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Empire at War Favorites

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Since Empire at War is a few weeks old now and everyone has had the chance to play with the characters, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at some of the characters that I’ve been having a blast with. I’m going to take a look at three Heroes and three Villains from Empire at War.

Heroes

 

Kanan Jarrus: Rebel Jedi

I can’t gush enough about Kanan. He’s only 13 points Elite. His dice are great with no modified sides.  His ability is excellent. Because of his low cost, he can fit in most decks and his ability is great way to course correct bad rolls considering he has a focus side. Kanan seems like he will be a staple in Hero decks for a while. Another advantage is that at 10 for non-Elite, he can fit well with all the 20 point Elite Heroes and since he doesn’t have any modified sides, I feel is more more capable than Rey to finish off a close game. Kanan’s biggest weakness is that his damage sides are mixed. The fact that they are non-modified is great though and means you won’t have dead dice on the board. The disadvantage is that equipping weapons to him could be risky since many have mostly modified sides so getting that big killshot with him could be difficult.

 

Sabine Wren: Explosives Expert

Sabine is just awesome. She’s the hard-hitting character Heroes needed. I remember when Sabine was announced and thinking that she could be a serious force. Glad to see that is the case. She has the explosiveness of Vader and since her Elite is 20, you can combine her with a multitude of non-Elite Heroes at 10. Normally, this feels like a bad thing for Hero since several of their good characters can’t find good partners, but with some tricks, Sabine is extremely lethal. Never Tell Me the Odds is extremely scary in her hands. Her ability is also incredible when you combine it with an Ambush card since it gives you the ability to roll out and resolve. Her biggest downfall is event support. Unlike Vader, she doesn’t have an analog to Force Strike. Still, Sabine is an extremely strong character and one that Hero will benefit from for a while.

 

Hera Syndulla: Phoenix Leader

While maybe not technically an amazing character, I’ve been having a blast with Hera. Her special can let you ramp up to some serious early damage by way of getting out very expensive vehicles that can hit hard. Since her ability requires you to bounce the vehicle back to hand at the end of the Action Phase, this makes cards like Recycle great for piling up a bunch of quick resources. It also makes Quadjumper great because you can drop it with her special, roll out and resolve it, then use the Quadjumper ability to reduce the cost of a more expensive and damaging vehicle in hand. At 12 points Elite, Hera has a bunch of good possible pairings. Her’a biggest downside is her character dice. With only one damage side, it’s hard to push through damage if you aren’t drawing vehicles. Equipping weapons to her is ok, but the more weapons you include, the less slots for vehicles you have available. But at only 12 points, it really opens up 5-dice decks and the possibility for some good pairings.

 

Villains

 

Thrawn: Master Strategist

Coming into this set, I knew I was  going to love Thrawn. If you’ve played against me or had conversations with me, you know how much I love mill decks. Good mill mechanics in card games are sometimes hard to come by. Jabba/Dooku mill was by far my favorite deck in Awakenings. Spirit of Rebellion was a little too fast for me to figure out how to get mill to work correctly for my liking. Thrawn really does it for me. Not only does he give free mill with activation, you basically get to decide what your opponent has to lose. Thrawn is definitely a character that requires a lot of playing to really be good with him. You need to know matchups in order to really have his ability shine. As I’m sure most people have seen, he shines really well with Unkar as a partner. But I think even with one die, at 14 points, Thrawn can be a force and it opens up several other pairings for him. I think Thrawn will be a character that will see many different pairings and decks over the course of his time. Thrawn/Unkar is already a force and can be played as full mill, Crime Lord, or vehicle variant. Thrawn’s biggest downside is that if he is your only character left, it might be hard to win since he has no discard sides on his dice.

 

Seventh Sister: Agile Inquisitor

Seventh Sister is a steal of a character. For only 14 points, you get THREE dice. Sure, the ID9 Seeker Droid die only has a value of 1 until you get more, but it’s still a free die on the board. A die you can use for removal or as just a great utility die for a multitude of different things. Since the 7th Sis is only 14 points, she can be paired at Elite with a multitude of great Villain characters like Jango, Vos, and Dooku. Her character die isn’t incredible, but it doesn’t have any modified sides and it has a 2 Melee side. In my experience, she is usually the first targeted because of the extra die she gets to roll in. You can use this to your advantage and equip up your other character while your opponent is focused on her. Another thing I love about her is that at 11 for non-Elite, she can be paired with almost anyone. While this doesn’t truly give you two Elite characters, it still give you four dice to be able to utilize and that cannot be understated. She  doesn’t really have many weaknesses except that her dice aren’t super scary on their own, but with a few weapons and extra ID9 Seeker Droid or two, she becomes a serious threat.

 

Cad Bane: Vicious Mercenary

Cad packs some serious firepower for only 17 points at Elite. Since he is only 17, he has a multitude of strong options for pairing. Mono-Yellow gives him Bala-Tik or Unkar. Going over to Red gives him Elite Phasma (2P), Elite FN-2199, or Elite Ciena. Blue gives him Elite original Kylo. He just all around has great pairings for his price. The fact that he also has a 3 Ranged side is excellent. You have to pay for it, but that feel right  given his cost. His ability is also great. It’s a toned down version of Sabine’s, but I think for the cost of him at Elite and the fact that he has multiple strong 4 dice pairing possibilities, it’s definitely worth it. If you pair him up with Red you also basically get his 3 Ranged side for free with Imperial HQ. His major disadvantage is that his paid side can slow you down early since you’ll want to be playing out weapons to maximize his ability.

Well that’s my quick look at the characters I’ve been having a lot of fun with. I’m sure my “Top 3” for each side will change as the meta shifts and I get to play more games with different characters. What Empire at War characters have you been enjoying?

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The Fringe Meta

With the Spirit of Rebellion meta coming to a close, I thought it was time to reflect on some decks that made the game fun during the time period. I’m not talking about the top tier decks that everyone knows. I’m talking about the fringe decks that hang around and toe the line between getting beat down by the top tier and coming out and dominating a tournament. Let’s show some love for the Tier 1.5 and Tier 2 decks for Spirit of Rebellion.

eKrennic/eBala

If you’ve played against me on TTS or talked with me on Discord, you’ll know that this is by far my favorite deck, so I guess I’ll start with this one. Did I decide to write this article just so I could gush about Krennic/Bala? Maybe. Here’s my final version of it before Empire at War comes out:

I’ve seen a really great amount of success with this deck. Krennic is really underrated as a character. The key to using him is to not always shoot for the ranged sides because it’s only a 1/6 chance. Instead, utilizing his sides to their maximum benefit is key. His discard side is strong in a matchup against FN-2199, as is his Disrupt side. Bala-Tik runs wild on low HP opponents because he will trigger several activation in a single turn. While it is difficult to obtain and keep three resources sometimes, the combo of Swiftness into We Have Them Now is a game-winning one. SInce this deck is usually fairly fast and claims often, a single Dug In does the trick usually. I originally had two, but with the prominence of Vibroknife, I decided one was sufficient while using that extra card slot for a single Sabotage to help against Planetary Uprising. The biggest strength of this deck is that you can turn a decent roll into a devastating one. Bait & Switch is fantastic in the deck. The Death Trooper die has 3 unmodified sides. When you consider this along with Krennic’s 2 Ranged side and a resource and Bala-Tik’s 2 damage sides (1 unmodified, 1 modified), you can deal out some massive damage. The biggest weaknesses of this deck are Poe/Maz, Palpatine, and FN-2199 decks. Poe/Maz hurts this deck because it claims so fast in addition to the damage it can deal out. Palpatine can pick off Bala-Tik quickly with some decent rolls. FN-2199 is good or at least decent against pretty much any deck in the meta.

In the end, Krennic/Bala can deal out some massive damage and some decent contol without ever fully being either. The redeploy weapons help keep the game competitive when one of the characters goes down and Bala’s ability can’t be overlooked. My hope is that this combo is poised to get some good weapon and event help with Empire at War so it might make a leap up into top tier.

eSnap/eBaze

This is a pretty fun combo of characters and a deck that revolves around battlefield control. Snap is a fun dynamic that forces your opponent to under-spend resources if they hope to claim and keep you from isolating one of their character dice for the next turn. Snap forces your opponent to think differently about the cards they play if it could force them to go down to zero resources. This is especially important once the Planetary Uprisings start hitting the field. Snap also has a die that complements that with a 1 and 2 Disrupt side. As soon as Snap rolls in and your opponent sees the Disrupt sides, they are essentially forced to spend their resources because they know what is coming next. With the battlefield control comes the ability to use Defensive Position and Dug in to keep your opponent from dealing crippling damage to you. Baze has pretty good dice that are also complemented by Snap’s 1 Ranged damage side. It’s a Trap! is always great for a mono-red Hero deck. Even melee-centric decks have some ranged sides hiding on their upgrades. This deck’s biggest weaknesses are definitely Poe/Maz, FunKar, and Vadier/Guard decks. Poe/Maz does not only usually stockpile resources, but their ability claim quickly means that Baze will usually be rolling one less die every round. They are also able to take down Snap fairly quickly. FunKar hurts this deck for similar reasons. It is very easy for them to generate resources. Vader/Guard can easily bypass shields with Vibroknife and only needs one good turn to take down Snap. Another glaring weakness with this deck is the need for the battlefield to be effective sometimes. Overall, this is a really fun combo that sadly just gets outpaced by many of the top-tier decks, but hangs around on the fringe because of its burst damage ability and control aspect.

eLuke/Rey or eObi-Wan/Rey

This is an interesting combo. Luke and Rey are a fun team that get slightly held back by only getting 3 dice. They can put out really good damage with Luke’s 3 Melee side and his card draw ability can’t be discounted. Luke i sthe obvious target here so loading up Rey with some good upgrades is key early. Getting her an early Vibroknife and Force Speed can be devastating to an opponent, especially if they are playing decks with low HP characters. Rey only have one die can be played around with cards like Guard and Caution. You generally don’t want to be removing Luke’s dice because he is the main damage dealer. I’ve seen many variations of this deck, but the big card in it is One With the Force. It’s great to play on a character you know is about to go down to get that extra die out there and it has excellent sides. The biggest weakness of this deck a lot of the time is itself. Luke’s dice aren’t amazing outside of his damage sides and while Rey’s ability is likely the best in the game, if you can’t roll any damage, having all those extra actions really doesn’t help you. Another issue is that while Guard is a good card, using it takes away your ability to deal the damage you need to. Mono blue Hero is also starved for dice removal options.

The eObi-Wan variant suffers many of the same pitfalls as the eLuke variant with one big strength. Obi-Wan’s ability means that it might be a better idea to target Rey early so as not to have his free card play trigger. With the right cards Obi-Wan’s ability can turn the tide of a game when he is defeated. While Luke/Rey is likely a bit more consistent, Obi-Wan/Rey can hit incredibly hard upon his defeat.

 

eQui-Gon Jinn/eRey

This deck is really the pinnacle of mono blue Hero in the SoR meta. This is essentially the “Death by 100 Cuts” style of play. Qui-Gon’s ability is excellent with the Echo Base. Although Rey’s dice aren’t incredible, being able to have a 4 dice list is great. Rey can generate money while Qui-Gon does his work. You can also user her +2 Melee side to trigger Guard for decent removal. You can’t count out her ability and once she gets a Vibroknife, she actually becomes a bit of a damage threat all on her own. It makes your opponent evaluate which target is more important to go after. By the numbers, this is likely the best mono blue Hero deck in the SoR meta because Rey and Qui-Gon’s abilities are excellent and damage can really sneak up on your opponent. This has the same pitfalls as most mono blue Hero decks in that dice removal gets difficult.

 

Well, those are mid-tier decks I had the most fun with in the SoR meta. Are there any I missed? What is your favorite mid or low-tier deck in SoR?

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The Need for (Force) Speed?

– written by XeroHour

Now that the pre-release for Spirit of Rebellion has come and gone, most of us were able to get our hands on the fancy new cards. One of those cards was involved in some hot debate leading up to and now after the event. That card is, of course, Force Speed. When it was spoiled, People were quick to point out that it has potentially game-breaking properties. But does it? Let’s take a quick look at its potential and the kinds of decks it would work best in.

There’s no doubt that it is a potentially very powerful card. Being able to take two additional actions is rarely a bad thing. With a 50% chance to roll the special, a focus side and for 0 resources, it’s pretty beastly. The problem you run into with this card is: What do you do with all those extra actions? There are a few decks that I think would really utilize it well.


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Decks I Would Use It In

eJabba/eDooku

If you’re playing with the Villain mill combo of Jabba and Dooku, I think Force Speed is a no-brainer. It allows you to use your discard sides and claim the battlefield or focus into discard sides and use them before your opponent can have an opportunity to respond. The fact that it adds another focus side to your board is also very helpful if you include All-In in your deck.

eKylo/eJango

I have these two as the pair because it’s a deck I have run with some success, but really, any deck that has mixed damage types. Force Speed can be used to push through both melee and ranged damage back to back without giving your opponent a chance to respond to the type you didn’t use first.

ePalpatine

Force Speed has the potential to be amazing with Palpatine. His dice sides are already pretty fantastic and his ability makes them ever scarier. Being able to use Force Speed and resolve both of his dice regardless of what the sides are is an instant 4 damage to your opponent. That can be a massive hit at any point in the game and definitely should be considered.

eLuke/Ackbar

Force Speed feels like a good fir for this deck since Ackbar’s focus side can play right into it. Rolling his focus side and already having a Force Speed special on the field is a great way to chain 6+ damage with Luke without the need to use All In. This is the speed punch this deck really needed.

Decks I Wouldn’t Use It In

eRey/ePoe

Honestly, I feel this combo is already fast enough and doesn’t need the extra speed boost. With Rey’s ability + Vibroknife and/or Holdout Blaster, this deck already takes a massive amount of actions. At a certain point, you will reach a diminishing returns when it comes to actions in this deck. It already runs a low number of dice on the field and taking 9 actions in a row won’t really benefit you. I feel these two slots would be better utilized on cards for Poe’s ability to use or mitigation cards.

Vader/Raider, eSoRVader/eKylo, eDooku/eKylo

I grouped these three together because they follow the same principle. Hit hard, hit fast. These decks have so many melee damage sides that you should be dealing high damage every turn and those two deck slots would probably be better used on mitigation cards or more equipment to make you hit harder. The small exception here being that you might want to use it on the Raider to get those two actions quickly through his ability or Fast Hands.

Of course, with a new and ever-changing meta, I could be way off on this analysis and will happily admit fault after more extensive testing. But just based on what we know right now, it seems to me that Force Speed, while amazing for some decks, is somewhat redundant in others. I don’t feel it is the auto-include cards that many people (myself included) thought it was when it was first spoiled. Especially with things like Imperial Inspection out there that can potentially shut it down. It is a very good card and will see tons of play, and for good reason. I’m really excited to see what it can do with the full card pool now out there. With the exception of Rey, Blue was fairly slow compared to the other colors. This was a much needed boost for Blue to keep up in speed with Red and Yellow.