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Way of the Heroes: Character Overview

Ezra Bridger Aspiring JediEzra Bridger – Aspiring Jedi

Ezra Bridger is perfectly fine for his point cost. Most low-cost characters aren’t particularly inspiring, but Ezra fits into a position that makes him universally useful for crafting 3-character suites. His die leaves something to be desired with both a 1 and 1 side. The can be particularly useful in the first couple of rounds but a single side can consistently feel underwhelming without a way to enhance it. That said, his Power Action is quite good against damage focused match-ups, as it is easy to throw one upgrade on him and get an extra card every single round. 8 Health is quite fragile, though, even at his point cost; for 1 more point, you can get Rey1 or Aayla for 2 more. Still, he helps level out the possibilities of strong blue melee characters at cheap cost. He is best paired with a beefier elite blue character like Luke3 alongside a supportive character potentially in a second color like Anakin.

Jedi Sentinel

Non-uniques have to be really good to justify their inclusion because you can’t throw them in at elite. Jedi Sentinel‘s die unfortunately is not very exciting and while getting an extra shield at the start of the round is nice, it doesn’t compare to the sheer power of Aayla or utility of Yoda at the same cost. I hate having a cost on 2 sides without huge upside in a character and Sentinel’s doesn’t do anything to assuage my worries about her. I would rather have another base side to pair with modified sides on upgrade dice than worry about the small potential upside of her . This character just isn’t good enough to warrant a spot over either of her competitors.

Luke Skywalker – Reluctant Instructor

Luke3 is insane. He has a significantly better die than Kylo2 despite costing 2 less points to build with and can be paired with a medley of characters to form formidable 2- and 3-character suites. The only major downside of Luke3 is that you sacrifice the ability to use several events in blue heroes, like Guard and Force Misdirection because they don’t interact well with his die showing . Fortunately, this also means that you can dodge a lot of removal that targets damage sides like Into the Garbage Chute or the Guardian keyword. Even Easy Pickings becomes less useful against Luke3 unless he rolls two 2 sides. His Power Action is a little lackluster in standard blue heroes because the archetype doesn’t rely on Force powers much, if at all. Legacies will probably exploit the ability to much larger effect with Force Wave, though.

Luke3 has a lot of different character suites he can fit into. Aayla, Rey2, and Poe2 all make great 2-character combinations with him. Ezra2 can also pair with him alongside Built to Last with a host of unique blue upgrades, though sitting at a fragile 20 Health can feel iffy with how fast things have become. Old Leia and Luke can pair up for a mill combination, but I feel like Yoda might pair better with Leia to give her blue in this case. There is a similarly expansive collection of 3-character suites, but I’ve already mentioned one of my favorite above: eLuke3/Ezra2/Annie. You can substitute Ezra2 for Temple Guard for Guardian shenanigans as well. My¬†only apprehension about Luke3 is that the growing popularity of Kylo2/x might stifle mono blue lists, which is why I would recommend exploring partners that can add another color in these early weeks.

Plo Koon – Jedi Protector

Plo Koon is everything Luminara wishes she was. His die is servicable, but his ability allows him to become monstrous with the right character pairings. The two big lists right now include Padawan and Jedha Partisan because, as far as the community is aware, Plo Koon gets two copies of an ability if he’s paired with two of the same non-unique characters. This means that ePlo/Pad/Pad can get 6 resources worth of upgrades down on round 1 and ePlo/Partisan/Partisan can yank four cards from the top of your deck with one resolution every round. These are the two most prominent pairings, but you can also try something with Clone Trooper or Temple Guard. There’s nothing in hero red for the former to excite me, but a free Fort Anaxes in mono blue heroes is extremely tempting.

My big apprehension with Plo Koon in testing is the fragility of his Padawan partners. 7 Health is not a lot to chew through and if you do not have the explosive start that functionally plays 6+ resources of upgrades in the first round, you are putting yourself in a position to fail. Losing a Padawan without a redeploy upgrade feels really, really bad, and it can snowball out of control uf you are not careful about where you are putting your upgrades. Still, Plo is just going to get better with time and he definitely has moments where he just explodes from the onset. It is really hard to deal with 7 dice round 1 and beyond.

Boss Nass – Bombastic Ruler

Boss Nass is… bad. I want to see more Gungan keyword cards before I’m willing to start playing with him, but the Gungan mechanic of benefiting from rolling blanks is really card to get behind. Yes, it helps mitigate the affect of missing on your dice, but I’d much rather be in a position to explode when I don’t roll like complete garbage. Under no circumstances is Nass’s die good, especially considering what you can get if you pay another 1 point for somebody like Yoda. Red heroes in general is still suffering from the It’s a Trap conundrum that has kept so many of its cards mild at best and Nass does nothing to mitigate some of those growing pains as we head into subsequent sets.

Gungan Warrior

Gungan Warrior is actually more usable than his boss. His die isn’t phenomenal, but for 6 points and 6 health it does the job well enough and even has a base side. This is purely a character that is going to slot into 3-character suites to help splash into red without a lot of investment. Unfortunately, like I mentioned with Boss Nass, there still isn’t a lot of purpose in going into hero red right now. Most of the hot events are in yellow or blue and almost none of the upgrades in red are worthy of excitement. Maybe there’s some wild and wonky Grand Entrance deck that uses Gungan Warrior with Rey1 and Luke3 to play Ambush upgrades and Force Speed on Rey to get Luke going.

Leia Organa – Heart of the Resistance

Leia2 adds to the list of really nice 15-cost characters in heroes right now. While I’ve mentioned extensively that red heroes doesn’t have a lot going for it, most of those observations have been about damage-based decks. For Leia, there’s a lot to like in red. Cards like Commando Raid and Scout have been left underused because they lacked good decks to slot into. Leia’s cost is great, her health ratio is perfectly fine, her die is incredibly efficient and isn’t bogged down by a high character cost or underwhelming and sides, and that Power Action does everything you want to ensure that you’re consistently hitting your opponent’s deck and speeding up the mill endgame. There is a lot to be excited about with Leia and I’m eager to see the sort of things she can pull off.

Zion already wrote a full quick hit about Leia2/Cassian‘s sweatshop, so I’m not going to go too in depth with that combination. Needless to say, yellow heroes has some of the best control cards in the game right now and Cassian almost always loves resolving 66% of his die sides with Leia. She also has the potential to fit in with blue characters, specifically Yoda and Luke3. While Luke is perfectly fine with Leia and has a high chance of having one of his dice resolved to get rid of two off the top of your opponent’s deck, Yoda has so much more solo utility and versatility that I’m much more excited about pairing him with Leia than I am Luke. My only apprehension here is that Leia is yearning for more survivability and might not be able to withstand the tide of aggro long enough to see the mill condition through; a lot of my games against mill have been very close, but still largely wins, and there is always anxiety about going to time in tournaments against slower players.

Rex – Clone Captain

Rex is great. He is literally a better version of Clone Trooper with a side instead of a second blank. There is a lot to like about him. His health pool is great, his three damage sides are excellent, and his ability to give you permanent access to cards like Fort Anaxes, Dug In, Defensive Position, Superior Position, Hasty Exit, etc. is absolutely phenomenal and opens up the door for more diverse deck building. The consensus is to sit him with two Clone Troopers, but I feel like slotting in Hired Gun for the color diversity against Kylo2 and cards like Friends in Low Places and Easy Pickings is just way too hard to pass up. You can also fit him with Maz and push to use her ability to immediately resolve two dice with Rex’s Pistol after he activates.

All of this sounds like a lot of upside. What’s the problem, then? Red heroes still sucks compared to blue heroes in almost every way, which is further emphasized by the fact that ranged weapons are not as good as melee weapons. Seriously, compare something like Ancient Lightsaber or Dagger of Mortis to the kinds of 2- and 3-cost cards we see with ranged sides. Ranged upgrades upgrades are more expensive for more modified and paid sides with lower values. That is not to say that Rex is necessarily bad, but it feels rough when your best activation via two Rex’s Blaster Pistols and Hit and Run can still end up not doing a lot because of mixed and damage sides or a dearth of damage without a resource cost.

Anakin Skywalker – Podracing Prodigy

Anakin is an incredibly good, low-cost, resource generating character to help you splash yellow in any number of decks. Dropping 7 points for a 50% chance at hitting a side and the opportunity to flip droid or podracer dice to any side (R2-D2[card] to [special], anyone?) both give him an absolute ton of utility. I’ve said it numerous times, but yellow heroes has a lot of great control and utility events that really up the consistency of decks in a wide variety of areas. Anakin will see a lot of play in a lot of places and demand that he get targeted despite not being an offensive threat because your opponent will want to stop your resource generation, turn off your Spot Yellow cards, and dodge [card]Into the Garbage Chute. That’s a whole lot of value for a 7-cost character that isn’t your win condition.

Bo-Katan Kryze – Deathwatch Lieutenant

Bo-Katan comes in with twelve health, great die with three damage sides, huge deck building opportunities… but she comes at 20 points for elite and has to be played in 3-dice lists. People have talked about eKryze/Yoda lists that run Crime Lord, but relying almost entirely on two of your thirty cards to pull out a win with a 3-dice list is uninspiring to say the very least. Severely mixed damage sides don’t do Kryze any favors, either. Sabine wasn’t played because her dice were good; she was played because she could avoid mitigation, had great match-ups against mill, and could consistently make use of modified ranged sides to blow out a game. Kryze can’t really do any of these things with any consistency and she is brutally susceptible to mitigation that hits one or two of her character dice. I would much rather play Luke3 or Kylo2 and run melee upgrades and be happy about my investment than pay five more points for Kryze and pray that my opponent doesn’t have removal for a round.

Cassian Andor – Rebellion Operative

Cassian is a really interesting character because unlike his partner Jyn Erso, he can fit into both mill and damage decks without breaking your point budget for characters. At his worst, all of his sides end up being 1, but at his best Cassian has a 2- and 3- damage side despite only costing 14 and you never feel bad about resolving his side. On the mill side of things, Cassian has easy pairings with Leia2 and Yoda, both of which are strong candidates with different colors to help Cassian succeed at dumping his opponent’s deck. The damage dealing side is a little bit less inspiring in terms of pairings. There is almost no support for ranged damage in blue, but Cassian can pair with Finn and Poe2. Both of these characters have their own struggles, but despite them, they have good match-ups against 2-character lists with Cassian.

Cassian’s mini Palpatine effect can be incredibly oppressive and will catch up to your opponent faster than they may expect. I’m especially on board with Poe2/Cassian considering the access to one of the best 2-cost ranged upgrades in the game through Poe’s Blaster, but my apprehension lies in the amount of good yellow cards that are dead if you can’t spot a yellow character, making Cassian a prime target at the beginning of the game. Still, Poe provides really nice All-In plays that are the closest thing we have to the former glory of It’s a Trap and Cassian gets a ton of value out of his dice every round he resolves them.

Trusted Informant

I want to like this card. 9:9 health to cost ratio is fine and his die isn’t terrible, but it’s so hard to find a spot for a 9-cost yellow character in a deck when someone like Annie exists and can provide more useful utility. His ability feels like a trap for new players; you should be sequencing your actions intelligently to avoid removal anyways and while the information is good, it feels as if it might come at too high a cost to be entirely reasonable. Still, Trusted Informant‘s damage sides are nice for vehicles and he has two resource sides despite the modified side being awkward with someone like Rose. You can probably pair him with eRose and Yoda for a 4-dice vehicles setup that boasts a not insubstantial 28 health and get some pretty good mileage if you feel the ability and extra health is worth losing out on a 5-dice or 4-wide alternative.

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Paying the Pryce of Success

Alternate titles included: Paying the Iron Pryce, The Pryce is Right, The Pryce of Rent (is too damn high), and Pay the Pryce.

Options for legitimate decks has never been quite so open with the release of Way of the Force, and it’s oftentimes hard to see the forest for the trees. One of the things we are seeing with the new set is a heavy incentive to go with theme decks or at least decks heavily skewed to one color. Plo Koon is coming out of the gate hot with a double Padawan start leading to six or even seven damage dealing dice to contend with, Rex is rocking out with a couple of Clone Troopers, Luke is doubling down on blue hero, and Snoke is adding an extremely heavy blue slant to decks that would previously take a red character in his place by teaming up with DJ and Cad. To kick things up a notch even more, the #FreeUnkar campaign has borne fruit so I’m sure we will get a mono-yellow Crime Lord deck since he can once again be paired with Jabba.

It’s not that the carefully crafted three color lists don’t exist, or that the old guard of a grey-heavy ranged deck and vehicles aren’t effective, but the Destiny community is made up of human beings. Human beings like new stuff, and all things being equal they also like being able to jam 30 cards together and roll out. So for at least a little while, the “obvious” decks are going to be pretty heavily represented at any local event or tournament probably up until GenCon at the very least.

See where I’m going with this?

The History of Kylo

Kylo is an interesting case study of a card, one of very few to go up then down then back up not only in use but also effectiveness. Printed in the two-player game we saw his strength when combined with the co-released Phasma push FFG to bump the latter up by a point due to her much more general versatility. At the time, modifying Kylo’s own point cost would have completely removed his purpose for existance since either Darth Vader would have usurped his grandson in any given deck which although poetic would have been bad for the game.

But that left Kylo with no four die start that even made remote sense, and he somewhat disappeared from the meta entirely until right before PAX Unplugged. At that time, there were three mono-colored decks in the format in QGJ/Kanan, Sabine/Ezra, and Palpatine. Since two of those decks also relied heavily upon their weapons an eKylo/Grievous deck started to make the rounds and was one of the most played decks at day 1 of PAX. The only problem is that a Kylo/Grievous deck can’t pay for it’s damage sides, play weapons, and pay for removal all at the same time. The proof was in the pudding there and the only Kylo deck to make the top tables that weekend was piloted by yours truly, not with Grievous, but with SoR Darth Vader eschewing weapons for a Holocron package that left money in the bank.

Then…. Total silence on the Kylo front until the Rivals set along with Legacies was released. Rumblings of a pairing with Anakin made their rounds, but were ultimately discarded by most as a knock-off of the much more popular Rey/Aayla deck which boasted a much higher resource efficiency and defensiveness, and the common wisdom was that mono-colored or not the burst potential and incredibly strong removal package Sabine had meant even trying to prey on those two meta-staples was an exercise in maximum round 1 damage, a job best left to Boba/7th which ALSO had much better resource efficiency.

Well look where common wisdom left us. Edwin Chen made it work all the way to a World Championship and here we are. I’m willing to bet that the sine wave stops here, or at least, it should. I don’t think that he is going to be a cornerstone of the long WoTF meta but he is something you should keep in your mind, and something to carefully consider when building your decks. He is most effective when people forget about him and even when he is around, the unexpected partners and included cards become a force multiplier to be reckoned with.

Enough Self Indulgence

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Still with me? Cool. One of the things that led to my success at PAX was the Holocron. It wasn’t super reliable, but removal across the board was at a premium and meta-methods to remove specials were at an all time low (see also R2P2, a deck which even some high-profile players thought was a joke until they played against it). There was a silver bullet in Rend but then as now, it was really difficult for the field to find the space for two copies of it in their stack of 30.

There’s a reason this deck is called the Pryce of Success. Kylo’s strengths are obvious but Pryce gives us that force multiplier he is always begging for, and she provides it in spades. One damage side, plus the only native special chaining available to villain in the format with the addition of chance cubes to fuel long term planning and incessant blowout removal. Lets run it down.

The Core

The Holocron package here is a pretty stock standard starting point. Wave is tops versus all the three character decks running around right now even if they have a mixture of colors, and when you aren’t trying to make Talzin work it is really hard to find a better source of pain than Mind Probe. The singleton Throw is in there just to up the count to five which feels like a sweetspot, and on-card removal will save your life in the late game especially if Kylo goes down. I would also entertain Force Lightning over the Mind Probe or Throw, but at the moment I find the discard and disrupt sides of Mind Probe to be highly relevant and infuriating for an opponent to play around. When an opponent dumps a couple of cards early just to have you Pryce into a 3-Discard is close to a turn-wipe. Combine with an opponents Force Illusion or two and you have an alternate win condition that really isn’t as uncommon as you would assume.

Chance Cube is the secret sauce for sure though. Already super good at making money on the back-end if you don’t need it on the front side of a turn (which we don’t), it is absolutely incredible if you Pryce special it for four money. With that alone, it almost counts as Holocron number three and four in the deck, while paying dividends all throughout the game for our plentiful money dumps. Short of Holocroning in a Force Power the chance cube is the best use of a Pryce special you can get in round 1. Do it, don’t look back, it’s okay to give up three damage now in favor of it.

Spend the Money

That Chance Cube, the money you save by not needing to pay for upgrades, or even a plain old self-logistics on Pryce’s dice will give you plenty of money to fuel this stuff. I’m still toying around with Art of War but I really think that card is a sleeper hit, it’s done extremely well for me against a wide variety of decks. Very playable when you have the battlefield, it excels when you’re actually behind on tempo and have to work your way through an odd situation. Not only have I never failed to remove at least two dice with it, the perfect hand information lets you navigate your turn optimally and boost your Kylo activation’s odds. The only thing I have to caution you on is to not do it while you have your own dice in the pool.

A softer, less easy to directly see reason the card is so good is a trait shared with Mind Trick. If they know you have either card, or suspect you might, their turn slows down to a crawl and in a lot of cases you force them to take what they can get when it comes to rollouts. This sort of soft control which imposes forbidden actions plays to one of the core tenants of the deck.

Battlefield Control

Take your Battlefield, maintain your Battlefield. Pryce works wonders with it, and remember what I said about the unexpected. How often do you expect a villain deck to have shields? One resource for three health is still great! Superior Position is a removal card that helps if you’re behind in the game and more likely to be claiming early and can really turn things around as a non spot blue card, and solidly keeps you in the lead if you’re already there by establishing a no-win scenario for players who are navigating their way around a possible Mind Trick or Art of War.

Maintaining the Battlefield is easier than it sounds with the recent Sabine nerf, and Force Speed is your primary method there. I don’t usually use it to reroll, it’s better served by rolling out Pryce then working from there, and in cases where you’re mostly done with your turn, firing off one last removal then claiming is great as well. Speaking of which.

Rebel War Room is my battlefield of choice at the moment, but it’s neck and neck with Throne Room. I’m not finding it incredibly difficult to get my specials in general, and claiming the Throne Room for a Pryce die only currently works out the way you want it to when you already have control. Generally I’m finding that my opponents are more likely to select my battlefield if they think they can use it themselves, and even though I haven’t seen a special heavy deck in Way of the Force just yet, I’m not convinced they are gone forever. The decks that are comparable in speed or even faster like Hondo/Yoda or Boba/Phasma are already the more difficult decks to deal with without giving them a gift like the Throne Room while the War Room really only measurably helps Cad/Snoke.

What You Don’t See

Kylo cannot be ignored, he will grind decks to dust even if they aren’t mono-colored so he is naturally going to be your opponents first target and rightfully so. Pryce is going to carry your Holocrons, and usually the Chance Cubes too, which makes Leadership kinda a non-starter. Her dice are perfectly resolvable on any side unlike Cienna so you can’t just jam leadership in the deck and make it work out.

The same applies for Price of Failure to a lesser extent with one caveat. I am on the cusp of cutting a card somewhere for a copy just so I can kill of Kylo himself once he is almost dead and Pryce has a force power or two to her name. You can plan for this eventuality by keeping track of your single copy of Dark Ritual.

 

A Different Path


For the record, not my cat.

I really like the phrase “There’s more than one way to skin a cat”. I like em well enough, but my wife absolutely adores cats so I get a good reaction out of her whenever I use the phrase. Plus it’s interesting to consider when exactly in history we were at a point where not only was cat skinning a common enough occurrence to generate a proverb that persists to this day but that people needed to skin cats in more than one way. From my point of view there’s really only one way to skin a cat, messily.

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So here is another take on the deck concept.

Pros:

  1. Battlefield control is a nice-to-have rather than a core concept.
  2. More dice equals more fun, and more difficult for the opponent to control.
  3. Ancients go a long way to ensure Kylo’s longevity.
  4. More dice also equal more targets for Pryce’s specials, meaning you don’t get time-walked as often.
  5. Rewards a higher skill ceiling.

Cons:

  1. Harder to save up for the Rise Again or Dark Ritual.
  2. Certain types of removal will be far more effective, especially when you don’t control the battlefield.
  3. Somewhat more roll reliant.
  4. No huge damage die like Mind Probe or Force Lightning.
  5. More Kylo dependent, necessitating Unyielding and All In.

Probably the most impactful change is the addition of Leadership and Price of Failure. Since Kylo can effectively use all weapons, Leadership and Price of Failure can enable blow-outs as early as round 2. The Chance Cube still does it’s job in getting your ramp up extremely well, and leaving you with the money to do what needs to be done but unfortunately falls just shy of making Maul’s Saber a must include here. The main reason lies in still planning out for the long game with Dark Ritual and Rise Again, a great plan with the redeploy weapons.

Something to note alongside the better aggression however is that our own removal package takes a hit, which may be a significant problem against the dice-spammy decks like Plo/Pad/Pad or the upper end of the health scale found in 4-Wide vehicles. Going against a three character list of any variety is tougher, and in contrast to most conventional wisdom you probably want to kill off the smallest characters first (except Rex, kill rex) just to reduce the total number of dice you need to worry about to compensate. The upside though is that against decks like that you will still generally come out on top with the tempo plays putting Pryce right back where she wants to be.

I hope you all have fun with the Pryce of Success, and that it doesn’t end up being just a regular old PoS.
-Agent Of Zion