Gideon is the king of action economy, as has been pointed out before. He is the ultimate support character in Imperial Assault who very often turns the tide of battles, and if you aren’t considering playing as him in one of your future campaigns, I’m here to change your mind.
What Makes Gideon Great?
Gideon is, hands down, the most crucial Hero to bring to a 4 player campaign. He breaks all the rules and completely changes the game. Before you think I’m being a little heavy handed, let me explain.
If you boil down Imperial Assault in a nutshell, the gameplay is something like this: A Hero chooses any two actions to perform. Then the Imperial player chooses two actions. Then another Hero performs two actions, etc. Gideon’s command ability alone breaks that rule, allowing a hero to perform another move or attack action outside their activation. “So what?” you might think, “your’re just swapping out Gideon’s action with another hero, it’s the same amount of actions.” And to some extent, yes, that’s true. But trading your actions to another hero makes all the difference. In any objective based mission (escort someone to the objective or interact with X amount of terminals, instead of killing an Imperial Target), Gideon changes the game tremendously.
Say your goal is to escort a hostage across the map. He can move for 4 spaces, and the objective is 40 spaces away, so best case scenario he moves twice on his turn each round and you finish the game in 5 complete rounds. Now that you have Gideon, you can order the hostage to move on your turn, giving him 3 moves per round, now ending the mission on the 1st activation of round 4, saving you the rest of round 4 and all of round 5, extra rounds that you could have been attacked by Imperials, thus slowing your progress even more. Or say you have to interact with 4 terminals, and the first one is 8 spaces. Jyn Odan has the highest speed, and even with 1 move and 2 strains, she can’t get there and interact in the first round, she can only get there and wait to interact until round 2. But with Gideon, he can command her to move once, and then on Jyn’s turn she can move and interact with the terminal in the first round. You just got a round head start on the mission. Are you starting to see how good Gideon can potentially be? With those simple commands, he can accelerate your team into victory by pushing them quickly towards objectives.
Now with his command action alone, Gideon is pretty good, but he’s not a game changer. You’re still sacrificing some potential extra firepower for a support character. But when Gideon gets both Masterstroke and Mobile Tactician, he becomes the best Hero in the game. This allows him to command twice and gain 4 movement points in a single action. That’s amazing. That’s 3 actions combined into one. Some heroes can give themselves extra movement or combine 2 actions, but nobody has the kind of action economy that Gideon does. It’s just so ridiculous. Re-examining that hypothetical hostage escort mission, Gideon can now command the hostage to move again each round, and he now has gained 4 movement points and still have another action. And for the terminal mission, Gideon can slingshot Jyn to the first terminal, another hero towards the second one, and gain his 4 movement points to move towards a terminal 4 spaces away, and he still has an action to interact with it! It’s just crazy. (And yes, there is a mission that can play out like this, but to save from spoilers I won’t ruin it and tell you which one.) Once Gideon has both his Masterstroke card and Mobile Tactician, he tips the scales in the rebels favor for the rest of the missions.
Playing as Gideon
Now that I’m done rambling about why I like Gideon so much, by now you’ve probably figured out my advice for Gideon’s playstyle: focus on his command and really emphasize his support capabilities. I would go straight for Masterstroke and then Mobile Tactician no matter what, and the rest is up to you. Since Gideon can only command to either move or attack, you’ll want to pair him with Heroes whose strengths come from abilities that aren’t special actions. For example, Gideon can’t command Gaarkhan to charge, since it’s a Gaarkhan specific action, but he can command Fenn to attack and then Fenn can apply Havoc Shot to the attack. So you’ll want to pair him with Heroes that get their full mileage out of a normal attack. I would recommend pairing Gideon with Fenn, commanding him to attack around the battlefield and blasting trooper groups, and also Mak, as he can perform No Escape on higher priority targets like Royal Guards, or even RGC and Vader. Additionally, you’ll want to command the slower figures so that they can move into places where they’re ready to attack, such as moving Biv adjacent to someone so he can do Up Close and Personal. Each mission how you use Gideon will vary depending upon the objective, but 9 times out of 10 using Gideon effectively could be the key to making the mission much easier.
Unfortunately, Gideon is really only a superstar once he gets Masterstroke and Mobile Tactician. Until then, he’s considerably weaker than the other characters and you’ll be carrying him the first few missions. For this reason, if you’re only playing with 3 heroes you may or may not want to bring him along, as losing those first few missions could set you in a downward spiral. Overall though, I think he’s still worth it. However, if you’re playing with 2 heroes I wold advise against bringing him, and if you have 4 then he’s a no brainer.
One of the nice benefits about playing as Gideon is that you don’t need to buy items. His whole play style is focused around boosting the more powerful heroes on your team to give them more attacks, more movements, etc., so buying a nice weapon for Gideon is kind of counter intuitive. He doesn’t need any melee weapons or rifles, his starting weapon is fine since the only reason he would really attack is if he needs to stun someone with his Disabling Shot ability. However, if you plan on upgrading to Hammer and Anvil (which I advise against, see later) then you’ll want to buy him a nice weapon. However, this doesn’t really mesh well with his support role well. My advice is not to really buy anything for him until you have a myriad of credits lying around, thus giving the credits to other more powerful heroes that could use the weapon or attachment upgrade, and just waiting until about 2/3 through the game and just get him some armor.
1 XP: Called Shot: Exhaust this card while you or a friendly figure is attacking. If the target is in your line of sight, apply +1 surge to the attack results.
Called Shot is nice to have, especially when you/friendlies have weapons with good surges, but a low chance of rolling a surge, such as the DXR-6. However, given the nature of most maps, you’ll probably only have visibility to a friendlies target about 50% of the time so you won’t always be able to use it. Gideon has better upgrades and this doesn’t help much with the early game, so I say Save it for later.
1 XP: Military Efficiency: Exhaust this card while attacking to convert 1 damage result to 1 surge result. / Exhaust this card while defending to convert 1 defense result to 1 surge-cancel result.
Again, not a bad card, but you’ll only want to use this if you’re being attacked by someone who either surges for +2 damage or a harmful condition; otherwise, it’s no different from blocking a damage. And since Gideon is a support role anyway and likely won’t be getting attacked much or be attacking, it doesn’t fit his playstyle all that well. Pass.
2 XP: Mobile Tactician: After you resolve “Command,” gain 2 movement points.
This is one of Gideon’s best cards, and has amazing synergy with Masterstoke. This is where Gideon shines. With this and Masterstoke, Gideon can move across the battlefield while still ordering attacks at a great rate. Mobile Tactician is a great benefit for Gideon. Buy.
2 XP: Air of Command: Apply +2 Health to your hero. / When you use “Command,” you may choose any friendly figure in your line of sight.
Air of Command provides 2 nice benefits; it both increases the rang of Command, and gives Gideon a health bonus. If you find you’re taking a beating early on, this might be a card to get early since it provides health, but most likely it won’t be immediately necessary. In the end, after you have Masterstroke and Mobile Tactician this is a good one to get, as it increases Gideon’s ability to Command even more. Buy.
Focusing other figures is nice, but at a cost of 3 xp and a strain I just don’t think this is worth it. All of the other Heroes have abilities they can use to focus themselves anyway, so you” still be able to focus your heavy hitters. And you’ll want to save your strain so you can continue to command. At 3 XP, there’s better options. Pass.
3 XP: Rallying Shout: Exhaust this card during your activation to choose another hero in your line of sight. That hero recovers 2 strain.
Freeing up another hero’s strain to allow them more use of their special actions is great, and it’s just an exhaust. A great addition to round out Gideon’s leadership build, Buy.
4 XP: Hammer and Anvil: Action, 2 strain: Choose another friendly figure. You and that figure may each perform an attack targeting the same figure. The target figure chooses the order in which these attacks resolve. During the second attack, remove all dice from the target’s defense pool.
This seems like a great attack, but since Gideon is always going to have a weaker attack than everyone else, the defender is always going to choose him for the no-defense-dice attack. And at 4 XP, Masterstroke is definitely the better option. However, if you find yourself with enough XP at the end of the campaign, it can help for the last mission as it would allow you to get 4 attacks off during one activation when combined with Masterstroke. Pass.
4 XP: Masterstroke: Exhaust this card after you resolve “Command.” You may perform an additional “Command” without using an action or suffering the strain cost.
Masterstoke is Gideon’s bread and butter, and is why some players feel he is overpowered. It essentially gives you 3 actions to use during your activation. It helps for every type of mission; escorts, where you can give figures 2 extra moves, wave defenses you can give your heavy hitters extra attacks, for objective missions you can move 2 other figures towards objectives outside of their activation. At the end of so many missions, I remember myself saying “if Gideon hadn’t had Masterstroke, I don’t see how we possibly could have won that.” This is possibly the best class card in Imperial Assault. Buy.
So here’s what my ideal upgrade path would look like for Gideon:
Masterstroke > Mobile Tactician > Air of Command > Rallying Shout > Called Shot
As others have pointed out, there is no one set in stone upgrade path for every hero, and Gideon is no exception. Air of Command isn’t bad to start out with because of the health boost, but since it delays your path to Masterstroke, in my opinion this is the best use of Gideon. Masterstroke and Mobile Tactician alone make Gideon a support powerhouse, and the rest are just nice bonuses.
While Gideon might weigh you down in the early game, the benefits he provides once he obtains Masterstroke and Mobile tactician are worth it. Commanding friendlies towards objectives, providing additional attacks for your heavy hitters, no matter how you use Gideon’s abilities, he is sure to make a huge difference in your campaign.