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! (The links are not currently active until the entire set review has been published.)
1. BLUE VILLAIN CARDS:
Written by CLAUS STAAL
We have been so accustomed to Blue villains being overly "spoiled" in various expansion sets, but Spark of Hope does not - at a glance - look to offer much to the power of the sith.
While previous sets have revealed marquee characters like Darth Vader (Across the Galaxy) and Palpatine (Convergence) there are no mindblowingly good characters and most of the other cards look pretty ordinary comparatively to the rest of the set.
Most exciting thing is probably the exploration into the dark arts of necromancy and while this is going to have very little impact on the competitive scene, it's nonetheless a new design avenue for the game and should add flavour and a strong thematic feel to the game. If that's enough to keep strictly competitive players happy is another question entirely.
There are plenty of toys for Mother Talzin in this set and I'm certain we'll see her make more and more appearances across gaming tables. She quite simply remains one of the best support characters for blue villains.
2. BLUE VILLAIN CHARACTERS:
DARK MYSTIC (3/5)
The Dark Mystic is somewhat similar to the Force Sensitive Outcast boasting the same health and points cost, while the die is also very similar although the Dark Mystic arguably received the better end of the deal, and the Special looking particularly good. Being able to play a Blue upgrade from EITHER hand or discard pile is really strong, while being able to roll the die into the pool is what can make the Special break the curve.
There are unfortunately not a whole lot of Blue upgrades that mix well with Ranged damage, apart from the Energy Bow or various supports, but adding a splash of Red or Yellow to the mix should help solve that. I don't think he'll dominate play in any way - far from it - but offers an alternative in the points range which has previously almost exclusively been occupied by Mother Talzin. Spark of Hope generally looks like it's pushing towards an upgrade meta, which might increase the stock of the Dark Mystic a bit.
KYLO REN - BOUND BY THE FORCE (3/5)
In the beginning I honestly thought Kylo Ren - Bound By The Force was utter crap. I'm warming up a bit towards him. He's obviously meant to go together with Rey - Bound By The Force and the Plot Temporary Truce.I'm not a huge fan of these premade character pairings, and although synergetic and some would also say thematic, it feels extremely limiting. The combination of Power Action and Special can make for some nice plays, but ultimately Kylo Ren's die feels a bit on the weak side, even if it is an improvement from previous iterations of him.
Generally, if the meta moves towards 2wide over 3wide, I think Kylo Ren might see more play, but he's not going to be my first pick to try out in Spark of Hope.
MAUL - SKILLED DUELIST (3/5)
Maul was the first BIG revealed from Spark of Hope when he was circulated as an Alt Art card at Star Wars Celebration. He immediately sparked extacy, not because he's THAT good, but simply because the previous iteration was THAT bad. His die sides comparatively to his cost is not too impressive. He suffers from the same weakness that has made characters like Zeb Orrelios see little to no play, namely a 1 damage side, and while he doesn't have any paysides, which is a HUGE bonus, it still feels bad.
This is then made up for by a Power Action that allows him to reroll a character or upgrade die, reroll it again by discarding a card from hand and then remove it to deal damage equal to its value to two characters. This is capping at 4 damage to two characters each, but is more likely to be 2 damage to two characters. Maul's own dice as well as his lightsaber are both excellent targets for the Power Action. Maul, 16/20e, is cheaper than Darth Vader - Terror to Behold, 18/23e, but is also significantly less terrifying. Both force you into a 3dice start and while Maul's Power Action CAN be overly powerful 25% of the time it'll be useless. That's a lot of points to invest into potentially a whole lot of nothing.
NIGHTSISTER ZOMBIE (X/5)
The Nightsister Zombies belong to the group of cards that are diceless characters and all of these feel pretty difficult to evaluate. The Nightsister Zombies though are probably my least favourite. Which is paradoxical as Mother Talzin is probably one of my favourite characters and Weave the ... one of the best events of the set. The artwork though is awesome!
OLD DAKA - NIGHTSISTER NECROMANCER (2/5)
The addition of the necromantic powers of Old Daka is a new design avenue for Destiny. We saw the precursor in Dark Ritual, but the ability to bring new characters into play, albeit exhausted, could have made for some broken stuff. It isn't though. The design team have been proactive in the design of the Power Action and almost too fair. The Nightsister Zombies take a long time to set up and therefore cannot work as an undead meatshield.
Old Daka herself doesn't look too powerful and will have a difficult time forcing herself into a starting line-up as long as better alternatives are around, and in her points range, 9/14e, there are plenty of options. Too few cards synergise well with her at the moment apart from Weave the xx and while there might be cards in coming sets that can affect her stock, i.e. cards similar to Convergence that affects or is affected by accumulation of cards sharing subtypes, for now it's pretty limited.
3. BLUE VILLAIN DOWNGRADES:
CHANCELLOR'S EDICT (3/5)
This Downgrade - Bounty mashes an Intimidate into a Defensive Stance while at the same time triggering cards that require you to spot a Bounty. It's not the most powerful Bounty compared to cards like Enticing Reward or Wanted, but it offers an immediate effect which improves its playability. If the meta becomes Shield heavy, the Chancellor's Edict will become a great card if you need a Downgrade or Bounty in play, i.e. to boost characters like Asajj Ventress, Dengar or IG-88.
It's probably one of the better, or at least most playable, Bounties currently available unless you decide to go the route of 4-LOM/Zuckuss, recycling Bounties, in which case its effect is probably below par - unless you use it against a fully shielded Yoda - Mystical Mentor where it would be NUTS.
I really like the new Downgrade - Curses. They are all extremely powerful and adds loads of character to the whole Witch theme of Star Wars Destiny. If you manage to trigger HEX once or twice throughout a game, it will have offered pretty good return on investment while at the same time triggering the Nightsister Zombie's ability. This is probably not enough to make the Zombies worth it, but Hex still feels good enough to be playable in particular in conjunction with cards like Triple Threat or Beguile allowing you to control your opponent's dice. It's a pity it only works on Character dice and Blanks though. Had it worked on upgrade dice as well as Specials, I'd probably have offered it a (4/5) rating.
Similar to all three Downgrade - Curse cards, Possessed gets more powerful for every time you get to use it (just stating the obvious), but this is truly a powerful card! Being able to not only remove an opponent's die, but resolve it as if it was your own can go a long way to control and limit the impact of an opponent's round. Stripping your opponent of valuable Resource or Focus sides is definitely not a bad place to be.
I'm keen on trying Possessed out, even if it is a bit expensive, but the effect seems to warrant such a steep price tag. Playing it in a control/aggro style eTalzin/eIden deck, either with Profitable Connection or Blockade seems like a real option here.
UNCONTROLLABLE RAGE (3/5)
Another powerful and cheap Downgrade - Curse, that can function as a recurring Lightsaber Throw throughout the game. It can work to ensure that the attached character is activated first, always, lest it takes 2 damage to the face. Uncontrollable Rage in conjunction with a swarm of Nightsister Zombies should be able to take down a character fast, but with no way to tutor for a Curse that strategy is very risky to say the least.
It's probably the least powerful of the Downgrade - Curses currently available, but IF a tutor were to be printed, it'd make it a whole lot more powerful.
4. BLUE VILLAIN EVENTS:
ACT OF BETRAYAL (1/5)
Removing a die AND dealing damage to a character at the same time is potentially VERY good, but the combination of a high cost and a very limited scope unfortunately makes the value of ACT OF BETRAYAL plummet. Upgrade dice are currently the least interesting dice to remove and while there are plenty of great upgrades around, and I do expect upgrades to become more popular in Spark of Hope, there's not a whole lot to justify the use of 2 resources to remove just 1 upgrade die. You are likely to be able to deal just 1 or 2 damage with this card.
DARK MAGICK (3/5)
A fairly flexible mitigation card that will allow you to EITHER reroll your own character dice or an opponent's and deal damage to it if it has a Downgrade - Curse attached. 0cost mitigation is always worth looking at and this should definitely be considered an option and can force some bad sequencing for your opponent in conjunction with some of the Downgrade - Curses available. Dark Magick definitely also looks good with the Sentinel Messenger, who can pull it from your deck as your 6th card in hand. One can only dream of how awesome it would have been if it had Ambush.
SINISTER RUSE (1/5)
Any card with this amount of variance has to be considered bad from the outset. Sinister Ruse is no exception. You reveal a random card from an option rather than naming a specific card and/or discarding it. On top of that, you deal Indirect damage rather than Direct damage. And it's going to cost you 1 resource. Everything about this card screams: BAAAAD.
You'll probably rarely use Tantrum to discard an expensive upgrade, but a 0cost or 1cost upgrade could be an option to get rid of a potentially lethal die in the pool. There's probably better mitigation you'd want to include and it's appallingly poor in the beginning of the game, but could have an increased value late game deciding those tight games.
WEAVE THE ICHOR (4/5)
This would be a whole lot more powerful if you could spot any number of witches to heal that much damage rather than it being limited to 3. It's still good though and will help keeping Old Daka alive way beyond her 9 health. Add in Witch Magick and it all starts looking decent. It's of course ONLY playable with Old Daka, but in that vacuum it's good. Outside of an Old Daka deck Weave the Ichor is much closer to (0/5).
5. BLUE VILLAIN PLOT:
ORDER 66 (4/5)
This plot is absolutely NUTS. Its abuses are extremely obvious, especially with the Rebel Traitor's ability. Order 66 can go one of two ways. It will either dominate the meta until it's fixed or will only be marginally played. That doesn't take away from it that it's broken. It's even worse than broken. It's lazy design.
6. BLUE VILLAIN SUPPORT:
The Scimitar has a super funky die. Three decent damage sides, although the payside is a hassle, two Shield sides and a relevant ability. If you spot Maul, the Scimitar is essentially a "counter spell" at the cost of 1 resource against vehicle hate cards. which honestly not bad at all. Sure, at 2 resources it becomes a whole lot more tricky, but it's still ok'ish ... Maul and his excessive cost (in both versions) is probably at the end of the day what will prevent this from becoming a popular support. It's in a Maul deck where this would excel and I can't really see myself making space for it there.
7. BLUE VILLAIN UPGRADES:
ANCIENT MAGICKS (3/5)
I really like Ancient Magicks. It has a good die and while it's only really playable in a deck utilising Downgrade - Curses, the Special does make Curses a whole lot better. In a Blue/Red deck there could be some nasty plays with Tactical Mastery. The main problem is that the use of Ancient Magicks is so very limited, but I'll definitely be using it with Mother Talzin where it looks to fit very well!
RECOVERED SITH LIGHTSABER (2/5)
Blue Villains already have quite a few good 2 cost upgrades, and RECOVERED SITH LIGHTSABER doesn't look like its adding much. It's obviously designed to be the antithesis of the Jedi Lightsaber, but sits below both Palpatine's Lightsaber, Dooku's Lightsaber and Treasured Lightsaber in the pecking order, and while the ability to remove Shields is good, the die is pretty lacklustre. Two 1 Melee damage is horrible.
TALISMAN OF RESURRECTION (4/5)
While resurrecting defeated characters (bring defeated characters back to play) is not a new mechanism per se, i.e. Dark Ritual, the TALISMAN OF RESURRECTION brings with it the possibility of bringing back your opponent's defeated characters under your control.
This is probably mostly gimmicky, although I wouldn't discount that strategy entirely against cheap support characters, although amassing 7-9 resources is normally quite the feat while simultaneously keeping enough pressure on your opponent to actually defeat their character. The Special on the Talisman of Resurrection gaining you 2 resources though goes a long way to facilitate that. For that reason alone, I'd be inclined to bring along the Talisman. Two 2 Resource sides is pretty damn good. No other upgrade can give you that kind of ramp. And Mother Talzin is going to LOVE IT!
LINKS TO OTHER REVIEWS:
RED VILLAIN REVIEW
YELLOW VILLAIN REVIEW
BLUE HERO REVIEW
RED HERO REVIEW
YELLOW HERO REVIEW
BLUE NEUTRAL REVIEW
RED NEUTRAL REVIEW
YELLOW NEUTRAL REVIEW
GREY CARDS REVIEW