Empire at War Predictions
As you are reading these words, Empire at War packs are spreading like wildfire from stores worldwide, infecting every Destiny player they come in contact with. Gone are the days of Spirit of Rebellion, and with them, the memory of Poe/Maz and Rainbow Nines terror. Or…maybe not? Who knows what the future Empire at War meta will bring, which is why today, I’ll be going through the set, offering up some thoughts and predictions on specific cards/decks/events I expect to see in the coming weeks. This process is different from a simple ‘spoiler article’ in the sense that I’m not looking at best case scenarios or analyzing any card in a vacuum. Instead, I’m focusing on the perceived meta a couple weeks out, and trying to fill in the remaining information based on that context. If you are interested in getting a jump on the competition, this is the type of analysis you should be doing along the way, as new cards are spoiled. With that, let’s begin!
As far as characters go, I find myself seeing a ton of these new printings making an impact, at least in some sense. We’re at the point now that with three sets worth of characters to build from, most archetypes will be less about ‘unique abilities’ and more about finding the right character pairings that offer the best rate for their cost. For example, Vader/Kylo can easily be upgraded to Vader/Phasma with few changes beyond the character swap if we so choose, but what does that mean for other options? Does midrange blue villain become pushed out of the meta because the aggressive options are so much better? The answer to these questions will determine whether Count Dooku or Quinlan Vos will see play, moreso than their perspective ‘value’ based on cost.
That last point is important, so I’m going to restate it for clarity. At this point, three sets in to Destiny, we’ve reached the ‘critical mass’ of powerful cards and characters that we no longer need to play ‘bad cards’. By bad cards, I mean General Veers just for his dice, or Use the Force because we don’t have any blue mitigation. It is this fact, more than the ‘rate’ of any card in a vacuum, that will determine whether a particular card will see play in Destiny. ‘Fit’ is now the barometer through which cards are judged, rather than ‘quality’.
That being said, the barometer for character success in Star Wars: Destiny will depend entirely on how they fit into existing/new archetypes, so let’s take a quick look at those before analyzing the new Empire at War offerings.
Mono Blue Aggro – EmoKids, Vader/Guard, Palpatine
Red/Yellow Aggro - Phasma
Red/Yellow Midrange – Funkar
Rainbow Aggro – Rainbow Nines
Mono Blue Aggro – Luke/Rey, Qui Gon/Rey
Red/Blue Aggro – Poe/Rey
Blue/Yellow Aggro – Han/Rey
Red/Yellow Aggro/Combo – Poe/Maz
So, already, this list gives us tons of information. Not only does it tell us the color pairings that currently ‘work’ in Destiny, it also tells us which characters are acting as the ‘best version’ for that deck, and what decks are missing from the conversation. My first step in determining potential new archetypes/characters in Destiny is outlining the current decks to find out what is missing, and why. Here are the under-represented color pairings in Destiny, along with the current ‘best deck’ as of today.
Mono Red Aggro – Death Trooper 3x, Grievous
Mono Yellow Aggro – Aurra/Bala
Red/Blue Aggro – FN/Vader
Yellow/Blue Aggro - ???
Control – 4 Wide, Dooku/Jabba, Jabba/Unkar
Mono Red Aggro – Baze/Snap
Mono Yellow Aggro - ???
Control – Various Bad Mill
At this point, we should already have a few takeaways just from looking at the two lists. If the color pairing is in this second list, we can assume that the pairing either has an issue at the character level, or the support level (by support I mean the 30 card deck that backs up the character pairing). Fn/Vader is probably the best deck on this list, with Aurra/Bala coming up behind, but unfortunately being too frail to make it in SoR Destiny. As for the rest, I’m looking at Empire of War in the hopes to find characters that can elevate these pairings to the next level.
I see Grand Inquisitor as a cheaper, weaker Darth Vader that has the potential to offer more damage at the cost of a little consistency. The special is easier to turn on than people think, and this card could easily see play alongside one die Dooku. Whether this pairing is better than Vader/Guard depends largely on whether Price of Failure is what we are playing towards, which is influenced by Coercion. These types of cascading consequences influences cards seeing play much more than “Inquisitor is good/bad” to the point where making a definitive judgment on it seems pointless. As is the case with just about everything, there are unanswered questions everywhere. That being said, if the metagame shakes down to the point where survivability and consistency is valued over burst (Price of Failure), I wouldn’t be surprised to see Inquisitor make waves.
Thrawn is going to be great, and will give control some much needed presence in the metagame. What this does to the field is unclear, as I expect most aggressive decks to push more towards action cheating to fight mitigation and push damage, which they were already doing anyways. More than anything, I’m interested to see if a true control deck like Thrawn pushes out midrange strategies like Funkar and Phasma 1.0, which will in turn polarize the metagame. A polarized field will make supports and expensive redeploy upgrades worse, and promote burst over value. There’s no way to predict a two level response (how the format adjusts to a deck we don’t even know yet) other than to wait and see what happens. I say all of that to say that given time to build, General Hux could do some crazy things, but only if other decks are looking to go the value route as well. If archetypes are still doing 8 damage per round, filling our deck with value cards that trigger off specials will look hopelessly out of league.
As a final quick point, Magnaguard was an incredibly exciting printing for me as a replacement for Royal Guard in Vader/Guard, but I’m curious to see how Coercion affects the field first. I am ecstatic about the possibility of The Best Defense into Price of Failure on a ‘ticking’ Magnaguard to extract value before it dies, but those types of powerful plays could potentially be too high-risk depending on the field. Still, keep an eye out.
Cad Bane is priced to see play, but fit is my biggest area of concern for him. 13/17 means he fits with FN, but that deck will probably be good because of FN, and not Cad Bane. I should mention I’m expecting an FN nerf at some point, but not immediately after release. For his dice, I’m more excited to play Aurra Sing, though the 12 health is a big upgrade compared to Aurra’s 10. Looking at the color pairings list, I have trouble finding a spot for him currently, besides a Mono Yellow Aggro list that doesn’t yet exist. The best pairings for that color involve Bala, so we could easily play an 18 or 19 point elite that might be better than what Cad has to offer.
Early word is that Hera Syndulla is the real deal, and I can believe it. Hero Vehicles will be a new archetype in Destiny thanks to her, and she’s priced to see play as just a value character in other archetypes as well. Han/Hera can play a heavy hitting midrange game potentially, but that archetype is a little too far down the rabbit hole for today. My point here is that Rey and FN have shown us that cheap characters that pack a punch can find their way into multiple archetypes as ‘filler’ characters to hold up on their own. K-2SO is basically Vader, trading a point of health and the latent discard for an extra activation once per game. If he sees play, its because three die pairings are solid in Destiny, which hasn’t been the case up to this point. Still, it could definitely happen, assuming FN gets a nerf and damage totals slow down to the point where main/support pairings aren’t as risky.
Mace and Ahsoka, while very different, basically perform similar functions to Luke, and their success in Destiny depends on the value of three dice strategies as I alluded to above. Ahsoka in particular seems like she has support to see play, particularly in a one die role with Qui Gon. Mace Windu with Clash of Wills could be strong as well, but both need to prove themselves against Qui Gon/Rey, which I’m worried will prove too tough to handle. Blue Hero to this point has fallen into two camps; shields/synergy, and My Ally Is the Force. Which side you ally with probably aligns with your feelings about these characters.
Finally, Yellow Hero, which is unfortunately pretty straightforward. Lando Calrissian offers nothing in the way of damage, which means this character is only good in control shells, which Hero hasn’t seen up to this point. Lando’s ability, while useful, doesn’t seem impactful enough to offer Hero Control something it has been sorely missing, so I don’t expect him to make an impact. Ezra is cheap enough that he can fill in and offer some dice to a few pairings, and I would be most interested to see what he does for eclectic strategies similar to Maz/Snap/Rey and the like. He’s priced to see play, I just have no idea where that will be. Finally, Sabine gives Yellow Hero another character in the mold of Han and Chewbacca, but what those pairings were missing was a solid support. Is Ezra the answer? I’m not so sure.
Characters are only part of the story, and the events, supports and upgrades that form the 30 card core behind these character pairings will do more to influence results than dice or point totals will. Still, looking at the new offerings, I don’t see much in the way of impact beyond a few upgrades to established archetypes, Thrawn, Hera, and Ezra. That’s pretty good for a third set competing with two established sets worth of characters. It’s too early to grade Empire at War, but on day 1, I’m excited for what it has to offer.
Let’s get building!
Thanks for reading,