Spark of Hope Set Review - Blue Neutral


A NOTE ON CARD RATINGS:

The card ratings are mostly created in a vacuum and for Standard Format exclusively. Some cards are much better in Trilogy or Infinite Format, and notes are sometimes made of this, but the set is reviewed from the point of view of Standard Format play.

It is always going to be difficult to adequately rate a card, and all the ratings are obviously going to be subjective, although we have tried to proximate an objective rating. The rating system is 0-5, with 0 being absolutely useless, 1 being the rating of a card that will rarely see play and 5 a card that will become a staple in many decks and will most likely feature heavily in competitive play.

There are links to all the other parts of the set review at the end of this article!

1. BLUE NEUTRAL CARDS:
Written by CLAUS STAAL

Most of the Blue Neutral cards are honestly pretty bad. Most surprisingly there are no new weapon upgrades or supports with dice, which is quite surprising. It would have been nice with the addition of one weapon that could have been used across factions although the Niman cards look good, but they can only be used on Blue characters. Spark of Hope does add two more Event - Moves, which is going to make Lightsaber Mastery better. Unsurprisingly a number of cards gravitate around the Temporary Truce plot and that in itself is getting a bit tiresome since it is the least accessible of all plots printed.

2. BLUE NEUTRAL EVENTS:
ALTER FATE (1/5)
This is essentially the Blue Neutral version of Snuff Out without the play restriction of having to control the Battlefield, while the price of 3 Resources reflect this change. 3 Resources is a lot to pay for any event, and I can't think of any 3cost event that has consistently been included in any deck since the days of Hyperspace Jump. There's of course always the option of running it with Mean Streets to potentially reduce its, but that's going to be limiting as there's currently no Blue Scoundrel (the only other option outside of Yellow are the Fickle Mercenaries).

If played at the right time Alter Fate is obviously going to have a massive impact, but I'm almost certain that its going to see little to no play mostly due to the fact that Heroes have better blue alternatives, i.e. Repulse and Jedi Mind Trick, while Villains currently have access to a very strong mitigation suite across colours and Alter Fate does little to add to that.review43jpg
CLEVER DISTRACTIONS (4/5)
This is an interesting design similar to Chance Encounter, but a lot more playable. With a fairly simple Spot Blue requirement and a high level of flexibility it looks as a very strong addition to mill decks in particular where at least two of the three options (turning a die and discarding 2 cards) would be viable most of the time, but dependent on how popular the Trooper subtype will remain could easily find its way into a number of other decks. It can remove support dice like Conscript Squads, Vader's Fist and Megablaster Troopers that are all Troopers, as well as a vast number of character dice. I expect Captain Phasma to remain as popular as ever, while we might also see the Mudtrooper force its way into character teams. Clever Distractions is obviously going to be a auto include in many blue Trilogy decks.

DARK REFLECTIONS (2/5)
So, Alter never really became a thing (and has been a dead card since Force Speed rotated out of Standard), and Dark Reflections might find itself in the same unenviable position even before its officially added to the card pool. At a glance it's pretty powerful though, being able to potentially turn 3 dice to high value sides, which could make it a great candidate for a Melee based upgrade style deck ensuring maximum output from a round, but in a game flooded with powerful Focus sides, it seems less enticing. It's also begging for an Easy Pickings to rip you apart.review42jpg
DECISIVE BLOW (1/5)
Reprinted from Spirit of Rebellion where it saw almost no play due to its high cost. Nothing has really changed in that regard, and although the meta is widely expected to move slightly towards upgrade decks over support decks it's probably still a bad investment although you'll love it if you sit across from Mace Windu or Palpatine.

DRAW CLOSER (2/5)
We are now at 6 Event - Move. 2 Resources is expensive, which is going to be limiting for the use of Draw Closer. On the positive side it can affect both character and upgrade dice, which makes it reminiscent of the old Ally of the Force, but without Ambush, which makes it somewhat less attractive. On the other hand it can affect any Melee die, not just limited to Blue.

There's of course no doubt that it is the most powerful when coupled with Niman Mastery, which is blue character only, but then it also looks terrifyingly strong, while MUCH harder to set up. Maybe a good candidate for one of your two cards stored underneath a Lightsaber Mastery?!review44jpg
POLARITY (1/5)
This is obviously a card created specifically with the Rey3/Kylo3 character team in mind, where it is also the most effective and would probably be closer to a rating of (3/5). Actually, outside of that character pairing it's useless, which is reflected in my rating.

PUSHING SLASH (3/5)
Pushing Slash is the Niman Mastery based version of Deflecting Slash and the latter is probably the more powerful. Pushing Slash however offers a bit of speed as well as the possibility of mitigation if it's coupled with Niman Mastery. So, I'm honestly a bit in doubt here.

3. BLUE NEUTRAL PLOTS:
REYLOjpgTEMPORARY TRUCE (X/5)
This plot is so incredibly difficult to make a proper rating on due to its EXTREMELY limited application. In Standard Format you could combine any of Kylo2, Kylo3 with Rey2 and Rey3, but honestly the only place it fits is with Kylo3 and Rey3. Is it going to be a good deck? I don't think so. Am I going to try it out? Of course! It's likely one of the most thematic decks imaginable, inspired by that aesthetically beautiful moment in The Last Jedi, so sign me up.

4. BLUE NEUTRAL SUPPORTS:
review40jpgFORCE CONNECTION (2/5)
Ga'hh, yet another card custom made to fit into the Kylo3/Rey3 deck, although also usable with Yoda2 in combination with Ahsoka2 or Aayla. If you draw this early it can actually end up being pretty impactful.

MYSTERIES OF THE FORCE (1/5)
What a crazy card. Obviously, the potential ramp is massive if you can play and trigger this round 1. Most Blue Hero characters have several of the sides needed to trigger Mysteries of the Force, but the real stumbling block is the fact that you need 5 dice, including a Special. That severely limits which characters can be involved in the obscure trade-off. Adding to this, you would need to have 3 upgrades in your hand/discard pile, which means that this is never going to be playable round 1, unlikely in round 2, which brings you to round 3 ... and that killed it right there. I'm not going to throw away 5 dice in round 3. Period.

5. BLUE NEUTRAL UPGRADES:
NIMAN MASTERY (4/5)
No Blanks! AWESOME! The die sides are pretty good and the fact that you get to modify two dice, a character die AND an upgrade die with the Special is pretty good. It's aggressive and works well in conjunction with other Blue upgrades, chains beautifully with a number of lightsabers, while it is designed for optimising your rounds with characters like Maul, Vader and Obi-Wan. If you play it using the Niman Training Special, you also get the benefit of being able to turn two dice immediately, which is sweet with characters that have high value die sides. Niman Mastery in fact also makes Fear And Dead Men a better card, and I could actually see this upgrade slot in nicely in a eVader/x deck.review41jpg
NIMAN TRAINING (3/5)
Apart from the two Blanks on Niman Training the die is pretty good for a 1cost upgrade. Sure, it doesn't beat Force Jump for defensive purposes, but it also has a 1 Resource side, which at least makes the upgrade able to pay for itself. It will probably sit well with Palpatine - Unlimited Power fanboys, while I could also see it being useful in Yoda decks. It's a pity that the Special only affects Upgrade dice, but will allow you to chain with Treasured Lightsaber, which is nice, while the effect of being able to play Niman Mastery for free is less relevant than the corresponding Special on Soresu Training since Niman Mastery is "just" 2 resources compared to the 3 resources for Soresu Mastery.

UNTAMED POWER (2/5)
... AAAAAND we are back to Kylo3/Rey3. AGAIN. The die sides are horrible. If it could have been attached to Luke3, I might have given it a go, but it can't. It just goes with Kylo3/Rey3, where it fits, but will have trouble competing with Niman Mastery which costs the same is arguably a much better upgrade.

BLUE VILLAIN REVIEW
RED VILLAIN REVIEW
YELLOW VILLAIN REVIEW
BLUE HERO REVIEW
RED HERO REVIEW
YELLOW HERO REVIEW
RED NEUTRAL REVIEW
YELLOW NEUTRAL REVIEW
GREY CARDS REVIEW