Well, after three of four games in a row yesterday my friend was REALLY mad at Luke/R2-D2 combo. He was playing:
Darth Vader (with Concussion Missiles and Swarm Tactics)
Howlrunner (with Swarm Tactis)
Luke Skywalker (with R2-D2 and Determination)
Garven Dreis (with Proton Torpedoes and R2-F2)
Dutch Vander (with Ion Cannon, Proton Torpedoes, R5-K6)
Only one of these games was close, when around turn four-five he managed to take down Vander and brought Luke down to one Hull left. Unfortunately for him, at the end of the same turn he was down to damaged Howlrunner and Academy P. versus Luke and Greis with only one shield down. The game ended two turns later with Luke having both shields up again.
In each game he was focusing on taking down Luke early, yet he never succeded. There was even a game, which Luke ended unscratched after concentreted fire from Vader's missiles, Night Beast and Backstabber, all with Focus. Certainly, the huge part of this outcome was his really bad, and my extremely awesome dice rolls, but Luke with R2D2 seems close to udestructable. While playing right you can get yourself around 6 extra shields each game, which essentialy is another ship!
Another huge factor was Dutch with R5-K6. All those Target Locks! Plus, hitting Vader with Ion Cannon after he executed Koiogran and doing the same following turn is pretty cool - he had 3 turns in a row, where Vader had a stress token on him…
I think that the most grevious mistakes my friend did in all his games, were:
A) Focusing on Luke early on. Firing at Range 3, only the Concussion Missiles have chance on seriously damge him. It would have been better for him, if he chose to destroy Vander first, who can be quite reliably hit by a TIE even at Range 3. Actually, Vander was my best pilot, acquiring Locks almost every turn (I avoided making red manouvers with him as much as I possibly could) and making Vader a sad eyeball drifting in the space.
B) His setup was like:
Since he has an Initiative I was able to set all my forces in fron of Backstabber, which resulted in duo Academy/Howlrunner was reaching the actual fight zone one turn later. So during first turn of combat it was two TIE's and Vader versus all of my ships, Vander with Target Lock, Dreis with both Target Lock AND Focus (firing first so he could use Focus and give it to Vander) and Luke with Focus. In each game either Night Beast or Backstabber ended up trashed into spacedust.
Had he deployed his forces closer to each other, he might have had chance to fire from all his ships in the first combat turn, possibly taking one of my ships down or at least fill my ships with some annoying crit effects.
C) Not focusing on single target. What's the diffrence if all my ships are damaged, while they're all still flying and shooting?
I have to agree, that the Empire has higher learning curve than Rebels. The fosus on superior number and manouverability, which is certainly harder to utilize to fullest than a few slower but more powerful ships (especially Y-wing with Ion Cannon, that's thing is silly good and easy to use). Like the game itself, flying Imperials is easy to learn, hard to master.