Release Review: Solo’s Command
It’s nice to see packs coming out regularly on-schedule again. People complained about Imperial Entanglements being “late” because it was pre-released at GenCon, but it came out two months after the last Rogue Squadron pack, which was technically right on time. Now Worlds has come and gone and we’re ready to get our feet wet again with the newest cycle. This is the pack that introduces us to the Endor cycle, showing off the new Mission mechanic, providing some strong Ewok support, and providing some “out-of-faction” punishment that herald the new mechanics to come. If you’re interested in Ewoks, Droids, or Rebel Characters, this is a pack you should check out. Even Troopers get some support, though whether it’ll help to make the Trooper deck into a fighting force remains to be seen. I think this is a pack that everyone can find something they’ll like, and even the super-vanilla dark side neutral pod is incredible in the right matchup. So let’s get into it!
Deckbuilding is one of the most unique and interesting pieces of this game, which is why I wrote a whole article three weeks ago digging deep into it. But beyond just the way objective sets change how you evaluate cards, the objectives themselves fill a familiar yet unique role. While it’s remarkably similar to Call of Cthulhu and Warhammer 40k Conquest, with a deck dedicated to randomizing your victory point cards, I find myself comparing Star Wars’s objectives to A Game of Thrones’s plots more often. Yes, they’re your victory point cards and you need to score three to win, but you get to choose what you bring to the table, and they can represent some of the most powerful effects in the game. Anyone who’s played Star Wars even a little understands how tremendous an impact these cards can have on the game, whether they’re altering how units can act or changing (or breaking!) some of the fundamental rules of the game. They can be so significant that some decks are even built around having a specific objective in play, such that when that objective doesn’t show up, they’re struggling to keep up against their opponent. As objectives literally are the… er… objective… of the game, I wanted to discuss them in depth, and analyze how objective design has changed since the core set. So if you’re interested in the politics of Turn Zero, stick around!
A couple weeks ago, a major bomb was dropped on the community in the form of a new FAQ (pdf). However, unlike the previous FAQ updates, this one was actually more like a pinata of joy! Ever since May the Force Be With You and The Master’s Domain were put on the restricted list, players have been begging FFG to change the way the restricted list works to allow pods to be played alongside one another that are on the restricted list for different reasons. For example, Against All Odds and The False Report were put on the restricted list because the combination of those objective sets was simply too strong for the game to handle, and allowed for turn-one light side wins that the dark side player could do nothing to stop. The two Yoda sets were likewise restricted because the ability to play Yoda, You Seek Yoda and reliably get Yoda into play very early in every game and use him multiple times with May the Force Be With You was simply too oppressive for the dark side to keep up with. However, not being able to play May the Force Be With you to support a Dash-based Smuggler deck, and not being able to splash Freeholders into a Jedi deck, was very off-putting to many people. And then things got far worse when another turn-one combo deck was restricted (That Bucket o’ Bolts and Rogue Squadron Assault), putting Well Paid
and Holding All The Cards
on the restricted list together and inadvertently shutting down another deck that could have had legs.
However, with some smarter errata’s (Well Paid is now Deploy Phase only) and making the Restricted List operate in groups as players long requested, the Yellow faction that dominated the early part of the game has finally gotten its chance to return to the spotlight and remind the Rebel Alliance and the Jedi why it was so darn good in the first place.
Happy New Year! Over the summer, a thread on the CardgameDB forums popped up suggesting the community assemble a “strategy guide” for people who want to play Star Wars: the Card Game. The idea, as pitched, was that it would be a series of articles that gave insight into each aspect of the game, from deckbuilding to resource management to how to prioritize conflicts, edge battles, and the Force struggle. As this sounded a lot like the kind of articles that I aspire to write here on TeamSandcrawla, it only makes sense that I’d want to contribute! However, expansions come fast and often in this game so I’ve had to wait until now to have the chance to get an article in to contribute to the project. After writing a short piece on what to consider when adding resources to your deck, I figured the best place for me to start was with deckbuilding, because deckbuilding in this game is dramatically different from any other game. When building a deck for the first time, I never analyze these topics with this amount of thoroughness, as I find it more helpful to get the deck on the table and just start playtesting. However, going deep on these topics as I do here is something that is worth doing either if aggressive playtesting isn’t an option or if you’re planning on going to a major tournament and want your deck perfected. Still, even if you don’t sit down and consider the minutae of resources or affiliation matches when you’re first building your deck, these are things worth knowing when you get started with a new stack of cards.
Finally, before we get in, this is only a fraction of the topics that could potentially be considered in deckbuilding. I wanted to start with the most important ones, and then write a few follow-ups in the coming months with more ancillary deckbuilding concerns.
Tom Melucci Takes The Title!
Tom Melucci Takes the Title!
Welcome back to the Star Wars: the Card Game World Championship coverage! Once again I managed to fight my way into the top cut, and while I didn’t make it as far on day two as last year, my friend and teammate Tom Melucci was able to crush all his opposition (including me!) on his road to the finals, where he overran the Sith Characters that his opponent David Tietze brought to bear. Congratulations Tom!
Just like last year I intend to provide as close to live coverage of the event as I can. This year I’ve assembled a Twitter List to keep up with alongside the account where I’ll be posting moment-to-moment updates (@TeamSandcrawla), which you can see below. As the tournament progresses, I’ll be updating this page to keep track of who’s doing well and how the tournament is progressing, with larger updates between each day. Keep your eyes here for the quick updates, watch the Twitter feed and check out the tournament standings. And when the top cut arrives on Friday, FFGLive will be streaming most of the top cut live! It starts at 2:30 central time and goes until the tournament is over. It’s looking like it’ll be a great event!
And here we have it… the much-lauded rise of the Imperial Navy. As I said in my last intro, I expect people will (and should) buy this expansion explicitly for the improvements it brings to the last straggling affiliation, as the importance of the Navy improvements far outweights the mediocrity of the Smuggler sets. It is awkward, however, that every dark side set (including Sith and Scum) except one gets a better grade than the best light side set from the box, and the best Smuggler set is only equivalent to the worst dark side set. Now that this game has officially released, the era of light side dominance has likely ended and the Imperial Navy may prove to be the most powerful affiliation. So what cards could shake up the game so much? I’m glad you asked…
Release Review: Imperial Entanglements Light
Pre-released at GenCon, we finally have our next faction-based Deluxe Box, and this one has a much larger impact than the last one. It’s been on OCTGN already since GenCon, so people have been able to play with a lot of these cards already for a couple months and see just how powerful the Imperial Navy has finally become. If you have any interest in playing Star Wars: The Card Game, you absolutely must purchase this box. What it does for the Dark Side to counter what Jedi has become, and especially for the Imperial Navy (who up until now have been the red-headed stepchild of the game), is just so important to finally make all the affiliations balanced. Ironically, what you’ll see after the jump, is that this box was likely playtested during the heydey of Sleuths and Freeholders, back when Smuggler Superfriends decks (Han, Chewie, Falcon, etc) were ruling the roost on the light side. This is evident when you consider how I’m going to rate the light side and dark side cards, because where the Imperial Navy gets a ton of insane objective sets in this box, to compensate for their relative weakness at the time of design, the Smuggler sets in this Smuggler theme box are some of the weaker sets we’ve seen in recent memory, as they were already the most powerful faction at the time of design and they likely weren’t considered to need any pushing. Instead what we get are trick sets, support sets, and gambling sets, all of which are potentially fun to play but not the kind of thing you’d bring to the World Championships. That said, there’s some fun stuff in this box, even on the light side, so let’s get into it.
Welcome back to another Release Review! This one closes out the Rogue Squadron Cycle, a cycle that at first looked like it wouldn’t do much to change up the metagame from the Echoes of the Force cycle but which contained a few sleeper hits and a few all-star champions. If you’ve been following the Imperial Entanglements spoilers at all, you know that my lackluster review of Grand Admiral Thrawn’s set was pretty immediately made irrelevant by giving Navy an in-faction way to increase the Noghri’s damage output, which will make that objective set from the last pack one of the most meta-defining sets of recent history.
What I want to know is whether this pack will bring anything on the scale of Rahn, Rogue Squadron, Boba, or Thrawn. The answer is probably not, but it has a ton of very juicy cards, and I especially am exceptionally excited to finally get my hands on Arden Lyn. Those events are so much fun! I suspect the Rebel Heroes set to end up stronger than they read, though being all-unique will be problematic, and I think a lot of people will have higher hopes for Han than what ends up playing out. Being in-faction with All Out Brawl and The Slimiest Scheme has the potential to make Guri very strong, but both she and the equally high-potential Arden Lyn may end up too inconsistent to ultimately work out. However, even if this pack doesn’t end up as powerful as the other expansions of the cycle, it’s easily one of the most fun!
A Living Metagame: Slaying the Survivors
This article, in addition to being a couple months late, also needs to begin with a concession: when I first reviewed The Survivors, I thought it would be occasionally run as a singleton replacement or addition to the traditional protectors pod (The Secret of Yavin 4), because it functioned in a similar fashion. What I didn’t expect is that Qu Rahn (well, really The Survivors and Force Rejuvenation) would actually change the way I played against Jedi lists, and those two, combined with all the incidental objective damage in the pod, actually made it a very strong inclusion as a two-of in mono-Jedi and even Falcon-Jedi lists. When the objective and Rahn are out, you can basically ignore the first damage that would be dealt to your Characters each turn, meaning it’s very hard for your opponent to prevent your strikes without tactics icons, and meaning incidental sources of damage, such as Force Choke (without Vader) and Heat of Battle lose a lot of their punch. I’ve found the objective’s presence has completely blanked copies of Force Choke in my hand that I was planning on using to manipulate combat or just try to build up damage between turns, and Force Choke used to be among the most feared cards the Dark Side could muster. It reached the point where I was facing Rahn’s Survivors often enough that I had to explore new avenues of stopping, and ultimately killing, my opponents. What were they?