Season 4 Preview: Spies in the Snow

Each official expansion box for Imperial Assault brings with it a rich and varied roster of original Star Wars characters created specifically for the game by the folks over at FFG. When the Return to Hoth expansion released for Imperial Assault, the power level of unique figures in general still lagged well behind the raw efficiency of the game’s generic figures. While one of three heroes in Return to Hoth was able to carve a solid niche for itself in competitive lists that focus on defensive play thanks to an outstanding command card and efficient recovery action, appearing in many top-placing Rebel lists even towards the later years of the FFG era, the other two Rebel heroes in Return to Hoth never quite found a foothold in the competitive skirmish game. Like what has been done with past Rebel heroes from the Core box and Twin Shadows, IACP is now hoping to bring Verena Talos and Loku Kanoloa onto the stage of competitive viability.

The Friend of My Enemy is My Shield

When Verena Talos was released, she gave a different spin on the front-line fighter archetype in the campaign. Her class cards rewarded with aggressive adjacent placement against Imperial figures with bonuses to her defenses, granting extra attacks & reducing defenses when she attacked. Her Close Quarters ability was especially useful early in a campaign while the heroes are limited in their arsenal.

Sadly all these campaign abilities never translated well to her skirmish iteration. With opponents having so many activations & powerful attacks, it was nearly impossible to get Verena in close enough to use Close Quarters and have her survive to her next activation. While she was adjacent to a target, spending a surge on her 1-die extra attack from Fighting Knife was disappointing too often. And when she does attack from afar her two-die attack felt especially limited for a figure that costs 8 deployment points.

The Steering Committee elected to have an Elite version of Verena feel more worthy of her 8-point cost.

Close Quarters gets a significant overhaul that allows Verena to dance with Darth Vader and choose to use the Sith Lord’s lightsaber on himself or on an adjacent Royal Guard. She also can turn use an adjacent AT-DP’s attack die pool on Thrawn several spaces away! Close Quarters still uses an adjacent hostile figure’s dice pool, but is no longer limited to also targeting that same figure with the attack. To help Verena get the right position for her Close Quarters, she may now move 1 space before performing the attack.

We also improved her overall attack options. Adding a yellow die to her previous attack pool doesn’t extend her attack range consistently, but it does help her better utilize her surge abilities. Her Fighting Knife is sharpened by now doing unblockable damage from a red die, similar to the Clawdite Shapeshifter’s Assassin’s Blade from the Streetrat form card. We felt like giving Verena a better attack & unblockable damage to an adjacent figure makes it worth the risk of running her towards danger. Unlike Hunters, Brawlers are fairly limited in spiking damage, but Verena can still force a Grisly Contest and still has the potential to swing her Fighting Knife after playing Parting Blow.

After Verena’s dived into enemy territory and already spent her Focus, a timely use of her Command card when using Close Quarters against something like Vader or Onar could be devastating, and give her the surges she needs to use all of her awesome surge abilities, including Fighting Knife.

To increase the odds she can survive while approaching or engaged with her enemies, she gains a block on her defense results when she is adjacent a hostile figure that is not attacking her & when she is adjacent to objects on the board — doors, terminals & some mission objectives. We think this gives her an incentive to dive onto hostile figures who have already activated in a round or onto multi-figure groups that are grouped up close together. We’re also hoping this gives her power to contest certain control-point missions, like the sentry turrets on ISB Headquarters A: To Your Stations. Her health may seem low for an 8 point figure, but with a block token or 2 from Extra Armor and the right positioning, she’ll have +2 and +1 on top of her normal black defense dice, making her a tough target indeed if she’s dug in behind a terminal or a hostile figure.

Many Eyes, One Target

Unlike his Brawler associate’s more direct methods, Loku is far more patient and subtle in his tactics. In the Imperial Assault campaign, Loku is a marksman and spotter who is all about using his skills to take out 1 specific figure at at a time, and making it easier for his teammates to take out that target as well. While the other figures in Loku’s army might only care about defeating as many hostiles as possible, Loku enters each battle with a special mission from Rebel High Command to eliminate a very specific hostile unique figure, privy to top secret information about a Priority Target not available to any average soldier, and as a member of the elite Mon Cala Special Forces, he maintains a laser Focus on his assigned target. Of course, Loku also understands that for more difficult targets, a team is required to get the job done, and so long as Loku is on the battlefield, if you are a soldier fighting along side him, you can Set Your Sights to sync up with Loku’s technologically advanced spectrum scanner targeting system. Though if Loku’s systems go dark, so do yours.

Using the Recon token found in the Return to Hoth expansion, Loku marks a specific hostile unique figure at the start of each mission. The recon token does not change targets during the rest of the mission, so as the acting member of Alliance Intelligence for your army, make sure you designate the correct target for Loku’s Recon token. Also remember that the Recon token only matters while Loku is alive. Once defeated, the static Pierce 1 ability on Loku’s card is no longer in effect. The black ops nature of Loku’s abilities and mind games that Loku might play with his opponent through where he places his Recon token is befitting of a Spy and cards like Intelligence Leak and Strategic Shift, but the fact that Loku is so focused around defeating a specific quarry makes him worthy of his newly gained Hunter trait, opening up powerful cards to him like Assassinate and Heightened Reflexes. Though Loku gets an automatic Focus when attacking his designated target, he also attacks quite well with an external Focus from a friendly droid or commander if his prey is staying in deep cover, and Loku’s Priority Target works against any figure, though it’s especially helpful for giving him that free Focus and Pierce 1 against his prime target that’s trying to hide among a crowd. For 1 additional deployment point, Loku doubles his Health from 4 to 8, and gains increased accuracy and a more efficient surge ability to complement his role as a sniper.

While it can be difficult to pull off, a double-tap from Loku and a nearby friendly figure against a hostile figure before it can react, especially one with a recon token, can be devastating. It helps that Loku effectively shares his Priority Target ability with the other figure while this card is being played.

Slippery Targets

The Steering Committee is hoping that Verena and Loku brings both punch to your Spy lists and Spy tricks to your Brawler or Hunter lists. We’re expecting to Loku to see play on both Rebel and Mercenary Hunter teams. We also hope to finally see Verena and Leia Organa team up as Hoth wave sisters-in-arms. Be sure to share your list-building experiments and playtesting results with us during Season 4.

This article is part of our Season 4 Preview series. All through July, the Steering Committee will be revealing the new cards from Season 4! You can discuss these cards in the comments here or on the IACP subreddit.

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