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Held actions?

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My friends and I are about 2/3 of the way through our first IA campaign, and we love it (we're already planning for our next play through). There is one thing that has consistently frustrated me, though. 


I'm playing the Imperials, and we only have two PCs so they're playing with the Legendary rules, which gives them two activation tokens, so four PC activations per round. As we understand the rules, turns alternate between the rebels and the imperials, and (implicitly; haven't found anything in the rules that addresses this one way or the other) if one side has more characters on the board than the other, then the round ends with the larger side doing their remaining activations consecutively.


The problem I encounter happens when there are fewer imperials on the board than rebels, which is becoming increasingly common as the PCs level up (they're playing the smuggler and the wookie, so between cleave and quick draw, plus two activations each, plus the ability to double attack, they can do a lot of damage to a lot of baddies in a single round).


What I'm finding is that when I'm required to activate something at the first opportunity (so, say I have a single imperial on the board, we've been assuming that I have to activate that imperial between the first and second rebel actions, as opposed to the second and third, fourth and fifth, etc) it pretty well wrecks any kind of defensive play.


For example, there have been a number of missions where the PCs need to get into a place, do a thing, and then get out of the place. "A ha!" I think, "I might be able to take down at least one of them with a couple of good shots, and they're going to have to go down this long hallway to get out, so I'm going to have an E-Web (or whatever) waiting for them at the far end. This is gonna be great!".  But what ends up happening if there are only one or two imperials on the board is it becomes my turn, I've already activated my other characters, and the PCs haven't rounded the corner yet (but they will on the next turn). My ambush then turns into me being forced to say "well, I guess my e-web does... nothing?", after which the rebels round the corner and unload on him. This is one of the few places where I feel like the game is forcing me to make tactically nonsensical decisions.


Maybe we're making the wrong assumptions here? The rules seem to take it as a given that turns will be strictly consecutive, but it also doesn't say anything one way or the other about when the sides have an uneven number of activations. So, we've been talking about alternatives that would still be fair to everyone.


The best compromise proposal so far is this:

  • At the start of each round, the faction with the fewest pieces on the board is granted a number of "hold activations" equal to the difference in numbers.
  • On any given turn, a hold activation can be used to avoid activating a specific figure.

Having a specific number of hold activations at least partially addresses the problem I describe, without letting me just dig in a bunch of imps at a choke point and wait for the rebels to come to them. Personally I have mixed feelings about this, since sometimes that's exactly the right thing to do when you're on the defensive as the Imperials often are, but I can understand why taking it to that extreme might make things less fun (in a bad way) for the PCs. So that's the compromise we've reached.


Well, actually there is one other caveat to the compromise, which we've agreed to but is still the most contested element, so I'd welcome opinions on it here: if both rebels have used their first activation tokens, the imperials must activate a figure, not use a hold activation, before the rebels start their second activations. This can result in unused hold activations at the end of the round, but forces some amount of movement throughout.


So, my questions for folks here:

  1. Are there rules or errata we've missed and should know about?
  2. How, if at all, have others dealt with this?

Also, out of curiosity, has anyone tried to house rule an X-Com style overwatch mechanic? The consensus in my group has generally been that it would be too much of a pain, and/or dilute Quick Draw (which is basically an overwatch that doesn't cost an action) too much to be worth doing, but I'm curious whether anyone else has tried and how it worked out. 

Edited by UsernameNumber

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The problem that a lot of people have discussed in these forums is dont play with 2 or 3 heroes. Always play with 4, bc Hero (not as much) and Legendary just make the heroes way too strong, early on and later in game.

You are playing it correctly though, if say hero 1 uses their 2nd activation to unlock a door and you deploy an ewebb and they use the rest of their activation to move out of LoS and then it becomes your turn and all you have is the ewebb to activate, yes you have to use him and sometimes all you get is nada. Then hero2 comes around the corner and manages to do the 5-8 health needed and hes gone.

I feel like your guys are dying rather quickly tho if youre running out of activations. The heroes only get a total of 4 no matter what (unless they use an ally, but you get that threat).

Id suggest using a lot of cheaper threat units in your open groups so you can get more onto the table. Probe droids and imp officers are cheap and give you extra activations. They do good dmg/movement too if needed.


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My reviews of the rules have revealed a couple of big misunderstandings I've had, which have contributed to me frequently not having many imperials on the board, specifically:

  • I'd been activating each member of a group separately, so each storm trooper, for example, has to wait for its own turn for me to go... which would explain why most of them kept getting mowed down before they could do anything.
  • On top of that, I'd somehow gotten the notion that even for non-unique groups, once they were dead, unless I could get reinforcements in before the whole group was killed, that was it and I couldn't deploy it again unless I'd included a second instance of the card in my hand (this was what I though the "unique" attribute prohibited), then they were just done for the rest of the mission.



I'd been wondering why I keep reading about the Imperials having the advantage while in our campaign they've only won one out of six missions, and that was only because a timer ran out.


Well, our next mission is gonna be... interesting.


So yeah, all this makes me unlikely to end up in this situation any more, which is good, but then it just flips the problem around onto the rebels, and I don't want them to have this frustration either. Generally this game seems pretty good about there being a "battlefield logic" explanation for why a character can or can't do something, but this is the only case where the game seems to tell someone (and now that I'm more likely to have a lot more characters on the board it will probably be the rebels more often than not), "well yes you have a good defensive position, and you know someone's to be coming around the corner into your LoS next turn, but unfortunately it's your turn now, so you're going to have to sit on your hands and wait to be shot instead because Rules". Just doesn't seem in keeping with the elegance of the rest of the game, y'know?

Edited by UsernameNumber

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I wouldn't worry much about the rebel activations. Remember that their activations are much more flexible than yours are (for example, they can rest and attack multiple times, where you **normally** cannot) and you generally are not going to have enough threat to constantly maintain more than 5 activations on the imperial side.

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