Hello and welcome back! The Invader League is still in full swing and currently in round two of the single elimination matches. The players that make the single eliminations have to first get out of the round robin phase. A phase where 6 players are placed into a group and only two move onto the single elims. This means the players in the single elimination phase are already tested and know what they’re doing competitively. This also means we can look at what lists they are running and draw some inferences.
Today we’re looking at the Empire’s hired guns, Bossk and Boba Fett. These Empire operatives at one point were at the top of competitiveness. Luke Cook won FFG’s Worlds with a Veers/Boba list. Kyle Dornbos (Orkimedes) won Season 3 of invader league with a Veers/Bossk list. In Season 4 the numbers of players employing these two bounty hunters dropped dramatically. And now in season 5, they were practically nonexistent. So what happened?
A combination of two things effected Empire list building. Shore troopers and Aggressive Tactics.
Giving Up Aggressive Tactics
I want to first say I don’t think Bossk or Boba Fett are bad. Boba Fett might be a little over priced now after new units have power crept. But he still is an amazing objective playing piece. Possibly the best when you combine his speed, resilience, and one pip shenanigans. Bossk can still be the focus piece of a list built around supporting him. He has great command cards and a long range that lets him throw shots down range from a safe position. It’s not that these bounty hunters are bad, but its more about what is better. Or, what you’re giving up when you run them.
Neither Bossk nor Boba Fett have the command upgrade slot. And each of these bounty hunters have 3 command cards that only give orders to themselves. These command cards are great but they can’t trigger Aggressive tactics. This is a problem.
Empire loves aggressive tactics. Giving many of the imperial units surge tokens up their 50% defense save to 63% save. This can include storms, snows, shores, mortar troopers, Vader, Veers, Iden, Royal Guard, E-Webs, and Occupier Tank. Majority of the roster.
Shore troopers love the surge tokens on offense as well. A surge token combined with the critical 1 keyword on their heavy basically gives them surge results on offense. The value of handing out surge tokens accumulate over the course of a game and with Aggressive Tactics only being 10 points, it is very easy to drive it right into value town.
So in summary, when you put a bounty hunter in an Empire list, you are stapling to your list a note that says, ‘Give up X number of surge tokens over the course of the match’.
A Shore Offense
Beyond the surge tokens, when you are taking orders away from shore troopers, you are also robbing them of a free aim token via their Target 1’ keyword. The shore trooper offense pool is impressive bare. But give them an order and they receive a surge token, a free aim token and their offense has taken off through the roof. This is partly why shores have dominated imperial competitive lists since their release.
The offensive power of shores is just yet another problem facing Boba. In the first year, Boba could maintain heavy cover and a full storm trooper squad could aim and put 1-2 through the heavy cover on average. Boba’s defense could hold up to this. Now, Shores could easily have two aims for their shots. They very likely will put 3-4 through the heavy cover and hit Boba hard.
Playing the Bounty Hunters Uphill
Without a doubt you give up a lot of value by not playing shores and aggressive tactics to their fullest potential. But as I said, I don’t think the two bounty hunters themselves are bad. You have to play them understanding you’re playing uphill.
If you’re set on playing shores with the Empire operatives, you could try attaching HQ uplink to each shore unit. This will at least allow you to get free aim tokens when you pop the Uplink. It will add a black die to the shore offense and beef them up with an extra body. You could also try lists heavy with storm troopers. From what I’ve seen, the new storm trooper heavy weapons haven’t been tested fully because shores are burying the competitive meta.
The 3/3/3/3 Formula
Having a high number of activations is strong in Legion. A high activation count also helps Boba and Bossk out by increasing the likelihood of being able to go last first last with them.
The 3/3/3/3 formula is a base of 3 shores, 3 mortars, 3 sniper strike teams, 3 E-Webs. You can add Boba and Veers and it totals to 793. That leaves 7 points for upgrades to Boba. You could drop veers to an officer and add a heavy weapon to one of the shores. Regardless, this is 14 activations.
With Veers-Bossk, you can get a 1 heavy weapon on a shore and it totals to 800 points. The 14 activations make it very easy for Bossk to be the last thing to show his face and take a shot.
Both of these lists have 14 activations and a lot of red saves. Expect E-Webs and mortars to take a lot of the focus. This is typically good as long as you maintain heavy cover. These units don’t lose their offense dice as they take wounds. As long as some defense dice show up, they’ll be a pain for your opponent to kill. These 6 units total to 21 wounds, or 42 effective wounds and only total to 273 points. You’re looking to whittle your opponent down with mass of wounds and strong bounty hunter attacks.
Last year we saw a balance update come in the start of fall and this year another one is likely. Maybe Aggressive Tactics or shores will be toned down and if so, the bounty hunters may come back to the forefront. Until then, play what you like and try new things!
Thanks for reading!