This week we welcome guest writer Daniel Lupo, who won an invite to worlds by going 3-1 at High Command with a list featuring three saboteur strike teams (no snipers!). Lupo made waves with his skillful and surprising saboteur play.
Sabotaging the Meta
Sabine Wren: “You know what I do in hopeless situations?”
Zeb Orrelios: [laughs] “Yeah, blow stuff up!”
I have been almost exclusively running lists featuring Saboteurs since roughly August 2018, in local tournaments as well as at LVO and Adepticon. These lists have all been focused on squeezing maximum efficiency out of the triple strike team Saboteurs. I have experimented with full Saboteur squads, but I realized I was almost never shooting their guns I was paying a premium for, and you can make a strike team nearly as survivable with medics, stims, and corner peeking.
Legion is a game of taking territory and of maximizing and balancing your activations. Well run Saboteurs do this extremely well.
My list for Adepticon: http://tabletopadmiral.com/legion/rebel/p0bu1au2cuEMp04u09u0au2bp06u10u40uEMuEMp06u10u40uEMuEMp06u10uEMuEMuEMp0cu1fu31u25uEMp06uEMuEMuEMuEMp0eu30uEMuEMu2buEMp0eu30uEMuEMu2buEMp0eu30uEMuEMu2buEMc08c02c06c0bc0dc12c13o00o01o02o03z00z02z03z04t00t01t02t04
Luke, Leia, a maxed out fleet trooper squad with officer, two medics, one objective holding rebel trooper squad and the triple Saboteurs.
Each part of the list was built around holding ground and keeping my opponent from advancing on my half of the board.
The Shackles of Skywalker
Luke was a relatively recent addition following LVO, as I saw that I had a difficult time dealing with certain “problems.” Such problems included Snowtrooper flamer units, center objectives, or an opposing Luke. Another advantage of Luke is he provides multiple actions for Saboteurs to detonate off of; card actions are still actions, even if they are free actions. Force push, force reflexes, and charge all provide additional opportunities for detonate. Additionally, Luke’s Force Push can easily pull units into the middle of a minefield. Don’t forget you also do the unit’s cohesion when you use Force Push, which gives you an extra 4″ or so of distance.
See here for a more comprehensive guide on Luke.
Leia is one of the lynch pins of the list. Her dodge token tossing and powerful and accurate handgun make her a very solid defensive unit. Her command cards really give Rebel sabs a leg up compared to their Imperial counterparts.
Coordinated Bombardment (CB)
I used to use CB in an attempt to shoot snipers, but quickly realized that unless I can see both snipers it is a wasted shot. Your goal should instead be to shoot at high threat units, especially those that lose effectiveness as they lose minis (Wookiees, fleet troopers, pathfinders, royal guard, and death troopers). Alternatively, don’t be afraid to use it to thin out opposing trooper units instead of a high defense character. The end goal of the list is to remove your opponent’s trooper units and then win via objectives.
No Time for Sorrows (NTFS)
The key card for the saboteurs, the fleet troopers, and Luke. If you activate a saboteur late on the previous turn, you can run out and toss a proton charge, then use NTFS at the start of the following turn to pull them back behind line of sight (LOS) blocking terrain. Additionally, since you don’t hand out orders or perform the moves until after you know if you have priority, you can use the free move to retreat behind cover or advance as necessary.*
Somebody Has to Save Our Skins
Save Our Skins is probably Leia’s weakest card, but I prefer it over the generic Assault. Most of the time you want one of those three order tokens on Leia anyway to remove it from the stack, so Save Our Skins is still an upgrade over assault if the situation presents itself to utilize the card text. Save Our Skins allows for Leia activating to remove the suppression from a double suppressed commando team and immediately activate them, or to let her toss dodge tokens on said team before they do their thing.
The fleets are the true MVPs; they are the janitors for the list. Tables that have LOS blocking terrain for the saboteurs also favor a kitted-out fleet trooper unit (scattergun and officer). With the sabotuers your opponent has the difficult choice of who to focus on.
The Rebel Trooper units with Z-6 and medical droids were also an addition that came after LVO. After one game with them, all my group could say was “wow, that was gross”. The ability to revive a saboteur who exploded himself while pushing the unit even deeper behind LOS blocking terrain really makes a difference in the survivability of the unit. The medical droids can also heal Luke/Leia or bring back dead Z-6 troopers.
How to Sab
Your job is to make a roughly 13″ circular area of the board a nightmare for your opponent.
Don’t get cocky and toss a team out on turn one in the first few activations to lob a charge on the entire opposing force. You will lose that team within minutes and be sad the rest of the game.
Be aggressive, but in a calculated way, with all three saboteur teams. If you have LOS blocking terrain and/or heavy cover (don’t forget their low profile) you can allow each team to toss a charge near the objective during the first turn. On turn two, take that assessment of your sabs. If you lost a team in the first turn, run a team back to hide behind something on your side, to make sure you have a trigger man. If all three are alive, keep making aggressive proton charge placements.
Corner peeking is just as important with saboteurs as it is with snipers. As long as you have both minis alive, you really don’t care about keeping the leader alive if means you get a good toss out. Remember that the unit leader replaces the second man if the unit leader dies. As long as the second man is tucked away in LOS blocking terrain, you can revive the second model with a medic. Additionally, when in cover, the unit is surprisingly difficult to remove; between stims and the medica droids, it requires 4-5 wounds in succession to completely eliminate them.
The removal of the saboteur teams will be difficult when you are also threatening them with quick moving Fleet Troopers and Luke rushing up the flank. Most players can’t ignore the advancement of Luke and the Fleet Troopers, as each one can ruin your opponent’s day.
Learn patience. The biggest thing I had to learn was that the threat of a detonate is much worse that the actual detonate. Wait to detonate the charge until early the next turn, especially if your opponent has to move more units into the explosion because of the mission. Detonating early in the turn means the suppression they hand out will stick around for a while.
Additionally, when possible, detonate a charge only after you have shot the opposing unit, as you don’t want to provide them with free cover from the detonation’s suppression.
Weird advanced tactics
Placement of charges:
You only need to see a sliver of the charge when it is tossed, not the whole thing, which can lead to some some interesting corner tosses. You also are allowed to place them under other unit models (as charges are stated to not block movement). This can make for some really big explosions when you have one man who has already popped stims and will die anyways after his turn.
One tactic I used to quite good effect has been coined by other players as “medic peeking.” When corner peeking, if the unit leader is killed (from enemy fire or your own detonation) the second man is promoted. When you use a medic from one of your Rebel Trooper units to revive the dead model, you can place the new member anywhere in cohesion. Often I place this member even deeper behind the LOS blocking terrain. This could further protect the unit from other detonations and from enemy fire.
Tossing charges in melee:
Saboteurs can be situationally used to tie up opposing units in melee. You may look like two men but you have the survivability of four men! Don’t forget you are allowed to throw charges while engaged in melee. The sabs will be protected from shooting (as you’re engaged) while continuing to spread the Christmas cheer of more explosions.
Purposeful suicide to prevent death:
In this image, the fleet troopers have only the leader in range, with an out of cover shot on the unit. This would normally be a very likely death for both of the saboteurs. However, as only the leader can see the charge in this case, the charge can only kill him. The savvy saboteurs can detonate the charge on themselves after the fleets move into this position. The suicide bomb the saboteurs detonate will kill the guy in range two of the fleet troopers, denying them the shot and, keeping the entire unit alive. I did this to Orkimedes** at Adepticon, except with a rebel trooper unit. Detonating a charge on myself to lose one man kept the entire unit from being wiped out.
How my saboteurs fail me
When there is not a roughly man sized LOS blocking piece of terrain along the middle line of the board.
- Thankfully the dark days of felt circles and a hand full of barricades on the board are long behind us. For my saboteurs to participate in the game there needs to be a piece or two of terrain in the “middle-ish” portion of the board. This give you the cover that the saboteurs need (and frankly, the entire rebel faction as a whole) to advance up behind.
- With objective placements, you need to be able to get to the center and tossing charges on the objective in the first turn. Keep that in mind as table sides are chosen, you may have to choose a side that may not be perfect but you need that hard LOS cover for the saboteurs and fleets.
- Poor objectives are also difficult for saboteurs. Games where you have to be aggressive are a problem. This occurs particularly with moisture vaporizers (if you are red) and breakthrough. Those can be winnable for you but it does take more work.
Go Forth and Blow Stuff up.
Hopefully you enjoyed Lupo’s discussion of his Saboteur list and some advanced Sab tactics. For further reading on Rebel Saboteurs, check out the unit guide here: Rebel Commandos: Saboteurs
*Lupo used this to good effect in my game with him; we both ended up playing NTFS on the same turn on our Fleets. I “won” (ahem, lost) the roll off and had to go first, so he was able to respond to my NTFS move with his own reposition. Lupo moved his Fleets into heavy cover away from mine, in a position to delete a unit after I went first. That’s exactly what happened, putting me (temporarily) on the offensive against a Sab list. Not a comfortable place to be.
**I was particularly impressed by this tactic. It takes a lot of practice to understand when it is actually a good idea to detonate a charge on your own units, especially when it won’t result in hitting any enemy units at all.