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The Loth Awakens: An Imperial Assault Story

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Hello everyone, here is a collection of my notes from Worlds and Nationals as requested, sprinkled with some Cat Puns and random thoughts. Please let me know if I've mis-remembered any details! If there is anything else I could do for the community don't hesitate to make a suggestion as well. 
 

Episode IV: A Mew Hope (Finding My List)

A long time ago (right after 2018 Nationals) in a galaxy fur fur away (London)….

It is a period of galactic unrest. Stubborn UK players, refusing to give in to the dark side, have won a moral victory against the pretty overpowered Spectre Cell by having community wide agreements not to play them. During the battles, mercenary spies managed to steal secret plans to the Hutt’s radiCLAW new weapon, the LOTH-CAT, a furry missile with enough power to inflict mild discomfort on Ezra Bridger. Purrrrrrrr-sued by Spectres at every turn, David races to the Aldershot regional aboard the Northern Line, custodian of the plans that might be able to defeat Spectre Cell (or at least provide the community with a few laughs!) and restore freedom to the galaxy….

How I ended up with Loth-Cats:

Our story begins at UK Nationals in 2018. I narrowly missed making top 8 (9th!) playing my Scum Hunters list but wasn’t too annoyed at myself as it had been an incredibly busy year and I hadn’t had a chance to play the game much. Alistair had just taken his second national champion title here in the UK running Darth Vader and the Tyrants of Lothal expansion had just hit shelves but wasn’t tournament legal yet. I had been a Loth-Cat fanatic for a long time already and was super excited to try them out. Unfortunately, on the train ride home I already received a text message: Spectre Cell was even more out of control than we had feared and testing Loth-Cats against them was barely a game. Having had such a great time at Nationals with all my old and new friends in the IA community, I decided that this was the year that I would make an effort to play more than a just handful of games.

During the store championship season, I made it  out to quite a few events, running a whole range of fun but ultimately doomed lists. My real first attempt was an eLoth-Cat/Rancor/eWeequay scum list where I mainly piloted it as a standard Scum Hunter list while the beasts soaked up attacks. I managed to come in 2nd at a store championship, losing one game to Isaac playing Han Rangers when he sniped out my Rancor before it even had a chance to activate. At this point I could already see very clearly the negative effect that SC was having on our amazing community. People constantly apologized to me for playing it, and a lot of SC vs SC mirror matches looked like they simply were won or lost on a dodge roll.

Fast forward to the start of the regionals season and I had all but given up on my cute but effective list archetype and was back to playing Scum Hunters with a side of VP manipulation. Within the UK community this seemed to still be fairly effective and I wasn’t actually too concerned with combating SC at this point. I had been matched up against several Spectres and my record against them was surprisingly good. As promised, I attended as many regionals as I could and made top 8 in the first one (getting knocked out by Isaac’s Han Rangers again!). Fortunately, there are several within travel distance of London and I managed to travel to Aldershot where I won my first ever regional championship using a Scum Hunters list. After an incredibly close tournament Alistair said to me: “Now you can just play Loth-Cats for the rest of the season!”. At the final regional of the season, with a lovely trophy in my display case, I brought two units of eLoth-Cats and beast tamer into my Scum Hunters list. I very unexpectedly managed to beat Luke, European Champion, in a friendly match that we played during round 1 (we both had byes, he beat me right after in an actual match) and also managed to make it into the top 4 with Loth-Cats! I ended up losing again to Isaac and his Han Rangers who won his third regional of the season. It was at this tournament that I decided to make the trip to Adepticon for the World Championships. With the gloomy atmosphere surrounding the meta (and a surprisingly decent showing at regionals), I really wanted to bring some joy along with me to Chicago which meant that I was locked in to bringing Loth-Cats.

 

Episode V: Loth-Cats Strike Back (2019 World Championship)

It is a dark time for the IA Community. Although Spectre Cell was still beatable, a rapid-fire set of map changes brought the dreaded Lothal Wastes: Blitz and the incredibly brawler friendly Coruscant Back Alleys map into rotation. The sudden meta change has severely dampened the mood of the community and driven Han/Rangers and IG-88 lists into hiding...

Evading the urge to give in to despair, a group of players from the UK journey to the windy city of Chicago.

The super good guy definitely not a villain Darth David, obsessed with playing Loth-Cats, has spent a couple more practice games refining his list…

World Championship 2019 Prep:

After the decision to attend the World Championships, I found some time to practice my list against Alistair (who was playing SC at the time) and ran through a whole range of variations. We had many discussions about what to include and in the end I managed to tune the list into something that matched my personality and playstyle (and included Loth-Cats: that was obviously the most important criteria). Between the final regionals of the season and our trip to Chicago we had time for four practice matches during which my list and play both evolved significantly. The main contender at this point for me was the following list:

Sabine eWeequay eLoth-Cats Jabba Onar Greedo (Black Market or Beast Tamer)

Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to include both Black Market and Beast Tamer in this variant, and I decided that I needed to have both. Black Market was important for rushing for Victory Points and dropping Beast Tamer would mean that my cats had the same melee attack range as Zeb (8 move and a free melee attack)... Hondo had also been working incredibly well for me despite early reservations and I never regretted including him, which lead to the latest iteration of my list.

Final Form (The List):

7 - Sabine Wren

6 - Onar Koma

6 - Hondo Ohnaka

6 - Loth-cat

6 - Jabba the Hutt

4 - Greedo

2 - C-3P0

1 - Temporary Alliance (M)

1 - Beast Tamer

1 - Black Market

Tools for the Job: Command Deck

(3) - On the Lam

(3) - Assassinate

(2) - Heightened Reflexes

(2) - Tools for the Job

(1) - Primary Target

(1) - Black Market Prices

(1) - Strength in Numbers

(1) - Deathblow

(1) - Negation

(0) - To the Limit

(0) - Celebration

(0) - Rebel Graffiti

(0) - Element of Surprise

(0) - Take Initiative

(0) - Positioning Advantage

How to Meow (Some Thoughts):

Throughout testing it became very clear that winning the fight to remove models against Spectre Cell was going to be impossible. They felt designed to be mathematically superior to the units and tools we currently had with a whole pile of defensive and offensive abilities coupled to a free +1  damage and +1 block on every single attack and defence. The Spectre Cell upgrade itself enabled players to trigger a free bonus attack every round, which is arguably stronger than the Son of Skywalker card since you can always select your best positioned figure. It also gave SC an incredibly deep roster since they did not have any support units and even Chopper was an absolute beast in combat (Red Green with a free +1 damage and ram for unblockable damage? Yes Please!!). The clearest example of this for me was one of my earliest matches of the season where I played Vader Riots against SC. I managed to wipe out everything other than Sabine, Hera, and Chopper while keeping Darth Vader at full health (and a couple small support units alive). Unfortunately for Vader he was crushed laughably easily in just over one round by the remaining SC members. This meant I needed to lean heavily into playing a different win condition : Victory Points.

Unfortunately, the current spread of maps and missions included both VP heavy and more straightforward combat scenarios, so I needed a good mix of objective runners and combat units. Fortunately, the eLoth-Cats with beast tamer were ideal candidates for the job. Many of the current mission objectives do not require interaction and their possible 15 movement would allow me to take whatever I wanted on the board. In terms of combat, they possessed a very substandard set of Blue Green attack dice but had a good surge for +2 damage and a built-in pierce 1. In a vacuum, they were not great hitters at all… but e-Loth-Cats become absolute monsters when fully buffed up. They can give themselves (or another cat) a damage token and I always prioritized focusing them with Jabba and 3PO. This meant that one of my cats could now attack at range 13 with BGG +1 damage +1 pierce and a surge for +2 damage on round 1! This allows them to hit whoever my opponent put on their terminal on my last activation and with 7 deployments I would always get the last word against SC. Combining this with the Deathblow and Element of Surprise command cards let me threaten one shot kills on SC Hera and removing Chopper became trivial. Two cats pouncing on even Kanan or Zeb would leave them extremely low. Later in the game, the cats were ideal for hunting down figures that tried to flee and deny me victory points or for grabbing objectives. Since the eLoth-Cats were so Focus hungry, I chose not to include eWeequays and went with Onar, Hondo, Greedo, and Sabine instead. Sabine and Hondo also synergized incredibly well with the other primary objective of my list: racing to 40 points.

Since it wasn’t going to be possible for me to match the depth of the SC roster, I needed to end the game before we got to the end of our lists! In other words, I had to reach 40 points at roughly the point where I’ve taken out half of the Spectres. The only way this was going to be possible was to ramp my VP gain by using a combination of Jabba’s passive ability (+1), Sabine’s Rebel Graffiti (+2 VP every round, and +4 VP on the final round), Celebration (+4), Black Market Prices AND Black Market (to sell command cards for VP), and tricks with Hondo. In a lot of my games I ended up selling Assassinate and On the Lam for points rather than playing them.

With this iteration of my list, I was able to leverage a lot of extra card draw, VP rush, hunter cards for offense, smuggler cards for defence, two focus tokens per round, 13 range cat attacks that didn’t rely on line of sight, and 15 move objective runners. The biggest drawback however, was my greatly reduced trait synergy. Dispersed throughout my squad in a fairly awkward way were only 3 hunter tags, 2 smuggler tags, 2 leader tags, and some very powerup hungry Loth-Cats who could not use most of my command cards (not counting Jabba himself). Furthermore, my roster ended up being quite shallow as I had Jabba (6), Temporary Alliance (1), C3P0 (2), and Black Market (1) or a full 10 points of non-combat support. This meant that with my list, the most important thing was adjusting tactics on the fly based on command card draw and to use the eLoth-Cats to confuse my opponents and disrupt their plans. At the 11th hour (the night before swiss) I ended up dropping Planning for Positioning Advantage. I couldn’t quite play around the Leader requirement for Planning well enough with only Hondo and Jabba available and found that Positioning Advantage can surprise a lot of folks in the current meta (and Loth-Cats can use it!).

I’m not quite sure why, but I was genuinely surprised at the huge percentage of Spectre Cell lists that attended Worlds. This was probably related to how resistant the UK community was to the power of the dark side. Upon arrival I was incredibly stressed from trying to finish everything for work before flying to the point where I almost felt physically ill. On the first day I got in a couple of practice games while hanging out at Adepticon with some of the IA community before heading out to get some deep-dish pizza with the Zion’s Finest group!

 

World Championship 2019 Match Recap:

Worlds Swiss Round 1: Raymond, Spectre Cell, Coruscant Back Alleys, Propaganda War, Blue Deployment, No initiative (34-14 win)

The first match of any tournament can easily set the mood for the entire event going forward and I was matched up with Raymond, one of the nicest gentlemen I’ve had the pleasure of playing with. He happened to be sitting next to me the previous night at the Zion’s Finest pizza dinner, so we’d already chatted a bit and having such a friendly opponent really helped me transition from the stressful work week I just had into gaming mode.

Round 1 was positioning and setup for later rounds with the exception that his Sabine and Zeb came out into the little sheltered cove in the middle of the map. I decided to go for Sabine, and with the two focused Loth-Cats and Element of Surprise on the second attack managed to double pounce her to death in the first round which was huge. I was able to get both cats back safely and refocused which left me in a good position to control the rest of the game as I could leverage this lead by threatening long range one shot kills on his support units.

Worlds Swiss Round 2 : Pat, Double eQuays, Lothal Wastes, Fluctuations, Blue Deployment, Initiative (35-15 win)

In the second round I was matched up against a Pat, fellow scum loyalist who was playing two sets of Elite Weequays with Gideon C3P0 and Jabba as support. He also brought Onar, Greedo, and a Jawa. Lothal Wastes Fluctuations was going to be a really tough match for me against a sniper list, but I have quite a bit of experience playing against Isaac’s Han Rangers back home and was fairly confident. Round 1 saw both of us set up and focus our big hitters (I went for stacking on the spire side for a little cover), he had more activations in the end and used his last one to double move a pair of focused eQuays up in position around the spire area to attack at the start of the second round. Very luckily, I had Take Initiative and immediately activated Sabine to try and remove one of the eQuays before they could shoot… very unluckily he had On the Lam which meant I killed nothing. He proceeded to delete my Onar which left me in a tough spot. Hondo managed shoot a jawa to death and my cats ate one of his other eQuays before it could activate. One key aspect here I think was the reluctance to spend big hits taking out 5 health Loth-Cats. This is definitely a hard choice to make either way since defensively (and in terms of VP) they are basically elite stormtroopers, but they can hit like weequay pirates when fully buffed up. In the end I managed to get enough kills to take my second win.

Worlds Swiss Round 3: Alfonso, Spectre Cell, Tarkin Initiative Labs, Rogue AI, Red Deployment, Initiative (40-37 win)

Another one of the friendliest opponents I had at worlds, I looked forward to seeing Alfonso at Nationals and Euros later in the year. Round 1 saw me drawing several bird cards, which are quite powerful for many of the woodland factions, so I set my card prices at the maximum value of 4. No wait, that was when we were playing Root.

Since this game was recorded by Noah for the IA Command YouTube channel, I won’t talk about it here at all. He worked very hard for us at Worlds and I very much recommend that you check it out. It is very strange to watch myself play in retrospect, as I often find my decisions fairly questionable.  This could just be natural since now I am much more experienced with the list than when I was initially playing it at Worlds!

Worlds Swiss Round 4: Brett (our new world champ!), Spectre Cell, Lothal Wastes, Blitz, Red Deployment, Initiative (40-33 win)

Loth-Cats VS SC on Blitz, against our new world champion – wow what a match! Honestly parts of the game were an absolute blur for me. For those who don’t know, in Blitz each player alternates turns placing one deployment and moving 8. The game then starts after this first kind of “pre-round”. The game oddly started with me in tunnel vision mode and I set up all my figures along the back wall of my deployment zone, resulting in a bit of a raised eyebrow from Brett since he actually had initiative and was supposed to deploy first, and I put all my figures down before he had done anything. Of course, I removed  my figures and we ran the game properly, according to the rules, but nothing changed in terms of how I deployed. There is just one configuration I’ve found that doesn’t result in instant death on Blitz against SC so I didn’t have too much of a choice here.

Brett took the spire area and moved everyone up quite far, ready to jump into my deployment, take over my terminal, and rack up objective points at the end of round 1. The first round was pretty uneventful, I focused up and tried to draw what little cards I could since I wouldn’t be getting any terminals this game. Zeb was contesting “my” terminal and the objective in the bottom corner and I made a couple of unfocused high range shots with Onar and Hondo but missed them both. His Sabine went around to the other (non-spire) side to try to get another objective and in the end,  I had no choice but to go for her with the cats. With Brett controlling nearly the entire map and poised to collect a significant number of points, I would quickly reach the point of no return, even with my VP rush focused list. The clock was ticking, and I had to make a move. Beast tamer was critical here since it allowed my Loth-Cats to jump on an isolated Sabine. I got some good damage on her, but the pressure was on with SC drawing 3 cards and gaining 6 points, and me only drawing 1 and gaining 0 at the end of the round. Very luckily, I had Rebel Graffiti on round 1 and was able to pick up 2 points a round going forward with that to offset having to give up the rest of the map.

The rest of the game is an absolute blur, the cats were able to do some damage on the right side of the map and one of them moved all the way up towards Brett’s deployment to get out of the way (so it wouldn’t die to ranged shots from Hera). Onar, Hondo, and Greedo then took the offensive on the left side towards the spire once a couple of Spectres moved off to reinforce the rest of the map. In the final round, my lone surviving loth cat shot across the map and bit Chopper in half (no focus, but I think I spent a card and had a damage token? Positioning Adv?). That round I had a bit of a heart attack when I activated Black Market, decided to take the strain as a card since Jabba was in danger and I needed him to survive another hit and milled On the Lam. Then immediately flipped Assassinate and sold it for 3 points since we were nearing the end and I felt that a points rush was going to be a lot more beneficial. I managed to rush to 40 points before SC could dismantle the rest of my squad and claimed my 4th win.

Worlds Round 5: Oscar, Spectre Cell, Coruscant Back Alleys, The Triple Cross, Red Deployment, No Initiative (40-21 win)

This is one of my better maps. Since it is fairly small, the Loth-Cats are able to either snipe out terminal sitting Choppers, steal objectives (gangsters) from the other team and retreat to safety, or just pile a whole bunch of damage onto a target who can’t hide from their incredible movement. I focused mainly on taking objective points and hitting black dice Spectres in this game. Oscar rolled pretty terribly on his defence dice which meant my damage output was very good, putting me in control towards the end of the match. After my 5th win I was certain to make the cut and could finally relax a little bit (though this may have proven to be my undoing)!

Worlds Round 6: Greg, Spectre Cell, Tarkin Initiative Labs, Abandoned Research, Blue Deployment, Initiative (25-40 loss)

This is the game that I have the most regrets about, in that I don’t feel that I was able to give Greg a good game. I’ll be perfectly honest: I sat down, looked at the map, and my brain just kind of stopped working and blanked: I had never played against Spectre cell on Tarkin/Weapons before in my life. Turns out that after I won my regionals, the rapid-fire map  change meant that I neglected Tarkin a bit and it just worked out this way. He had initiative, took the outside area with the little sheltered square, opened the door and proceeded to arm everyone to the teeth (which I probably shouldn’t have cared TOO much about since SC can almost one shot everything of mine with their 3 die +1 already anyways). I ended up opening the door to try and get a couple shots off, but Zeb one shot Greedo during slow on the draw and it was pretty much a bloodbath from there. I did manage to claw back 25 points by the end but SC meta aside, I shouldn’t expect to win against someone like Greg without having at least the beginnings of a plan!

Worlds Top 16 Match: Jonathan, Spectre Cell, Coruscant Back Alleys, Propaganda War (Loss)

Round one saw me trade one of my Loth-Cats for his Zeb, which was an amazing start. I also managed to get a couple of points of damage onto Ezra and followed up with Onar  performing a Rush, To the Limit, Tools for the Job, Heightened Reflexes, and Positioning Advantage to take out Ezra. I made a fairly risky choice here since he could have had On the Lam, but he only had one card in hand and I decided to go for it. At this point my luck started to turn. I used roughly half a round and spent all my remaining resources to try and take out Kanan but got almost no damage through – maybe 4 or 6 in total. Jonathan then proceeded to absolutely destroy everything I had on the board with his remaining Spectres and I couldn’t come back from it. He played a very good game here and showed an incredible amount of mental fortitude when he was able to come back so easily from losing Zeb and Ezra so early.

With that, my journey at Worlds was at an end. I continued to watch as Luke from the UK managed to avenge some of my losses throughout the day and caught the grand final between Brett and DT (a really exciting game, if you haven’t seen the recording yet). I had managed to finish 4th after Swiss and was one of the few non-SC lists to make it through to the top 16. Throughout this trip I met so many incredible players and made a ton of new friends. After casually following the skirmish scene for a couple years it was a bit intimidating to play against people like Greg and Brett who I’ve seen on stream before, but the community was so friendly and welcoming that it ended up all being one of the most relaxing weekends I’d had in a long time.

Episode VI: RePURR of the Felines (UK Grand Championship 2019)

David has returned to the Grand Championship at UK Games Expo in Birmingham in an attempt to rescue his friends from the clutches of the vile Spectre Cell meta...

Little does he know that Alistair Scott’s GALACTIC EMPIRE list has begun development on a new armored archetype that would be incredibly difficult to punch through.

When completed, this ultimate weapon could spell certain doom for the small Loth-Cats struggling to restore freedom to the galaxy…

UK Nationals (Grand Championship) Prep:

After such an amazing run at worlds I barely had any time to rest as a whirlwind of travel took over my life. Suddenly I realized it was already time for UK Games Expo and Imperial Assault UK Nationals (or Grand Championships I guess). Without any time to practice even a single game since Worlds, I ended up taking the exact same list. Somehow nationals were a lot more stressful for me. I found myself suffering a bit from imposter syndrome and had a really strong desire to at least make the top 8 cut and prove to myself that it wasn’t all a fluke.

The field at Nationals was much less Spectre dominated (as expected for the UK) with 5 SC players, 1 non-SC rebel player, 3 Imperials, and an assortment of scum lists ranging from IG-88, to VP manipulation. All this was apparently irrelevant to me though, as the fates conspired to match me up against nearly all SC players across both days of the tournament. The event itself was hosted by Aneurin, who gave up his personal shot at glory this year to provide the community with an amazing tournament!

UK Nationals (Grand Championship) Match Recap:

Nationals Swiss Game 1: bye

Interestingly I had a choice of taking my regionals win bye or not, and the community was quite divided in terms of whether it was better or worse to have one. In the end I decided on using it since it would mean that I had one less game to play which could help with general fatigue. I do think that was the right decision personally but am very aware now of how it changes your matchups throughout the day. After wandering around aimlessly during the first round and checking out the expo a little bit, my day started…

Nationals Swiss Game 2: Paul (8th after swiss) playing Spectre Cell - Win

I’ve seen Paul at quite a few events before, and he is an incredible player who I’ve always seen place quite well. We drew the Mission B: Propaganda War of Coruscant Back Alleys, one of my more confident maps. He hadn’t seen my cats in action before and I managed to focus and token up a cat on round one and sling it across the map as my last activation. I managed to one shot Chopper to pick up 4 points and simultaneously claim my 2nd terminal of the round and deny his. This left me drawing 3 cards to 1 for SC. Since I had initiative in round 2, I dished out a little bit of damage but mainly made sure that both cats made it home to sit behind my terminal safely (and next to 3P0 in preparation for the next round). Paul opened the door on to the tiny room containing two posters and controlled that, but I managed to keep most of the other ones flipped using beast tamer-ed cats and keep the pressure up. The game finished at an incredibly close 40-36.

Nationals Swiss Game 3: Jessica (3rd after swiss) playing Spectre Cell – Win

With one win and a bye and only a total of 4 swiss rounds, I knew I just needed one more win to  make the cut. Annoyingly I was playing my wife (interestingly we haven’t played against each other in about a year!) which meant that one of us would be taking a loss. I had put her list and command deck together at the absolute last minute while I was packing and accidentally gave her a 14 point command deck with a dead card (dark energy). Her list was Extra Armor with bonus recovery and defence (taking the philosophy from Brett’s Worlds list). We were playing on Mission B: Abandoned Research on Tarkin Initiative Labs which I had a ton of trouble with at worlds but luckily, I had some time to come up with a strategy since then. I decided in the end to leave all doors closed while I powered up and when she went for the middle of the map, I grabbed a couple weapons on the sides as far away from SC as possible and dished out some damage with the cats. Round 2 saw me rocket from 10 points up to 23 by killing Kanan and Celebration which was a really big boost. For the rest of the game I picked up VPs by focusing on objectives and the game eventually ended when time was called with a score of 35-22. At this point my only remaining combat unit was Sabine so the odds would have been against me if we had played another round.

Nationals Swiss Game 4: Justin (6th after swiss) playing Spectre Cell – Loss

With my spot in the top 8 secured, I would normally be a little more relaxed at this point. However, the fact that I had to beat Jessica to get it meant that my record was really important to her strength of schedule. I had played Justin twice at a regional championship this year (the one where I secured my ticket to worlds and the bye I used at nationals) and he had beaten me on a tie-breaker during my final swiss game, but I managed to come back when we played again in the quarter finals. This time around we drew Mission A: Rogue AI on Tarkin Initiative Labs which I believe is one of my stronger maps with 15 move Loth-Cats being able to grab a ton of points. Justin played a very tight game and we ended up finishing with a very close score in his favour 37(?)-40. On the last round Hondo managed to make it into his deployment zone and steal a couple of VP. I had a chance to win still if my cats could have picked up just a couple more points from the AI, but it moved right in front of Zeb who Spectre Celled to take a shot AND picked up the points himself (insult to injury right?! I can’t complain too much about my luck though as it has been quite good overall this season). The key to his win was that he was able to take out all my smugglers before I could make use of my command cards. The last couple cards at the bottom of my deck were Rebel Graffiti, Tools for the Job, Assassinate, and On the Lam. With 1 bye, 2 wins, and 1 loss, I was through the cut and even better news: Jessica won her final game and made it as well! We finished Day 1 at 2nd and 3rd place.

 

A bunch of us went to the pub afterwards for a celebratory dinner and drinks, spirits were high despite Spectre Cell dominating the top cut. We started the day with 5/21 SC and all 5 made the top 8. In addition to my Loth-Cats, we had two other non-SC players. Alistair Scott with Imperials (Palp Thrawn Riots) and Tris Hurley with Scum (Scum VP with Ugnaughts). We already knew what the pairings were for the quarter finals, and I had a feeling Alistair’s list was going to be quite tough for me. I was a bit too excited to sleep properly and ended up waking up at 6 AM to stare at the Palpatine, Thrawn, and elite Riot Trooper deployment cards to come up with a plan. Alistair was one of the people who got me into the game in the first place and one of my main practice partners, so he would be quite familiar with my list. Thrawn and eRiots were also quite tough for me to deal with and if my hunters ran out of resources they could easily finish me off (this has happened before in practice!).

 

Nationals Top 8 Game: Alistair (7th after Swiss) playing Imperials – Win

Palpatine, Thrawn, Elite Riot Trooper x2, Elite Death Trooper, Death Trooper x2, Zillo, Doubt

We drew Mission B: Fluctuations on Lothal Wastes, which was probably a good thing for me. It gave me a lot of room and more time to deal with the approaching Imperial forces. However, this meant that whoever won would be playing on Blitz against a Spectre Cell opponent. That issue however, was for Future-Me so I gave Alistair a hug and then we sat down to fight to the death. The plan I had come up with that morning was to basically keep as far away from the eRiots as I could to avoid taking strain. Since I had my long range Loth-Cat missiles, I could be patient and pick my targets. If I could either take Thrawn or the Death Troopers out of the equation, Palpatine becomes much less effective since he won’t be able to grant the eRiots extra attacks unless they are already adjacent to one of my figures. Alistair however, played a very cagey match as usual and I couldn’t really pick my targets. In round 1 I settled for one taking out a regular DT with my first focused Loth-Cat and hitting an elite DT for 4(?) damage. He managed to kill one of my cats before the end of the round and I managed to take out another riot trooper. I had initiative in round 2 and the surviving cat took a damage token and pounced on the elite DT. Alistair managed to Zillo away my pierce and drop a card to save him, but in response I played Strength in Numbers into Jabba who ordered the surviving cat to try again. The rest of the game saw me retreating as the eRiots advanced. I made sure that Thrawn could never get shots off without risking his life which in turn meant that Palpatine had nobody to grant extra attacks too. Alistair managed to keep me from getting any good attacks on Thrawn and Palpatine was just a little too healthy for me to take on. This meant I finished the game with an unplayed Celebration in hand. I tried to wipe the eRiots out in entire squads to prevent Reinforcements but didn’t manage to do that either. In the end however, Lothal Wastes just proved too large a map and I took the win. If it had been Blitz instead things could have gone very differently.

Nationals Top 4 Game: Justin (6th after Swiss) playing Spectre Cell - Win

With Mission A: Blitz on Lothal Wastes being the last map remaining, my Spectre-Blitz game was unavoidable which felt quite oppressive. However, I took solace in the fact that I had survived playing Brett at Worlds on Blitz and figured whatever happens will happen! I ended up playing Justin again and had a chance to even up the score. Round 1 saw me deploying very conservatively, leaving only 3P0 at the front edge of my deployment zone to  facilitate focusing in later rounds. I left my terminal alone, since that is suicide against SC on Blitz. Instead I moved my Sabine to the edge of the spire and he moved Kanan and Ezra to threaten her. Ezra took his brash movement at the start of the round to walk up to Sabine. I played take initiative, exhausting 3PO and had Sabine immediately shoot and grenade Chopper to death before landing safely on the top of the spire. Luckily, he didn’t have the ability to pull me off, and Ezra’s positioning now meant that both he and Kanan were out of the fight in round 1. On the other side of the map I cautiously moved Hondo out and took a long-range shot, only to have Sabine absolutely destroy him with Tools for the Job, killing him instantly. She then played Rebel Graffiti to gain even more points. I decided not to negate it, since I had Tools for the Job, Assassinate, Element of Surprise, and Heightened Reflexes in hand and thought I could take her out during this round to prevent further vandalism. At this point I was more worried about what he would do to me with initiative next round: Ezra and Kanan were dangerously close and my list probably wouldn’t survive a close-range brash pummel Spectre Cell attack combo. Since I had to just hide in my deployment zone so far, Justin ended up with 20 points to my 4 (from killing Chopper). The rest of the game was a whirlwind of death with my Sabine finally managing to rush across the map and kill Kanan using Primary Target to finish at 40-38 in my favour. I honestly can not remember how I managed that comeback.

Nationals Final: Stuart (1th after Swiss – Undefeated in Day 1) playing Spectre Cell - Win

After finishing the semi-finals we decided to move immediately on to the finals and grab lunch afterwards. Since we had just played the final mission… all six were back in the draw again! I had a moment of terror when I realized that I could have to play Blitz back to back but luckily, we drew Mission A: The Triple Cross on Coruscant Back Alleys. I actually really enjoy this scenario and think that the matchup is quite a good one for me. In the first round Stuart started by taking out the gangster in the middle, picking up 3 points. I took the one closer to me, and he wounded the one closer to his deployment. In this match, I broke form and activated my Loth-Cats early in order to steal the last gangster. With beast tamer my first cat was able to accomplish this mission and escape to safety. Round 2 saw a gangster spawn in the corner of the map away from the doors and I moved it 3 spaces towards my deployment zone. I was able to pick up another 3 points this way and powered up my cats before the SC threat closed in on me. Towards the end of the round, I rushed Greedo forward to finish off a severely wounded Zeb. Unfortunately, with Hera’s help he one shot Greedo during Slow on the Draw. I managed the kill and played Celebration to reach 30 points, but it was a very costly move for me. The remaining Spectres rushed in, resulting in a brawl around my terminal. I realized then that I still had Hondo and Jabba to activate and initiative next round. Ezra had suffered some damage and his 7 points (+1 with Jabba) coupled with another Rebel Graffiti would win me the day. My first Hondo shot ran straight into the hated dodge. I then activated Jabba who ordered Hondo to attack again which resulted in Ezra going On the Lam. Finally, at the start of the next round, I activated Sabine and finished him off with a grenade followed by a shot. I had Heightened Reflexes in reserve for this last attack but ended up not needing it when Ezra rerolled his defence into a blank. She played Rebel Graffiti and I became the UK National Champion!

 

After such an incredible season so far, I'm very excited to attend the European Championships (actually I wasn't going to go, but had cheekily mentioned to Alfonso that I would if I won Nats) along with a pretty big delegation from the UK community. At the start of the season I never expected to make it so far but the thing that brings me the most joy is hearing from community members who have had their interest in the game revived by Loth-Cats! The friends I've made playing Imperial Assault have definitely been the most valuable thing that I've gotten out of this whole experience and seeing how the Spectre Cell meta has effected the overall mood surrounding the game has been disheartening. I sincerely hope that we receive some official changes before we all meet again at Euros and Worlds next year. 

After all, rumour has it that that some things can be built on hope!
-David Gao

Edited by penguizaur

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Excelent write-up! Thanks a lot for the report and I will get right into testing missile-cats as well. Heck, I will put the focus-cats into everything for the next two months and see where I end up. :)

 

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3 hours ago, Ram said:

Excelent write-up! Thanks a lot for the report and I will get right into testing missile-cats as well. Heck, I will put the focus-cats into everything for the next two months and see where I end up. :)

 

That's great to hear. the cats definitely deserve more playtime and testing  than I've been able to give them by myself! Let me know how they work out for you and if you end up using the same way.

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@penguizaur This is awesome! So you didn't make any command card changes from worlds to UK Grand Championship? Pretty sure I'm going to jump on the Loth-cat bandwagon since your list is so close to what I ran against you at worlds, but your's seems way more fun haha! You will always be my IA Hero with your aptitude to beat SC with such a great list!

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I will share a first experience. I played this: http://tabletopadmiral.com/imperialassault/9aaa33a02988053e5f6800000000008f9d549594727793961f1c35172b9c against specter cell this evening. And I actually destroyed it. My opponent was increadably stressed by having the missile cats, even the small ones, played against him. The cats combined for 11 damage during the game and took a lot of focus from my opponent. Focused Sentry droids performed very well and even with the less then optimal command deck hehe list performed fantastic. 

Having the rLoths hitting GGB with pierce 1 and even with only a +1 damage surge was awesome. Cats are now officially my favorite deployments. 

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20 hours ago, wannabepudge said:

@penguizaur This is awesome! So you didn't make any command card changes from worlds to UK Grand Championship? Pretty sure I'm going to jump on the Loth-cat bandwagon since your list is so close to what I ran against you at worlds, but your's seems way more fun haha! You will always be my IA Hero with your aptitude to beat SC with such a great list!

No changes, I was going to play around with a couple more options but  the two events were actually fairly close together and I just didn't really have time. Hope you have fun with it! 

 

17 hours ago, Ram said:

My opponent was increadably stressed by having the missile cats, even the small ones, played against him. The cats combined for 11 damage during the game and took a lot of focus from my opponent.

Thats great, did you manage to keep them alive after the initial strike or did they go straight for the missile strategy?

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3 hours ago, penguizaur said:

No changes, I was going to play around with a couple more options but  the two events were actually fairly close together and I just didn't really have time. Hope you have fun with it! 

 

Thats great, did you manage to keep them alive after the initial strike or did they go straight for the missile strategy?

Half and half. I had initiative round 2 so I activated the cats to missile the second one and to hit and run with the round one missile. But even at that small level its a hard trade. Do they use a queen piece to take out an annoying 2 point kitty or do they move in on my other guys? I am happy that Sabine used her attack on the cat because then she wouldnt shoot someone else and Kanan (who I feel is the optimal cat target when you have initiative) had to let his cat go as I raced it off in a very wrong direction. It also pounced him again next round. 

I think I gained a bit too much from my opononent not playing the map perfectly and also for him being afraid of the cats. I will play a similar list this weekend against a more experienced opponent. But I really do like the choices that the cats represent, especially for spectre cell. If you spread out so that chopper or hera cant get the cat, you have to decide if you want to hit the cat or not and if not then it will be an activation and a general pest. It uses the weakness of Spectre cell, the fact that the low activation count makes you want to use as many activations as you can in the hard targets. 

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I actually started with many  cats and worked my way down, two cats for one tamer upgrade ended up being the sweet spot for me. You could play them like double weequays with 3 focus support, but I'm not overly fond of the 8 range attacks without tamer.

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11 hours ago, penguizaur said:

I actually started with many  cats and worked my way down, two cats for one tamer upgrade ended up being the sweet spot for me. You could play them like double weequays with 3 focus support, but I'm not overly fond of the 8 range attacks without tamer.

I'll defer to your experience since I've done zero testing, but two sets would allow you to be a little more aggressive with the first set while stilling having a set in reserve.

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This is great.  Great write up.  Creative list.  I had hoped someone would find an SC killer and someone did!  List building is such a fun part of IA.  If they just nerf or ban SC card our game would still be in a good place.  So many fun combos and synergies to try and every time we get something new it just goes up exponentially!  Still love IA, both campaign and skirmish...

Great job with your list and your wins!

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1 hour ago, Mandelore of the Rings said:

This is great.  Great write up.  Creative list.  I had hoped someone would find an SC killer and someone did!  List building is such a fun part of IA.  If they just nerf or ban SC card our game would still be in a good place.  So many fun combos and synergies to try and every time we get something new it just goes up exponentially!  Still love IA, both campaign and skirmish...

Great job with your list and your wins!

In that case I'm glad to be the one to break it to you: check out the latest FAQ they just released today ;)

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I’m only just getting into the game, so don’t have an extensive list of figures. I was just wondering if you could achieve a similar result with an eNexu?

I know it’s only one creature but it’s all I’ve got (at the moment 😁).

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1 hour ago, Herr Style said:

I’m only just getting into the game, so don’t have an extensive list of figures. I was just wondering if you could achieve a similar result with an eNexu?

I know it’s only one creature but it’s all I’ve got (at the moment 😁).

You could. The Nexu is pretty good too. I'd try with the regular I think instead. Only 4 points. You are probably not gonna have it very long anyway, but it can do some blocking early on.

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4 hours ago, Herr Style said:

I’m only just getting into the game, so don’t have an extensive list of figures. I was just wondering if you could achieve a similar result with an eNexu?

I know it’s only one creature but it’s all I’ve got (at the moment 😁).

Elite Nexu are fun too, and can deliver quite a big hit with focus. The only issue I would say is that some players are able to block you off from where you need to go. Since it has a big base, it actually isn't able to pounce if there are figures in the way! Two elites with change of plans, strength in numbers, focus support has the potential to be a lot of fun and do a ton of cleave damage.

Now that SC is  so much weaker, I think my list may need some adjustments post SC-nerf. I targeted 7 activation there but if Han/IG focused on last-act come back in a big way it will take some testing to see how everything works out in that matchup! Empire should be making a massive comeback too and they are one of the harder ones for me at the moment. 

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5 hours ago, penguizaur said:

Now that SC is  so much weaker, I think my list may need some adjustments post SC-nerf. I targeted 7 activation there but if Han/IG focused on last-act come back in a big way it will take some testing to see how everything works out in that matchup! Empire should be making a massive comeback too and they are one of the harder ones for me at the moment. 

Out of curiosity, how did you generally fare vs Han/Rangers (Isaac's or otherwise) outside of the Maul map?  To be honest the cats actually don't seem like a terrible Rangers counter, being able to stay behind something and then approach all at once from the other end of the board.  It's the rest of the list that I'd be more worried about on a bigger map if you don't draw RG early in the game to put pressure on your opponent to come to you.

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I did OK, but actually never did play Isaac specifically with the final version of either my scum VP or eCat lists. They are quite decent against rangers, as you have a very high chance to one shot them while bombing across the map with a couple of command cards (element/positioning/deathblow). Once the rangers are down Han may shoot at the cats and you could just rush in with everything else to clean up. I think there actually wouldn't be much of a hurry or need to pressure as they can't take objectives from you either without exposing themselves and you'd get the +1VPs from Jabba. If you had celebration it might be worth it to pounce someone else for an instant kill and points boost. 

Using them in that way, two sets of cats might be really good - you just pump one cat up each round and trade it for a 6-7 health black die figure until they don't have any threats left. Regular cats might even work, but they can't damage token and only surge for +1 so probably will need to stick to targeting Gideon/3P0/R2 etc. Against SC, realistically you had one shot before they closed in on you to do enough damage to even the score (end of round 1). Once they're that close I never really had time to refocus while they were busy putting the rest of my list through a blender lol. I think the Cats vs IG threat can also be quite good - two focused and tokened cats will do a massive amount of damage to IG. While he is looking around for his command card, you can probably manage to draw some Cat usable cards, work in an initiate swing, or have Jabba order a hit to finish him off. 

I definitely need a lot more testing against some other lists as my strategy was basically to believe that any of those match-ups would be easier than fighting against SC, and that the SC dominated field would clear most of them out for me anyways. If you're keen on some practice I'd happily play a couple matches, just give me a poke on Slack. There is a bit of a surge in Euros-practice hitting the UK right now after the SC change which feels great!

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