The Future of the Game

“Always in motion is the future”

I’m intrigued and excited about what the future holds for the game after FFG. The group known as Star Wars Destiny: A Renewed Hope, the committee who tasked themselves with the aim of creating new cards for the game after FFG leaves us, continues to impress me with a level of enthusiasm and attention to detail which goes well beyond that of the game’s maker.

This shouldn’t be surprising: these guys love the game, while FFG‘s primary aim is to make money. Regardless of their motivations though, FFG have left us with a grand legacy which the continuing committee can build on.

Today we’re going to go over what we know about the future of the game from the committee (in case anyone missed it) and give our opinion of how it’s all looking.

May The Fourth Press Release
On May the Fourth, they released an article which gave some clarity over a number of issues and helped explain their game plan. If you want to check it out in its entirety, it’s here.

First off, their first expansion is going to be called Faltering Allegiances, which I think is a good name and consistent with FFG names.

Their Mission Statement
They gave a series of points which formed a kind of mission statement for the future of the game:

  1. They plan to promote mono-coloured decks with mechanics that promote that playstyle
  2. Factions (colours) are going to become more distinctive
  3. They’re going to release pairings for already printed characters who have seen little play (so-called orphans) in order to give them a new lease of life
  4. Cards with complex mechanics are going to be avoided, and they will deliberately create made-for-each-other pairings to help keep the game accessible

I’m in favour of the direction they’re travelling in, though a little surprised that their justification for promoting mono decks was the assertion that 3-wide rainbow decks have reigned supreme for most of the game’s life. I was looking over stats from the 2018-19 and 2019-20 championships, and found:

2018-19 tournament victories: Mono = 16%, 2-colour = 71%, Rainbow = 13%
2019-20 top cut presence: Mono = 23%, 2-colour = 43%, Rainbow = 53% (of which a third were hero droids)
I don’t have data for before then, but I most of the decks I can remember dominating (Sabine-Ezra, Kylo-X, Vader-X, Poe-Maz, Palp1) were mono or 2-colour, with a few notable exceptions.

It looks like 2-colour has been the most dominant force, with mono decks a little under-represented. This is hardly surprising as going mono vs. two-coloured halves your card pool and gives you much less choice over characters. In order for people to play mono regularly there has to exist mechanics such as spot requirements or intra-colour synergies to balance out this issue, and in that regard I’m in favour of some pro-mono mechanics to keep the game balanced.

I really do hope they address the balance between colours first though (when was the last time you faced a mono-red villain deck?) before pushing mono in general.

The committee introduced us all to a new concept: Detect. This new term I think is creative and a good way to progress the game (though I hope they don’t overburden us with terminology), as well as being very easy (I imagine) to play in practice.

The Detect mechanic is one whereby cards in the opponent’s hand are revealed and stay revealed (detected) in plain sight. Mechanics can then target Detected cards, in order to deal damage, gain shields or control the game.

The examples given in their press release are worth checking out. Overall, I’m intrigued by this new mechanic and think it’s going to be fun, and likely to give players less of a headache than the previous hand/top-of-deck reveals which required a good memory (though I do find that part of the fun in playing either iteration of Thrawn).

I also hope that when the cards are released, the text includes apostrophes in the right places.

Release Date
SWD: A Renewed Hope intend to release Faltering Allegiances after Wild Horizons and after FFG formally cease support for the game. However, in their FAQs they make it clear that if we get nothing but radio silence from FFG, they have put a date in the calendar after which they will move forward. They are quite sensibly not making this date public.

It’s worth remembering that Wild Horizons was due to be the first set in fourth block (after the Awakenings, Legacies and Convergence blocks), and therefore cause Legacies, Way of the Force and Across the Galaxy to rotate out of standard. They have stated that if we never get Wild Horizons, Faltering Allegiances will still trigger that rotation (meaning it, and it alone, would form the entire Trilogies format) and they assure us they have enough content to make that viable.

The Infinite Holocron
On 22 April, the committee announced that they intended to utilise the Holocron document created by the Dice Commandos for the Infinite Format:

Assuming this document represents the direction of travel for all their Holocrons (which is just a guess at this stage) support of this document has some implications for the future of the game under their stewardship. Even if this approach is only ever going to affect Infinite play, the changes in the document are certainly worth examining.

The Limited List
A number of debateably over-powered cards have been put on this list. Any of these cards can only be included once (or twice with Double Down).

The full Limited List

These cards will all be familiar to those of us who played the game while Awakenings was still in rotation. Limiting these cards to one copy will certainly limit their effect on the game, and in that regard this provides a neat solution. However, I worry that such a move might just mean the person who is lucky enough to draw their key limited cards first will win (especially true for linchpin cards such as Price of Failure and Buy Out).

One way of circumventing this problem would be to keep the limited list, but change the way it’s implemented. I would propose the following:
1. Every card on the list is considered unique
2. When a limited card is played (in the case of events) or discarded from play (in the case of upgrades) it is set aside
3. Any card on the limited list which is currently set aside cannot be played.

This change keeps these cards to being one-offs in a game (which I think is a positive step), is easy to keep track of in a game, but reduces reliance on luck of the draw.

An alternative approach would be soft nerfs to all the above to create a fairer game state. For instance, if Price of Failure could only defeat characters with 9 points or above, or if Force Illusion capped out at 3 damage. I think such a change would be interesting and is potentially the fairest change, but, as is always the case with erratas, it would be difficult to pitch the erratas at the correct level to keep the cards fair without killing them off entirely.

Restricted Interactions List
A replacement to the Restricted List, and my favourite change. I’ve been saying for a while now that I don’t like the Restricted List in its current format, and that over time it’s just going to get muddier and muddier, especially in infinite, locking out perfectly legitimate combinations of cards for no good reason.

I had previously proposed that there should be a series of mini-lists, and that’s precisely what has been implemented in the Holocron:

In the above, C-3PO is repeated 3 times, but I think that’s a necessary change to allow players to include, say, Military Camp and Fateful Companions in a deck, but not to include either with 3PO. I appreciate that such a deck may be incredibly niche (maybe a ATG Jyn deck?), but locking it out of the game for no good reason whatsoever seems sloppy, and I like what these mini-lists achieve.

Any other changes
Just one that I could see: two erratas to Sith Holocron have been made: it now reduces the cost of an upgrade by 4 (instead of being free) and no longer lets you pay one to roll the die in. The former change makes sense with Death Field around but I don’t quite understand the latter.

While this card is powerful, I don’t feel that preventing the roll in was necessary for an effect that is relatively easy to mitigate, due to it being dependent on resolving a die. Either way, I’d still be playing this in a Jango deck all day long.

Final Thoughts
I like the direction that the continuing committee are moving in and I have confidence that they are organised and dedicated enough to keep the game alive. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what they’ve come up with when the first spoilers start appearing.

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