Early in March of 2020, the IACP Steering Committee started the initial design process for Season 4. There hasn’t been a week since then that we haven’t spent time on what has become 26 total Season 4 cards. We’re excited to finally be releasing Season 4 Preview articles over the next 4 weeks and share what has been our best collaborative development experience yet. We can’t wait to hear what you think; you’ll find a place to discuss each article on the IACP Reddit community. For this very first preview post, we focus on a deployment group with a surprisingly passionate fanbase.
Since starting IACP back in early 2019 — what seems like a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away — the Steering Committee have tried our best to be regularly polling the skirmish community about what existing deployment groups should be improved in future Seasons. The community’s consistent & strong desire to improve E-Web Engineers keeps surprising the Steering Committee. For the Season 3 Community Vote 67% of our voters indicated that E-Web Engineers should be improved either in Season 4 or a future Season. Personally I’ve wanted to improve them as well: It was a figure that caught my imagination when opening my first Core Set but disappointed me when trying to use it in my skirmish games.
In the campaign, E-Web Engineers often deploy in front of the heroes, either at the start of the mission or midway through a mission as the Rebels try to escape. These campaign E-Webs protect areas with a potential stream of heavy fire if the Rebel scum dare leave themselves exposed. It seems to be a mistake to move away this motif and make a “fixed” skirmish E-Web Engineer just another figure that moves, shoots, then moves back behind cover during its activation.
From the beginning of the IACP, the Steering Committee has worked on drafts for improving the E-Web Engineer. Ultimately we decided that not only should the Elite E-Web have a deployment cost that is more competitive, but should also:
- Lean into the “emplacement gun” motif without punishing players with penalties when trying to position the E-Web. We don’t want players forced to use multiple Imperial Officers to move the E-Web into a threatening position. At the same time we don’t want the E-Web to set up anywhere on the map, as that will put the opponent in a major disadvantage during round one.
- Allow the E-Web to react to movement on the battlefield so that hostile figures are threatened outside of the E-Web’s activation. This frees up the E-Web’s activation to reposition to where it can make a difference or use Assault to pour attacks into an exposed enemy. For this reactive action, the E-Web must pay a fair cost in its action economy.
Heavy Blaster Mobility
To achieve these goals, we’ve implemented a two-card solution.
Reducing the cost of the Elite E-Web Engineer from 8 to 5 allowed us to keep most of the basic figure statistics & attack pool. The lowered cost also allows room for more expensive Trooper or Heavy Weapon deployment pairings with the E-Web.
The Tripod and Assault abilities stay the same. New is the Forward Emplacement ability that allows the figure to get a head start out of the deployment zone towards an optimal position. After testing several values for movement, we found that 3 movement points provides enough of a start where the figure can find a good position that threatens the opponent’s movement while moving during round one.
The image below shows potential locations of an E-Web Engineer after moving 6 spaces from each deployment zone on the ISB Headquarters map (simulating the Forward Emplacement ability & performing a move during round one). In other maps we evaluated, some deployment zones grant more starting advantage for E-Webs. However we found that none of these potential starting advantages causes an unfair situation for an opponent.
We added a surge ability for +2 Accuracy so that the E-Web Engineer can threaten an attack down long corridors of 7 spaces or more. Such long shots still have risk to miss without any additional resources spent for the attack.
With the lower deployment cost & increased Accuracy, a changed E-Web Engineer is a natural fit for the skirmish upgrade Lie in Ambush. This combination reminds us of E-Webs from the campaign that deploy at advantageous times for the Imperial player; we hope to see it utilized by the community. You should know that the beginning wording of Forward Emplacement — “After deployment” — is specific to the deployment during setup of a skirmish game. (This is similar to Hera Syndulla’s Smooth Landing ability.)
It’s a Trap!
Other skirmish upgrades & attachments work well with the changed Elite E-Web Engineer, but potentially none as well as Overwatch, the second card of our two-card solution:
The Steering Committee explored several different versions of giving the E-Web Engineer the ability to attack outside of its activation, leading to the implementation of this card. We found that a 3×3 area of spaces that the E-Web Engineer can attack out-of-activation grants map control unlike any other figure in the game; since the E-Web has just the one Overwatch area, opponents can find one or more options to avoid the Overwatch area on most maps. The Overwatch token is not removed until the E-Web performs its Overwatch attack, allowing the E-Web to set it in round one and execute it in a later round. An set Overwatch token doesn’t prevent the E-Web from attacking during its activation.
With Overwatch, a single E-Web becomes quite the strong deployment; two E-Webs with Overwatch can potentially remove a costly figure from the board if that figure makes the mistake of entering two Overwatch areas.
Exert Your Will On the Battlefield
When Season 4 begins, we will be looking forward to seeing your creativity using the improved Elite E-Web Engineer & new Overwatch skirmish attachment. We feel that these changes have brought the E-Web Engineer up to being viable in casual games and potentially a force in competitive games. We will be watching your playtest feedback carefully during Season 4 to ensure playing with and against these cards provides a fun and fair experience.
This article is part of our Season 4 Preview series. Until the end of July 2020, the Steering Committee will be revealing the cards that make up our Season 4 content. You can discuss these cards in the comments of this post or on the IACP Reddit.