Recently articles describing Moff Gideon and the Imperial Dark Troopers were released. So, let’s discuss some rapid reactions about these new units! Moff Gideon and the Imperial Dark Troopers are built to be played together so I will discuss the implications and my early thoughts after summarizing both units.
I love The Mandalorian show. It is one of my favorite Star Wars settings, so I am extremely excited to see more units and characters join Legion from this show. Moff Gideon is the leader of the Imperial Remnant in the outer rim fighting to restore the Empire to its former glory.
Moff Gideon is a new commander in the Empire, bringing both powerful combat stats and support abilities. Moff Gideon costs 100 points and is the second commander with Courage 3 in the faction. He also has 5 health with surging red saves giving him a formidable 15 effective wounds. Offensively, Moff Gideon has Sharpshooter 1, Tactical 1, and surge to critical. Below is a table with the average hits from his 3 weapon profiles. Moff Gideon is an up close and personal skirmisher fighting from range 2 to melee. In addition to these great combat stats, Moff Gideon has three main support abilities. He has a free Observe 1 action, Entourage: Imperial Dark Troopers, and the new keyword Ruthless. Ruthless gives core units at range 2 (we will discuss this wording more later) with a faceup order token an extra action if they take a wound. This ability is extremely powerful in the right situation. While you will not use this ability often it can change the tide of the game on a scoring turn. If you have played against Maul, you know having 3 actions in one turn can be abused on all sorts of objectives. Moff Gideon also can equip a variety of upgrades with two command upgrade slots, a training, a gear, and an armament. The upgrade option for the armament is the unique upgrade The Darksaber which costs 15 points. This weapon brings a deadly melee profile and some extra keywords like Demoralize 1.
|Gideon’s Custom Blaster Pistol||1-2||2.125||Pierce 1|
|Advanced Combat Training||Melee||1.75|
|The Dark Saber||Melee||3.125||Demoralize 1, Impact 1, Immune Pierce: Melee, Pierce 1|
Since Moff Gideon is a commander, he comes with three new command cards. The 1 pip Die at My Hand primarily increases Moff Gideon’s mobility and effectiveness for a round. This card gives him Relentless, a free aim, and dodge token. The two pip gives out two orders and essentally lets you pick up and move a single unit of Imperial Death Troopers to anywhere on the map outside of range 2 of enemy units. The 3 pip gives out 3 orders to corps units or heavy units and all units issued orders gain Fire Support for the turn.
Imperial Dark Troopers
Imperial Dark Troopers cost 95 points base costs and have 3 minis in the unit. They have multiple unique features and keywords. The most obvious unique feature is the new keyword Unstoppable. This keyword makes it so Imperial Dark Troopers activate twice per turn and have two order tokens. The ability to activate twice essentially doubles the offensive capabilities and mobility of the unit, since they can attack twice per turn and move twice. While the attack dice pool does less damage and is shorter range than some other heavies, no other heavy can attack twice per turn. They are not only deadly offensively, the unit also has full Armor, two wounds per mini, and red saves. This gives the unit 12-24 effective wounds behind armor depending on what upgrades you take. To balance out some of these insane abilities the Imperial Dark Troopers have Speed 1, Plodding, and Unconcerned. Unconcerned is a new keywork which makes it so they cannot benefit from cover and cannot be repaired. Plodding is actually not new, though it was removed in an errata from the only unit it was on (the E-Web). If it does the same thing as it did on the E-Web, it makes it so they can only perform one move per turn.
The Imperial Death Troopers can be augmented by a variety of upgrades. The unit can take up to 2 different heavy weapon upgrades. The unit has three different options: the XS-IV Assault Cannon, SM-9 Frag Launcher, and the Mertzlizer. In addition, you can equip a personnel upgrade which adds a single additional miniature to the unit. While based on the current rules you technically can equip all the Imperial and Droid personnel, I believe this will not be possible after the rules update since these upgrades are clearly not costed to be balanced in an Imperial Dark Trooper unit. The final upgrade option is a protocol upgrade, and the unit has a special upgrade option called Programmed Loyalty which gives the unit Retinue: Commander, and the unit can only be issued orders from commanders. You can find a summary of the different damage profiles below.
|E-11D Blaster||1-3||0.5 hits per model|
|XS-IV Assault Cannon||1-3||~2.5||Critical 1|
|SM-9 Frag Launcher||1-2||2||Exhaust, Blast, Impact 2, Cycle|
|Crushing Punch||Melee||1 hit per model|
I think based on these costs the most common way to run the Imperial Dark Troopers will be with the SM-9 Frag Launcher, XS-IV Assault Cannon and Programmed Loyalty. This loadout costs 188 points but has a range 3 attack that averages 4-5 hits (depending on Critical 1), a range 2 attack that averages 5.5-6.75 hits with Blast and Impact 2, and a melee profile that averages 5 hits. To put this in perspective, the range 3 attack is more effective than a full Shoretrooper unit and happens twice per turn. One squad of Imperial Death Troopers also has 10 wounds which is the same as two Shoretroopers. While 188 is expensive, two Shoretrooper units are 168 points, so for a 20 points premium you gain full armor, infinite courage, and a devastating attack at range 2.
Gideon and the Imperial Dark Troopers are joining the Empire which is a faction that is already jam packed with powerful and competitive units. I think a good unit to compare Gideon to is Iden, since both are 100 point commanders with courage 3. When comparing the two, Iden has slightly better ranged combat stats and command cards that focus on augmenting offensive capabilities, but Iden lacks any command upgrade slots and support abilities. Gideon on the other hand is only effective at close range combat but has a broader range of support abilities and two command upgrade slots. The fact Gideon on paper seems to be a viable option when compared to Iden suggests he will be a very powerful. Gideon is not necessarily a focus piece in your army but can hold his own in a firefight. One of the main things that sets Gideon apart is his synergy with the Imperial Dark Troopers. Gideon has Entourage: Imperial Dark Troopers and a command card that gives the Imperial Dark Troopers the ability to teleport anywhere on the map. This means Gideon’s success very much depends on the effectiveness of Imperial Dark Troopers.
Luckily the Imperial Dark Troopers appear to be quite powerful. They have some unique features that set them apart from other expensive heavy units. The most obvious is they can take two activations. One of the major drawbacks to most heavy units is the fact they are expensive and draw down your activation count. Also in many cases because of the massive health pools an opponent may decide to ignore a heavy vehicle like an AT-ST and instead focus on killing all your trooper units. The Dark Troopers overcome this issue in two different ways. First, you cannot ignore them since they attack twice. Their damage output is much higher than any other heavy for this reason. Second, they are troopers so they can score on all objectives. In many ways they have the best features of trooper units and heavy units. One drawback is their speed. The Imperial Dark Troopers are speed one and have plodding so it will be difficult to engage and use their range 2 profile. Gideon’s 2 pip can overcome this issue by dropping the Imperial Dark Troopers in an advantageous position. This ability only works on a single Dark Trooper unit. That combined with their high costs will make it difficult to run more than one in an army. Some people have postulated that Lightsaber users will be a counter to the Dark Troopers but I think the Dark Troopers actually perform much better than other heavies against a force user. Dark Troopers can take a standby and cannot be suppressed so your opponent cannot remove it. Also, the base melee profile of the Dark Troopers is brutal. Additionally, they can attack a force user twice per turn. The main draw of the Imperial Dark Troopers to me is the fact your opponent must do something about them. This draws attention away from your other units opening the game to for the rest of your army to dominate. Ignoring the Imperial Dark Troopers is not an option.
** Update Jan 19 2023: abilities with a single number now represents the maximum range, and Dark Troopers have been errataed to prevent them from taking the following personal upgrades **
There are two things I want to briefly touch on. The range of Gideon’s ability Ruthless and the personnel slot on the Dark Troopers. First, the reminder text on Ruthless reads you must be at range 2 and in line of sight. This means you cannot use Ruthless on units at range 1, so the effect is a donut. IG-11 also had a card with this wording, and it was confirmed this is how IG-11’s card should be played based on the card wording. As of now the ability only works at range 2 and not range 1-2 like other support abilities (Compel, Entourage, and Inspire). The second thing I want to address is the fact that under the current rules you can “technically” equip the Imperial and Droid personnel upgrades on Dark Troopers. I think this will clearly be fixed or clarified when the units are released since it would make no sense to have the Imperial Dark Trooper upgrade cost 32 points when you could equip a Comms Tech or Viper Droid for much cheaper. I suspect the wording on these upgrades will be updated or clarified upon release.
Now that we have that out of the way let’s talk about some early theory crafting and list building. I think one clear path for Gideon and Imperial Dark Troopers is in an Aggressive Tactics gunline. Both Shoretroopers and Imperial Dark Troopers want surge tokens to increase either their offensive capabilities or defense. Since Dark Troopers cannot be repaired, the surges are excellent for helping them maintain their valuable wounds. Also, if you build an army with 3 Shoretroopers, 3 Mortars, Gideon and an Imperial Dark Trooper you have nearly perfect order control on both your 3 pip turns. Just like back in the day, Coordinated Fire combos well with Shoretroopers and Aggressive Tactics. Moment of Consideration gives your units Fire Support and both Shores and Dark Troopers benefit greatly from Fire Supporting another unit with surge to critical. The recently introduced pass mechanic removes some of the downside to using Fire Support, increasing the potency of this effect. Bounty hunters slot in great as a secondary threat and Fire Support platform. Above is an example list that I think works well with Gideon and the Dark Troopers. This army is a brutal gunline that can outshoot basically anything else in the game, its main weakness is mobile objectives. IG-88 and the Dark Troopers give you some playmaking power. It is worth mentioning that the Dark Troopers can use Gideon’s two pip ability while carrying an objective token. This along with Ruthless can help shore up the lack of mobility in the army. Gideon is also no slouch in combat; his 1 pip gives him Relentless, and the Darksaber is a dangerous weapon in melee. This all together makes a an oppressive combo.
Overall, I think both Gideon and the Imperial Dark Troopers are powerful units adding to an already powerful faction. Unless there are some other major changes coming in the new rules update, the Empire seems to be the clear winner. Blizzard Force was dominant before the changes and has had no nerfs. While I do not know if Gideon is strong enough to unseat Blizzard Force, he is without a doubt a very viable option. Empire was arguably already the best faction and now has another great option “Long Live the Empire”!