When I saw that Bane was coming to Destiny, I was initially pretty excited. I’m a fan of Drew Karpyshyn’s trilogy, and was a little surprised to discover that Bane was still canon. He was initially only partly teased, which led to some pretty wild speculation as to how to justify his whopping 22 point price tag.
However, when he was finally fully spoiled, I was disappointed. Mixed up sides, 22 points, 14 health. I was underwhelmed, despite that one-off double resource discount on abilities, so never gave him a chance.
That is until Oli and I were doing a bit of prep for a tournament: I pulled down the best looking Bane build from swdb, loaded it up, and won the next few games against some good decks.
It would appear that I was wrong.
Bane might have mixed up sides, but so long as he’s got a big upgrade on him, he has no bad sides. That double shield side is handy when you’re essentially playing a 14 health deck. I’ll also take the resource side if it means I can afford to play The Best Defense…, or ramp into a Death Field, or drop an Ancient Sith Armour. This means that even with almost no focus sides, you rarely have to re-roll.
Pairing him up
I thought long and hard about Bane’s sidekick. I quickly concluded it had to be red, to give access to hand control such as Face the Enemy to protect Bane’s dice, and cheap and effective removal such as The Best Defense… or A Sinister Peace.
6 points: Battle Droid: access to Lightsaber Mastery, but otherwise an essentially useless character, with no resource sides, but still a good target for Theed.
7 points: First Order Stormtrooper: can be paired with Retribution, and has an acceptable die.
8 points: Imperial Death Trooper: for an ability which gives you a consistently useful die, plus 9HP; or Nute Gunray?
Nute… this may seem like an odd choice, but this is the character I’ve settled on, because:
- His die isn’t actually that bad: that +1 resource is annoying, but 2 disrupt can be oppressive and a focus side is welcome.
- He’s the only 8 points or less leader, which means I can play Counterintelligence to protect my big dice. This is a huge plus.
- His ability when combined with Face the Enemy and Counterintelligence is a very nasty piece of tech.
This combination means that not only can you put pesky mitigation and other cards your opponent wants to play back on top of their deck, but they get discarded during the upkeep phase unless your opponent chooses to lose a resource. This level of control is just what Bane needs, and I think is worth taking over a character with damage sides.
After a bit of tweaking and testing, I’m currently using the following deck:
Upgrades: you have to hit the ground running with Bane, so a big round 1 ability is essential. I’ve got 10 in the deck, and you probably want to see at least two in your starting hand.
Death Field is the best, as it turns up Bane’s special to 5 and does the most damage thanks to its double roll-in (you could sort of think of it as having sides which read 4 6 6 8 4 2 and needs to be mitigated twice), but Niman and Shien Masteries are great for their play abilities, even though you can only have one or the other.
My favourite opening play would be drop a Shien Mastery, get two uses out of its formidable die, get a spare resource from one of the 5 dice rolled in (or play Respite/Forbidden Lore) then overwriting with Death Field and exhausting it to roll it in.
Oddly, given how oppressive the card used to be, Force Storm is actually the weakest of these upgrades, as it burns through both your starting resources for only one roll-in, but it’s still a pretty strong upgrade.
I’ve experimented with Soresu Mastery over Niman, and although it feels great when you remove a die showing damage on play, doing so requires specific timing which is tricky against many decks. The play ability of Niman on the other hand is much easier to trigger, plus special chaining from Niman late game can be clutch. I’d say this choice would be a meta call.
If you’re up against Red Villain, you have to drop an ability asap to avoid Face the Enemy. Round 1 without an upgrade on Bane is a death knell to this deck.
Mitigation: I’ve gone cheap here:
The Best Defense… is probably your best mitigation piece. As you’re not doing much re-rolling but are often cash strapped, A Sinister Peace plays out quite well. Forsaken is easy to turn on with a non-elite sidekick and abilities like Shien and Death Field. Viper Probe Droid should be on for most if not all the game, and is great against decks with ambush or against a god roll.
Ancient Sith Armor is currently in the deck, and can sometimes be fantastic thanks to its ability to absorb two damage a turn if you’re playing/overwriting abilities. But taking up an upgrade slot and costing 2 resources means it can under-perform in some games. I may swap this for some additional mitigation at a later date, such as Lack of Faith, Beguile, Dive or Under Attack.
You’ll probably want to be regularly overwriting with Bane, to take advantage of the Shien play ability, or to get a fresh un-tapped copy of Death Field, as well as to reset the Sith Armour. For this reason, plan your turns carefully to prevent yourself wasting your precious once per turn overwrite.
I’ve really enjoyed playing Bane over the past few weeks. I think he can hold his own against most decks, but can suffer from poor draws: not enough mitigation or upgrades at the right time can result in a rapid defeat.
Nevertheless, I think Bane can be strong contender in the current meta, if not top tier, and he’s certainly fun to play… but I really hope we get an 8 or 13 point Darth Zannah in Wild Horizons, so I can use Rule of Two with its founding father. Though if her ability isn’t to defeat Bane if he has less than 2 health remaining (or something similar), I’m not interested.
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