Season 8 Preview: Things are About to get Technical

Back in September 2021, over 6 months before the public unveiling of IACP Season 7 cards, the IACP Steering Committee, bolstered by sophomore members Josh and Morgan, began seriously discussing how to do something that has not been done in Imperial Assault since the original Core set: Bring a brand new figure trait to the game. 

We were able to choose what trait we wanted to do relatively quickly, but many challenges quickly arose as we worked on developing it. How many cards do we make? Do we apply it to just new figures or to old figures as well, and how do we choose which ones? We realized after working on trying to implement this into Season 7’s line-up that we needed to give this idea some room to breathe and more time to properly develop, and we ended up shelving it and continuing to work on it for Season 8.

And now I’m proud to present to everyone the fruits of over a year of work on a brand new trait for IACP skirmish and introduce to you: The Technician trait!

“The Technician is enamored with technology. They are capable of creating anything with a bit of scrap and a power pack thanks to endless creativity and expertise. Found everywhere, they often keep to their work but are incredible assets on a team.”

Edge of the Empire RPG Rulebook

Before I show you any new cards, I’d like to talk about how we worked out this trait’s identity in the game to help make its cards feel cohesive and connected. The above quote is actually from the Star Wars Edge of the Empire Roleplaying Game wiki article about the Technician class in that game. With that source as a thematic guide, we tried to figure out how that would translate into the game of Imperial Assault. As we really started to dig into the idea, Josh put together a great summary of ideas for thematic characteristics that we should try to represent on Technician cards, with an additional thought from myself about how these cards should feel to play. 

2021-09-28 01:10:45 -07:00

To summarize what I think the Mechanic themes are:
• Mechanics *fix things*.
• Mechanics *sabotage* their opponents.
• Mechanics *improve* their allies.
• Mechanics are *precise*.
• Mechanics are *versatile*.
• Mechanics interact with *technology*, whether that’s terminals, doors, droids, or vehicles.

2021-10-05 23:59:45 -07:00

That’s a good list.
I’ll add something that I think is missing from some of these. To balance out their versatility, Mechanics/Technician cards  could be made to feel a little bit clunky. Action costs, telegraphing at the start of the round, etc. Like, they’re not wizards that can fix things presto. They might be able to fit you into their schedule, but it’s gonna cost you and it’ll get done when it gets done.

So how did we end up implementing this new trait? Over the past year and a half we came up with over 20+ different command card ideas for new Technician cards. We also decided which existing figures in the game qualified for having the new trait added to them, and how to best implement that in the least disruptive way possible. We decided to go with two solutions. The first one is to just create new versions of all of the deployment cards with the new Technician trait added, so that people can just print them out if they want to just have the correct deployment card in their list with the correct type. Because none of these cards are getting any additional changes made to their abilities or stats, they will exist on a separate printing sheet from the rest of the season so that players will know that they don’t really need to print these cards out if they’re not running any Technician cards in their deck. After all, the Command cards are the only reason it actually matters if any of your figures have the Technician trait.

The second solution is to just create a single 0 point neutral Skirmish Upgrade that lists all of the figures that are gaining the Technician trait this season with no other changes. Players have the option of saving time and energy by just printing this one card to act as a reminder on the table for which figures are now Technicians in IACP. All the figures listed are now Technicians in IACP regardless of whether you bring this card or not, but if you aren’t running any Technician cards in your deck, then you don’t need to bother with printing out the card. It’s mostly just for reference. 

There are 13 Deployment cards whose only changes this season will be to receive the new Technician trait added to their card (well, 14 if you really want to count the regular E-Web). Nearly all of these choices were informed mostly by the flavor of the character on the card, though a couple were more informed by the card’s gameplay needs. Some choices are probably pretty obvious, such as R2-D2, Jawa Scavengers, Ugnaught Tinkerers, and Doctor Aphra getting the Technician trait. Some make sense once you think about them for a second, like the E-Web Engineer, which literally has the word “engineer” in the name. Some folks might be surprised to see Chewbacca on this list, but if you think back to the Empire Strikes Back, Chewie actually spends most of that film working on repairing either the Falcon or C-3PO. Zuckuss was another interesting one, who apparently has a good deal of skill repairing and reprogramming Droids in the lore thanks to his affinity with his Droid partner, 4-LOM. Honorary mention to 4-LOM, who can now choose the Technician trait for Programming Override.

So what can this new trait actually do? While a trait is somewhat defined by the characteristics of the figures that have it, I find that it is most defined by the command cards that bear it. Let’s take a look at some of the new Technician command cards in Season 8. Seeing as they’re now 8 years late to the party, Technicians are coming out of the gate with a whopping 7 Command cards to their name this season, with 5 brand new cards and 2 existing command cards that have been retrained and updated for the trait. I have 3 Technician cards to show you today, while the rest will be spoiled throughout the remaining spoiler articles. 

Our first card is an old card that is being repurposed for use by Technicians, though it can still be used by Smugglers as its original version was. Originally introduced in the game’s first wave of figure expansions, Disable was a card with a really cool ability that was just too expensive and too clunky to really see use, even in casual play. We’ve lowered this card’s cost down from 2 to 0 points, and we’ve tweaked how the effect works so that now it lasts through the target’s next activation. Meaning that the card will still have an impact even if the target has already activated that round, making it easier to sneak this card in later in a round with one of your cheap Technician or Smuggler figures. 

We wanted to also show how Technicians can use their cleverness and technological savvy to improve their attacks as well. Another 0 point card, Reverse Engineer, allows you to use the defender’s surge abilities as your own, possibly creating interesting new combinations with your figure’s attack and your opponent’s abilities, though you have to choose between using your opponent’s surge abilities or your own for that attack. And as an added bonus, the card spots you an extra surge to your results to spend on those surge abilities. It’s also templated as a special action, which has some nice synergies with other cards and helps to make it feel like it fits with the Technician trait and stand out from the other traits’ attacking Command cards. 

Many traits in Imperial Assault often come to be defined in competitive play by a powerful 3 point Command card, often referred to as a “capstone” or “keystone” card, that rewards players for playing figures of that trait in their army. Cards like On the Lam, Assassinate, Iron Will, and Overwhelming Impact, etc. Technicians are no different, and their 3 point capstone card ties into many of their characteristics I discussed above. All in a Day’s Work rewards a Technician figure for performing a special action or interact action by giving it an additional action to perform, along with the Focused condition. This is especially rewarding for special actions that are not attacks, as it will often enable that figure to perform a boosted attack during that activation when it would not have had enough actions left to attack with. It’s also a great card to play when your Technician figure spends an action to open a door, allowing it to get a free Focused attack after doing so, or maybe to let it run back behind cover!

I still have one more card to show you from the upcoming Season, a returning figure that will actually mark this character’s 2nd time going through the IACP process. You might have noticed there was a prominent figure missing from the list of figures gaining the Technician trait that should have seemed like an obvious slam dunk as a Technician, and that’s because she’s getting a completely new version in Season 8. We are reworking Saska Teft for Season 8 as one of our star Technicians to spotlight the trait’s abilities this season. 

Saska is a very popular character amongst Imperial Assault fans for her quirky personality and abilities, and we often get requests to give her another update as her Season 3 re-cost still left players feeling uninspired.

We are of course keeping Saska’s most iconic ability to bring a single Scum deployment group into a Rebel army. But instead of trying to fix Saska’s Unstable Device action, a clunky grenade ability that we’ve already seen done more successfully on many other cards in IA at this point, we looked back at her campaign abilities for more inspiration on how we could make her a prominent support piece in Rebel list-building. 

The most obvious thing was to copy her ability to distribute Device tokens, which for some reason were not implemented at all in her original FFG skirmish design. Then we needed to figure out something cool for those Device tokens to do once they were handed out. We tried a ton of different ideas, from the campaign’s original +1 surge, to adding Blast, to rerolls. But then we were inspired once again by her campaign abilities and found her Power Converter card that lets her change dice colors when a figure attacks with a Device token. 

That evolved further into becoming a once per round ability that let figures keep their Device tokens instead of spending them, and instead of changing dice before attacking, being able to swap dice colors during the reroll step, similar to Lando’s Resourceful ability. In playtesting this gave a greater feeling of agency over how much the ability impacted the results of the dice roll, as well as making Saska’s ability feel different from the many other “give a token, spend a token” abilities that are already in Imperial Assault.

In addition to all this, we also beefed up her surge abilities a little bit to help pack a little more punch when she attacks, though she’s still a 2-dice attacker. And for those that do miss Saska’s grenade ability from the original card, just have patience and keep watching for more spoilers.

I am so excited to finally get to be sharing these cards with all of you. The amount of creativity I have seen put into these cards from the rest of the Steering Committee this season is unmatched by any season of IACP have participated in so far. This is going to be a great season for IACP. Be sure to let us know what you think, whether on the IACP Discord, IACP Facebook, or Zion’s Finest Slack Channel.

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