Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Web of Webhead - Droid Army Faction

Web of Webhead Episode 1: A Well-oiled Machine

Howdy, and welcome to Web of webhead. First, a brief introduction. My name is Brett Seymour and I go by the handle of webhead817 on most web forums. Some of you may know me from my HeroClix days...I was a moderator, and then admin, for the HCRealms fan site for a number of years. Now that I collect Attacktix, I've found Attacktix Tactics and the accompanying fourm to be a great place to hang out and talk 'Tix. I asked Joe if I could write for the site, he said, "yes," and here I am.

So let's talk 'Tix. The topic of the day is the Droid Army faction. Even though I'm a big fan of the Clone Troopers, the internal synergy of the Droid Army figures really appeals to me, so today I'm going to talk about what makes the Droid Army tick. I'll briefly review the Droid Army figures, discuss the synergy in the Special Powers, present a standard squad list, discuss some in-game tactics, and even speculate wildly on what Series 2 will really bring to the team. (I'll be reviewing information that is publicly known about Series 2, but if you've been trying to avoid any spoilers, feel free to skip the last section.)

Figure Overviews

The lowest rung on the Droid Army ladder is occupied by the standard Battle Droid figures. These 10 pt. Troopers are slow and shoot small missiles, much like any other 10-point Trooper, but have a fantastic Special Power. Much like the legendary Hydra Monster, if you cut off one head, two can grow to take its place. Unfortunately, that special triggers less than 1 in 10 times, so you can't count on it. However, it does give you something useful to do with your reserves space in a Droid Army squad.

Moving up in prestige, if not in points, are the Grievous Guards. Also 10 pt. Troopers, the Guards are the only Strikers of the Droid Army. However, they are generally regarded as the weakest Strikers by far, and their Special Power is narrow compared to other droids, though it should fire off a little more than a third of the time. Their strength right now lies outside of the Droid Army, as 10 speed Troopers, they make excellent support pieces for armored Darth Vader and starter Obi-Wan Kenobi, who can take advantage of their quicker positioning with their Special Powers.

Super Battle Droids clock in at 20 pts., twice the cost of their non-Super brethren. For the extra cost you get a bigger base, more Speed, and about a 1 in 4 chance of giving any Droid Army figure a free move AND attack on the Special Power. While this power fires off less often than the Guards, it's much more flexible as it works with any Droid Army fig, making the Super Battle Droids the cornerstone of any large Droid Army squad.

This brings us to the leader of the Droid Army, the grand General Grievous. Weighing in at 30 points with 6 speed, the General has the biggest missile IN THE GAME. Bigger than the Gunship, bigger than the missile turret from the case, bigger than any other missile out there. Grievous' Special also makes him dangerous in defeat...a full 50/50 chance he'll give 2 members of his army free moves and attacks... essentially a free turn. Many consider Grievous to be the best Launcher in the game, who am I to dispute it? Ironically, the General is Captain class. Keep in mind that he could be called out by a misfiring Anakin Skywalker Special Power. For the sake of completeness, I’m compelled to bring up the all silver T3 version of General Grievous that’s supposedly available as a tournament prize. I have a hard time believing this figure exists outside of a Hasbro display case, but I’m sure sooner or later he’ll be out there. This version is identical to the regular version, except for the paint job. Oh, and the fact that he costs 10 POINTS LESS! If you have this 20-point monster, please play him… Grievous would be worth playing if he cost 40 points, costing 20 is a steal.

Special Power Synergy

The Droid Army faction is unique in Attacktix in that all of the figures Special Powers key off of other Droid Army figures. While some Jedi rely on Specialists, some Sith rely on Troopers, some Wookiees can benefit any Warrior, Republic figs can support Jedi, and Separatists rely on Sith, only the Droid Army is self-sufficient when it comes to Special Powers.

The effect of this is that it encourages players to build squads that only contain Droid Army figures. An important point is that it encourages it, but does not dictate it. After all, non-Droid Army figures refer to Attacktix class, like Trooper, so some figures will find good homes in mixed faction decks. My point is that a dedicated Droid Army squad will have built in benefits, almost regardless of its makeup. This is a sign of good game design. The game rewards you for playing “theme teams” without dictating what those teams should be explicitly.

Building a Standard Droid Army Squad

Now that we’ve covered the figures and the strength of their interactions, it’s time to design a squad that highlights those points. We’re going to build to what appears to be the tournament standard, 100-point squad, 50 points of backups, and no Megas. I’m also going to make a couple of assumptions. One is that we want to stay somewhat in theme, which for me means no duplicates of unique characters. Two is that no one actually has the T3 Grievous, so we won’t count him.

Speaking of Grievous, any good Droid Army squad needs Grievous as a leader, so he’s in. That leaves 70 points to divvy up for the rest of the squad. I’m not particularly fond of the Grievous Bodyguards, they support the General, but no one else… I’d much rather have the Super Battle Droids kick in for any figure on the team. I also want to run some regular Battle Droids so I can stock my reserves with them as well, just in case we can catch a break and actually have their special go off in a game. To include both, we could go anywhere from three Super Battle Droids and one Battle Droid to one Super Battle Droid and five Battle Droids. Personally, I’m happy with a number somewhere in the middle, two Super Battle Droids and three Battle Droids. For reserves, I’d go with five more Battle Droids, because hey, you never know. Here’s the squad in list form:

“Rage Against the Machine”, Droid Army, 100 pts.

  • 1 x General Grievous (30 pts.)
  • 2 x Super Battle Droid (40 pts.)
  • 3 x Battle Droid (30 pts.)

    Reserves, 50 pts.
  • 5 x Battle Droid (50 pts.)
Droid Army Tactics

Here are a few thoughts about playing the Droid Army Squad above, or one similar to it. First off, you’ve got all Launchers, no Strikers, so that fact alone will dictate the way you play the game out more than anything. If you’re facing another squad of all Launchers, it’s all about aim, and making sure you present your force in a way that assures that you’ll be able to take advantage of any Specials that come up. Generally, you’ll want to lead with your Super Battle Droids, followed closely by your normal Battle Droids. Leave Grievous back and protected at first, he’s your ace in the hole. He should be poised to strike if one of your Super Battle Droids falls and uses it’s special.

If you’re facing a mixed squad, or a squad primarily made of Strikers, hang back and see how your opponent develops his position. If they lead with Strikers, you should be able to pick one of before they can close. Don’t be afraid to retreat on the move, a strong feint would be to advance your figs for a round, then retreat and fire back the next.

Plo Koon deserves special attention if he’s on the other side of the table, as his Special is deadly to the Droids if it hits. Always assume that when you take out Plo Koon, you’ll automatically lose your best figure (Grievous if he’s still standing), and plan accordingly. That way if his Special doesn’t fire, you have a pleasant surprise instead of a rude awakening.

Finally, here’s the “Hail Mary” play for the squad. The circumstances for this to occur in game seem low, but it’s worth noting you could do it if it seemed worth the risk. Let’s say you’ve lost two Battle Droids, and failed to Recruit any replacements. Your opponent is playing higher priced figs, and only has three standing to your four, but he can seriously hurt you next turn all the same. Move your third Battle Droid close to Grievous, but don’t block his line of fire. Use your first attack with Grievous (ideally taking out one of the opponent’s figures), then with your second attack use the Battle Droid to take out your own Grievous. You’ll have a fifty/fifty chance of getting two more moves and attacks for your Super Battle Droids, allowing them to close and possibly finish off your opponent. Risky, but it sure would let you win with some panache!

The future of the Droid Army

Series 2, which is right around the corner, looks to double the ranks of the Droid Army, with an additional four figures. First and foremost is a new General Grievous, sure to be a Super Rare, yet again. The new Grievous isn’t just a Striker, he’s a DOUBLE Striker like Darth Maul. Early reports are placing him at only 20 points, with a possible speed of 12, which is phenomenal if true. Finally, the Grievous Bodyguards will have a purpose in the Droid Army. Of course, there are new Grievous Bodyguards coming again in Series 2… still looking to be 10 points, but now with a 12 speed to possibly match up with the General. Hopefully they will have weaker or more infrequent special to maintain a sort of power level parity.

The Battle Droids will gain a Battle Droid Commander figure in Series 2, it will be interesting to see what special makes a Battle Droid worth 30 points. I’m guessing we might see another double Attackback or Shootback, but only for Battle Droids perhaps. Mostly, I hope that the Droid Army maintains it’s focus with keeping all Special Powers that interrelate to other Droid Army figures.

Finally, one of the most exciting and unique figures in Series 2 looks to be the Destroyer Droid, having two small missile attacks. If the AT-RT is any indication, you will be able to reposition the second arm after firing the first, a very tactical addition to the game. At 40 points, the Destroyer is more than half the price of an AT-RT, which means that its missiles to cost ratio is higher. (i.e., To get the four missile attacks the AT-RT gives you, you’d need two Destroyer Droids, which would cost you 80 points vs. the AT-RT’s 70.) However, having two units that can fire twice means you can use more flanking maneuvers, plus benefit from Droid Army effects (hello Super Battle Droid!) Also, as of right now, Megas don’t appear to be tourney legal, so the comparison ends up being moot for the moment. All in all, the Droid Army looks to get better in Series 2, with a new Striker Grievous likely to increase the viability of a mixed Striker/Launcher Droid Army.

Well, that’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed this review of the Droid Army. Hopefully next time we’ll be talking about the coolness that is Series 2, but if not…there are always Wookiees.

– webhead817


Spartan117 said...

Ok i just rembered to check grevios is a 12 movement striker!!

Anonymous said...

Nice review I play the above squad!

Anonymous said...

I feel special to actually own one of the nonexistent T3 Silver Grievous figures!