Written by David Holland
The much anticipated new Standard Holocron for Star Wars: Destiny dropped recently, and it’s a doozy. There’s a lot here to unpack and I’m sure that I won’t be able to address every way things will change. As I’ll get to, a significant part of this update is all of the characters who lost character points, and I will leave it to more enterprising deckbuilders to figure out all of the ways they can breathe new life into old characters. For now, let’s take a look at some headlines:
1) Droids Get Hit Again
Last time we had a Holocron update, Droid decks took their first hit. C-3P0 gained a point at both standard and elite levels and Droids Day Out got added to the Restricted List where C-3P0 had already taken up residence, along with Military Camp. The goal of adding these cards to the Restricted list was to try to limit the sort of action cheating that would allow R2-D2 and C-3P0 to activate together, thus leading to dice being turned and resolved all without giving an opponent time to respond. However restricting Day Out just led to alternative solutions, in particular cards like Ewok Ambush or Rex’s Blaster. They accomplish roughly the same goal. Adding in the Fateful Companions plot gives this dynamic further punch. If you’re reading this you’ve probably been on the receiving end of it: Instigate allows a player to activate Chopper and have an ambush action, which is used to activate R2 with Rex’s Blaster and turn one die to any side, and Rex’s allows C-3P0 to activate as an “After” effect. After C-3P0 activates, Fateful is exhausted to resolve 2 dice, increasing each value by 1 – preferably a Chopper die with a Salvaged Arm on it. By the time the game is over, you watch A New Hope and start cheering for Vader.
So bottom line: Are Droids dead? I’m not sure. Certainly losing the ability to pair C-3P0 with Fateful Companions will make running droids much more challenging. You can certainly still pull off some quick hits with all of your action cheating cards – Rex’s, Instigate, Ewok Ambush, and Off the Sensors – and there’s still power in having characters together of the same subtype. Droid decks still have their biggest weakness – 8 health characters are vulnerable to quick deaths – and losing Fateful will (hopefully) drag Droids down to Earth. Even with all of the changes, I still wouldn’t be surprised to see them at your Prime after this new Holocron takes effect and I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them perform well.
2) Delve-Fist Take a Punch
This is probably one of the most significant changes in this errata, and it seems like one that FFG has been resistant to. Vader’s Fist is one of the most powerful cards currently in play. It has four damage sides, all of which are at least 3 damage, and the first turn that it enters the game it rolls in three times. Games have swung dramatically when Fist enters play, and it can turn some of the clearest losses into unexpected victories. Almost any villain deck with both Blue and Yellow characters can be made stronger with the inclusion of a Delve/Fist combo. Because of its power, it comes with a high (although not the highest) cost. This made Delve a quick way for villains to put Fist into play, sometimes early in round one. Putting an indirect damage on Greedo or a Sentinel Messenger is a small price to pay for making the best card in your deck playable during your first turn.
Many others will continue to argue about whether Fist needs other changes – Should you have to pay a resource for the first roll? Should the first roll exist at all? Should the card simply be illegal in Standard play? It seems like FFG is trying to keep as light a touch as possible here by removing one option for Fist to come out so quickly, and I’d almost prefer they try this approach instead of taking extreme steps like banning the card outright.
But Delve isn’t the only new addition to the Restricted List that will make life more difficult for the First Legion (That’s Vader’s Fist for the uninitiated).
3) The Need for Theed
I don’t have the data to back this up so allow me to engage in wild speculation: I’m pretty sure Theed – Royal Palace remains the single most played battlefield in the game. Thinking back on how powerful it was before its errata is almost cringe-inducing – simply do nothing and gain a resource? Seems strong. Even after the errata, you can use Theed to turn a blank into a resource. It helps make three-cost supports and upgrades viable even on the first turn. Most importantly, Theed combined with Delve and Fist means that it is possible to get enough resources to play Vader’s Fist in the first round regardless of what you roll. Theed remains strong, but now we will no longer see it paired with Fist or Delve.
Theed is by no means dead. It remains one of the best battlefields in the game and as long as you double-check your deck to make sure you’re not running afoul of the Restricted List, you probably can’t go wrong making it your default choice for most decks. This change will really only make things slightly more difficult for Fist decks.
Those who hate mill (most of you) have pushed for changes to No Answer since right around the time it was spoiled. The card’s errata prevents the triple discard without first discarding the last card in hand, but No Answer remains a strong 1-cost mill card. That strength is multiplied when the Resistance Ring allows it to be played from the discard pile. In fact, a Prime has already been won this season by a deck whose primary goal is to use the Bartering special to get a card into an opponent’s hand and then the Resistance Ring special to play No Answer from the discard pile to get that card out of their hand – along with three off the top. Putting both No Answer and Resistance Ring on the Restricted List limits one path mill players have to hit your deck quickly. It will certainly put a strain on fast-mill decks like eYoda/eLeia2, which depend on those No Answer plays to hit your deck as quickly as possible.
5) New Challengers
Covert Missions may not be out until January, but the new Balance of the Force is an attempt to give us about a dozen more playable characters to hold us over. FFG is continuing a trend they’ve toyed around with in the past – balancing character’s values downward instead of upward. Some support characters like Bib Fortuna saw their points decrease by only one, which does give villains an 8-point alternative to Rebel Traitor if you are looking to slot some yellow into your deck. Other characters saw their points drop by two or even three points, leading to a flurry of deckbuilding on SWDestinydb with Grievous, Bo-Katan, and Palpatine. No, not that Palpatine.
It’s hard to tell at this early stage who will be the most competitive after balance. Rex only lost one point, but he can now pair with a Clone Trooper and still have 9 points left over, enough to pair him a Han Solo for some Red/Yellow silliness. Kallus, a Red villain with four (!) damage sides and the ability to Power Action between them, is now available for the low, low price of 15 points. I’m not sure he overtakes Iden at that cost given her ability to disrupt action cheating, but he and Zeb (who also lost 3 points) at least deserve another look. And watch out for the return of eQui-Gon Jinn2/eYoda – Wizened Master decks now that they don’t require Bitter Rivalry.
These changes go into effect on December 20 and gives us something to think about in the new year and even more potential character pairings once the new set comes out. Happy deckbuilding!