Allies, Strain and Side Mission Deck meta gaming

Having completed our 2nd campaign recently, I spoke to the other (Rebel) players about motivation and their general feelings throughout the campaign. One major thought was that the Subversive Tactics deck is not as fun to play against as it robs you of your awesome stuff. Also they were noticing a snowball effect which grew to be a bit distracting towards the end of the campaign. I have thoughts about that too, but today I want to write about their 3rd complaint: Allies and Ally Side Missions.

luke painted

Luke painted and photographed by Matthew of

They managed to recruit Luke in their first campaign. But when learning about how taking him on a mission gives the Imperial Player additional Threat to work with, they sometimes were hesitant to bring him. Additionally, since you can only ever bring one Ally, they skipped all other Ally Missions for the remainder of the campaign.
For the 2nd campaign it was the other way around. After one red and one grey Side Mission, they were then swamped with green Side Missions until the end of the campaign. Even though they only played green Side Missions from then on, they didn’t win a single ally because of how strong Subversive Tactics is against Allies. They all were pretty disappointed in that they didn’t manage to get any special rewards for 3 of the 5 Side Missions as well as that they only got to chose from green Side Missions, knowing that they will be extra hard.

So I identified a few issues that I would try to tackle to improve player experience with the Side Mission Deck:

  • Winning Allies should be easier if bringing Allies already buffs the starting Threat of the Imperial Player
  • Each subsequent Ally Side Mission is worth less then the previous one.
  • Player customization of the Side Mission Deck is very weak and feels too random.
  • Increasing Rebel control over the Side Mission Deck calls for increased Imperial control over the Side Mission Deck

Also I didn’t want to upset the balance of the game too much, I just want to give the Rebel Players more control over their fate. I started with the issue of recruting Allies. To ensure the Rebels have a high chance of winning an Ally, I just award them automatically under the extended rules.

Mission Stage

Green Side Missions automatically award the respective Ally. If the Rebels win the Green Side Mission, they receive 1XP and 100 Credits per player and the Imperial player recieves 1XP and 1 Influence. If the Imperial Player wins the Green Side Mission the Rebels do not receive rewards (aside from Credits through crates collected) and the Imperial Player receives 1XP and 3 Influence.

I am unsure about the 3 Influence award if the Imperial Player wins the mission. 2 Influence might be enough. This is one for playtesting. Now this change makes green Side Missions much more rewarding for the Rebels right off the bat. If they lose the mission, they still get to keep the Ally. And if they win, they also get XP and credits. Still, if they get subsequent green Side Missions, they gain less than they lose, so I had to change how Side Missions are selected for the Side Mission Deck at the start of the campaign.

Campaign Setup

Heroes chose 2-4 green Side Mission cards to add to the Side Mission Deck.

This enables the Rebels to customize the Side Mission Deck much more. But this is only half of the story. Why not give the Rebels even more control over what side Missions are added to the Deck? So I arrived at this:

Campaign Setup

Changes to step 5):
Heroes chose 2-4 red Side Mission cards to add to the Side Mission Deck.
Heroes chose 2-4 green Side Mission cards to add to the Side Mission Deck.
Heroes chose a number between 2-7. Randomly add that amount of grey Side Mission cards to the Side Mission Deck.
This results in a final Side Mission Deck size of 6-15 cards.
Shuffle the Side Mission Deck.

The numbers for the grey Side Missions assume that the group has access to at least the Han Solo and Chewbacca Ally Packs. Though I feel this should work just as well without them if you reduce the maximum number of grey Side Missions. If the Rebel Players want, they can decrease their chance of encountering a green Side Mission significantly. They can also increase it. And this goes for all types of Side Missions. It’s hitting 2 birds with one stone. Still, if the Rebels can optimize which Side Missions come off the deck, they are in a better position to handle the missions. The Imperial Player needs some way to counteract that.

This brings me to the last major change I introduced with these extended rules. Since the Imperial Player has no way in the default rules to interact with the Side Mission Deck, I had to create one. What if we let him add Agenda and Forced Missions to the Side Mission deck after he bought them? He could dilute the Side Mission deck, but he would pay a steep price. So why not let the Imperial Player buy Agenda and Forced Missions at a discount and then shuffle them into the Side Mission Deck? He risks never seeing them again, but he also saved some Influence if he does. After a bit of tinkering I arrived at

Imperial Upgrade Stage

The Imperial Player can purchase Forced and Agenda Side Missions for 2 less Influence but at a minimum of 1 influence. If a Forced or Agenda Side Mission is purchased that way, put the Forced Mission into the Side Mission Deck and shuffle the Side Mission Deck.

Of course you need card sleeves that are intransparent on the back to make this works since Agenda and Forced Side Missions have a different card back than the regular Side Missions. And since we don’t want the Imperial Player to flood the Side Mission Deck we punish him for doing so

Mission Stage

If a Forced Mission or an Agenda Side Mission is drawn from the Side Mission Deck, immediately draw and reveal another Side Mission card until a regular Side Mission is drawn. Discard all but the first Forced/Agenda Mission. Forced Missions and Agenda Side Missions are resolved normally.

I expect this to create a much more dynamic struggle over the control of the Side Mission Deck. I also added a few more minor tweaks (mostly just changing up sequences) to fit with the new rules. You can read the full document here:

Houserules for the Imperial Assault: Core Box & Wave 1 Campaign on Google Drive

Let me know what you think about the changes and if there are some glaring issues I simply overlooked. I am currently working on a system to counteract the Snowball effect too, so expect another article about that soon.

3 Responses to “Allies, Strain and Side Mission Deck meta gaming”

  • A wonderful website! I’m glad to see Imperial Assault get the kind of attention it deserves.
    Incidentally, the Luke Skywalker miniature you’ve posted was painted by me. I’ve got loads of other pictures of all the other minis (, and you’re welcome to use any of them you like, although an image credit would be much appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hi Matthew!

      Just added credits to you and the site to the image caption. Hope it’s okay the way I’ve written it. Let me know if something is missing!
      Also we have 2 or 3 additional articles stuck in development hell that could use some pictures. I will try to use some of your other pictures to keep the overall style the same 🙂

      • That’s grand – the image credit is written up perfectly! And yes – feel free to use any further pictures… it’s an honour to be part of your site.

        If you need photos of any particular miniature, you’ll see on the right side of my website is a menu with various miniature galleries, including one for each of the Rebel, Imperial and Mercenary factions. I’m trying to stay caught up on all the figure packs, so you should find whatever you need there.

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