Friday, February 17, 2017

Star Wars: Imperial Assault - Tips for the IP Player, Part II: Bucketheads

Good morning readers,

In today's post, we'll be looking at the core of most Imperial armies: troopers. There's probably nothing more iconic than stormtroopers in all of Star Wars (except Darth Vader), so if you like troopers but wonder how to use them, today's post is for you.

You might think that there's not much difference between the trooper options available to the Empire, and you wouldn't be too wrong. Most Bucketheads use a Green-Blue on offense (blame E11s). This means that besides health and surge options, they all basically do the same damage. In today's post, we'll be looking at Stormtroopers and E-Webs - we'll cover the other Stormtrooper units in our next post.

Perhaps the “vanilla” Imperial grunt might be assumed to be the worst of the bunch, but this wouldn’t be true. Stormtroopers are the most “standard” of the troopers simply because they have common buffs you see across other troopers. Stormtroopers, though, have two important characteristics that work in their favor.
First, they can reroll a dice. This ensures that if you get a bad roll, you will probably get something better. While the bump you get in damage/accuracy isn’t that high, it does make your units more reliable than other troopers. Look at the chart below to see the difference between the base (dashed lines) and reroll (solid lines) probability curves:
Second, when you’re using a regular Stormtrooper, you’re good against White defense dice. Since Elite Stormtroopers get 2 Damage from the first Surge they get, they’ll do better against Black dice (since Blacks let in almost all Surges). For a regular Stormtrooper, though, 1 Surge is worth only 1 Damage, which means that a White dice (unless the defender gets a Dodge) will effectively get 0-2 Block on a white dice – here’s what the same methodology from above looks like against the White dice (notice that roughly one-sixth of the time, you don’t hit the target – this shows the impact of the Dodge on the white dice):
While it’s hard to compare the two pictures above, your Stormtroopers are slightly more reliable at dealing higher damage against the White dice than against the Black dice. With this in mind, here’s my recommendation for running Stormtroopers in Imperial Assault:
·         For Regular Stormtroopers, shoot whoever’s nearby (ideally, you’ll want the target to have 3-6 health, since you should get 1-2 damage per trooper), but make sure as many of your Stormtroopers are adjacent to a trooper;
·         Attack in groups – while each of you individually doesn’t do a lot of damage, you want to be able to focus the fire of all three of your figures on the same target.
·         You can reliably stand 4-5 spaces away from your opponent (80% probability of hitting or higher) – make him work to shoot you back;
·         Special note on Elite Stormtroopers: we didn’t cover these guys much, but they get a lot of damage coming from that Focus dice when they die – expect to add 1-2 damage to the total damage dealt (along with 1-2 accuracy). While this doesn’t make a big difference for an individual trooper, if the group is doing 3-6 additional damage, it means the difference between polishing off a basic unit (like a Regular Rebel Trooper) and a hardy power unit (like Han Solo).
E-Web Engineers:
E-Webs aren’t like Stormtroopers – you need to use them differently! For one thing, an E-Web Engineer is a single model, so reinforcing the unit if it’s lost is much more expensive (and virtually impossible in early missions when you’re getting 2-3 Threat/round). Similarly, an E-Web has slightly more health than its equivalent Stormtrooper cousin, but because there are three Stormtroopers in each squad, Stormtroopers have roughly double the health of an E-Web cumulatively.   
As a heavy weapon, E-Webs are also slower than Stormtroopers. Added to their special rule that allows them to “Scoot or shoot” (but not both), getting an E-Web into position (and keeping it alive) can be really, REALLY hard. With all this in mind, what do you do with E-Webs?
E-Webs play defense. Yes, they’re very powerful and deal a lot of damage. Yes, they can heal themselves which gives them some resilience. Yes, they get to shoot twice (which effectively allows them to blow a low-health unit up pretty quickly OR drill through a low-health hero’s health store quickly. But they play defense: you don’t want to move an E-Web (like, ever). So, find a firing lane (preferably one that won’t let an attacker stand out of sight and then charge you on its next turn) and sit there and wait. A turn that an E-Web isn’t attacked is a good turn – even if the E-Web doesn’t shoot.
While E-Webs are complicated to use well, there is one thing that isn’t that complicated – they fight everything well. What’s shown below is their range/damage curve against black (dashed) and white (solid) lines. As you can see, doesn’t really matter what you’re hitting – you’re going to do roughly the same damage against it no matter what dice they have:
As shown above, an E-Web will do slightly more damage against a White dice than a Black dice. For those who are wondering, the Elite E-Web Engineer gets slightly more damage against White dice, but again, it’s not that different:
For those of you who are scratching your heads trying to figure out why there’s basically no difference against a White dice (and why the Elite against the Black dice only does roughly the same as either version does against a White dice), there’s one simple explanation: White dice fight yellow dice really, REALLY well (see my first post for why). With the primary difference between most elite/regular units being the benefits you get from Surge, unless you’re rolling 2 Yellow dice (like Probe Droids), you won’t see that big of a difference. 

In our next post, we'll be wrapping up our discussion of "bucketheads" by examining those that do not appear in the core set (heavy stormtroopers, snowtroopers, jet troopers, and Dewback riders). Part III will cover the stormtrooper heroes (Kayn Somos and Captain Terro - sorry, no Blaise yet). After we're done with troopers, its on to new groups, so watch this space and happy hobbying!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Star Wars: Imperial Assault – Tips for the IP Player, Part I: In Which We Talk About Dice

Greetings space travelers,
This is Tiberius, one of the admins here at Wretched Hive. For my inaugural posts here in Mos Eisley, we’ll be discussing five things for the IP player (though most also applies to anyone planning on playing Imps/Scum in Skirmish) – things I’ve found to be helpful/valuable in a campaign or few. So, grab some blue milk, spike it with something fizzy, and pull up a seat.
I run another blog dedicated to The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, but I’ll be alternating posts here and there this year. The topics we’ll be covering in the next few months are as follows:
1.       In Which We Talk About Dice
2.       In Which We Talk About Troopers
3.       In Which We Talk About Brawlers
4.       In Which We Talk About Metal-Stuff
5.       In Which We Talk About Unique Abilities
Before we can get into the meat of our IP tips, we need to talk about the dice. Yes, there will be grand strategy discussions, in-depth looks at different unit types, and plenty of discussions of weaknesses of the most powerful heroes. If you didn’t see your favorite type of unit in the list above – don’t worry, they’ll probably show up. Probably…
But before any of that can be translated into something remotely resembling third-grade English, we need to talk about the dice we’re rolling. We do this for two reasons:
  1. The dice are not normal – you won’t have had prior experience with them before.
  2. Everything the game eventually depends on the dice.

The Offensive Dice – Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue
In this game, we have four kinds of dice when we’re attacking. Generally speaking, units will have 2 dice (often of different colors), while elite units can get 3-4 dice (and some VERY RARE units can roll 0-1 attack dice). Let’s get a quick understanding of what these dice do.
Quick Key: Red = Damage, Blue = Range, Yellow = Surge, Green = lil-bit-o-ev'ryth'n
As anyone who has played one game of IA knows, there are three stats provided by any dice: range, damage, and surge (RDS). Depending on the unit you have, the base amount of range/damage that you provide will be capped by the dice you roll. If you look at the image above, though, with the exception of the Red Dice, there isn't much difference between them:
  • Blue dice average ~3 range per face, which is greater than the 1-2 range for Green/Yellow (but not much);
  • Yellow dice average ~1 surge per face, which is greater than the 0.33-0.5 surge for Green/Blue (but not much);
  • The damage for all of these is in the 0.8-1.3 range, which is negligible.
  • The Red dice, however, doesn't focus on Range at all (and barely focuses on Surge), which means that it does approximately twice the damage of the other dice.

What does this mean? The only thing that matters is whether you have a red dice or not.
For some units, bonus rules will come into play if you are a certain distance away from an enemy unit or you might be able to surge for 2 Damage (or Pierce 2 or Blast anything or Cleave 2) that could do more damage than getting the actual damage icons, but in most of the IP missions, you’ll be hard-pressed to deploy elite units if they’re expensive. In the main, most of the units you’ll be able to afford will be regular units – and precious few of those surge for more than 1 Damage (Trandos are a notable exception).

The Defensive Dice – Black and White
With a quick understanding of the offensive dice, let’s look at the defensive dice:
Unlike the offensive dice, the defensive dice are very different: a Black dice basically gets 2 Blocks against each attack. A White dice basically gets 1 Block and 1 Surge Cancel instead. What does this tell us? Use a Red dice against a White dice – the white dice will beat any other one dice. Assume that a Black dice beats any one dice.

Putting It Together: What Do I Target? What Units Do I Take?
What does any of this mean? When we’re choosing units for Open Groups, consider the units you’re facing and choose the units who can damage those units. If you’re fighting a white dice, know that he’ll take most of your surges away from you. If that’s the case, take units that roll Red dice (the Twin Shadows box gives you Tusken Raiders and Heavy Stormtroopers – regular versions are under 6 Threat to deploy) OR take units who don’t surge particularly well (Stormtroopers are good). If you’re fighting Black dice, take anyone who does surge well/do free bonus damage – Elite units (especially Tuskens), any Trandoshans, Wampas, and units who focus themselves are good choices.

Next Steps
     With this general guidance, we’ll get into specific units and who to use them against (and why) in the coming weeks. We’ll show different units and how they compare against different defense profiles so you can see the logic of what’s been provided above. Until then, I’ll save a spot for you at the table here in the Wretched Hive!