I love tier lists. Not only are they easily digestible and thought provoking, but I think they’re often the most effective way to rank things. Putting things in tiers is often better than debating “is X better than Y or is Y better than X?” when really they just do different things. Tier lists are also easy content. Every content creator and their mom has probably put out a tier list at some point or another, and it probably got great engagement. As such, I do feel a little guilty dipping into that well when there’s still so many interesting things to write about. I do have an ulterior motive though: I want a time capsule.
Shatterpoint released June 2, almost seven months ago. We’ve gone months without new units being released. While that may seem like enough time for the dust to settle, I don’t think it has. I play a lot of games and I’ve still got a long list of strike teams to test out. The Galactic Civil War era has barely been explored, and we have nothing from the New Republic yet. The competitive scene is still in it’s infancy stage. In the next year the game will no doubt see a lot of shake ups. Thus the main purpose of this article: I want to check back in at the end of each year and see how opinions have changed on all the units in the game. Most (or all) units will not see errata in the next 12 months, but I’m sure many will rise or fall in our collective estimation. I think the “why?” there will be a fascinating topic to dive into at the end of 2024.
Of course, seeing as this is the first time we’re doing this exercise, there is no baseline for comparison. Fear not! There will still be plenty to talk about. Being the extremely humble person that I am, I realize my opinion is not the be all and end all of this discussion. Therefore, a few weeks back I put the word out to the community to fill in their own tier lists. In this article I will examine not only my own rankings, but the amalgamated rankings of the wider community. Thank you to all who took up the challenge and submitted tier lists. However, it was only about 20 people. While this is a good start, I want more next time! Keep an eye out in my November 2024 article for submission links and perform your civic duty!
Now, it is important to recognize what these tier lists are. Are they a definitive verdict on which units are playable and which are not? Certainly not! I think of this more as a vibe check. Furthermore, with this data we should be able to start diving into some of the following questions:
- Where is there consensus opinion developing in the community?
- Where is there disagreement?
- What can the two things above tell us about unit value in Shatterpoint?
- How settled are things now, seven months into the game?
Finally, before we begin, I should mention how the tiers are defined. For the community call, I intentionally gave no direction as to what each tier meant. I think it’s cool to see how each person individually assigns value, and overall I’m banking on some sort of “wisdom of the crowd” effect. For my own part, here is how I generally approached the tiers:
S-tier: A consideration for any list. These units are universally good in a way that transcends tag synergy. They won’t necessarily make any list better, but “would X unit be better here?” is always a question you should ask yourself with these units.
A-tier: Very strong units. Either universally good with some minor flaws, keeping them from S-tier, or incredibly good within a specific build. These are usually characters have multiple useful abilities and at least one very strong ability, though some exceptional all-rounders may sneak in.
B-Tier: Good units. Perhaps even very good within a very specific build! These units may still have a very strong ability but are more flawed than their A-tier counterparts. Alternatively, they may just be solid overall but not a standout in any category.
C-Tier: Meh. These units may be good in very specific circumstances, with help from the rest of the list. It’s not a mistake to include these units in a strike team, but they do need a good support system to be effective. These units may be brought to fill one specific role or only fit in to one archetype.
D-Tier: Just … just don’t. There are better options. These characters may make a play that feels great here or there, but over the course of a game they are bringing much less to the table than pretty much any alternative.
Did I stick to these religiously? Not really. The main thing is that I am valuing based off of a combination of what a unit can achieve at peak performance and how flexible they are in achieving that peak performance. To be S-tier for me a unit has to transcend synergy and be a consideration in every single list. This doesn’t mean that one is always “making a mistake” by not playing S-Tier units, but I’m always thinking about swapping them in. Should you just smash S- and A-tier units into a list and expect great success? Also, no. I think B-tier units are the backbone of most strong lists with some S- and A-tier units mixed in. Even C-tier units appear in some very strong lists. List synergy is still a big consideration in Shatterpoint. That’s good, because things would be pretty bland otherwise.
If you got this far, well done. If you’re reading this it means you didn’t just scroll down to look at the pictures, for which I thank you. Without further ado, let’s look at the lists!
Behind the Scenes
The was a lot of consensus in the Support category. MagnaGuards were always in S or A and the 501st were almost always in D. Overall, five different units appeared at least once in S and five appeared at least once in D. One unit, Clone Commandos, appeared in both S and D at least once each.
Look, magnas are really good. We all know this. Personally though I don’t rate them highly outside of Separatist lists so I couldn’t pull the trigger on S. Unfortunately, we also all agree that 501st are bad. They struggle in combat and suffer greatly from “ARF fill the same role but do it much better” syndrome. Beyond these two obvious observations, I don’t really have much to say here. There aren’t any major differences between the community rankings and my own. It’s good to see that each “faction” has some representation in the upper tiers.
Clone Commandos were the most contentious unit and are an interesting peek into how people see value. I would assume they achieved the S rating due to their mobility, largely thanks to the Scale keyword. Meanwhile, those ranking them in D tier was likely due to their lack of a shove or mobility options early in the tree. It’s interesting to see different approaches for weighing great mobility vs. poor displacement effects.
This is the section where I want to peer into the crystal ball and think about what we’ll be saying in December 2024. For me personally, I’m bullish on Bounty Hunter stock right now. I think they’re fine, maybe I was a bit harsh with a C rating, but they don’t quite feel like they have a home right now. In a droid list I’d rather take more droids, in a clone list more clones, etc. However, as we expand and develop eras other than the clone wars, Bounty Hunters are in a great position to fuse together otherwise disparate squads. In cross-era strike teams Payday could be especially handy, and being a multi-era unit themselves means bounty hunters can go in whichever squad they’re needed. Good crit access at range and a shove on one is never a bad thing. I’m not sure they’ll rise all the way to A, but you never know.
This is just a hunch, but I feel like we might not have a lot of dice-less displacement coming in the civil war (sorry, the “Age of Rebellion”) era. We’ve seen Luke and Vader and they don’t have Force Push. Maybe Chewie will have Throw a Dude or something but thematically I’m not sure where these abilities would come from. A nice cheap Force Pull from Fourth Sister may become quite enticing. I could see her moving up a rank.
I don’t have a great candidate for a unit that will fall down in the rankings, but my best bet is Nightsisters. I doubt we’ll see new Dathomirian units for a while which means their use case will stay fairly narrow. Of course, I’ve discussed before how Coordinated Fire: Expose is a strong ability and it (or Enfeeble: Expose) does appear on two of the community’s A units, so perhaps that will be enough to keep Nighsisters ranked decently.
Behind the Scenes
Opinions are a bit more mixed when it comes to Secondary units. Jango and Obi were always A or S. Overall, five different units appeared at least once in S and seven appeared at least once in D. Sadly, no unit was in both S and D. The closest we got were Sabe and Savage both appearing in A and D at least once each.
Comparing my rankings to those of the community, it seems people like killing things more than I do. I guess this isn’t too much of a surprise, I usually play lists that aren’t especially focused on wounding and often end games with less wounds than my opponent. I love utility units like Bo, Ahsoka, and (to a lesser extent) Sabe, but each came in lower in the community rankings than my own. Meanwhile, killy units like Savage, Kalani and Kraken did better than I expected.
The secondary slot is a weird one. You aren’t quite as powerful as a primary, but you don’t have the double bodies of a support. Reflecting on my own list building process, I think secondaries are by far the units I most often flip-flop on when refining a strike team. They seem very much like a “flavour to taste” sort of role, which may explain why we see a lot of variance in how they are rated from person to person.
This is probably the hardest unit type to predict going forward. There isn’t really an equivalent to Bounty Hunters where I see a secondary unit fusing cross-era squads together. Aurra Sing has Payday but her cost of 5 hurts flexibility. Obi is very multi-era but he’s just sort of hanging around being good.
Spicy thought: we know that Dark Troopers are inbound at some point, and they’re probably support units. What if they have the Battle Droid tag? Using Tactical Network on a Dark Trooper feels like it’ll be a good time. Perhaps IG-11 will have that tag too, but less likely. It’ll be hard for Kraken and Kalani to improve on their A rankings from the community, but maybe one or both will get there for me if they can open up spicy interactions with future battle droids.
Finally, maaaaaybe Cody climbs out of D in the future? If we get an objective that doesn’t require moving then he could be kind of happy, or maybe when the Bad Batch come he combos with well them, either through rerolls or the Clone Commando tag (yes, Cody has that tag). Perhaps a long shot, but I’ll call it now: Cody to C-tier next year!
Behind the Scenes
Barring one big exception, opinions on primaries are actually fairly consistent. The standout is Vader, who never dropped below A and was usually an S. Overall, five different units appeared at least once in S and six appeared at least once in D. Luminara appeared in both S and D at least twice each, making her the most controversial unit yet.
In this entire exercise, only Luminara and Dooku are off by more than a single tier when comparing my ranks with the community. I have to defend myself here! Dooku is whatever. He’s a solid piece, droids don’t really punish his 7SP because they have great 3PC supports, but he’s just kinda bland and his identity doesn’t work on supports, which is what you want to kill against seppies anyway. So, fine, whatever. I’ve got to defend Luminara though. She is incredible. Her Flow of the Force has three great abilities within it and none of them depend on synergy. Every activation having the possibility of generating one free dash is a total game-changer. She’s also tanky to boot, though the recent proliferation of expose effects is something she doesn’t like. I’ve written many words on strike team building, but the best advice comes from my buddy Li who said basically “it’s good to have one primary who has a big impact when they are activating and one who makes a big impact when they are not activating”. To me, Luminara has probably the biggest impact of any primary when not activating so having her down in C tier is shameful. Shameful I say!
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, the big thing I want to highlight is force efficiency. Units that can be very effective without much force (Vader, Maul, Grievous, Dooku to an extent) tend to rank consistently high. Units that burn a lot of force (Asajj, Anakin, Grand Inquisitor to an extent) end up much lower. Looking back, you could say that’s a general trend for all units, but it’s especially apparent with primaries. Maybe that’s where the disconnect on Luminara comes in? Her Full Recovery ability can be situationally handy, but it’s definitely not the part of her kit I would rely on to get value.
One thing I’ve generally heard from people is that they found Dooku’s identity very strong early on, but over time they’ve learned to play around it. I think that’s a fair comment, and perhaps his high ranking is in some part due to not being played around yet. I think he could come come down a bit over time, but he’s still solid so I wouldn’t expect too big of a drop.
Now, I’m a big lover of Obi-Wan. I wrote a deep dive a while back on his identity, Knowledge and Defense, because the ceiling on it is truly wild. That being said, it’s quite possible we see no new republic hunker synergy in 2024. Handmaidens don’t get them. We’ve already seen the Wolfpack card and they don’t get them. Maybe Bad Batch loves hunkers and this is all moot, but it’s quite possible that hunkers are much more of a republic sub-theme by this time next year. Right now hunkers feel like a main republic thing, and thus Obi keeping those hunkers around and granting extra benefits is very important. Assuming future releases don’t have easy hunker access, I could definitely see Obi falling down a tier next year.
I think people are sleeping on Padme. Most of the discussion I see around her identity focuses on the “extra dice” part, but the “making wounded supports contest” part is much stronger in my opinion. I could see her rising up the ranks.
Finally, as of writing this we know the abilities and stances of three future units: Luke, Plo, and other Vader. Let’s very quickly make some predictions for where they’ll debut next year:
Luke: B. He looks individually strong and doesn’t rely on synergy, but I’m not convinced he’s a game wrecker and he’s not exactly force-lite. Regening force on each activation helps, but even one wound makes his kit almost prohibitively expensive I would think. Maybe he’s impossible to wound though and is a beast. An A ranking wouldn’t surprise me much at all.
Plo: A for me, but probably B for community. He does a bit of everything and should be a republic stalwart, but he does really want to get Force Push for free.
Vader-2: D. I’m calling my shot here: that identity is going to be too much of a liability competitively. Perhaps someone will figure out a way to make it a positive, though, and make Vader2 a force to be reckoned with. Seeing as this is the cheaper, more accessible Vader, I would love to be proven wrong.
As we conclude, let’s check back in on those questions we were aiming to answer.
Where is there consensus opinion developing in the community?
There is a good bit of consensus on the top and bottom units. Units like Vader, Jango, Obi2, and Magnas score very consistently. Meanwhile, the 501st, Reva, Grand Inquisitor, and Anakin are generally seen as lower-end units.
Where is there disagreement?
Honestly, kind of everywhere. Depending on the person, the same unit could be seen as S tier or D tier. Secondaries in particular seem to be very much “in the eye of the beholder” when it comes to value.
What can the two things above tell us about unit value in Shatterpoint?
I think there’s generally not a “right answer” and a “wrong answer” when it comes to list building. Now, there can be better and worse answers, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a message of “anything can work if you believe in yourself!” Intentionality is important, so knowing why you’re including a specific unit in your team and properly using them to fill their roles is often more important than just putting in the best ranked unit you can find.
Regarding primaries in particular, doing a lot while still being force-efficient seems to be the name of the game, unsurprisingly.
How settled are things now, seven months into the game?
We’re are definitely starting to see units differentiate themselves, both for good and bad, but a lot is yet to be determined. In about a month we should presumably start getting regular unit releases again, which will throw things back into turmoil. I assume 2024 will see many more large Shatterpoint events. I would say “expect the unexpected” as a meta shakes out from that. I think we’ll all be surprised by one thing or another in top-performing lists. If you’re travelling to a big event then be prepared to face something you may have written off locally as not very good. Don’t get caught underestimating something!
Thank you once again to everyone who submitted tier lists for this project. I think it makes things much more interesting to have a wider set of opinions than just my own. I’ll make some changes next year to get improved turnout and hopefully it can be bigger and better than ever. I’m excited to look back and laugh saying “oh, we were so naive in 2023!”
While you’re here, I have a non-blog announcement! I just launched my side project, the Bombad Tactics YouTube channel! I’m posting battle reports and explainer videos for some of the finer points of the Shatterpoint rules. If you could click through and check it out that would be awesome! What better way to recover from all the partying happening this time of year?