A Renew Hope – first High Stakes spoilers review

Yesterday, A Renewed Hope released the first 3 spoilers from High Stakes. We’ll give our thoughts on the cards below, but first up, a look at the new mechanic: Renew.

Cards with Renew on them can be played from your discard pile for the Renew cost given on the card. Then the card is set aside. This is a really interesting play mechanic, and one that was introduced in the unreleased Wild Horizons set from FFG.

I like the concept in principle, but with two caveats:
I don’t want to see this appear on lots and lots of cards. I have a nightmare in which the opponent has 15 cards in their discard pile, all with the Renew mechanic, and I have to keep checking their discard pile to see what options they have available;
The Renew cost needs to make the play significantly below curve. Playing cards from your discard pile gives you hand advantage and makes the card effectively immune to hand discard. The cost needs to be prohibitive enough to reflect these facts.

Now, on to the cards, and starting with Ki-Adi-Mundi, featuring outstanding artwork courtesy of Pistachios:

First up, it would appear that new Star Wars canon has upgraded KAM to a Jedi Master, while previously he was the only member of the Jedi Council who was a Jedi Knight. I assume the alliterative subtitle is an allusion to this ameliorative alteration.

Coming in at 12/14, Ki-Adi-Mundi joins an exclusive cohort of characters, including Snoke, Dooku, Satine, C-3PO and Fenn Rau (and 12 more, equating to 5% of the infinite character pool), whose second die is costed at just 2 points. However, KAM‘s dice are better than the rest in this group, with the possible exception of Dooku or Fenn. Where KAM wins out though in this comparison is that his health and ability combined allow you to get more mileage out of that second cheap die.

Talking of abilities, KAM has two excellent ones. His passive after ability can be triggered any number of times, so is limited only by the card pool and how determined you are. Other than Renew cards below, we already have a lot of ways to play cards from your discard pile. Ones which seem like decent ideas are all Training upgrades for forms (though this runs against his second ability), Apt Lesson, Chopper, Wicket, You Are In Command Now and K-3PO. Even Babu Frik, Reassemble and Resistance Ring might be worth considering if you’re pulling free shields whenever you make them work.

I’m actually quite intrigued by the idea of a Wicket or Chopper deck even if the points are awkward. Wicket allows you to recycle traps for free shields and to charge up your Sound the Horn plot, while Chopper gets a shield and a discount on mods. Perhaps eKi-Adi-Mundi/Chopper/R2-D2?

Ki-Adi-Mundi‘s Power Action is where he really shines. Discarding equipments or weapons with impunity, just to pull them from your discard pile and net a shield is pretty amazing. The obvious synergy here is with Jedi Lightsaber. If you can get 2 of these out of your deck, they can overwrite each other, once per round, and you net 3 free shields (2 on KAM, 1 on anyone), every round, for zero cost. Jedi Lightsaber isn’t the only upgrade with a nice on-play ability though. There’s also Republic Jedi Armour, Anakin Skywalker’s Lightsaber or Quilloned Lightsaber.

The big downside on this ability is the fact that you’re limited to equipments and weapons. I don’t think it’s a secret that the Blue ability package is the superior upgrade suite. However, the margin I think is a small one, and this ability, combined with Jar’Kai, could easily provide the uplift required to make Blue weapons competitive.

14 points elite is a big bonus to Team-16: Mace Windu, Leia Organa, Anakin Skywalker (Tr), Jaro Tapal and Benthic. All of these characters bring some serious advantage in a pairing with KAM. Mace digs for the key upgrades; Leia brings guardian and keeps your shield count high; Anakin brings aggro and KAM protects him from himself; Jaro brings guardian and his huge dice; while Benthic is Benthic (and yellow). I also like the look of a pairing with eSifo-Dyas and a Youngling, to really maximise hand advantage and resource efficiency, or with eCal and Lightsaber Mastery, to make it much easier to turn on Cal‘s ability and protect him at the same time.

Yes, there’s some shield hate kicking around at the moment, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Ki-Adi-Mundi is going to be a big player in the new meta, though it may take a while to develop a well tuned decklist with him.

Dissuade is our first Renew card. It’s basically a Disciplined Mind, but swap “Jedi” for “Blue”. This means it can be included in more decks, but is much less effective. Even against Jedi decks, Disciplined Mind was useful against upgrades. Nevertheless, this will be handy mitigation in most games and is a nice bonus for hero rainbow decks who aren’t running a Jedi (if that’s even a thing still).

Where it wins over Disciplined Mind though is the Renew ability. For 2 resources, you can play this from your discard pile. That is very expensive, but could be clutch late game, and for that reason this card is likely to be seen in future hero blue decks so long as the meta doesn’t continue to be dominated by Blue villain.

Finally, I Sense A Trap is a really interesting card, and one that has probably sparked the most chatter out of the three spoilers.

You can net effectively unlimited shields for one character with this card, so you can discard 6 cards to shield up Yoda, 4 for Qui-Gon, or 3 for other characters. If mill is not a concern, this is only an advantage. Sure, discarding cards from your deck might discard a key card, but that’s no different from that card being stuck at the bottom of your deck, and just as likely. At least this way you see it there and can plan your game strategy accordingly. It also makes the latter rounds of a game easier to plan, as you have a better idea of what’s coming up.

This card is clearly designed to work well with Ki-Adi-Mundi, and will function even better when he is paired with a character like Chopper. Open with this card, discard an equipment or weapon, then pull that card from your discard pile and gain a shield in the process. This strategy is limited only by the fact that most key upgrades will cost at least 2 resources, so you’ll probably need 3 resources to pull this off.

It’s difficult to say whether this will see play. On paper, it’s got a good effective-health-to-cost ratio. However, gaining shields for a resource and a card might just not be worth it in many situations, such as if you’re likely to max out your shield count anyway through dice and abilities, or if your opponent is playing a lot of shield hate. The Renew cost is even more prohibitive, but again, I’m happy to have the option if I need it, and feel this is a fair price given the flexibility of Renew.

A feature of this card which has stimulated a lot of chatter is the limitless nature of the effect. You could mill 20 cards if you wanted, and just let the excess 17 fall off. This could practically guarantee getting Admiral into the discard for a You Are In Command Now play (or some similar strategy) but obviously is highly risky. Also, decks that rely on shields have a tendency to lengthen the game, so milling yourself excessively in a pro-shield deck is a gamble. 5 cards might be a nice balance, to push yourself 10 cards into your deck in round 1, to really get KAM‘s ability working for you. Note that it’s been ruled that you have to declare how many cards you’re milling before you mill them. You can’t just discard until you hit a card you like the look of and stop there.

This card will be great with Lor San Tekka round 1. You can fully shield him up and give yourself 4 cards to target with his ability immediately. There’s also a mini-strategy in combination with Inflict Pain, as it gets added to your hand when it’s discarded from your deck. This card is a good way of weaponizing shields in the absence of Awakenings legend Riposte, or could be used for discard fodder otherwise.

Overall, a great opener. I’m most excited by Ki-Adi-Mundi, and really hope he can provide the strength needed to pull Blue hero back up into the meta.

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