Programmed Punishment - CIS Heavies - The Barracks
With the recent battle force rules and the Persuader tank doing well at GenCon I felt it was necessary to look at the two Separatist heavies in the current meta. Heavies have come a long way since the AT-ST and T-47, and so by the time the AAT and now the Snail came out they fit a much wider role than the original "big gun on a stick".
AAT Trade Federation Battle Tank
At first glance this is a lot of great keywords thrown together, but how does that look in practicality?
- Barrage is a strong keyword
- Native red saves with Armor
- Critical 2, High Velocity, 4 red weapon
- AI: Attack without the easiest way to coordinate to
- Ends your coordinate chain (without upgrades)
- Potentially expensive
175 Points - So this unit has gone up five points since release, which isn't a lot, but it can make a difference if looking to outfit your units heavily. At this cost though you get a lot of bang for your buck. Red saves with armor makes this near worth it anyways, but with the power of Barrage on a survivable platform you are never too disappointed with spending these 175+ points.
Lateral Anti-Personnel Lasers are a decent attack to throw in at range 2 with your main gun, but at the end of the day they aren't why you bring the AAT. The MX-8 Artillery Laser Cannon is the selling point and you are happy to buy it. 4 red, Critical 2, High Velocity, and Impact 1 are all great keywords to have on such a long range weapon. With the larger base of the AAT and the higher point of fire on the model you are getting a strong attack that you can do twice OR with High-Energy Shells you are getting a Critical 3, High Velocity, Impact 1, 6 red and 1 white attack. Either way you are happy.
What's better than a great attack? A great attack that you can keep doing because you're alive. Part of the problem with certain pieces is that you can either ignore them if they don't score objectives well or you can just kill them, nullifying your opponent's gameplan. The AAT struggles with this significantly less though because of the combination of full Armor and 50/50 saves. Just like all red save units don't rely on dice alone, but with this combo you can rest easy taking just a few shots each round.
It's worth going in depth with each of these pilots as they can call see play, but there is a hierarchy in terms of both usage and ubiquity.
Lok Durd suffers from the exhaustion problem, but Suppressive is strong with Arsenal or Barrage. If you plan on recovering every turn to use your Ordinance then Lok Durd is the guy for you, but if not then it has to be to counter a specific gameplan.
The AAT has a huge base and so range 1 of another droid trooper isn't too bad, but one of the key points here is coordinating to the end of your chain, such as a sniper unit, Droidekas, or MagnaGuards. Otherwise that isn't often worth it, but you don't mind taking it when your list needs to guarantee order control between multiple big units.
My personal choice for best pilot, losing AI:Attack is the main draw here, but Field Commander can be great for lists that want to save points in the commander category. Five points is nothing to spend for the big benefit of not needing an order every turn to lose AI. I would seriously consider taking this in most lists with an AAT.
I've mentioned this a few times now, and it isn't crucial for the AAT like ordinance is in other vehicles, but High-Energy Shells have an AAT on the art for a reason. High Velocity and Critical is a great combo to push through damage and two red and a white at range 2-4 is strong. This combos perfectly with your big laser cannon.
Since you have two ordinance slots it isn't the end of the world to fill them both if you have the points. The versatility of having a high Impact weapon alongside your other weapons is great, and can give you an edge when facing a mirror of other tanks or droids with Armor. "Bunker Buster" Shells are sadly still not worth it on this platform, but your offensive options are already very strong.
What makes a good gun better? Aims! Linked Targeting Array gets you that for free and for cheap too. Not a necessary upgrade, but a great one nonetheless. HQ Uplink is your other option here, and is solid with Lok Durd and the OOM pilot.
NR-N99 Persuader-Class Tank Droid
So the NR-N99 Persuader-Class Tank Droid (which you must refer to by its full name and full name alone) is the cheaper heavy in the CIS arsenal. More recently released and uniquely designed with the Programmed keyword, the NR-N99 Persuader-Class Tank Droid is the first transport that the Separatists have.
- Catchy name
- Native Ion weapon
- Transport 1: Open
- Some losers refer to it as the "snail tank". Ugh, casual fans!
- Large weak points
- 145 Points
145 Points - 11 health behind armor is something that I cannot overlook as being good, but for what you pay you could hope for smaller weak points and a heavier gun. This honestly isn't too bad, so maybe the reason it hasn't fully found its home in CIS is not because it is overcosted.
The NR-N99 Persuader-Class Tank Droid sports a 1-4 near double rainbow critical 1 weapon. This isn't anything huge but it can do damage when you need it to. When combined with Arsenal you are given the punch that you need for what you're paying, though oftentimes every other turn through Cycle. The 1-2 Ion Cannons granting native Ion 1 on a single rainbow is where the strength is. If you're lined up correctly this can be great, and it can be crucial to get an early shot off if you are lined up. This is gimmicky though, and at the end of the day gimmicky rarely wins games.
11 health, white saves with block, breaking threshold of 7. This isn't terrible for what you're paying except your Weak Points are so large that many shots will have an extra Impact 1 flying around. Against white dice I don't like those odds.
The protocol upgrade slot is relatively new and incredibly flexible, which is nice seeing as it is required to fill. This slot gives you your AI but with a synergistic added bonus, so it half offsets the downside.
Attack Protocols gives you AI: Aim at the added benefit of getting Precise 2, which is a decent trade off. Long range weapons like those on the NR-N99 Persuader-Class Tank Droid can make good use of AI: Aim and Precise 2 as movement isn't always required for a long range weapon, but the necessity of taking two actions to make use of this one card puts it lower on my priorities.
At an extra two points you get the added benefit of either Attacking or Moving, which are the two actions you're more likely to do. The NR-N99 Persuader-Class Tank Droid can shoot from long range just like I said earlier, but movement can be great for a unit with Transport. A solid choice for many gameplans.
I feel like they planned the art out on these pretty well because the Dwarf Spider Droid loves the Attack Protocols, Engagement Protocols feels very much like something the Droid Gunship would like, and the NR-N99 Persuader-Class Tank Droid loves the added survivability of a dodge, Nimble, and Outmaneuver. Seeing as you only need to expend one action to get use out of a dodge, and sometimes it does its job anyways by just being there, you can make good use out of this card. Outmaneuver is also great since you have such large weak points so Impact will be a part of many shots. For 3 points you're happy to take this.
With Transport 1, Onoard Comms Channel is a great added benefit. If you plan on using the NR-N99 Persuader-Class Tank Droid as a transport for some great units then this is the card for you.
Otherwise you can be happy taking Linked Targeting Array in most cases, or just leaving it empty.
Same deal as before, except you can use "Bunker Buster" Shells relatively effectively with the Ion Cannons. I'd still choose the other two weapons more often than not, but this can be good for if you are planning on throwing the NR-N99 Persuader-Class Tank Droid into close range often.
I'll do three lists with the AAT and three lists with the NR-N99 Persuader-Class Tank Droid, though I'll be omitting lists with the Battle Force as it is required to take the AAT.
All of the Droideka fans are salivating now. This list is full of suppression and long range weapons. This is your ticket to frustrating a clone army in multiple ways, but it may not be a greatly competitive army. Take this for a league night or if you are just unable to beat your clone ball buddies!
You ever wonder what it would be like to have a mobile B2 turret? Well look no further! This list has a lot of heavy hitters and the added bonus of an armored B2 wall in the middle of the board.
This is the sort of list that can only happen in CIS. Double bounty is great and triple threat is better. Three heavy hitters with consistent order control is amazing. The OOM allows you to chain the order from Kalani to the other B1s with an added boon of an HQ uplink.
Double NR-N99 Persuader-Class Tank Droid is the best thing anyone could possibly think of. Two mobile cannons are somehow even better! This one opts for weaker order control in order to get some heavier firepower. Engagement Protocols and the T-Series on the B2s is what allows you to do this soundly.
Its the second triple threat on this list, just this time with two AATs! Maul and two AATs have shown up in the meta before and this amount of firepower is crazy for being able to have 9 activations. This list hits you on two fronts and it can be devastating.
This is the craziest CIS list you've ever seen. Black Sun in the NR-N99 Persuader-Class Tank Droid, an AAT as backup, some long range B1s, and plenty more have all plagued this list. It hardly seems competitive but who knows, this may be the strongest list no one has ever tried!
The AAT and beautiful NR-N99 Persuader-Class Tank Droid both serve a role in the CIS army and will continue to make a splash in the meta and on casual tables.
Let me know what you think of CIS heavies in the comments below, and be sure to tune in next week for more on the NR-N99 Persuader-Class Tank Droid (and maybe other things I guess) on Dice and Cardboard!