The warriors of Kashyyyk join the fight as the Rebellion’s first melee specialists. They are also unique as one of the first multi-wound infantry units, along with their counterparts, the Imperial Royal Guard. Sporting a high overall health pool and excellent weapon options, the Wookiee Warriors are versatile brawlers that excel at both melee and ranged attacks.
Strategy and Tactics
Wookiee Warriors come in at 75 points for the base unit. There are only three models in the base unit, but each one comes with three wounds. This is balanced out by their near lack of a save: a white defense die with no surge. Interestingly enough, this lack of a save makes Pierce nearly useless against them. In melee, the Wookiees are rolling two black dice per mini with their Rykk Blades. They also shoot with Kashyyyk Pistols sporting a white and black die with Surge: Hit, which rounds them out well.
Wookiees come with Expert Climber and Unhindered built in – clambering and difficult terrain are no obstacle to them. Wookiees can Charge, which makes them tick as a melee unit. Most units out there do not have Expert Climber natively, with the exception of the AT-RT, so look for opportunities to surprise your opponent. They can clamber twice over a wall or fence and Charge if they can make it into base contact with an enemy on the other side.
Most unique, and of great interest, is the Indomitable keyword. This keyword allows Wookiees to roll red dice during the Rally step instead of the usual white. When combined with their courage value of 2, this means they will hardly ever lose actions to suppression, which is perfect for a unit that is going to be taking quite a bit of punishment. It’s also super thematic!
All of these features make Wookiee Warriors into rather independent operators. They excel at flanking, harassing, defending, and being an overall threat. They comfortably outmatch most other troop types in a one-on-one melee situation, with the exception of Royal Guards. However, this is only true as long as you use good sense and don’t charge a fully healthy squad of Stormtroopers that haven’t activated yet. Wookiee Warriors can take a hit, but they only save on a block result, so do not press your luck. Their large pool of wounds makes them more resistant than Commandos, but they can still fall into the “fragile but expensive” category if they take too much damage early. “Timing” is the word here – don’t go too early and risk being shot up by everything or counter-punched to death. It’s often best to assume they will save nothing and treat their save like a bonus.
To preserve their health for a good engagement, try to find an area of the board with some line of sight blocking pieces and chart a path that leads to melee contact with a vulnerable enemy. It may be useful to hold the Wookiees back completely, out of line of sight, for the first two rounds. Unleash their fury only when the time is right, allowing them to join the fight at full strength. The Wookiees will overwhelm depleted enemy units with their high health pool and brawl them down. Most important of all, if they charge a unit that’s already activated, they’ll receive no damage back in melee unless another unit engages. This last point is crucial to understand to get the full value out of them.
Shoot or Charge?
In general, you want to shoot your pistols and Bowcaster versus red defense dice, and go into melee versus white defense dice. The Bowcaster’s Pierce 1 is best used against tougher saves (the soon to be released Death Troopers come to mind, with their surging red defense dice.) Wookiees do not have any tools to reduce the opponent’s cover, which is one of their weaknesses, and half their dice pool at range is white dice. They are comparable to Fleet Troopers in this regard; always look for the out-of-cover shot, and grab an Aim token if possible.
The weaker the opponent’s defense dice are, the more vulnerable they will be to the kind of large attack pool that Wookiees generate in melee. A full squad of Wookiees with Tenacity is rolling 8 black and 1 red while denying cover, and it’s no coincidence this attack pool looks similar to a flamethrower and produces about the same effect: many dead enemy models. All Rebel players know this pain.
The idea of “shoot red, charge white” is just a rule of thumb: there are numerous exceptions. If you charge something with red saves you’re looking to overwhelm a weakened enemy unit, or go for value. Go into melee against Luke and Vader when they don’t have dodge tokens – they are vulnerable to large attack pools and their Immune: Pierce blunts the strength of your shooting, plus their Pierce keyword loses all value against hits that weren’t going to be saved anyway. Charging or threatening to charge Boba Fett is excellent, especially if it forces out Boba’s Whipcord launcher early, leaving your Luke free to move. And do not forget to look for opportunities to charge -and- put your leader in base contact with an objective at the same time. Melee does not prohibit unit leaders from engaging with objectives like Vaporators or Supplies.
Heavy Weapon: Bowcaster Wookiee
The Bowcaster is the signature weapon of the Wookiees. While 35 points may cause sticker shock, I do not recommend taking Wookiees without their Bowcaster. The addition of Pierce 1 to the overall ranged attack pool of the Wookiees makes their shooting far more dangerous than without it, plus you gain a red die which hits very reliably, raising their minimum damage. You also gain Impact 1, which is great for Piercing the last wound off a vehicle. You can use the Bowcaster out to Range 3 as well, but its dice pool is quite small, so I’d recommend using it this way only if the target is out of cover. This way, any paint on the dice will result in an automatic wound. The Bowcaster Wookiee increases the total health of the squad by 33%, and he can use his Rykk Blade for two additional dice in melee. Arguably, this is 25 points of the cost of the upgrade, so there is only a 10 point premium to add a very significant buff to the squad in every department. I would not take Wookiees without it.
Side note: there are some lists that deliberately skew melee by taking three squads of Wookiees without Bowcasters and only with Tenacity, but historically this has met with limited success. A Wookiee skew list more properly looks like two full squads, maybe with Chewbacca somewhere in there to help them out.
What upgrades should you take on Wookiee Warriors?
In addition to their heavy weapon, Wookiees have access to two Training slots, Gear, and Grenades.
This upgrade was made, quite literally, for Wookiees and Royal Guard, and ought to be stapled to them. They’re guaranteed to take wounds and melee is somewhere they want to be. Having the extra red die makes even a single Wookiee Warrior very dangerous in melee, with a max result of 3 hits, which can wipe out half a squad of corps troopers if their defense dice come up empty. Tenacity is a bargain at 4 points and should only be dropped in the name of picking up something more essential.
Hunter is somewhat useful versus characters and other melee units. While Wookiee shooting benefits hugely from access to an aim token, it’s an expensive upgrade that doesn’t always work. It does make an already credible melee threat to wounded melee characters like Luke and Vader even stronger, occasionally passing into overkill territory. Wookiees will have a harder time utilizing this upgrade than say, Commandos, but it’s worth a try. They are limited by range 2 for shooting, and there’s the potential for overkill in melee. If your purpose in taking Wookiees is as a melee deterrent to other strong melee characters, this upgrade is probably worth a look.
Duck and Cover
With such a poor save, cover is uniquely valuable on Wookiee Warriors; you can think of each point of cover they receive as reclaiming 5/6 faces on their white defense die. While it’s an expensive upgrade on an expensive unit, this makes Duck and Cover an interesting piece of tech, especially on boards with a lot of Light Cover area terrain. It’s probably more efficient to position them in places where they will not be shot, either completely hidden, or in melee with the enemy, though some Wookiee players swear by this upgrade as a really good piece of “tech.”
Wookiees have Unhindered and Expert Climber already, so Environmental Gear and Grappling Hooks are redundant and should never be taken.
A bargain at 2 points, Recon Intel gives your melee-bound Wookiees a 4″ head start. Definitely take this if you can spare the points, though it’s not a required upgrade by any means.
Too expensive and too infrequently used. Hard pass.
I find it tough to recommend taking this upgrade. Much of the strength of Emergency Stims lies in how much offensive power you can preserve with them. While you can potentially delay the loss of one Warrior, it only gives you back two black dice in melee. Compare this to a Flametrooper with the Spray keyword, or any of your characters with a gear slot. Not a good fit on the Wookiee Warriors, I think.
Generally to be avoided on this unit. If you are in range to throw a Concussion Grenade, you’re in range to charge. Impact Grenades are interesting; they shore up a definite weakness the Wookiees have to Armored units, plus they synergize with the Bowcaster’s Pierce, which will be very useful against future releases like the Occupier.
What Wookiees are good against:
Trooper units with weak saves that can’t punch back too hard. Wookiees eat most other Rebel units for breakfast, especially Rebel Troopers.
What Wookiees are weak against:
Things with strong saves or Armor that can punch hard, especially if it costs less than 114 points. Stormtroopers in melee are among the worst targets for the Wookies – you are upgrading the enemy’s attack dice and missing out on a guaranteed wound against their red saves, plus they cost half as much. Spray weapons like the AT-RT Flamethrower and Flametrooper cut down Wookiees pretty quickly. Ever smelled burning hair? Yuck. Anything that can Immobilize them is also pretty bad for them, since they like to move.