Chewbacca, the first Rebel operative, has been out for a little over two weeks and is starting to hit the tables more regularly. Chewbacca brings along a set of his own command cards, but unlike Boba Fett, Chewie is more focused on teamwork and propping up the other Rebel heroes from the original trilogy. While a Databank article on Chewie is forthcoming, I wanted to do a side-by-side comparison of his command cards with the cards he would most likely be competing against for space in the command hand, which are usually Leia’s, since they are both characters that support other heroes and units. One caveat before we begin: there are certainly passionate and well reasoned arguments for any of these cards, but what you go with is going to depend on a lot of other factors bypassed here for simplicity’s sake.
3-Pip: Notorious Scoundrels versus Somebody has to Save Our Skins
This choice has to be made when running Han, Leia and Chewie in the same list. Notorious Scoundrels is extremely strong simply because being able to use any of Han’s command cards twice in a game is strong. It’s one of the biggest upsides to bringing Chewbacca in a Han/Leia list (the others being Guardian and Teamwork, plus a bit of melee potential in case Han is threatened). Notorious Scoundrels introduces a tactic that has become popular versus the strong artillery options available to commanders like Veers and Leia: Change of Plans recursion. The basic gist is to play and spend Change of Plans on Turn 1 to prevent Bombardment or Firepower, play Notorious to gain it back, then play and spend it again on Turn 2.
The biggest drawback to Scoundrels is that you no longer have access to the activation control common to all other three pip cards, Save Our Skins included, and doubly so when you spend Change of Plans against your opponent’s command cards. There are going to be turns when you want a token on all three characters, mainly to get Leia assigning dodge tokens before any of the others move. Save Our Skins gives you this opportunity, and with Change of Plans costing you a valuable three pip slot, there are limited means to get this kind of control. Taking Improvised Orders to offset this lack of control is strongly recommended, in any case.
Save Our Skins does have its own set of problems: there is noticeable tension between the ability to activate twice out of sequence and the opportunity to go last in the round, which is one of the main benefits of playing a 3-pip card. I see a lot of folks treating Save Our Skins as if it is a second Assault and simply wasting the effect. While you are not necessarily obligated to use the effect, since it says “you may,” activating two strong heroes one after the other maximizes the card’s potential and leads to some interesting possiblities, most of which involve annihilating an enemy unit before it can hurt you. I would say the Rebel landscape is looking like 80-20 in favor of Scoundrels, and most people you ask would say it doesn’t hold a candle to Change of Plans recursion, but make sure to give Save our Skins a try. You may be pleasantly surprised.
2-pip: Brains and Brawn versus No Time for Sorrows
A choice in any list where Chewie and Leia are present. No Time for Sorrows is a staple card in a lot of Rebel lists, simply for its flexibility. It allows you to take some risks you wouldn’t otherwise be able to, and lets you make corner peek plays you otherwise wouldn’t be able to as well. It’s simply marvelous for pushing Han, Commandos and Wookies into just the right place on the board for them to shoot and then duck back behind terrain. And, of course, that extra move can be so valuable for objectives. So, if you’re willing to put those tactics aside and take Chewie’s card, just how strong is Brains and Brawn, anyway?
Brains and Brawn is an extremely powerful attack. When you add Chewbacca’s bowcaster to Leia’s pistol, you end up with 2 red, 3 black and 2 white with Surge: Crit, Sharpshooter 2 and Pierce 2. It is one of the strongest ranged attacks in the game at present. An aimed shot yields around 5 or 6 hits fairly reliably. With a bit of luck, it can wipe out a squad on its own, and whatever isn’t destroyed, Chewie can clean up right after, since Brains and Brawn doesn’t spend Chewie’s attack. However, there are at least two major challenges to consider when using this card, and they occur together: Setting up the shot and timing the attack. In short, Brains and Brawn has a lot of “overhead.”
Leia must be up front to use her blaster, and really wants an aim token to get the most out of her attack, which means she is potentially vulnerable to enemy fire, and other units will miss out on Take Cover. Thankfully, she has a Guardian in Chewie and is probably running Esteemed Leader. Chewbacca also has to be in range and line of sight to the defender and must not be engaged, as if he were performing a ranged attack himself. The aim token also means Leia won’t be moving, so she needs to be in position the turn prior to get the maximum effect, which may mean missing out on two turns of Take Cover when all is said and done.
Second is the timing of this attack and what it means for your turn. Leia’s range is limited, and this attack is very potent. If your opponent is aware of its potential, they may offer you no good targets (My current favorite target for BnB is Snowtroopers, since they are often on their way to you anyway, and may fall right into your hands.) Also, Brains and Brawn only hits Chewie and Leia with order tokens, so Luke or Han will be left hanging for an undetermined amount of time. It’s probably best, then, to play this card in a situation where they are not in danger or need to move immediately, and this is the card’s biggest downfall. Improvised Orders doesn’t really help, either. Personally, I’m split right down the middle on which to take when I have two commanders. Of course, you could always run Leia/Chewie and leave the Flyboys on the Falcon.
1-pip: Coordinated Bombardment versus Common Cause
I’ll start off by saying that Luke, Leia and Chewie are allegedly the weakest combination with Chewbacca. I tend to disagree – I think that being able to protect Luke and Leia from early aggression is a large boon to the Wonder Twins, despite Chewbacca’s cost. I’ll also stay on trend by saying something heretical – there are times when I would take Common Cause over Coordinated Bombardment right now, and the times, they are a changing.
Unfortunately for Common Cause, CB’s “stock” is way way up right now, for numerous good reasons. Firstly, the ability to kill off one or two badly deployed sniper teams right away is really good. Being able to dispense justice on anything from across the map and give it suppression? Really really good. But, always in motion is the future: the effect of a single suppression is declining as more units are released with Inspire and 2+ courage. Royal Guard deployed near Scout Snipers can peel the hit results, effectively improving Scout saves to a Red defense die. Medical droids are on the horizon. Activating Leia first in the round leaves a window open for those medics to heal the wounds she dealt. If you wait until the end of the round to bombard, the enemy can move to hide from you or try to rush toward you to prevent you from bombarding. On boards that are heavily line-of-sight blocked, you may get no play with Bombard at all.
Common Cause, on the other hand, is one of those things your opponent can’t really take away from you (Give In To Your Anger is the notable exception here). Plus, with Luke being the powerhouse he is, protecting him by keeping a token on him at all times is of paramount importance. Add to that the fact that you get to activate two of your best units at the same time off of a 1-pip card, and you can see just how strong the card could be. Having two opportunities to access Luke at 1-pip is obviously better than just one, so running Common Cause along with Son of Skywalker has a lot of potential. Also, it doesn’t matter whether you activate Luke or Chewie first, you will still get the effect. And, as always, since it’s a “may,” you can choose to decline the effect of Common Cause and simply use it to control the timing of either activation.
Sample Command Hands:
Wonder Twins that’s All-in on Chewie:
Son of Skywalker/Common Cause
My Ally Is The Force/Brains and Brawn
Return of the Jedi/Somebody Has to Save Our Skins
Sorry About the Mess/Coordinated Bombardment
Reckless Diversion/No Time for Sorrows
Change of Plans/Notorious Scoundrels