Sabine Ezra for a Post-Nerf Meta
With the latest Rules Reference Guide update, Fantasy Flight Games answered community cries (and whispers) with significant nerfs to Captain Phasma, FN-2199, Imperial Inspection, Vibroknife, and Unkar Plutt. In addition, they made a few rules tweaks that impact overwriting weapons, and the Running Interference combo loop. What do all these changes mean for the future of Destiny? Who is King of Hill by default now that most of the top decks have supposedly taken a hit? I have an answer for you, and it probably isn’t what you thought.
Still Great, Can’t Wait!
I’m loving the post-nerf meta, because I’m basically still playing the deck I was playing pre-nerf. In fact, I haven’t changed a card. There was a lot of misinformation going around regarding Sabine Ezra in the weeks following my initial writeup on the deck, which I believe contributed to an environment where not many people were playing the deck, and most of the players that were playing it were either building it wrong, playing it wrong, or both. That’s quite the statement, so let me explain.
See, the entire ‘infinite loop combo’ was always a red herring. In my very first build of Sabine Ezra I was playing Don’t Get Cocky and looking to claim early with Maz’s Castle to dig through my deck and assemble the combo as as possible. This was fine, but not taking shields and giving my opponent extra cards to fuel their rerolls led to more early damage, and I died if the second Running Interference was near the bottom of my deck.
Outside of the combo, I quickly learned that despite our identity as a mono-Yellow Hero deck, our card quality was actually off the charts. Infamous and Running Interference let us tack on extra value to basically every card we play, and Sabine Wren with ambush weapons presents a solid core that gives us value and aggression all at the same time. Scavenge means we can chain Second Chance all day long if we want to, and Smuggling is basically a free extra resource when we can discard a weapon and play it immediately on Sabine when we activate.
All of this trickery lets us save our resources for our ‘heavy hitters’ in the form of Never Tell Me the Odds, Hyperspace Jump and Double-Cross. And with Hidden Agenda, we can use an early resource to play it and fire an expensive event off later in the game seemingly out of nowhere. Rather than dedicating ourselves early to a speedy combo finish, we can sit back, mitigate dice, get in some damage and Jump when things are looking unfavorable. As has always been the case, the real strength of the deck lies in how well it is able to bide its time until it finds Never Tell Me the Odds, at which point we basically get to just kill a character on easy mode.
But, what about the Running Interference (so called) nerf?! Yes, while you can now discard to reroll zero dice, we were only winning games with the combo about 10% of the time. We only wanted to fit one copy of Thermal Paint in our deck anyway, which meant that we were getting a Running Interference Rend’ed more than we were comboing our opponents out. Now, with the nerf, players are cutting Rend when everyone used to be making room for it, which, while it was never a big deal, still could be slightly annoying when they destroyed it. Now, our Running Interference are more likely to stick around, which actually makes the nerf better for us!
As it stands now, I’m not so worried about finding both copies of Running Interference to activate both in one action. Instead, I’m looking to find opportunities in-game to gain value from it, like playing an ambush card to prevent my opponent from playing a card, then activating Ezra to steal or disrupt their resources. And, as always, we are searching for one copy of Infamous or Running Interference to pair with Never Tell Me the Odds to focus all our Sabine character and upgrade dice to damage without fear of interaction.
Basically, all of this information is weeks old at this point, but few people have caught on for some reason. There was a narrative going around that Kylo 2.0 invalidated mono color decks, which was just plain false. While its true that his activate ability was more likely to hit, the matchup was definitely winnable as long as we made sure to prioritize our resources for Second Chance and Never Tell Me the Odds. Stay calm, soak some damage, then one-shot their Kylo and play cleanup on their second character.
FN-2199 deserved a nerf, and I’m glad they did it, but I didn’t expect a rules change towards overwriting weapons and a character point change. That seems heavy-handed if I’m giving my opinion, but I would rather do too much than too little. Still, the errata list for Destiny is already creeping towards unmanageable, which makes me look forward to potential rotation when all these broken Awakenings and Spirit of Rebellion cards get phased out.
That being said, the Unkar and Imperial Inspection nerfs were completely unnecessary and only serve to complicate things. Destiny almost had a true control/mill deck in the form of Thrawnkar, and while their resource generation might have been a little too consistent for my tastes, the deck still couldn’t win without relying on some form of win condition card like Buyout or AT-ST. Not being able to actually win with your character dice was a big knock against the deck, one that I think definitely held the deck back from being consistent enough to win at high levels. If the Unkar/Inspection nerfs were meant to keep Thrawnkar in check, I don’t believe they were necessary.
Now, on the other hand, let’s say FFG decided to nerf Unkar and Inspection because they felt the cards violated some form of ‘Negative Play Experience’ barometer. In that case, I could get behind it. Imperial Inspection is an incredibly frustrating card for players that aren’t prepared for it, or don’t alter their gameplan against it. While the competitive player in me believes that if you let Inspection beat you, you deserve to lose to it, the player in me that thinks of casual play and people just getting into the game understands that Inspection isn’t a card you want to face as a new player.
All of that being said, the fact that Running Interference is allowed to remain a card just seems inexcusable at this point. Imperial Inspection is set aside after use, but you can play a card that basically lets you say ‘No’ to your opponent whenever you want is fine? Focusing all of your dice and preventing your opponent from interacting with them is okay, but bouncing an upgrade only when you roll a disrupt is too powerful?
Running Interference is still busted, Sabine Ezra stayed the same while everything else got worse, and FFG nerfed some ‘offenders’ that really weren’t that bad, all the while missing completely the deck that I believe is still the best in the format. As a result, I’ve been forced into this role, where I continually beat people on TTS in my solitary quest to show FFG the errors of their ways.
Thanks for reading,
Trevor HolmesPS: I wanted to use a little space at the end of the article for some self-promotion. For those that don’t know, I run an Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/ArchitectGaming, where I make and sell custom, handcrafted, laser etched products for Star Wars: Destiny and Legend of the Five Rings. I do prints of ‘alt art’ character cards for Destiny as well, so check that stuff out if you’re interested, and if not, at least give me a like! Every little thing helps the shop grow, and I would really appreciate it! Thanks, and I’ll see you next week.