This is a unit deep dive for the Empire’s new favorite bounty hunter for Star Wars Legion: Bossk.
There are some hot new things out recently. One of those things is Bossk. My boyfriend.
If you don’t follow Invader League, you don’t know about my love affair with the crit lizard. Let’s just say he’s one sexy lizard. And yeah, I’ve seen Shape of Water. I know how this works.
I’m kicking off the Return of the Unit Guides with my favorite Range 4 reptile.
We’ll hit some advantages and disadvantages, take a look at his unit card, and then dig into Bossk list ideas, command cards, and strategy.
- Long range suppression and damage
- Crit machine
- Difficult to chip (because of regenerate)
- Excellent area control
- High burst damage at long range with command cards
- Fragile when focused
- Timing sensitive
The Crit Lizard
Defense: White die, 7 health. The white die certainly isn’t great; if you can push hits through on him, it is not good for the lizard. Luckily it is pretty difficult to get shots on him at all if he is played properly, and 7 health is a decent pool.
Courage: 2. Decent. You really want Bossk to be getting two actions, so it’s worthwhile throwing Strict Orders on your commander for when Bossk gets hit by a suppressive weapon and isn’t enraged.
Slots: 2 training, one gear. Luckily this is really all Bossk needs. We’ll talk upgrades later, but you should definitely staple Hunter to one of these.
Bounty: The only keyword that offers a way to gain victory points besides objectives. It’s real good.
Enrage 3: This can be good and bad. Not getting suppression tokens is nice for not being suppressed, but bad for cover. The Charge portion of this rarely comes into play, but is decent when it does. There are some shenanigans you can pull with Merciless Munitions and Reptilian Rampage if you want to trigger it on purpose.
Expert Climber: While this is sort of a luxury keyword on Chewie, it is great on Bossk. Range 4 loves elevation.
Regenerate 3: Regenerating wounds for free? Yup, it is as good as it sounds. Combined with good activation timing this means any shots your opponent puts into Bossk will potentially be completely wasted. It’s a great deterrent too. I can’t count the number of times my opponent has wasted a nuke or a high burst damage attack in a vain attempt to damage Bossk and he just hides and regenerates all of it.
Unhindered: A solid keyword for getting Bossk where he needs to go.
Offense: We’ll talk about Frenzy and the Mortar Rifle in a bit.
We are going to start with list construction.
Why are we starting with list construction? Because Bossk is your focus. He’s not a focus. He’s the focus. Bossk is the Luke Skywalker or Boba Fett of your list. He can bring a lot to the table if you support him with your list building choices, or be hung out to dry if you don’t. There are a few reasons for this.
Bossk is very fragile, but very potent. This makes him extremely timing dependent. Bossk wants to spend the entire game going last, popping out and shooting something, and then going first on the following turn to shoot something again and pop back into safety (a last/first activation). His entire kit (range 4, regenerate, command cards) is set up to facilitate this, and you need to set your list up for it too, in terms of unit mix, activation count, and command cards.
The term last/first gets thrown around a lot, but what does that really mean? You go last or near last on one round with a given unit, and then go immediately first on the next round with that same unit, minimizing the unit’s exposure to enemy fire. This is especially important with Bossk, who is fragile to focused fire but has long range and command cards that facilitate this tactic.
Lying in Wait is a perfect “last” card for Bossk. Wait until the end of the turn, accumulate a pile of aim tokens, and then pop out from behind that Line of Sight blocker to ice something:
Next turn, play a low pip card like Merciless Munitions or Reptilian Rampage, murder something else, and then pop back out of sight. Note that both of these cards give you free moves.
Chip damage is nearly useless against Bossk because of Regenerate. That means your opponent needs to hit him with burst damage. Most burst damage is short ranged. You want to keep your opponent’s burst units away from Bossk, or punish them severely when they try and approach him. To do this you need a screen. The best screen is corps units. Lots of them.
I’m going to go over two of my favorite Bossk lists. Before we do that, let’s talk about why neither of them includes Boba Fett.
Double Bounty (Boba and Bossk in one list) has become a bit of a fad. It’s certainly not a bad list… Beefcake made the Invader League final with one, after all. Personally, I am not a fan. You get both bounty hunters in one list, which is nice. They are individually both very high impact units, which is also nice. However, you lose control. Depending on how you set up your command hand, you could go all six turns without an order on one of your two focus pieces (since both Boba and Bossk can only give orders to themselves with their command cards). If you include Push, which is fairly common, that brings it down to “just” five turns where you don’t have an order on one of them. I’m firmly on team One Bounty Hunter.
That isn’t to say you can’t or shouldn’t run double bounty, you just have to know you are giving up some control of your focus pieces. The most effective version of Double Bounty I’ve seen runs a generic officer with improvised orders. If you recover with the officer (since he probably has nothing better to do) you can use improv twice on one turn.
List A: Veers/Bossk
I feel like this list needs a catchy name. If you have any ideas feel free to post in the comments.
This is the list that I took to Invader League. It is very simple. Going into Invader League, my Empire experience was very limited, and I wanted to keep things as simple as possible so I didn’t have to worry about too many things at once. Turns out the list is pretty good anyway.
Yeah, it has two characters, six corps, and three snipers. Yawn. It’s boring. It also works really, really well.
Before we look at the units, let’s talk about command cards.
When I’m building a command hand for a Bossk list, I always like to separate them into last cards, first cards, and flex cards, relative to when you want to activate Bossk. You should have a roughly equal mix of both, and each card needs to have a plan for how you intend to use Bossk on that turn (even for the cards that aren’t his).
First Bossk Cards:
Last Bossk Cards:
Maximum Firepower (with Improv)
Coordinated Fire or Imperial Discipline (the former with Improv)
Lying in Wait
If you time these right, your opponent should never be able to get two shots in a row on Bossk. I’ll go over some examples of how to do this later. There are a couple cards than can force priority to disrupt this (Sorry About the Mess and Voracious Ambition, notably), but lists with Han or Krennic are usually 10 activations. Veers/Bossk goes to 11; while your opponent may be able to go first when they want, they are (hopefully) never going to be able to go last.
This list is a meatgrinder (or a trash compactor, if you need a Star Wars metaphor). I cut Recover, Disarray, and Limited Vis, and just make every game a fight over a particular area. Breakthrough is the worst objective for it besides Recover; if it isn’t in the third slot you should try and veto it. Use Bossk early to get up on attrition, and then make a late Merciless Munitions play to clean up unit leaders near the center objective or deter them from contesting. I’m perfectly comfortable with this list to let my opponent score the first two rounds on Intercept if it means more opportunities to grind them down.
Bossk loves aim tokens. Veers has Spotter 2. Keep Veers and Bossk close, feed the lizard, and don’t give your opponent any activations for free. 32 Stormtroopers is a lot to kill. Make your opponent work for it. If you do this right you should be up on attrition by turn 4-5 and in a position to just have your way with the objective.
The weakness of this list is Luke Skywalker; if he gets up in your grill, you don’t really have any tools to directly deal with him, besides Bossk himself. If you are used to running Boba Fett, you are definitely going to miss that whipcord.
Garnanana recently wrote a great article on Gunlines, which is highly applicable to this particular list.
List B: Krennic/Bossk (Krossk)
Same concept as List A, but with slightly different tools. Incidentally this list is quite a bit better on Breakthrough, because Compel is amazing on Breakthrough. Recover is still the worst for Bossk, so I cut the same cards as in List A.
Krossk is definitely more of a finesse list than Veers/Bossk. You don’t have easy bonus aim token access, and you only have five front line units (the Storms plus Death Troopers) instead of six. In practice it runs very similarly.
First Bossk Cards:
Last Bossk Cards:
Lying in Wait
Deploy the Garrison
This list skews less towards raw power and more towards control and suppression than Veers/Bossk. It also is quite a bit better at dealing with aggressive melee units, between Voracious Ambition and Deploy the Garrison. Use the Comms Relay on the Deathtroopers to push an order to one of your medics to hold until late in the turn, or to Bossk on your Voracious Ambition turn (you don’t want to risk not drawing his token on your card). Incidentally, if Bossk is enraged, he can pull something of a Vader trick with Deploy the Garrison, since he can’t lose the Standby via suppression tokens.
You should have an order on Bossk all six turns with this list.
Don’t forget you can throw six suppression on one target with a Reptilian Rampage into Deathtrooper double tap (triple tap?). That is enough to reliably panic a unit in a list that doesn’t have a Courage 3 commander, assuming it doesn’t just straight up die from getting hit twice by Bossk and once by Deathtroopers.
Feed the Lizard
Now that we’ve hit some list ideas and talked about the importance of constructing a list around Bossk, let’s talk about what Bossk is and how to use him.
Bossk is first and foremost a control piece. He has a suppressive weapon with Range 4, pierce, good dice, and surge to crit. Bossk is very good at killing things, particularly multi-wound models. Each turn you need to think about how and when you are going to use Bossk, and what enemies he will be exposing himself to (if any) after his action is complete.
Don’t underestimate how far Range 4 is. Bossk can influence a very large area. When you deploy him, think about where the objectives are, how your opponent is likely to approach those objectives, and where Bossk will need to be to cover them. Generally you want to leave Bossk until last or near last in deployment, so you can respond to your opponent’s positioning and your opponent can’t counter deploy Bossk.
Elevation is Bossk’s friend. He has expert climber, so clambering is no object. Elevation gives Bossk cover (usually heavy cover) and provides a better view. Bossk needs and wants a nice line of sight blocker near the objective(s) to pop in and out of (or up and down on top of).
You want an order on Bossk as often as possible, because he needs to be going last and then first all game, as we discussed up in list construction. Besides Bossk’s three command cards, you should have a specific idea for your other three turns about how you are going to control Bossk and when he is going to activate.
Let’s hit Bossk’s command cards.
What is better than blowing things up? Blowing things up and then poisoning them. Bossk doesn’t get to use this nearly as often or effectively as Sabine uses Explosions due to his range and his comparative lack of speed, but it does quite a bit more raw damage (and more consistent damage) than Explosions if you can land it.
Munitions is usually a late game play for me, to clean up weakened units or deter unit leaders from piling on the middle objective. Generally you don’t want Bossk close to anything that is dangerous, so Munitions is a much more defensive/control card than Explosions. If an aggressive melee unit pushes up against Bossk, you can use Munitions to (hopefully) win priority, hit them with some free damage, and get a free retreat move. Don’t forget you can also use Munitions in melee, though in that instance you will not be able to avoid hitting yourself with it.
Just like with explosions, the timing on Munitions is important. The free speed 1 move occurs after the Arm action, and you can detonate off the move itself, or off of some later action. You don’t always have to detonate immediately, and indeed it is often advantageous to hold the Dioxis Charge until some point later in the game, especially if you are just placing it defensively as a deterrent.
Note you can use Munitions to hit yourself and give Bossk Enrage, which is fairly corner case but can be useful.
Further note that wounds from Poison tokens can’t be put on stims, since the wound doesn’t occur during an attack. A Dioxis Charge is a great way to guarantee a character with one wound dies on their next activation if no medic is nearby.
I often find myself just using Munitions as Ambush for Bossk, which is totally fine. Don’t be afraid to use it just to win priority if you really need that.
Luke Skywalker isn’t the only one that can pull off an attack twice trick. Unlike Son of Skywalker, the second attack isn’t free. However, Bossk also has a really excellent ranged attack (unlike Luke) with Suppressive. Rampage also gives you a free move in exchange for taking a wound. Usually the wound is a fairly trivial cost due to Regenerate. You can also use the wound to Enrage yourself and get Charge, if Bossk is right on the threshold.
In my experience, the best use of this card is to throw down four suppression at once on one target. Your ideal target is a wounded character, since Hunter procs on both shots, and Bossk really needs aim tokens. Just about any unit in the open is a good target for this as well; without aims it won’t be nearly as consistent, but if you don’t put yourself in a position to need the crits the Hunter aims may not be as important.
Rampage works really well as a flex card; the free move gives you the freedom to double tap and then duck behind cover at the beginning of the turn, or to move out from cover and double tap at the end of a turn.
If you see a really juicy Munitions target, you can also use Rampage to triple move across the table to setup for a Dioxis Charge next turn, but doing that generally exposes Bossk, which you usually want to avoid.
Lying in Wait
Aim tokens are good. Crits are good. Lying in Wait is very good at generating crits. With 10 aim tokens (which is fairly easy to get with Lying in Wait) and Bossk’s surge/crit dice pool, you have a nearly 67% chance to roll into five crits, and a 90% chance to get four.
This is arguably Bossk’s best card. Don’t waste it when your opponent is in a position to deny you a target at the end of the turn; use it when your opponent has to move up or has already done so, and won’t be able to deny you a target without giving up a lot of board position. When I first started playing Bossk, I used this a fair bit on turn one, but now I tend to use it somewhere on turns 3-5. It is too easy to deny on turn one, generally.
Since Lying in Wait is so good at generating crits and Bossk’s rifle has Pierce, you can target nearly anything with this and reasonably expect to do 3-5 damage, guardian or armor be damned. Pierce immune and Impervious units are still decent targets for Lying in Wait, since those are usually characters, and Bossk wants to be shooting at characters.
Lying in Wait works really well as a last/first into Reptilian Rampage, with Bossk essentially being able to attack three times in a row. Lying in Wait is a great way to proc Hunter on a character for follow-up attacks.
Sometimes it is necessary to use Lying in Wait earlier in the turn than you prefer, with some less-ridiculous quantity of aim tokens. Perhaps a unit has moved into a position to threaten Bossk, or your opponent has been steadily moving units out of his threat range and Bossk won’t have a target if he waits any longer. Just be aware of what threatens Bossk in his new position if he goes early.
More Bossk tactics
Bounty is an incredible keyword. It gives you the ability to straight up gain an extra victory point, which no other keyword in the game does. With Boba Fett, I always sort of viewed Bounty as a bonus; if your opponent lets you score it, fine, but it isn’t anything you should count on. I still view it somewhat the same way with Bossk; I use Bounty as a deterrent for aggressive characters, and if my opponent gives me an opportunity to collect, fine. However, I’ve found that collection to be significantly more achievable on Bossk, between his long range and Command Cards. You can do a surprise character wipe (bounty or otherwise) with a back to back Lying in Wait followed by Reptilian Rampage.
Don’t forget that Bounty is mandatory, which means both players are responsible for preserving that game state. If I forget, I usually let my opponent decide who the Bounty is on… but technically both players are responsible for making sure it happens after deployment. If you are facing a bounty hunter, it isn’t just gentlemanly to remind your opponent about their Bounty after deployment: it is required by the rules.
If you have an order token on Bossk, and he is in a position to fire on enemy units and duck behind cover afterwards, you can sometimes bait unproductive shots out of opposing units. This works best when Bossk is at or near full health and is unlikely to take more than 2-3 damage from a given attack (Bossk is usually in heavy cover to facilitate this). If or when Bossk takes damage, you then just take your shot and move back into safety, and regenerate.
Upgrades (in order of personal preference)
I don’t think this one needs an introduction. Bossk needs aim tokens, and he wants to be shooting things with multiple wounds. Staple Hunter to him.
Stims aren’t generally good on characters with poor saves, but most characters with poor saves can’t regenerate wounds.
Stims increase the burst damage threshold your opponent needs to do to kill Bossk in one shot from 7 to 9. As we’ve already discussed, you should be (hopefully) managing Bossk so that your opponent never gets two shots in a row on him. Attack pools in Legion are essentially an upward sloping curve with respect to damage; your chances reduce exponentially as you need progressively more hits. In other words, going from 3 to 4 damage in one attack is harder than going from 1 to 2 damage, and going from 7 to 8 damage is a lot harder than going from 6 to 7 damage. Bossk with stims, played properly, is very difficult to kill.
I’ve heard of stims referred to as “training wheels” for Bossk, which I couldn’t disagree more with. Bossk is likely the most important piece in your army. Pay the 8 points to make your opponent think twice about wasting shots on him.
Bossk has decent melee, but you don’t generally want him there if you can help it. Tenacity is really cheap, however, and if Bossk is in melee he is probably wounded. Tenacity improves his melee attack pool to Red, Red, Black, Black, White, which is quite solid. I would definitely consider it a luxury upgrade, but if Bossk gets charged by an aggressive melee unit, you will be glad you took it.
If any unit in the game wants targeting scopes, it might be Bossk. Bossk has a big dice pool with a lot of white dice, so he is very likely to have three misses to re-roll. Scopes also significantly improve your ability to convert to full crits on Lying in Wait with less aim tokens. Scopes work a lot better when Bossk is supported by Veers than Krennic, due to the increased natural access to aim tokens.
Counters and Vulnerabilities
Bossk is weak to burst damage. Long range burst damage with high or reliable dice counts are the most effective counters to Bossk; specifically Deathtroopers (especially ones with Hunter), another Bossk in a mirror, and the AT-ST. Yes, I realize all of those things are Empire units.
Aggressive assault units can also be very threatening to Bossk, if they can get to him. Luke, Sabine (with Darksaber), Wookiees, and Imperial Royal Guard will all shred Bossk if they get close enough to him. Even if Sabine doesn’t have Darksaber, she can still be very dangerous to Bossk with explosions; a combination of two detonations and a tap from Sabine’s pistols can very easily do a huge chunk of damage to Bossk. Screen Bossk with corps units to prevent these units from reaching him.
Beware of spike damage as well from things like Z-6s. The Z-6 is just as likely to throw down 4 hits as it is to whiff. One hot roll and Bossk can be in a real bad spot.
Saving the best for last. Let’s start with the gun.
I don’t know exactly what a mortar rifle is, or how Bossk manages to fire it without some kind of tripod, but he’s a bad-ass crit lizard, I guess.
Here are the expected wounds by various targets, with and without an aim token.
If you want to know how I got these and play around with the numbers yourself, check out my Damage Simulator.
Bossk’s damage is very spiky; that isn’t captured perfectly in these averages. Since he rolls five dice with surge/crit, you will have pools where you roll just one crit or a bunch of blanks, and pools where you somehow manage to roll into four natural crits with no aim tokens. He’s a slot machine.
That said, Pierce, Suppressive, and his command cards make the ultimate result fairly consistent and reliable. Bossk loves aim tokens; if you run him with Veers, Bossk should be your number one target for spotter. This is also why Hunter is so good on him.
I added columns for Pierce Immune targets and Impervious, since Luke, Boba and Sabine are frequent (and decent) targets for Bossk. If you are firing at Sabine or Boba in the open, you can expect to do about 1 wound to them, or closer to 1.35 if you have an aim token.
In case you were curious, I did a chart on Lying in Wait, because crits. Here are the chances to get a given number of crits with 10 aim tokens (not a difficult accumulation with Lying in Wait). The percentages in this chart are cumulative; that is, you have a 90% chance to get at least four crits.
Well, the guaranteed five crit shorthand is a little overblown… you only have a 66% chance to get five crits. You will almost certainly get at least four, though.
You don’t want to be in melee, but if you find yourself there, his damage isn’t bad.
There’s not much you can do about it except hope to roll paint, but just for fun, here is the chance to regenerate a given number of wounds based on how many white dice you are rolling.
Hey, Imperials can roll white dice too. Rebellions are built on hope.
Bossk is a beast, but drops very quickly when focused. You need to center your list around him to facilitate good activation control, activating him last and then first all game to deny your opponent any opportunities to take him out. Look for the bounty, but don’t be too focused on it; Bossk’s job is to kill things and control areas with his range and suppression. Support the crit lizard and he will serve the Empire well.