We finally have the entire Rogue Squadron cycle and what a cycle it has been. We have seen this cycle give Rebel vehicle decks some necessary and vital pieces to become a top tier deck. We have also seen the Jedi continue getting really good sets and being a force in the meta. The Dark Side has managed to claw and scratch its way back into relevancy as well. More importantly, the Imperial Navy and Scum and Villainy Navy affiliations have seen their playability go from nothing to being able to rival that of the Sith. In other words, it has been a pretty good cycle for the game, at least in my opinion.
I will say, the thought of pilots was not that appealing to me at first; however, the more I played with them the more enjoyable they became. In fact, my favorite LS and DS decks at this very moment is a Scum/Navy pilot deck and a Rebel/Jedi pilot deck. It is going to be really interesting to see the meta develop going into worlds and at worlds there will be exciting times for sure.
As I said, the DS has managed to regain some relevancy thanks to this cycle. That has been due mostly to the Imperial Navy and Scum and Villainy affiliations getting some really good sets. Without further ado, here are my top five Dark Side objective sets from the Rogue Squadron cycle.
5. Defending the Trench
This set makes the list because 4 out of the 6 cards are good, and it is what I consider to be a core set for the fighter/pilot deck. The main attraction to this set, for me at least, is I Have You Now, which is an insanely good fate card, assuming it isn’t Twisted away. I will admit, the value of I Have You Now is propped up a bit by the existence of Baron Fel; without him this card is good but not as good in pilot decks. While Darth Vader is piloting and participating in an engagement he is really good at making life difficult for the Light Side. He negates fate cards and a lot of good abilities so that just his presence makes the LS pump the brakes a little. The second iteration of Vader’s TIE Advanced has a tactics icon, which is something lacking in fighter/pilot decks, and can also get you free Black Squadron cards. Then you have Closed Formation, which if found early, can be very clutch in keeping your TIE Fighters from being focused by opposing units, allowing you to defend or attack more efficiently.
4. The Empire’s Elite
I feel like this is a fairly easy pick, because the Fighter/pilot decks struggle without it. Prior to the release of this set the weaknesses of the Fighter deck was Force struggles, a lack of elite units, and lack of Force pips for edge battles. This set helps with all three of those areas. Baron Fel helps with two of the problems: he makes all of your unit’s elite and gives Edge 1. The TIE interceptors are really good at allowing the deck to compete in the Force struggle. The set is also one of the “pilot” sets that comes with Stay on Target and the pilot resource. Stay on Target has proven to be an insanely good card with the right pilot, and Baron Fel is the right pilot. You can go from losing an edge battle to suddenly winning it because you put Baron Fel into play with Stay on Target and your fighters get Edge 1. Then you have the objective which has the ability to keep your pilots from going into the discard pile.
3. The Last Grand Admiral
My reasoning for this one is simple: Grand Admiral Thrawn shuts down the best Light side attacking or defending unit. It also helps that the set showed up in the winning deck list from Gen Con. The set caught a lot of heat because it has two of the Noghri Bodyguards, but those units have two unit damage and they keep Thrawn around longer, so who cares if they don’t protect anyone else. Also, Imperial Entanglements is coming and we know there are some good Navy officers in some really good Navy sets, so the Noghri Bodyguard’s’ value is only going to increase. The event Chain of Command is a really good way to pull off some Thrawn shenanigans, and although you can’t use his ability twice in a turn you can still use him to defend with his two black Tactic icons. The set is capped off by Supporting Fire, which I feel is an underrated fate card.
2. The Hunter’s Flight
I think the inclusion of this set on the list is pretty obvious – Boba Fett’s ability was so good with Training Procedure that the two sets were added to the restricted list upon The Hunter’s Flight release. Just because The Hunter’s Flight was added to the restricted list doesn’t automatically mean it is a top five set – just look at the absence of Training Procedure from my list. No, the set’s inclusion on this list is warranted because all of the cards seem useful in one way or another. The big card in the set is Boba Fett, and we all know how good he is. One of my favorite things to do with him is to get him on a Black Sun Headhunter with The Empire’s Elite in play and not pay the one scum resource the next turn just so I can loop Boba over and over again. The set also gives you a backup plan with Slave 1, which essentially does the same thing as the Empire’s Elite, although you only return the pilot. Throw in a Stay on Target and you can put Boba Fett into play out of nowhere from your hand or discard pile.
1. Behind the Black Sun
This set has only been released for about three weeks now but in that short amount of time it has made a huge impression on me and I foresee big things for it. Each card in the set has a purpose and for the most part I don’t mind drawing any one of them. For me, the best card in the set is the objective because it makes edge battles very difficult for the Light Side, especially in the context of the set as a whole. This set also adds a dimension to edge battles that plays serious mind games with the Light Side -win an edge battle by one and you are fine but if you win it by two you could be in trouble. When you are attacking that makes edge battles extremely difficult because the defender wins ties. If you tie then the DS wins but if you win by one and they have the objective in play that means you really lose by two and Guri, Threat Removal, or Hidden Vibroblade can cause problems. The set has a scary main, a great objective, heat of battle and an event that returns a unit to their hand, I am not sure how this set could get any better.
I have to admit, it is refreshing to see the top five list without a single Sith set included. I think at this point everyone is pretty much burnt out on Sith being the dominant Dark Side affiliation so finally getting some top tier Scum and Imperial Navy sets is exciting and good for the game. I also like that with the addition of this cycle that the Scum and Villainy sets from Between the Shadows have become better as well, and with the upcoming release of Imperial Entanglements we will get the Hutt’s Menagerie which will only strengthen the affiliation. This cycle didn’t really have the same effect for Imperial Navy but it did strengthen a very good deck type for them, and Thrawn will only get better with the addition of IE. All in all, I think this cycle was far better to the Dark Side than the Echoes of the Force cycle, and it has improved the balance of the game.