This is part two of the Rebel Commandos article series. This article focuses on Proton Charge Saboteurs; the sniper article can be found here: Rebel Commandos – Sniper
The format of this article will be a little different, since the full squad and strike team play differently but share the same weapon upgrade. First we’ll hit some high level pros and cons common to both versions of Commando saboteurs, then we’ll look at the proton charge stats. Lastly, we’ll look at the differences between the full squad and strike team, and some tactics.
Note: Endless at Yavinbase also has a great article on Commandos generally, which you can find here: Databank – Rebel Commandos
Also, I want to credit Rick Stegich for many of these tips. Rick is a solid saboteur player who earned an Adepticon invite at the Michigan GT with a triple saboteur list.
- Can get in cover more easily
- Courage 2 means usually getting both actions
- Proton charges are excellent for area denial
- You get to blow stuff up (usually)
- Fragile for cost
- Spec ops slot reduces activation control
- Saboteurs are defensive units; a high bid and turn 0 are very important
- Need to be run in twos or threes to be effective
Lets get to the blowing stuff up bit.
Range 1 (area). Arm 1, Detonate 1. This is a new mechanic; we’ll talk about how it works below.
Dice: One red, two white, surge to crit. Note for area weapons you use the surge on the card, not the unit. Not as bad as it looks with the two whites; 13/8(6). Not terrible, but you’d probably like more boom for your buck.
Blast: Ignores cover. Always good.
Impact 1: Nice to have, especially combined with that surge to crit. I don’t know how many vehicles you are really going to be catching with a short range, pre-placed explosive, but you could do some decent damage if you manage to pull it off.
Before we get into the tactics, let’s explore real quick how these things work. Arm 1 is an action your unit can take. You place a charge token within Range 1 and line of sight of your unit leader. It’s not an attack, so in theory you could do this and shoot, if you can set it up right.
Detonate 1 allows you to detonate 1 charge token as long as you have a unit with this keyword on the board. You can do this as a free action after any action is taken, by either side. That action doesn’t even have to be taken by a unit in range of the token. That is pretty darn flexible, though notably it won’t work after compulsory moves, since those aren’t actions. It is noteworthy that you can do this per unit you have have with detonate. If you have three saboteur units, for example, you could detonate three tokens at once, if you are into that sort of thing.
When a charge token detonates, you make an attack against every unit in range and line of sight of the token (range 1, in this case). Those dice may not look great, but if you can catch two or more units in the radius it starts looking a lot better.
You are going to get roughly 1.63 hits with thing, and nearly as many Impact hits. Range 1 radius is 13 inches in diameter,* and there doesn’t appear to be a restriction as to how many of these things you can throw down. You can cover a lot of board with Proton charges with just a couple of units equipped with them.
Proton Charge attack outcomes
You are not going to be doing a lot of damage to single units individually with a proton charge. However, you can place multiple charges, and of course you could potentially catch more than one unit with each detonation. Layering a table in charges can really make your opponent think twice about moving around the board.
As usual, these percentages are cumulative. For example, you have a 77% chance to do at least one wound to an unarmored unit with a white/surge save.
You should expect to do about 1 wound, sometimes 2, per target hit by the blast. This includes vehicles. Nothing amazing, unless you are hitting two or more targets, but they can make your opponent think twice about advancing. You want to be laying as many charges as possible to really maximize their impact on the table.
Inherently, Proton Charges are somewhat difficult to look at purely on paper, because they are designed for area denial. They will be great on certain objectives; notably Key Positions* and Moisture Vaporators. If you are running a list with Proton Charges you are going to have to tailor your objective deck pretty hard. It is worth noting that Blue Player wins ties if the game goes to points; this includes, obviously, zero points destroyed. This is important on, say, Moisture Vaporators. See below on specific tactics for each of these objectives. Recover can also be very favorable if you have a unit that can make an early box grab.
Unit Composition Options
There are two potentially very different ways to field the Proton Charge Saboteur; as part of a two man heavy weapons team or as an upgrade on the full squad.
60 points. This works out to 15 points per model, or 50% more expensive than a Rebel Trooper. You’re getting some good perks for your premium, but durability isn’t one of them…
1 health per model, white/surge defense. Same raw durability as a Rebel Trooper, except without Nimble. Don’t hang these guys out to dry.
Low profile. If you have cover 1, you have cover 2. This helps their durability quite a bit. Note a suppression token improves cover by 1, so if they have a token they are effectively in heavy cover.
Scout 2. Free speed 2 movement after deployment. This is neat, although you don’t want them out in front all by themselves, either. We’ll tackle some uses of Scout 2 later.
Sharpshooter 1. Reduce opponent’s cover by 1. Good shit.
Surge to hit. A Rebel infantry squad with surge to hit! ZOMG.
A-280 Blaster Rifle. Technically the same weapon as Rebel Troopers, but the surge/hit and Sharpshooter 1 make it much more reliable.
There is a place for the full team in a saboteur list, but probably not more than one. One 5 man team can be solid as a stand-in for your backfield objective grabbing squad, while serving as an anchor to make sure you are always able to detonate.
16 points. This is just the base cost. You have to take a weapon upgrade, so your cost is either 44 (sniper) or 42 (saboteur). Pricey for two models.
Low profile, Scout 2, Sharpshooter 1, Surge/hit A-280, 1 health/model with white/surge defense. All the same as the full squad. See above.
Heavy Weapon Team. This is the unique keyword for the Strike Team. You must take a heavy weapon, which is either a DH-447 Sniper or Proton Charge saboteurs. This makes a very fragile but potentially efficient (offensively) two man unit. There are some important special rules that deal with casualty removal with a Strike Team, which we will talk about below under the Corner Peeking section.
Unlike with sniper strike teams, the tactics for the full squad and strike team are relatively similar. Charges are laid from the unit leader, so corner peeking works with both.
Using saboteurs starts with list building and tailoring your battle deck.
Before the battle
I firmly believe you want to be running saboteurs in threes. Like Flamethrower AT-RTs, saboteurs make a very specific kind of threat, and you want to maximize that threat if you want them to work. Furthermore, detonate only works if you have a sab team on the table to detonate the charge, so you want to build in as much redundancy as possible.
Saboteurs work best on defense. The second thing to consider in list building is what objectives you want to take and how you are going to force your opponent to take the fight to you on those objectives. Key Positions and Moisture Vaporators are natural choices to include in your deck, since the former is naturally defensive for blue player (less so than it used to be) and the latter can be made so, since blue player wins ties on points.
The other three objectives have less clear paths to a defensive fight. Breakthrough can be a mix of both, but it requires you to send at least some units against your opponent’s deployment zone. Intercept requires you to fight over an area, which is good, but also requires you to send your units out into the map, which is bad. Recover can turn into a defensive fight if you have a good box snatching unit, like Luke or an uplinked commando unit with Recon Intel.** Recover is probably your best bet for a third objective, and plan on taking one of the other two (Breakthrough or Intercept) and vetoing it.
You also probably don’t want Disarray or Rapid Reinforcements, depending on the rest of your list.
Lastly, you want a high bid, because you want to make sure you are using your deck. Go big or go home.
Playing a saboteur list is all about the objectives. Your raw killing power is going to be lower than most other lists; you want to force your opponent to walk into your net of proton charges. Each objective plays differently and should be prioritized accordingly.
This used to be a sab player’s dream. Now it is merely interesting, and can be downright bad depending on where that center-most terrain piece is. When choosing a table side, you want to be mindful of which terrain piece will ultimately become the center objective, and try and get it on your half of the table. Remember that deployment is from blue’s perspective, so all the deployments are either on your close edge (battle lines), the right side edge (long march) or both (advanced positions and major offensive). Disarray is reversed, but hopefully you cut that one.
You want to get your saboteurs placing bombs near the center as quickly as possible. Using Recon Intel to scout them towards the center (hopefully behind line of sight blocking terrain) may be necessary. Hopefully that middle objective is in a spot where you can mine it before your opponent gets to it, then set up and make them come to you.
Sabotage the Moisture Vaporators
Sabotage requires the placement of four objectives; two by you, and two by your opponent. Often this results in a stalemate; each player places two ‘safe’ objectives and spends the first phases of the game repairing/sabotaging their respective objectives, then either attempts a win on points or makes a play on one of the opposing vaporators. The important thing for a saboteur player is this: blue player wins ties. This includes ties of zero points destroyed. Get your two ‘safe’ vaporators taken care of, and then mine the crap out of them and hide your other stuff. Your opponent is going to have to come to your side of the table to attempt to make a play for another objective or to destroy some points. Don’t give them any free kills.
It is also possible on certain deployments (especially major offensive) to force a situation where you have basically 3 vaporators closer to you than your opponent, by hedging out their first objective deployment. This takes some practice and can be risky, but is worth doing if you think you can pull it off with the terrain and deployment.
Recover the Supplies
Recover plays out similarly to Sabotage, except there is a fifth ‘contested’ box in the center. Each player obtains his two ‘safe’ boxes and the the center box becomes the football. This generally means the player that can retrieve and keep the center box wins.
Get the center box, and then retreat back into your minefield. Luke is great for this, with his mobility and durability. Commandos with Recon Intel can also pull this off depending on what the terrain looks like. A speed-3 move (scout 3) plus a speed 1 move (No Time for Sorrows) puts you in contact with the middle box before the game starts on most deployments. Make sure you have a unit to pass the football off to, because there is a good chance the first box grabbing unit is going to die valiantly as it pitches the box towards your side of the table.
Breakthrough can be a rough one for a sab list, but remember you win on ties for this one too. Mine your side of the field and make sure nothing gets to your deployment. Try not to give up too many points.
If you need to make a play for your opponent’s deployment zone, it is going to be tough. Luke can be good for this, but he makes such a good linebacker as well. You probably want to go for a 0-0 objective tie and win on points. Certain deployments such as battle lines will make it really tough to defend your entire zone, so be especially mindful of choosing your deployment type if you think you are going to get stuck with breakthrough.
Fighting over an area is good. Fighting over an area you have to travel to is bad. You probably want to cut this one over Breakthrough.
Nonetheless, Intercept can still be good for saboteurs, depending on terrain. If you can find a spot to safely mine the center objective, do that. A lot. Always be mindful of which turns are scoring turns.
Also be wary of your opponent splitting and trying to go for your ‘home’ comms station. Don’t neglect it completely.
Other Stuff to Worry About
You often don’t have control over terrain, but you do have some ways of knowing what to expect in advance. A saboteur list is favored heavily by dense terrain, and disadvantaged by sparse terrain. If you are going to a big important tournament, make some effort to scout the terrain in advance, or send out some Bothans to find out what to expect. Try not to get them killed.
If you find that you are expecting something like NOVA or GenCon terrain, which was rather sparse, you probably don’t want to bring saboteurs. If you are expecting something more dense, you should be set.
We covered this in both sniper articles, but corner peeking works with saboteurs too (both versions). Make sure your non-unit leader(s) are hidden behind terrain. This prevents them from getting wiped by one attack, and also insulates them somewhat if you need to detonate a charge you just placed.
Blowing stuff up is a lot easier on defense, but it can work offensively. You need a big juicy target; at least two enemy units near each other. You also need some line of sight blocking terrain to insulate you from the blast, or provide something to retreat behind. There are two basic ways to do this safely; a last-first activation (activate your saboteur last on one turn and first on the next) or a peekabo with No Time For Sorrows. This is basically when you use the speed 1 move from No Time For Sorrows to move out of hiding, activate the saboteurs, drop the charge, move back behind hiding, and then detonate. Satisfying, yes?
Sometimes a straight up suicide bomb is worth it if you have enough targets and can’t pull off the above. You probably want at least three juicy targets in the projected blast radius for that one.
Recon Intel buffs your Scout 2 up to Scout 3. It is only 2 points, and can be really handy in getting your saboteurs out onto the table to start laying charges. Be careful not to overextend, though. You still want to be using line of sight blocking terrain to make sure you aren’t putting your saboteurs in additional danger.
10 points is a lot, but Uplink can be really helpful for utilizing that last/first activation to get some offensive bombing done. It also combos with command cards like No Time For Sorrows, making the No Time For Sorrows peekabo a little easier.
- Choose your battle cards carefully. Take a high bid to make sure they get used.
- Maximize your advantage during setup when picking a board edge and vetoing cards to force a defensive fight.
- Play to objectives. Remember that blue player wins ties.
- Don’t waste your sab teams on suicide bombing runs unless you have a very juicy target.
- Use line of sight blocking terrain and last-first activations to set up good detonations
*Note the recent changes to Key Positions, where one objective goes on the terrain piece closest to the center of the table. This can still favor blue player, since blue chooses table edge, but not nearly to the same degree. If you are running a saboteur list, make sure you are carefully looking at the terrain and assessing which edge will favor you if you draw Key Positions.
**Recon Intel is a new gear upgrade for two points that comes in the Imperial Royal Guard and Wookiee boxes. It is a natural choice for saboteurs.