In this article we’ll take a look at some common archetypes when building a list for competitive play.
At the Fifth Trooper over the years, we have written many articles on list building from a basic point of view, covering mistakes such as filling every upgrade slot for units or taking grenades on units that never want to be at range one. Sometimes though you might want to fill every upgrade slot or equip grenades – looking at you Pink Suns!
We’ll look at how I build a list for a competitive tournament and my thought process.
I like to group lists into four main groups:
- Gunlines who shoot you off the board and go for objectives towards the end of the game.
- Melee focused lists (or other close range threat lists like Black Suns) who want to advance as quickly as possible, and if they manage to get to the enemy will start to thrive.
- Double heavies, where if you take multiple tanks become hard to remove off the table and pack a strong punch.
- Everything Else. Often a heavy hero focused list, a mix of both melee and gunline or it can be as random as six activation Vader, Palpatine and a tank.
A gunline list is where most of the firepower is at Range 3, but is quite happy to shoot at Range 4 for chip damage, and let the enemy move into your Range 3 aimed shots instead of moving forward. Objectives this kind of this list thrive at are turn six scoring objectives such as Key Positions or Intercept.
The main play style of this list will be to kill as much of the enemy possible in the first few turns, making it harder for them to contest the objectives later in the game.
So how do we build a gunline? The first thing is we need some units that can hit hard but also survive some return shots. For this example, I’m going to start with Rebel troopers with the DLT-20A, Trooper Captain and Situational Awareness. This unit when in heavy cover can remove three hits or crits before making a save, whilst also shooting seven black and one white at range three.
All gunlines need some support to generate tokens to help them be either more offensive or defensive. For this list we are going to be taking two officers with Vigilance and Portable Scanners. Their job is to give out dodges and keep those dodges on the core units with Vilgilance, helping them stay alive longer so we can continue to shoot.
At this point in the list, we have a solid framework for our gunline and also for matching up against other strong lists with gunlines. But we need to look at how we can deal with the other list types. If we get matched up against any double heavies or a melee list, we have no counter.
So let’s get a melee counter in this list. These are units that we can use to counter charge or keep a melee unit at bay since they fear charging it. For Rebels ,we want a force user or a whip cord of some sort. In this example I want to add Ashoka due to her synergy of her cards giving out tokens. (you could also always use Luke instead). If we think the current meta is very melee focused, we could look at adding some Wookiees to support Ahsoka or another lightsaber/whip cord if the points allow.
I think using our left-over points to deal with heavies is more important. We currently have zero ranged impact. If Ashoka can get into melee, she can deal with Dark Troopers, but we still want some units that have native impact and not just rely on our Critical 1 core units.
At first, I want to add two FD cannons which are great anti-armour units with the native impact and a Range 5 gun adding to our long-range shooting. This leaves me with 29-point bid, and I do not have many options for upgrades. This bid to me is a bit excessive for this list and play style but it is an option. Instead, I have opted to take two sniper teams to give us some ranged pierce and a single FD cannon.
When building this list, I’ve tried to find a counter for each of the four archetypes. For the mirror match in the gunline I have durability and the three range five guns with some pierce and a single melee option. For the melee focused list, I have a Jedi to hold them up or make them think twice about charging my lines. For armour, we have a native long range impact FD cannon.
Melee focused lists
For a melee focused list, we need to build a list that can survive the approach and once they arrive can deal a lot of damage and cause a lot of havoc.
For this example, I’m going to build a triple MagnaGuard focused list. Normally for this list archetype I would go with whips on the MagnaGuard. With the current Dark Trooper Meta, I’m more inclined to take the rocket upgrade giving us some impact and ranged attacks if we need them.
I’ve decided to try and use General Grievous for this list.
His two-pip can help keep the MagnaGuard alive on the approach, while they help keep the General alive. (You can’t use guardian on a unit with guardian which I had forgotten about when writing the article.)
We have a leader and some focus pieces, and we have taken some anti-armour options in our list with the Impact from the MagnaGuards. We now have the issue of if we face other melee focused lists or gunlines.
The most important thing about facing gunlines while running a melee focused list is making sure we get there alive as much as possible. The two pip from Grievious will help for a turn, but what about the other five turns? We also have not yet picked out our corps units either.
My first choice would be a rocket with a HQ uplink for the first B1 squad, which also helps with the order control issues we would start to have with this list. The other thing that will keep all these MagnaGuard alive is four PK worker droids. This will give us eight health to repair on the approach and takes the activation count to nine units.
We have extra health and ways to restore models to help us on that approach vs gun lines. We have Impact eight plus a lightsaber user for the high armour lists and the extra health will also help in mirror match ups.
For this list I’m going to go with the iconic units that draw people to the table, double AT-ST. These are units that can hit hard, throwing nine dice at range three with some aims to help along with surge to hit.
As with all the other lists, we need a strong commander to help support the main units of our list. In this case I want General Veers, since he gives out two aim tokens a turn and I have two AT-ST’s. His command cards are okay but this is our only option unfortunately.
Now the issue with all double heavies (except Dark Troopers) is we do not currently have many thumbs to do certain missions. Lets add some corps units to help with this, and whilst we are doing that we’ll add some fire power at the same time.
Let’s asses this list vs our other archetypes. In the mirror match up we have a strong Impact 8, plus a repair from Del Meeko along with some extra impact from Veers. This should give us the fire power we need. Versus a gunline, we have some big dice pools from our heavies as well as our troops, but if the enemy focuses our troops we might start to struggle, so that is something we might have to think about with our next unit choice. Against a melee focused list we have nothing to scare them once they arrive at our army.
Looking at the match ups suggest to me I should be taking a unit of Imperial Royal Guard. In the gunline fight, they allow me to guardian hits away from my troops, keeping my units alive longer. Whilst facing a melee focused list it won’t kill a Jedi, but they pack enough of a punch to be able to wound or slow them down.
I don’t have much room left with this list, and am currently a little light on activations for my liking. I have decided to drop General Veers and replace him for the generic officer instead. This allows me to take two sniper strike teams.
This also helps with keeping my order pool clean since I should only be having troops or special forces in the bag. The added benefit of the snipers and the Royal Guard also give us some much-needed thumbs, again for those pesky missions our AT-ST can’t do.
When building each of these lists, taking units to fill certain roles is important, and we have to consider all our options. The other thing that can influence our decision on what unit can fill a certain role or position in our list is our objective deck. Games can be won and lost on turn zero, so picking the right missions and deployment for your armies is also important.
For me, a gunline wants objectives that you can do towards the end of the game after you have softened up your opponent. If you have eight units left to his four, then it makes scoring things like Key Positions easier.
With that in mind, the first objectives I auto include for this will be Key Positions and Intercept The Transmissions. With the latter one you are not aiming to score the middle in the first two scoring phases but to rack up the kill points to then tie up the game 6-6 and win on kill points rather then win on victory points.
My third choice is Sabotage The Moisture Vaporators. 99% of games played with this mission are decided on kill points. This is where we should excel. Being defensive and having to shoot our opponent off the board to then win is the same as the previous two missions. The most important thing to be aware of is the recent rule change. If you are blue player, then this will most likely mean they have spent less points then you and will be on the defensive since you need to try and kill something to win the game. So sometimes this is in your deck for when your opponent wants to be red to give you the advantage and on the rare games you are blue you can ban the mission yourself.
The final mission is the hardest one to pick, and is mainly going to be the mission you will be banning yourself since it’s your weakest option. For the above gunline list I would go with taking Payload. With the recent changes on how the payload moves this is a very low scoring objective, if anyone manages to score at all. Which then means we are going to win on kill points.
As you can see there is a theme with gunlines, their focus is to either win on victory points by stopping your opponent from being able to contest the objectives or by trying to kill your opponent to win on the tie breaker.
Melee focused objectives
For me melee focused list objectives are ones that help you force an engagement. The first one I start with is normally Breakthrough, since this forces you and your opponent to start moving towards each other.
The next objective I normally take is Hostage Exchange. This is because my units are great at tying up your opponent’s hostage carrier while also protecting mine. If they want to charge towards your army it saves you having to move closer to them.
The last two spots can be interchangeable based on your play style and units between Recover The Supplies, Intercept The Transmissions and Key Positions. All three force a fight or an engagement in the middle of the board. If you have some fast units then I would be more inclined to take Recover and Intercept. If you are after a brawl or want to put pressure on your opponent’s back lines then I’m more inclined for Intercept with Key Positions. For the example list we have built I would go for Intercept and Key positions.
Double heavy Objectives
When you have gone down the route of taking two heavy vehicles, unfortunately you are also limiting the type of objectives you can go for since they cannot score every objective.
The first two auto includes for any double heavy list are Key Positions and Payload. The size of the vehicles can help you score the centre objective while also denying your opponent from scoring it. You can also use the size of your vehicle to stop the payload performing the most optimal move as well.
The next possible objective I normally consider taking is Breakthrough. This is because I can leave my heavies to delete enemy units on the approach while my units that normally don’t have much impact can double move as safely as possible to score the victory points. The other thing to consider is most heavies can move quite quickly due to the speed of the move and the size of the base, so sometimes a few early move and shoots lets them still score with a double move in the late game.
The last objective I normally consider is Intercept The Transmissions, and I play it how I would with a gunline. I let my opponent score on turn two and four while I shoot the units trying to score with my heavies, meaning they won’t be around at the end of the game to contest my troops that can score the final objective.
Deployments and conditions
I think for the deployment and conditions it isn’t as clear cut on what you should be taking. This is due to things such as the units helping influence these decisions as well as personal choices. For example, I will never take Supply Drop in my deck if I’m going to a tournament that is two or more days. I also do not have a great win-loss record from playing Hemmed In so tend to try and avoid taking that deployment even if it would give me an advantage.
Caveats and conclusion
You might have noticed I have tried to not mention the current two most popular lists, Blizzard Force and double Dark Troopers. At the same time, I have taken them into consideration when list building since these armies still fall under the same archetypes we have been discussing.
I hope this guide helps you give a rough idea of the type of thought process to consider when trying to build a well-rounded list. There is nothing wrong with taking a skewed list, but if you come across the antithesis to your list then prepare for a difficult fight!