So battle forces have been out for a month or so and we're starting to see them pop up in the tournament scene, so I thought I'd take a crack at what we may be seeing in the near future in terms of competitive battle force lists. Some of these may be more lighthearted than others, but all of them are lists I would bring to a tournament, and some meta analysis may accompany the more obscure lists.
Let's get into it!
Leia Tauns was a classic list, and one that I realize I bring up pretty often, but with the new battle force rules you can get an extra tauntaun in the list and some strong command cards to boot. Courage of the Rebellion is good for getting Uplink back on a couple of tauns, and Delaying Tactics is the 1 pip needed for the collapse of the tauntauns onto the enemy, sometimes allowing for some added disruption if the units closest to your tauns aren't commanders. Perhaps this isn't the strongest use of the battle force composition changes but it certainly is one of the most fun.
The "Echo Base Flyboys" is a new take on the meta "Flyboys" list. With Courage of the Rebellion providing a single turn Master of the Force for Luke and a get out of jail free card for a unit that is too suppressed you'll be able to handle some of the tougher matchups. The drawback is only being able to use Commander Luke, which is hardly the worst thing in the world, but is much outclassed by Op Luke. A heavier gunline is the benefit with three FDs and some Rebel Vets with the heavy providing long range fire support. I expect to see a list at least somewhat like this on the table in the near future.
So this is a list that people have been theorizing about and fretting over a bit. The big combo is through Hold at Any Cost giving out 6 aims to call of the corps and 7 standbys to the Mark IIs and FDs. There may be better ways to use the battle force comp and cards, but this definitely does feel strong. Time will tell if it is a meta contender, but as of right now the sky isn't falling, and thankfully it is an easy fix if it does.
If there's one consistent thing about battle forces its that it seems to be bumping up activation counts (for all but GAR, but more on that later). 12 Activations with strong heavy weapons and lots of aims is nothing to sneeze at. You can swap out bikes for more E-Webs or vice versa, but at the end of the day this is a typical gunline with the added bonus of strong control command cards and the unique Heavy Response Unit stormtroopers.
This is about the same thing but with Vader rather than Veers. The added melee threat and lack of worry about suppression means that you can get up close and personal, especially with a flamethrower on a unit of snowtroopers. A key piece here is Debark for Ground Assault which, through Vader's "-" suppression bubble means that you can use Spur without worry, especially on the Snowtrooper unit because of Steady. Debark for Ground Assault also lets you split fire with your Heavy Response Unit and get a suppressive shot on up to 6 targets. This can be crucial if you are looking to lock down key pieces or spread a lot of suppression out amongst multiple low courage units. Following this up with an Unrelenting Fire means that you can keep units at one activation or fewer in the late stages of the game. Don't sleep on this strong combo.
You know the Yoda/Padme/Saber list? Well this is the Imperial version. It doesn't function at all in the same way, it isn't about standby sharing, but it is a key saber user, a support piece, and a strong gun on a tank. The added bonus of stronger corps units and controlling command cards means that you can get the same sort of area denial from this list, but through suppression rather than standbys.
So this is about the best GAR list I can think of when it comes to battle forces. I admittedly think that the GAR force is the weakest by a mile, and I hope for points changes to benefit such a costly faction, but I do think that the new battle force cards are awesome. The problem that you face is that the GAR battle force cards are jammed into the 2 pip slot, but Anakin loves his 2 pip following the addition of Defend 1. The other problem you face is that Leaders of the 501st only issues orders to Special Forces or Corps units, which means Anakin is orderless on that turn, meaning you want to play that turn 1 since it is permanent, but then it doesn't allow for you to set up Anakin's support machine through Hero of the Clone Wars.
My personal opinions aside, I do think that if you want to use Anakin in a battle forces list then this is the way to do it. You have three strong corps units, Fives in an ARC Trooper squad, and some BARCs to be in your opponent's face. Lead from the Front is a strong support card, though I do think that it being a 2 pip in hand is a partial detriment, partial benefit. Three 1 pips is nice, but as I mentioned earlier it can be tough to pull off. Overall, this list seems fun and time will tell if the 501st battle force is worth the requirements of such expensive units.
Rexstar has a new look and it is a fair bit different. Through Leaders of the 501st you keep the clone ball alive and, despite not using the changed "Take That, Clankers!", you keep a strong offense through having ARCs and 4 Phase II Z-6s. There's not tons more to say other than you have some versatility in the number of Phase IIs and ARCs you have as Z-6 Phase IIs are similar cost to ARCs with Offensive Push.
So this list is pretty generic, but it is made to use Tactical Planning to the fullest. With 6 targets you can throw off even a CIS list with the best order control. The LAAT is to get a squad of ARC Troopers into close range for massive dice pools, and with three targets a Clone Engineer is a solid extra man for utility.
Is this list generic? In name and in playstyle. Is this list good? Almost certainly. This many activations with an AAT and two STAPs is a lot of firepower, but to also get 5 E-5C B1s? You will be able to deal significant damage to any list that does not suspect it. AI Coordination is a great card for something like an AAT with such a big standby bubble but STAPs can make good use of it as well. The real strength is Unrelenting Assault, which, when planned correctly, can generate 8 aim tokens. This can either mean 8 shots with an Aim, or one big shot that can basically just put down hits and crits. Unstoppable Advance is a finisher for lists playing on Recover the Supplies, Hostage Exchange, or other movement based objectives. Do not underestimate the power of this list, even if it doesn't seem particularly flashy.
11 activations with Grievous and a tank doesn't sound half bad to me! Part of the problem with this list is that it is held back by the force organization requirements of having an AAT in the list, but it also is nice to have two big threats and some MagnaGuards to round it out. A PK droid is nice with some high value targets in the MagnaGuards and AAT, but don't hesitate to use it on some B1s who are holding an objective.
Well this may be the shortest list I will ever post. Just three different units, all with no more than three upgrades. As far as I know, units with Field Commander still satisfy the commander requirement in a list, though if someone has a definite ruling on this please correct me. I think that this is an amazing list, and a nice take on the Maul AAT that we've seen before. The firepower of this list is insane, which is the common theme between most of the battle force lists, and having Maul as a melee threat and the AAT as a ranged threat with 8 E-5C B1s providing backup feels like a recipe for success.
Bonus Tier List!
So here is a bonus tier list for each of the cards! You can see that I like the CIS ones a lot, the Empire ones are strong, and the rebel ones are balanced. Shadow Collective cards are weak, though they are generic so that's why they are less directional and more just playing to the Independent keyword. GAR cards feel weak and poorly balanced, though I still recommend taking them in most battle forces. There is a clear first cut for GAR most battle forces (Tactical Planning) but that card isn't necessarily terrible, just like Aggression isn't terrible. It does have to be built around to truly have a benefit, and the limitation of where orders can go is the main reason I gave it an F. You can see my tier list here and feel free to use my template and make your own!
Battle forces are a fun and thematic way to build units that otherwise might not see the table together. I enjoy the concept and cannot wait for more battle forces in the future. Let me know what battle force lists you've tried out in the comments below, and be sure to tune in here soon to the 100th post special here on Dice and Cardboard!