Big Game Hunter – Tackling Tauntauns

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This article is not, in any way, a defense of Tauntauns as a balanced unit. I have played Tauntaun Riders at the highest level for an extended period of time. Tauntauns are overtuned for their points, and they are causing a lot of havoc. If they weren’t too strong, I probably wouldn’t be writing an article about how to specifically beat them. That said, I’m not convinced that the best strategies are being employed against them. They are strong but very beatable. The focus of the broader discussion has been their apparent strength. I want to disseminate information about what their weaknesses are so that you, the reader, can beat them more reliably. In fact, when you’re done, I hope you can see that Tauntauns are really a paper lizard.

For context, let’s highlight some common losing situations against Tauntauns and some solutions.

Situation 1: No Answers

Your list doesn’t account for Tauntauns during its construction, and loses to it before the game starts. Luckily the second half of this article is filled with a lot of advice about this problem, so read on…

Situation 2: Passive Play Yields the Field

The Tauntaun player generally wants to set the battle line on your side of the board to prevent you from capturing objectives. A classic example that I see in a lot of games is Intercept the Transmissions, Turn 4. The Tauntauns commit to a charge on Turn 3 to block you from reaching the middle objective and scoring. Meanwhile, R2-D2 is sneaking around the back to secure Secret Mission. The overall board state is so disfavorable that you can’t recover in time to win by Round 6. The best advice I can give is not to cede ground to the Tauntaun player out of fear, and if you have a unit in your army that is good at reacting to Tauntaun movement, you can use it to defend your lines as you advance on the objective.

Situation 3: Threat Saturated

Tangentially related to the last sitaution, the Tauntaun player has successfully engaged with all elements at once, and it’s just too many plates to keep spinning for the defender. Something (generally Luke or Sabine) slips through the cracks and strikes the killing blow. Responding to threat saturation lists is having a plan to manage them. Time, that is, putting wounds and suppression on a threat as soon as possible, is a vital part of said plan. Threat saturation is also exacerbated by fragmented or disjointed army deployment. Every deployment needs a positive purpose, and this is especially true against Tauntauns. If the deployment has no focused, positive purpose, it is not a good deployment.

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Tauntaun Hunting 101

Let’s talk about some general principles when it comes to handling the prey –  Tauntauns.

The first step is to pile on the suppression, and I do mean pile it on. The magic number of suppression against Tauntauns is three. At two, they will Strict Orders out of it. At three, they need to get lucky on their rally dice. Tauntauns on a single action aren’t nearly as threatening as those at full. Tauntauns aren’t generally backed by a Courage 3 commander (but look out for Luke) so it’s likely only 4 suppression is needed threaten panic. At 4 suppression, there’s a roughly 20% chance they will panic, but panicking even once with Tauntauns can cost the game, so it’s always a good idea to try.

Tauntauns have two main methods of reducing damage taken: going early to gain dodges from Agile, and entering melee combat with already activated troopers to deny shooting. After that, Tauntauns have white defense dice with surge, meaning they will, on average, absorb 1/3 of all non-piercing damage that they roll saves against. Tauntauns also have relatively easy access to heavy cover because they are unit that consists of two models, so only one mini needs to meet the cover test for the whole unit to have cover.

At the end of the day, defensively, Tauntauns are comparable to a large unit of Rebel Troopers in heavy cover (when they can put a mini out of sight) that can gain a few dodges – not actually that scary! You want, therefore, to focus on having some units in your army that can undermine these defenses. You’ll want units that produce critical hits (to undermine cover) and have High Velocity to deny the use of dodges. You’ll also want Pierce because, like we’ve established, time is of the essence when dealing with these creatures, and every wound saved is precious extra life for these units that are so very important to your opponent. Luckily, every faction in the game has units that can do these things!

When attacking a Tauntaun unit, the order of operations matters. Attack rolls are, for the most part, not only made of crits, so you’ll need to figure out which dice pool you’re most comfortable with letting the Tauntaun’s dodges absorb. Remember to also factor in cover: if a unit has Sharpshooter, they should go first. Units with Hunter should only attack once the target is wounded. And of course, you ought to play Command Cards that seize initative at crucial moments to attack Tauntauns before they can activate and gain their dodge tokens.

Tauntauns have 8 health spread across two models. This means you want to deal the first 4 wounds as quickly as possible to degrade their effectiveness. Not only will you remove their offense, but it becomes very tough for the single remaining model to maintain cover, further lowering their defenses. In your deployment phase, you’ll have to come up with a plan to deal these wounds as early as possible. It’ll be easy if your opponent is aggressive with their Tauns and makes them available to shoot by committing to an early attack. Remember that some Tauntaun strategies rely on stalling until it’s too late to handle their remaining wounds, so you’ll need to be wary of battle card choices that enable this style of play, and try to deny your opponent’s ability to hide their Tauntauns by controlling angles on the board.

What do I bring? A Definitive List of Tauntaun Counters

The rest of this article will be spent talking about specific unit counters and tactical summaries of how they accomplish it. Let’s start with the OG Tauntaun Hunters, the Galactic Empire.

Galactic Empire

The Imps have some of the best units around for beating the heck out of Tauntauns.

Bossk: I’ve long held that the Lizard Wizard is the Anti-Taun. Nearly always coming with Hunter active, nearly always rolling crits to deny the Tauntaun’s defenses and striking them from a distance. He can defend himself from being charged by climbing onto a roof or starting the game on height, still pop off a shot and expertly climb down. He also possesses multiple short-ranged counterattack options like Reptillian Rampage into a double melee attack, and Merciless Munitions with its poison charges that deal automatic damage. At 121 points with Hunter, he is one of the most cost-effective Tauntaun solutions available.

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Shoretroopers: Just roll crits, as the World Champ says, and thankfully that’s not hard with an aimed T-21b delivering double crit bombs at Range 4. One of the best candidates to get early wounds on Tauntauns. Equip them with Targeting Scopes, give them orders, and they become mini-Bossks!

Sniper Strike Teams: High Velocity and Range 5, but they need protection once TT are close. If they survive, combining the spotter’s pistol and the sniper rifle can be devastating.

Palpatine and Royal Guards: Palpatine is considered a hard counter to Tauntauns, and has the large tournament track record to prove it. Our very own Kyle Dornbos used Palpatine at the Nova Open to swat down multiple Tauntaun lists. In addition to the considerable damage and suppression his force lightning can produce, Palpatine is hardly ever without a unit of Royal Guards at his disposal, capable of attacking twice each turn while empowered by Pulling the Strings. And if the guard aren’t in range? Palpatine can just pull on the Tauntaun Counter of your choice (probably yet another attack with the Shoretroopers).

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Vader: I just want to talk about Vader’s Might and how badly this can screw over a unit of Tauntauns – picking them up and dropping them in exactly the place you want to murder them, or trapping them on top of height. Vader’s Master of Evil can also greatly hinder Tauntauns, putting them at 3 suppression right before they want to activate. Other than that, he’s a piercing beatstick. Heck, you could take Fear to make things even worse, but Force Choke is preferable to finish off a wounded Tauntaun model.

Rebel Alliance

Rebels are an odd duck in this department: Tauntauns don’t necessarily counter other Tauntauns, but it helps. The mirror match is likely an article in itself, especially with the recent Withdraw changes, but let’s assume you don’t want to play Tauntauns yourself.

Luke Skywalker: A piercing beatstick. He can shove Tauntauns out of melee to make them vulnerable with Force Push. He can suppress them with Jedi Mind Trick and turn them on the enemy with You Serve Your Master Well. Son of Skywalker can delete a Tauntaun unit, but Luke has to roll average (aka no screwups) to take one from full to dead. Just make sure to keep dodges on him at all times and minimize the amount of shooting coming back his way.

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Rotary AT-RT: Tauntauns hate critical hits and the RT Rotary is a critical hit machine. Aim-shoot once the Tauns are in range. Alone they are no cover against the Sharpshooter 1 of the Tauntauns, but they are still useful for blocking pathways to your vulnerable units and the objectives.

Sniper Strike Teams: For the same reasons outlined in Empire.

Saboteur Strike Teams: The jury is still out here, but Saboteurs with Emergency Stims are an interesting choice, turning the Taun’s favorite, Limited Visibility, into a disadvantage. If Sabs can get into position to lay charges between the objective and the opponent’s army, stalling with Tauntauns becomes a costly option for your opponent. The longer they wait, the more bombs you throw. In addition, Detonate can beat Agile‘s timing, allowing the mines to attack before the dodge tokens are gained. Remember to bring a medic for the full shenanigans with these guys. Show only one model to soak overkill, treat to bring it back, and use Estims as a last resort.

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Cassian and K-2SO: These two are on the cutting edge of anti-Taun technology. Cassian and K have plenty of Crit generation between Calculate, Teamwork, Marksman and Jyn’s Blaster. K-2 can be a linebacker for your Tauntauns, and can Sacrifice himself to save a more important unit. Cassian’s Crack Shot with the Pistol can be very mean to Tauntaun’s that are stacked close together, and his pierce make finishing off wounded Tauns more of a sure thing.

Separatist Alliance

AAT Main Battle Tank: The battle tank equipped with High Energy Shells is a formidable long ranged attack, slinging 7 dice at Range 4 with Critical 2 behind it. High Velocity on the main cannon and the shells denies Tauntauns the use of their dodges. The Tank’s vantage point is also tall, making it easier to see Tauntauns that might otherwise be hidden at ground level. Going early and using Barrage with Lok Durd to deliver a pile of suppression can be a very strong tactic, immediately hitting the magic number and beyond, and is still likely to pass a couple of wounds at the same time. Unfortunately the main cannon has a minimum range of 2, but reversing or strafing with the tank can alleviate this problem.

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General Grievous: An absurdly strong beatstick with Pierce that Tauntauns usually want to avoid. His Annihilator pistol enables him to make peekaboo attacks with Scale which have Critical 1 and also Pierce. You’ll want to look for chances to dump Trained In Your Jedi Arts onto two or more Tauntauns grouped together. The Suppressive whirlwind-style attack combined with the Versatile Pistol will leave multiple Tauntaun riders units injured and suppressed.

Count Dooku: More subtle than Grievous or the Battle Tank, but he arguably has the most devastating tactics to employ. Force Push is a staple here to put the Tauntauns right where you want them. Force Choke is also excellent at finishing off Tauntaun models with three wounds. Use Dooku’s 3-pip to shove Tauntauns away from you and off objectives with a zap of lightning.

Dooku’s 2 pip deserves special attention both to its effect, which is returning face up orders to their pools, and its timing, which is the start of the activation phase. This means it even beats HQ Uplink, and return those tokens to the pool. It’s kind of like having a super Comms Jammer that can kill Uplinks, and no Tauntaun player ever wants to be without face up orders. Just be aware that the Tauntauns might be carrying Comms Jammers themselves, because that will affect your ability to fish Dooku from your Order Pool.

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Last but not least, using Fear Surprise and Intimidation to absolutey roast a unit of Tauntauns before they can move is fantastic. If Tauns land out of melee within Range 4 of you (Move, Move, Relentless Lightning/Throw Arsenal Attack at maximum range) you can drop FSI and there is nothing they can do to stop it since it lands at Cunning 1-pip speed, only beaten by Han with Uplink, which is nonexistent because it’s too expensive. This attack has Pierce 3 and very consistent attack dice, averaging 5.75 hits and surging to crit, and can reliably delete a lightly wounded Tauntaun unit. An even more powerful move is available as well against stacked Tauntauns – splitting fire with Lightning and Saber Throw, adding 2 suppression to both units which Dooku attacked, on top of the normal suppression gained from being attacked at range, immediately putting the Tauntauns on the magic number.

BX Droids with Vibroswords: The latest and greatest, Vibroswords turn a great ranged unit into a pocket melee defender. I just cannot see Vibrosword BX Droids being bad against Tauntauns. They are the definition of a strong melee unit that can react to what Tauntauns are doing.

Galactic Army of the Republic

Obi-Wan: An obvious choice for linebacker, he has a similar role to Luke in that he is going to be a melee beatstick with Force Push and possibly Jedi Mind Trick, though I am an advocate of taking Saber Throw on him and using it as a basis for Fire Support. Yank Tauntauns away from safety, chop them up, suppress them, or shove them into your clones on Standby. Obi is capable of so much abuse.

Standby Farm aka Clone Castle: Overwatch and Clones’ ability to share Standby tokens is generally brutal for Tauns to navigate. In short, Standby beats Agile and Relentless. As long as you’ve deployed coherently, a Standby anywhere in your army becomes a real problem for the Tauntaun player. The increased range on Standby forces Tauntauns to take less optimal shots, eat damage they don’t want to eat, or refuse to engage you at all. Tauntaun charge range is 17″, and Overwatch Standby range is 18,” go figure.

Captain Rex: Once the Tauntauns engage, Captain Rex can really go to work with his 1-pip, Call Me Captain. He’ll be Fire Supporting the melee attacks of the Clones that are tied up. Couple this with the Clones’ naturally strong defenses and Tauntauns are taking severe risks if they go anywhere near you.

Saber Tank: While it packs a wallop, I don’t think it’s actually that useful against massed Tauntauns, and Obi-wan outshines it in the linebacker role, but heavily aimed 9 dice attacks are never a bad option against things that need to be dead yesterday.

Lastly, I want to know your thoughts. Please share your experiences with Tauntauns and if you do try these counter strategies, let me know how it went. I’d love to have a lively dicussion in the comments!

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