“While a friendly trooper unit at range 1 and in line of sight is defending against a ranged attack, a unit that has the Guardian X keyword may cancel up to X hit results. For each hit result canceled, the unit with the Guardian X keyword rolls a defense die matching its defense. After converting defense surge results according to its surge chart, the unit with the Guardian X keyword suffers 1 wound for each blank result.”
• Guardian x cannot be used to cancel critical results.
• Hit results are canceled during the “Modify Attack Dice” step of an attack.
• A unit that uses Guardian X to cancel hit results is not a defender and does not gain suppression tokens.
• A defender that has all of its hit results canceled by a unit with Guardian X is still the defender and gains a suppression token as normal.
• A unit cannot use Guardian X if the defender also has the Guardian X keyword.
• The Pierce X keyword can be used to cancel block results on defense dice rolled by a unit using Guardian X; treat canceled block results as blank results. After using Pierce X in this way, any unused Pierce x value can still be used to cancel block results rolled by the defender.”
So, let’s first start by breaking this down into an easy to understand example. Emperor Palpatine chooses to attack a unit of Rebel Soldiers his Force Lightning. For the example, he enrolls a total of 2 Hits and 2 Criticals.
Chewbacca is within range 1 of the Rebel Soldiers, so he can use his Guardian 3 keyword. However, since only there are only 2 hits in the attack pool, Chewbacca can only cancel 2 hits from the rebel soldiers. So now the Rebel Soldiers roll 2 defense dice, and Chewbacca rolls 2.
For this example, let’s say the Rebel Troopers roll 2 Blocks, and Chewbacca rolls 1. Because Emperor Palpatine’s Force Lightning has the Pierce 2 keywords, the attacking player can choose to cancel 2 of those Block results. For this, the Imperial player chooses to spread his Pierce value across both targets.
So, at the end of the attack, the
Rebel Troopers suffer 1 Wound, and Chewbacca suffers 2. In addition, the Rebel Troopers take 2
Suppression (one from a successful Hit result, and one from Suppressive).
So, why use Guardian?
At its most fundamental level, Guardian is an effective way to prevent high-value targets from taking damage. However, the currently released units that have Guardian built in can also be considered high value targets, due to their high points cost. Let’s examine these first…
Our cheapest choice, and the only non-individual unit with this keyword, Imperial Royal Guard possess Guardian 2 and cost 75 points. Because they are a squad, they start with a total of 6 wounds, but can up this value to 8 by adding in the Electrostaff Guard miniature for an additional 25 points. They are also the only unit that can spread themselves out to cover a wider range for Guardian.
Coming in the middle, Chewbacca possesses Guardian 3 and costs 110 points. While he does have 9 wounds, he possesses the lowest possible defensive save value (only 1/6). As a result, he usually acts as a wound sink when using Guardian. It is worth mentioning that, because of his low save, he is very effective if he can absorb Pierce shots. He has a very high chance to fail his saves, so pulling a pierced shot away from another unit to preserve their wound/model count is often the best use of Chewie’s guardian.
A high-class unit, Obi-Wan Kenobi possesses Guardian 3 and costs 175 points. He possesses 6 Wounds, and with his Soresu Mastery can use Dodge Tokens to activate an improved save and the ability to reflect wounds back on an attacking unit. As a result, he is possibly the best candidate for the Improvement tactic found below.
And now for the honorable mention, though this is quite possibly the most cost-effective way to utilize Guardian. The Command Upgrade Esteemed Leader reads as follows “While you are defending, each friendly Corps Trooper unit at range 1 gains Guardian 1”. This card was the first Guardian keyword card released, and still sees competitive play. It only costs 5 points, but is restricted to the Command slot, meaning that almost all Commander units can take it (with the notable exceptions of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader).
Advanced Guardian Tactics
This is where the defending player uses Guardian to move potential damage from a unit with a low save to one with better defenses.
As stated before, Obi-Wan Kenobi is highly effective at this tactic. At firs glance, his defense is identical to the Phase 1 Clone Troopers. However, with Immune: Pierce and Deflect, Obi-Wan can improve his defense to 4/6, and any blocks he rolls will remain valuable. So, his defense is significantly better, and thanks to the offense potential with Deflect, he can both absorb and deflect Pierce shots back at the shooting unit.
On a more mundane level, giving Director Krennic the upgrade Esteemed Leader is a highly effective way to improve his save. Since Director Krennic has white defensive saves, moving hits to any nearby Imperial trooper unit with red defense improves the chance for blocks. The same can be said for the generic officer.
This technique requires more units than just the Guardian keyword to be effective. As of the time of this article, many competitive lists use Pierce weapons (snipers) to eliminate Heavy Weapons or expensive units, magnifying attrition along the game.
So how do Guardian units counter this technique? Well, if medics are also included in the list, by redirecting damage to the Guardian units, other units can more effectively maintain their strength.
But Guardian can’t redirect Criticals? And the Guardian unit can only absorb so many shots!!! This is where the Medic units come into play. With their ability to revive key units, even if wounds make it through the Guardian defense, the wounds can be immediately reversed.
John Griffin – “This technique is one that the I personally use quite often, so here I will use an example from my own preferred list. Imagine a unit of Royal Guard, a unit of Death Troopers, and two units of Stormtroopers with Medics. Due to the high point-cost and offensive potential of the Death Troopers, my opponents tend to focus a lot of fire on them. By redirecting the hits my opponent aims at my Death Troopers to my Royal Guard, I keep my offensive potential high. But even if my Death Troopers take wounds, the Medics can revive up to 4 fallen Death Troopers. This, combined with their top-tier defense, means that the more fire my opponent pours into them, the further ahead I pull in the attrition game. In addition, this has a psychological effect on my opponent. I’ve noticed that in the late game, even if I am out of Medic charges, my opponent tends not to fire on my Death Troopers. The fact that they won’t stay down really discourages my opponent.”
This is a big one so we will use a few Tabletop Simulator Screenshots to demonstrate this tactic. It is all about utilizing cohesion to extend the effective range of Guardian X. Since Guardian is measured from the unit as a whole, in order to receive the benefits, two units need only have a single miniature within range 1 of each other to benefit from the keyword. In the case of most units, where only a single miniature is the source of the guardian keyword, this is accomplished by keeping a single model at maximum cohesion distance, still within range 1 of the Guardian source. This technique applies to Chewbacca, Obi-Wan, and any Commanders with Esteemed Leader. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples below:
In this first example, Chewbacca has set himself up in a position where he is in heavy cover, his line of site is protected on his right-hand side, and he is in guardian range of both a Rebel Trooper Z6 unit, and a Sniper unit. Note that the unit leader of the Z6 unit is beyond range one, but he has extended his cohesion on a single model to be within guardian range of Chewbacca. The Z6 unit still has heavy cover, and if a model is to be removed, and Chewie can now pull wounds away from them. The same can be said for the sniper. As you can see in the images below, this sets up a nice tactical advantage when shooting at the Imperial Royal Guards.
The Z6s have heavy cover and an option shot to the Imperial Royal Guards, the Sniper has a shot and the second model in the squad is hidden, and Chewie can use guardian on both while remaining hidden himself.
In the case of Imperial Royal Guard, the unit itself can spread out to cover a deceivingly large area of effect. When combined with the above tactic, unit masses can be spread far further than would be normally possible and still gain the benefits of the Guardian Keyword. The below example shows how extreme cohesion can keep Imperial Royal Guards in heavy cover while giving them a HUGE range to Guardian.
The black circle is range 2 (12 inches). The Imperial Royal Guards satisfy the condition that they need line of site to a model to Guardian, and they are able to protect 5 units around them while maintaining heavy cover.
Guardian units can also be a force multiplier in most Objective scenarios. All a player needs is a unit leader to score in 4/5 of these. As a result, using Guardian to keep even solo unit leaders alive can win games.