chewy and basically guarantee that you’ll have a dead card in your hand. This is a big glaring weakness for Chewbacca. Thankfully, however there are a few solutions.

One of the best ways to build a team with Chewbacca is to include one or two other powerful figures, especially one that can dive in behind enemy lines. Ahsoka seems like a natural fit and I haven’t played her with Chewy yet, but I like the idea of being able to run the most powerful Spy cards, including Comm Disruption and Intelligence Leak (currently my favorite card in the game). I’m still working on a Chewy/Ahsoka list but so far I haven’t gotten it to where I’m satisfied.

Jyn Odan is more efficient. Not only does she cost a measly five points, but she can hit like a truck: arguably as strong as Ahsoka, using Command Cards that Chewy can benefit from as well: Tools for the Job, Smuggled Supplies. Heck, even Wild Attack, which you would normally use on Jyn in combination with her Command Card: One in a Million, could theoretically be used on Chewy in a pinch. Don’t forget On the Lam, arguably one of the most powerful cards in the game.

Not that there are a ton of them, but I like the Wookie synergies that you can get by playing Drokatta and Chewbacca together. Battle Scars, Adrenaline, and Wild Fury have some real potential, and Drokatta can put out tons of damage. She pairs well with Chewbacca too, because of her natural block.

Defensive buffs are also a pretty good way to keep Chewbacca alive and make sure you get your value from him. C-3PO’s Distracting ability helps and MHD-19’s Medical Loadout and Miracle Worker card can potentially keep him alive longer than he should be. Brace for Impact and Stealth Tactics are obvious choices, but I’ve even looked at cards like Take Cover and Take Position on that first round when I’m getting Chewy set up.

Finally, I think there’s something incredibly important when trying to win with Chewbacca: timing. Knowing when and where to set up Chewy. You’ll want to get him in position so that when a friendly dies he can reactivate with Debts Repaid and do some damage. I’ve considered running Black Market Prices for that first round when he probably only needs to spend one action to move.

Ultimately, I think Chewbacca is currently one of the most interesting figures in Imperial Assault. You have to build your list around him and practice him many times to play him well. Moving forward, I think he will continue to stay relevant, especially if Rebels continue to get inexpensive, but powerful single figures that can dive across enemy lines.

Star Wars Imperial Assault

Command Card Spotlight: Bodyguard

The power right now is definitely in the cards: Command Cards that is! When the Jabba’s Realm expansion and corresponding wave of figure packs released late December 2016, a flood of Command Cards came with it that greatly increased the power level of the game, introducing a much more agro style of play to Imperial Assault. Cards such as Assassinate, Tools for the Job, and Heightened Reflexes ensure that your 6 to 8 point figure has a decent chance of dying given your opponent is holding several of these cards in hand when attacking. Let’s face it, with Jabba the Hutt and Black Market helping Mercenary players draw even more cards, it’s fairly likely that by the middle of round 2 they already have 6 or 7 cards in their hand so yes, it’s fairly likely they have several of these cards.

So what’s a player to do? It’s basically “beat ’em or join ’em,” and it seems that most people are taking the latter route, as evidenced by the most recent Worlds Championship top 16 in May, as well as general tournament reports over the past several months. Mercenary Hunters have basically dominated the meta. We’ve seen more variety as the most recent wave of Droid-related figure packs were released recently, but I would argue that in some ways the wave only exasperated the problem. The ability to bring a BT-1 into a Mercenary list with an Elite Jawa is amazing, and just one more reason I am loving this Command Card: Bodyguard.

Disclaimer: I was definitely not one of the first people to figure out that Bodyguard is really effective in the current meta. I recently saw it on a forum, and actually I think it was referring to someone using it to keep a Hunter alive (go figure). Being anti-meta as I am, I saw this as an opportunity to make something else more viable in the current environment. So I had two thoughts: first, what is one of the best late-game figures in IA and secondly, how can I capitalize on this strategy to make the Guardian figure I’m playing it on more last longer?

In answering my first question, I looked first at Luke Skywalker: Jedi Knight. Luke is an amazing late-game figure. He can attack twice in a round, assuming he can close in on his target(s) and four times if you’re holding his Command Card. That’s amazing! Better yet, if you have C-3PO or Gideon still alive and can focus Luke once a round, he can be a real wrecking ball. There is probably a better choice than Luke, but as a Rebel player primarily, this was a natural one. As a bonus, Luke is also really fun to play!

Next, and here is where I am having a lot of trouble deciding, what Guardian do you use? If you want to keep it purely Rebels, you can go with Gaarkhan. Yes he is not the most competitive figure, but I’d argue he’s also not terrible. He doesn’t hit like a truck, but he is a 10 hp figure for 8 points that can move EIGHT spaces, then attack! Additionally, he can focus himself after attacking (not unlikely with a Red/Yellow attack pool), attack a second time if he’s taken any damage and with his charge ability he can still get some movement in between those attacks! Gaarkhan is what I’m calling an Assassin type of figure, which is what Ahsoka Tano will be in my opinion. Both Gaarkhan and Ahsoka have really good movement and can move across the board to take out something that is at low health or just really want to kill. He is super fun to play when he works effectively; people will often underestimate him.

My initial Rebel list uses Gaarkhan/Bodyguard to protect Luke & Leia. It also has all the fun Spy cards.

My other idea for using Bodyguard to protect Luke was to bring him into a Mercenary list and run some Gamorrean Guards. I settled on the Elite version, simply because of the cost-effectiveness, and even though their job is to die to protect Luke, I figure the added health for the chance to play Bodyguard on the same Gamorrean plus the vastly superior attack gained from the Elite version makes the extra 2 point cost very worth it. Gamorreans are a great fit for Bodyguard. They are 8 health for 4 points a piece and have their Gamorrean Honor Guard ability, which adds one block when defending against a ranged attack.

I’m 2-2 with this list and, given more practice and slight changes, I think it could perform better. The small number of activations can be a problem, but Bossk and Luke on a team can be downright scary!


To further capitalize on the Gamorrean’s tankiness and natural defense, I like to run other Command Cards that could work for both the bodyguard and bodyguarded (below are some ideas and cards I’ve run).

Todd Michlitsch (lead dev) has confirmed via an email response to my rules question that you may use Guardian Stance to reroll dice of both the attacker and defender! If we see less rerolls due to fewer people taking Weequays or HK’s, Guardian Stance will get better (remember, the attacker gets to reroll dice first!)

also Stealth Tactics

Onar works great in this list archetype. His “Get Down” ability is very usefull. You can play Bodyguard on him first, or you can let your a Gamorrean or your key figure take damage, then use Extra Protection to put Onar in position to Bodyguard later.









I’m not saying that either of these lists are the most competitive or even effective uses of Bodyguard. Rather, they are the first thoughts in what will likely be a long history of utilizing the card to create fun, playable armies that are counter-meta. There are a couple play styles that, in my opinion, counter the effectiveness of the current Hunter meta (both of which currently need improvements): don’t let your opponent play their Hunter cards (Spy archetype) and this Guardian-themed Bodyguard concept, which spreads damage and keeps your effective figures alive. Most X-Wing Miniatures players know just how dang effective Biggs Darklighter can be by spreading out your opponents fire to keep an effective powerhouse alive, and I equate this Command Card to said mustached man. If the power in Imperial Assault stays the same and/or we get some new Guardian-traited figures that are well worth their costs, we will surely see Bodyguard get played in the years to come. Who knows- it may even become a staple!


Magic the Gathering, Pokémon TCG, Star Wars Imperial Assault, X-Wing Miniatures

To Netdeck, or not to Netdeck?

Netdecking is the act of finding a deck, list, or army, usually from an online source, and copying it. Typically the player is copying a relatively competitive deck.
In the world of customizable games, the term “Netdeck” gets thrown around like prejudicial slur. I’ll even admit that I have been guilty of that in the past, but I realized something recently that has completely changed the way I think about the issue.

Justin Phua’s Dengar/Tel Trevura list won the Fantasy Flight Games’ X-Wing World Championship this Spring of 2017. Will we see this list at every Store Championship?




I recently played in a Magic Tournament at The Village Geek and got crushed horribly. I’ll also admit that when I play games I can often be a get a little frustrated when I lose. It’s something that I have tried to work on over the years, because I want my opponent to have a positive play experience and enjoy their win. I wouldn’t say I am a horrible loser, but I want my opponent to thoroughly enjoy their victory, because if I win I would want my opponent to let me relish in it as well. I’m not saying I want to be able to brag, but there’s definitely something special that happens when two people are completely sportsmanlike; be it is the epitome of what makes games great from a social perspective. In this recent Magic Tournament I got absolutely destroyed and for some reason, I had a blast. So then I realized the reason I wasn’t butt hurt or frustrated: I wasn’t playing my own deck. It wasn’t even a deck that I researched and slightly modified. This is an extreme example for sure because I also didn’t even expect to win, but at at very basic level, I think an extremely valid reason to Netdeck is that it levels the play experience on an emotional level.

Aetherworks Marvel was everywhere in Standard…until it was recently banned.

When you play a list that you didn’t create from the ground up, taking hours upon hours to design and tweak, your highs will likely not be so high. It’s less rewarding to win with a deck/list what already has notoriety, yes, but your lows are also not so low, and not so frustrating. If you lose too much you just scrap it and find another without worrying about spending tons of time.

There are other reasons people Netdeck. Obviously many people want to win, true, but I think for some people it comes down to the amount of time it can take to create a list from scratch and practice with it. Why spend hours of time when someone has already cracked the code?

Star Wars Imperial Assault

Back from the Shelf: Takenoko

I got the chance to play this modern staple recently for about the fifth time. Takenoko has been generally well received and to many, it’s sort of a next step for a non-gamer or as a great introduction to newer, more beautiful board games. 

 Takenoko has players collectively building a bamboo farm, then persuading a cute panda to eat said bamboo. To win, you need to complete a number of these hidden goal cards. Then the emperor will show up and give extra points to the person that he is most impressed by, that is, who reached the number of objectives first. 

On your turn, you roll a die that gives you a bonus, before taking to actions for your round. Then you take two actions, such as moving the farmer (growing bamboo) in a straight line, moving the panda (taking bamboo by having the panda eat), drawing more objective cards, telling irrigation channels, or placing new bamboo fields. Inadvertently, some actions other players take will help you and others will not. It’s fairly easy to see what others are trying to do. Fortunately, it usually doesn’t benefit you to need with them just because you feel like it. Despite the healthy dose of interaction, this is still a game or efficiency and optimization. 

Although I hold the opinion that Takenoko is a fantastic family-weight strategy game and a great alternative to something in the vein of Ticket to Ride, it definitely has a couple minor flaws. First, I wish the Panda objective cards were a little more diverse. The other categories of objectives set pretty well with me, but this one didn’t. Second, and this is where my butthurt from my last game will shine through, but starting the game with 3 objective cards that have nothing in common can be a fairly heavy disadvantage. However, the game is fast enough (even shorter than most games if Ticket to Ride) that this isn’t a major issue. This was the first time I’d played Takenoko in a whole and I’m looking forward to playing it fairly soon. If you’re looking for a beautiful strategy game for your family, check it out!

Star Wars Imperial Assault

Why You Should be Playing Imperial Assault

A few years ago when Fantasy Flight Games announced Star Wars Imperial Assault, my first reaction was, “Descent reskinned with Star Wars? I’m in!” Now over two years into the life of this game, I’m more optimistic about it’s future than ever. However, although Imperial Assault has sold well and is very highly rated, it seems like it is often overlooked. Now is an amazing time to buy into Imperial Assault, and here’s why.


Since I was a kid, Star Wars has been one of my favorite properties. Part Sci-Fi, part classic adventure, Star Wars is almost completely in a genre of its own. As much as X-Wing Miniatures or Armada, Imperial Assault does a great job at immersing players in the story and thematic excitement of this long time favorite. I’ll get to this more later, but the number of unique characters and types of troopers, spies, and smugglers truly adds to the immersion Imperial Assault. I’ve heard people complain about the implementation of so many heroes that are created just for Imperial Assault. Personally I love these new heroes. I played Davith Elso in a Return to Hoth campaign and had an absolute blast! It’s awesome that we have these new, different characters that fit wonderfully into the Star Wars universe, and I think FFG is doing an amazing job at designing them. Best of all, with the amazing Star Wars license, and the fact that we’re getting a new Star Wars movie basically every year now for the foreseeable future, there will be plenty of canon-based content for FFG to pull from!

Imperial Assault oozes Star Wars theme as much as any other Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars titles


People often are scared off by the initial $100 MSRP cost of the core set, and rightfully so. That compared to the average board game is a little staggering. What you have to realize, though, is that it is packed with content and especially amazing artwork, tokens, dice, and miniatures. IA is pretty close to as good as it gets in terms of component quality per dollar. The tiles are brightly colored and detailed, and the rest of the artwork, while used in some of FFG’s other tabletop games, is solid and well done. With incredibly functional graphic design, everything works for what it’s supposed to do. To top all this off, the minis are beautifully sculpted. There are few other board games that can compete with these minis. In fact, I would say that Imperial Assault’s miniatures are the best minis for a board gamer to start painting miniatures. You can put very little effort into an IA miniature and have it come out looking great. Prime it, base coat 2-4 colors, wash, give it a clear coat and you’re good to go. Once you get into it you can fairly get down to about an hour or less per small base figure and produce quality looking figures unless you’re a perfectionist and/or want to go above and beyond. Check out various painting tutorials on Youtube and you’ll be good to go.

Imperial Assault miniatures are some of the easiest ones on the market to paint


As far as the game mechanisms of Imperial Assault, the unique six-sided dice system is one of my favorites. Obviously borrowed from Descent 2nd Edition, the dice system in IA is one that results in each character and figure type feeling more unique than its predecessor. Be it the well rounded nature of the green die, the higher accuracy of the blue die, the surge potential of yellow, or damage of the red die, each color of attack die fits a unique role. Also, making the Dodge (miss) be on the white defense die as opposed to on the blue attack die like in Descent means that a character can have almost any combination of colors of attack dice and be easily balanced. I don’t care what you say about the annoyance of someone rolling a dodge three times in a row, the way the designers implemented the dodge in IA is far superior to the miss in Descent. Figure abilities on cards add to the depth of the dice to create unlimited possibilities and a design space that is flexible and easy to work with for the designers.


I’m pretty sure I read or heard somewhere that the Skirmish mode for IA was basically an afterthought- the game was nearing the end of development and the management at FFG insisted that a competitive mode be designed. I’m so thankful that they did, because the Skirmish mode is incredibly fun and is like no other competitive tabletop game out there right now. The way you activate figures to move, interact, and attack is well done, but what makes Imperial Assault Skirmish exciting is the use of Command Cards. In addition to building an army of figures, each player builds a deck of 15 Command Cards. Each card is worth 0-3 points and right now no more than 2 copies of a card can be used in a deck (some cards are limited to just one copy). The Command Deck is brilliant and gives Customizable Card Game players a small taste of that genre, but in a way that allows them to maneuver, buff attacks and defense, and so much more. Unique characters like Luke Skywalker and Boba Fett have their own Command Card and there are even certain cards for figure types, such as Hunters, Smugglers, Spies, etc.

Skirmish is the lesser known gem of a game mode that will be played for years to come


Most people that I’ve met who already play Imperial Assault are are playing campaign. It’s pretty safe to guess that the Campaign mode was what Imperial Assault was originally built for. Taking the lessons they learned from Descent 2nd Edition, the Campaign mode of Imperial Assault is incredibly slick and robust. After the release of Jabba’s Realm, we now have three full-length and two mini campaigns available and I’m sure there are more on the way. Back at Gen Con of 2016, they announced an app for IA similar to what they’ve built for Descent 2E. There are rumors now that the app will never happen due to licensing issues. Regardless, my pants are about to fly off out of excitement for what expansion/campaign they will announce next! If you have a group of four or five Star Wars fans that you game with on a regular basis, you better be playing the campaign mode for IA. If not, you’re doing yourself a massive disservice.

The Return to Hoth campaign is well designed with a variety of missions that seem well-balanced


To sum up, Imperial Assault is an amazing game that every tabletop gamer should know about. It is the most versatile board/tabletop game I know of between its Campaign and Skirmish modes, and I truly believe this is a huge selling point for the title. It bridges a gap between RPG’s and tactical board games (although it only has minor RPG elements) that works well for the average Role Playing fan that doesn’t have the time to spend prepping to run a campaign. The gameplay of Imperial Assault is fantastic and the theme is strong with this one.


Star Wars Imperial Assault

Fun Army: Rebel Spies/Smugglers

Okay so I’m going to talk here about a super fun list- don’t expect anything more. This is not an incredibly competitive archetype at this time (about 2-3 months before the release of Jabba’s Realm) and it will probably only become less competitive with the release of Jabba. That being said, this is an archetype that can really get your juices flowing, and one Blue players from Magic the Gathering will certainly appreciate.

This list came about after the release of The Bespin Gambit and all the spy goodness included in that wave. I’ll admit, part of what attracted me to this archetype is the thematic nature of the various figures: shady, up-to-no-good smugglers and their sneaky friends. Here’s what I played initially:

Rebel Spies/Smugglers (15/14/40)


[5] Jyn Odan

[8] Leia Organa

[6] Lando Calrissian

[2] Alliance Smuggler

[7] Elite Rebel Saboteur

[7] Elite Rebel Saboteur

[3] R2-D2

[2] Rebel High Command

And a command deck something like this:

[2] Comm Disruption

[2] One in a Million

[1] Black Market Prices

[1] Intelligence Leak

[0] Element of Surprise

[0] Fleet Footed

[0] Stall for Time

[2] Slippery Target

[1] Smuggled Supplies

[1] Strategic Shift

[1] Cheat to Win

[2] Slippery Target

[1] Stealth Tactics

[1] Hit and Run

Being able to play any of these cards can pretty situationally powerful. playing Intelligence Leak there times in one game cab room your opponent’s, as well. The same would definitely be said for Comm Disruption or Cheat to Win, allowing Lando to guarantee two dodges or maxing out good damage potential

Additionally, the list gains some tricks and shenanigans from the Smuggler keyword through cards such as Black Market Prices for additional card draw, as well as the ability to play cards like Smuggler Supplies and Stealth Tactics on Jyn for potential crazy defense and movement.

My first couple games with this list were against a Scum army with Bossk, Trandoshans, Hired Guns, then an Imperial Trooper list. Both of which are decent matchups but I ended up winning. This Spies/Smugglers list (wish I had a better name for it) can best just about any list that heavily relies on Command Cards, such as Troopers with Reinforcements, or anything that really needs extra movement through cards like Urgency, Hit and Run, Fleet Footed, etc.

A couple of changes I have made: I took out one group of Elite Sabs for Mak and Murne. Mak is a 3 point Spy and an extra activation. Murne’s ability to hide a friendly figure triggers almost every round with this list. Also, the possibility of recycling Fatal Deception with Leia is pretty exciting. I’ve come to realize, though, in many matchups the Sabs are probably just the way to go. They are more efficient figures.

The biggest thing this list lacks, though, is raw firepower. None of the figures have a natural three dice attack pool. I’ve decided that a minimum two Commands Cards a turn from RHC is enough and have swapped out R2-D2 for C-3PO. Focusing a Sab or Lando is just too good, and Distracting with Jyn is very good.

This certainly an archetype that requires careful play. One misplay or a couple bad rolls can cost you the game. However, when played well and with as little luck it can be effective and is a testament to the higher variety of styles of play in IA Skirmish, even though the game has only been out about two years at this point.