As predicted, the next rotation map is Mos Eisley Back Alleys from the Jawa Scavenger villain pack. Anchorhead Cantina is out. I’ll break down some initial strategy thoughts for the new map, as well as discuss the biggest winners and losers from this transition.
Note: I’ll be referring to the map the way it is oriented on the Jawa Scavenger map insert, with the red zone in the southeast and the blue zone in the northwest. The Boardwars map project folks have oriented the map differently, with the blue zone in the northeast and red in the southwest. Whichever orientation FFG puts on the official mats will lock this down.
The map is fairly symmetrical, however there are a few key differences between the red and blue deployment zones.
Red has a very safe staging area to the North of their deployment zone. From this area they have strong line of sight into the middle of the map and along the north hallway into blue’s deployment zone. Red also has a very safe objective to grab for both missions here. Opponents need to bridge a lot of distance to engage any figures hiding in this spot. Blue can counter red’s defensive play by contesting red’s terminal and controlling the south objectives. Blue also has a couple options for moving up safely to contest red’s sniper nest, although this may require opening doors that should be left closed.
Red has a space of impassable terrain in their deployment zone that separates the north exit and the west exit. This is the identical deployment zone from the Corruscant Landfill (Bantha) map. This space doesn’t seem like much, but it’s significant. Red will have less versatility in re-positioning their figures from one exit of their deployment zone to the other, making it more difficult to bring support or retreat with units that are being overrun.
The Blue side seems to lend itself better to aggressive style play. Blue has the better bid at the bottom hallway, with a relatively safe staging area behind the blocking terrain southeast of blue’s deployment zone. From this spot blue has more immediate control of the large room in the south of the map. The bottom hallway is especially good for melee and control figures to threaten the center of the map and Red’s terminal. Red can counter Blue’s aggressive southern play by opening the south door early to line up shots. If Red has over-committed their snipers to the north side of their deployment zone, this could be a very risky play.
The terminal locations for both sides are symmetrical. They appear to be relatively safe because of the protective doors, but the mission effects removing doors at the end of the round makes both terminal areas extremely dangerous. Red doesn’t seem to have as many options as Blue for storming their opponent’s terminal. Either side can use their terminal area as a staging area to attack the center of the map in round 2.
The very center of the map is a linchpin for controlling the whole map. The center is important for both missions, with the majority of objectives placed there. The player that controls the center has a shortcut from one deployment zone to the other through the terminal areas. The player with more activations and without initiative will have a better bid at contesting these middle objectives. Any units left in the middle of the map are extremely vulnerable.
Winners and Losers
Valuing the winners and losers of a map transition includes value added by the new map, but also what is lost by the old map. Anchorhead is similar to Mos Eisley Back Alleys in many ways. Gaining Favor on Anchorhead had the most important objectives in all current rotation maps, so small figures that could interact were extremely valuable. Line of Fire favored small figures like alliance smugglers who could pick up crates without sacrificing an important attack. Examining Mos Eisley, it may immediately seem that figures like alliance smugglers are big winners, but remember that they are not only gaining a good map, but also losing a good map.
Vader is the best area control unit in the game right now, able to single-handedly hold down important areas. The map has several spots that are perfect for camping Vader in order to control large sections of the map. The map is also small enough that Vader can get next to the opponent’s terminal with an attack in round 1 if the right doors are opened. The map is very friendly to melee figures, and Vader is at the top of the list.
Similar to Vader, one of Palpatine’s weaknesses was his speed. With the tight hallways of Mos Eisley Back Alleys he can move up relatively safely into a very threatening position by the end of round 1. Expect to see a big bump to the Vader/Palpatine combination in the upcoming meta.
Han Solo (Rogue Smuggler)
Han was already good on Anchorhead, but he’s even better on ME:BA. With the doors opening automatically at the end of round 1, you can easily set Han up for a safe end of round shot, without saving him for your last activation or running an 8 activation list.
Anchorhead was a terrible map for these terminal sitters. With the terminals only 1 space away from the deployment zones, you don’t even have to waste an important front spot to get these droids in position.
Short range/Melee units
Melee units weren’t terrible on Anchorhead, but ME:BA gives them a slight bump. Units that would rather perform an attack and a special action rather than an attack and a move can also perform well here.
3 Speed units like Heavy Stormtroopers and the AT-DP are absolutely playable on this map, especially compared to Anchorhead. Don’t expect them to hold up on Nal Hutta though.
It’s easier than ever to storm your whole list right up to your opponent’s deployment zone. A swarm of Jets, Vader and Palpatine gives your enemy plenty to think about.
Anchorhead, specifically Line of Fire, was the most imbalanced map in the rotation. With Devious Schemes you could secure the better side of the map and force your opponent to come at you. Although securing the first activation of round 2 is great on Mos Eisley Back Alleys since the doors automatically open, the last activation of round 1 isn’t quite as important since there are better hiding spots than on Anchorhead at the end of round 1.
The deployment zones in ME:BA don’t leave many safe spaces to hide the big slug. He’s been losing favor in the meta since HOTE, expect that trend to continue with this map change.
Greedo was excellent on Anchorhead, able to utilize the oft contested corner at the top of the map to get free shots off without triggering Slow on the Draw. You can still set up this type of shot on ME:BA, but not quite as easily.
Nal Hutta Swamps effectively killed off Bantha lists, but this map is another step back. Generally the Bantha needs to have a strong end of round 1/start of round 2 sequence to earn its points back, but that sequence is easy to avoid on this map. It’s also difficult to keep the Bantha hidden to try to pull off the combo at the end of round 2, since the doors will open and the Bantha doesn’t have many places to hide.
Rebel Care Package+
C-3P0, Hera and Gideon are still amazing figures for their costs, but it will be a lot harder to protect them on round 2 against an aggressive list. Anchorhead had lots of nooks for storing your fragile support figures, but ME:BA, not so much. Expect slow ramp up support lists to get pressured heavily on this map.
This map has the potential to be a close range brawl with nowhere to run. This provides a good change of pace from the massive open spaces of Nal Hutta Swamps. Expect a wide variety of lists to do well on this map, including the tried and true standards as well as some more aggressive lists. Objective running lists will also be strong on this map, as both missions have valuable objectives that aren’t hard to score.