By Sean "Pearl Yeti" Aguilar

 

May the Fourth came and went, and with it came 160 new cards to evolve the meta. Now the new cards have been out long enough for the meta to adjust, for multiple Flavor of the Week decks to cascade through local tournaments and for troublesome issues to begin rearing their ugly heads.

To kick things off, let's take a peak at the top meta decks and ask the question "do all the top meta decks have a common thread?". Some will answer with a quick "yes, they are consistent". But if you look past the easy answer, you'll start to see a pattern - they all heavily rely on 0 cost upgrades, 0 cost supports, free dice and unmitigatable actions.

 

Poe / Maz

Free Upgrade: Fast Hands

Free Dice: Nearly Every Poe Special

Unmitigatable Action: Fast Hands to Poe Special, and (to lesser extent) Maz activation to focus to damage, Hit and Run

Fast Hands is troublesome on any character with big dice, and Poe's dice can be pretty darn huge when he hits that special. His special alone is a problem - Poe gets to put out any card with a die for free, no need to save up or spend any resources to execute 3 and 4 cost cards round 1 like U-Wing or Thermal Detonator special. Adding Fast Hands and Maz's ability to that mix means Poe gets to do what Poe wants to do - and if you're playing against you're not going to like it. With Poe swinging for good damage with no resource costs, the deck can save up and put some really nasty equipment on Maz like Rocket Launcher of Heavy Blaster, meaning once Poe is dead you get to deal with a Maz who can dish out 3-6 damage without a chance for mitigation.

Vader / Raider

Free Upgrades: Holocron, Force Speed, Fast Hands

Free Dice: Every Villain/Neutral Force Ability until Holocron leaves the game

Unmitigatable Action: Fast Hands to anything, but most importantly Force Speed special - good ol' Raider ability

Here we see Fast Hands going on Vader - another big dice character. Fast Hands resolution on the 3 damage, 2 damage and 2 disrupt side of Vader's dice is strong on its own, but doing unmitigatable resolutions of Force Speed is just...broken. The fact that this deck can pull off Fast Hands + Force Speed round 1 without spending any resources is trouble enough, but then add in Villain Blue's other not-so-secret-weapon: Holocron. It's ability to allow Villain Blue to pump out 3 and 4-cost upgrades for free means the combo will always have more resources for costed events than any other color/faction. And Holocron will only get worse over time as more and better Force Abilities are released into the game.

Palpatine

Free Upgrades: Holocron, Force Speed

Free Supports: Dark Presence

Free Dice: Every Villain/Neutral Force Ability until Holocron leaves the game

Quasi-Unmitigatable Action: Force Speed to focus or rerolls to resolution

Palpatine would not work without Holocron. I have yet to see a Palpatine win a game without getting free upgrades. He has the ability to consistently pump out damage, put down free upgrades, and save his resources for a Rise Again (or two), all while having enough resources left over to play out control events. While a rarer specimen, Palpatine decks running Dark Presence easily dish out 0-cost dice removal. And if a single 0-cost Dark Presence wasn't enough, try out a game with two of them on the table.

Kylo / Vader (Emo Kids)

Free Upgrades: Holocron, Force Speed

Free Dice: Every Villain/Neutral Force Ability until Holocron leaves the game

Quasi-Unmitigatable Action: Force Speed to focus or rerolls to resolution

This deck's use of Holocron is the least criminal of the Villain Blue on this list, as it's utility as a resource and focus generator is just as important in this deck as its ability to put out free upgrades. That said, it consistently plops down free Mind Probes and Force Throws, freeing up resources for the character dice costed sides and events. Force Speed shines in this deck alongside the 4 character dice that also have strong specials (Vader) or potentially strong specials (Kylo).

Unkar / Trooper / FN-2199

Free Supports: Imperial Inspection, Salvage Stand

Free Dice: Weapon overwrites on FN-2199

Unmitigatable Action: FN-2199 weapon ability

If you've yet to play this deck, just wait. With it taking first in European Nationals it is just a matter of time before it enters your local meta. It is a vicious deck, taking away your resources and upgrades with 0-cost supports that only rely on very likely dice rolls. FN-2199 gets in his jabs with "free" dice coming out of weapon overwrites, and if they hit a good side (really, anything that isn't blank) they get resolved and there is nothing you can do about it. But, more often than not, this deck makes so many resources that it pays for new weapons outright on FN-2199. He gets even scarier when he can chain a couple of Ambush weapons and decent rolls together, a combo that will only get worse as more cards are released with Ambush.

Where To Now?

The not-to-careful observer will have probably recognized that I have some frustrations with the current meta (oh, and it was the title of the article too!). If you're happy with the meta continuing to rely on free supports/upgrades, free dice and unmitigatable actions, feel free to read no further.

But if you're one of the growing number of players who are increasingly frustrated by the current gameplay, what can you do? Not much, I'm sorry to say.

In the short term there is hope that targeted errata will clear some things up, but it seems like slim chances that every card on this list will be addressed - especially cards like Holocron that just seem grandfathered into the game, no matter how busted.

In the mid-term we might see cards printed that deal directly with the issues in Empire At War or the Base Set, but that opens up its own bucket of problems. Will every future deck run 2 or 4 cards specifically to deal with our current meta issues? Does that just evolve the game into who can get free stuff the fastest and remove free stuff the fastest?

Long term? Set rotation! Just give it a few years and these first couple of sets won't be around any longer.

As both a Destiny player and tournament organizer I am very interested in how the Designers and Organized Play address the issues. This game is most fun when players show up to events with a wide range of decks - and I see the current meta issues as quite stifling to true diversity.