Welcome back to our series of Squad Pack Reviews and we’re jumping right back into them with one of the most powerful characters in the Star Wars Universe with Mace Windu. Second to only Yoda in power at the start of the Clone Wars we have a Mace Windu who’s in his Prime and a powerful force both as a general and as a combatant with a Lightsaber.
A quick word on the models contained in the box. You’ve got Mace striding forward after bringing down his Lightsaber cutting through one of the 100,000 unlucky B1 battledroids he’s dismantled by this point in the Clone Wars. You’ve then got Commander Ponds who’s in a fairly static pose arm stretched out and firing one of his blaster pistols at the advancing wave. Finally you’ve got the pair of ARF troopers and while they’re OK they’re nothing special unless for some reason you really love that style of helmet. The biggest downside to these models however is that one of the ARFs is in a very similar stance to that of Ponds and being packaged together does lead to the occasional bit of confusion on the table, so get painting them to avoid that going forward.
Jedit Master Mace Windu
Where do we start with Mace? He’s currently the most expensive or cheapest Primary character depending on your point of view. Coming in at 6 Squad Points he’s fairly locked into squad composition with him having to currently take Commander Ponds and then either his ARF’s or the 501st. But he does come with a 11 Durability and 3 Stamina so isn’t really being removed from the table and does bring a healthy 4 Force and not a lot to spend it on so will nearly always put more in than he demands which is something someone like Anakin really struggles with. I’ve found that when Mace is part of my strike team it’s the only real chance I get to do everything I want with a Republic themed force in terms of spending Force.
Rush to Action – Rush to Action is one of the best Tactics you’re going to find in the game. Not only does it allow him to Dash (in effect giving him the required bonus movement he wants to get into combat quickly) but allows him to bring a whole other Galactic Republic Unit with him. The key part here is that it’s a whole unit, so unlike Rex who moves one character or Padawan Ashoka who Dashes a single Jedi this allows you to move up two members of a Supporting Unit. This can allow you to move up any Clones to get into Supporting Fire range for plenty of bonus effects all of which make life more difficult for your opponent.
Tempered Aggression – Mace’s only way of spending Force but roll poorly and you’ll easily plough plenty into it. This allows you to spend Force to reroll misses but the key part to this is that you can see both yours and your opponents dice, work out what’s going to happen, know the results you need to achieve and reroll accordingly. For example if you’re in Vaapad and need 8 damage add up your dice and your opponents and find you’ve only done 3 successes (needing 4) then reroll a couple of those misses and get that wound, or spend one and gamble a little. At the same time if you’re rolled really poorly, your opponents rolled all the blocks in the world and there’s nothing you can do then don’t worry about spending the Force and save it for when needed. An excellent, if situational ability.
Shatterpoint – Not bad to get an ability the games named after right? This means something to people who read some of the Prequel tie-in books but I’m not one of them. In gaming terms it’s a special ability which triggers if you activate Mace with your teams Shatterpoint Card from the Order Deck depending on his Stace. In Vaapad it grants him a free focus action and Impact  allowing him to roll an additional 3 dice on his swing that activation. This will really tip and rolling into your favour. The other benefit is granted if you Shatterpoint him while in his more defensive Jedi Master stance allowing for 2 Focus to be refreshed and for the character to heal 3, these of course can be on himself or to a character within 2 as per the number heal rules. You’ll get a lot more from this side due to the Force Refresh and the fairly Force hungry Republic Characters and units. It’s also the stance you really want to leave him in if he’s in the middle of the board for it’s defensive benefits.
The other thing to consider is the this will make it so you want to activate Windu with every Shatterpoint Card. This will sometimes “trick” you into making the wrong choice sometimes and it’s just something to be aware of. His Tactic is brilliant and might be enough of a reason to active anyway but just be aware that sometimes not getting the Force back and just having Padme full move a unit (for example) might be the better option.
This Party’s Over – Mace’s Identity based off some of his more Icon lines. I thought this would be absolutely outstanding when I saw the card previews and it should be. While Windu is engaged then he projects an aura in a 5 range Steadfast and Protection. This should be excellent right? Especially as he provides it to himself. The good news is, it can be! If you get Mace fairly early on and he’s able to make a meaningful activation towards the centre of the board and project that aura over the entire battlefield while standing next to someone who’s already felt his wrath and can’t be pushed backwards due to terrain he’s excellent and a majorly worthwhile investment. However get him towards the end of the first run through your cards, potentially after the end of the first struggle and you’ve lost so much of this. Even more so if he’s going to go and stand on an uncontested point so can’t activate his Identity, then even if you’re in melee with someone you’re still over to one side and now that Aura is only effecting maybe 4 points, of which 2 might not even be active. T
Now I think it’s worth mentioning that we’ve seen the second mission being released and we’ve got a map which actually suits Mace a little better, the outside points have moved in on the deployment lines and that allows his aura to be more effective so I think if you’re taking Mace you’re almost certainly going to want to take that as your Mission Pack in events.
The other thing to point out is that a skilled opponent will aim anything with a double early shove into Mace, so Rex from the Galactic Republic or Magma Guard from the Separatists and that allows them to bypass the Steadfast and still shove him on the second one meaning you can be taken out of combat and having it turned off. I really wanted to get some games in with Mace before writing this overview and it’s really important to stress that he’s either absolutely fantastic and will win games by himself or will do very little other than have an effective activation where he moves forward and shoves someone off a point claiming you the objective. That’s a legitimate reason to take him, he’s nearly always going to do that every activation, but it does now after some games feel like when you get his identity to be effective then you’ve either been a little lucky, your opponent hasn’t make the right choice or you’ve got a perfect big of terrain to pin him again.
The other – and I promise the last – thing on this is that sometimes you actually need to shove your opponents units off points, for example you aren’t, even with rerolls going to take Dooku off the point he’s standing on by attacking him and removing all his health. The only way your going to do that is by moving up and shoving him off. Now if you do that you’ve just lost your Identity during your own activation. Won’t happen all the time but just something to be aware of and take care of when attacking.
So two stance cards for Windu and the first one is certainly the more damage focused stance. Capping out at 11 Damage or 8 and all 4 conditions is massive if you ever hit the full 6 successes cap. With Crits on the Expertise stance you’re going to get some unlockable there and using Tempered Aggression you’ll be able to get the full tree if needed. Only 5 Defensive Dice does leave him a little exposed but 2 Expertise gives you 2 blocks and a Crit to a hit, that’s a decent result.
The second tree in Jedi Master is what you’ll try and end activations in to keep him in place for as long as possible but the tree is also really useful when you need to move someone off a point with Shoves. With 2 in his first 2 results and his 3rd only being on the 4th success you can really count on pulling them all in. Also gives you 8 damage which is enough to remove most supports and secondaries to boot. In terms of defence you’ve got 6 Dice and a brilliant expertise tree with again 2 results giving you a block, Crit to a miss and a hit to a miss in effect blocking 3 results. He’s one heck of a tank when he’s in this stance.
CT-411 Commander Ponds
Coming in at 3 points you get yourself the cheapest Secondary in the game at the moment and to be honest he’s not really showing it when you compare him to some of the other 4 costs (but is when you compare him to the standout 4’s).
You’re getting yourself a 7 Durability, 2 Stamina Character (so a little on the low end) but comes with a few things you need to pay attention to.
Charge – A pretty standard any Galactic Republic Character Dash. Having no range requirement is great and while it might just say “Dash Windu” having the option to do someone else is great.
Incoming – Ok, Clone Troopers getting immunity to Expose is decent and while it comes with a cavate of needing to be within 3 of Ponds and needing a hunter token, they do usually have those so it’s something you can look towards. It’s a shame it doesn’t stretch to Jedi but following the Plo Kloon reveal we can all guess why.
Forward Scout – This is a brilliant ability and allows you to cover for annoying terrain near your deployment zone for easy access to points and allows the supporting unit to get over the half way line and really hold their position. They might die once they’re there but the can get there. The other thing to think about is that certain characters can shoot into your deployment zones with some characters in early activations while others just miss out. This ability can bring those characters into range and and just checking with your opponent before deployment about this could be game saving in the right circumstances.
For everything the first card lacks in a secondary this card actually picks up. A good expertise tree (even better in melee) of 2 hits for 1-3 expertise is either great, average or Ok and having a possible 7 damage is also a little shocking to find. You’ve got a reposition on the second pip for mobility if you need it or a shove on the other second pip for when you really need to move someone off a point. Defensively he’s not much but 5 dice isn’t terrible to start with and Phase II Clone Armor works (just) for what’s needed.
ARF Clone Troopers
The Advanced Recon Force Clone Troopers were a specialist subset of Clones who carried out scouting for Jedi Generals and Clone Armies during the Clone War and we have them represented in this 3 point Supporting unit.
Clocking in at 7 Durability and 2 Stamina we’re looking at a pretty standard Clone setup along with the required Clone Trooper, Galactic Republic and Troopers keyworks we’re all used to.
Defensive Manoeuvre – The pretty much standard Clone movement bonus, make a Dash (good) and gain a hunker token (good) for the cost of 1 force. You’ll nearly always do this early game and have to think about it later game.
Coordinated Fire: Expose – As per everyone else we have another Coordinated Fire and this time it’s for a free (if unwounded) Expose. It’s great in terms of applying full combat trees to attacks but we’ve already started seeing some Immunity to it out there with our own Commander Ponds and Obi-wan, Out of Hiding and I’m sure some more will come. However when you get it out it’s excellent at eliminating everything from Droids to Jedi and everything in-between.
Brothers in Arms – As with most other clones, gaining Steadfast when you have a Hunker and we’ve already found an easy way to get that. It’ll be useful throughout a game and will from time to time prevent the opponent from taking a point off you.
Lay Low – A pretty unique ability and it roughly works out as an extra block half the time when rolling your defence dice, which isn’t bad and does help to boost their survivability, which is a little lacking at times (being Clones). Treat it as a small bonus which might occasionally help rather than being reliant on it, but in effect it does turn both their defensive stats into 5 dice, but one of them is always an expertise roll. I mean no ones going to turn their nose up at that right?
Recon Force is the ARF Troopers Stance Card and offensively it has no right to be on a 3pt Supporting unit. You’ve got a total of 5 damage if you need it, 3 different conditions and arguably the best combination of a Pin & Shove on the first two results allowing you to move any none-steadfast character off an objective and prevent them from using reactionary abilities to get back onto the point. Their defensive expertise is the bog standard Phase II Clone Armor and as explained earlier this does work well with Lay Low to give them that occasional block from time to time.
When you look at it you’re rolling 4 dice, so on average that give you 1 of each result and 1 random dice. Now if that extra dice rolls a block, great, best result. If it rolls a miss, it’s a miss can’t help that. However if it’s an expertise and you’ve rolled 1 already this bumps you from 2 to 3 and another block. So it shifts the worth of that 4th dice from 33% useful on average to 66% useful on average. Finally their offensive expertise does contain crits at the 3+ level onwards and that’s always useful. Lets just pretend you’re never going to get them in melee and least that expertise track there though.
Overall – The box set is a really decent addition to the Galactic Republic forces on the table and is a decent ready made squad. You’ll want this as one of your Squads in a Primary Formatted event where taking 4 squads is required if you want to play full Galactic Republic. The expose’s of the ARF’s make it really difficult to justify the 501st when you want a 3pt Supporting in most lists though so that does raise some concerns of how long the Core Box models are going to last in rotation outside of the Mando’s and Maul for people who want that style. Mace is however a great fun character to play when you just want to go and chop bounty hunters heads clean off and Ponds does what he needs to do (stand there and cost 3 points) to allow the team to work well together.