It’s been a week or so since Faltering Allegiances landed, and I’ve been doing some thinking.
Getting Cards in Hand
There were a lot of complaints prior to release about the decision not to use parallel dice, as there were fears this would resign these cards to TTS only. It has become apparent that these worries were completely unfounded.
Even before release, third parties were making noises about making these cards available for purchase. I have since ordered complete sticker and card sets for Faltering Allegiances and it’s setting me back just under £70 for a complete playset, which is so much cheaper than FFG cards ever were.
If you don’t have third parties locally who can hook you up, or you want to save some money, you can easily print at home. Before ordering my professional sets, I bought a pack of 10 sheets of plain self adhesive label paper for £3 on amazon, printed off the sticker sheets provided by A Renewed Hope, cut stickers out with scissors and stuck them on old dice. For the cards, I printed on paper and slid the paper into a sleeve with an old card:
It works out to about £1 for a complete playset, not including the actual cost of printing (I printed them off at work). It’s a bit more time consuming, maybe about 20-30 minutes work when you play a deck with several new cards for the first time, but that’s a small price to pay for new content, plus it’s a great feeling to roll real dice and play against a real opponent.
The Competitive Scene
The Release Tournament saw an epic 104 players battle it out for the top spot. There were 60 unique deck lineups brought to the event, which is truly impressive. Rather surprisingly, eBala/eBing was far and away the most popular deck, with 12 people playing it, followed not at all closely by eSaw/Chief Chirpa/2 Ewoks on 5, and The Inquisitorius and Fetts on 4. Here’s a graph of the deck counts. I’ve grouped all unique decks into ‘other’.
The great thing about having just a day (or two) between release and event is noone really knew what to expect. I’m slightly surprised by the fact there were only 3 Jyn/Cass decks.
I’m also slightly surprised that only two people brought hero droids. Maybe people are sick of them? Maybe everyone knows they’re still broken? Or maybe people didn’t think they were still good? It’s no secret that Joe (HonestlySarcastc) of the Hyperloops took them, paired with Greez, to a 6-0 record (one of only two people to have a perfect run) but graciously dropped from the event before the top cut, point made. I really hope that ARH gives droids a proper nerf at some point, as otherwise they’re going to continue to be the elephant in the room, and a serious hurdle if ever there is an event with more than just pride on the line.
After posting this article, we got an excellent comment by Vika regarding droids, which I’ll reproduce here:
“An important data point that you’re missing is the EG Tournament of Champions that was on the Sunday after the FA Release Tournament. The finals of this tournament was Greez Droids vs Vader/Taron and Vader/Taron won 2-1, with the Vader/Taron pilot not knowing that Taron had a PA (literally didn’t use it once the entire tournament). I watched the first game of the finals, which Greez Droids won, and it would have been a blowout in Vader/Taron’s favour had Taron’s PA been used. So in my books that makes Vader/Taron 3-0 against Greez Droids head to head, and 3-0 against the field in all tournaments. I think your analysis on Greez Droids is off, and that if there is an S-Tier deck it’s the deck that has won every event so far. You can see the EG TOC Finals here https://www.twitch.tv/eglanza“
I always welcome constructive criticism, and thank Vika for this inciteful comment. Perhaps I’m being biased because I’m just a bit fed up with droids, but this comment has certainly forced me to have a rethink.
That being said, the other droid deck, Satine Droids, finished 2-4 under the experienced hand of European Champion, Leddon. Maybe Leddon got unlucky, or maybe it’s Greez that’s keeping droids current. Perhaps Greez just needs to be restricted too and the problem will go away?
I’ve also had a look at the results of the Swiss rounds and compared expected performance to true performance. I’ve plotted this in the below graph, again grouping all unique decks into ‘other’. Score is the average number of wins. Of course the expected score for a random deck after 6 rounds is 3, but the more iterations of a given deck, the narrower the range of expected outcomes (much like if you were to roll a die and calculate the average number: if you rolled it twice, it wouldn’t be overly surprising if you rolled an average of 5-6, but if you rolled it 10 times and you rolled an average of 5 or higher you’d be pretty suspicious):
I’ve sorted decks by performance. The coloured bits show the range of scores you’d expect 50% of the time, the skinny lines you’d expect 90% of the time. Anything outside these lines are doing really well or really badly.
Looking at this graph, Saw decks appear to be doing significantly better than you’d expect through random chance. Mono-yellow Saw Ewoks scored 5-1, 5-1, 4-2, 4-2, 3-3 and 3-3, while the Hoth Trooper variation scored 5-1, 4-2 and 2-4. There was a lot of talk before the event that Saw might be too good. These results certainly suggest he is above par at least, with one Saw deck finishing Top8, and one finishing Top4.
If you read tournament champion Vika’s excellent tournament report, he is quite honest about the fact that his wins against the two Saw decks he faced in the event could easily have gone the other way. I wonder what people would be saying about Saw now if he’d taken down the whole thing.
eTarrful/eChewie/Valorous was the highest scoring non-other deck, picking up 6-0, 4-2 and 3-3. I guess a lot of health and healing is good in an aggressive meta. The most popular deck, eBala/eBing performed decidedly averagely. Those playing one-of-a-kind decks at the event (‘other’) did not fair well on average, scoring far fewer wins than random chance would predict.
The event final was a mono-blue face off: eAhsoka/Sifo Dyas/Kanan/United vs eTaron Malicos/eVader/eUnited. A stated goal of A Renewed Hope was to promote mono-coloured decks, so it would appear this ambition has been realised, though there’s no doubt that the addition of the United plot to the card pool certainly helps. These pairings benefit from some incredibly strong tech cards, such as Force Affinity for both sides and Unending Hate for villain, even if the characters themselves are not obvious powerhouses.
It’s worth noting that eTaron/eVader won the Entourage weekly this week too, with the rest of the top 4 featuring 2 more mono decks (Bala/Bing & Phasma/FOST) plus Greez/Chopper/Wookiee.
Card and Balance Analysis
I had previously made a comment about the wordiness of Faltering Allegiances. Now that we’ve seen all the cards, how does the average letter count of Faltering Allegiances compare to previous sets?:
There’s no doubt about it: this is a wordy set. There’s a lot going on, lots of triggers, and many characters for instance having abilities and actions. I think this certainly appeals to the experienced player, but may put off newer or more casual players. Personally, I like it, but I would like to see this loquacity drop off, or at the very least plateau with future releases, as I feel I’m at trigger saturation point.
The colour balance of the set was also a bit of a surprise. This was definitely not the set for you if you like red:
This is the first time red cards have formed less than 25% of the set (it’s 23%), and the first time yellow has gone above 35%. I thought this was odd, but then, just to be sure, I had a look at the card pool in standard across time:
Ever since Way of the Force, yellow has had a significantly large card pool than any other faction. When rotation hit, this should have dropped the yellow card pool considerably with respect to the other colours. The high number of yellow cards in Faltering Allegiances actually just maintains the historic balance, though this is the first time blue has crept above red in card share.
However, grey has suffered. Not since Spirit of Rebellion have we had fewer grey cards, and in those days there were only 2 sets to choose from. We now have 3 and a half sets, plus Transformations and a draft kit to choose from. This is one of many indications that A Renewed Hope are pushing faction identity over generic usefulness.
Also, it’s worth saying, faction imbalance in terms of card count is not a problem. There’s no need to shove cards in just for the sake it. So long as the factions are balanced in terms of power, I don’t think balance in card numbers for the sake of it is a valid aspiration.
I’ve enjoyed playing these cards from A Renewed Hope and it would appear that a large portion of the community is behind them. I thoroughly respect their decision to try to curb the power balance, and promote deck synergy over raw power.
If you want to keep track of event results using A Renewed Hope Standard, we’ve now got a ARH Results page, just click the image below:
It’s impossible to tell what’s going to happen in the future, but for now, I’m optimistic about the future of the game with A Renewed Hope.
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