High Stakes set review – red

It’s that time again, here at echobase after the release of each set we review each individual card from the set. Today we will be taking a look at the command cards within the High Stakes set. We will be reviewing these in numerical order giving each card a score out of 5. A few cards we have given the ‘Legendary’ status and are highlighted in Purple. We always need a villain to fight so let’s start there.

13. Dr. Pershing – What an interesting character we get to start off with. He doesn’t seem it but he’s the ultimate guardian character. If you target the main character that Dr. Pershing is paired with then you might find yourself facing that character a second time if you can’t also defeat the Dr. before round 5 at the latest or earlier if you can get some tokens on him outside of his ability. I’m guessing that character is likely to be a big one too like Transformations Darth Vader, Hondo Ohnaka or Captain Phasma. This would be a great ability alone but Dr. Pershing also comes with a very handy support die featuring focus and resources. It makes me wonder if there is a way to combine this with Watch Your Career With Great Interest to bring back the character you defeat to complete the plot and release Darth Vader and keep getting new characters [echo7: I also like him with yellow just to get free removal from Think on Your Feet]. Will have to try this soon. 4/5

14. Incinerator Trooper – Great addition to the line up of alternatives to the First Order Stormtrooper (FOST) at 7pts for a 7 health red trooper. I really like the fact that there is no pay side in comparison to FOST and no modified side when compared with the Snowtrooper from the Redemption set. All useful sides are resolvable for free. The obvious downside is that the damage is indirect and when his back pack of flammable liquid explodes amongst your line up, you are going to take some collateral damage. This could put a large target on his head as he’s probably in a three wide line up so that’s 2 damage you’re going to take if targeted first. No point killing him last as you miss out on that damage when he is defeated. I think this alone could see him left out of line ups for competitive play although it could be used as a tactic to divert your opponent from your main character as well. Nevertheless I like him. 3/5

15. Moff Gideon – Before we start just take a moment to take in the artwork from Pistachios here, absolutely phenomenal work. Right back to Gideon from a play perspective, he has the potential of so much from his ability. For the cost of most likely two damage to your line up you could get up to 4 resources worth of dice for a round. If you hit a weapon upgrade then you have the opportunity to overwrite and just the activation itself becomes an instant resource gain but it’s not only that; it also works as a kind of discard as you’ve just taken one card out of your opponent’s hand, disrupting your opponent’s plans. It’s almost like he is a four die character, resource and discard plus whatever you roll in but it’s not guaranteed. He is a fantastic design and so far has been seen out in the wild with Garindan and Jabba to really ramp resources and get some very big dice cards on the table. Will he be competitive? We’ll have to wait and see on that one. 4/5

16. Danger Close – If you told any player at the start of the game that they could take an indirect damage to pay for a vehicle or artillery for 1 less then you would certainly have a deal. This is what this card does but you have to get the vehicle in the discard pile in order to use it. Thankfully you can just discard to re-roll and put your desired target card for Danger Close in the discard pile. Lookout for the Alazmec Colonist though as he loves to see high value cards in the discard. This also gives a bit of protection against Desperate Measures for your vehicles as you can just bring it straight back. A great target vehicle for this is the Outland TIE Fighter as once one is in play subsequent ones cost less to play from then on. You could get a three cost vehicle like a TIE Bomber or Darth Vader’s TIE in play with just your starting resources. 3.5/5

17. Deserted – A card where your opponent chooses the effect. These have never been any use in Destiny as the timing has to be so perfect to make the choice a real dilemma for your opponent. I’d prefer to spend the resource on anything else. I think Dr. Pershing‘s face in the picture says all you need to know about this card. He knows it is going to be dark in the binder so is testing that out ahead of time. 0.5/5

18. Intel Breach – Now here’s a great card. For 0 cost you get to hamper your opponent with a random discard. This is in itself is quite useful to stop a re-roll or threaten a No Answer in a mill line-up if your opponent has two cards. It does however have a great use beyond this where if you hit an event (so not guaranteed) you can choose a card from a discard pile to put on top of the deck and then draw a card if you spot a leaer. This has so many potentially great uses. Thrawn puts an opponent’s event on top of the deck to then Power Action and play it. Maybe set up a Rotten Deal, but even if you aren’t doing anything spicy like that, you get a card of your choice back from your discard to use again immediately, if you have the resources of course. The fact that the second bit will always be a maybe might see it’s competitive use limited, but imagine getting a third Bacta Therapy or re-cycling an Execute Order 66? 3/5

19. Overwhelming Forces – This card is a bit of a conundrum. You want to play it earlier in the game when it can do the most damage. However, this is when resources are needed for increasing your board state and this costs three so you don’t really want to be seeing it early in the game. The next downside is that it only damages ready characters so you’ll need to play it very early in a round before any characters get activated. There might be a small window of opportunity to hit this at the perfect time in a deck that concentrates on spreading the damage around. I can see it being dropped into decks as a one of and then being used as that card you always end up using to re-roll with. Inevitably, it will then get cut from those decks and head into binder territory. 1/5

20. Rewritten History – Mill decks needed a bit of help and here we have it, but restricted to villain red which currently has the most characters suited to playing mill with Director Krennic, Tseebo, Conan Motti and to some extent Moff Gideon. I really like that you get two from three to give you that little extra chance to hit the more important cards. 3/5

21. Dark Trooper is a 3 cost support that doesn’t disappoint. Sporting 4 decent damage sides for the cost and the very relevant sub-types of Trooper and Droid, this support has a lot going for it. We can use it to play Automated Defense, add mod upgrades to it, auto focus it with an Imperial Officer and, should you really want to, Self-Destruct it for additional damage. Let’s not forget that Redemption’s Dr. Aphra can bring a lot of these to the table and get a bonus indirect from playing this. The pay side could be an annoyance sapping extra resources but overall this card has plenty to offer. 4/5

22. Outland TIE Fighter is almost a carbon copy of the Across the Galaxy TIE Fighter but gets an upgrade to a base 2 ranged side over the previous modified two ranged side on its dice for the same base cost. The ability to have 4 copies in the deck is also retained alongside the ambush keyword. So far a clear step up from its predecessor. The Outland TIE Fighter loses the ability to search for another copy of itself but instead gives you a discount if you can spot another copy making this superior TIE Fighter cost just 1 resource. This is great value and with Danger Close or a Tech Team we could be getting this great die for free. Support decks have not been favoured recently but this new addition should help to bring them back to the table. Pretty sure Wat Tambor is rubbing his hands together at the prospect of Power Actioning this into the pool and resolving it immediately with the ambush. 4/5

23. MSE-6 Droid is a great utility piece for any red villain deck. The first one costs zero, and the second will then cost just 1. It gives focus up to the number you have in play but only once as they do not ready in the upkeep. Obviously, in a non-Aphra deck the most you can get from one activating will be two focus for having two in play. The bonus here is that you can turn any die so it can be used defensively or offensively. For 0-1 resource you are getting 1-4 focus which could really swing a game. Imagine, having two of these ready on the table and using a Face the Enemy to clear out removal to then focus 4 dice into maximum damage or whatever you might need at the time. Immensely versatile card. 4.5/5

24. Cruel Tactician – I find this card very underwhelming especially when you can draw a comparison to Veteran of War on the hero side which has the same cost, limitations and subtype. The focus sides are always useful and with 2 discard sides, mill decks could be drawn to this. The on-play ability is ok as we take a damage to boost one of our character or upgrade dice by 1. This could in theory be used on a resource side which then gets you a refund on playing this. You ideally want to roll in a character that you are not using first to boost one of their dice and then roll this in on one of your other characters. I like that the on play ability could give a surprise kill by boosting a damage side that was just one away from being lethal. I think the biggest issue with this card is that it looks like a support deck card but its on-play ability targets upgrade and character dice. Maybe I’d be more on board if it could target any of my dice. I think more investigation is required through play. 2.5/5

51. Cara Dune – now we’ve seen off the villain cards from the set, our first hero card does not disappoint. A nice straight up 11pts for 11 health and 3 further points to make Cara elite. You’ll probably always want to play her elite to give you a much better chance of being able to use her power action which gives extra damage or a shield depending on the target on resolution of a damage side. Cara‘s passive ability means she can fit nicely into a ranged or melee based deck as long as you can find a weapon for her. She also comes with the trooper subtype which makes sense considering her background as a rebel shock trooper. This will probably see her paired up with Kes Dameron who can resolve all trooper dice in one action with room for a plot like Advanced Training. Her points cost of 14 elite also give scope to play her more easily in a 3-wide line up with two 8 costs for a very healthy deck. Cara being so versatile should see that she gets plenty of game time. 4/5

52. Rebel Pilot is a nice straight forward non-unique character that we can also play elite for just 2 more points. That’s a very decent dice to make elite as well for 2pts. No pay sides and no modifier sides with a 2 damage side. If that wasn’t enough then we also get piloting which gives us a little speed in our deck too. I don’t think it would be a terrible deck to play 3 elite Rebel Pilots although I’m sure there are better options. 3.5/5

53. Wedge Antilles immediately looks good with 10 health for a base cost of 9 pts and 4 ranged damage sides albeit a mixed bag of base, modifier and pay sides. Where Wedge excels is the ability to turn blanks into something useful through his passive ability for any pilot he is paired with, including himself. On activation the roll of a blank gives that character a shield immediately making any pilot feel like they don’t have any blank sides. Very fitting for his title of Flight Instructor to turn any pilot into having every side be useful on the roll in. Being able to then re-roll those dice to get a resolve-able side just gives double value from the dice. You almost want to roll blanks initially. I really want to pair him with Cassian Andor and play Master of Disguise on Cassian to give him Pilot and Leader from Wedge. He’d get to benefit from the shields on blanks and spot himself for the Power Action. Let’s not forget that 4 damage sides on a pilot die is also very handy when trying to Destroy the Death Star and anyone can be Licensed to Fly and benefit from his passive ability. 4.5/5

54. Contraband Seizure – A nice little card that protects your resources from the shenanigans of pirates and other effects which is still relevant. Whether you need it or not the card can still be played to draw a card and replace itself with something that may be more useful. Unlikely to see a lot of play but nice to have around if pirates become more prevalent in the meta again. 2/5

55. Coordinated Strike – Needs a little bit of set-up in order to boost a vehicle die with shields. That alone will probably see its play limited to a niche number of decks that are more suited to generating shields but nice additional damage out of hand nonetheless. Maybe there is a Blue/Red deck here somewhere but I still think I’d prefer to have Focused Fire in my deck over this. 1/5

56. Pitch In – This feels like an odd card that also need a bit of set up to get the most out of it. We have to have at least two red upgrades and ideally three to get anything out of this card as it costs one. Usually resource generating cards are wanted early in the game for ramp but this will only be effective later in the game. I think this is another card that is going to see a lot of binder time [echo7: personally, I disagree here. I think this card has some pretty epic potential in the right deck. I agree on the point about ideal timing of ramp, but I’ve seen, first hand, this card used to set up for a mammoth round mid-game] 0.5/5

57. Roll in the Mud – This card has already been put to good use in games I’ve seen. Early game you get to possibly stop an opponent playing an upgrade on a character and then remove the best dice they roll in (sorry Ahsoka, no two weapons for you). This is hugely effective against any character that has an ability that reads, “After you activate…”. Since it is not you that activated the character you completely lose out on the ability which really hurts characters like new Spy Han from High Stakes or Hondo Ohnaka from Redemption. Thankfully, you will still get to use keyword abilities such as Detect, Guardian and Piloting as these are worded differently and don’t specify the you. The balance is that your opponent could then resolve any of the dice that have been rolled in immediately, so beware as late game you could be the one that ends up with mud in your eye after you have removed their best die. It also comes with some great artwork from CosmicNewt. 5/5 LEGENDARY

58. Strategic Strike is a very nice card for red heroes to have. You’ll get to permanently remove a support off the table for the cost of some dice. This is likely to always be useful even if your opponent doesn’t have dice support cards as it can remove many of the ramp cards that are prevalent in the game like Merchant Freighter, It Binds All Things and Forbidden Lore. 4/5

59. Armory – The red hero version of Forbidden Lore but for weapons. Play a weapon for 1 less and if on a red character draw a card. Simple, effective and we all know how good Forbidden Lore is for blue villain. 4/5

60. R2-D2 – The 1 cost support R2-D2 is back but this time he is red and not blue. I was hoping that we would get support droids of R2-D2 and C-3PO to use with their counterpart character versions. I’m really glad to see A Renewed Hope has included these. Outside of the droid partnership R2 is just a nice little support droid with no blanks and a very versatile special that can be used as any other side of his dice. Its best use is to use a focus and start a special chain. 3/5

61. Wedge’s X-Wing – For 2 resources we get 4 damage sides which is nice. 2 ranged and 2 indirect. The indirect makes it less useful if you are going to attempt to Destroy the Death Star (though excellent for the final attack run) but fine in normal play especially as they are all base sides. This feels pretty balanced alongside other 2 cost X-Wings we have seen in the past like Luke’s X-Wing and Black One. We do get a couple of extra minor abilities. Firstly, if Wedge is piloting this he gets a free shield. The more interesting ability is the second one. If you roll this die and hit a blank then you can add a damage to an opponent’s support or upgrade. This isn’t limited to just the activation either, it is any time the die rolls a blank so keep a look out if this gets re-rolled by any other effect as it could still trigger. The power action requires you to remove this die in order to discard a card with damage on it equal to it’s cost. It’s not a huge ability and will only occur every now and again but it fits with the Wedge character of getting something on the roll of a blank. 3/5

62. Cara Dune’s Blaster is another card that brings us 4 damage sides (but effectively 5) with a mix of base, modifier and pay sides. This is not where the weapon shines though. It’s in the passive effect of all weapon dice attached to the character with this weapon can resolve blank weapon sides as 1 melee. This is huge. On its own the weapon is just a decent 2 cost weapon like many others that give other weapons a boost. When you start to look at this as a combo piece in a deck with Jar’Kai then every weapon on that character starts to look very scary when it’s blank sides transform into 2 melee sides. I’m going out on a limb and saying you’ll see this played a lot more on a blue character than other colours. Solid weapon for Cara though as it then gains redeploy and turns on her ability to resolve her damage sides as ranged sides. 3/5 normally. 4.5/5 with Jar’Kai

86. Come to Aid – echobase had the honour of spoiling this card and it’s safe to say it was unimpressive to us then, and remains so. Maybe you’ll squeeze this into a deck to use in conjunction with a Jawa when you don’t have a grey card in hand to use the Jawa activation ability. It could do nice damage out of hand but it having to target a non-unique character die is too limiting for it to be squeezed into a deck. Someone will prove me wrong and use it against me to win a game but I could be waiting a long time for that to happen. 1/5

87. Military Prowess – A nice scale-able removal card for trooper decks hitting 1 die for 1 resource for as many trooper characters as you wish to spot. If you are playing multiple troopers, which could get up to 4 on the villain side, you’ll likely be using this card. 3/5

88. Plan Ahead – Now this is an interesting little card. Kind of a scaled back All In for red only. Give a nice bit of speed and allows you to make neat plays that may not have been anticipated by your opponent. This could be focus two other dice to different sides and resolve them. If one is an Admiral or Veteran of War special that could really make your opponent sad. Maybe you can take a resource on one die and use it to pay for a damage side on another. There are plenty of useful interactions that this card enables. 3/5

89. Target Their Supplies – this gives the option to resolve one damage side for disrupt which has its uses and could be very useful at times during a game, especially if that damage side was an indirect one. However, the pre-requisite for this effect is to spot two red characters. I’m finding it difficult to come up with a reason for it to be limited to two red characters as this will definitely reduce its inclusion in decks, possibly to the point of not being played at all. It’s already an odd card trading damage for disrupt but there are plays where you could stop an opponent having the money for Crime Lord or a Blizzard or funds for a pay side. Did it need the spot restriction or is that just for theme? 1.5/5

90. Fortified Position – the new version of the old Fortify plot which gave us a shield, though that cost 2 and this one costs 1. It is no longer Grey like its predecessor which fits this nicely. It’s always nice to have plots that round out a pairing that would cost 29 to 30, so you don’t feel like you are missing out on some value. High Stakes has one for each colour which is a lovely touch in this set. 3.5/5

91. Supply Team – This is a nice little card. It costs nothing to play and lets you turn dice with sides that you didn’t want into something later in the form of boosting a different die. If it attracts a Desperate Measures to destroy it then it’s not too bad as overall you didn’t really lose anything. It’s also very helpful to activate cards like Think on Your Feet and the new Battlefield Hangar 3-5 that lets you put one resource on a non-character card and remove 1 from a non-character card. Maybe this will make its way into Kuill decks where he could put another on Supply Team with his ability for later use. 3/5

92. General – OMG Right?!!! There is so much you can do with this card. Firstly no blanks, so immune to any blanking effects. Has the title subtype so we can pull it back from the discard pile with You Are In Command Now. Then it gives any unique character the Transformations Darth Vader effect with the limit being that you have to target a character dice but transforming it to any side not just melee like Vader. I can see this being used to turn a character dice to be focus more than any other side but early game if you get this out then resources could be another great option. To be honest every symbol in the game has a use and it doesn’t have to be the character dice of the attached character which fits quite nicely to the theme of the card, that the general tells the forces what to do. The play limitation of unique character only doesn’t even feel like much of a downside. The question remains: who will you be promoting to command your forces first? 5/5 LEGENDARY

93. Medal of Bravery – This does look like the runt of the litter of neutral upgrades out of the High Stakes set. While the effect is nice, increasing the attached character sides on resolution by 1. It lacks a die and doesn’t really push your board state. The unique trooper only limitation doesn’t help this card either but I’m fine with that [echo7: without it, we’d have Din Djarin running around with this on his armour]. We have in Standard play Cara Dune, Saw Guerrera, Captain Phasma, Commander Pyre, Kes Dameron, Gideon Hask, FN-2199 and Fenn Rau and a host of others that don’t have their own dice. I would have liked to have seen Unique Trooper or Chewbacca only as the text, after his long awaited journey to get a medal in the franchise. Out of those characters Gideon Hask seems the best option as he can get a third one of his dice in the pool. Thinking about it, the leader and trooper subtype combined could make good use of this especially if you are playing for Admiral Resets and getting multiple boosted dice from the extra activations, especially if you can use it on a focus side which the leaders tend to have. I should mention that it makes the FN-2199 ranged zero value side now do some actual damage but you’re looking for a weapon for him over this. There is potential here but I don’t think it will see much play over cards that come with a dice. If it cost 1 then maybe. 2/5

94. Proton Grenades – An interesting weapon using the old Fragmentation Grenade die that you can pump for more damage taking the same damage in indirect in return. This is a very interesting option but definitely feels a bit of a win more card as you wouldn’t likely want to take extra damage for the same value. That being said it is optional so you can just ignore that part of the card, however it then looks expensive for a 2 cost weapon that does indirect damage. I think this might shine more on the hero side where you could have a Target Acquired down on an opponent’s character and then the boosted damage becomes direct and is more likely to cause a kill where you can spread out the return damage for boosting the die. Other than those decks then maybe you see it in a dedicated indirect deck where there might be indirect modifier sides which this can pair up to. Maybe in a Bing deck or something like that? Going to see niche play. 2.5/5

95. Westar-35 Blaster Pistol – If you watched any footage of the High Stakes release event you’ll know how much the weapon was featured in the top performing decks. It is a very good weapon for two with just the redeploy using the same sides as Rex’s Blaster Pistol. The additional damage if you have the battlefield is just icing on the cake though, making it’s sides values essentially a 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 weapon, which you’d probably expect on a 3 cost weapon. A great value weapon that will see a lot of play [echo7: perhaps too good?]. I’m already thinking of fitting this into some form of FN-2199/Commander Pyre deck to try and get this from the get-go. 5/5 LEGENDARY

That completes the echobase set review for High Stakes. Now I really need to get some decks built and try out all these new cards and ideas. What a truly fabulous job A Renewed Hope have done again in this, their third set.

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