by David Tietze
(editor’s note: big congrats to David on his 2nd place finish at the 2015 World Championship!)
I want to start this article by congratulating Tom Melucci on his impressive 2015 World Championship win. I can say that it was an honor to play against him in the finals and look forward to the opportunity to play him in the future. I would also like to extend congratulations to Zach Bunn and Leopold Hess on their fantastic play over the FFG Star Wars championship week. I can’t tell you how humbling it is to be in the company of such great competitors. Finally, everyone in the top 16 played superb games and should all be recognized as the best players in the world. I am relatively new to the Star Wars community but the interactions and people I encountered over the first week in November have deepened and further solidified my love for the game.
I know that many in the Star Wars LCG community have been discouraged at times about the state of the game and how “broken” a particular affiliation was/is. The truth is that the final 8 decks at the world’s competition were very different suggesting that the diversity of the game is at an all-time high. For the dark side we saw capital ships, TIE fighters, mono-Sith and Sith/scum make the list. For the light: two very different mono-Jedi decks, a smuggler/Jedi deck and a rebel/smuggler vehicle deck find their way to the top four. It is my belief that this creates a diverse meta in which there are multiple competitive decks. This couldn’t be better for the state of the game as new players will see success with many of their favorite characters from the Star Wars universe and this can potentially create a more competitive player pool. With this in mind, I can’t help but wonder what the future of the game might bring. As a result, I thought I might use this article to share my holiday wish list about what cards I would like to see created.
It has recently come to my attention that the development of new cards is restricted to the “classic era.” I am told that there is some leeway on characters that were mentioned whose fate was never finally established, but for the most part the time frame of episodes 4, 5 and 6 are the standard. With that in mind, let’s start with the Smuggler affiliation as many would argue that it is the affiliation that needs the most help. Despite the Imperial Entanglements expansion showcasing many new smuggler sets, it did not seem to synergize well with the already established cards from the previous sets. Our most recent World Champion, Tom, has hinted strongly at developing a Wookiee card to help strengthen the Smuggler group with his card design. Having the potential for synergy regarding Wookiee Life Debt, A Wookiee’s Journey and Debt of Honor a new Wookiee pod would fit well into the already established Smuggler character pods. It should be asked what is it about smugglers that make it so difficult to play as a mono faction? In my experience the answer lies with two things: edge battles and tactics icons. Furthermore, the answer to this riddle lies in an already established Karrde. Talon Karrde. Granted, Talon is not in the current “classic era” but if there is an established precedent that we already have him, then perhaps we can create an additional pod with him in mind. In the Thrawn series, Karrde is represented as a dealer of information. It is easily argued that someone who contains integral information about their enemy would be considered a tactician. Having Talon’s card contain at least one black and one white tactic icon with a couple unit damage is completely reasonable as a support set in an affiliation that has no difficulty with objective blast damage. Although Talon does not contain any attributes of the force, his guardian Vornskr do. Force sensitive creatures that protect Smuggler units not only provide a thematic line to the game, but also solve a couple big problems in mono smuggler character game play as well. Naturally, this isn’t a single card but rather part of an objective set, but I am not sure a single card can help turn around the issues Smugglers currently face.
I have recently been very impressed with what FFG has done with Scum. A new player to our local group recently asked me, what do you do when you can’t win edge battles? The fun answer is Scum shenanigans. With Guri, The Prince’s scheme as well as reversal of fate Scum can create complete havoc surrounding an edge battle and it couldn’t be more fun to watch your light side opponent twist in the wind as they face Jabba’s rancor in a Guri deck. I think a good addition to the Scum pool would be Hondo Ohnaka, leader of the outer rim space pilots. Many players have wanted Scum pilots to work well, specifically Niles Farrier. Hondo can provide that. As a pirate, it would be appropriate that his card could offer some capture ability which is also another Scum characteristic many have wanted to see developed. Is it too much to ask for both? A pilot character with capture ability would be really fun and create some instant synergy with the Boba Fett pilot from the Rogue squadron cycle. But the card I would like to see in this set is an instant that would discard all captured cards rescued from destroying an objective. This would help Scum mitigate getting steam rolled after the light side “rescues” a ton of captured cards. This card would also develop the rescue mechanic further on the light side and make it much more significant in game play if you risk losing all the cards captured at an engaged objective.
Having gone through the entire Rogue Squadron cycle, how is it that we didn’t have a new version of Wedge Antilles? To me that is comparable to going through a “Master of the Force” cycle without Yoda. Regardless, my obvious pick for the Rebel affiliation is to have the Rogue Squadron leader, Wedge. It seems that the Rebel affiliation is extremely close to challenging Jedi to being a top tier competitive deck. The difficulties with rebel are that they can get locked down by tactics and are subject to enemy event cards. The Heroes of the Rebellion objective helps with the latter part of these problems, but many play this as a one of in their decks. Additionally, it seemingly opposes the synergy with the Rogue Squadron X-wings which like to lose their pilots and is an auto-include in most mono- rebel decks due to their low cost and objective damage profile. The new Wedge would need to be able to help with these issues just as Baron Fel aided Navy fighters. With Wedge as rogue leader, the missions all seemed to run a little more smoothly. As a result, his presence on the board should seem to improve the condition of all friendly vehicles. My solution would be to have a printed text “When piloting a Fighter or speeder vehicle, all friendly vehicles gain elite and edge 1” with “Reaction: when an enemy action or reaction card effect is initiated, focus this enhancement to cancel that effect (limit once per turn).” This ability would not only strengthen current rebel fighters, but would also synergize well with all fighter units.
Anyone that has met me knows that I am extremely fond of playing the Sith affiliation. With restrictions to the classic era of Star Wars, there is one story/card that I would really like to see developed more in the new movie series as well as in the card game. I think Mother Talzin would make an excellent addition to the Sith card pool. Her mysterious disappearance in the Clone Wars would allow for her to be a card as her current status is unknown. Her appearance would also allow for a cardline of ‘Nightsister’ and ‘Nightbrother’ cards which would include crowd favorites such as Darth Maul, Ventress or nightsister units that could protect sith characters. I am extremely fond of this story line because it shows a different perspective on how the Dathomir culture viewed and developed the use of the Force as a Voo-Doo like religion which could also make for some really unique and devastating event cards. Talzin herself was much more supportive thematically, so her combat icons wouldn’t likely amount to much but perhaps having a card text that read that each Nightsister/brother unit gains a unit damage while she is in play would be thematic as well as extremely useful in developing other cards with the trait. Additionally, her resurrection of Darth Maul could potentially create a Sate-like reaction when she enters play to put a Dathomir card cost 4 or lower into play from the discard pile. If the Sith are struggling for characters to add to their universe, I feel they need to look no further than Dathomir for further development.
It is difficult to try and give the Jedi affiliation more ammunition with their given dominance over the majority of competitive decks, but since this article is exploring ALL affiliations I will give it my best shot. Ahsoka Tano is an easy choice here, but not for what you might think. I like the idea of a dual wielding Jedi. I like the idea of an enhancement that makes dual wielding a real part of the LCG (this could also apply to a future Ventress card ) and would be my card choice for Jedi. Enhancements will always work well with Luke Skywalker from A Hero’s Trial, but what if we had an enhancement that you wouldn’t want to pop off at a moment’s notice. A 2-3 cost enhancement, I think a dual wielding enhancement should do more than provide extra unit damage, but rather unit damage with targeted strike or the ability to focus it to change all attached unit icons to blast damage would be ideal and significant. In addition I would like to see another Twist of Fate which Jedi are still in need of. Combat icon selection and action/reaction ability can literally be anything on Ahsoka, I would just like to see her dual wielding enhancement make its way to our game.
When it comes to the Navy affiliation, it could be said that not much needs to be done to help it out in the current meta. Unlike the Smuggler affiliation, Navy got a significant boost from the Imperial Entanglements expansion. Whether you like the play TIE fighters, capital ships or characters, Navy boast a variety of ways to oppress their opponents. Grand Admiral Thrawn has provided a significant help to Navy suppression with 2 black tactics icons and the ability to completely shut down an attacker. His ship the Chimera can outright kill most light side mains with a set that synergizes with other capital ships with a free resource tractor beam and making them all elite. Yularen now helps synergize the older navy concepts such as Thunderflare with transferring damage instead of simply removing it. Given the current restrictions on Timeline, I am doubtful that we will ever see a personal favorite of mine, Captain Pellaeon (although the Yularen artwork does look VERY familiar). I suppose for the sake of strengthening Trooper decks, Agent Kallus makes the most sense to help round out the already supremely competitive Navy sets. A current character in the Rebels series with a talent for hunting down rebels, a set with Kallus could make some things very fun to play including the 501st legion and could open the doors to some light side counterparts in “Fives” and “Rex” who have now larger roles in the Rebellion in the Rebels TV series. A targeting mechanic on Kallus or the ability to give other units targeted strike would help punish the light side for overreaching on their turn and may seem appropriate with his role in the Empire.
Regardless of your favorite affiliation, there are lots of ideas on the horizon. In a way I am a little jealous of my playtesting friends because they can see what is coming out and where the game is heading. Since I cannot speak to them about new cards thanks to their NDA, I will be eager to speak with many of you about what cards you would like to see in our LCG, but until that time I wish you all a very happy holiday season and may the force be with you.