Imperial Assault Strategies: Rebels

In All, Imperial Assault, Return to Hoth, Star Wars, Strategies by Zach Hillegas13 Comments

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Do you just love Imperial Assaultbut hate losing the campaign every time you play? Are you getting steamrolled by the Imperials? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there, friend. There are endless debates as to how balanced Imperial Assault is or isn’t, with a seemingly equal divide between people who think one side is more powerful than the other. Regardless, almost everyone who’s played the game has probably experienced  crushing streak of defeat in the campaign. If this is you, and you play with the Rebels, it’s time to up your game. These Imperial Assault strategies might not fix everything, but following them will go a long way into helping you save the galaxy.

This doesn’t cover every trick you can play as the Rebels, and more Imperial Assault Strategy articles may come down the line, but the following tips can be starting points for you in potentially readjusting your strategy. May the Force be with you, noble rebel.

Think we missed something important? Sound out in the comments!

Movement is love, movement is life

See that girl in the back? She knows what’s up.

Movement is arguably the most important decision you have to make as the Rebels. I can’t stress this enough. The thing is, you always have objectives to complete as the Rebels, and these are your biggest priority. If you want to effectively win your missions, don’t sit around like ducks taking double actions with everyone to attack. Focusing too much on combat will make you lose, every time. You’ll be three rounds in before you find yourself completely overwhelmed by Imperials, and they’ll have fun blasting you into oblivion while you’re cornered. Movement points are worth their weight in gold, and if you’re not taking advantage of them as best as you possibly can, you’re doin’ it wrong. Some movement tips are as follows:

STRAIN MOVE: This is probably the most important point here. Our Rebels got stomped in our first campaign, and unfortunately, this is one of the rules we overlooked for 90% of the campaign (despite it being in the “frequently overlooked rules” card…yeesh). The fact is, strain moving is very, very important, and often prevents you from having to use a double move to get where you want to be.

If, for example, there’s a terminal that’s six spaces away, it’s better to take one full move action, strain move two more times, and then use your second action to interact with the terminal. A less wise player would use both moves and have to wait until the next round to use that terminal. This is especially dangerous when it’s an attribute check that they would be far less capable of passing should they get wounded before then. As a double bonus, this frees up more movement for them on the following turn if they have to get out of there.

Jyn Imp Assault

Assuming the heroes needed to activate this terminal, Fenn or Gideon (in the back) could do it one turn instead of two if they use strain moves.

Also, strain moves might get you past otherwise impassable blockades. Let’s say there’s a clump of four units huddled together, and you need five movement points to pass through them, but you only have one action (this is assuming you have 4 movement). It’s easy to write that off and opt for killing those enemies instead to cut a path through. Always factor in strain movement if you’re passing through units or impassable terrain, it might just get you through.

Fenn’s 1XP Tactical Movement card is one of the best abilities in the entire game: It might be the best ability. Basically, Fenn, on his turn, can exhaust this bad boy to choose either himself or a unit in close proximity to move two squares. This means that he can either move himself to get into position to double attack while still gaining some distance (which can be stretched farther by strain, which is great for Fenn because he’s a light strain user), or he can put someone into position to go the extra mile when their turn comes. Imagine that your objective is to reach a space that’s fourteen squares away. There’s no way you could reach that in one turn, right? Wrong. Move Jyn Odan two squares with Fenn’s tactical movement, double move Jyn on her turn, and then move two more squares with strain. If your opponent didn’t account for your craaaaaaazy movement, they’ll be dumbfounded by the victory you just pulled over their nose.

Make sacrifices

“Get ’em, Gaark! …We’ll just stay back here.”

Don’t be afraid to wound some heroes. For 95% of the missions, you just need one alive and healthy to win. My Rebels lost way too many times when I saw them making arbitrary, wasteful actions to conserve the health of a hero who was doomed to be wounded. A smart imp player will almost never fully kill your hero, since wounding is all they need to do to win; it’s a waste of actions to spend more time on them. If you REALLY need to keep someone alive, double resting is insanely powerful and you can use it in a pinch, if you really, really need it when most of your guys are done for.

In most of the games I’ve won as Rebels, one or more of my heroes have been wounded right after carrying out their objective in honor and glory. The truth is that some of these missions are hard, and often, it’s worth sending a hero to their death if it means they’ll clear an objective that would have been harder and taken longer if you decided to be conservative. A great example of this is “After _____ the mission will progress” objectives. I’ve sent many a hero to their death as they march into an inferno of imperials, but if they’re able to get in, progress the mission, and then get wounded, the other guys can usually pick up the rest of the slack. And again, heroes still work just fine when they’re wounded. You’ll still get plenty of use out of them.

In other words, it’s okay to be aggressive with your heroes, so long as they’re getting important things done before they go out. All of them need to get waxed, and you can heal. So stop resting and double attacking every other turn to keep all of your heroes alive, they can take some heat, for goodness’ sake.

For a live demonstration of this principle, please enjoy this instructional video from our friend, Han Solo:

Item crates are treasure crates

Seriously, my Rebels didn’t use these and they…didn’t do too well. It’s all too tempting to not use that precious action on opening a crate, but I’ve found that it helps more often than it hurts. When I played as Rebels I made sure to get all or most of them, and I didn’t regret it for a second. Almost every single box has something very, very good inside of it. You’ll either get a grenade that can wipe out clusters of imperials (or stun, which is just as good or better), powerful healing items (some of which don’t require a rest action to use), and even one that deactivates an Imperial activation for a whole round. Is the Imp getting a little too close for comfort with those elite Trandoshan Hunters? BLAM, play your item card and they’re useless for a round. Their creepy beady little Trandoshan eyes will weep as they see your heroes run away, out of range from their scatterguns.

item get

The other obvious benefit from items is the extra cash you get for getting them, allowing you to get better gear. Don’t underestimate the power of 200 extra credits every round; good gear in this game is good, and the gear you bring in can make or break your heroes. Overall, I’ve found it’s almost always worth picking up the item crates. There are exceptions and you’ll have to use your own intuition to detect them, but if you’ve been losing a lot and you’re never picking up items, give it a shot and see if it changes anything.

If you’re afraid of the action economy for taking crates, Mak and Jyn are great options. Jyn’s 1XP Smuggler’s Luck allows her to draw a new card if she doesn’t like the first, and Mak has two abilities that are great for items. Supply Network (1XP) allows him to see what’s at the top of the deck, as well as draw an item card at any time (from anywhere) once per mission. The real money is Expertise (3XP) though. With this one, Mak can take a free action after interacting, which basically means that item crates are free for him.

Stun is Fun

Feel free to laugh at this worthless loser Royal Guard who’s about to get stunned.

Admittedly, it’s more painful for Rebels than Imperials to get stunned, since Rebels have more valuable actions and imps can only attack once anyway. However, there are imperial units that get disgustingly hindered by stun. Royal Guards and Trandoshans arguably suffer the hardest from this. Royal Guards are a royal pain, but they can’t do jack-diddly if they can’t get near you. Stunning them robs them of one action, so even if they can reach you after a stun, they won’t be able to attack. Trandoshans are a nightmare with their shotgun and strain dealing abilities, but these only work at close range. If you can stun them and keep them at a distance, they’re garbage, even if they do use their one action to attack.

Stun  is also great against villains or otherwise super powerful units. Darth Vader can basically wreck everything he lays his eyes upon, but being stunned can make him near useless. Did you ever think about stunning the AT-ST? What about the E-Web Engineer, who loses one of his mighty attacks? If you have a character that can stun, use it liberally. Look for item cards that have stun. Also, Jyn Odan’s Cheap Shot (3XP) can add stun to her Quick Draw, and Diala Passil’s starting weapon has stun. If you set a character for stun, just make sure they can deal damage. After all, stun only applies if you can land a hit. Build your loadout and combine free surge abilities (like Tactical Display) with stun cards to ensure their chances of landing.

Assign Roles to Your Heroes and Equip Them Accordingly


Be smart with your loadout: This might be the most important one. Rebel special abilities are insanely, ridiculously powerful if used well. Each unit can fulfill a couple of different roles, and the cards are designed to work harmoniously. However, you’re wasting potential if you don’t focus on a certain use for your character.

For example, I had a team of Mak, Jyn, Diala, and Fenn. I realized the need for one of my units (aside from Fenn) to be offense based, since it’s generally good to have two good offensive units. I wouldn’t have mighty Gaarkhan, and with a team of three white-die heroes, I decided to make Diala offensive to fill in the gap. I eventually got her loaded up with Way of the Sarlaac (4XP), which allows her to attack EVERY adjacent enemy to her in one action. I then gave her a melee weapon that could cleave for 2(?) damage. She would go into groups, attack every single figure, and deal one or two damage to another unit each attack. It was sickeningly effective. Add in a Fenn Signis who’s optimized for double Havoc Shotting, and your Imp will quiver in fear. With a powerful gun, and Rebel Elite (4XP), Fenn could wipe out one or two units every turn, as well as deal 4 damage to every adjacent enemy. With Tactical Movement (1XP), he could always find enough room to move into position for double attacks. It eventually reached the point to where the Imperial couldn’t put two units adjacent to each other or Fenn and Diala would rip them apart.

The thing is though, this only works if heroes are optimized to fulfill your specific vision for them. The losing Rebels in our campaign, for the most part, had a bizarre set of cards and weapons that didn’t complement each other well. It was everyone’s first time, so there’s room for error, but it was definitely telling when I saw the same heroes in action with powerful and effective loadouts; it may as well have been a different game.

Ultimately a non-focused hero is a weak hero. Think of what you want them to do, and design their loadouts around that idea. Diala, for example, doesn’t have to be offensive. She has cards that allow her to either be an offensive machine, or a powerhouse support unit. With Fenn and Gaark in there, she might just be better as a supporter. Just don’t do any half measures. Don’t waste money giving non-offense characters super powerful weapons. Make your offense guys stupid powerful, and then optimize the others for objective clearing. You don’t HAVE to do it this way, but it’s an example of a tactical way to approach your build. I’ve found that it’s very effective to have two characters that are objective based, and two characters that are offense-based.

Allies, Shmallies

We had it under control until YOU showed up, Luke. See what you’ve done?!

Whoo-hoo! You got Chewbacca! It’s going to be great! Wait, what’s that you say? Oh, the Empire can bring in a free AT-ST with those extra points Chewie gives them? Sorry Chewie, maybe you should sit this one out.

Yeah, so allies are cool, but they’re dangerous. Can they be useful? Absolutely. They can also ruin any chance you have of winning just by being in your mission. As you most likely already know, an ally card that’s brought into battle gives the Imperial player additional threat equal to their value. For expensive heroes such as Luke, Han, or Chewie, this can give the Imp a free AT-ST, or elite Royal Guards/Trandoshans on the first turn, all of which are nasty. Most missions are designed for the Imp to start with a certain amount of threat, and are quite managable if played at that level, but allies can really wack things out. Therefore, you have to be wise when deciding when to play or not to bring an ally. Here are some things you can consider:

How much threat does the Imperial start with?

You’ll want to look for missions with a low starting threat count. Many missions start the Imperial off with double the normal threat level. Later on, this can mean up to 8 or 10 starting threat, which can bring in some nasty units on the first turn. If the Imp starts off with 8 and then you add 10 by bringing in Luke, well you’re asking for it when they bring in Elite Trandos and Elite Stormtroopers on the first turn. This is five more powerful units that you wouldn’t have been dealing with without Luke. Given the threat that the Imperial will continue to receive throughout the mission, this might lead to you being quickly overwhelmed.

Now let’s pretend that their starting threat is 3 or 4. Suddenly, Luke’s not so bad. With 13 threat, the imp could bring in one set of powerful enemies, but not much more than that and most of his threat would be spent afterwards, requiring another two rounds to be at a dangerous level again. That might be worth Luke’s extra firepower, but there are more factors to consider, such as:

What kind of mission is it?

As a rule, “After ____, the mission progresses” missions are risky to bring heroes into. Because you don’t know what happens after you trigger the first objective, you’ll want to get there as soon as possible to open up the rest of the mission. If you take four rounds to do that and then realize you were only a third of the way done with the mission, you’ve probably doomed yourself.

Bringing in a hero ensures that there will be a lot more opening opposition from the Imperial. In the last game I played, I made the mistake of bringing Han Solo into such a mission, which ended up giving the imp enough threat to clog things up pretty badly. It took me far too long to extend the mission, and by the time I started getting close to beating the mission, it was all over; the Imp had all of my guys outnumbered 3:1. Had I not brought Han in, the Imp would have started with a relatively weak threat level, and I could have conceivably cleared the first objective within the second round. The starting enemies weren’t tough to deal with, and I very well could have pulled off an easy win if I wasn’t so negligent.

I’ve found that offensive-based missions benefit much more from allies than objective ones do. Allies just create more enemies in objective missions, which impedes your ability to be efficient, and they quite often don’t have the power to complete objectives as efficiently as heroes do (if they can complete them at all). On the other hand, most allies are great in combat. The story mission Under Siege is a fantastic choice for an ally, because it’s basically a tower defense mission; you’ve got to hold down the fort until the mission ends. Chewie or Luke’s combat abilities would be highly beneficial. Take a close look at the mission before you bring your ally, because not all of them are created equal.

How many cards are in the Imperial’s reserve pile?

How many cards does the Imperial have stacked away for the mission? The Imp will almost always have two types of reinforcements–reserve units, and “open groups.” Reserve units come out at specific, scripted points during each mission, while reserve units are cards that the Imperial voluntarily brings into the mission for reinforcements. If the Imperial player has a lot of cards, you might not want to jumpstart their threat by bringing in an ally; you’ll have enough on your plate as it is. If the Imp doesn’t have very many cards, then they might not be able to effectively use all that extra threat you give them. Use that to your advantage and bring an ally.

Are your allies the Rebel Saboteurs or Rebel Troopers?


More like Rebel SaBROteurs, am I right?! (I’ll show myself out now…)

Most of the advice regarding allies has been focused on the more expensive, unique ones (Han, Chewie, and Luke). However, you might end up getting the Rebel Saboteurs or Rebel Troopers instead. These guys are almost always worth the cost, no matter what mission you’re playing. Note that I said “almost always,” because there are exceptions, but the “weak” allies are ironically the ones that are the most effective, mostly thanks to their low cost. The Sabs, for instance, give you two units for five points of threat. That doesn’t add that much to the Imp, but it gives you two little stooges who are just stupidly useful. In terms of action economy, the Rebels need all the help they can get, so having two (or three) extra units is a blessing. Between these guys or our favorite movie characters, I’d take the little guys every time.

Overall, there are decisions to be made every single turn that can optimize your strategy. Despite the length of this article, there are still many more strategies out there to be explored. Hopefully, with this newfound knowledge, your rag-tag Rebel team can go out there and show the Empire who’s really boss.

What strategies do you think are important for the Rebels? As an Imperial player, do you cower from these tips, or scoff pompously at them? Voice your opinion in the comments!

About the Author

Zach Hillegas

Zach is an avid tabletop gamer, and he created Board Game Resource out of his love for the hobby, and his desire to see more people come into it. When he's not writing for or managing BGR, Zach might be hanging out with cats, hiking a mountain, spending time with his lovely wife, or writing about video game stuff for Insert Gamer. Zach has also enjoys creating digital character art. You can check out his (long neglected) gallery here, or follow him on Instagram at @artworkbyzach!


      1. Great, thanks! Good read and tips to keep in mind.

        I just got the game and we’re about to start our first campaign so I might be a bit ahead of myself but it’s nice to be able to start a new game strong, giving some of these tips to the rebels that I’ll be teaching and keeping a few imperial tricks up my sleeve as well. The sooner everyone starts figuring out what to do, the better our games will be.

        1. Author

          Definitely. It took us an entire campaign to find out that we were playing the game wrong. :p While Imperial Assault is FUN, it’s not often friendly to new players. Most of these strategies (in both articles) are things that took a whole campaign to learn. If everybody hit the ground running with that kind of knowledge, it’d go a lot smoother for everyone involved, haha.

  1. Nice article. I would agree that a lot of the success of either side is knowing the rules and following them correctly. For example, your comment about “exhausting a deployment card “item to disable the elite transdoshan hunters is FALSE because it only works on a REGULAR deployment card.

    Nice point about the strain and movements however. Those win missions.

    1. Author

      Agreed! Thanks for pointing that out actually, I realized at some point that I had written that wrong but then forgot to go back and change it. But yes, even elite players can get small rules wrong, so player knowledge plays a big part in success and failure. I think Imperial Assault definitely works a lot better when you have a consistent group and/or partner to play with.

  2. Great article BUT there is a small problem. With Rebel Sabouteur, you mentioned gaining 3 figures for 5 threat; however, I believe that you gain 2 figures for 5 threat, due to the group deployment limit on the upper left of the card (2 ticks, not 3 – see page 11 of the Learn to Play Guide, lower right hand corner, and stormtroopers have 3 ticks and the example is 3 stormtroopers deployed, as that is the group limit). Otherwise, a very good article!

    1. Author

      Oops! I’m well aware of that rule, so I must have not been thinking when I typed that. Slip of the tongue! I just edited the mistake, thanks for pointing it out. 🙂

  3. Great tips that I agree with. Just one thing: The way I’ve understood the rules you can only use ONE strain per move to gain ONE extra movement point, thus gaining a maximum of two extra movement points per activation from strain tokens, given that you use both actions on movement and not attacks or interactions.

    In your example you suggest using two strain in a move to go from 4 to 6 movement points to be able to use your other action to interact with a terminal, but surely that’s not possible? Or did I misunderstand something completely?

    It doesn’t change the fact that your point about the importance of movement points is spot on, though.

    1. Author

      Good insights, and I actually had to check the rules to make sure I didn’t have them wrong! The Rules Reference Guide reads as follows:

      “A hero can suffer 1 strain during his activation to gain 1
      movement point. He may do this up to twice per activation.” (Listed under Activations and Strain)

      So, the game suggests that the strain moves can occur independent of move actions. Movement points are kind of confusing in Imperial Assault — when you declare a move, you’re really just adding movement points to your “pool,” and those points can be spent throughout your turn. So moving two spaces, taking an action, and then moving two more still counts as one move, not two. The strain moves simply add one movement point per strain to that pool. So in theory, you could actually take two attacks, and then strain twice to move two spaces without using a move action at all!

  4. The core set uniques were poorly balanced (according to the designers), both villains and allies. We usually house rule lower threat values to incentivize using them (poor IG88!)

    Later sets have much more appropriately costed units (sup Lando), let alone when you use Murne’s 1xp to reduce that to a 2 point Lando :p. Just a heads up!

  5. “Stunning them robs them of one action, so even if they can reach you after a stun, they won’t be able to attack.”

    Well if they can reach you they will be able to attack, right?

    You mean they cannot move and attack, correct?

  6. Any chance you can do a rebel strategy article for jabbas realm expansion? We have just bought it and everything i have read indicates it might be heavily favoured towards the imp player.

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