1. LET THE HYPE BEGIN!
So, the "polar conditions" in the US has apparently meant significantly more office time for employees at Fantasy Flight Games in Minnesota with the beginning of February proving to be a particular busy month. Launch of a new Draft Set: Allies of Necessity, as well as the unveiling of a new livestreaming calendar for FFG games AND spoiled cards from the seventh expansion to Star Wars Destiny: Convergence.
A major part of the news of the week was also the restructuring of Fantasy Flight Games' Organized Play schedule, but since that's going to have some major impact on the structure of competitive Destiny, I've saved those changes for a separate article ... They even got a new "logo" (click it to go straight to the article released by FFG announcing the changes).
Hot mama ... Let the Hype Begin!
When FFG released a new livestream calendar where they plan to unveil new products in what looks to be an attempt at creating more communication with the community, I wrote a Facebook update calling it the "Alex Watkins effect". Alex Watkins is the new Global Director of Organized Play with FFG, and has previously been the (Asmodee) Organized Play Coordinator for Europe and later Global Marketing Manager, and is well-known for his commitment to the games, but also strong ties with the community gate-keeping the games. He's done wonders for the Organized Play Programmes in Europe, and I'm certain that the improvements we are starting to see now, can (also) be attributed to Alex Watkins. I for one like it!
The dates of interest for Star Wars Destiny players are Tuesday February 19 and Thursday February 21, which then could indicate that the release of the new Draft Set: Allies of Necessity (announced to release in the second quarter of 2019) and the Expansion Set: Convergence, is due shortly after!
You can read FFG's article on the Livestreams here!
3. ALLIES OF NECESSITY:
One of the changes to the new draft set is the addition of hero/villain characters as opposed to the all-neutral line-up in the existing draft set: Rivals.That change doesn't affect drafting format, since you can mix hero/villain/neutral unrestricted in draft, but will make the impact of the Allies of Necessity in Standard and Trilogy format greater.
The previous draft set, Rivals, has had little to no impact on constructed play, save a few clutch cards and characters, i.e. Hidden Motive and Anakin Skywalker. Splitting characters into factions might mean that the Allies of Necessity will have a wider impact on the game.
Most of the cards spoiled in the recent article were characters (4 out of 7 cards) and all of them seem to follow the same basic template of previous draft kit characters (apart from the change of faction): 11/13e points (it's interesting to see how the design team are continuously going into a design space where the elite die costs just 2points - similar to Snoke), 9 health (6 for the grey support character), while Anakin Skywalker in Rivals was the odd one with 10 health, while actions/Specials has been replaced by Power Actions.
11/13e points is the sweet spot for characters, which means they will effortlessly slot into most decks, while 9 health is relatively low compared to how the inevitable power creep has affected other comparable characters from the Legacies cycle. Comparable characters belonging to the same cycle would be Yoda and Ahrinda Pryce, both of whom are outrageously good compared to the Allies of Necessity counterparts. They are of course NOT designed to be 1:1 comparison since the Draft format is entirely different from the constructed formats.
The third iteration of Darth Tyrannus and an interesting one for monoblue villain midrange decks. Although Edwin Chen took down Worlds 2018 with Kylo2/Anakin, monoblue melee decks haven't really been able to hold their own since that triumph! Although pretty low on health, Dooku could slot in nicely with Kylo Ren - Tormented One for some nice midrange lightsaber action. Dooku's dice sides are decent, and you rid yourself of the atrocious 2 Melee damage payside on Anakin, while gaining a pretty strong Power Action in the process. Unfortunately no Close Quarters Assault once rotation hits (unless they decide to reprint), but the character pairing should still look pretty strong.
We'll need to see the set spoiled before having a realistic evaluation of various deck archetypes, and with (blue) Melee based decks destined to lose staple weapons such as Ancient Lightsaber and Shoto Lightsaber their power could be stifled due to limited access to quality upgrades (see more on this further down).
Dooku's Power Action looks incredibly strong though. Playing a card from hand AND forcing an opponent to discard a card is the kind of hand control that can swing games in your favor.
At first glance he looks like a weaker version of Cassian Andor, 10/14e, and although the Power Action is usable it is nowhere nearly as powerful as Cassian's passive ability. You do get a considerable discount on his elite die compared to Cassian Andor, and that's in reality a true reflection of the difference in power level of their abilities respectively.
Dependent on what other cards will be revealed, I'm not entirely sure Fenn Rau will be able to squeeze himself into many decks.
OUTER RIM OUTLAW
The die sides are pretty awesome, even if he comes with a payside. If the meta continues to develop along the same lines as what we've seen previously, the Disrupt side could be pretty good. It's always been the worst side of any character die, but is getting more and more love as the curve for resource expenditure throughout a game is getting steeper.
Although not totally convinced that the Outer Rim Outlaw will see a whole lot of play and coming in at 10points is facing some stiff competition for yellow character slots. Cassian Andor (yellow hero) is also 10points and so is Val (yellow villain), while Han Solo - Independent Hotshot (yellow neutral) can be recruited at 11points.
Our new Jawa, albeit with a slightly better die side. Getting rid of the payside on the Jawa, but trading the Ranged damage sides for Indirect damage is great! If we were to use the Jawa as an indication of how popular the Clawdite Shapeshifter will be then it'll rot away in your binder ... this is obviously said totally out of context, and while the ability to change subtype could be alluring, dependent on how this design space is explored, it doesn't change the fact that outside of Drafting the Clawdite will probably die in anonymity.
Unless ... some mysterious card is going to show up that bumps the value of your dice equal to the number of characters with the same subtype (or something similar) ... and you are not hit by a enraged Darth Vader with Fear and Dead Men round 1!
THE OTHER STUFF
In Across the Galaxy we saw the first card, In A Bind, released that gave your opponent several (negative) options on them, while CHANCE ENCOUNTER follows the same outline, but digging into the Subtype design space.
Dependent on what subtype you spot, Leader/Scoundrel/Trooper, you get several mitigation options. From turning a die, rerolling 3 dice or removing a die. All three options looks fairly weak and unless the rest of the mitigation in the set is just as bad, you'll probably not see it used a whole lot.
ALLIES OF NECESSITY
One of the "new" design avenues that has had the biggest impact on Destiny since it's inception is the addition of Plots. There are currently 18 plots available, while 2 more has been announced for Convergence and 1 more for Allies of Necessity (as of Feb 2, 2019). The plots were introduced with the Legacies expansion, which means that all of them will be available after the first rotation hits Destiny.
Plots like Armored Reinforcement, arguably still the best card to have been printed in Destiny, Profitable Connections and Double Down have all made a huge impact on the game thus far. They are incredibly powerful, allowing either extreme flexibility in your deck building (Armored Reinforcement), makes available powerful first round plays (Profitable Connection) or adds unparalleled consistency (all three), and while the namesake card of the Draft Set, ALLIES OF NECESSITY doesn't really seem to fit that bill by introducing some unprecedented negative effect, along the lines of Bitter Rivalry and Solidarity, and at a glance looks pretty weak, I wouldn't dismiss it too hastily!
So, the negative side effect: Discarding a card from your hand AND losing 2 resources after setup is pretty BAD! You are essentially setting yourself back an entire round and it will be defining for your design of your deck. You'll need to calculate and recalculate the cost curve of upgrades, supports and events down to the last card. And I suspect an Allies of Necessity deck will require more play testing and tweaking than any other deck.
BUT ... being able to include 32points worth of characters (if two or more characters share the same color) can have a tremendous impact on the possibilities of future character teams! Obviously, nothing definitive can be said about how the plot in reality will affect the game, but I would not dismiss it just yet! If Convergence were to reveal powerful characters á la Snoke, where the elite die is just 2 points (similar to all the unique characters already spoiled from Allies of Necessity) as opposed to the "normal" 3-4 points, i.e. Han Solo3 (11/15e), Mother Talzin (9/12e), etc., it will definitely require some soul searching and calculation to evaluate what is the more impactful in a deck.
For now, Allies of Necessity (the plot) is nothing more than intriguing, but intriguing nonetheless.
4. CONVERGENCE SPOILERS:
At the Covenant Masters hosted by the amazing Team Covenant, Jeremy Zwirn (lead designer of Star Wars Destiny) was present to play exhibition matches against various opponent's and had brought a deck featuring several new cards from the upcoming expansion Convergence! The cards were in fact so new that Zwirn did NOT even have the corresponding character dice yet!
6 cards were spoiled and the talking point of the day was the new Palpatine, which will be our third iteration, and a replacement for the Galactic Emperor from Spirit of Rebellion!
First impressions are always difficult, but man does Palpatine strike a pose!
The design of PALPATINE - UNLIMITED POWER is unique in the way that he interacts with your deck and is modified accordingly. Coming in at 14/18e points, he's relatively expensive compared to his stats, but gains power as you start upgrading him with Abilities. He also gets weaker as abilities are stripped from him, so a Vandalize will not only strip him of an upgrade, but also deal damage. There are some interesting interactions in place here. Luckily for Palpatine, Fall Back will rotate out before he hits gaming tables.
Dependent on how many 0 and 1cost Ability Upgrades there will be available in Convergence, Palpatine could be a good to INCREDIBLE character. Judging by the cover he looks pretty damn menacing and I'm pretty excited to try him out! He looks strongest with a single die, still getting all the benefits of his Power Action, while keeping 16points for the rest of your character team! There's also some cheeky ePalpatine/Snoke potential (although 3dice is probably not the best place to be! Erhhmmm ... looking at you eVader/Greedo).
The true power of being able to roll any one ability die in with his Power Action still hinges on how many ability upgrades are available, how inherently powerful they will be and how difficult they will be to get into play now that we are saying goodbye to the good ol' Sith Holocron. It will be missed by many while just as many can't wait for it to be gone!
In his games at the Covenant Masters, Jeremy Zwirn played a 3wide (blue/red) villain deck with Palpatine, Executioner and the SENTINEL MESSENGER:
The Sentinel Messenger takes up the same character slot as previously filled by the Dark Advisor, who hasn't seen a lot of play, but the Sentinel's passive ability is far superior to that of the Dark Advisor and he should slot in beautifully with Palpatine - Unlimited Power, sharing both damage sides (Melee) as well as adding consistency with 2 Focus sides. His 8points cost is perfect for a single die Palpatine leaving just enough space for another 8point character (still just 3dice, but a sh*tload of health).
Being able to functionally increase your hand size by 1 when activating is pretty awesome, although he'll probably hate Jyn Erso2, but then again, so do I! The artwork looks like Palpatine in a giant red raincoat - perfect for Danish weather conditions ...
Speaking of Upgrade Abilities, we had two spoiled and both look pretty cool!
MALICE is just the perfect upgrade for Palpatine, capable of dealing damage, albeit pretty toned down, while having Redeploy is great! Due to Palpatine's ability you can keep stacking force upgrades on him, and having redeploy on some is going to be pretty amazing. If that's a design template which is explored more in Convergence, then I guess both Palpatine and Luke Skywalker - Reluctant Instructor are going to be happy!
FORCE STORM is the direct replacement for FORCE LIGHTNING, which also rotates out of Standard, and while expensive villain Force Abilities might be a serious concern due to the imminent loss of the Sith Holocron, it still has an incredible die: No Blanks and HUGE damage sides, all for free! But if you can find the resources (4 resources is pretty expensive though and just one shy of a Vader's Fist instead) this will probably be a go-to upgrade. I guess, Snoke/x is going to like this one! I know, I do! That Palpatine grin .. AWESOME!
It also looks like mitigation is set for an overhaul. With spot requirements being replaced by play restrictions such as FORSAKEN. Playable only when there's just one die in the pool, but removes one die showing a value of 2 or less. Kinda your modified, and weaker, Electroshock.
A SINISTER PEACE is also 0cost mitigation, but it is definitely NOT FREE as you trade a card in your hand to remove a die showing a value of 2 or more. You are then effectively trading 2 cards in hand for 1 die! Wow ... you better make it count! Cards in hand is one of your most valuable commodities in the game and trading 2 of those for a single die is pretty steep. If that's the route mitigation is going, it's getting a whole lot weaker!
Last card to get spoiled at the Covenant Masters was PALPATINE'S LIGHTSABER, which is definitely not what you had expected, at least if cards like Darth Vader's Lightsaber or Maul's Lightsaber were seen as templates for unique namesake villain weapons.
I'd actually claim, it's much better than anticipated! Losing both Ancient Lightsaber and Shoto Lightsaber in rotation, the hunt is on for good 2cost blue lightsabers, and Palpatine's Lightsaber fits that bill perfectly. Its damage sides are superior to the Shoto Lightsaber and basically equal to the Ancient, and played on a character with 2 or more ability upgrades attached it's functionally free (you need to be able to pay the initial cost, but will get the resources back). It works on Palpatine like Rex's Blaster Pistols on Rex: The upgrade(s) are not considered unique, which means you can play both - potentially for free! Pretty damn awesome. It might not be particular thematic, but I actually couldn't care less! Blue villains are going to love this upgrade! BIG TIME!
You can watch the games Jeremy Zwirn played using Palpatine (and the rest of the spoiled cards from Convergence in this article) on Team Covenant's Facebook page. My favourite game was his first game against Zach Bunn, which you can check out below.Jeremy Zwirn is probably one of the hardest persons to read I've ever met. It's difficult to see if he's excited about Convergence at all ... But it doesn't matter because I'm pretty hyped! Please release NOW!
ALSO ... Check out our first Spoiler Article for Convergence from when the set was first announced!