Hi everyone, Noa here, probably better known to some as TVboy. I’m sad to announce that I will be leaving the IACP Steering Committee after Approved Play for Season 5 begins later this month. I’ve realized that being a SC member for me is a full-time commitment and now with a young son and greater opportunities at work for professional development, I just don’t have the spare time that I used to have a year ago to give to this project. I can tell you that it is a lot of work pulling together a set of 20+ cards in 6 months that has even a modicum of balance upon release to the public, and that every member of the SC is putting in real hours to make each IACP season the best it can be.
A replacement Steering Committee member has already been selected and added to the Committee, there will be an announcement from the new member coming in a post in the near future. I won’t spoil the surprise but I think a lot of our community regulars won’t be surprised and will be quite happy with who was chosen.
It has been an amazing journey since I was invited to join the SC back in early 2020. I helped out with the playtesting and editing of Season 3, and was there for the full design process of Seasons 4 and 5. Since I joined, the IACP has moved to a set release and playtesting schedule and has started to do more hard data tracking to validate and expound on the feedback we get from the community. The IACP has continued to push into unexplored design space with innovative new mechanics and flavorful cards and will continue to do so, and also continues to listen very closely to the community to design cards for the game that the community wants to play with.
I personally learned so much about the game than I thought I already knew. I’ve learned more about what players like and dislike mechanically about the game, what kinds of cards are more interesting to read vs more interesting to play, the importance of faction and trait identity and how to design a card for a game holistically and not just in a vacuum. I’m honored to have been given the chance by the stewards of the IA community to help shape and mold the future of the Imperial Assault skirmish game after FFG seemingly gave up on it. I’m also very thankful to the members of the IA community for all of their support and sympathy to the SC’s efforts. The Steering Committee isn’t going to get everything 100% right every time, but we do our best with what is a deceptively complex game and having a community that is willing to work with and help the SC make the game the best it can be is one of the reasons I believe IACP has been such a huge success story.
I’m going to miss being on the inside of the sausage factory and getting to see everything shifting and changing as it’s being made and as ideas are slowly taking form from the start of the design process to the finish, but I’m actually really looking forward to being just another member of the community again. I get to enjoy the surprise and wonder of a new season again just like all of you without having known the 20 different version of each card that was considered and discarded on the way to the final product beforehand. And I’ll get to participate in the community discussion and playtesting process more directly as a player without having to be the one managing these things.
You might also still see me popping up on this blog now and then as a guest writer if I’ve got some insight about the game to share in an article. I’ll also have more time now to make videos for my youtube channel, IACommand, which has been a bit neglected lately as most of my IA time gets dedicated to helping out with the inner workings of the IACP. And since I’ll no longer be a SC member, I can spill all of their secrets now! I’d love to do a mailbag, AMA style video to answer all of your questions about how the IACP Steering Committee designs and manages each season of new content, so send your questions to email@example.com! Just know that I won’t be able to reveal any upcoming content plans or speak for other committee members, and there will be some information that is confidential that I can’t share, but otherwise ask away, and it might even be a good idea to ask multiple questions so that you have a better chance of asking something I can talk about.
As I make my exit from the Steering Committee, I wanted to do something fun. I’m very proud that a lot of my personal designs and ideas have been featured in IACP seasons and gone up for community approval, cards like Lando, Loku, Bossk, Jyn Erso, K2-SO, Cassian, Doctor Aphra, and Mara Jade, but I’d like to share some of the designs I’ve submitted to the SC over the past year that ended up being a bit too weird and out there and will likely not be showing up in any future IACP seasons anytime soon at least. I thought it would be fun to use this article to share some of these weird, more avante-garde designs with you all and the lessons that were learned from them.
This was an early idea for how to get players to use Focus for something other than just giant world-ending attacks, as well as how to make the Hidden condition a little bit more valuable. In hindsight, we later realized that the game was starting to become too much about stacking defensive bonuses with cards like Parry and Extra Armor to basically invalidate incoming attacks which was causing the game to sometimes become a bit too slow and grindy, and this is definitely not a card that would ever get added to an IACP season now, which is why it got left on the cutting room floor.
One thing we’ve been trying to do with the IACP is create more support for the less supported traits in the game that fits well into their established playstyles, and Spies was one of the traits we considered. This was created while I was still trying to figure out how to improve the ISB Infiltrators in Season 4. Originally a 1 point skirmish upgrade, I changed it to an attachment to make sure you couldn’t use it with Cross Training and had to run it only with true Spies. Now that we’ve seen the more powerful Under Duress in action, it’s obvious that milling is actually a very powerful strategy that can deprive an opponent of future draws as early as the 3rd round, and in combination with the hand control that spies have wouldn’t be fun. Being 0 points probably also wouldn’t go over well with people, and having to stay by a terminal to use the effect promotes a passive gameplay that we are now trying to get away from. Spies are also actually a pretty decent trait as far as command card support, they were just lacking a bit in good figures before IACP, and now it’s definitely not hard to build a strong Spy list in IACP with good command card support.
Droids were another trait we were looking at supporting, and ultimately did get new support in Season 5 in the form of command card Rapid Recalibration, but I had also concocted this complicated skirmish upgrade idea for Droids as well, specifically for droids in Empire which are a lot less popular than the Scum droids. I try to take inspiration from other games that I play, and as Magic the Gathering player for over 10 years, I take a lot of ideas from Magic and try to see if they might work in IA, and this was actually an MTG card that had just come out that I tried to turn into an IA card (the for those wondering is called the Ozolith). Ultimately I doubt this card is actually the answer to making Droids a more played archetype, and the correct answer is likely just more good Droid deployments and better command cards for Droids in the future.
For Season 5 we had been talking about making strain a stronger archetype option in the especially for Scum to give the faction more competitive variety, and something that I’ve learned from games like Magic the Gathering is that if you’re going to push a niche strategy competitively, you also need to give players niche options to beat that strategy and not wait for it to become a problem. This design was actually inspired by the artwork that I found while I was browsing random Star Wars artwork online, so it was a very flavor driven design that I submitted as a possible meta outlet if we messed up and made strain lists too strong. Some SC members thought this might hose strain too easily as a neutral 1 point attachment and ultimately we ended up attaching the strain hosing idea to Murne instead of an attachment and this card was shelved and forgotten as another curious oddity.
Another design space that I was really interested in exploring during Seasons 4 and 5 were external vs internal spaces. This is a section of the game’s design that FFG has tried but not succeeded at exploring in skirmish with cards like Survivalist and Marked Territory. This was one design I came up with (and not the only one) that played around more with external vs internal spaces and tried to make it in such a way that no matter what type of terrain was being used in the current skirmish map, there were opportunities for the player using the card to benefit. With this card I was trying to flavorfully capture the idea of an oncoming storm where the opponent would be punished if their figures were caught outside after a single round, and the controlling player could benefit if their figures were indoors when the storm hit, but ultimately the card had the same problems as other similar cards, where it was too difficult to predict what the card would do when you put in in your deck and thus hard to justify a valuable command card slot for. I do hope that the SC will continue to look for opportunities with this design space for future IACP cards.
I think this was inspired by a joke someone made about whether it would be a good idea to run a list of just Onar Komas if it was possible. Ironically, the intended drawback on this card has no effect on Onar, making him the best figure to use it. I never seriously considered this card for IACP play, but I thought it was an interesting design to share nonetheless.
A long time quest of mine is to make unique figure’s unique command cards more playable, as I find it sad that there is such a large category of cards that just don’t see play unless they’re totally broken queen piece command cards like Son of Skywalker just because they can be dead draws if their corresponding figure gets defeated before you draw them. This is especially a problem in Scum lists, which don’t have the discard outlet of Heroic Effort or Zillo Techqniue to make use of dead cards in hand. For a while though we were trying to avoid changing unique figure’s existing ccs because it was so hard to make them not either too strong or not strong enough to justify playing, so unique ccs often just took up space on the changed card documents without actually seeing play. This was an idea for how to give every list a way to get rid of their dead command cards after a unique figure was defeated, but without just being a free draw engine or a way to run powerful trait-locked cards in a list with only 1 figure of that trait. I think this was the best version I had come up with, but again I think a lot of players chafe against 0 point skirmish upgrades that they feel they have to put in every list, and also we’ve started experimenting more with upgrading unique figure ccs to make them powerful enough to see play but not broken, which makes a card like this less necessary.
Another thing that was talked about quite a bit was how to give the Empire faction more card draw without breaking Zillo Technique. The Empire as a faction probably has the most restrictions on how we can design cards for it to avoid breaking things like Vader, Riot Troopers, Extra Armor and Zillo Technique, and the limitation on card draw to me felt like the thing we could experiment with the most safely since we knew exactly what we needed to avoid, which was allowing Empire to load up their hand with Zillo fuel. This was my attempt to give Empire a bit more card selection while also adding more Leader support, and that also incentivizes Empire players to skip the ubiquitous Zillo Technique and Rule By Fear to gain access to some sweet sweet card draw. The reason for the confusing “no non-attachments” wording there was to allow cards like Driven by Hatred to be used with this but not non-attachment skirmish upgrades like Zillo. Ultimately I think this made a lot of people uncomfortable and felt like it would blur the faction’s identities too much with how each handled card draw, and we ended up experimenting with a different kind of card draw in Empire with Agent Kallus’s traitorous card draw, which ended up working really well. I do think that tutoring for specific types of cards is a good potential way for Empire decks to have more command card consistency in a more controlled way without giving them access to straight up card draw, and I hope that the SC will continue to experiment with the Empire’s faction identity in the future.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my island of lost card designs. I’ll say these cards are unlikely to be appearing in any future IACP seasons as they are, but maybe re-worked and re-tooled versions end up appearing in some future season, and I certainly had many more designs that were a bit out there that I’ve decided not to share because I hope the Steering Committee might still give them a shot in a future season.
Again thank you all for being such an amazing community, this game keeps growing and getting better and better because of the dedication and love all of you keep putting into it to keep it alive. If you want to see your questions answered in a future IACommand video, be sure to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to chatting with all of you on the IACP facebook group and in the Zions Finest slack channel. You may well see me again soon as we wrap up Season 5 with the Community Vote that is happening right now. So make sure you go vote!