Heroic Effort: Finding Strong Deployment Cards for Your Army

Players who are brand new — or those who played a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away — often have a daunting task when learn how to play Imperial Assault skirmish nowadays: Which Deployment cards are “good”. Like with most strategy games that have lasted over years, Imperial Assault has some cards that just aren’t strong or dynamic enough compared to other cards. While the IACP has tried to identify many of these cards and improve them, there still exists many Deployment cards that have yet been selected.

This article hopes to give some guidelines for beginning & returning players to better identify Deployment cards that will help build a strong foundation for your army. These guidelines don’t try to specify the current “meta” of the strongest Deployment cards, but those cards are likely within the “good” card groupings below.

Good: Most Elite Deployment Groups

Elite deployment groups (cards with red bordering that have one or more figures) were initially designed by Fantasy Flight Games to be more powerful versions of the Regular deployment group (gray bordering) cards. One of the goals of IACP is to ensure these Elite deployment group cards have the appropriate costing & power level to be used in the modern skirmish game. So far the IACP has made changes to existing Elite cards — like the Elite Stormtrooper, Luke Skywalker (Hero of the Rebellion) & Elite Tusken Raiders — in order to make them more usable by skirmish players. Some existing FFG cards — like Emperor Palpatine, Greedo, Ezra Bridger & Thrawn — are already good enough without any additional changes from IACP.

One of many existing Elite Deployment cards that have been improved via IACP.

The IACP has also created some Elite deployment group versions of unique Rebel heroes from the campaign. These cards have improved abilities & figure statistics compared to their Regular card versions. While some of the Elite cards may cost a little more than their Regular versions, the price is justified through these cards’ improved output in the game. Not every Rebel campaign hero has a Elite deployment group yet, and some may not get an IACP Elite deployment group card.

Diala Passil was one of the first Rebel campaign heroes to get her own IACP-only Elite Deployment card.

Some Elite deployment groups have Skirmish Upgrade attachments that have been created by either FFG or IACP that dramatically improve them. Be sure to look for a character’s Skirmish Upgrade attachment when you want to use Han Solo, Chewbacca, IG-88 or Darth Vader.

With just his Deployment card, Han Solo’s Return Fire is very difficult to use & his attack results can be disappointing.
With Rogue Smuggler, Han gains a reroll to every attack he makes and can perform up to 3 attacks per round!

There are a few Elite Deployments that still need improvement and you should avoid adding to your lists: Elite Heavy Stormtrooper, Elite Snowtrooper, Elite Trandoshan Hunter, Bossk, Elite Hired Guns, Elite Rebel Saboteur, Elite Echo Base Trooper, Agent Blaise & General Sorin. These cards will likely get IACP reworks in the future.

The Heavy Stormtrooper looks formidable, but they still don’t offer enough value compared to most other Elite Deployments

Bad: Most Non-Unique Regular Deployment Groups

Most Regular (gray-colored) deployment groups that have one or more figures were designed to work within the Imperial Assault campaign game. You may fit more deployment groups into your army using these cheaper cards. Unfortunately you won’t get the kind of damage output you’ll need against your opponent with these cards when trying to fight. Since FFG changed how Victory Points are collected from defeated figures (each figure gives your opponent VPs equal to its figure cost), having lots of figures that are easy to defeat gives your opponent too much of an VP advantage.

A swarm of Regular Stormtrooper deployment groups are unfortunately too weak in the modern skirmish game.

There are a few exceptions to this guideline:

  • Regular Imperial Officers are a staple in any Imperial list to increase mobility & activation count.
  • Regular Riot Trooper deployment groups can typically survive more than one attack thanks to their Shielded ability.
  • Regular Jet Troopers can be surprisingly potent attackers when using Trooper Command cards & the Heavy Fire Skirmish Attachment.
  • Regular Royal Guards don’t have great attack results but their Sentinel ability helps keep adjacent friendly figures alive.
  • Regular Death Troopers can be useful for contesting areas on the map and protecting figures more important than them.
  • Regular Alliance Smugglers are often used to collect objective points and increase the activation count in a Smuggler list.
  • Regular Jawa Scavenger can work well when deployed in a swarm of Regular & Elite Jawa Scavengers.
  • Regular Clawdite Shapeshifter can support your army by giving out power tokens & joining other Hunters in the attack.
  • Regular Alliance Rangers won’t produce a lot of damage by themselves but can be potent with the right combination of Trooper & Hunter Command cards.
Combined with Cross Training, Regular Riot Trooper deployments can be quite annoying at controlling space on the map.

Good: Skirmish Upgrades

Skirmish Upgrades are deployment cards that improve or add new abilities. These cards were explicitly designed by FFG or IACP for skirmish and, when you have the deployment points to use, are beneficial. Some Skirmish Upgrades are better than others; it is left as an exercise to you to determine which ones are the strongest.

Extra Armor can improve the defenses of figures in your army. You can use this skirmish upgrade to bolster melee units.

Good: Some Unique Regular Deployment Groups

There are several Unique Regular deployment groups available for both Mercenary and Rebels. These are the skirmish cards for campaign heroes. The IACP has reduced the cost of some of these cards. For other cards, we have created Elite deployment group cards that are remarkably improved — we recommend using these Elite versions when building your army. The rest can be grouped into figures that are playable or strong in the current Skirmish game and those who are weak and will likely get some sort of future IACP improvement.

The following list is accurate as of June 25th, 2020. You can review the Official Changes PDF for a listing of IACP changes that are more up-to-date.

  • Campaign Heroes with IACP Modified Cards
    • Shyla Varad, Ko-Tun Feralo
  • Campaign Heroes with IACP New Elite Deployment Cards
    • Diala Passil, Gaarkhan, Fenn Signis, Biv Bodhrik, Jyn Odan, Saska Teft
  • Campaign Heroes whose Regular Deployments are Playable or Strong
    • Drokkatta, CT-1701, Onar Koma, Vinto Hreeda, MHD-19, Jarrod Kelvin, Tress Hacnua, Mak Eshka’rey, Gideon Argus
Onar Koma is a common figure found in most Mercenary lists due to his powerful attack pool & high Health.

Assemble Your Strike Team

Now that you have a better understand of which cards are good and which still need improvement, you can build an army with a strong foundation. Pick your favorite list builder and find some cards that interest you. Check out Derek’s list building guide for a detailed example.

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