An argument for Force Choke over Force Reflexes on Darth Vader By Michael Hollingsworth (Screwtape)

If you really think Reflexes is better than Choke…

With a new Vader upcoming, I thought it would be a good time to formalize some of my thoughts on how to choose, if you must choose one, between Force Choke and Force Reflexes.   I will compare the two powers based upon three criteria, cost, total max models killed, and total max wounds saved, as both upgrades can save wounds on Vader and cause wounds to your opponent.

Both are free actions and both must be untapped to use again.  They can be untapped using Master of the Force after each Vader activation.

Choke allows Vader to cause any trooper model at range 1 to suffer a wound.  This allows Vader to target specific models, e.g. Vader can kill a heavy weapon with Choke, even if the unit has a full complement of models.

Reflexes gives Vader a Dodge token.

It is impossible to go through any and all real game situations. Instead I will give a reasonable ceiling for each.  The theory crafting will be high. The max I give for each upgrade is probably not applicable in any real games.  However, I hope to illustrate that Choke is probably the better upgrade.

Round 1 Cost

Easy enough, Reflexes is 15, Choke is 5.  Winner Choke!

Round 2 Wounds Caused

For each upgrade assume Vader uses Implacable and refreshes the power at the end of each activation.  This would give each power seven uses (once each turn and twice on the Implacable turn) over the course of the game.   

Since this is a ceiling, assume that Vader can Choke a model each round for a total of 7 wounds caused.   Before the new Operative Vader, this number would not be possible.  However, with an Infiltrating Vader, Scout 1, and Speed 2, it is possible that Vader could Choke a model each turn.

How many wounds can Reflexes cause?  Since Reflexes “turns on” Deflect, this allows a wound to a unit, that has attacked Vader with a ranged attack, whenever Vader rolls a SURGE on his defensive dice.   For the ceiling, assume that Vader uses this power 7 times (again, twice on the Implacable turn) and that all attacks against him are ranged.  Also assume that our Vader player is competent and keeps Vader in cover, however sometimes the opponent gets lucky.  We’ll say that Vader uses his Dodge vs attacks that do 5 hits after cover.  Using Dodge would reduce this to 4.  That leads to a total of (7 [Reflex Dodges] * 4 [number of defense dice to roll for each attack]) 28 dice that must be rolled.  There is a 1/6 chance on each die for a SURGE result causing a wound.  This means that Reflexes would cause a total of (28 [dice rolled] * 1/6 [odds of rolling a SURGE]) 4.67 wounds.

Choke wins again! , 7 wounds caused to 4.67.  

Round 3 Wounds Saved

Using the same numbers from round 2.   Each Dodge saves 0.5 wounds (because Vader’s save is a 50/50 each Dodged attack has a 50% chance to cause a wound).  Using Dodge 7 times will net (7 * 0.5) = 3.5 wounds saved before accounting for the extra saves because of the SURGE results.  Again, using the numbers above gives Vader another 4.67 wounds saved because of the SURGE results.  Not bad! But there is one more piece that must be considered. 

When a surge is rolled, a mini is killed and that mini will not shoot at Vader for the remainder of the game.  Assume that Vader is lucky and he gets 5 surges rolled and they come in the first 5 rounds.  How many wounds does that save?  Let’s take the average hits from a Stormtrooper (3/8) and a Rebel Trooper (4/8). (since these are likely to be killed from a Deflected SURGE) for (0.4375 hits per model per attack).  Thus, a model killed in the first turn (via the Deflected SURGE) would stop 0.4375 hits * the number of remaining rounds (5) = 2.1875 hits saved over the course of the game. 

If we do this math for the remaining 5 rounds (assume Vader’s Implacable is the round 2 play for a total of 2 Dodges and 2 models killed)  it will come out to a total of 8.3125 hits saved, or (8.3125 [hits] * 0.5 [Vader’s save]) = 4.15625 wounds.

This is a total of 3.5 wounds (Dodges) + 4.67 wounds (SURGE results) + 4.16 (Saved from killing things with the SURGE results) = 12.33 total wounds saved.

Not bad!  That is another Vader and a half saved!

Choke will kill things that want to kill Vader.  We will assume that Vader opens with Darkness Descends (the new command card that give Vader Infiltrate and Scout 1),and Implacable second (giving two Chokes in a single round).  Assume that Vader Chokes a heavy (DLT or Z6) weapon each time. The average hits of the two popular heavy weapons (DLT 1.75 and Z6 1.5) is 1.625 hits per attack. Also, assume that these weapons will be used to shoot at Vader (pretty safe assumption as killing Vader is a pretty good plan).

Round 1 Vader kills a heavy, this prevents 1.625 hits this round.  Like the Deflect/SURGE example above, the power of Choke lingers from round to round.  This same model, that is killed in round 1, isn’t alive to shoot at Vader in round 2, or 3… or the remainder of the game.  Killing this one model doesn’t stop a total of 1.625 hits, it stops a total of (1.625 * 6) 9.75 hits over the course of the game.

Round 2 Vader uses Implacable to Choke two heavies stopping another 16.25 hits over the course of the game. 

This continues until round 6 when the Heavies that were Choked could have caused a total of 42.25 hits, or (42.25 [total hits] * 0.5 [Vader’s save]) 21.125 total wounds saved.

This is almost 9 more than Reflex saved.  Choke wins this category with a score of 21.13 to 12.33.

In the end, Choke wins all three categories.

Wrapping Up

Again, the theorycrafting is heavy in the above examples, but I think I have shown that Choke is probably the better upgrade. 

There is something else to consider.  In the examples above I tried to give an apples to apples comparison.  I tried to figure what the theoretical ceiling could be for the upgrades.  However, Choke is much more versatile than just Choking a Heavy Weapon.  Medics are common in today’s meta, Choking a Medic removes 3 wounds from your opponent’s army with a single Choke.  Choke does not require Line of Sight.  Units attempting to hide cannot hide from Choke. 

Medics are common in today’s meta, Choking a Medic removes 3 wounds from your opponent’s army with a single Choke.

Last, Choke is excellent at removing leaders carrying Supplies.  Choking the leader could cause your opponent to spend two actions to Move and Claim the Supply box.  Worst case for you opponent, Vader Chokes an activated unit in round 6, and your opponent loses the Victory Point because he has no other unit to Claim the Supply.

Good luck to all the new Operative Vader players!  Fun times ahead for all of us that love the Dark Lord of the Sith.

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