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LemonheadPrime

Campaign balance 2 heroes vs 4

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Hello

Bought the Imperial Assault main game and is currently playing a campaign with friends.

I had expected that the campaign was designed around 4 heroes, because the solution implemented to make 2 or 3 heroes possible seemed inelegant and potentially able the throw the balancing off. In particular, having a single hero be able to move 4 times during a round felt to me like it could pose problems.

So we are playing the campaign with 4 heroes now, and unfortunately quite a high number of the missions we have played, seem to have the problems with the movement I was worried about, but to my surprise, the balancing seems skewed towards 2 or 3 heroes, and not toward the 4 heroes I thought was the 'default'.

Many missions seem to challenge the heroes with reaching a certain point on the map (door, terminal, etc) within a certain number of rounds, a challenge with seems to be much easier with 2 or 3 heroes. It culminated last night, when we played the 'Wanted' forced mission that

Spoiler for 'Wanted'

Asks all heroes to leave via an exit behind a remotely-opened door that closes at the end of each round. This means that the last hero to leave has to use an 'Interact' action and move 6 spaces in the same round. Something that is much, much easier if that hero has 2 activations that round.

End spoiler (sorry, could not get the spoiler tagging to work)

So I am wondering

  • How much of the campaign is skewed this way? (only seen 6 missions so far, I'm thinking we might just be unlucky)
  • Has this been fixed with the expansions, or do the campaigns in the expansions have the same problem with mission design?
  • Should we just play the campaign with 2 heroes instead? Does it seem more balanced this way?

We were planning to play all the campaigns in order, but this problem with the base game has cooled our enthusiasm considerably.

Thanks in advance for any input.

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In my opinion (and one that seems to be the general consensus) the campaign is balanced best around four heroes.  That's not to say that it's always easiest with four heroes, because (like you've seen) that's not the case.  Notably...

  • Missions that require a lot of movement are easier with two heroes, as you've already discovered.  Using both activations to move can be really powerful.
  • Missions that require the imperial player to wound all heroes are easier with two heroes as well.  With potentially four rest actions in a round, you can pretty easily take your character from the brink of death to almost full health and there's not a whole lot the imperial can do about it.  Also, a good imperial tactic for wounding is to focus fire on the hero who's already moved (since they won't have a chance to rest).  That doesn't work against two hero teams since they'll each have another activation that round.
  • On the other hand, missions that require you to be in multiple places at once can be really, really tough with two.  There's one particular mission in the core game where you have to interact with three terminals at three different corners of the map - it's already a really tough mission with four, and though I've never tried it with two I'd imagine it would be borderline impossible.
  • Some missions can be really swingy depending on who your two heroes are.  For example if your mission needs a bunch of tech tests and you have two heroes who each only roll one die on those tests, you could be in for a bad time.  With four heroes you're more likely to have at least one who can be good at whatever you need.
  • Some heroes, especially the more support-oriented ones or those that use a lot of strain, just don't tend to be as good in groups of two.  Conversely, if one of your two heroes is really strong then you can end up with a big advantage.

So all that's to say that there's no one answer, and it's a little complicated :).  By and large, though, I've found that four heroes offers the most balanced and level experience - it gives the best chance of a mission coming down to the wire rather than being too easy for one side or the other.

 

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I'll also add that, if I remember correctly, Wanted is a mission that the imperial buys from his agenda deck and is a really tough one for the rebels.  I find that while the campaigns seem to be balanced as a whole (i.e. rebels and empire tend to get the same number of wins overall) certain missions can really tilt towards one side or the other.  Some of the core campaign missions (like this one, or A New Threat which is the one with the three terminals I talked about in my last post) can be particularly bad for this.

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It's nice to hear there are also downsides to playing with 2 heroes that we hadn't considered.

I'm glad to hear that the consensus seems to be in favor of 4 man. That is enough for me to want to continue playing with 4 heroes.

Thanks for your input.

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Also note that moving 6 spaces isn't challenging provided your heroes are healthy and rested... Speed 4 + 2x strain move.  You also have Gideon able to command another hero to move, Diala has force throw, Fenn gets extra movement points, Gaarkhan can increase his speed, and Mak and Jyn both get to move spaces based on enemy actions.

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Whenever a mission feels imbalanced with 4 heroes, 85% of the time it can probably be chocked up to player skill imbalance or a suboptimal team composition (either heroes or open groups).  The other 15% of the time it's probably just the individual mission that's the problem but not the game as a whole. 

As others have pointed out, 2 heroes does noticeably throw what balance there is in the campaign, but not always in favor of the Rebels. In linear missions where the heroes are just having to push from point A to point B as quickly as possible (the vast majority of missions), 2 heroes is really strong. In missions where there are 3+ objectives scattered in different directions, 2 heroes can struggle due to having to backtrack to cover enough ground. The same is true in missions that require a variety of attribute tests that aren't strong in either of the 2 Rebels (unlikely to be an issue with 3 heroes though). 

Also I think some heroes get stronger or weaker depending on whether they have 2 activation tokens or just 1. For example, Fenn goes from being very strong to overpowered with 2 activation tokens when he is reliably dealing 4 Blast damage per turn. On the other hand, Gideon is very strong when he's acting as another hero's 2nd activation token in a 4 hero group, but in a 2 hero group he relies too much on the other hero in the team and isn't effective at striking off on his own when the mission requires it. Gaarkhan also sometimes loses some of his utility in a 2-hero group, as his Charge becomes less useful during his 2nd activation if he's already up close to a group of enemies from a charge in his 1st activation, although he does trigger his Rage ability more often. 

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We did forget about some of the hero's movement abilities, so I concede that the mission perhaps is not as hopeless for a 4 man team as it looked to us.

I'm glad the campaign feels balanced to you guys. We will keep on going. Thanks for the answers.

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One thing that I think is important to mention: The Imperial player is meant to win on occasion. Sometimes, the Rebels are meant to get their asses kicked (While some groups have an Imperial player acting as a 'GM' rather than an opponent, that isn't really how the game is designed).

This is particularly true for the Agenda missions that the Imperial player buys; they are meant to be hard. They spent influence to get it, with no guarantee on a return - imagine if the Rebels had to spend credits on a weapon, and then only got it if they won the next mission. The agenda missions are the Imperial player's chance to get cool toys and get some wins. 

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