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For the third in our series on the Trilogy format, we will take a look at the rest of the cards contained therein. Events are the glue that holds your deck together. Through them we can accentuate it’s natural strengths given by an character combination with its upgrades, or patch up a few of the weaknesses. We have six categories of events to go through, and then a sort of meta analysis of the events to see what you should be putting your money towards.
Here are all of the events in the format that will directly remove a die, and not kick the can down the road by simply blanking it out or rerolling it. Doubt really straddles the line, but lands just barely in favor of being placed in this category because it is a one-shot effect that also works in your favor for modified sides.
Conditions listed are somewhat subjective, but I doubt any of my rankings there will be controversial. Marked in green are the gimmes; Spotting a color-specific character is pretty simple to do, and if you really want battlefield control you usually don’t have to sacrifice much to gain it. In yellow are things which depend on your opponent and more broadly speaking, the meta. The vast majority of them require a specific damage type to be rolled in order to switch your removal on. Red are very difficult to reach conditions either because they entail combination of different factors, or have such stringent deck building requirements that the overwhelming majority of decks cannot use them at all.
Calling back to Part 2, we have already established that the average damage any particular character die will show is two, and the upgrades are just as likely to show three on the whole as they are to show two themselves. So given the wide array of options available, any removal card that doesn’t have a mitigation efficiency of at least two damage saved per cost spent gets a hard pass from me removing eight of these cards from consideration nearly immediately and without looking back. At any less efficiency it is better to just pump money into your own damage capability and swing for the fences.
Doubt: If it works in Standard it will probably work in Trilogy, and Doubt is no exception. The potential to backfire is there, but you’re unlikely to be significantly worse off.
Crush The Rebellion: My sole exception to the the efficiency rule, because it is both playable without needing to save up cash like Bravado and will get you at least one and often enough two damage all on it’s own. As with all indirect damage it is better late than early, but FFG is really pushing their reversal effects here.
Easy Pickings: It has a relatively hefty condition compared to anything else, but when you consider that all of our best characters share exact sides with the best upgrades, and that it can be used as a preventative measure, this card is generating far less hype than it should be… And not just in Trilogy.
Hasty Exit: The downside to giving up battlefield control is minor, and it isn’t too tough to gain it when you need to. When playing this card, the worst case scenario is that you end up trading Hasty Exits or taking some direct instead of indirect damage from Mortar Team.
Subdue: You target their scariest character first, and their scariest character is usually the one with the dice you want to remove more than any others. My bet is that if you can’t push three damage through quickly it doesn’t matter what kind of removal you have. Pretty great here in Trilogy, and might even cross the Standard border.
Superior Position: Just as easy as Hasty Exit and while the distinction won’t matter too often, this isn’t limited to damage sides.
Fight Back: Terrible in Standard, but in comparison to everything else paying for a true neutral He Doesn’t Like You isn’t too bad. Just as with HDLY tempo is required, but unless it is super late game or they god-roll the condition isn’t punishing.
Clearly meant for decks running three or more characters, these cards will certainly see play. That being said, the two guardian-like effects might get thrown into Hero decks to take advantage of the higher health pools and better shield availability.
When evaluating these I applied a few filters. First of all, I’m never spending two resources to change some dice around unless I either know I’ll get to resolve what I change, or I get to change a whole bunch of dice. Alter and Fierce Resolve fail this test spectacularly.
Secondly, if I’m paying money at all the card has to help me win, not just lose the game slower. Additionally I want no conditions required to play the card or the easiest conditions in the world to meet, and wide options are way better than just targeting certain types of dice. Bonus points if they can mess with my opponent in a pinch or as a side effect.
Finally, my standards go a lot lower for free stuff but I want a compelling reason to take it over paid removal or the best paid modification cards. I can always pitch a card to reroll everything after all.
Clash: Auto-include for melee decks. Assuming there is an Obi/Maul/Kallus deck in the format, you’re either playing him or playing against him. And if there isn’t, this is still often a four damage swing for one resource.
Concentrate: Right on the edge of getting bumped down a category, it is only in the green zone because of the amount of options it gives. Much more of a late-game card for sure.
Locked And Loaded: Auto-include for any heavy indirect damage deck, and probably a decent portion of ranged damage decks too just because of how much overlap it is. The minimum you’re likely to get out of this is four damage for one money, and the potential for much much more.
Hidden Motive: Basically removal, the only downside of which being that you have to guess right to get it off the table. Depending on the die you want gone, it could either be better or worse than Doubt based on how reliable the die is. The downside is that most of the hardest hitting upgrades have painful modified sides with different symbols making it situationally worse than Doubt. Auto include for every single blue deck in the format regardless.
Sound The Alarm: When the opponent god-rolls you, you essentially have only three viable options at your disposal to handle the issue. Dive, Defend, and Sound The Alarm. Sound The Alarm is free, works against every deck, and will hit indirect damage sides to boot. There will be some decks that can fit in the more reliable options, and use the guaranteed removal suite well enough to forgo this horn-tootin Ewok, but probably not many.
Recon: I have a feeling that putting this in the second tier is going to make me eat crow in a month or two. This gives so many options it’s unbelievable. The only thing keeping it down here for now is that you either need to have something to work from with it. If you’re trying to boost damage, you have to have some to start and put both dice at risk. And if you’re trying to mitigate, someone had to roll something bad. In standard this isn’t good enough by a long shot, in Trilogy it might just find a home.
Do Or Do Not: Obi? Obi.
Special Modification: Well, if Resistance Bombers and the HWK-290 get played together this might make cut. I’m not seeing it anywhere else though.
Take Flight: Unpredictable in a new age. Probably only works in mono-yellow but when we look at their character dice and upgrades I foresee enough reroll necessity concentrated in just a few high value dice to make it worthwhile.
Emulate: You know what I like? Playing high-efficiency decks. Unfortunately for me, so does everyone else and I hate mirror matches. This will alleviate my pain for sure, acting as either mitigation or free dice fixing if I’m playing the flavor of the month.
Damage From Hand
There is no lack of two for two trades in the format, widely available to anyone who cares to run them. Overall though, I think I’d rather spend the money on an upgrade of my own for repeated dividends, or spend one on an effective removal card and save the dollar for paid sides or future planning.
It would appear that Intimidate is here to stay, making Heroes just a tad bit wary about putting too many eggs in one basket. Frighten may look like a striaghtup downgrade by comparison, but is still far and away more cost efficient than the majority of other options, but what you lose in resources you can make up for in tempo and flexibility. I think it is worth seriously considering. In the right spot it may even be better than Intimidate, allowing you to slip damage under hero defenses before they have the opportunity to reapply them with their plentiful shield sides.
Light ‘Em Up is just bonus damage for hero red, assuming you have a die consistent enough to make it worthwhile and with no opportunity for opponent interaction this card is just good value all around.
Scorched Earth is the notable exception in cost efficiency, but only if you value it at two given damage. Once you start looking at four or more dice in the pool this becomes a true terror and opens up a great line of play. In the very late game, with this in hand (or an almost guaranteed draw) you can run out your entire turn to maximize damage then claim ahead of the other guy. Opponent rolls out their last (but stacked) character, then takes four or even five single target damage. But what were they going to do, not roll out at all? Having this in your deck puts the other player on a clock, and villains tend to win damage races all other things being equal.
In what is proving to be a common theme, the next-best-cards available are meta dependent or require very deliberate deck building choices to make work. I could see some villain decks taking Ice Storm in a pinch, but not very many.
Bravado is just too difficult to pull off well, even if it is above curve when you factor the removal and damage simultaneously. In the early game I’d rather pay for Zeb’s Bo-Rifle or even a Canto Bight Pistol, and in the late game playing Defend or Dive following up with another action seems better.
Ataru Strike is in a category all of it’s own. Relegated solely to Anakin, Obi-Wan, Rey, and Aayla. I didn’t forget Luke and the Temple guard per se, but with only one side on each of them capable of working with Ataru Strike, it seems… Wishful. This is almost a win-more card and almost a combo card (Heightened Awareness does wonders here). Outside of Obi, I feel like the threat of being able to Strike is worth more than actually taking the card. Hitting someone for 5+ will be great, but sitting on the card in the hopes of finding the perfect situation seems more likely.
Money Money Money
This is not a cheap format. The better half of upgrades cost three, paid sides are all around us, and we don’t have access to the multitude of free mitigation options like Caution, Guard, or He Doesn’t Like You. To really put it in perspective, we don’t even have Take Cover. That’s how expensive this format is.
So every single deck is going to want a way to make money. Fortunately, every color and faction combination except for villain blue has a way to do it painlessly. Logistics is back again from the Two Player Game, and Adapt allows hero blue to trade one effective (and easily regained) health for some extra cash.
Well Connected is where the magic happens though. Playable after a claim to limit the opponent’s benefit, never clutters up a hand, and the downside isn’t even too bad if the card is played turn one action one. That early in the game, one extra reroll means relatively little and your opponent either can’t use the card they just drew at all, or at the very least it isn’t significantly bad for you compared to what they mulliganed for.
In a heavy indirect damage deck, or if Crash Landing / Dangerous Manuever see a lot of play this may take Logistics’ spot or even be a tag-along in those decks to facilitate the ramp.
These five cards are the sum total of ways to simply turn money or cards into actions, and only Tactical Mastery stands out. Impulsive, In Pursuit, Quick Draw, and Attack Run are free but highly specialized which relegates them to only a select few possible decks. Three Steps Ahead is cool simply for the Thrawn factor, but spending three bucks to just go fast is a tall order any time while being particularly useless in the early game.
The real question is how much does tempo or battlefield control matter in this format? Two of our better removal options are dependent on having the BF, but aside from that it doesn’t appear to matter too much. None of the battlefields inspire as much urgency as Throne Room or Jedi Temple, and the two that produce the most damage are in themselves reliant on an already existing or rerolled die, something you can often do better than by just taking more actions.
It still isn’t wise from a general standpoint to sit and dither needlessly. And there is no need to waste time if your chances of getting good value are lower than what one guaranteed damage, shield, or money while keeping ahead of the curve is worth. The opportunity cost of taking these cards over removal or damage from hand is serious though, and mostly everyone is on even footing.
So Tactical Mastery or bust.
Drawing cards, looking at hands, doing weird stuff. That’s what these guys are all about. No point in trying to paint numbers on them in any way because they are the only ones of their type, and if we like what we see, we will pay what we owe. On the whole, I’m not entirely too impressed with this lot though Strategic Planning is a must have for the as-yet-unbuilt vehicle deck.
These two though… Very intriguing. Hand information plus an event discard is free in Standard, but is constrained in its targets. Scruffy Looking Nerf Herder is long term removal early, forceful damage push or damage from hand avoidance late. If you can spare the buck, being able to demolish a game plan by snagging the upgrade your opponent wanted to play is great value but if they have redundancy or you whiff; Welcome to Pain City, Population: You. Rumors never misses, but then again never grabs the best card either, making me less excited for it but there’s a lot worse you can do with a dollar in the format.
Events Are Boring, They’re All The Same
Yeah I agree, examining the minute details of a ton of cards which all fulfill one function but in different ways and trying to come up with some actionable information isn’t exactly riveting stuff. But while you wait for the final part of the series, here’s a few facts to chew on.
- Blue (especially villain) has to pay through the nose to get anything done with events, to the point where taking The Force is With Me on the hopes that it can be used is probably a good idea, and the varied temporary dice modification cards have to prop up a mono-blue deck.
- Yellow is looking worthwhile, even if their characters are overcosted. The best value for removal and single best money card in the format are very tempting.
- Villain red is coming in hot, both in their first tier of events in every category and having well rounded options in the second tier. Hero red isn’t too far behind, and both factions offer solid incentives for indirect damage.
- If you can get a solid read on a meta environment, you can reap an incredible advantage by paying less for more reliable removal. Even a one-off Parry or Evade can give a tangible edge if it works better at cost.
- Conditional, conditional, conditional. Many players are going to blame luck on their conditions not being met. Keeping all their conditions in mind, playing as slow as we have to to avoid them, and building redundancy in our own game plan will pay off more in Trilogy than Standard.
- Not only conditional, but more than a fair amount of events are highly specific. Certain deck archetypes like vehicles and mill (for as much as I’ve ignored it) have very little room for meaningful selection.
- Looking at the lines drawn between good and bad on cards across the board, this feels very much like a crafted meta environment where you might have to take something bad in order to not have your entire decklist known to your opponent by the time you finish laying your characters out.
- Ambush? 13 cards total in the format have ambush, with only three others providing extra actions. You’ll get the chance to interact more often than not, but what you can’t interact with is punishing in the extreme.
Putting It Together
In the fourth and final article in the series, I’ll be building a whole grip of decks following the principles of what we learned in this process. Getting a first pass on the most obvious decks, sniffing out a few options hidden below the surface, and jump-starting us all on the path to victory.