Having shifted from playing mostly X-wing to playing Imperial Assault somewhere earlier this year, I felt like taking the next step: tournament play. I must admit I was rather spoiled by the amount of tournaments X-wing offers, meaning you can pick and mix whatever location and scale you most fancy. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot fewer Imperial Assault tournaments. I was therefore very happy to hear that Assault Squad Hamburg was organizing another one of their tournaments, and quickly signed up with my team mate “Vuchs” ( I will use people’s nicknames throughout this write up for the sake of privacy.). This was going to be my second IA tournament, so I was very excited while preparing in the weeks before.
I drew up several lists, ranging from Rancor/Nexu to rebel spies, and all sorts in between. I fine-tuned them, tested them, but ultimately they were all rejected. While exploring my options I read some reports about Ugnaughts doing rather well. They were always interesting to me, but somehow I never got around to playing with them properly. With Heart of the Empire on the horizon, my expectation was that they would become a lot weaker relatively, due to increased possible defenses with block tokens and especially the improved Vader (who I expect will be quite popular). Since the tournament was the weekend after the release, the latest wave would not yet be allowed, so I took this as a “now or never” opportunity.
The use of Temporary Alliance was banned, so I narrowed down my Ugnaught selection to the following two lists:
I felt that variation 2 had the edge both versus other Ugnaught lists, and on “Nal Hutta Swamps” due to far better ranged capabilities. It would however be weaker in the cantina, and against lists that get in your face.
Since Ugnaughts in general are very good on Nal Hutta in case “Reigning Freight” is played (the name vacuum-bot comes to mind), I felt that the other factors were more important, and therefore selected team 1. Plus I liked the fact that IG-88 was also a droid, thematically. Sort of like a dark overlord and his minions.
The day itself
I woke up far too early, as I tend to do whenever there is a tournament. Luckily, my coffee machine was sympathetic to my plight, and kept me company until it was time to be picked up by Vuchs. It was about an hour and a half drive to the location, and the weather was sunny and warm, so all good so far. “Taiko” (the Tournament Organizer) had sent pictures of how to get into the location the day before, so it was very easy to find. We were greeted by the sight of warm coffee, snacks, and just around the corner: most of our opponents for the day. The last person missing arrived shortly after, so once the pairings were done we would be good to go! Taiko had supplied all the tables with PVC mats for all three maps, so there was no need for any pre-game puzzling during any of the matches. Awesome!
I took pictures throughout the day, but the combination of my shade and direct beams of sun meant they all failed completely. That will teach me to think a phone camera would be good enough. As such, some of the match details might be slightly off, since I am going mostly by memory.
Due to the number of attendees, we decided to play three matches, so there would be a clear winner. If we played four there would be the possibility of a tie, meaning a fifth game would have to be played.
In order to ensure our opponents would be new and exciting, we opted to exclude people from playing against team members in the first round. After some random dice rolling my opponent turned out to be “Raggedy_Man”. In my first tournament, he was also my first opponent, and we happened to have a mirror list back then. This was in the funny German meta where waves 1 through 6, plus wave 9 were released, but wave 7 and 8, including Jabba’s palace, were not. So the odds of us coming up with the exact same list were tiny, to say the least. He is a very skilled player, and beat me then. Time for revenge!
Game 1: Jabba’s Palace – “Spoils of Crime”
Raggedy_Man’s list: Jabba, Elite Weequay x2, Elite Ugnaught x2, Ugnaught x3, Devious Scheme
What are the odds. If I picked the other variation of my list it would have been as good as a mirror again. While setting up, I wished I had, since I would be sending my junkbot to his death every activation due to devious scheme forcing the initiative on me, netting my opponent a point every time.
Raggedy_Man chose the blue deployment zone, meaning I had the red. I actually prefer playing the red side, so I was happy with that.
I started by sending out a “probe” droid, to see if he was more interested in my figures, or in Jabba’s free points from killing the junkbot. Turned out he was happy with farming single points, so I had to plan accordingly. I would lose a snipe war due to his double Weequais, and lose the junkbot war due to him always activating it after me, so my only chance was all out assault, mostly ignoring the crates for now. I moved up Onar and IG-88 very aggressively in order to threaten his deployment zone, while they still had the health to do so. IG-88 managed to take out the Ugnaught on his terminal as well, which was a nice bonus. Raggedy_Man opened up his door quite early, and moved a pair of Weequai into the pit. The first wasn’t really a surprise, but the second was. Did he have some sneaky plan to flank me from below? I had no clue, but was committed to an all-out assault already anyway.
Since it seemed that Raggedy_Man was quite keen on getting as many crates as he could get his hands on, target priority became a real issue. Kill the people with crates? Kill the ones that did not activate yet? Kill the ones that do the most damage? I was fortunate enough to have “Take Initiative”, and he did not have “Negation”. So up up and away IG went, straight into the heart of the enemy forces. I had managed to put 2 damage on the focused Weequai the turn before with a droid, and IG finished it off with his shot. Raggedy then activated his lone Weequai to put on some hurt, and grab another crate.
Onar took his anger out on the Ugnaught standing near him, since he might otherwise run away with the crate. Meanwhile, IG was standing right next to a bunch of Ugnaughts, and took a whalloping.
The game became a race of: will IG-88 die or can I manage to take out the Ugnaughts fast enough to deny him the points? Due to the crate difference the score was quite close, and either result would decide the victor of the game. His Weequai took out Onar, after which my Ugnaughts killed the Weequai. He could still order a hit with Jabba, after all. IG managed to scrounge up enough defense die to stay standing, but he had 3 damage dice lying next to him by the end, so it was very close. I managed to evacuate the pit side of the map to ensure the flankers wouldn’t be able to get a shot in and score some extra points. At the end of the round (and also the game) I was completely exhausted, and this was only the first game for the day. Junkbot wars mean you have to think about every single move the little buggers could take (and don’t forget they can spawn next to the Ugnaughts, not only on them, doh!). Also, I somehow never realized the bots are allowed to use the surges of their master, until it was used against me. That was a pleasant surprise to be used the rest of the tournament.
Thank you Raggedy_Man for an excellent game!
Game 2: Anchorhead Cantina – “Line of Fire”
Drogix’ list: Elite Weequai x2, Onar, Vinto, Jabba, Hired Guns, Elite Jawa, C3-PO
For the second game, my opponent was Drogix. We had never met before, so it was exciting to play against someone whose tactics were completely unknown to me. I felt his list was very strong, with the risk of either overwhelming me through sheer firepower, or getting a large swing with crate scoring from his objective runners. We rolled for initiative, which he won. He promptly picked the blue deployment zone, which I think just about everyone who has initiative on this map does. This meant my Ugnaughts could potentially be very vulnerable to fire if both doors were open, since I was not willing to risk staying away from the objectives.
We both moved forward cautiously. Drogix buffed up his units as you would expect from the list, and I sent in a couple of pokes with the junkdroid. I made sure that both Hired Guns had damage on them, so that if he decided to make a run for it a droid would be able to finish them off quickly.
My picture from this round is full on sun glare, so it’s an approximation. It was very little movement and a lot of shooting, meaning it should be close enough. My plan was initially to wait around the corner and let him walk up to me, ensuring he would be closer to the Ugnaughts for more damage potential. However, I realized that he was also able to walk up to the other corner of the hallway and just shoot around, meaning he could pluck off my Ugs one by one. What to do? He made the choice a bit easier for me by moving up Vinto, whose “Boltslinger” ability is a major asset versus the droid. I took the bait with Onar, and moved him up. The choice was to either move him up, and then go back behind the crate, or let him hold position so he would block Line of Sight when IG took up position with the crate as cover. Seeing as there would be two buffed Weequai groups unloading, I figured I would rather take the salvos on Onar, as IG would not be able to get back to cover with the two free movement points otherwise.
Onar managed to take out Vinto with the help of one or two command cards, so at least it would not be a vain sacrifice. I then kept delaying to activate IG, since I wanted to take out Weequais with it, not Drogix’ Onar. But through the use of clever LoSing and his Onar’s command card “Extra Protection”, in the end I did not have another target without grossly overexposing myself. Well played sir, well played.
However, I did manage to take out C3-PO from the middle of his pack with a focused junkdroid through the use of “Element of Surprise”, denying him his rerollable white. He had placed him perfectly to give the extra surge denial to basically his whole squad, without me being able to shoot it directly. I also finished off both Hired Guns, and one Weequai in this round.
With only IG left to hold the line, staring down the barrels of Onar and his friends, I felt it was important to focus on keeping him alive no matter what. “Blaze of Glory” was still waiting to be drawn from the deck, and if I managed to get that in hand before it was too late it would be an important swing. I started to piecemeal feed Ugnaughts into the grinder, to try and keep IG alive. As a backup plan I moved one up to try and claim either an objective or a terminal, to increase my odds. IG was defending like a champ, rolling pretty awesomely on his black die, helped by a timely “Negation” on a “Wild Attack” by one of the Weequai.
Meanwhile, Drogix was keeping his Jawa alive with the help of two dodges, which was quite frustrating as it blocked Line of Sight to the Weequais. I considered moving IG up to the top corner, but then Drogix would be able to walk and shoot from the vacated spot with one of his units. In addition I would have to use other dice than double red to make the range, and lose the bonus strain damage, meaning I was not very likely to kill them. All in all, the round was a slaughterfest, with important points just a dice roll away for both sides.
Drogix still had his Onar, Jawa, Jabba, and I believe one Weequai. I had IG on very low health, and about half my Ugnaughts left. I think I had initiative here, and took out Onar with a double barrel shotgun blast from IG. He followed up with the Jawa, and was quite likely to kill IG off, which would probably have secured the victory for him. IG rolled a triple block, which together with his build in block was exactly enough to stay alive. Talk about luck! My Ugnaughts then managed to mop up the last Weequai, securing me the win.
Thank you Drogix for this very tense game!
Game 3: Nal Hutta Swamps – “Raining Freight”
Taiko’s list: HK Droids, Onar, Vinto, Greedo, Elite Jawa x2, Jawa x4, C3-PO
Another opponent I had met before on the battlefield during my first tournament. Last time Taiko played a very interesting Rebel list with two elite Saboteurs. This time he had outdone himself: a list with six Jawa’s and eleven activations! Unfortunately for him, he drew the “Raining Freight” mission. Due to the combination of how the mission mechanics work and the multiple activations of a junkdroid (aka “vacuum-bot”on this mission) this leads to a rather large advantage for the Ugnaughts.
We rolled for initiative, which he won. He picked the red deployment zone, leaving me with the wide open space of blue. It is hard to hide Ugnaughts in there, but the short range of the Jawa’s should be beneficial for me.
Since we were playing on his home table, which was in a slightly different location, the pictures are actually usable. No more crappy paint substitute!
He cautiously moved up one of his Jawa’s, only to be answered by the sound of a vacuumcleaner zooming past. Middle crate secured. This repeated a second time for the bottom crate, meaning he could no longer reach any of the crates with his units. I then passed the turn a couple of times untill we were back to equal activations. I snagged up the last two crates first, meaning he had to commit more units into a certain direction while I could basically still go either way. Late in the round I chose to let Onar go through the middle lane, together with IG-88. They managed to take out Greedo, who was peeking from behind the corner. Because of the vast distances of the map and the need to pick up crates not much other fire was exchanged (aside from hoover-bot being killed a few times).
Since we did not really have units close to each other, and I had initiative this round, I could again suck up both his crates without him being able to do anything about it. It was 17 – 0 by now, which was 95% the fault of the mission/Ugnaught combo. This really felt like gaming the system, and not the opponent. But now he could have his revenge! Since he moved to the top of the map, some of my Ugnaughts were in long range to be shot at. He shot at the closest Ugnaught, and was forced to use the surge for Accuracy. This meant he did 3 damage total, and the Ugnaught lived to tell the tale! It promptly evacuated the ridge back to my deployment zone, after unleashing another fearsome vacuumcleaner to wreck some more havoc.
He then tried shooting again on another Ugnaught with a Jawa. This time he made the range, but failed to get damage through the black die. Onar took him out, but I wasn’t comfortable leaving him so exposed down the center passage. I decided to move him to the bottom lane, where I hoped he would be able to mop up any stragglers.
Next, Taiko activated Vinto and moved him up. He had one movement point left, and was about to unleash “Rapid Fire” on the two Ugnaughts on the ridge. Lucky for the Ugnaughts, at that exact moment the food we had ordered finally arrived, meaning they got to live for another half an hour. Taiko called out a break in the round, so we could all eat. The following picture was the situation at that moment:
After the food break Vinto took his chance. First shot, not enough range again! As a consolidation prize he got to pop one in the junkdroid standing behind him. The second shot managed to kill the Ugnaught, and he used his last movement point to get back into the corner.
I wanted to bait some more long range shots from him, in order to diminish his firepower for that round before I went in with IG, so I left my elite Ugnaught standing after his activation. He took the bottom crate with a jawa, and shot one of the ridge Ugnaughts with an HK droid, and then moved back in the direction of his deployment zone. The other HK took a double move far up the top lane in order to threaten the other Ugnaughts I was trying to hide around the corner. A bold move, and one I did not anticipate at all.
It was time for IG to do his thing again. With one HK busy at the top, and them already having activated, I felt like he would be able to survive. I moved him far right, directly underneath where the crate was on the picture, and killed the Jawa.
He activated another Jawa, and used it to perform “New Orders” on the HK standing near. Another surprise move from Taiko, he was really using his funky list to his advantage. This was not looking too good. My point lead was rapidly evaporating from the loss of Ugnaughts, and now IG was in great danger even though he was still undamaged. I had expected to kill the HK before it could activate again, but now it was ganging up together with Onar and a couple of Jawa’s. I activated Onar, but he was still too far away due to me swapping his lane earlier. Something I was severely regretting now! The rest of the round consisted of Taiko showing me why he was top 8 in the Nationals. About 10 minutes before time was up it looked like we would be able to get another round in without much issue. But somehow we were both surprised when the buzzer went when there were still two activations left to go through.
There is no doubt in my mind that if we had gone that extra round, he very likely would have killed IG for a large swing. It would have been up to me to make up the difference after that. Also, any other map and the advantage would have been on his side, not mine.
I forgot to take a picture as soon as we finished, but we didn’t clean up a lot yet in this one. Some positions might be slightly off as stuff got bumped when we removed tokens and such.
What a day! All of the games were very tense, and could have gone either way. My opponents were a pleasure to play with, and very “fly casual”, if you will allow me the X-Wing term.
Due to me being the only one with three wins, I won the tournament. Taiko had really gone all out on the prize pool. Every player got a package of promo cards consisting of the following: Imperial Officer, Wampa, Tusken Raider, Saboteurs. Then there was a range of acrylics and promo cards to choose from, including for example: damage dials, terminal tokens, and Royal Guard Commander. And as a special surprise Taiko donated one of his spot-gloss HK’s from Nationals. Talk about a prize pool!
Thoughts on the list
In the first two games I felt it was an interesting list, if somewhat gimmicky. I did not feel like my opponents had no chance, like some on the forums claim. Depending on if the mission forces you to go out into the world and collect stuff, it can be quite tricky to find the correct balance between being aggressive and being carefull. However, on Nal Hutta Raining Freight every doomsday sayer you can find is correct. This mission was not designed with hooverbot balance in mind.
I must admit that aside from drawing Assassinate once, and Tools for the Job/Shared Experience twice my command deck really let me down. I believe I drew Element of Surprise, Urgency, Negation and Positioning Advantage in every single game. I did not draw any Strength in Numbers, Terminal Protocol, or Blaze of Glory. This is probably due to the relatively low card draw, but it might have coloured my experience on how strong the list is/could be. In this case three tournament games simply were not enough for me to accurately gauge the strength of this list.
The Jawa’s built-in “Take Cover” ability makes them surprisingly resilient to the junkdroid, often resulting in no damage at all. I think that any unit which has easy acces to +1 block will be a hard counter to the Ugnaught swarm. Vader, Riot Troopers, Rancor, AT-DP, or even a fixed AT-ST (hey, one can hope!) will most likely leave little standing of the mighty junkdroids.
In closing, thank you all for reading this far, and for the wonderful tournament! Hopefully untill next time.