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HoSS How to Beat - January 2017

Posted January 7th, 2017 at 07:39 PM by HS Codex

How to Beat:
Darth Vader
By: Fi Skirata

With a new Star Wars movie on the silver screen, it only makes sense to show how to beat the big bad enforcer of the Empire, Darth Vader. This month, we bring you an article not just on the New Hope Vader, but also on his Empire Strikes Back counterpart. Darth Vader, simply put, is a tank. Boasting a whopping 6 life, 6 attack and 6 defense (5 for the ESB version), all on top of being the highest cost figure in HoSS so far (with ESB and NH ranked 1st and 2nd, respectively), he seems almost invincible. However, beneath his 6-foot-8 suit of leather and durasteel lie some easily exploitable weaknesses.

Darth Vader (NH)
One of the biggest benefits for playing this version of Darth Vader is his potential to deal multiple wounds before attacking using his Force Choke special ability. With the ability to choke at a range of 4 if unengaged, and to continue rolling an attack die if you consistently roll a skull, this attack can quickly whittle away any opposition. However, its one major weakness lies in its inability to affect droids. To this end, several wonderful combinations exist which enable an opponent to exploit this weakness.

Droid Revolutionaries
The IG-88 group serves as a fantastic counter to Darth Vader, whether as a whole group or as a mish-mash of two or three different heroes. By far the most useful to field together are IG-88D and IG-88B. IG-88D gains an additional attack die when attacking adjacent figures, making him the perfect individual to engage with Vader and nullify his Force Choke while everyone else attacks from range. Meanwhile, his Paralysis Cord ability can help weaken and immobilize Vader for a critical turn or two, even knocking down his defense by two. While this does rely on a d20 roll, a target of 11 is easy enough to obtain and can be lowered with R2-D2 to 10. IG-88B however, can gain an attack bonus on Vader by claiming him as his Bounty and remains immune to Force Choke as well. Coupling these two with IG-88C and/or IG-88A also allows for more than one to be activated in a single turn providing a quick, coordinated assault on the Sith Lord. The relative strength of each IG-88 droid also enables them to stand their ground in a melee fight, giving enough time to defeat Vader.

Bounty Hunter Partners
Another good combination to use against Vader consists of 4-LOM and Dengar. With 4-LOMís Partner Up ability, he can be activated on the same turn as Dengar and gain a Bounty bonus on Vader when attacking. The relative ranges of both heroesí special attacks enable them to sit at a relatively safe distance from Vader for a couple of turns while still being able to strike at him. 4-LOMís special attack even allows Vader to be moved back a space every time two skulls are successfully rolled for the power. Dengarís special attack is less capable on the attack dice, but with Vader as his bounty he can roll two unblockable attack dice each time, so long as he hasnít moved. These abilities allow for Vader to be severely weakened before even coming into range, and with 4-LOM being a droid he can engage Vader, nullifying Force Choke, while Dengar continues to shoot from range. If 4-LOM falls before the assault is over and Dengar is also engaged, he has the ability to attack Vader a second time if his first attack was successful.

Other Options
While tag-team combinations of heavy hitters such as Obi-Wan Kenobi with a force sensitive padawan and Han Solo with Chewbacca can also serve as useful counters, these do not play quite as nicely into the weaknesses presented with this version of Darth Vader. Other tactics can also include mobbing Vader with masses of strong melee and ranged squads such as the Gamorrean Guards or using the Tusken Snipers to attack Vader from range, but these will either cost a lot of troops or only serve to whittle him down before he reaches your army, respectively.

Darth Vader (ESB)
This version of Darth Vader, while featuring a slightly lower defense level, has even fewer weak points to exploit for a cost-effective victory. Between Dark Side Aggression (which grants an additional attack on a selected figure) and Lightsaber Defense (which combines Counter Strike with the ability to count all blanks as shields when defending against non-adjacent attacks) he has a strong advantage against melee figures and a decent defense against most ranged fighters. Force Throw can also help keep him from getting mobbed by squad units, along with being especially deadly on lava maps and maps with lots of height. This leaves two main strategies to killing this version of Vader: the use of a tank figure of relatively equal strength to wear him down, or the use of unblockable ranged special attacks to thwart Lightsaber Defense.

Tank Warfare
By far one of the easiest methods to defeat this version of Darth Vader is by pitting him against another tank figure, hopefully either killing Vader or whittling him down enough to allow him to be finished off by your other units. To this end, three groups of units offer different strategies to combatting Vader head on: Bounty Hunters, Lone Fighters and Tag-Teams. The bounty hunters Boba Fett and Bossk both have a starting value of 4 attack which can be upped to 5 against Vader by declaring him their Bounty. While Boba Fett has less life than Bossk (5 vs 7), he compensates by having two more defense than his reptilian counterpart. Boba Fett can also potentially take away two of Vaderís defense on one attack per round by using his Fibercord Whip power, while Bossk has the potential to attack a second time in a turn by simply taking a wound. Both heroes offer slightly different methods of play but serve equally well against Vader, with the differences coming down to personal preferences and overall army builds.

Next come the lone fighters, which consist of a Rancor, Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight), an AT-ST, and a Wampa, in descending order from most to least strong. The Rancor is by far the most brute-force strong figure currently in the HoSS roster, boasting 7 attack coupled with Reach, a defense of 5, and 7 life. On par with Vader in the defense department and outdoing him with life and attack, the only place the Rancor falls short is his limit of one attack per turn versus Vaderís two attacks. However, the overall strength of the Rancorócoupled with its ability to heal by eating a nearby figureógives it the ability to stand toe-to-toe with the Dark Lord of the Sith himself. The only drawbacks to using the Rancor lie in its high cost (205 points) and its 20% chance of turning on you every time you activate it. Luke Skywalker is slightly weaker than his father, standing at a respectable 5 life, 5 attack and 5 defense spread. Couple that with a strong ranged special attack and he can stand up to his daddy in a fight fairly well. Unlike the Rancor, he has a 50% chance of getting in a second attack after the first, but this comes at the price of a 5% chance each time of permanently switching to his opponentís control (this can be nullified by co-drafting R2-D2, though it requires R2 to remain within six spaces of Luke). Overall, with a price tag of 200, the difference between Luke and the Rancor again comes down to army build and personal preferences. The AT-ST fits into the same price bracket at 200 points, but does offer a bit more versatility by bonding with both General Veers and General Tarkin. While its base defense is only 4, Durasteel Armorís added defense will always kick in with Vader, resulting in a cumulative total of 5 defense. Add to that its 6 life, and the AT-ST beats Luke in terms of survivability, but not when it comes to attack. At a base attack of 3, it is severely weaker than Vader and, though its Double Cannon SA can deal out 4 attack, it can only be used against non-adjacent figures. The Wampa presents a slightly different scenario, however. At only 4 defense and 5 attack, it stands as the lowest in survivability on this list, but its cheap cost helps to offset this. At only 110 points, you can almost draft two Wampas for the price of any alternative figure, and this price difference allows you to counter draft more effectively against whatever else is present in your opponentís army. Meanwhile, an attack of 5 and the possibility to get a +2 added onto that via Ambush for the first attack means that the Wampa has the potential to at least wear Vader down.

The third group is the tag-team, which consists of Obi-Wan Kenobi paired with either Luke Skywalker (Farmboy), Leia Organa (Princess), Zuckuss, Leia Organa (Boussh) or Luke Skywalker (Padawan). Obi-Wan Kenobi serves as the primary tank in this situation, but the ability to move and attack with two figures on one turn is what sets this grouping apart from the rest. While each of the five possible combinations presents its own advantages, the best for combatting Vader specifically would be using either Leia Organa (Boussh), Luke Skywalker (Padawan) or Zuckuss. In this match-up, one of the figures is almost certain to die before killing Vader, but the benefit is that the two attacks each turn serve as a perfect counter to Vaderís potential of two attacks per turn. Besides Obi-Wan, the three heroes listed above offer their own unique strategies against Vader that are ultimately best chosen between based on your preferred playstyle or army type. Luke Skywalker offers the most offensively strong choice, with the highest attack out of the three, a decent ranged SA and the ability to attack Vader twice in a turn when Obi-Wan is engaged with him (resulting in three total attacks possible per turn). However, his biggest drawback is the loss of a defense die that occurs in this same situation. While Leia has one less base attack die than her brother, her main strengths come from her ablility to utilize Force Intuition to rerolls blanks when attacking or defending and her one time use of a thermal detonator item glyph. Another advantage is her Disguise power, which usually enables her to get close to Vader without being attacked beforehand. Zuckuss, on the other hand, presents the weakest alternative, with only 3 attack and 3 defense (although matching the other two at 4 life). Though his base stats are the weakest, his attack can be upped by one by declaring Vader as his Bounty. Meanwhile, his GSR-1 Snare Rifle power can enable him to remove all of Darth Vaderís order markers, and his Intuition ability enables him to roll an extra defense die for each blank rolled by the attacker, along with rerolling any blanks once per defense. In the end, while Luke is arguably the strongest to be used in the combination, Leia and Zuckuss provide viable alternatives allowing for a versatile army build.

Currently, the only HoSS snipers are Dengar and the aptly named Tusken Snipers. While both units can target from the same distance with the same level of attack (10 range, 2 attack), Dengar is clearly the superior choice. Dengarís sniping ability automatically supersedes any defense rolls and his higher defense and life give him more overall survivability. The only advantage the Tusken Snipers have over Dengar is their three attacks per turn versus one (at range). However, as the Tuskens must roll a 19 Ė 20 to have an unblockable attack, the benefits of three attacks is often going to be offset by their limited ability to do damage to Vader.

Other Options
In the end, both of the above options offer widely different styles of play which can still produce the same end result: taking down this version of Vader. While many of these same combinations can be used against Darth Vader (NH), they would not be quite as effective due to his Force Choke ability. Other strategies that can be used against the ESB version of Vader include: the use of Gamorrean Guards, which serve as decent enough tanks but are often too slow; and the use easily regenerable squads such as the Independent Thugs/Guards + Bib Fortuna + Jabba, or the Stormtroopers/Death Star Troopers/Snowtroopers + Imperial Officer(s) combo to wear him down with easily replenishable troops. These methods are less effective, however, and can take a lot of time to wear him down as opposed to the two main methods described above.
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Inspired by vegie's 'How to Beat' articles, we're now bringing you a new look into strategy on the custom front. This is the first of many new articles we have either in the works, or planned for the future.
Posted January 7th, 2017 at 07:40 PM by HS Codex HS Codex is offline
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