Covert Missions - Spoilers I


1. PILOTING - EXCITED?


Written by CLAUS STAAL

The BIG thing in COVERT MISSIONS, the ninth expansion for Star Wars Destiny, is the introduction of the keyword PILOTING (and the introduction of a new win condition). I've already seen a few comments stating that Star Wars Destiny has turned into X-Wing (a miniature game produced by FFG), and that's probably (grossly) exaggerating the possible impact of this new game mechanic although it does look pretty powerful.

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We've actually already had something like piloting in Destiny due to Biggs Darklighters ability, and while he's been screwed over, as in the movie, by the new rule, it definitely underscore the power of supports in Star Wars Destiny. Well ... stifled of course by DESPERATE MEASURES.
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The question is if the design team will keep Desperate Measures as a gatekeeper to prevent vehicles from becoming too gross, and if so, if the piloting keyword is then brought in dead?! My guess would be yes! Actually, yes to both questions. If Desperate Measures is changed irreparably, it's going to herald a new dominance for supports, while not changing it is going to turn piloting and many of the new fancy vehicles totally obsolete ...
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In a vacuum though, piloting looks set to become one of the strongest game mechanics introduced, and several of the cards supporting that mechanic, both characters and supports, definitely look top tier.

2. LINK:
You can read Fantasy Flight Games' official announcement article of the set here:
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The link to the new spoiler article from FFG is here and there are several of your favourite content creators who have been given the privilege of spoiling cards as well. You can find a list of links below:

I Rebel - A Star Wars: Destiny Podcast
Discard to Reroll
Dice Commandos
Golden Dice Podcast


3. NEW WIN CONDITIONS:


Just in case you've forgotten about the new win conditions that will be introduced in Covert Missions, and no-one can really blame you if you don't remember, since it has been forever since it was spoiled.

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Opinions regarding the introduction of the two plots are pretty diverse, with some thinking it's detrimental to "what Destiny is" (or should be), while others - and I belong to that category - relish the change of pace and think that it might actually be much more exciting than the introduction of piloting.

There's definitely going to be errata's (or clarifications) needed as soon as the set drops, as quite a few players noted immediately after the article dropped, since cards that allow you to move shields (or resources) around can be pretty broken. MOVING ROCKS in conjunction with DESTROY THE DEATH STAR is obviously going to be massively broken on a 3+ wide team, basically allowing you to immediately boost your characters with Shields, turning the plot into nothing but a Shield storage facility.
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That aside, I'm happy to see a bit of development of the game and a possible new design avenue.

4. HERA SYNDULLA & GHOST:

Like most of the characters spoiled, HERA SYNDULLA - SEASONED CAPTAIN comes as a package with her vehicle of choice, the GHOST, and I'll be evaluating them as such. It's pretty obvious that other support vehicles should be considered, but most of the spoiled support - vehicles are just tailored to be the most impactful in unison with one or more of the accompanying characters in the set.
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Hera Syndulla's points cost, although a pretty low health character (and it's rumoured that piloting a vehicle also means losing that vehicle when your character is defeated ... EDIT: And that was just me getting things mixed up with Darth Vader's ability), looks pretty sweet. Being both a Subtype - Leader, Pilot and Spectre should give her several good sidekick and Battlefield options, and we'll probably get a few that works with either the Pilot and/or Spectre subtype, while adding a plot like Armored Reinforcement seems to be a no-brainer (unless there are mega strong arguments for going with the new negative plot SPECTRE CELL instead). You'll want to use Hera Syndulla's ability every round if possible and in particular on a vehicle as impactful as the Ghost. The die is not super impressive, although no Blanks is nice, but the added Shield from resolving the die ups the value significantly.

There are some crazy combos possible due to the Ghost's Ambush and first passive ability: "After this support enters play, you may activate a Spectre you control", including:
  1. Play Ghost,
  2. Activate Hera,
  3. Pilot Ghost to activate it,
  4. Reset Ghost using Hera's ability
  5. Ambush, i.e. Resolve dice.
If you use Armored Reinforcement to tutor the Ghost from the deck, you'll need just 4 resources to play and reset it. I guess we'll all have to take another look at cards like Strategic Planning to go totally abusive on vehicles. Her ability is of course totally nuts on a FAT vehicle like the Shadow Caster with TLT's and shit, but who dares run that in this day and age ... unless your name is Jonathan Magnuson.

I'm keen to try out Hera Syndulla together with Han Solo - Old Swindler, which should leave enough points for both Armored Reinforcement and an additional character, or even go with the obvious choice:

5. SABINE WREN & TIE:
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SABINE WREN has an ok'ish die, and while you can go for the 3 Indirect damage on the Special, 2 Indirect is still fine and puts her die on par with a character like Han Solo - Old Swindler, although 1 point more expensive or like Rex, but with less health. I'd be tempted to go elite on Sabine Wren (or Hera Syndulla if you run them together) to get the most out of cards like SABINE WREN'S TIE FIGHTER, but the question is whether Han Solo is in fact a better character in that yellow slot.

Sabine Wren's TIE Fighter is pretty cool though. Being able to get the die into the pool multiple times, even if it "only" has two modified sides, is pretty good. We've already seen that dice that can be recycled, i.e. Chewbacca's Blaster Rifle, can be nuts, and while you shouldn't expect more than two uses of Sabine Wren's TIE Fighter since you'll run out of useful Spectre dice than can be modified, that's still amazing for just 2 resources.

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6. SPECTRE STUFF:
I had to look up SPECTRE to find out how extensive that subtype was going to be and it appears that it only refers to crew members of the Ghost, which according to Wookiepedia - The Star Wars Wiki are the ones depicted below: Sabine Wren, Zeb Orrelios, Hera Syndulla, Kanan Jarrus, Ezra Bridger and Tin Can aka Chopper.

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This is important because it relates to the playability of the new plot SPECTRE CELL and it's honestly impossible to evaluate until we have the entire set revealed, including the expected Zeb and Kanan characters (yes yes ... I don't know shit about Star Wars animated shows). I don't know if they'll be reprinting (new versions of) Chopper and Ezra, but I doubt it.

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While CUSTOM PAINT JOB is not exactly restricted to Spectres, it is close to useless on anything but Sabine's TIE Fighter, or another vehicle in a Sabine Wren deck, to boost her Special (for 3 Indirect damage), but it' seems to be a lot of effort for dealing another Indirect damage. I'd honestly rather choose another mod upgrade, i.e. Dorsal Turret, even if you also get to reroll two dice.
7. ELRIK VONREG & INTERCEPTOR:
The Red Baron, or Manfred von Richthofen, was considered the most skilled ace-of-aces during World War I, being credited with more than 80 air combat victories, and in line with the notoriety of the historical fighter ace, ELRIK VONREG'S TIE INTERCEPTOR (naturally blood red) allows you to remove this die to discard an opponent's vehicle from play that costs equal to or less than the value showing on this die, which caps at 3cost, and is pretty strong in a format that could seem to be pushing for vehicles to take center stage.

The 3 Disrupt seems somewhat out of place and will probably be using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but since the design team probably needed another 3 side, for the action:, Disrupt ended up being the least broken side.

Overall, I'm pretty sure the interceptor is not worth it though and will instead be holding my breath for Darth Vader's TIE Advanced, which we definitely are going to see in this set.

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EIRIK VONREG himself emulates the original TIE Pilot ability (now rotated out) by protecting any vehicle and mod upgrade dice piloted by him. I'm not entirely sure how relevant that ability will be and worse still Elrik Vonreg himself is not exactly a Manfred Von Richthofen. He feels overpriced and will probably suffer the fate of many of our current 13/16e characters available for villains. Left to rot in a binder.
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Elrik Vonreg is obviously the easiest comparable with Asajj Ventress and well ... left to rot in a binder. I'd much rather go with Iden Versio in that price range UNLESS (and that's a very tentative unless) vehicles suddenly become Gods of the meta AND Desperate Measures simultaneously is nerfed.
8. OTHER STUFF:
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ASSAIL is the advanced version of the old Pinned Down, although with a bit steeper spot requirement, but with Ambush it might actually be really good. It's never going to be a staple removal card, but in decks relying on piloting to do tricks, it'll definitely be good. Same with EJECT, which I think will actually be pretty good as an endgame card after resolving your vehicle die, then discarding it to essentially gain 4 health (2 Shields and heal 2 damage). Maybe there are some Reconstruct plays available here.

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While I think that piloting is going to be great, I don't think it's worth spending a resource on, and LICENSED TO FLY is likely to see minimum play - if at all.

IMPERIAL PILOT is so far the most expensive die less character and could become useful as a filler in vehicle decks due to his Power Action that acts as an auto-focus and therefore a single unremovable die with six Focus sides (well ... not exactly, but close enough). Many of you will know my love for TIE Fighters and this might just make me dust them off again. 7hp for 6 points is also pretty decent: So Wat Tambor, 3 Imperial Pilots and Armored Reinforcement?
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