Greetings, fellow lovers of shiny credits! This is a primer for how to build and play the Scum VP list, one of the core archetypes of the Scum faction that actually predates IACP and saw quite a bit of tournament success in the last years of the Imperial Assault tournament scene. This playstyle suits the Mercenary faction to a T! From underworld dealing for the best prices, to stalking a bounty for a large pay-day, the goal of Scum VP is to get to 40 points in leaps and bounds, boosted by cards and abilities. Scum VP is all about tempo and setting up a big score from defeating the right figure at the right time, rather than just trying to defeat all of your opponent’s figures.
- 7▪ Sabine Wren
- 6▪ Jabba the Hutt
- 6▪ Hondo Ohnaka
- 6▪ Onar Koma
- 4▪ Doctor Aphra (IACP)
- 4▪ Greedo
- 2▪ C-3P0
- 2 Jawa Scavenger
- 1▪ Black Market
- 1▪ First Strike (IACP)
- 1▪ Temporary Alliance (M)
- (3) ▪ On the Lam (IACP)
- (2) ▪ Worth Every Credit
- (2) ▪ Heightened Reflexes
- (2) ▪ Tools for the Job
- (2) ▪ Double or Nothing (IACP)
- (1) ▪ Price on Their Heads
- (1) ▪ Black Market Prices
- (1) ▪ Strength in Numbers
- (1) ▪ Negation
- (0) ▪ Celebration
- (0) ▪ Rebel Graffiti
- (0) ▪ Windfall (IACP)
- (0) ▪ To the Limit
- (0) ▪ Element of Surprise
- (0) ▪ Take Initiative
Let’s take a moment to discuss tempo in Imperial Assault. The word tempo describes how fast a piece of music should be played, but in turn-based games it usually describes how much you can accomplish during your turn compared to your opponent. In a game of Skirmish, you can imagine that you and your opponent are playing a song with the same number of notes, and the player that finishes their song first is the winner. In IA terms, scoring victory points puts you closer to finishing your song first, aka winning the game. Large changes in victory point totals are known as tempo swings. Gaining tempo is a big advantage, because not only does it put you ahead, it forces your opponent to take more risky lines of play to counteract the loss, which can cause them to take even more losses. Take a look at this scenario. Imagine the Scum VP player is scoring the last vital damage against Vader, to finish him off and score a massive total of 22 victory points off of just 1 figure.
This is a huge tempo swing, and puts you over half way there to victory by itself. Ultimately, Scum VP epitomizes one of the core strategies in Imperial Assault skirmish: Counting to 40. Rather than trying to win by blindly defeating all your opponents figures, you are using your abilities, the objectives available from the mission, and the opponent’s figure costs and adding them up to get to 40 points scored in the most efficient way possible. Let’s take a look at the key Deployment cards, and then the Command cards.
Any Scum VP list will always start with Jabba. For 6 points he helps draw the extra Command cards you need to rack up those extra VPs and he hands out a Focus each turn to help your figures hit harder. In a pinch he can also spend 2 actions and 2 VPs to give a scum figure an extra attack, usually to finish off an enemy figure. But most importantly, he gives you an extra 1 VP every time an opponent’s figure is defeated. It may not sound like much, but it quickly adds up over the course of the game and combines with all the other abilities that generate additional VPs.
Sabine becomes a powerful piece of the Scum VP list when she joins Scum and turns to a life of crime. She’s a great figure in her own right as a Hunter with Mobile and a great attack, along with her powerful actionless grenade ability to deal damage without needing to attack. But her unique Command card is the main reason she finds a home here, able to gain 2 VPs every time she activates while it’s in hand. This makes it very important to keep her alive as long as you can so that she can play Rebel Graffiti as many times as possible.
Hondo hits extremely hard for a 6 point figure as long the opponent is unable or unwilling to pay his Negotiate VP tax, which becomes harder and harder to do when he is skyrocketing ahead of the opponent in the vp race. Hondo is here to help get the kills you need to enable cards like celebration and worth every credit. It’s not always possible to do, but if you are cagey enough and lucky enough, you can score the winning vp with his second ability, affectionately known as the touchdown play. Pro tip, let your opponent decide if they want to pay the VPs for Negotiate before you play your on declare cards like Element and Tools for the Job, so that you know if it’s still worth it to use them.
Onar acts much in the same way as a linebacker, providing a big counter attack to anything that tries to go after your other squishier figures. Along with C-3PO’s Distracting ability, Get Down creates a defensive core for the list that rewards good early game positioning and punishes enemy aggression. And Onar hits like an absolute monster truck at close range, especially when he’s Focused and has a few Hunter command cards in hand.
Greedo is your Ace in the pocket. As a 4 point Smuggler Hunter that always gets a free attack when he dies, he punches way above his points cost, especially when he’s Focused. And while Slow on the Draw might seem like a crippling weakness, it’s not too difficult to get around it, either by attacking melee or support figures, or by setting up 1-way line of sight attacks to a target. Remember to always resolve the Slow on the Draw trigger before playing any on declare cards like Tools for the Job or Element of Surprise, just in case Greedo dies and you need those cards for his Parting Shot attack instead.
Doctor Aphra is the only IACP figure featured in this list but adds a very powerful ability to the list, along with a decent attack for 4 points. While it may seem odd to include her in a list without her two Droid counterparts listed in her first ability, her Excavation ability is powerful enough to warrant her inclusion here. Being able to replay powerful VP cards from the discard pile like Celebration, Black Market Prices and her own VP focused card Windfall will really turbocharge your VP gains. Just make sure to keep her alive as long as you can, as her Excavate ability stops working as soon as she’s defeated. Also a word of warning, don’t try to Excavate Price on their Heads, as that card will immediately get sent to the game box rather than staying in play.
Black Market is an important card both as a form of card draw and a way to gain additional VPs. It can draw you 0 point cards for absolutely free, and with the inclusion of First Strike in the list, you can buy other Command cards on the first turn if you flip an expensive but valuable card. Later in the game, you can cash in the cards you find to get those last few VPs, which works especially well with Doctor Aphra’s Command card Windfall.
Once we add C-3PO as our 2nd source of Focus, that leaves us with 3 points to round out the list, of which we’ll use 2 to add a regular Jawa Scavenger, which gives us another Smuggler figure to score points from objectives, play Black Market Prices, and gets us to 8 activations to help us get the last activation in round 1. With the final point we’ll play First Strike, which was reduced from 2 points to 1 in IACP, and serves the role of kickstarting our race to 40 points, while also giving us more options when it comes to using cards like Black Market.
The Command Cards
The primary strategy of the list takes up over ⅓ of the Command deck. Price on their Heads, Celebration and Worth Every Credit give you a burst of VPs when a hostile figure dies. While Price on their Heads can technically be played by Jabba, it’s generally much better to use Sabine or Onar for this action unless you draw it very late in the game and Sabine and Onar need to be attacking. Black Market Prices helps you dig deeper for the Command cards you need and gain VPs at the same time. And we mentioned Windfall, which can be tacked onto a discard for Black Market Prices or Black Market to gain even more VPs, or it can be discarded to those effects for 1 VP, especially useful if Aphra has been defeated and can’t play the card herself.
With many of the VP abilities in the list revolving around defeating enemy figures, we need the tools to defeat those figures when we need to. On the Lam is still an extremely powerful card for Hondo, Greedo and Aphra to help them dodge powerful attacks that might otherwise bring them down. Tools for the Job, Heightened Reflexes, Element of Surprise and Double or Nothing all increase the power of the attacks of the lists Hunters and Smugglers. Strength in Numbers allows for powerful combination attacks and tempo plays,
Experienced players will notice that Assassinate is not in this list. While Assassinate is still an extremely powerful card in IACP Hunter lists, I found while building the list that it was just too hard to fit the card with all the other VP Command cards that felt necessary, and because of its newfound inability to combine with cards like Celebration due to the nerf, that is why I’m not including it here. But I think you can definitely cut a 2 point and 1 point card to fit it if you wanted to.
Take Initiative and Negation are powerful cards that should be included in every Command deck. To the Limit is a card that I always try to fit into any list that uses both Jabba and Onar. Generally this card is very hard to use, because it Stuns your figure before you can use any movement points gained from a free Move action. But here, Jabba loves using the additional action to use Order Hit and doesn’t care about being Stunned because it doesn’t prevent him from using any of his special actions, and Onar works especially well with the card thanks to being Immune to Stun and having the Rush Special action, allowing him to move up to 8 spaces and then perform an attack with To the Limit. A word of strategic advice though, if you think your opponent has Negation in hand, it’s wise to use Rush as Onar’s first action to move 4 spaces and then playing To the Limit to take a regular Move action, with your attack as your 3rd action. This way you bait out the Negation with your first action, and then you can use your 2nd action to move back to safety. Otherwise you might end up moving 8 spaces next to a bunch of enemies and have your bonus attack action cancelled by Negation.
Smuggling Compartment is a fantastic 1 point option instead of First Strike that help to protect your valuable Command cards from hand disruption. Beware though, it doesn’t have much synergy with Black Market, as any card you move to the top of the deck with Smuggling Compartment will be immediately drawn into your hand during the status phase, before Black Market will trigger.
If you are willing to take a firepower hit and want to just draw more cards, you could cut Aphra and the regular Jawa for an elite Jawa and R2-D2. The elite Jawa also adds another filler figure with the Leader trait, which means it can play Planning, a staple card which I ended up cutting from this list since there was a shortage of Leaders that could sacrifice an action and Black Market Prices fulfills a similar effect already within the list.
This is also a great way to convert the list into being legal without any IACP cards, in addition to swapping out the First Strike card for either Devious Scheme or Doubt.
And there’s also a ton of awesome Smuggler and Hunter figures in Scum that would fit great into this list that you can try out.
Alternate Command cards
I honestly really struggled making cuts to this list’s Command deck because of how many great options are available. Any of these cards would be a great inclusion in the list, including Assassination, but at the end of the day you have to focus on playing the good VP Command cards and you only have 15 points to work with. But these are some great cards to consider messing around with in this strategy if you want to try changing around the Command deck.
So there you have it, one of Scum’s core competitive strategies from before IACP even existed, and it’s still quite viable in the metagame, so long as you can count to 40.
A big thank you to Colin Hambrick who helped with working on an early draft of this guide, which included much of the explanation about tempo at the beginning of the article.