With more ambush upgrades, Rey gets stronger, however heroes still don’t have anything as under-costed as the new Phasma or 9s.
Heroes really need a boost when it comes to value for points spent. Rey has always been a solid choice in this role, but her and Maz are really the only “above the curve” options, and both feel a bit like supporting characters. Hera has the chance to fill a similar role, but the style of deck that she goes in is much more specific.
Heroes get a couple characters at an important point-cost landmark with two 7-point characters, although arguably much weaker than villain equivalents.
Did Rookie Pilot really need both of his damage sides to be modifiers? It’s A Trap might be a bit more powerful if this dude had 1 base side, and his ability is nice, but not all that powerful, so I’m not quite sure what the argument is there. FO Stormtrooper is such an incredible point-filler for villains, unfortunately the Pilot doesn’t stack up. Ezra seems interesting, if squishy, and the special is pretty nice if you’re able to roll it while your opponent is holding onto resources. Comparing Ezra to Bala Tik though (an example of another cheap unique yellow character), there really feels like there should be more than a 1 point difference between the two of them.
Heroes also get stronger vehicle synergy than villains with Hera and (to a much lesser extent) Rookie Pilot.
Hera has been talked about a lot, and the bottom line is that she’s straight value – especially when paired with C-3PO or Maz for more reliable access to her special. Regardless of whether or not it’s competitive, the hero vehicle/support deck will be much better than the villain equivalent.
Powerhouse heroes like Sabine Wren and Mace Windu might struggle without stronger character pairings.
Heroes have lacked a strong enough support character like Tusken Raider or Royal Guard, and it looks like that’s not changing a ton. Maz is definitely a contender for this role, as are Rey, Kanan, and possibly Padawan. Time will tell wether or not not we’ll see a strong 3-die hero team pop up.
Ahsoka is sweet, but her lack of a 3 side makes her slightly less exciting.
I’m excited to make an Ahsoka deck, lots of people are excited to make Ahsoka decks, however her lack of a 3-damage side makes her reactivation less threatening. I haven’t yet decided if it’s better to roll out elite Ahsoka and get 4 of her dice every turn for 2 resources or normal Ahsoka and get 2 dice each turn for 1 resource. I think she has the potential to be at least Tier 2 competitive, so we’ll have to try things out and see.
Hero mill gets more tools.
General Rieekan looks like a decent mill character. The downside is that his ability only allows you to discard a maximum of 2 cards each turn. He also has no discard side on his own, and character pairings don’t necessarily support the archetype. We don’t really have good options to play an elite character in a Rieekan deck and also gain maximum value from his ability.
His dice have shield sides to help out with his ability, but resolving them means the ability is irrelevant until the next time you activate him. A mill deck with Rieekan is probably going to play cards like All Quiet On The Front and maybe even Patience to try and mill quickly enough, while villains gets Thrawn and the absolutely insane Buy Out. I’ve been playing villain mill for months, and the offerings there have me much more excited.
Although not a hero-only card, the X-8 Night Sniper is obviously great on Rey (if she doesn’t get an errata), and is also great on Sabine. Action cheating has sort of become hero’s “thing”. I’m not sure that was intentional, but that’s the perception, and this card helps push that style of play. Adding another 2-cost ambush weapon for Rey and Sabine means that they can enable action cheat plays more reliably and more often, which is good or bad depending on your philosophy on the game.
Another Red weapon.
A-280 is more “It’s A Trap” fuel, but it’s not clear if we’ll see a meta that can support an “It’s A Trap” deck. Regardless, redeploy is a powerful ability, which means this card will likely fit into most red hero decks that are using weapons. Playing it on a character for 1 with Rearm isn’t too bad, and can help Red Hero play a weapon and removal (or It’s A Trap) in the same turn.
Fearless is a very interesting non-die upgrade that might be quite good on Ahsoka, allowing you extra value while reactivating her without needing to spend an extra resource. Ancient Lightsaber, Shoto Lightsaber, and by extension Lightsaber Pull (which all are neutral, yes) are cards that could make a Padawan deck very consistent in it’s ability to find early upgrades.
Heroes excel at Vehicles, and this set offers some new ones.
T-47 Airspeeder, Ghost, and Y-Wing are all very capable support cards with great dice for their cost (especially the T-47).
Poe gets stuff to throw.
In addition to Ghost and Y-Wing, which could make a splash in various Poe decks, the LR1K Sonic Cannon is a powerhouse. Worst case scenario, you can do 3 damage for free, but often enough it’ll act as a rocket launcher 4 for 1, and sometimes you’ll be able to deal 5-6 to a single target. The flexibility is nice, but it’ll be interesting to see if Poe/Maz decks find a slot for it (if the deck isn’t errata’d out of the meta).
Blue Hero can play more upgrades that stick around.
Funeral Pyre is a really cool card that essentially gives any upgrade redeploy. Redeploy is one of the best abilities in the game, so I expect this to easily go into the previously mentioned Padawan upgrade deck. The fact that the upgrades don’t have to be blue, and also don’t have to be weapons, opens up a ton of options, and can make playing more expensive non-redeploy upgrades worthwhile. The more characters you have, the more valuable the card becomes, so it will probably go into 3-character builds.
Running Interference may be the most exciting hero card in the set.
There are so many things you can do with this card. Want to simply slow your opponent down? Exhaust it when you activate a character to force them to wait before they can activate theirs. Have they run out of cards in their hand and only have the option to resolve their dice? Exhaust it when you resolve your dice, they’ll have to pass, then you can pass and end the action phase.
Where I really see this shine is while playing events. Running Interference has the ability to turn multiple cards in your deck into Force Strike “lite” (which is an effect sorely lacking on the Hero side). Let’s say we’re playing blue and yellow, Sabine/Rey for instance. You have Running Interference out and you play Use The Force to change Sabine’s die to 3 Ranged Damage and you exhaust RI. Now your opponent can’t react with the removal card they have sitting in their hand. They’ll do something else, and you’ll be able to resolve that 3 ranged damage unimpeded. There are quite a few cards that allow you to do this, such as Use The Force, Aim, Concentrate, I Have You Now, Meditate, Never Tell Me The Odds, Hit And Run, the list goes on.
One downside is that if you’re trying to change your dice to damage and your opponent has a Guardian character, they can still use Guardian to control your dice (but at least you’re still doing damage). Additionally, card actions that remove dice, like Honor Guard (from the new two-player box), get even better. Another drawback is that Force Strike is a single card that only takes up to 2 card slots in your deck, while RI + Dice fixing cards require multiple card slots and requires you to play RI first during the game. The benefit is added flexibility. If your opponent has a guardian character, change a die to a side showing special. If you know your opponent doesn’t have removal, use the fixing cards to change your dice and use RI to slow your opponent down somewhere else. Good players are going to be able to make very good use of this card, and I’m excited to see the combos and strategies that come from it.
Partnership is crazy good for heroes.
I wonder if we’ll see Poe/Maz play C-3PO again so they can roll & immediately guarantee a special for 1 resource. Hera is another obvious character that this pairs well with, again activating her along with C-3PO or alongside any big vehicle.
More love for Vehicles in this set.
Reckless Reentry, especially, is a hugely powerful card for Hero Vehicles. There are even a few vehicles with no blank sides, negating the drawback. Getting more uses out of your big vehicle dice is always going to be good.
Blue Hero can ramp even faster.
Reaping The Crystal allows Blue Hero to ramp into upgrades even harder by turning a 3-cost upgrade into a 1-cost upgrade on a Padawan (or free if you also have It Binds All Things). Additionally, Lightsaber Pull thins your deck while drawing you the weapons you need, a powerful card for any deck containing a bunch of blue weapons. Bestow gets an honorable mention for granting pseudo-redeploy, which as previously mentioned, is an incredibly strong mechanic. Finally, Rend can get rid of those pesky Imperial Inspections, so that you can play 2-costers with impunity.
Places Heroes could excel:
Hero vehicle decks have a real shot. Between the efficiency of Hera and the quality of the vehicles that heroes have available, I wouldn’t be surprised if hero vehicles has legs. Even if it doesn’t end up being Tier 1, I do assert that it will be better than a villain equivalent.
Since Awakenings, thanks to Rey, heroes have had an advantage in the action cheating game. If she sticks around without being errata’d, action cheat decks only get more consistent. Between the X-8 and Running Interference, the potential for blowout plays that your opponent can’t react to are realer than ever. (Side note: In the case of X-8, I don’t think more “free” repeatable action cheating is a good thing, but it is an area where heroes do indeed have an advantage over villains)
Rey/Padawan/Padawan has been a deck of varied success for a while now, and I think the archetype gets quite a bit stronger in Empire At War. Between the Ancient Lightsaber, Shoto Lightsaber, Funeral Pyre, Lightsaber Pull, and Reaping The Crystal, the deck gets a lot better at consistently loading up the Padawans with early weapons and swinging for the fences with a boatload of dice.
If we don’t see any type of errata that would bring Poe/Maz in line, it’ll very likely continue to be the best hero deck, shutting out other potential hero decks from being competitive.
There are many doomsayers who think heroes are hopeless in Star Wars: Destiny, but I’m cautiously optimistic. And if heroes do end up being as (mostly) inadequate as they were in the SoR meta, at least the idea of them being up against the wall and agains the odds is thematic.
Let us know what you think in the comments or on facebook/twitter.
Thanks for reading!