5 Questions Regarding The SoH Meta?!


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JULY 24, 2019.
TODAY'S COLUMNIST:
CLAUS STAAL

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5 QUESTIONS REGARDING THE SoH META:

Written by CLAUS STAAL

Most of us, although the Spark of Hope cards have not arrived everywhere in the world, have had some time to mull over the new cards that have definitely created an upheaval in the meta. Couple that with the adaption of the meta to the latest Balance of the Force and we are looking at some really interesting developments.

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In the beginning I was left somewhat disappointed with the new set, it just felt underwhelming, but as I've started putting more decks together and examine the set in context of the previous card pool, I've also come to appreciate the set much more. And it definitely has cards in it that has been meta defining. It even prompted FFG to create their first ever Restricted List for Destiny, and although some would say preemptive others believe it is exactly what Destiny needed and it was in fact long overdue.

This set also feels like it is a much more "emotional set" than previous sets. People really feel very strongly about the set and it definitely tries to grapple with themes deeply rooted in the core beliefs of Star Wars.

1. WILL SNOKE RETURN?
Snoke used to be THE MEGASTAR of Destiny and was so for the better part of 6 months. It took two attempts at balancing him out, the first one increasing his points cost from 11/13e to 12/14e, but it was the second one, making his Power Action work on only damage sides, that truly took him down a notch.snoke dead2jpg
Most people reacted in the positive by stating that it was how his Power Action should have been designed from the outset, but now it seems he is all but gone from the meta. Striking the fine balance between overpowered and totally useless has proven difficult it seems.5 questions2jpg
I've seen players attempt both 3wide Snoke decks, most notably eSnoke/Mud/FO with Advanced Training, as well as a wealth of 2wide decks, but mostly without success. Those decks have honestly felt pretty ordinary. And we are not really looking for ordinary.

Right now, I'm probably mostly tempted at 2wide aggro pairings with Snoke, and since you'll need a fair level of consistency, you're looking for a high health character with possibly 3 damage sides, which realistically narrows it down to either Snoke/Yellow Bounty Hunter or Snoke/Monoblue.5Questions3jpg
Two versions I'll be trying out are Savage Oppress with either Profitable Connections or Order 66 and IG-88 with plenty of Bounties to make his character dice a constant threat. They both have high health to soak up the damage from Snoke's Power Action and character dice that can consistently be targeted by it. You can get around the problem of Savage having to activate first by attaching redeployable upgrades on Snoke making both characters real threats. If you add Profitable Connections, you can play an Heirloom Lightsaber or Dagger of Mortis round 1.

Unfortunately neither of those decks feel strong enough to compete, and it'll probably be easier to take Jango Fett or Kylo Ren2 if monodecks are becoming a thing again.Snokejpg
Snoke has been my go-to-guy ever since he was released and it would seem that he'll now rest in peace dreaming of glories past.

2. HOW GOOD ARE DROIDS?
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This is of course not an easy question because the concept of Droids have changed quite a lot throughout the development of Destiny. Droids used to be really bad supports, then they became good supports, then they developed into mediocre characters and now they are really good characters.

I think that we'll see both Droid versions do really well in the Spark of Hope meta:
  1. Villain Droids (Aphra supports)
  2. Hero Droids (R2-D2 and C-3P0 w/upgrades)
In fact, I think they are both so good that they are going to become the gatekeepers of the meta. Either you play one of those decks OR you play a deck that can consistently defeat them. The main threat against them are decks that can action cheat and spike damage to wrestle down a character round 1 (8-9 damage is the magic number) and we might be seeing a rising popularity of that archetype, which has been totally absent from the meta since the days of Sabine Wren.

Sure, Sabine Wren was a special case and we'll probably never see the likes of her again (one can only hope), but there might be some Red/Yellow deck in the making that can abuse the sh*t out of cards like Seize the Day, Instigate and Drop In, and I'm also not quite ready to give up on a Spark of Hope version of the eLando/eBiggs deck, which can definitely give mid-health characters a run for their money and also has access to Jump To Lightspeed.

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Which is better? Villain support Droids or Hero Upgrade Droids? Well ... I'm assuming here that the Hero version will be an upgrade heavy deck, although some have tried to make it work with vehicles, and that one does looks INCREDIBLY strong, but I honestly think the Aphra support deck is the more well-balanced of the two. I cannot remember having played that deck and not felt that there was always a chance of winning. You just don't get annihilated.

3. WHAT ABOUT SUPPORTS?
For those who were following the new and revamped The Destiny Council Stream from the annual invitational tournament in Minneapolis, many probably looked in disbelief as Jonathan Magnuson defied the odds and wrecked havoc with his resetting Millenium Falcon deck.

Now, let's just remind ourselves that Jonathan Magnuson is an excellent player and incredibly good at making the most of whatever deck he plays. He played 5dice Villains at Worlds 2018 where everyone else brought eRey2/eAayla or Sabine and managed to take 17th place just barely edged out on a spot in top16. Sure, this is largely historical evidence, but it puts context to him fielding a semi-FAT Vehicle deck in a meta that's stronger than ever on vehicle/support hate.5 questions1jpg
I'm guessing he probably didn't face any Separatist Embargo or Desperate Measures at the tournament? The two cards that has everyone running scared leaving their precious supports at home. A round 1 Separatist Embargo all but destroys a deck so focused on a single card to perform.

Despite this I'm still torn in regards to supports. I mean, the danger is clear and present, and while FAT Vehicles is definitely a dead archetype, especially because I expect Aphra support decks to feature regularly and it runs both the above cards, there are still plenty of supports that are well worth the investment. Cheap(er) supports will still be good, i.e. Fickle Mercenaries and cheap Droids, while 3cost supports like Entourage, especially because it replaces itself, is definitely still going to feature heavily. THAT might in fact just be the most powerful support at the moment.5 questions8jpg
The question is whether heavy duty supports like the other parts of the Unholy Trinity: Megablaster Troopers and Vader's Fist will make the cut. Both are expensive, but can pay you back by the bucketload.

For the sake of the argument, let's say you have a Vader's Fist in hand as well as a Counterintelligence to protect your support from Desperate Measures in the round you play it, and you have the resources available, maybe even a Focus side sitting in the pool. Would you play it? You could potentially deal 12 Indirect damage and another 5 Indirect if he does decide to blow it up the next round. That's 17 Indirect damage! Sure, that'd require 8 resources, but it could also be 3 Ranged damage, 3 Indirect damage and 2 Shields plus the 5 Indirect damage when it blows up. That's still 11 damage.

It's definitely way too early to be ruling out supports quite yet, but we'll need to find ways to protect them better, maximise the return on investment and accept that they might not be constants, but rather immensely powerful (and sometimes expensive) damage out of hand cards.

4. HOW GOOD IS REYLO?
5questions12jpgBy now I think it's no secret that I'm not a big fan of premade decks for Star Wars Destiny, and Rey3/Kylo3 is exactly such a deck. I'm not excluding the possibility, as the card pool grows bigger, that there will be more variance in the Reylo deck lists, but at the moment they are literally all the same.

Well ... my own distaste for KeyForge apart ... sorry premade Destiny decks ... there's no point denying that Reylo looks like it's going to be a highly efficient character pairing that'll feature quite heavily in the early part of the meta. They are quite efficient and the synergies are not just obvious, but also really powerful and it's also worth remembering that the recent rules clarification (July 22, 2019), allowing you to move a Shield to a character that already is at its limit, has made the character pairing even more efficient.5questions13jpg
If I were to find a positive thing about this character team, then it would have to be the fact that it has finally made monoblue viable again, even if it took the combined powers of villains and heroes to achieve it. Giving you access to the full breadth of blue cards is exactly what was necessary. I still think there are good Yoda2 decks out there though so I'm not giving up on #makeblueheroesgoodagain quite yet.

So, how good is Reylo? It's unfortunately really good and is definitely vying for a spot as a contender although it's still behind the best decks in the format.

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5. WILL WE BE SWARMED?

Alright, let's address the elephant in the room, even if it's Ewok sized and furry. In our complete Spark of Hope set review we didn't give much credit to Ewoks and we've been flamed for it ever since. Do I think Ewoks are top tier? NO! Do I think they are much better than our original rating indicated: YES!ewok partyjpg
I've lost to Ewok decks in test games with decks I currently consider top of the meta, but hey, I lose games all the time. The problem with Ewoks is the fact that there are meta decks that are so obviously made to counter them without even breaking sweat! Just to break it down ... as long as Darth Vader - Terror To Behold is a thing Ewoks cannot be. And I definitely expect the killing machine Lord Vader to be a part of the meta, whether Vader/Red Admiral or Vader/Yellow Bounty, but he'll be bringing along his Fighting Pit and the air will be thick of Fear And Dead Ewoks.5 questions9jpg
The most important thing though is that swarm decks are definitely not the walk over that I predicted they'd be. Both Ewok Warrior and Hoth Trooper decks despite their obvious weaknesses have loads of tricks up their sleeve and can definitely cause troubles for anyone not familiar on how to take them on.

Also, 5+wide decks definitely breathe life into cards that would otherwise be utter crap. If it wasn't for swarm decks cards like Blaze of Glory, Strength in Numbers, Our Situation Is Desperate, etc. would never see play and now they do.5 questions8jpg

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