Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Separatist commander review: General Grievous

 General Grievous will be the first of our wave 10 commander reviews.

And he's already tired of listening to other people talking.

"So far no General Kenobi memes, things are looking up!"

Nothing major to discuss, thankfully. Just make sure you keep the on-its-way-to-dead squadron or ship on the table before you remove it so you can measure from it for Grievous's effect. Once you've recharged a token, remove the model. The short way of explaining what Grievous does is he makes a defense token better by one step, on a scale of:

Discarded → Red/exhausted → Green/readied

One quick point before we move on: Reserve Hangar Decks and General Grievous both trigger when a generic Swarm squadron (at distance 1-5 of a ship with RHD) is destroyed. You can and in most cases probably should choose to resolve Grievous first and then respawn that squadron with RHD. I know it feels a little silly but it works!

To be fair, Star Wars has a recurring problem with bad guys not actually dying.
Grievous is cheap. Really cheap. The cheapest you can get. That's an excellent starting point when discussing him because there's value in being the bargain rate for a mandatory commander. Beyond that, he has a neat ability that is relying on your own stuff getting blown up. There's nothing inherently wrong with that - General Rieekan is a strong commander, even after two nerfs, and he does literally nothing until your models start getting destroyed. The trick is having it happen when it matters - a defense token recharge when you don't need it (all your tokens that matter are already green) or it won't matter (you're on death's doorstep anyways or it's the end of the round and you're about to ready all your tokens regardless) isn't really a great use of Grievous's ability.

The easiest way to trigger Grievous's ability is with cheap disposable squadrons. Typically Vultures. Whether you want to go heavier into squads past a small fighter coverage group is up to you, but I would not recommend running him without 4 and preferably more cheap squadrons. After that, you're looking for some mixture of ace squadrons with scatter tokens (recharging a brace can be pointless if the ace is close enough to death but recharging a scatter is always a threat) and combat ships. If those ships have some upgrades that make defense token spending even better, great!

Grievous (usually) needs your opponent's "help" to trigger his ability, but at some point or another your opponent has to work on destroying your models. You obviously want your own models destroyed when it's most convenient for you (and preferably the cheap "nobody cares" models). Your opponent wants to destroy them when it's inconvenient for you. Exactly how this plays out is going to be a matter of player skill and activation order, of course. Ideally you should be trying to set up "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations where it's difficult on your opponent whether they destroy (and trigger Grievous's ability) or don't destroy (and the unit continues to annoy them) one of your models.

It's boring to say "anything, really" but it's true. Separatist ships don't have duplicate defense tokens. At all. They feel the pain from defense tokens overheating pretty quickly; being able to recharge an important token or two can be extremely helpful and takes some of the stress away from the decision on whether or not to spend a token. If you could brace away 2 damage but your brace is gone forever, should you? Well, with Grievous potentially bringing it back, you probably should!

All that said, there are some standout options:

Hardcells. Specifically, two different options bear mentioning:

  1. The Beast of Burden title. Beast can spend its own defense tokens to ready other ship's defense tokens. This can be extremely handy at further recharging just-brought-back-from-the-dead defense tokens on your more frontline ships or you can overspend Beast's defense tokens themselves and bring them back later with Grievous. Either way, it provides even more defense token flexibility and utility for your fleet.
  2. Battle Refit Hardcells with Turbolaser Reroute Circuits. Normally TRCs are not a great choice on ships with a single evade defense token because they can burn out very quickly. Here you can be a bit more aggressive with their use due to Grievous bringing them back. I wouldn't get too reckless, mind you, but depending on the circumstance there's nothing wrong with spending the evade to both power TRCs and as a proper defense token if you're confident you'll be bringing it back shortly.

Recusants. Specifically Gilded Aegis, where Grievous can bring back the redirect token after it's discarded. Even after you've pulled off that trick, the Recusant is a glass cannon ship that can get into some real trouble when its tokens overheat. Grievous helps deal with that substantially, and both Recusant variants come with offensive retrofit slots for Reserve Hangar Decks and weapon team slots for Ruthless Strategists if you're feeling cheeky.

Munificents. Especially with the Sa Nalaor title, as it provides more options for ways to spend your defense tokens. In general, anything that lets you be a little more profitably reckless with your defense token spending helps with Grievous. Speaking of which...

A lot of it comes down to how you're using specific upgrade slots. As I already mentioned with Hardcells, Turbolaser Reroute Circuits become a lot more appealing on single-evade ships with a turbolaser slot under Grievous than they would be normally. Reserve Hangar Decks is a huge upgrade with Grievous and can allow additional triggers of his ability; you need a good reason to not just fill every offensive retrofit slot with it. Similarly, defensive retrofit slots on ships with brace tokens should almost always be Thermal Shields: Thermal Shields don't exhaust to use, their main limitation is whether you're willing to burn out your brace token to use them more than once a round. With Grievous that is much less of a factor because he can recharge that brace token. A good argument can also be made for Advanced Projectors using similar logic, although in general I wouldn't consider that unless you're running an Invincible Providence using both. Finally, if you're feeling particularly underhanded, it's worth considering Ruthless Strategists in the rare Separatist weapon team slot to selectively destroy your own squadrons at a convenient moment.

We've already covered a fair bit of this already, but just to recap: you will want a minimum of 4 cheap disposable generic squadrons. I'd recommend starting at 6 Vultures, and feel free to upgrade one or two of those to fighter aces. Past that, it's your call on whether or not to develop stronger into squadrons or to focus more on ships, but Grievous is pretty flexible regardless. You can build him into MSU or Big Heavy, but for my money you absolutely must start with at least a healthy small fighter coverage group to make triggering his ability easier and more frequent.


  1. Wow, no Hello There jokes in this article at all! I'm surprised! That bit about Ruthless Strategists is neat though, being able to kill your own squads as needed for GG (General Grievous)'s effect. Thoughts on pairing Grievous (Commander) with Vultures + a few Bellubabs? Not sure if it would be a good combo or not

    1. I deliberately chose not to go for the "Hello there/General Kenobi" meme because I generally feel it's overdone at this point. That's me, I know others still enjoy it.

      Belbullabs are okay and can do fine as part of a fighter group but they don't really have any special synergy with Grievous - you can't bring them back with Reserve Hangar Deck and they're durable enough that they're not necessarily going to get destroyed very easily. In general I'd tend to prefer just spending the points on more Vultures unless you're going heavy on squads as a group.

  2. NGL a part of me is really hoping we get Grievous as a boarding party in the future, just to draw him further as a parallel to Darth Vader (and because it makes a weird amount of sense for him to space himself and space-walk on to an enemy ship just to robo-blender some poor Jedi)