We’ve gotten a couple new articles from AMG in the last week so let’s dive in for some rapid reactions!
The concept of IG units has always puzzled me. If they are simply programmed to collect bounties, who are they collecting for? I’m a big fan of a droid that can do nothing more than make money and build up enormous accounts that it will never truly enjoy. The canon on them is still a bit vague, personally I think that Restoration Hardware decided that they were going to make a “smart” coat rack and everything went downhill from there.
We’ve seen all these unit cards before, but let’s start with a little refresher.
Like a psycho-robo-Anakin except that he’s pretty good without them, IG-88’s two commands (IG-11 also has two as well and they share one two-pip, see the section below for that) give Permanent abilities. His two pip is a nice and simple effect that makes sure he almost always gets a free token (I actually feel like the decision to not just give him Target 1 instead of the printed effect is a good one thematically, no one tells HIM what to do!). The 1-pip has two effects, the first being that his Bounty target can’t ever spend tokens while defending against IG-88 (say goodnight Pyke Capos and Clone Commanders) and that IG-88 has a permanent Emergency Stims-ish effect where his death will always be delayed until the end of the turn, preventing the chance of activation loss. This will usually mean just that, but it also allows IG to make turn 5 dives toward a box-holder or a vaporator with a guaranteed opportunity to take VP-meaningful actions on the last turn. Now, the latest Notorious Scoundrels cast (which I really encourage everyone to listen to in particular, the first segment is a doozy!) got into some funky rules stuff where you could use actual Emergency Stims and/or a Repair droid to make IG-88 effectively invincible buuuuut I think that would clearly be against intent and will be clarified either on the RRG or the rules forum by the time he’s actually released, I don’t think it’s worth digging into more to be honest.
IG-88 could have had more dice if he got some tips from this handsome fellow
What is worth pointing out is that IG-88 weirdly has a 1 pip and 2 pip that give important permanent effects along with another 2-pip (“A Machine Made for Killing” seen below) that could potentially claim a bounty at range 3 so you’d want to consider taking all of them to get the most efficacy out of him. While you could obviously take any number of combinations, I think this means he pairs best with Din Djarin whose 2-pip is kinda take-or-leave and Cad Bane whose 2-pip is even more so. Bossk and especially Boba would involve tougher choices. Given how powerful the unit cards have been for these mercenaries it’s a welcome mitigating factor that command card stinginess does effect their playability. How much that will be true for these guys is a problem yet-to-be-solved.
When the these unit cards were revealed during Ministravaganza 3 we didn’t get to see any commands or the alternative to “Nanny Programming.” Empire players openly wondered why they would take 11 when 88’s Arsenal 2 and Surge: Crit makes dealing damage at range much likelier. Well…I think a lot of those players have changed their minds already:
Here’s a whopper: IG-11 with Bounty is the only unit in the whole game who can use a weapon with pierce at melee and ranges 1-4. Not even Bossk can claim such a thing, since he has a donut hole at range 1. This sort of feels like having the dessert first but I’ll just say it: I really can’t think of many reasons why a Rebel player would ever take “Nanny Programming” over “Bounty Programming” if your goal is to win as many games as possible. Think about it this way: there’s really no point in taking “Nanny” if you aren’t also going to take Grogu, which means that you’re actually saving 12 points (and disallowing extra VP’s for your opponent) by trading one HP and an occasional heal for your non-droid characters into…Bounty and global Pierce 1 or Suppressive on a unit with four potential weapons to use it with and gunslinger.
“Four weapons?” you would say, as you question my ability to count “But I only count-“
For starters, I’ll admit I was confused by “Anti-Capture Protocols” until I was reminded that this symbol is the one for self-destruct. This is intuitive for the effect of the card, but it still feels weird that they didn’t use the words “Self Destruct” or “IG-11 is defeated” in the text of the card, the reason being that the symbol is meant to capture all of that. Oh well, what matters is a Blast, Impact 3, Suppressive 3R2B attack that will hit everything at range 1 along with Pierce 1 for cryin’ out loud if you take the cheaper (remember, Grogu is 17 points!) and more powerful upgrade.
Did you think Palpatine’s 1-pip was scary? It’s still more of a threat to, say, 5 units in the open than this card would be but anything more than that goes beyond his potential to self-wound for extra attacks. “Anti-Capture” protocols will yes guarantee the nominated character’s death instead of mostly guaranteeing it the way Palp’s does, but that’s more than worth it if you can roll up to 85 dice (5 dice each against a 17 unit Rebel Army, yes it’s legal, yes I have a sick brain) where each pool of 5 has Blast and Pierce 1. This does, in fact, make this the “strongest” command card in the game when it comes to the potential to deal out raw damage. I do think it’s worth pointing out that while this has to be in your command hand, there’s nothing preventing you from swapping it out for another 3 pip in your contingency pile so that you can play other stuff while still having it available should the opportunity arise.
If you’re opposing IG-11 you’ll need to be careful about the way in which you inflict wounds on him, because the cost of allowing him to Self-Destruct is fairly extreme. Good luck with that everyone!
“Maybe if these random scum were more independent they wouldn’t be DEAD!” – Some Capo
But that’s not all!
Take a look at the 1-pip, it’s yet another multi attack card. This one is more straightforward though. you basically just get to shoot everyone who is at range 2 all at once. The word “at” is of course important here. While shooting literally everybody at a certain range is undeniably strong, the way ”Mechanical Carnage” is worded means that any unit who has even a single mini range 1 from IG-11 cannot be targeted. This does tamp down the ability a bit, which is probably a good thing because this is a multi-attack with up to pierce 2 which could wreck an entire gunline with relatively little risk to IG-11 in the process otherwise. This does make me wonder if in certain matchups the IG player may be better off putting suppressive on his weapons instead, since this attack in particular isn’t likely to do much anyway if he runs up against the dodge spam lists (Rebel DLT’s and Pykes) which are likely to be popular for a while yet.
In all both the IG’s seem like interesting choices for Empire and 11 has transformed from “theme guy” to “serious operative contender” with a single article. Just be careful if 11 in particular start’s knockin’ on your door after you’ve hurt him a few times. You might just want to go melee him with a sacrificial lamb the turn before he blows, it might save your entire army from certain doom after all.
Din Djarin: Screw the Rules I Have
Green Hair An Amban Rifle
The week before this we completed the preview that we got most of during Ministravaganza. Timbo covered most of this including Grogu after that stream so we’ll focus on the new stuff which is the Beskar Spear and his command cards. Here’s his unit card and his upgrade spread including the newly revealed spear for reference.
Before we get to the “regular” Mando stuff we’ll address the Gremlin/Goblin in the room.
This command card may be the best reason yet to take the little guy given the risk he poses in exchange for extra health and cool effects that nonetheless will only proc half the time. It’s two dodges and deflect for anyone range 1 of Mando’s unit as a reaction. This does mean that you’ll be playing Standing Orders at least once in a full game (no, you can’t use Lando to cheat this time as to use a contingency you need to select a card in your hand first) but this is an extremely powerful effect that will likely make your opponent second guess any big attacks in your direction until you’ve used it. This is an interesting direction to take game mechanics, somewhat similar to the way “Tactics” cards in Marvel: Crisis Protocol work in that it’s reactive. This may be a portend or it may be a one-off, I’m open to either one being what the game needs in the long run but it’s interesting no matter which way you slice it. Or…stab it?
The spear is nice and simple, three good dice and duelist. When he basically will have both an aim and a dodge every turn this is pretty dang strong, and basically functionally means that together with his vibro-knife he plays like a slightly-improved Darksaber-wielding Sabine in melee, who has the option of splitting his attack into a spear hit and a blaster shot all at once. When you add the Din’s Flame Projector you’re left with one dude that has up to four weapons that can be used in combinations of up to 2 (or four?! Keep reading) at a time to fit your deadly needs. What’s more, his 2 new “regular” command cards line up with this versatility very nicely.
Whistling Birds has been covered as well so we’ll skip to the other two, which are lovely in that they’re straightforward and highly efficient all at once. “This Is the Way” will be the “textbook” way for Din to make an approach with two speed three moves directly into melee and following that up with a big melee attack or a split melee/ranged attack with his versatile gun or (if you’re brave, or have no choice) a pistol-flamer combo at range 1. The spear-flamer combo in particular will on average kill a non-surging red heavy corps with one attack, when you combine it with his natural speed with the jetpack that’s burst of speed Op Luke territory. His 2-pip, “I Like Those Odds” while not quite as flexible as the 1, allows for some shenanigans of its own. On its face this looks like it’s “simply” gunslinger but this is a gunslinger where either of the attacks can have a melee element and with arsenal 2, which is a territory only Grievous has played in through this point. Have you ever wanted to follow up a lethal blow with two blades with shooting a second guy then immolating a third? Then you should seek professional help! But if you’ve wanted to do this in Legion then the Mando stands ready to check that box for you.
However now it’s time to ask ourselves…does this spear actually matter?
I’m being a bit obtuse (“for a change”) but, why pray-tell would you bring a regular melee weapon for this tough-but-vulnerable and fairly expensive non-Jedi when you could bring a card that takes a rusty-nail-covered bat to half the rules we have about dealing damage? The (in my opinion) silliness of the fact that Mando can, among other things, damage Palpatine inside a LAAT that Grogu (yes, you can use this effect if he is the only model that can see the target) can see no more of than a sliver of the tip of its wing was also well covered on today’s Notorious Scoundrels episode. But putting all that aside, I’d still likely take this over the spear if it didn’t have a magic bullet. And that’s because it’s got piercing immobilize.
Immobilize 2 is a powerful enough effect on its own, but combined with pierce it becomes incredibly powerful. Leaving aside the wacky combo of a Pyke whip being fire supported by a clone corps with Echo in it, the only other unit that can do this is Palpatine’s 1-Pip and he usually ends up paying the ultimate price for doing so. Multiple observant folks (Zack Matthews, Evan Bulriss, and Kyle Dornbos if you’re keeping score, hi Zack) have considered whether the immobilize keyword is the way to allow dudes who don’t have Force Push to truly stand toe-to-toe with Jedi who can take that card, which remains indisputably the most powerful upgrade in the game. There are few things more maddening in this game than figuring out how to deal with a melee fighter who remains totally safe after he murders your dudes. Grievous unfortunately remains an “E for effort” in this category, Cad got closer with his electro-gauntlets, but Din may be the first person to totally nail it.
And you say the rifle, with both its melee and it’s ability effects on it…is cheaper than the not-quite-lightsaber thing?
We’ll see how the players respond, but speaking for myself my own copy of that spear is going to disappear faster than a Jawa preparing for a Razorcrest yard sale.
“JaWalter! Have you seen these rims? They’re to DIE f-“
These two Operatives represent a literal doubling of the currently-available bounty hunters in a universe that is chock-full of them. It’s fair to say that all six of them feel different, which is impressive when two of them wear Mandalorian armor and two of them came from the same factory. As usual we’re looking forward to the next spoilers, in the meantime I’ll be racking my brain to come up with a suggestion for someone that maybe Republic can use……aaaaand all I got is this guy.