Now that commandos have been around the block a bit and folks have had a chance to test them, lets hit them with a full deep dive (this is updated from the previous “Quick and Dirty” article).
Snipers and saboteurs will be in separate articles, since they play so differently.
The format of this article will be a little different, since the full squad and strike team play differently but share the same weapon upgrade. First we’ll hit some high level pros and cons common to both versions of Commando snipers, then we’ll look at the sniper rifle stats and some data-informed decisions. Lastly, we’ll look at the differences between the full squad and strike team, and some tactics for each.
Note: Endless at Yavinbase also has a great article on Commandos, which you can find here: Databank – Rebel Commandos
- Can get in cover more easily
- Sharpshooter allows more hits through cover
- Courage 2 means usually getting both actions
- Pierce is the shizzle
- Unlimited range Pierce is the fo-shizzle (that’s more than shizzle, right? Or is that my nizzle?)
- Fragile for cost
- Spec ops slot reduces activation control
The stock commandos feel very much like elite Rebel Troopers. You probably aren’t taking them naked, though. Indeed, this article is all about snipers, so lets move on to the weapon.
Do you like to throw dice at things without having to measure? Do you like to make your opponent pick up minis without rolling defense dice? Do you like big, long, cylindrical objects? If you answered yes to all these questions, the DH-447 may be for you!
Range 1-Unlimited. Obviously that’s amazing; the least restrictive range band in existence, unless you ever somehow get a Range melee – unlimited. No donuts here.
Dice. One black and one white with surge is not terrible. It’s definitely not your typical trooper heavy upgrade in terms of raw firepower, but it is the keywords that make this thing tick.
High Velocity: This is a new keyword. No dodge tokens for your target, if you are only shooting them with the sniper rifle. Rebel Troopers are not going to like that.
Pierce: My favorite weapon keyword. Besides Veers, every Pierce weapon to date has been Range 2 or less. Pierce on a weapon with unlimited range is fantastic. Stormtroopers are not going to like that.
In practice, this means you are going to be generally picking up one enemy mini every time this thing shoots. Thematic.
Before we dive into the specific wounds by target, lets take a quick look at some efficiency charts, and how the efficiency of the various loadouts stack up against the existing Rebel options.
This is no cover, sorted by wounds per point against a red defense die:
Right near the top is a full squad of Rebel Commandos + DH-447. Sandwiched between Fleet Troopers is a good place to be* when you are talking about offensive efficiency. I was actually surprised by how well it turned out. This means you have to be in Range 3 to get the rest of the unit’s A-280s in, but Range 3 with Pierce is pretty darn amazing.
It doesn’t change much if you sort it by white/surge defense die; the full squad + DH-447 just loses one spot to the Fleets + MPL-B.
That is before you account for cover and the Commandos’ Sharpshooter 1, which would further bump up the DH-447 relative to its non-blast peers. Check the Rebel Charts for these full numbers if you are curious.
DH-447 solo efficiency
Sadly, the DH-447 by itself doesn’t perform as well (ahem, without an aim token) compared to the DH-447 plus full unit. That meets the sniff test, as the dice are kind of mediocre, and getting full value out of Pierce usually means you want to be netting as many hits as possible. I did not include the extra black die from the second man on the team, though that would certainly help the numbers. Because of how fragile a two man squad is, though, that second man is likely to be not contributing to the pool because he is either A) out of range, B) out of sight, or C) dead.
Note: an aim token on the solo DH-447 brings the point efficiency against a red defense die up to .030, which is… identical to the full squad + DH-447 without an aim token. Color me interested…
On to the juicy bits.
Wounds by target
Here are the wounds by target for various DH-447 related situations. I omitted the armor columns, because… well, they aren’t good. Hopefully you aren’t trying to take out an AT-ST with a sniper rifle.
Sweet mercy, but the full squad puts out some anti-trooper damage. It isn’t quite Fleet Trooper territory, but it is close, and it is Range 3. With an aim token, against Storms in no cover or light cover (which is functionally no cover… thanks to Sharpshooter), you are doing an average of 3.21 wounds. Youch.
The naked squad is okay, but not great. The surge and Sharpshooter help, but it is still only 4 dice without Pierce. I don’t think I would take naked Commandos. I mean, I would. But not like, on my Legion table. Nevermind.
The most common way to take the sniper, however, is in a strike team. Often you are only shooting with the DH-447 itself.
Don’t be deceived by the red/yellow numbers; those are just in comparison to the full squad. For a 44 point unit, these two dudes (really, one dude) can dish out some wounds. Against targets in the open or with light cover, you are going to be doing 1-2 wounds pretty reliably, with an aim token. Very thematic.
Whenever possible, you want to be aiming with your strike teams. This is usually possible, given their 2 courage and unlimited range. Pick a good spot and start picking off trooper minis.
Here are the chances of various wounds to a red defense die unit (i.e., Storms) and a white/surge defense die unit (Rebels or other snipers) with and without an aim token. This accounts for Pierce.
Big chart, small chart. Red chart, blue chart. This one has a little star. This one has a little car. Boy what a lot of… bloody hell, I’ve been reading too many children’s books.
With an aim token, you have a 95% chance to inflict at least one wound to a Stormtrooper, and a 40% chance to inflict two. Not bad, and you can do it from across the board.
Targets in Cover
Snipers effectively ignore light cover due to Sharpshooter 1. However, as the sniper itself is only throwing two dice, their efficiency against heavy cover suffers significantly. Even though Sharpshooter reduces the target’s cover from 2 down to 1, that still basically cuts your wound chances in half.
Cover 2 (light cover after Sharpshooter)
An aim token still makes a significant difference here, but your chance to cause two wounds is substantially lower.
This table is important to know in a sniper war, since opposing snipers will usually be in heavy cover, if your opponent is any good.
Rerolls against targets in cover
Suppose you are shooting a target in heavy cover (reduced to light by Sharpshooter) and you have an aim token. In what situations should you re-roll which dice to maximize your damage potential? This question is particularly relevant against other snipers, where you can often only inflict one casualty if your opponent is using corner peeking.
Basically there are three situations where you land a wound: both dice hit, one of the two die crits, or both dice crit. There are also possibilities to miss; namely, a complete whiff, or only one dice hitting. Let’s look at the various scenarios.
Before we dig into each of these, the important probability to know is this one: your combined chances of either, A) rolling at least one crit or B) rolling two hits are 36%. That is the baseline if you are rolling the two dice (one black one white). See below** if you are curious about the raw math to reach this number.
- Both dice hit: leave the result. You would have to roll into two crits to get a better result, which is just a 1/64 chance.
- One die crits: re-roll the non-crit die, whether it is a hit or not. As you’ve already locked in one crit there is no downside.
- Both die crit: Keep your result, obviously.
- White die hits, black misses: re-roll the black die. Your chance of getting a hit or crit on the black die (5/8, or 62.5%) is much better than the baseline scenario of re-rolling both and getting a positive result (36%)
- Black die hits, white die misses: this is the most interesting one. The chance of a white die hit/crit is 3/8, or 37.5%, only slightly above the baseline (36%). If you want a small chance to score two crits and the 1.5% doesn’t bother you, go for it. Personally I am probably just re-rolling the white die. Remember if you re-roll both you are also potentially rolling into a complete whiff, which means no suppression.
- Both die miss (complete whiff): re-roll both. Dur.
Alrighty… on to how you field these bad boys and some associated tactics.
Unit Composition Options
There are two potentially very different ways to field the DH-447 sniper; as part of a two man heavy weapons team or as an upgrade on the full squad.
60 points. This works out to 15 points per model, or 50% more expensive than a Rebel Trooper. You’re getting some good perks for your premium, but durability isn’t one of them…
1 health per model, white/surge defense. Same raw durability as a Rebel Trooper, except without Nimble. Don’t hang these guys out to dry.
Low profile. If you have cover 1, you have cover 2. This helps their durability quite a bit. Note a suppression token improves cover by 1, so if they have a token they are effectively in heavy cover.
Scout 2. Free speed 2 movement after deployment. This is neat, although you don’t want them out in front all by themselves, either. We’ll tackle some uses of Scout 2 later.
Sharpshooter 1. Reduce opponent’s cover by 1. Good shit.
Surge to hit. A Rebel infantry squad with surge to hit! ZOMG.
A-280 Blaster Rifle. Technically the same weapon as Rebel Troopers, but the surge/hit and Sharpshooter 1 make it much more reliable.
Full Squad (Sniper) Tactics
In practical terms, a full commando squad feels very much just like an elite Rebel Trooper squad. They have a range 3 sweet spot, and they melt when out of cover. Luckily, they have Low Profile, which gives them Cover 2 if they have Cover 1. Unfortunately, they also only have five models and don’t have Nimble. Don’t leave your Commandos out front. Think of them like a mid-line unit.
Basically all the same tips for Rebel Troopers apply to Commandos. Use cover, keep stuff at range 3. Even more than Rebel Troopers, you don’t want to be sending your Commandos into the breach. Let them do their thing at range 3 and stay as safe as possible.
Commandos are a good compliment to Han, as he can keep them safe on an important turn with Reckless Diversion. There are also some fun possibilities with Sorry About the Mess and HQ Uplink (more on that later).
Furthermore, you want to make sure you are giving the Commandos an order as much as possible, so you have control over their activation timing.
Lastly, as already noted; aim tokens are pretty solid on a dice pool with pierce and black/surges. If you have a juicy target and an extra action, grab that aim token. The dodges aren’t as helpful for Commandos as they are for Rebel Troopers. Hopefully they aren’t in a position to be taking a lot of fire anyway.
Using Scout 2
Scout is a new keyword that lets a unit take a free move after deploying. Note this move completely ignores difficult terrain (as if the unit had the Unhindered keyword).
There are a couple of uses for this.
- Getting a good forward position – be careful you don’t overdo it. You absolutely do not want to make your commandos the only target for your opponent to shoot at. Only push up if the Commandos are safe in their new position.
- Recover Supply shenanigans – Scout 2 isn’t quite enough to get you to the middle box, but it is about halfway there. With some careful play you can make a box grab. However… the Advanced Positions deployment deserves a special mention here, since it gives your Commandos Scout 3. Scout 3 plus a speed-1 move (ahem, No Time For Sorrows) is enough to put a unit in base contact with the middle box before the game even starts. Make sure you are prepared to follow through and take some heat with the Commandos if you try and pull this off, because this move telegraphs itself pretty hard and you are likely to lose priority. It looks like Wookiees and IRG come with gear that provides Scout 1, so once they come out you may be able to set this up on other deployments besides advanced positions.
16 points. This is just the base cost. You have to take a weapon upgrade, so your cost is either 44 (sniper) or 42 (saboteur). Pricey for two models.
Low profile, Scout 2, Sharpshooter 1, Surge/hit A-280, 1 health/model with white/surge defense. All the same as the full squad. See above.
Heavy Weapon Team. This is the unique keyword for the Strike Team. You must take a heavy weapon, which is either a DH-447 Sniper or Proton Charge saboteurs. This makes a very fragile but potentially efficient (offensively) two man unit. There are some important special rules that deal with casualty removal with a Strike Team, which we will talk about below under the Corner Peeking section.
Strike Team (Sniper) Tactics
The strike team is the fashionable way to field snipers currently, and they play very differently from other units, so this section will be considerably longer than the Full Squad section. Strike teams are just so damn interesting, yeah?
We’ll talk about four key elements of Strike Team Sniper tactics: Deployment, Target Priority, Corner Peeking, and Counter Sniping.
The first step to effective snipers is making sure they have access to good lanes. Ideally, you want them to cover something important; an approach to an objective, or some key terrain piece. Here are the considerations to worry about:
- Firing lanes on objectives/approaches to objectives
- Location of enemy unlimited range weapons (snipers and Veers/Leia)
- Safety from other enemy attacks
- Proximity to friendly commanders to receive orders (if not uplinked)
If your opponent has their own snipers, the first thing you have to decide is if you want to try and counter-snipe, or simply ignore/manage the enemy snipers and go after your own targets. If you choose not to engage in counter sniping, try and make sure your snipers have access to good lanes while not being vulnerable to opposing snipers themselves.
Regardless of your deployment location, if your opponent has any unlimited range weapons, you should Always Be Corner-peeking (ABC). See below.
Targets in the open or light cover (reduced to none) are nearly always better than targets in heavy cover. Your snipers’ job is to bleed enemy squads and pick off stray activations. Generally I work my way from top to bottom on this list, always prioritizing open targets over those in heavy cover.
- Low health or weak units (one model or one wound left)
- Enemy snipers
- Speeder bikes
- Snowtroopers/Fleet Troopers
- Imperial Royal Guard
- Non-pierce immune commanders (except Veers)
- Rebel Troopers
- Pierce immune commanders
Hopefully you aren’t even shooting at vehicles. I would shoot any of the above in heavy cover before shooting vehicles, unless that vehicle is a really important one and only has one health left.
Corner peeking refers to the practice of hiding one model of your strike team behind Line of Sight (LOS) blocking terrain. Because of how casualty removal works for strike teams, the sniper model cannot die first, since it is the unit leader. If your non-sniper model is behind LOS blocking terrain and your sniper gets shot, the sniper gets removed, and then the non-sniper is replaced with the sniper. Since models out of LOS cannot suffer wounds, this prevents you from losing both models to any one attack. If, for example, Veers using Maximum Firepower on a strike team, but he can only see one model, he can only kill one model, even if he causes 4 wounds.
Corner peeking has the added benefit of guaranteeing heavy cover, since models fully obscured are always granted heavy cover.
There are two ways to corner peek: simply hiding a model behind LOS, or clambering.
Yeah, I know, they aren’t painted yet. Embarrassing.
This is the simplest way to corner peek; just keep the non-sniper model behind LOS.
There is an interesting little rules nuance regarding cohesion and clambering, in the vertical movement section. Here is is:
Hum, well that is interesting. You can only do this after a climb or clamber, not when deploying or moving. This has the benefit of both hiding a mini out of sight, and giving your sniper a good position.
That’s the way to do it.
If your opponent has any snipers or Leia/Veers, don’t place both models in view on the same level. You can get wiped that way.
Don’t do this:
Most of the tips we’ve already covered apply to counter sniping. Corner peeking is essential, to make sure you don’t get one shotted, or killed by consecutive snipes. If engaging in a sniper war, try and give your snipers orders, either via HQ Uplink or command cards.
On that note, lets hit one last thing.
There are three upgrade cards that come in the Commando pack that are useful (often on other units), and one oldie that seems tailor-made for strike teams.
Duck and Cover (Training)
Duck and cover allows you to take a suppression token during the Apply Dodge and Cover step. This means two things: 1) you can see your opponent’s roll before doing this, and 2) your Commandos instantly get heavy cover (if you take the suppression) because of Low Profile. Note you will still take a suppression after the attack is resolved, so using Duck and Cover results in an extra suppression. That is what Courage 2 is for though, amirite?
I can’t recommend this on the strike teams, given the cost and their generally easy access to cover. On a full Commando squad though, this can really help if they get caught in the open.
Duck and Cover is also great on Han, who also has a Training Slot and Low Profile.
Emergency Stims (Gear)
That is a lot of text; basically it means you can delay up to two wounds until after your next activation. It isn’t great on Commandos themselves, but boy was this tailor made for Luke. Yup, whiny farmboy has a gear slot. One extra Luke activation for 8 points? Yes please.
It’s pretty good on Han, too.
HQ Uplink (Comms)
Well this is an interesting one. Give an order to yourself. Easily the best comms upgrade so far. In practice, HQ Uplink does several things:
- Provides an extra order token (to the unit with Uplink)
- Doesn’t care about command range
- Provides extra command card benefits
HQ Uplink is great for giving you activation control. It is okay but expensive on strike teams. The full squad is a good candidate, being a much bigger points investment and likely closer to the front lines. Note #3 above; this combos with both My Ally is The Force and No Time For Sorrows. You can also use it with Sorry About the Mess to issue a 0-pip order to the Uplinked unit.
Incidentally, HQ Uplink is also great on the T-47, if you happen to be using those.
Grappling Hooks (Gear)
Hey, a use for these things. If you intend on using clamber cohesion to corner peek, these are a nice, cheap upgrade for a strike team.
- Commandos are the hotness
- The full squad hits like a truck, but folds like paper. Run them with caution.
- Strike teams are all the rage these days. Use corner peeking and pick off targets in the open for maximum efficiency.
Next we will look at the Saboteurs, as well as the Commandos’ counterpart, Scouts.
*As long as one of them is that female Fleet Trooper. And maybe the dude in the khaki vest.
**This works out to a 23/64 chance to get a positive result. There are 64 possible combinations on two 8 sided die: 14 combinations where one die is a crit but the other isn’t, 8 combinations where both dice are hits but neither is a crit, and 1 combination where both dice are crits. 23/64 = 35.9%