by David Tietze
(editor’s note: this article was received two weeks ago, but was saved for the site redesign)
To many that have played the Star Wars LCG card game for several years, you have seen trends in what the most dominant faction has been. Initially Sith ruled the LCG empire, followed by Smugglers. Around this time last year, Jedi were the “overpowered” force in our card game universe with Dark Side only occasionally seeming to be competitive. Now Navy takes their turn at the helm and with the emergence of Sith cards such as Sith lightsabers and Galactic Ambitions on the horizon, it seems that the Dark Side will once again enjoy an embarrassment of riches. This leaves many of us wondering some interesting questions about a once dominant Light Side deck to play. Primarily is there an answer to the current Dark Side meta? How can I obtain consistency in my Light Side play? Should I sacrifice that consistency to win on occasion? This article attempts to address some of those concerns and offer hope where there seemingly wouldn’t be any.
One year ago, I never thought I would need to see May the Force be With You on my opening objective flop in order to have a shot at winning a light side match. Typically with the objective out and the lack of penalty for being aggressive seemed to make the game severely lopsided in the Jedi faction’s favor. With the emergence of Imperial Entanglements (IE), Navy now has several key elements in a control deck that it did not have before. When breaking down IE, Tarkin’s set contains a control element to suppress big light side turns with Rule by Fear and even remove them from play with a targeted strike trooper. The Chimaera pod added a significant amount of force pips (9 with 2 three pip cards) to Navy decks. This allowed for Navy, which didn’t typically see much in terms of winning edge battle, now win battles on a regular basis especially when adding the Twist of Fate from The Tarkin Doctrine. The Fleet Staging area also opened Navy up to play large board wrecking units early and often. As a result traditionally powerful Jedi decks stall and play catch up while Navy freely does whatever it is designed to do. While this would normally be acceptable in a control based tempo deck design like Jedi, Navy now boast a competitive amount of control without losing any of its offensive potential to close out a game.
Contrast this to what many consider to be one of the best pods in the game, May the Force Be With You may actually be hindering Mono-Jedi play. In a deck with 85-90 force pips, Yoda as a single card now represents around 6% of your total edge count. Should you play him and get faced with a situation that you need to win an edge battle using the other one, 12% of your total pip count is gone. This has Light Side players once again struggling with once came very easily in terms of edge battles. Decisions such as “Should I pitch this Unfinished Business to guarantee my edge victory, or do I need it to pull the Land speeder out of my yard for a larger turn?” consume and frustrate players on a regular basis. Patience does not seem to be an option in the game as waiting for the right units with the right edge hand may come as too little too late when the dial is creeping up on 12 from a dark side that can not only play the control game, but win edge battles with some consistency and swing aggressively as well.
Adding on to the frustration of many Jedi players, some of the cards in Enforced Loyalty now send back much of the damage that Jedi typically rely on over time often negating an entire combat turn. The truth is that there aren’t many Jedi cards that can take out an objective in a single swing so building a large board then attacking. Moldy Crow and BTS Luke Skywalker come immediately to mind, but with unreliable edge battles and inclusion of units such as the Russan Colonists these decks are at times difficult to play. Additionally, the ability of Tarkin can make Luke’s ability irrelevant during the combat phase further hindering large turns for Jedi. One can hold out hope, however, for the Jedi cause primarily because the only Jedi set to contain a Twist of Fate is Secret of Yavin 4. Navy and Sith both claim two Twist of Fate sets and Rebel characters are about to claim their third. If you are a fan of playing Jedi like I am, I will be looking for a new Jedi set with 10-11 force pips with at least two 3 pip cards, a Twist of Fate and a main that can take out an objective either through combat icons or its ability. This may be a bit much to ask for since many still think Jedi as being extremely powerful, but I think this is what is needed for the faction to remain competitive.
There are, however, current ways to combat the recent improvement in Dark Side matches. One might consider card draw as a possible solution to this problem. Counter the Dark Side’s increased edge capability with an increased number of cards in hand. Forgotten Heroes can offer this to Mono-Jedi builds and Smugglers can utilize either Asteroid Sanctuary or Cloud City Technicians for this effect. Another alternative is to trigger A Hero’s Beginning whenever it is played to make sure that you can dominate that key edge battle that you need to win. Although this will likely help with 2-3 edge battles, during the course of a game it may not be a reliable in the long term to win that edge battle that can’t be seen in the current board state. In all honesty, Owen’s pod does help build up Jedi units quickly, but if not placed in a well-balanced deck where you are seeing the right cards at the right time, your extra edge cards may become a quick target for a Dark Side counter attack, rendering your plans to throw them in edge more as more of a defensive strategy. Another popular option would be to utilize the effects of Undercover to cycle back in some high pip count cards or critical fate cards like Seeds of Decay to severely underestimate your deck’s starting pip count. With the recent spoiling of Ahsoka Tano’s set, the problems currently facing Jedi in the edge may soon see some relief with Jedi specific fate cards and a refreshing objective that would likely combine well with cards like Force Rejuvenation to make for a larger turn. Combine this with the ability to draw cards from Ahsoka’s ability, Jedi will likely gain edge superiority once again and may be exactly what they need.
Another option might be to maintain some form of board clearance to rebuild and start your game later, hopefully inflicting enough damage to finish it out. Examples of this include My Ally is the Force, False Report and Desperation. With Navy utilizing cards such as Jamming protocol and Customs Blockade, this may be easier said than done. One could always include enough “spare” events to counter these cards, but in all actuality there may not be a decent way to build around it currently.
Finally, one might consider trying to outpace their Navy counterparts. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a return of Sleuth Scouts and Blockade Runners with the knowledge that you won’t always win, but if you do, there won’t be much Navy can do to stop it. If combined with Well Paid from That Bucket of Bolts objective set, there is a possibility that multiple sleuth scouts can hit the table on one turn. Rebels can also offer a number of solutions to rev up large amounts of damage quickly. Sets such as Rogue Squadron Assault can also increase the aforementioned card draw which may result in an improved edge stance. Cracken’s set also can allow a large number of cards to be captured under a single objective which could allow for large turns where a dominant edge hand could enable Cracken’s edge enabled tactics and blow up an objective with the focusing of one attacker.
It may be that the way that you need to play the game competitively is changing. Serious thought has to be made now to the Light Side’s offensive strategy as the repercussions of being overly aggressive can lead to large Dark side turns with aggressive capability of their own. As the rest of the Endor cycle continues to reveal new game mechanics we will continue to adapt to the ever changing state of the meta.