Lord of the Sith
As to be expected Darth Vader is a monster. No matter what, if you sit down to the table and have Darth Vader staring back, you have to deal with him. Often that means ignoring and avoiding him, sometimes that means focusing fire on him. I want to go through and examine each skirmish deployment card available and I thought the best card to start with was the Lord of the Sith himself. At 18 points Vader is a valuable piece, if you are putting 18 points on the line in a single figure he needs to work really well. Here I will go into a detailed examination of Darth Vader looking at his stats, his die, his abilities, and his keywords and how they synergize with other deployment cards as well as command cards.
At sixteen health Vader can take a beating even excluding defense die it would require a large amount of concentrated fire to bring down sixteen health. Along with defense die Vader is definitely a tank he can take a massive beating. His sixteen health is why your opponent will likely avoid Vader rather than confronting him.
At only four speed this is one of Vader’s main weaknesses. Especially considering many of the Rebels have five speed Vader will have a lot of trouble keeping him adjacent to any enemies especially on more open maps. One of the best ways of dealing with Vader is avoiding him this is possible mainly due to Vader’s low speed. To counter this Vader need Imperial Officers, which is the best way to keep Vader in the fight when your opponent is running.
With two reds and a yellow Vader has a lot of options
Stand Deviation: 1.19
Standard Deviation: 0.868
With a surge Vader is able to surge to either pierce or add two damage. As seen above Vader can pump out up 8 damage without a surge. However if Vader were to roll 7 damage and a surge he can manage 9 straight up damage all together. For anyone who has played the game you know this is wild. That would kill every non unique unit in the game with the AT-ST being the one exception. Even among unique units 9 damage kills all but the best this includes Vader himself, Royal Guard Champion, Fenn, Gaarkhan, Luke, Han, and Chewie. Anyone still living after 9 damage will have very very low health. It is unlikely however that you will get the 9 damage since that is the absolute ideal situation, but it is important to look at what is possible. Vader is still a monster on a average attack. He will average 5 damage with 1 surge. With his surge ability to pierce 3 it is better to have a white die than a black one against him. A block and a evade from the white die will many times be more effective than even 3 blocks from a black die considering pierce 3. Vader should kill any chuds with a single attack and kill powerful units like Luke or Han in a handful of attacks. When facing Darth Vader never allow him to Brutality this will only give him more action economy the more he can hit each turn the better.
With two black die it is necessary to have a lot of pierce or a lot of dice to match up with the possible 6 blocks
Minimum Blocks: 0
Minimum Evades: 0
Mean Blocks: 3
Mean Evades: 0.3333
Median Blocks: 3
Median Evades: 0
Maximum Blocks: 6
Maximum Evades: 2
Two Black Die can defend a lot of damage. The biggest defensive is his lack of surge cancels however even so it is still difficult to get damage through. If you must attack you have to really concentrate fire heavily. Luke if used correctly can really push through Vader’s defenses. Though often it will still take a lot of time and it really will depend on each match. Concentrating fire with a combination of Fenn, Luke, and Gaarkhan can likely kill Vader in a few turns. The most important thing when using Vader is know how and when to extend yourself. If you extend yourself too confidently he will be taken down, however if you are too timid he is a waste of 18 points. Stun is a strong counter to Vader however if the Imperial using officers this will counter stun. In my opinion if I am facing Vader you should stay just out of range and ensure to remove his allies first. With Royal Guards Vader becomes even harder to hit, and with Officers Vaders movement issues are mitigated.
Brutality allows the figure to use a single action to attack two different eligible figures. This will allow Vader if positioned correctly to deal out an amazing amount of damage. Brutality is almost always worth it. In a game like Imperial Assault, using a list that utilizes Vader, killing your opponent
The strength of Force Choke is that Vader only needs to see his target. This mitigates, slightly, his slow movement by allowing him to attack at any range.
Command Cards: Telekinetic Throw, Deflection, Force Lightning, Lure of the Darkside
Friendly Units: none
Command Cards: Regroup
Friendly Units: Imperial Officer, General Weiss
Command Cards: Close the Gap
Friendly Units: Royal Guard, Royal Guard Champion
Some of the best command cards to use with Vader are, not surprisingly, the Force User cards. Deflection will likely turn damage around on the attacker when using Darth Vader. Lure of the Darkside is probably my favorite. This allows Vader to manage to get an attack out in a manner of speaking, even if the other player is trying to keep their distance. Cards like Regroup can be used on Vader but unlikely to be his best option. Planning might be good on the first turn with Vader if you don’t want to move him very far at first. Usually your leader focused cards will be used on the Imperial Officer however. Lord of the Sith is the Darth Vader specific command card and if your opponent chooses to fight Vader this can be a strong card allowing you to continue to attack over and over for any unit surrounding you. However I don’t believe any wise player would leave multiple units in arms reach of Vader so easily they can all be attacked from a single square, so I think it isn’t as good as the Force User cards available.
Vader is definitely a force to reckoned with. He is capable of dealing massive amounts of damage and can block a significant amount himself. Though he is strong any force can be overwhelmed so it is important to know how to use him aggressively without overextending. I think when using Vader it is best to pair him with a royal guard and imperial officer sending them off to handle the other teams biggest threats, while the remainder of your squad handles objectives. Many have posted variations on Vader’s Fist and here are two that I personally like a lot:
Stormtrooper Squad x2
Imperial Officer x4