Imperial Commanders as a Beginner

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Can you hear that in the distance? Is that John Williams’ masterpiece, The Imperial March?! Lord Vader must be approaching…..run!

Honestly, I feel like the Fleet Troopers in Rogue One right now. I went through my beloved Rebels as slowly as I could to hold off this moment, but here I am with the Death Star plans in my hand and I’m getting hunted by a half(?!) man, half machine, lightsaber wielding maniac….the inevitable is upon us. We must go over the Imperials! As opposed to the Rebels, these posts will be from my perspective as a beginner but from playing against these units. Some of them, I haven’t even had a game in against, yet, such as the AT-ST. I’ll still do my best to try and break the Imperials down regardless of the lack of playing as them. I only have two games under my belt as Imperials and both came within my first week of owning the game. Let’s get to it, though, and start with the Emperor’s thug…..Lord Vader.

Darth Vader

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“The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master.” -Darth Vader

You know, thinking about this classic line to Obi-Wan, he was actually wrong. Never the master was our fearless Lord Vader was he? Always in Palpatine’s shadow….never the less let’s get to the real point of our post. At a base cost of 200, Vader is pretty expensive right off the top. There’s been a lot of talk of whether he is good competitively or not, and I think the answer is that it just takes a lot of practice and a certain play style to be good with Vader. The main concern with Vader and Palpatine, in competitive play, is they work best in the mid to late rounds. In tournaments, you may not get the most of them.

Thematically he only moves at the one speed, which certainly makes him slow. On the upside, he has Relentless which allows him to attack after performing a move. Some downside is he has no surges on offense or on defense, unless he spends a dodge token. Dodge tokens on Vader are important and you may want to consider Force Reflexes and Force Push,  especially with Master of the Force 1, however the one thing you should include is Saber Throw. Vader is slow on the approach and in order to get maximum use of him you can move, move and throw his lightsaber at range 1-2. Sure it’s half the dice, but it’s better than nothing and it’s still Pierce 3! The only issue now is with Push and Saber Throw, for an example, is that he’s now a base of 225 points, which is over a quarter of your army. Sure he has a healthpool of 8, can’t be suppressed (and also won’t let any of your units panic if they’re in range) and rolls red dice, but he is susceptible to focus fire from trooper units if they’re in range. Keeping your distance, while getting down the battlefield is the key. Keeping him obscured can go a long way!

Command Cards

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Basically, this is Darth Vader’s answer to Son of Skywalker. Maybe not as effective, because you won’t get to make the two attacks back to back, because you shuffle his token back into your stack. That said, it’s still really strong even taking the wound to do it, More actions for Vader is always a good thing. You’ll want to use this knowing you’ll be engaging a unit at the start of the round.

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This is probably Vader’s worst Command Card out of the three, but it’s still really strong. It will be very situational. Such as where you are on the battlefield: how many troopers are in your squads? Can you afford to take the one wound to make another move or attack? On and on it goes. Keep in mind, it’s completely up to you because the card says “it may”, so you might not even use the card action and just use it as a tactic to maybe get initiative if you’re expecting your opponent to play something with more than two pips!

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You get the ever important Dodge on Vader which will allow him to Surge/Deflect, give tokens to two other units, and oh yeah: apply three suppression to any enemy trooper units in range 1 to 2 of him. This is a really strong mid to late game card and can really cripple an opponent if they kept their forces near each other. It’s honestly such a great, thematic card! Darth Vader truly is a Master of Evil.

 

Emperor Palpatine

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“Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.” – Emperor Palpatine

This is truly a beginners part of the article because I have yet to play a game with or against Sheev Palpatine aka Darth Sidious aka our fearless Ruler of the Galactic Empire. I’ll do my best to give some insight on how to best play him. I do think he’s a niche piece that will take a lot of practice to become good with, but if you’re patient with him it will be worth it. He’s a really good unit when the person playing him knows how to play him! Let’s start with some base facts: He’s expensive at a cost of 210. He has a somewhat small health pool of 5, but a suppression threshold of 4. Now to the fun part. He has Pull the Strings which allows a friendly trooper unit at range 1 to 2 perform a free move or attack, which is really strong and is the basis of using Palpatine in the first place. Entourage: Imperial Royal Guard  can go a long way as well. Ignoring their rank and being able to give them an order token if they’re in range 1 to 2 is very good. You’ll want to keep the IRG close to Palpatine, anyway, because they have Guardian. Being able to take wounds of Palpatine is best because Palpatine thrives in the mid to late game, you need him to survive. Seeing as he is the true Master of the Sith tandem, he has Master of the Force 2, which allows him to refresh not one but two force cards. Oh! And he actually surges on both offense and defense!

My recommendations would be Anger, Force Push and Esteemed Leader. Esteemed will also help his longevity in the game. I think medical bots are a good possibility to throw on some trooper squads if you’re worried about Palpatine surviving and have the points to do it. That may be easier said than done when you have a Commander with a point total of 230, though. I mean, just tinkering on TableTopAdmiral I just threw a list together of Palpatine, two DLT Stormtrooper squads, two DLT squads with medic bots, one IRG with Electrostaff, and two sniper strike teams. That gets you to 796 points and 9 activations, seems pretty good but I could be wrong! Like Vader, Palpatine is better in the middle to late rounds.

Command Cards

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A great late game card and especially good if your target is Luke Skywalker. Depending on how man wounds you have on Palpatine, you’ll be able to take as many attacks as you’d like with this Command Card and the defender gains 1 immobilized token. Hitting your opponent two times is great because now they can’t move. Which we all know Luke needs to be mobile to get his moneys worth. Very thematic card, reminds me of that time on the second Death Star or something.

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This seems like a good early round card. It will rely on where your forces and where your opponents forces are. If you can pick a unit that is not going to get in range for an attack, they’re going to take those four suppression and be in danger of panicking next activation. Even if they don’t, I would say odds are they’re only getting one action anyways. Taking actions away from your opponent is always a good thing.

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This seems like a likely candidate for turn zero/round one. Putting tokens on every unit in your army allows you to have full control of who activates and when they activate. Not having to go to the stack takes a lot of pressure off if something needs to activate at a specific time.

 

General Veers

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“Yes, Lord Vader. I’ve reached the main power generators. The shield will be down in moments. You may start your landing.” – General Veers

This is going to seem weird in a world where we have Vader and Palpatine….but Veers is your best option as an Imperial Commander. At least until Krennic comes out, which is soon! I still think Veers will be the go to. A lot of Imperial lists start with Veers and Boba, but let’s not get into that, let’s get into Veers himself. The reason Veers is featured in most Imperial lists is because he only costs a base of 80 and points are a premium on the Imperial side, as opposed to the Rebel side of things. He has a health pool of 5 and a suppression threshold of 2. He surges to crit but has no defense surge ability. Veers’ best ability is Spotter 2, which allows you to give out aim tokens. There’s multiple ways to play this, such as give Veers one and a trooper unit one. Typically, you’ll end up giving both to trooper units who can move and shoot with the free aim token, in theory.

Command Cards

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The poor mans Coordinated Bombardment! Unlike Leia’s card, where you roll two red dice at three separate targets, Veers gets one attack at the end of his activation with four red dice. It’s not AS good as Coordinated Bombardment, but it’s still extremely effective.

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I think this card had a lot of early value, and still does if you’re using the core set and run some bikes! As the game has evolved, and as I have mentioned, vehicles are not as efficient as they could be. If and when vehicles become a big part of the game, I could see this card being pretty good.

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This cards value is also going up soon with the Death Troopers coming out soon. A free recover action is really good for things that exhaust. Let’s say vehicles become good again and you start running some HH-12 Stormtroopers, you can recover them with this. So on and so forth. But I really do think this card will be more useful when Death Troopers hit the table!

 

Generic Imperial Officer

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Like the Rebel Commander, we won’t go over the Generic Commander too much. In basic terms: She’s a cheaper, not as good Veers. She has Spotter 1 as opposed to Spotter 2Inspire 1 no Precise but does keep Sharpshooter 1. She rolls white dice, instead of red, but does surge to blocks. Surge to hit on offense, with a slightly different gun. Healthpool of 4 and Suppression threshold of 2. Now that I have gone over the basics, the only way I really see her get used is if you’re crunched for points on a high activation/high point total list, or if you want to get a second Command token into your bag mix. Other than that, I don’t see her getting much play in competitive lists.

Imperial Command Cards

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Right now, where the game is at, you can probably guess what your opponents hand has. I think the card has value outside of that, though. It is only 1 pip, which will mean you may get initiative when you need it. Maybe you need to activate some Saboteurs or Boba first, too. That said, if you’re running Veers/Boba you most likely will not have this card in your Command hand.

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This card can give you some good board control if used properly. In a recent game, my opponent shot my Leia with their bikes and that meant Leia’s token goes to my stack rather than on Leia. Now I can’t activate her unless I pull her from my token stack. In the right moment, I can see this being a good card. Definitely situational and will rely on Support or Heavy Units being in your army.

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The “Aim Chain”! This is a really strong card and most likely in a lot of Imperial lists, depending on what the options are. Definitely a mid-round card, where you know you have range on shots that way you can aim and shoot with your Corps units. Then, as long as they are in range, that tokens just going to keep passing and passing around. In theory, you can keep stacking Aim tokens if you position everyone properly. I have yet to see it go as high as some people thought it would, because it’s easier said than done. That said, this is an extremely good card still.

 

Final Notes

Unlike the Rebel counterparts, it’s somewhat difficult for an Imperial army to sport two Commanders and be effective. That’s the price of being the almighty Empire, I guess, everything cost more. Veers and Krennic(when he comes out next week) will be who you see most in Imperial lists, they’re cheaper and easier to play. That said, I strongly believe that Vader and Palpatine are good units that just need practice. (Update: Palp and Vader straight murdered me in a jank game last night! The Sith were feeling it!) If you can perfect yourself using one of those two, your opponent has a lot to fear. Which, I mean isn’t that thematic?! This was truly a beginner post and hope you enjoy it! Imperial Corps units will be next!

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May the Force be with You!

-GrandAdmiralThrawn

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