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My game group just finished the Twin Shadows campaign with me taking my first turn as the Imperial player. My play style as the Imperial was more "make it cinematic and fun" than "play to win" so my goal was to present the rebels a fun challenge while also getting to play with new units we hadn't seen before.
I chose to play the Nemesis class deck and for my villains I picked The Grand Inquisitor and Bossk. I hadn't read ahead at all to see what the missions might bring, I just wanted access to some iconic characters with a good mix of types for the class benefit of Inspirational. I'd built my Agenda Deck with Punishing Tactics, Imperial Security Bureau, Imperial Discipline, Infiltration, Retaliation and Lord Vader's Command.
The campaign to this point had been back and forth, with the Rebels easily winning Hunted Down, the Empire winning Past Life Enemies and the Rebels winning Canyon Run on the last possible hero activation. However, in the Imperial upgrade phase after Canyon Run I managed to draw and acquire A Dark Power (reduce group cost by 5 during optional deployment) and As You Wish (Add Vader to hand at start of round).
Going into the last mission - Fire in the Sky - I had the following class cards: Powerful Foes (Deplete + 1 Threat to reduce deployment cost of a group by the threat level), Inspirational (reveal a villain and a group with a shared type gets +1 surge or +1 evade), I'm on the Leader (+2 DMG to least wounded hero), Punishing Force (Reroll any attack dice, ready after each Rebel activation), Leave Them to Me (Deplete to reduce villain cost by 5, but exhaust villain), Ringleader (+2 movement, Adjacent friendlies get +1 Acc, +1 DMG). I also had the agenda card ISB Enforcers (Trooper group can attack twice each activation) in addition to the two mentioned above.
SPOILERS for FIRE IN THE SKY begin here.
Starting Groups: Probe Droid, Elite Heavy Stormtrooper, Imperial Officer
Open Groups: Elite ISB Inflitrator, HK Assasin Droid, Elite Jet Trooper, Elite Ugnaught Tinkerer, Grand Inquisitor, Bossk
Reserved Groups: Stormtroopers, Elite Imperial Officer, Kayn Somos, Boba Fett
The Rebels were playing Gaarkhan, Shyla Varad, Mak Eshka'rey and MHD-19 and also had access to Han Solo, R2-D2, C-3P0 and the Counterparts Reward card that let them bring one of the droids for free (giving me no additional threat) without counting against their ally count. They chose to bring in Solo and C-3PO for the extra gun and the double evade for any heroes close enough to Solo and C-3PO. They had a generous 9 rounds to accomplish their mission. As usual, I had to flip all the heroes to their wounded side.
Thanks to their allies, I started the mission with 22 threat so I deployed the Elite Jet Troopers, the Elite Ugnaught Tinkerer and the Grand Inquisitor. I was hoping to start with enough strong troops on the board that I could just bank threat for a few rounds in the hopes that I could bring in Vader when they sliced the console and opened the door to the bridge. I figured what could be cooler, more cinematic and scarier (for them) than getting a surprise Vader when a door opens?
Much to my dismay, by the end of Round 2 the Rebels had killed the Elite Heavies, the Imp Officer, the Elite Jet Troopers and had reduced the Grand Inquisitor to 1 health. I'd only managed to get Gaarkhan and MHD-19 down to about half health, Shyla and Mak down just a few health and barely scratched Solo. They were full of confidence when Shyla Varad sliced the green terminal with the last activation of Round 2 and opened the door to the bridge.
Because of the mission event, I was able to deploy the Elite Imperial Officer and Boba Fett. The mission also granted me 5 threat and an optional deployment. Suddenly, I had 11 threat burning a hole in my pocket. I'd already played As You Wish at the start of the mission to add Vader to my hand, so I played A Dark Power to reduce Vader's deployment cost from 18 to 13 and then depleted my class card Powerful Foes (for 1 threat) to reduce Vader's deployment cost from 13 to 8, which I promptly took advantage of and attached Ringleader to him. The Dark Lord of the Sith himself stepped out from behind that Elite Imperial Officer on the bridge and ignited his lightsaber. Rebel Confidence was definitly shaken.
In the interest of full disclosure, I made a mistake in the deployment phase inbetween round 2 and 3. I should have only had 7 threat, but the threat dial was on 8. However, I don't think this made much difference as I used the 8 threat to spawn the Elite Heavies and I would have used the 7 to spawn the Elite Jet Troopers in the same place.
In round 3, the Rebels managed to take down the Probe Droid and the Elite Ugnaught Tinkerer then finish off the Grand Inquisitor before continuing their advance to the bridge. They had split into two groups - Mak, Shyla and Solo went north to take out the console, while Threepio, Gaarkhan and MHD-19 moved south to be in position to interact with the mission goal when it was exposed. I moved Fett, Vader and the Imperial Officer down to keep an eye on the mission goal and block the approach to the blue terminal, figuring that the terminal's natural defense would protect it from ranged attacks for at least one round.
In between rounds I spend a few threat to bring in another probe droid to harry the northern group.
The reason my math error between round 2 and round 3 didn't make much difference is because that entire Heavy trooper group got wiped out by Gaarkhan in Round 4, although they did do a bit more damage on Gaarkhan and MHD before they took their lunch break. However, this is where the Rebels made their first mistake. They moved MHD-19 up and placed him two spaces diagonally away from Gaarkhan. I swept in with Vader and used Brutality to do enough damage to flip both of them to their wounded side. 2 down, 2 to go. As for the northern group, the probe droid and Fett took some lucky long range pot shots at Shyla and dinged her a bit more.
In round 5, the Rebels came to the realization that Shyla - who had many movement bonuses but only melee attacks could get to the blue terminal and finish it but she'd be leaving herself really vulnerable. Acknowledging that she was probably going to get flipped wounded, they decided to pull Mak back to the hanger to keep him safe and Shyla with a ranged assist from Solo took out the weapons console. At this point, the hangar became a much less pleasant place to be because the mission let me spawn Kayn Somos and a squad of Stormtroopers there. They moved in on Mak but he used his special ability (and last point of strain) to move far enough away that they couldn't see him. Vader Force Choked Shyla, flipping her to wounded and then started closing the distance on Mak.
Before the action starts in round 6, I spend my entire threat balance on re-deploying the Elite Heavies but with the ISB Enforcers upgrade this time and also depleting Leave Them to Me to deploy an exhausted Bossk to the Hanger.
In round 6, my Heavies closed in on Mak from the north, Kayn and his crew from the west and Vader was coming in from the east. All the rebels have to do is interact with the weapons console and run to the hanger and they can more or less win. MHD-19 gets the console while Gaarkhan heads over to smash on the Heavies for a third time this mission. Vader closes in on Mak who is supported by Threepio for the surge cancel, knowing that would leave them vulnerable to Brutality. At this point what I wanted to happen was to just hurt Mak a little, put the fear of the Sith Lord into him and then spend a few fun rounds chasing the rebels to the hanger and letting the dice fall where they may. What happened was Vader's Brutality obliterates Threepio (and the automatic surge defense) and I decide, in the ultimately regrettable but most thematic possible use of a card, to exhaust "I'm on the Leader" to buff Vader's attack for +2 DMG. I then manage to roll better than I ever have in this game and get 3 surges and 6 damage. With the 2 surges I get Pierce 3 and +2 Dmg for a total of 10 Dmg and Pierce 3. Mak does not roll the Dodge and gets flipped to the wounded side. The mission ends abruptly with the Star Destroyer being blown up taking the entire team with it. Everyone at the table, including me, is kind of shocked. Although as we've all seen Rouge One, maybe we shouldn't have been...
This is how I learned the lesson that when Vader comes out, you need to run away from Vader or gang up on Vader.
Twin Shadows Mini Campaign Result: Imperial Victory.