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Release Review: Haunting the Empire (Pod 252)

Farsight: Considering the powerful abilities on the other Specter objectives this lack of text is disappointing, although it’s also a hint that this pod might also find itself in plenty of other decks. The two resources almost make up for it, and open up a little bit of extra synergy with a set that plays well with this one – Mission to Talay  – and if you can get Inspiring Presence down on Hera suddenly this gets a lot better.

AussieJedi: So for the Rebel set in this Force Pack, we have Hera Syndulla. The objective we get is a nice 2 resource one and the lack of influence (we can’t have it all) on the card may force you into a Rebel affiliation for a rainbow Spectre deck. That may be a help, or simply a hindrance.

Dav Flamerock: I’ve (somewhat) recently decided that 2-resource objectives are excellent, even if they have no text. Being in the same objective set as a Leader also helps, thanks to the new Mon Mothma, so I’m happy to see this here. Whether it’s in a Rebel deck or a Specter deck, this objective will help you play what you need.

Farsight: Well, there’s a lot of stuff going on here to unpack. Three cost is a good spot, but two force icons is a little disappointing. Having three icons is also good, especially the tactics being black which makes her a good defender with three health. Her refresh ability is better than elite because it protects multiple units not just her. Combined with Kanan’s (even better) ability it makes a Specter deck incredibly hard to lock down. Finally, we get to her ability to give unit damage that can be pretty scary in the right situations. Additional guns make Zeb’s targeted strike more powerful, and even smaller units like Ezra and Children of the Force become effective in combat once Hera has buffed them up. This ability gets considerably less useful outside the Specter deck where neutral units aren’t as plentiful but in situations like that Hera can fall back on her solid stats.

AussieJedi: Her-a she is…see what I did there 😉 So, the first of two mains from this set. She isn’t too pricey and has a good spread of icons. Her tactics is black, which helps overlook the fact that her blast is white. I think she is one of the best support mains in the game. She gives each other Spectre and neutral an additional gun and that can be pretty sweet, should she be coupled with the event from yesterday; Improvised Demolition, you could have a Loth-cat strike with two black guns and a blast! Oh did you want more from Hera? Sure, she can remove an additional focus token from a friendly Spectres, which is stupendous when she is paired with Kanan, her counterpart from The Rebels TV show! She can also be committed to the Force without too much reprisal, since she is there to support the team you have out on the board.

Dav Flamerock: Hera isn’t elite, but given her ability you should evaluate her as if she were (to be fair, her ability is far better than just elite). With only two Force icons she’s not a great Force Hound, but her tricon stats with a black tactics and a passive ability that gives many of your other units guns makes her a great support unit on a board with Rebel Commandos and Children of the Force. But if you do need her to fight, that black tactics can make sure your board stays stable while you build it up. She’s not fantastic at anything, but she’s very versatile.

Farsight: Wow! Rebels may never get their own version of the Millennium Falcon but this is as close as they’ll get. This one also plays defense if you need it to, with 3 force pips and elite. The interrupt ability looks helpful, but this unit can do a whole lot in combat so unless you’re extremely sure there is a Force Lightning or Force Manipulation on the way I wouldn’t hold it back. There are also some synergies to watch out for – as a Vehicle and Transport it can play with Rebel or Smuggler vehicle decks. This is also a pretty fantastic target for Custom Paint Job, since it can be a monster with Sabine’s ability or readied by Well Equipped. That might be the way you can use its interrupt as well. It’s an all-star unit that plays with a bunch of different things that LS decks like to do.

AussieJedi: Ok I like this card, I really do. It’s a fully-costed main and it does bring a lot to the table (no pun intended). It assists the deck by providing great effect cancel that doesn’t remove Ghost from play, which is a pleasing change, and then draws a card. Pretty sweet. Coupled with three Force Icons, I am definitely playing this in my deck.

Dav Flamerock: Now this is the actual Main of the set: a ship that deals 4 damage, is elite with three Force, and has four health (which is a lot bigger deal than you think). It even has Protect Specter if you need to keep Kanan or Zeb alive longer, and a protective ability that is pretty strong… but when it costs you your four-drop I don’t know how often I’d be triggering it. Frankly, I expect this to mostly be a big red Vehicle beater that occasionally protects the other units you have on the board. And that’s something Rebels have needed.

Farsight: This ability is so good it would probably be playable as a two cost enhancement that just sat on the board, so the fact that it also can attack and block with a tactics icon is nuts. Of all the cards in this pod it has the widest effect, protecting characters from any faction. Pretty much the only thing that could make it better is a way to recycle it, perhaps Balance Obi-Wan or Undercover? There’s not too much more to say here, this card will sit there and protect your main attackers while giving your opponent fits.

AussieJedi: Yet another support card which is crazy awesome. It goes without saying that where you see Ghost, you have to find Phantom. To get a two costed cancel with a gun and tactics can really influence just how you opponent attacks… or doesn’t. One Force icon doesn’t really worry me, this just a two cost unit.

Dav Flamerock: The Phantom looks pretty innocuous, as a chud with a white tactics and no bombs. But rest assured, this effect is very powerful: often this two cost chud is going to be completely healing a 3-or 4-cost Character and keeping them in the game twice as long as they deserved to be. And in the meantime, it’s got a tactics icon! I’m really excited about the prospect of having this protective effect in the same pod with an all-purpose utility character and a big beater with Protect Specter. These three units all being in the same pod means that if you put this pod in your deck, you’re including six very solid units. It may be enough to make up for the otherwise light unit-density in Jedi or other Specter sets, which would make this a potent anchor pod for a lot of different archetypes.

Farsight: Having a resource can turn strong pods into staples, and that’s true here. In LS decks that are trying to flood the board with units every turn this is exactly what they want. This cycle has been light on resources enhancements and it’s extremely welcome.

AussieJedi: A great card to see in a support pod like this. What better way to support you than to get a resource, in turn getting yet more units on the table. Nothing bad to say here.

Dav Flamerock: Every anchor set needs a resource, and here it’s got one. The prospect of a Rebel set with super solid fundamentals, that doesn’t rely on any kinds of tricks to work, appeals to me significantly because that’s always been Rebels’ biggest weakness. They’ve had tons of combos and tricks up until this point, but this is the first time we get a set with generically good units and generically good resources.

Farsight: They can’t all be winners. This would be moderately playable in or out of the Specter deck except for that 1 resource icon your opponent can use. That bumps it all the way down into guaranteed edge card territory for which it thankfully has two pips. That is, except for that 1 out of 10 or 20 games where you have an undefended attack for 5 damage in which case this card turns into a big blowout and possibly the whole game. It’s hard enough to pull off it’s probably not worth playing towards and I can’t imagine playing it on a turn I knew I couldn’t blow it up, but keep it in the back of your mind for that once in awhile when you draw it under the right circumstances.

AussieJedi: This is a double edged sword. This gives all the Spectres an extra blast when it’s in the victory pile, but it gives your opponent a resource and that has been a huge detriment to my game play. It has sometimes been the one resource my opponent needed against me. The upside is very good for Spectres and that is why you only play it on the turn you can destroy it.

Dav Flamerock: I said this set was about fundamentals, but they had to squeeze in at least one trick where they could. Most of the time I think this mission is going to be edge fodder, something it’s fine at with two pips. However, there might still be value to playing it under a few circumstances. Zero cost is great, but giving your opponent a resource is very bad. Yet, once it’s been defeated it gives all your Specters extra bombs… and extra bombs is how you win the game. If you can blow it up the turn you play it or the turn immediately after when you play it, it might be able to undo the resource it gave your opponent by bouncing their most expensive Main… but beware having this mission in play too long. It will add up quickly and this mission will be a huge liability.

Final Grades

Farsight Rating:
This is one of the best sets Rebels have gotten. You’ve got three great units that work well on their own and by protecting your other units. The resource also fits in nicely with Rebel sets from Capital Cover to Shield Generator Assault and the rest of the units slot into plenty of deck types as well. I’m sure we’ll be seeing lots of this set in the future.
Overall Grade: A

AussieJedi Rating:
This is is a winner for me. It’s Force icons are solid, not mind blowing. The thing is you don’t have really good Force icons on events that I would play for their effect, which is smart on FFG’s part. You have what seems to be potentially game swinging effects and not a bad blast count, even though they are white. You have a some control with tactics on Hera and some protect too from Ghost. I definitely want two of these in my deck as I like every card in the set.
Overall Grade: A

Dav’s Set Statistics:
Edge Rating: Above Average (1 Good, 1 Bad, 1 Resource)
Important Unit Cost: 2, 3, and 4
Resource? Yes
Shields? No
Blast Icons: edge-blast-damage-16x15 on Hera, edge-blast-damage-16x15 on Ghost, and I guess there’s Call to Action
Tactics Icons:  on Hera and  on Phantom
Overall Grade: A-

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