Written by DarkAngelAz
Now that a couple of weeks have passed since the release of A Renewed Hope’s first set, Faltering Allegiances, I am going to look at some characters who provide the most interesting deck building options in the set. Given that for ARH: Standard this set triggered rotation of some of the most powerful cards out of the format, this opens up the avenues for new deck designs. The first character I am going to look at it is Merrin – Nightsister Survivor. She is from the video game Jedi: Fallen Order, and is a big part of that storyline.
From a design perspective it very much appears as if they wanted to open up design space but didn’t want to risk too much, too soon. That is actually a trend throughout the set which bodes well for the future. Her cost to health ratio looks poor at first with 11/14 for nine health, not seeming that grea,t but in reality its 11/14 for fourteen health with the Nightsister Zombie she brings with her. Her dice are comparable with most other Witches such as Mother Talzin or Luce, but for a slightly higher points cost. And she has two abilities, both focused around Curses.
The first, to be able to play Blue Villain Curses in the deck, is only relevant if you are playing her in a Hero or Neutral team, but certainly opens up some intriguing possibilities there. Her Power Action has a two-fold effect which should not be underestimated. It messes with your opponent’s tempo, even though you roll the dice in for them because this can happen before they can equip any upgrades for the turn. It also does not activate the character and therefore no “activation” triggers will occur. Against some characters such as Anakin Skywalker – Reckless One, this could almost entirely shut down their game plan. After you exhaust the character that character’s character and upgrade dice are rolled in and I wonder whether not rolling in any attached downgrade dice was a wording oversight or a deliberate design choice.
Members of a New Coven?
In a Hero build, what natural partners exist for her? The aforementioned Reckless Anakin with United, Mace Windu – Inspiring Master, or Obi-Wan Kenobi – Ardent Avenger seem like good choices if you want to stay mono Blue as her dice do not have modifiers, but the mixed damage would still be a concern. If paired with Anakin, your opponent would need to focus on him as to leave Anakin to do his murdering unrestrained leads to the monster that is Darth Vader – Driven By Anger very quickly. By this time your opponent’s board could be lousy with Curses which turns on the Nightsister Zombie’s ability and makes them a painful irritation.
If you are looking to play two-colour then that opens some interesting options in Hero solely because of Valorous Tribe and the action to move damage around your characters. Now that Chewbacca2 is 11/13, he fits well. By being able to spread damage onto both Chewbacca and the zombie as required, Merrin’s survivability increases considerably. A starting total of 27 health is not to be sniffed at, particularly with the ability to heal. Of course, Han Solo – Cool and Confident is probably better partner overall, but he is already played a lot and I am trying to explore different characters and deck choices here.
If you are looking at Red, then Kes Dameron is a decent fit for sixteen points elite, with matching die sides. But the fit just doesn’t work as well for Red in my opinion.
Partners and Pirates in Crime?
Looking at the Villain side, her partners in Yellow, Kragan Gorr leaps out as by far the best choice. His after activate ability synergises with Merrin’s, and he is just the mayor of value town when it comes to cost/health/dice ratio. Similar to Hero, without looking at playing a second Nightsister Zombie and then perhaps an Imperial Death Trooper, nothing really fits with Red or sticking with mono Blue, as Old Daka is too fragile and has too big a downside when she is defeated, and Elrik Vonreg just doesn’t work as a fit.
Where to Fight and How to Fight
The choice of Battlefield seems a fairly simple one for a Merrin deck that uses Curses and that is Nightsister Lair, and lets be honest why wouldn’t you choose that? Getting the resource back for attaching them just seems too efficient. You could maybe use Pyke Syndicate Mine if you were going for a more control orientated build, although I think mill may soon, sadly, become impossible, except by accident.
Whether you are playing Hero or Villain, I think the six Curses included must be the same of Hex, Uncontrollable Rage, and Recurring Nightmare. The cost and the downside if you do not control a Witch make Possessed too much of a gamble unless you are playing her in a deck with a bigger threat. Merchant Freighter is still too good not to include right now and on the event side, Electroshock and Prey Upon provide very good mitigation.
The decks diverge a little too much to go into every card, but I’ll include them below to show a sample of what can be done with Merrin. Go and have fun with her.
Characters – eChewbacca2/eMerrin
Plot – Valorous Tribe
Battlefield – Pyke Syndicate Mine
Recurring Nightmare x2
Uncontrollable Rage x2
Merchant Freighter x2
Characters – eKragan /eMerrin
Battlefield – Nightsister Lair
Recurring Nightmare x2
Uncontrollable Rage x2
I think that whilst not by any means being the most powerful of characters, Merrin offers a good nice for the casual deck builder who wants to look at a different kind of deck as well as offering a challenge for the more serious tournament player. These are the kinds of cards and characters the ARH design team need to keep putting out there in each and every set they do.
**Note – I have since I drafted this piece accepted an invitation to be a part of the Organized Play Team for ARH and welcome all thoughts, suggestions, ideas and the like from anyone who loves the game and I will continue to write my articles for as long as people want to read them. If you would like to contact me, you can find me in the I Rebel or ARH Discord channels**