Imperial Assault: Jabba’s Realm Class Decks, Fun for Everyone?
Previously, we had a look at Imperial Class Decks that keep the fun in campaigns for the duration of an Imperial Assault campaign. In short: Choose decks that allow the GM to do more without squashing or limiting the cool abilities of the heroes. Here’s a post to see what the Jabba’s Realm expansion has to offer and evaluate the two new Imperial class decks on the same criteria.
Jabba’s Realm is heavily themed around the mercenaries that inhabit the space between the might of the Empire and the idealism of the Rebellion. Try as they might, the forces of the Empire and Rebellion alike can’t tame or recruit the denizens of places like Mos Eisley or the uncharted desert wastes of Tatooine. A mercenary’s loyalty, however, can be bought temporarily for the right price. This expansion is all about negotiating a deal you can live with in order to get your mercenaries and Imperial villains on the table.
Every part of the Imperial Assault game gets a mercenary make over. The three new heroes might be Rebels but they are not standard Rebellion issue. No Jedi Knights to see here. These heroes pass through checkpoints because they belong in places like Mos Eisley. When playing the skirmish version the three Rebel heroes switch over to the mercenary faction. The rest of the box elaborates on the same theme. There’s even a massive Rancor figure! Jabba and his henchmen are central characters and even the new Imperial figures and characters make concessions to the demands of bringing the Imperium into hostile territory – the Stormtrooper on Dewback or Jumpjet infantry for example.
First up, let’s have a look at the two new sets of Imperial class cards. As with all class decks, the starter card you begin the game with for Hutt Mercenaries sets the tone. The theme here is hunting and killing those who are Wanted: Dead… or dead. Once per round you can add a surge or damage to an attack on a hero with a bounty token. And all heroes start the game marked with a bounty token.
Each of the 1 XP cards, and much of the rest of the deck, plays off bounty tokens to either lay in more damage or provide protection from marked heroes. Scouted is a weaker card than Vendetta during missions but the ability to bring mercenary models to missions that usually preclude them is a real treat. For players (like myself) who have bought every expansion and figure pack it’s great to be able to play with the toys that otherwise would rarely make it to the table.
The 2 and 3 XP cards keep the theme going. Extra damage is dished out at will and you are rewarded for bringing mercenaries figures. Consider bringing Trandoshan Hunters along for the ride. Cheap Shot and Nowhere to Run make them even nastier.
No matter which cards you’ve collected along the way by the time you get to the 4 XP cards you’re piling on as much as +5 damage for initial attacks and +3 all the time with some re-rolls and other offensive tricks thrown in if you’ve brought mercenaries along. Nasty!
However, apart from the minimal benefit of the 1 XP Scouted card this deck offers no defensive bonuses and little subtlety. It’s a straight up ‘hit them until they break’ strategy. While getting wounded early can be a pain for players, this deck is fun for the Imperial GM and does not nerf the heroes or negate their abilities until they are wounded.
No shortage of Imperial villains who would kill to get some tabletop time.
The aptly named Nemesis class deck conversely is all about subtle tricks and once again playing with toys. One knock I have against the Imperial Assault campaign system is that it’s hard to get one of the many cool villain characters on the table. Right off the start with Nemesis you can take Vader, or any other villain that takes your fancy because Powerful Foes allows to you get out your toys and play with them. This deck does a nice job of making sure the game doesn’t become unbalanced by mitigating but not removing the high threat cost it takes to put the big bad boys on the table. As the campaign wears on it costs less and less to field your villains but by mid-game the heroes should be tricked out enough to counter.
Fearsome Presence will be annoying to your hero players in the early campaign but the 1 XP Prepare the Ambush will change for the better the way both Rebels and Imperials play the game. Often, once the Rebels have cleared the board of most baddies the Imperial GM is forced to activate a powerful unit that is out of range or too far out of the fray to make a difference. Being able to defer an activation puts the pressure back on the Rebels to play resourcefully. This is exactly the kind of challenge that makes Imperial Assault enjoyable and challenging for the Rebels without resorting to nerfing heroes or taking away their abilities and options.
One of the most difficult decisions will be which Imperial and Mercenary villain to take. We really are spoiled for choice! There’s a lot of debate on forums about the best villains to take. You can just go with your favorites or stay with a theme. I’m going to have a hard time deciding between Jabba or Boba Fett. Their abilities and miniatures are really, really cool. Or do you play to win and take Vader or the Royal Guard Champion knowing you won’t be able to pay to get them on the table until at least mid-campaign and then go for Greedo because he’s cheap and you can use him early. If you’re deep into Imperial Assault then this type of ‘deck building’ decision will be one you’ll enjoy pondering during those interminable hours locked in your carbonite cubicle between play sessions.
Each card in the rest of the Nemesis deck is more fun than the last. There’s always one hero that seems to be off on the periphery making life difficult. I’m on the Leader will help with that. It’s just plain mean! Leave Them to Me reinforces your ability to get villains on the table early. There are some tough choices between the 2 and 3 XP cards.
Or do you lay in wait and save up for one of the 4 XP cards. Indomitable will keep your precious villains on the table longer and safe from getting gummed up with Stun and Bleed conditions. It is just plain undignified for The Grand Inquisitor or Boba Fett to be kept in check by a pesky stun dealing Rebel peon. If you’re going to invest in a high cost villain you’d best be sure they’re going to get their two actions and make all their activation count!
There’s much, much more in the Jabba’s Realm expansion box. It’s highly reccomended. Some great new heroes compliment a really interesting campaign that takes you from Jabba’s palace and the Rancor’s lair to Jabba’s barge and the Sarlacc pit.
What’s clear is the two new class decks focus on creating new challenges and adding elements to the game that we’ve not seen before. I’m happy that it accomplishes these things without resorting to dialing down what the Rebel heroes can do.