Happy Star Wars Day!
Today, The Coruscant Initiative launched a 34 card mini-set based on the epic final season of The Clone Wars. They were kind enough to share this set with us before release so we could give our thoughts on the cards on release day. So here they are.
I was going to do a partial set review, and pick out the highlights. But in such a tight set, it felt like that wouldn’t be doing it justice. So, here it is; a bit of a long read, but we present a review of every single card of the set.
First up, the blues, and given the theme of the set, you won’t be surprised to find Maul and Ahsoka are the big characters of the set:
Maul uses the Legacies die, and comes with the same printed cost as this version of Maul. However, he packs 12 health, the leader (and sith) subtype, a big deck building bonus, and a potentially huge Power Action. Obviously intended to get some mileage out of those troublesome 1 disrupt and 1 discard character dice sides, he’s definitely going to be used with upgrades like Sonic Detonators, Dooku’s Lightsaber and even makes Malice and Magna-Glove (if you pair him with yellow as it’s neutral) playable. Plus he can get additional value out of the already powerful Force Storm and Death Field, giving the latter effectively 6 damage sides. His points are a little awkward though.
His saber also uses the equivalent Legacies die, but turns those modifier sides into base sides (for the cost of a damage to yourself), plus features a Power Action which could potentially deal 5 damage (as you can combine the two abilities) off a blank. A big weapon, that will certainly see play, on this Maul and Spark of Hope Maul.
Finally, You and I is a nice piece of control/damage from hand. It’s pretty common you’ll have a side you were going to reroll anyway, so the cost is pretty low. Be aware that if the opponent has no dice they can turn to a blank they can still choose this option, so you both need dice in your pool for this to be playable.
Ahsoka is a monster, and features the monstrous parallel die of Darth Vader – Terror to Behold, which is an apt touch, and justified given she defeated Maul in combat and went toe to toe with Vader in Rebels. She’s always deserved to be a big character. It’s also nice they’ve found an appropriate subtype for her.
If you get 2 weapons on her, and maybe an equipment or ability, you could find yourself getting a 5 health swing on activation, which is massive. However, it does take some setup and is much more likely to be somewhere in the region of 3 shields/damage, which seems fair for the cost. If you managed to put her in a Custom Bandolier build, you could get even more damage (as equipments still trigger the ability) though we’re probably talking edge cases here.
Her lightsabers use the Shoto dice, and have a neat on-play ability that means you can immediately set up Ahsoka‘s ability if you draw one of them. Slightly annoying if you draw two, as then you lose the extra resource and the hand advantage. The die is frankly underwhelming for the cost (Shoto Lightsabers gave you free shields on activation), but it’s a good way to set up Ahsoka and can be used for overwrite fodder later. An auto-include in an Ahsoka deck for sure.
The eponymous Parting Words is interesting, but will be solid with Ahsoka. If you whiff on the roll-in, you can use this to have a 1 in 2 chance of turning her other die to any of the 2 sides, or a 1 in 3 of getting doubles of the big melee sides. This would also be powerful too on a character with a good special side, like Eternal Conflict‘s Qui-Gon Jinn, as it would give you a 50/50 chance of flipping his other die to the special.
The blue neutrals are nicely thematic, but I can’t see Duel of the Blades getting much play. It requires a base melee side on a weapon, which is often hard to come by (no standard blue weapons have more than 2 base sides, with the exception of Curved Hilt lightsaber if on a Jedi or Sith and the new Maul’s Saber), plus it’s pretty dead against decks not playing melee sides (unless you want to pay 1 resource and 1 card for a 1 damage boost).
Jar’Kai is a nice ability. Similar to the ARH Jar’Kai (unsurprisingly, since it’s hard to imagine this working in a particularly different way), but actually more thematic as it rewards exactly 2 weapons. It’s an ability but not a form, though this makes little difference as you’ll be at your upgrade limit when it’s turned on. The effect is continuous, which makes the dice harder to remove and more painful to guardian, and the Power Action is always on.
However, it costs a hefty 2 resources. That means you’re paying 2 resources to hopefully make 2 other dice, +1; dice which are susceptible to removal. Even taking into account the Power Action I think I’d still be wanting to play Niman Mastery for my last upgrade slot before I play this, even on Ahsoka since the Niman die has a 1 in 3 chance of triggering her ability. Plus spreading your damage across more dice makes them harder to interact with, which is why Megablaster Troopers is so good. That all being said, I would still probably include this in a weapon build; I just wouldn’t be too precious about overwriting it.
Now, on to the reds:
Admiral Trench comes with a handy re-roll ability, and a Power Action which effectively turns a non-unique member of your team into a Guardian, but without the need to wait before activating. A thematic ability given his ruthless tactics. Otherwise though, he is quite expensive, and just one resource side puts him a tricky spot for support decks.
Talking of supports, we have an event, Overconfident, which works with supports. You really want to hit damage if you’re going to play this. Unless you’re playing Executrix or Sniper Team, you’re looking at probably 50/50 dice removal for 1 resource, or you get a reroll. I feel this is below curve for 1 resource so I don’t expect this card to see play.
The D-Wing Security Droid is a pretty effective character if you can get supports down. You activate it and two supports get shields. Then you activate those supports and get to move those shields to your characters, so long as he’s still alive. Two free health potentially per round is certainly justified given the set up and the fact this is a 9 point character with no base damage sides and 7 health. It feels like it’s asking you to run 2 of these, and then you can more quickly pull 4 shields per round, but that’s a lot of character points on what are otherwise expensive characters.
The Octuptarra costs one less than it’s parallel die (the Two Player Game Droid Commandos), but costs 1 less and has a nifty ability that echoes the Defoliator Tank. A strong card in a Wat Tambor deck, 4 damage sides and a double discard, plus you can play Droid and Vehicle mods on it.
Ah, here we are, the climax of The Clone Wars in Destiny form. I’ve included the blue plot here as it made sense to do so.
The Last Command acts out those final moments in the series quite neatly indeed, though far less abruptly. You get 3 332nd Clone Troopers, in theory worth 24 points, but they slowly turn on you. You really want a Clone to have taken 2 damage by the upkeep phase, and then you can give it to the opponent with only 1 health remaining. If it’s taken 3 damage, you can’t deal it 5 damage and give it to the opponent, as it’s defeated, so you have to give them another trooper. Cards like Inflict Pain and Defensive Blast will be strong here.
Overall, it’s going to be a difficult balance to get 7 points of relative value, though 7 points to allow you to include red and have a mission plot to spot for Covert Mission is certainly worth something. Whether you can get it to work or not I feel may be irrelevant. Either way, it’s going to be a lot of fun.
The 332nd Clone Trooper himself is very similar to the original Clone Trooper, except instead of a free reroll, you have a 1 in 3 of blanking an opponent’s die. That’s not too bad, and thankfully it’s a may ability, but I can’t really see this character being used outside Last Command decks. The flip side I think is unlikely to see much play as a starting character either, as I’d rather play a First Order Stormtrooper for 1 less point, and debatably better sides, or an Imperial Death Trooper for its Power Action.
Rex however does make the 332nd Clones playable thanks to Team Up. You could even go 4-wide there, but I think I’d rather play eAhsoka and Rex, or maybe even a three-wide with Convergence Ahsoka.
Resisting Order 66 is an interesting card with lots of play options. Remove your own dice for the shields, or play it as a pseudo-Pacify. I’d certainly play this in a fast trooper deck with Kes, to make use out of any lingering dice meanwhile keeping my tempo up. You might also get super-lucky and find yourself up against Megablaster Troopers and remove all those FOST dice for no downside. It’s also handy in a pinch in a Last Command deck, and it is of course that deck for which it’s made.
Finally for hero red, kind of on its own in the set, but a necessary inclusion for a Clone Wars finale set which is released on the very same day that The Bad Batch launches as a series. This is a monster of a support. You could easily be spotting and spending 3 resources and rolling in 4 copies of this die, which, let’s take note, has no blanks and no pay sides. In such a case, that special is worth 4 damage.
Honestly, I think this card may be a little pushed. If you can quickly ramp to this in a 3-wide support deck, it could be utterly nuts. Plus it has a 2 resource side, meaning you’re not burning all your energy away on one strategy. Also, please remember that Desperate Measures is banned by TCI. I’d definitely build a deck around this, with Covert Mission to guarantee I pull it quickly. Make sure when you roll in those set aside dice that you mark which dice are the set aside ones, in case this gets trashed somehow, as those set-aside dice stay in the pool.
Finally for red, the neutrals. Making Plans is kind of a Respite but really much better despite the lack of the draw. Ramp and focus for 0 resources is pretty crazy, plus if we’re talking ramp you can use it to flip another die to a resource side. An easy auto-include in any deck with a 9 point or less support character.
Squad, On Me! is a nice bit of action cheating. You can use it to resolve dice already in your pool thankfully, so you can pretty much guarantee this won’t be wasted, plus 1 resource to activate two characters is acceptable value anyway in the right deck. However, despite the artwork, you cannot use this to activate Bad Batch, roll in its set aside dice, and resolve any of those new dice. This is because set-aside dice are rolled in after Squad On Me has fully resolved. You can use it on the Bad Batch associated die though.
We’re In Command is an interesting build-around plot, and quite thematic since leaders typically command starships. This will definitely be interesting in a Wat deck, giving you some extra speed, though note that they don’t become Pilots so this doesn’t turn on Flanked By Wingmen and doesn’t allow you to abuse the Eternal Conflict Millenium Falcon. It does however make Assail an auto-include, makes You Came in That Thing? potentially extremely powerful, allowing you to reset any vehicle with many more lineup options, plus gives all your leaders access to the infamous Merchant Freighter/Eject combo, which is pretty huge, plus you can stash your Eject on the plot to save for later.
Leaders I’ll be considering are Padmé Amidala, Satine, Holdo, Bail, Finn, Wat, Jabba, Krennic, and maybe even Kragan (with Pirate Ship?).
Battle Strategy Algorithm is strong in hero or villain, but I think the once per round villain ability is the most oppressive and effective. I could see this being a bit of a NPE: being denied a card of the opponent’s choice every single round. Yes, it costs 2, but in a ramp deck this is cheap to deny the opponent mitigation or their key tech/upgrades, and to give you perfect hand knowledge.
Yellow villain here, and we start with Marg Krim. I like this character. Fairly costed, with a really curious ability and two highly impactful subtypes. You both have to have a resource in order to trigger the Then, though finishing with 0 or 1 resources when the opponent has 1 resource makes no net difference. If your opponent has no resources however, you definitely don’t want to be sitting on a resource. You could play this with Deathwatch Hideout in a slow deck, and then your opponent will probably have to pass on the claim ability. Alternatively, play Truce after the opponent has claimed to net a resource. The big advantage of this character really is that the opponent cannot save up from round to round. Sure, you can’t either, but you’ll be prepared for that.
However, I’ve so far been talking about Marg in a vacuum. Efficient Operation makes you immune to his ability (effectively) making it much more asymmetric. Pay What You Owe also works well with this card, and is going to be a big blow to the opponent. You’ll have to build a pretty lean deck to make these cards work, and that will put the opponent on the back foot.
Finally, Only the Strongest is a slightly tricky removal piece. An easy spot requirement, but if the opponent isn’t playing a Sith, Jedi or Leader it’s useless, and even if they are, you can only use it on character dice (for the most part). I’d play it, probably, but it’d be low down my list of removal to include.
Our hero yellows focus around the same story arc, and features Trace, her ship the Silver Angel and an appropriate event, Just a Scratch.
Trace is a nicely costed support character, with decent health, a good die, and a suitably ‘engineeringly’ Power Action. I could see her being strong with R2-D2 thanks to that big double focus top side. The other obvious pairing is with Poe. His Power Action can be used even if you don’t have the relevant vehicle die in your pool to resolve. You could even PA a damage token on to a Merchant Freighter, then PA it off with Trace for a free resource. This means this pairing get (pretty much) guaranteed 3 resources per round, which is very decent.
Her ship gives her piloting, which makes sense since in The Clone Wars she basically can’t pilot anything else. The special is worth 1 damage or 1 shield the first time you resolve it, then 2 thereafter, plus you can use the Trace Power Action to ditch the damage for a resource. In fact, you’re much more likely to action this immediately rather than power up the special if you have no other target for her PA.
Just a Scratch is an auto-include for Trace. It effectively costs nothing to play for her, and can remove any die. Good synergy.
Yellow neutral get the only reprint of the set: Vandalize. Long a popular card, this gives TCI Standard a fair way of trashing supports.
Illegal Spice Cargo is a tricky one. It’s a decent die for the cost, but really its best side is the money side, so it’s like a Merchant Freighter that only has a 50% chance of giving you that free resource on activation. If there’s mod support coming up though (something like Outgun or Shadowcaster) this will be in a good spot, but at the moment I can’t see it being played. Especially as if you find yourself with no yellow cards in hand it’ll get auto-discarded when you activate its attached vehicle.
Spice Runners is the big yellow of the set I think. Another mission plot, it has a relatively easy to meet play restriction, and a relatively easy to meet list of subtypes for it’s Power Action. Assuming you build around the Power Action (why wouldn’t you?), you’re going to be playing with 3 resources every round of the game, for a very minor cost. I can’t wait to Eject a Merchant Freighter then burn it for another free resource. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out, but I think this could really break the resource curve.
The Keeradak played an important role in the final season, and it’s really a very good support. The same cost as the parallel die Podracer, but without the annoying disadvantage that it returned to your hand on a blank. Plus you get to include 4 of them. It’s sides are so-so, but if 2 or 3 of these hit the table, you get to reroll each of them 2 or 3 times each. You’ll be incredibly slow as you have to do this per Keeradak, but it means they’re pretty much guaranteed to be useful, which is more than be said for most 1 cost supports. The 1 discard side is going to be big for mill, while the 2 indirect, if you can get to it, is really strong for the cost.
Finally, the battlefields. Pykes’ Prison forces the opponent to play with a 4 card hand next round, which is a strong hand advantage. This could be a nice include for a fast mill deck that struggles to hit the hand, or just in a support deck that’s looking for ways to clear the opponent’s hand before activating.
Peace Park is a risky battlefield. You really want to be rolling in a monster of a die for this one, and that probably just means Ahsoka. It’s slightly a shame you don’t get to choose which of the opponent’s characters get the roll-in, but you can just wait for them to roll in their biggest character before triggering it. Also worth bearing in mind that if the opponent has all their character dice in the pool, all that’s going to happen is your die will get removed. Anyway, if you do roll in Ahsoka, you have an OK chance against most decks of getting a free resolution out of her die, which is a big boost. It’ll suck rolling a blank (or a 2 against the opponent’s only 2 side) but that’s Destiny.
Overall, this looks to be a fun mini-set from The Coruscant Initiative, with a lot of interesting ideas and mechanics packed into a small number of cards. I think I’m most looking forward to trying out the two Command plots (The Last Command and We’re In Command).