Imperial Operatives: Bossk
Badass Bounty Hunters or Broken Down Burnouts, Part 3 of 3
With the last article in the Imperial Operatives series, its time to cast our view to the viscous Trandoshan, Bossk.
Like Boba Fett, Bossk has enjoyed a healthy amount of play from Empire players since his release but does he still cut it against the newer units and big hitters in other factions.
As before, I have spent a significant amount of time playing Bossk in Empire lists and this article is an accumulation of what I have learned. Much of what this article contains is opinion and others with different playstyles may have come to different conclusions and developed other tactics.
Strap on your flight suit, pick up your Mortar Rifle and pick that stringy Wookiee meat from your teeth, we’re about to explore the world of…
Bossk – Trandoshan Terror
Bossk made quite a splash when he first released with his potent offense, high maneuverability and regeneration when he took wounds. We hadn’t seen a unit quite like him before and even now, it’s hard to compare any other unit to him.
The Lizard man Bounty Hunter saw a lot of action in many Imperial lists for a significant period of time when he ruled the long range damage and suppression game and few units could reach him and return the favor with any decent sized damage pools.
He began slipping around the release of Droids and Clones (anyone sensing a theme here?), when they started fielding units that could either quickly move into range, or shoot from long range with large dice pools. That slip became a landslide when Rebels caught up with their share of long range and/or fast moving heavy hitters. Bossk’s weakness was revealed, though he had a good offense (which has been somewhat eclipsed by newer units now), he folds like a wet paper bag under just one or two large dice pools.
Bossk is now the epitomy of a glass cannon. While you can really sting your opponent with his range four shots, it only takes one or two return volleys and your dreaded Hunter is a pile of steaming scales and teeth. Bossk has not aged particularly well and if you decide to field him in today’s meta, you need a plan to keep him moving at long range and behind heavy cover, supply him multiple Aim tokens and have a way to keep damage off him.
Current points cost: 115pts
Keywords: Bounty, Enrage 3, Expert Climber, Regenerate 3, Unhindered
Effective Wounds (Expected hits before defeated): 8.43 plus Regenerate
Surge to Crit on Attack
White No Surge on Defense
Attacks (Snapshot of expected wounds against specific targets)
While Bossk has a decent melee attack, close to the enemy is not where you want him. He has little to no defense at all and will not last long if you put him in danger.
Merciless munitions can put some decent wounds on tightly packed Rebel, Imperial and Clone infantry (droids ignore dioxis effects) but you are likely sacrificing the Lizard if you do so because he will not survive any kind of retribution from the coughing, spluttering and pretty pissed off survivors. Around two models from each infantry squad that are hit can be expected and so this sacrifice might be worth it as a last turn play.
The Mortar Rifle is Bossk’s main weapon and can cause some pretty scary damage with a pile of aims and targeting scopes. The numbers above are with up to only one aim and no scopes and as you can see, he becomes not much better than a sniper/mortar hybrid that deals one to two damage and suppression each round. The Mortar Rifle is a good starting chassis but you need to bolt on support and upgrades to really make it sing. If you can increase the number of aims with Hunter and/or Offensive Push upgrades, supporting characters with Spotter and Command Cards like Lying in Wait and Coordinated Fire, you start escalating the damage significantly and make your opponent really fear him.
Merciless Munitions (One Pip)
On the surface, Merciless Munitions looks like a devastating Command Card. There is no denying it has the ability to put a large number of wounds into densely packed non-droid infantry. The real problem is how to get Bossk close to that densely packed hornets’ nest and then how to get him out of it alive. The answer is …you likely can’t without some extensive support and/or forward thinking. Trading Bossk’s life for the possibility of one to two wounds on a few units each is usually not economical and you’ll need to time your strike to make such a play worth it.
If you’re planning to use Merciless Munitions offensively, you’ll usually want to time the strike for turn five or six when you can clear out already partially wounded units from an objective to clench a win. This will have the added bonus of hopefully not giving your opponent a chance to nuke Bossk off the board before the game ends if you have a short term escape plan. Be aware that you’ll have less effect on droids and that units with fire support can also temporarily avoid dioxis by not activating.
Another use for Munitions is to use it defensively by planting it in a channel that leads to your gunline or alternatively you can wait till an opponent’s assault force has almost closed on your line then send Bossk forward to weaken them before they hit you. Be careful not to feed Bossk to your opponent if attempting this.
Reptilian Rampage (Two Pip)
Bossk’s strongest card which can be used in some interesting ways. Rampage has the ability to collect bounties (with Hunter upgrade which can provide an aim on each attack) or kill up to two low wound count units. As usual you’ll want to get multiple Aim tokens on Bossk to really get the benefit out of this card but don’t be afraid to take your shots early if you have some juicy targets at the beginning of the turn. You can often get Bossk into advantageous positions during deployment or on a previous turn and then wax two activations; Rampage is a strike team killer.
You can also use Rampage for a quick burst of speed and make a triple move to reach an objective or use on a bombing run dump. This will often catch an opponent of guard and if you play it and hold Bossk till the end of the turn, an opponent will often move their units into cover to protect them and leave a path open for an unforeseen move instead of attack.
Lying in Wait (Three Pip)
Lying in Wait can be a strong attack that can cripple armor, heroes or infantry units alike. It has a down side in that it has to spin up, giving opponents a chance to either escape the attack or neutralize Bossk before he uses it. This can be mitigated somewhat by using the Targeting Scopes upgrade which means you can afford to spring it after six to eight activations rather than wait for the opponent’s whole army to activate and turn the full roll to crits.
Lying in Wait can be increased in potency by teaming it with a Mortar for Fire Support (this requires a way to get your Shores/Mortars order tokens during Bossks Command Card play using Comms Relay or Hq Uplink). Alternatively, pairing Bossk with Palpatine means that with Pull the Strings you can separate Lying in Wait into two attacks with a large pile of Aim tokens each.
A good range 4 weapon that provides a source of Surge to Crit, Suppression and Pierce on a medium sized dice pool. With further investment in support units and upgrades this can be ratcheted up to provide hard hitting damage every turn.
Unhindered and Expert Climber means Bossk can get into advantageous firing positions or redeploy quickly as needed.
A couple of lucky rolls on Regenerate can bring Bossk back into the fight even if he was a bleeding mess just a round or so before.
Adequate Command Cards level up his offense even further and provide fun options and combos which can catch opponents off guard.
A non-existent defense in a meta that now involves long range and fast moving, large dice pools now means that it is entirely possible for Bossk to be one-shot or focused off the table in a single turn. If Bossk gets caught in front of one or two high tier units, he’s probably dead. This can be mitigated by upgrades and support units such as Force Barrier, Medbots and Imperial Royal Guard but this adds to the cost of running him. Be very weary of units like AAT’s, AT-ST’s, Mandalorians, multiple Arc Strike Teams or Phase 2’s on ‘Take That Clankers’ turns etc.
Due to his main weakness (above) you need constant order control on him to maintain a last/first mechanic where he can contribute to the fight but get behind LOS blocking terrain at a moment’s notice if the area gets hot.
Naked Bossk is capable of low damage when run in a minimum configuration and without support. He needs extra investment in units with Spotter and upgrades to really elevate his damage to impressive levels which all add to his cost.
Bossk has two Training and one Equipment slot
Duck and Cover: Bossk doesn’t want to be defending against attacks and his Enrage ability means you won’t get use out of this card once he has three wounds on him.
Endurance: Bossk doesn’t usually suffer from suppression issues and in a perverse way, his greatest weakness aids in this. His defense is so bad that he is very likely to take wounds from any given attack which in turn will eventually activate Enrage and ignore any suppression he has accumulated.
Hunter: This is a great upgrade for Bossk. It can power up his Reptilian Rampage turn and many of his attacks in general. Due to his high offensive capability, Bossk is probably the most likely of the three Bounty Hunters to actually collect Bounties and Hunter can really help in this effort. You should seriously consider stapling this card to him.
Offensive Push: If you need to shave two points and can’t fit Hunter, Offensive Push could be an option. Although you need to recover (and Bossk should never recover) to reuse it, it does have the upside of not needing multi-wound targets like Hunter. Of course you could double down and take Hunter AND Offensive Push.
Overwatch: Bossk can’t afford to hang around taking Standby’s, if he becomes a static target, he becomes a dead target. You also don’t want Bossk to let units get to range three of him.
Seize the Initiative: One of Bossk’s weaknesses is that you need constant order control on him to keep him alive and receiving aim tokens before firing. Seize the initiative goes a long way to addressing this problem.
Situational Awareness: Empire is not renowned for its ability to generate dodge tokens. Bossk needs to be moving, aiming or shooting. Although ne could really use Dodge tokens it would potentially water down his offensive abilities.
Tenacity: While Bossk has a decent melee attack and Tenacity would buff this further, you do not want him that close to your opponents units and risk taking return damage. Keep Bossk out of melee and at range 4 of your opponent.
Ascension Cables: Bossk has Expert Climber and unhindered natively. While Scale is a further upgrade and could be useful, you can make do with what he already has.
Electrobinoculars: Bossk absorbs aims from others; he doesn’t have time to be giving them out to his compatriots. This card is a no-go.
Emergency Stims: This card recently received a points cut, but at 10 points, it’s still pretty steep. It does potentially address his weakness and with Regenerate and/or supporting Medbots could give him the breathing room to get back into the fight after receiving debilitating wounds. Worth consideration in specific builds.
Environmental Gear: Bossk has Unhindered natively…move along.
Grappling Hooks: Bossk has Expert Climber natively…nothing to see here.
Portable Scanner: As with Electrobinoculars, Bossk is a Lizard of action. He lets lesser creatures pass out tokens while he devours them.
Recon Intel: Not a bad upgrade and could potentially get Bossk into an early firing position but as he only gets one Equipment slot, there is really only one choice…
Targeting Scopes: The best and only choice for Bossk. If you have built your list correctly and can manage a stream of Aim tokens to the Bounty Hunter, he will turn those Aims into wounds like an intergalactic Rumpelstiltskin. Scopes will elevate Bossk’s offense and allow his shots to really punch into your opponent’s armor and troops.
Typical builds for Bossk sit around 130 points:
A Comparative Look
How does Bossk compare to similar units across all other factions?
Bossk is unique in many ways so it is difficult to find units in other factions that can be compared to him. High offense, low defense Operatives seem to be the most natural comparison:
Again, using a method like this to compare unit cards is not particularly accurate and misses the mark in capturing a lot of outlying factors that impact a unit’s effectiveness and efficiency.
On the surface Bossk appears to be suffering behind other Operatives (except Cad Bane who appears to rate poorly routinely). While Chewbacca got a refresh and some upgraded keywords in the last RRG update, Bossk, who is probably Chewbacca’s closest cousin in another faction (don’t tell him I said that, I like my arms where they are), did not.
It appears that Bossk could use either a price cut or some kind of buff to his defense/regenerate ability to bring him back to Legion tables.
What are an opponent’s initial thoughts when they see Bossk put down on the table opposite them?
Orkimedes:“Try and avoid him until/if you can set up a large pool to one shot him. This can be difficult if he is played properly as part of a list that centers around controlling his timing.”
TwopennyQuasar :“I want to put as much firepower to focus him down as early as possible without sacrificing an objective play or dedicating too much”
ODSTGeneral17:“Goddamn firepower is so insane compared to Chewie... but also I should probably just try to one shot him”
ASpaceViking :“Catch him out where he can’t last first me. Maybe prioritize picking off a mortar or strike team to out activate him and thus render him way less effective”
Endless:“2 pip double-tap with hunter/scopes likely his best move, protecting the bounty target is a high priority. He can sit back fairly safely and harass you from range. His damage is a bit inconsistent. If you are going to try to kill him, make sure to commit hard enough to kill him before he can run away and regenerate. Dioxis mine is a game clincher on intercept/kp.”
Thrawn:“I actually think Bossk is somewhat slept on in this meta. He does get hard countered by certain lists now, which I think is why people shy away from using him, but he's still good I think.”
KUPiranha:“Lots of suppression and a decent gun. The body can let you down or overperform”
TalkPolite:“Isolate and Eliminate. Push if feasible.”
GhostWalking:“Get to Range 3! Bossk is still dangerous from long range with crit surge and pierce, especially on his LIW and double tap RR turn. However, he folds like a paper airplane when shot, so getting my full dice pool shots at range 3 or even 4 is imperative. I'm more scared of Boba than Bossk these days...”
Jasonisconfused:“Crazy damage output at range 4, and tough if you can't finish him quickly. As a clone player, I try to focus him down with Clankers early and finish him with snipers before he can heal. Also be aware of his ability to triple-move or double-move and grab an objective with Reptilian Rampage.”
Luke Cook:“Has good command cards, but can be neutered if you properly avoid the setup for him. Usually Lying in Wait into Reptilian Rampage is what a bossk player tries to do, and score bounty very easily on most things. He is squishy so setting up big shots on him can wipe him out, but chip damage is kind of a waste with his range 4 and being able to regenerate.”
Your opponents are going to prioritize Bossk. It’s well known that he will dish out punishment that an opponent can ill afford but also that he is very killable if they can advance or pin him. Be prepared to keep back pedaling and moving to safety and don’t ever leave him in the open.
Bossk has fallen from his lofty perch as king of the long range game in the last several months. There are builds that can still make use of him and he is still capable of great carnage if your opponent’s list or choices let you get away with it. To achieve this you will need to spend a great deal of time building a list around him and practicing how to keep him alive while still blasting your enemies. Practice using LOS blocking terrain and angles and play him on flanks where he can minimize incoming fire.
For the most part he has been hard countered by later releases and he now lives in a very dangerous world where many units can easily destroy him. Consider running him with a Vader or Palpatine with Force Barrier or beside a unit of Imperial Royal Guard. Assign him a cadre of supporting Spotter and possibly scanner units. A buffed Bossk is a happy Bossk.
It is likely that Bossk is due for a refresh much like Chewbacca received. Something that can make him more survivable in the current Meta, perhaps Defend keyword or Surge to block on defense. Changing his Regenerate to Red dice instead of White dice might be an option and it appears that he may need a points cut to bring him in line with similar Operatives from other factions.