Written by David Holland
Before we ever learn that the Force can be used to stop blaster bolts in mid-air, move a user safely through space, or scramble the brains of droid-seeking stormtroopers, we get our first description of this mystical energy from Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope: “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things, it surrounds us, and penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.” This description of the all-powerful Force provided an apt title for a card that showed up in blue decks throughout the Awakenings block of Star Wars: Destiny. In fact, as Convergence cards were being spoiled I arrogantly told fellow players that FFG could only ensure that decks built around Blue characters would remain relevant by reprinting It Binds All Things. Now that we are two sets in and awaiting the release of Covert Missions, I am ready to revisit that assertion. Was I right that It Binds All Things was the card that Blue decks needed? At this time I am prepared to confidently answer: Maybe?
It Binds All Things has been a source of debate among Destiny players since before the first rotation. Is it efficient to spend one resource in order to play a support that will allow you to recoup that investment in the next round? More importantly, what other options do cash-strapped Blue decks have? Suppose you want to build a competitive mono-Blue deck (we’ll assume it’s Reylo since that is currently the most competitive mono-Blue in the meta and it has access to both hero and villain cards). How does Binds stack up against your other choices?
The Pros and Cons of Binding Things:
There’s a reason Binds became a staple in mono-Blue decks. Pulling a copy (or, if the stars align, both copies!) in your opening hand along with a two-cost weapon such as a Crossguard Lightsaber sets you up to save valuable resources in future rounds and makes ramping far more efficient. In round two you can exhaust Binds and spend both of your resources to play a hard-hitting three-cost upgrade like Maul’s Lightsaber or the Dagger of Mortis, or simply pay one for a two-cost like Niman Mastery and save that other one for some rainy day mitigation. So what could possibly go wrong?
A couple of things, actually. Because it is a one-cost support that provides one resource worth of savings, Binds only breaks even on the turn that you play it. It doesn’t actually start saving you anything until the next round. This means that if you don’t draw it in your opening hand but instead in round two, you don’t really feel like you’re binding all things anymore, you’re just binding some things. And if it’s round three or later before you see a copy, then you’re probably not binding much at all. This is especially true as most top tier decks ramp very quickly now and a lot of games are in their endgame stage by round three. At that point in the game, you don’t want to play supports geared toward saving yourself money in the future – you want to kill characters. So what options does a mono-Blue deck such as Reylo have in place of It Binds All Things?
Alternative #1: Adapt
There are folks who swear by Adapt, especially in Reylo or any deck with Yoda (Protective Mentor), and it’s easy to see why. Rey (Bound by the Force) and Yoda are both shield engines. In an ideal world, they generate shields faster than you can attach them, and hopefully Rey rolls her character dice back into the pool two or three times each round. That makes Adapt very tempting. After all, if you remove a shield only to replace it again on your next action, then you’ve basically gained a resource for almost no cost! And the resource you gain from Adapt is more (pun intended) adaptable than the savings you get from Binds, which you only accrue if you play an upgrade. Why not make this a two-of in every Reylo deck?
My problem with Adapt is, admittedly, based entirely on my own anecdotal experience. I never seem to have Adapt in my hand and enough of a shield cushion that I feel comfortable playing it. Even if I get the shields during the first turn, I’m hesitant to drop one before Rey has had a chance to roll some specials. Every time I’ve put Adapt in my Reylo deck I’ve been so busy throwing shields at Kylo to try to keep him from going up in flames that I never seem to have a shield to spare when Adapt comes along. And in those few glorious moments when both Rey and Kylo are fully shielded and Rey is hitting specials like it’s her job, Adapt is nowhere to be found.
Alternative #2: Exchange of Information
Exchange of Information is a promising card for a mono-Blue hero deck. Blue’s notorious weakness has always been resource generation, so anything that can help with that problem is welcome. One thing that Star Wars: Destiny does well, particularly with cards that give you resources, is finding ways to extract a non-resource cost. Oh, you’re gaining a resource and an additional action with Truce? Well, your opponent is also going to gain a resource. You want to get two resources with Logistics? You have to have a die side already showing resource and you have to spot a Red character. Exchange is no different. There’s a sense in which the resource is free, but you risk telegraphing the rest of your round to your opponent. They will have at least one action to play around your mitigation, your potential shock plays such as Dark Reflections and Ataru Strike, and any of your upgrades that could come down. This means that timing is everything with Exchange. I’m more willing to show my hand if it has some mitigation that is tough to play around, like Isolation or Hidden Motive, than if it is something that requires a bit of surprise. That being said, it’s not a bad card to have in your opening hand if you can play it with a couple of actions left as the round is winding down. I always treat Exchange as a Blue version of Truce and assume that my opponent will also gain the resource. I’ve found that’s easier than trying to triple-guess the right time to play it in which I gain the resource but my opponent doesn’t. With that in mind, beware of giving money to resource-hungry decks. That resource can come back to bite you when a Fickle Mercenaries comes down.
Alternative #3: Torment
Torment seems like an upgraded version of the old Enrage from the Awakenings block, with the added benefit that it can be used every round. There’s some merit to the idea of slapping a Torment down on Kylo and then gaining a resource the first time your opponent deals him damage each round, especially since Kylo is usually the first target. That being said, Torment runs into some of the same problems as Binds. It loses a ton of value every round that you don’t play it, and if your opponent switches targets you might not profit off of it for a while. Like Binds, you also don’t truly start benefiting until the round after Torment is played, since your first resource is just making up for the one you spent to play it. Plus, once the attached character is defeated their Torment gets discarded and you can no longer gain the benefits.
Alternative #4: Respite
Why would you put this card in a Reylo deck? Your character dice are too important! Just stop!
On a serious note, I did want to consider every option for getting more resources, and Respite is an option. It’s not worth it in Reylo, where each character is elite and you depend on getting your character dice in the pool, hopefully more than once. But Respite is a fine choice if you have a low-point, non-elite character that you don’t mind exhausting for a round. While it doesn’t fit for Reylo, it’s definitely worth considering for your Younglings. Just don’t let them take that Respite in the Jedi Council chamber…
There’s no doubt that It Binds All Things can be a useful card. Even players who have sworn it off will curse when they see you play it on turn one. Mono-Blue decks such as Reylo still depend on upgrades for their ramp (unless you’re running a vehicle Reylo deck, which seems bad) and Binds helps you get more upgrades down faster. It’s useful in a pinch for overwriting a Crossguard with a Redeploy weapon when Kylo (Bound by the Force) is near death (which he almost always is), or getting a Niman Mastery down and turning an opponent’s character die to a blank. Perhaps more than most cards, Binds is dependent on timing. Since it’s essentially useless by mid-game don’t be afraid to mulligan for it. If I don’t see it in my opening hand, I will usually keep a two-cost upgrade and a zero-cost mitigation (just in case) and toss everything else to look for it. But it’s not a silver bullet, and it won’t solve mono-Blue decks’ biggest problem: they are playing an older, upgrade focused style of Destiny in a support focused meta. If you read all this way hoping that I would tell you exactly what to include and what to leave out in your Prime Championship Reylo deck, I hate to disappoint you. The best I can do is close with more words of wisdom from A New Hope era Obi-Wan: “You must do what you think is right, of course.”