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The long-awaited Rules Reference and FAQ update is here! And wow is it a doozy. Turning a meta completely sideways is a bold move, and there are so many interconnected pieces to this update so lets not waste any more words and jump right in to the most impactful changes, in the order of printing. Have a copy of the changes handy!
Upgrade Overwrite Change
You can overwrite once per round, unless you happen to be flush with cash in which case you can just outright pay for additional upgrades beyond the third and discard an upgrade already in play int he process.
This is a pretty clear blow to FN-2199, who has been absolutely dominating the meta for months. It doesn’t stop there however, and puts a damper on two other characters frequently called out for their shenanigans. Rey and Sabine, while also reducing the… Fringe cases of Han overwriting multiple times in a turn for max shields leading into a Second Chance.
Impact to FN: Heavy. Playing towards a huge Boundless Ambitions play around turn 2 or 3 was a core part of his game-play loop, this increases the time to kill by at least one round, though playing a Rocket Launcher and overwriting into a Riot Baton is still going to do tons of work.
Impact to Rey: Moderate. It eliminates the more frustrating (not to mention sometimes confusing) lines of play available to her but doesn’t effect her core reason for existing.
Impact to Sabine: Heavy. Not only are multiple DL-44 triggers really difficult to get now, but overwriting an already existing upgrade from the discard pile in prep for a Never Tell Me The Odds play means you’re locking yourself in to hoping she lives through the round because outright paying for a Second Chance on her is a tall order.
Impact to Han: Minimal. Upgrade cycling just for shields was a desperate act anyway, and more than often was a lose-slower play.
Discard to Reroll Zero Dice
Pretty simple, and intuitive change when taken into the context of all the other choices you can make in Destiny.
This is the most elegant way I could have imagined to eliminate the Running Interference combo-lock without impacting the core power level of the card itself. It also gives an out against Unkar if holding a grip of expensive stuff, or to bring the odds more in your favor prior to a Kylo2 activation.
Impact to the RI combo: Zero, because you shouldn’t have been playing it anyway. Snarkiness aside, the combo doesn’t exist any more.
Impact to Unkar: Moderate. The THREAT of getting a huge payday usually led to the opponent discarding the big stuff anyway, but not needing to keep a die in the pool or be ahead on tempo is a pretty big deal.
Impact to Kylo2: Pretty much zero, but will undoubtedly save someone somewhere. Hopefully me.
Damage Taken By Chars, and Distributed Damage.
From my point of view it was sufficiently clear before-hand that Shields were taken into account when distributing damage but I’ve been baited into arguments both in person and on Discord about this more than once, so thankfully that is over.
For the 99% of you who aren’t the most pedantic individuals on the planet, this changes nothing. For the rest, I told you so.
Newly Identified Inherent Dice
ID-9 Seeker Droid and Training Remote have both been added, notably missing is BD-1 VibroAx and the Sonic Cannon. Public apologies are in order to Rebel Grey who was on the wrong end of a ruling I made in our latest tournament but he ended up winning that game anyway so I don’t have to actually eat crow, just suffer a bit of embarrassment.
Balance Of The Force
Okay, I suckered you in to reading everything previous but here is the super big deal in the new rules.
Captain Phasma (2PG) now costs +1 point.
FN-2199, Poe Dameron (AWK), and Unkar all cost +2 points.
The Poe change: Everyone is still well and truly tired of being Thermal Detonated with near-complete reliability. All the other point changes are going to contribute at least somewhat to an uptick in 3/4 character decks, and it would be a damn shame if they were completely worthless due to an SoR meta bug-bear coming back to haunt people. As much as I personally enjoy the deck, I will admit it can get out of hand.
The Phasma Change: Thank god. If being able to slot her in as a one-die with 50% damge sides including a conditional three-side while enabling The Best Defense and whatever other Red tricks you wanted wasn’t powerful enough, her pairing with Darth Vader (SoR) was absolutely bonkers. Phas/Ani had a ~62% of rolling 7+ damage with one reroll based solely on character dice alone, and you were perfectly happy to throw away at least 24 of the cards in your deck at any given time to get there. This change brings the odds down to a much much more reasonable level of ~57% to roll 6+ damage and makes it more vulnerable to die removal. It is also more difficult for a single-die Phasma presumably already damaged from The Best Defense to close out a game, relegating the deck to merely very strong rather than bonkers in terms of power level.
The FN-2199 Change: More than almost any other character, FN-2199 has wrapped the entire meta around his finger. Just by existing, he said “you must kill me by early turn 3 at the latest or suffer from my pachinko machine of death”. Combine his cost change with the new overwrite rules, and he is right in line with the power level of most other 12/15 cost villains. I don’t predict him disappearing entirely from the meta, but playing against him won’t degenerate into watching your opponent roll various dice for five minutes attempting to luck-sack you to death after a Boundless Ambition. Even as someone who truely loved playing the FN decks, I am pretty happy with the change because the mirror matches were absolutely horrendous and deterministic games which were usually decided by deck order rather than any actual decision making.
The Unkar Change: Umm… When I said on the Galactic Senate that people should stop playing ThrawnKar, I didn’t exactly mean that ThrawnKar should be unplayable. Having to take one of those chars as non-elite is already a super-significant blow to the deck’s viability, but combined with an errata listed below the deck is just dead on it’s feet. It was already going to be a slow-burner deck that would required a massive skill and practice investment to place well at major events, but I don’t ever see it breaking top tables with only three dice to start off with. If I had to, I’d choose single die Thrawn when playing the deck but don’t say I didn’t warn you when you lose a lot.
ThrawnKar isn’t the only casualty of this change though, several niche and fun decks which took elite Unkar to fuel things are simply unplayable now. It is unfortunate that an Unkar change seemingly targeted at only one deck had this sort of cascading effect, and I think that changing his ability to a Power Action and making a change to Buy Out or Coercion would have accomplished the same goal without collateral damage. RIP Unkar, I’ll see you the next time I bring Jabba The Hutt out of my binder. Current estimates place that at sometime just before never.
The Unspoken Change: I think a contributing factor in all three of the villain nerfs lies with the Two Player Game. Kylo2 now has no 13 point elite partner until the draft set brings Anakin Skywalker into the card pool. I’m very unsure as to whether or not Unkar would ever have been an effective partner for Kylo2, but now if you want to give him a strong partner you either have to relegate yourself to a single-die version of one char or the other with leftover points (maybe upcoming plots can fill the gap effectively), or get brewing on a Ciena/Bala/Bazine pairing. This is probably a good thing overall if you consider his ability to be equal to another die (and you should) and brings him back in line. Unfortunately this also blasts Cad Bane right in the back, for seemingly no reason.
It’s A Trap, Heat Of Battle: Both effect only two dice and IAT lost it’s ambush text. While initially it is a nerf to Hero and especially Hero red, I am holding out hope that Legacies contains some hard-hitting and aggressively costed Red Heroes or Upgrades. Barring that, it at least opens the door for the color in the future which has seen depressingly little play (Go away Poe).
Imperial Inspection: Goes to the set-aside zone after use. A great change overall I feel, but is the second half of the puzzle that completely destroys ThrawnKar’s viability. I have to think that this and a Buy-Out change would have been enough on their own to make the deck less oppressive but having the option to forgo running two copies of Rend in all my aggressive decks is a good consolation prize. Being able to use it once is still a great play when it happens, and if my Kylo2/Ciena idea has legs, I’ll still be bringing it through this change.
Vibroknife: Damage dealt by, or by dice it modifies is unblockable, otherwise carry on as normal. The vast majority of the time now, you’ll be taking one unblockable damage from this weapon because the number of other weapons and chars that have solid modified melee sides don’t see much play anyway. Crossguard Lightsaber is a totally legitimate contender for Vibro’s slot now, though a lucky roll with Electrostaff and/or Shoto is still going to hurt.
Put it All Together, What Does it Mean?
Best expressed in the form of a projected tier list, but in sentance format, most of the decks that saw play yesterday will still see play tomorrow but the gap between them and the rest of the field has been significantly shortened or eliminated entirely. Particularly, any mono-color deck is now only facing a bad matchup rather than an auto-loss when paired against Kylo2 and you can expect to enter Round 2 with the same number of Chars you brought to the table in the vast majority of cases (cough Ani/Phasma cough).
The unverbalized statement behind the document is that FFG really does listen to player feedback, and is actively engaged in crafting a meta-game that doesn’t merely revolve around two decks. Kudos are in order for the projected effects of their effort, and I believe the wait was worth it.
Sabine/Whoever: Jury is still out overall on which char pairs with her better, but Sabine is still going to do Sabine things. It may take her a bit more effort to do them, but she is more than up to the task.
Kylo2/FN: Nerfs or no nerfs, this deck is still a contender. A second FN die was never required to win a game, and the tertiary nerfs to FN just make Kylo the primary target all the time. That does mean that FN lives to get his now once-or-twice-per-round effect off longer though, so you still have to keep your color ratios and resource disruption options in mind when squaring off against the deck.
3x/4x Vehicle Decks: Thermal hasn’t been a major concern for a while, but now it is nearly no threat at all until the meta shifts enough to where Sabine starts bringing it to the table. My playtesting in general leads me to believe that the villain versions are still stronger than the Hero versions but hopefully the elimination of ThrawnKar and suppression of Round 1 character death breathes a bit of life into the Maz/Hera/Whoever lists.
Darth Vader (SoR) / Phasma: The deck still brings raw damage, but will generally require at least one damage dealing die to be played to really be effective. I predict it will sit right on the edge in between tiers 1 and 2, and will still serve as the go-to deck for people who feel both angry and lucky.
eEzra/eMaz/Rey: Being able to reliably keep everyone alive going past Round 1 goes a very long way for this deck. Keep your eyes peeled here for an upcoming article about the deck in case you haven’t run into it in the wild yet.
Mono-Blue Hero: Wether it’s a two char list involving Qui-Gon Jinn or Ahsoka paired up with Kanan, or one of the various three char lists relying on Padawans these decks will take the Vibroknife nerfs in stride while enjoying a downtick in Kylo2 and Imperial Inspection ruining their day.
Palpatine: Oh yeah. That guy. He is sitting in his throne room laughing at all the nerfs that are nailing all of his biggest weaknesses to the floor. Lest anyone forget, he got a new bag of tricks in EaW with Endurance and Indomitable. Without the threat of Crime Lord around every corner, Papa Palpatine will be as good as he ever was, and the perfect deck to play while enjoying a few drinks.
3x Ranged: Again, the edge goes to Villain with their AWK Phasma lists over the Poe2-centric Hero contenders but these guys might see play on the lower end of tier 2 as fun decks that put a ton of dice out on the field. ThrawnKar being pretty much nonexistent moving forward gives a lot of room for these decks to breathe.
It almost feels like we just got a new set release doesn’t it? Everyone is dusting off the binders as we speak and poring over the things that just weren’t viable for the last few months, and I’m excited to see what develops until Legacies hits the streets in December.
As always, come yell at me for my comma abuse and run-on sentences over at the Artificery Discord server!
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