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Release Review: Press the Attack

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We’re going to press forward towards the end of the cycle, and while the overall power level of this pack is lower than that of previous ones (not that that’s saying much), a standout Scum set and a lot of above-average chuds makes me think this pack could be a big hit among those who like brewing oddball decks that maximize synergy.

Lost in the Forest (Pod 207)

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Much in the sme way that Hidden From the Empire really alters the way a game is played, I can see this screwing with people. If you expect your opponent to bring a swarm deck, then this could hit them really hard. However, given the fact that this game is designed around having strong Mains over lots of chuds, you’re more often going to find this objective exacerbating the “who has the biggest dude” problem. If you ever flop this objective, or have this objective show up in the middle of a game, and you don’t have the three best units on the board, you might be in trouble. Now this can do random beneficial work: it can lock out resource chuds or Mouse Droids, but this game is already a clash of Mains. This objective won’t help make sure you have a dominant board presence.

Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the deck that’s most likely to want the units in the objective set is a deck that’s going to be most hurt by this objective, as Ewoks have a tendency to swarm.

Endor Pack 5-01

This is the real reason I expect people are going to want this pod: ewoks! At 2 cost, a black blast and 2 health on a Character is perfectly acceptible. The light side wants black blast, and as far as vanilla chuds go this is about as good as it gets. However, this isn’t just a vanilla unit, and it’s certainly no Freelance Hunter. First of all, it’s got two Force icons. This is surprisingly powerful, not only beause it makes it a better edge card but because cost = Force icons is the definition of a good Force Hound. This guy can tussle with most 3-cost units for the Force, and makes that all-valuable Force commitment card more effective.

The biggest problem with having someone committed to the Force, of course, is that they’re going to be locked down unless they’re elite, which this guy isn’t. However, its game text makes it shockingly versatile. If you have the objective out, of course, this ewok’ll ready itself when the time comes to fight, meaning you can outnumber your opponent without worrying about getting punished by your own objective. Yet perhaps more relevantly, you can safely commit this unit to the Force and, if the objective isn’t in play, it’ll refresh during the refresh phase and then again during the conflict phase, meaning you can safely fight with him despite having him committed. For a chud that comes in duplicate in the objective set, I’m very impressed. This is likely one of the better Ewoks we’ve gotten to date.

On the other hand, we have a cheap zero-cost enhancement that gives a Jedi unit or Ewok elite. We already had this in Niman Training, and that card’s only okay, so I’m not sure why this card is in here (particularly since these ewoks already kinda have elite?). It’s a bit of a dud card that I expect will see the most success when used as Shadows Luke fodder, further reinforcing my opinion that the all-Ewok deck wants to run A Hero’s Trial.

Endor Pack 5-02

Then we have the “main” of the objective set. I’m going to say a bunch of negative things about this C-3PO, but I want to be very clear: As a one-cost unit with a white blast and 2 health that can’t be Force Choked, 3PO aces the vanilla test. I’m not thrilled about X-Wing as a unit, but when the objective set already has two chuds that are well above-par, I’m more than happy with a one-cost, two-health blast unit. Now, C-3PO has a big downside that I dislike, and it’s a subtle one: he has no Force icons. This isn’t the biggest deal, normally; not every card can be great, and 3PO is more than valuable as a unit on the board. But considering he’s unique, drawing into the second copy is a big problem, because not only is it a unit you can’t play but it’s a card equally worthless in edge (remember, non-Fate cards ignore all card text in edge stacks). That makes me hesitate to run duplicate copies of this objective set, when everything else about it wants me to run it as a two-of (a build-around-me objective and two excellent chuds).

Another subtle weakness for 3PO is that being a 1-cost unit in a set full of chuds makes this very definitely a swarm set, with an objective that actively discourages a swarm strategy. Obviously an uncommitted Homeland Defender doesn’t mind having the objective out, but when the objective pushes each player to have the biggest unit, this set having absolutely nothing resembling a big unit can be a problem. I also find it particularly awkward that while the set has a ton of blast (thankfully), it has zero tactics icons and the objective, again, really rewards players with tactics icons. I love the cards in the set, overall, but can’t help but think the objective doesn’t interact with them well.

To make up for the fact that 3PO is worthless in an edge stack, the objective set comes with Battle of Endor to make sure you win some edge battles. Ultimately I think this is an objective set that really has potential, but will largely be overlooked on account of the fact that it’s frankly kinda boring. The most valuable card in the set is an unexciting-if-powerful chud, and it’s hard to get excited about a chud, even a great chud.

It’s also super awkward that 3PO has a limit on his already-conditional Force icon count. I understand a 1-cost unit with three Force icons is very good, but those Force icons are conditional on having units on the board (not always a guarantee). And while it definitely shouldn’t have been able to out-perform Palpatine under any circumstances, I think it’d have been ok to raise C-3PO’s limit to 4, if only to allow him to beat other relevant non-Force User Mains like Grand Moff Tarkin. Again, having four Ewoks on the board isn’t an easy feat.

Set Statistics:
Edge Rating: Average (1 Good, 1 Bad, 1 Terrible)
Important Unit Cost: 2
Resource? No
Blast Icons: One white on one unit, one black on two units
Tactics Icons: None
Overall Grade: B

Strike Team Assemble (Pod 208)

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Now here’s an Endor objective I want to see on the table. I’d have loved to see this basically at any point in the game’s lifespan, but I never actually thought they’d print it, especially not when there’s another objective in the same cycle that can keep it turned on. Something tells me that this objective can have the potential to do some really serious work with the right draws. That said, the list of Fate cards it works with isn’t all-encompassing, and neither Fate card in this objective set or in Shield Generator Assault works with the objective. For reference, here’s the list:

  • Heat of Battle
  • Target of Opportunity
  • Supporting Fire
  • Echoes of the Force
  • Seeds of Decay (maybe)
  • I Have You Now
  • The Rebel’s Hope
  • Well Equipped
  • Tactical Planning

I find it particularly awkward that it doesn’t interact at all with the fate card that comes in its own objective set, but I guess they thought a free Edge-battle-win Fate card might be too good? The objective technically does interact with it, but because the (limit +3) that caps Battle of Endor at 4 Force pips applies to the card as a whole rather than each instance of the fate effect, you’re unlikely to get much value unless Strike Team Assemble is the only Endor objective or enhancement in play… and this comes with an Endor enhancement. Really you want to pack this deck full of the fate cards I’ve mentioned above, but since they also are going to need resources to compensate for this objective set “not having one” (more on that later), they’re also going to want some additional synergy beyond getting extra value out of an objective you may not see or can easily be turned off.

It’s a tricky space to be in, particularly since having more than 8 or so Fate cards can be a real problem for most decks, and you’re using two of those valuable slots for a fairly-unexciting Battle of Endor. We’ll see how it ultimately pans out.

Endor Pack 5-03

As I said already, the set comes with a Battle of Endor. It’s not actually a bad card; having a 3-4 edge Fate card is quite good. But considering the objective really wants you to be running Target of Opportunity, Heat of Battle, and The Rebel’s Hope, having to include a Fate card that doesn’t interact with the objective does feel like a wasted opportunity. Still, I expect this will often be a valuable fate card, since I see this objectve set often being paired with other Endor objectives.

So we have a fate card and an objective that cares about fate cards. How else can we reward you for playing fate cards? As far as units go, I think Bren Derlin is the unit that TIE Attack Squadron always wanted to be, and vice-versa, both because two black guns are more valuable for the dark side and because light side Characters are notoriously vulnerable to being choked out by Darth Vader before they can even fight. That’s enough of a reason to make me hesitate, because while he can have a huge upside (three-cost targeted strike!) he can also make you waste your entire turn doing nothing. In a world dominated by the Imperial Navy he might have legs, and even in Sith land he could still do work if Core Vader isn’t involved. But be wary because this cannon is very much made out of glass.

Endor Pack 5-04

Our support cards are actually pretty good. Strike Team Specialist is just another Believer in the Old Ways with minor upside, which isn’t necessarily all that good, but if he can help you win an edge battle alongside a bigger unit then he can pull his weight. My biggest concern with this guy is that his edge is entirely dependent upon your opponent; while your opponent’s not generally going to avoid playing fate cards just because he’s in the engagement, it’s not something you can really rely on because most of the time they won’t have any fate cards. For those times when they play 2-3 fate cards in the same engagement, though… man that’s a sweet dream to live.

The event is a familiar one to anyone that played A Game of Thrones 1st Edition, and it’s just as powerful here as it was there. It might even be better here, as thanks to the higher number of bad cards that get played via the pod system, and the very tactical use of cards in this game, you can pretty easily give yourself exactly the card you want and give your opponent a card that might even be good but is worthless at the given moment and thus hits the trash. I expect a number of edge battles to begin with “give me this great edge card and give you a Sith Library.” There’s not much to say about it, except that it should be a solid performer that doesn’t necessarily draw anyone towards this objective set but which does a great job when it does get played.

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I’m going to end with this card, because I think a lot of people are going to have opinions that differ from mine (and possibly each other’s). What this looks like is a 2-1 nonlimited resource (passable but not great) with an ability you might use from time to time, like Native Support. What I think this actually is is a 2-cost enhancement that gives you access to The Survivors in Rebels. The Survivors is an objective that’s been incredible on the light side, to the point where it’s threatened to blank most of Darth Vader’s objective set just by being on the table. A lot of squishy units that otherwise would struggle without a protector have become much more effective thanks to that objective (Jedi Leia, I’m looking at you), but a lot of the strength of the Survivors is that it starts the game in play for free.

I mention this because while it seems like its resource would be its most important feature, Rebels have a lot of squishy characters and they also lack any relevant in-faction Protect. That makes the damage-prevention feature of Natural Cover way more important than it would normally be, as you need to make sure your units survive long enough to resolve their strikes, and this is the only real way to do that in this affiliation.

Would you really pay 2 resources for an enhancement that had that effect, especially if you could only use it half as often? I’m not sure. You could compare this to a Guardian of Peace since both cost 2 resources and can protect some amount of damage over the course of the game, and while both have different additional utility (being a unit vs providing a resource) the comparison is pretty sound. Getting one on the table is going to be a big tempo hit but I think once it’s there you’re going to find it’s very effective. Only time will tell if the benefit of having it on the table is more or less important than the tempo hit of playing it.

Set Statistics:
Edge Rating: Strong (2 Good, 2 Bad, plus Scout Ahead)
Important Unit Cost: 3
Resource: Technically?
Blast Icons: One white on two units
Tactics Icons: None
Overall Grade: B-

Maw of Madness (Pod 209)

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As far as I can tell, people aren’t valuing this objective very highly, and I think that’s wrong. It’s not a strong objective, by any means, but I think it definitely has a place in a starting lineup. The effect isn’t huge, and it’s obviously random, but opening hands have a pretty particular composition that people attempt to mulligan for (a resource and at least 3 cost total of units), and being able to disrupt that by randomly discarding their resource or their Yoda can turn a solid opening hand into a total disaster. I’ve seen it happen with Cruel Interrogations and I expect to see it happen again with Maw of Madness. The “discard two cards if you have the Balance” text is almost completely irrelevant, as it’s never going to show up on your opening flop (unless you’re running Call of the Cult, which I don’t really recommend) and you’re going to need to retain the Force at the start of your turn which can be difficult these days. But as a “discard a random card when you flop this objective,” I think it’s totally serviceable.

Endor Pack 5-05

The reason you might want to discard a card from your opponent’s hand, other than to disrupt their opening, is so you can steal it. This is the kind of game where a card like Force Pull would be most effective, as enhancements are more likely to passively end up in the discard pile thanks to edge battles. It’s a difficult effect to maximize, since it requires your opponent to have worthwhile enhancements and to discard them at some point, but it’s tons of fun! The objective set technically doesn’t have a resource, but if you can nab a resource from an opponent’s discard pile you can turn this into a resource set by using your opponent’s resources against them. Alternatively, you can do silly things like shut off Luke’s Lightsaber by locking it out with the uniqueness rule or get multiple strikes out of a unit with Trust Your Feelings. Fun, but very inconsistent. Also note that you can never get Pilots, as they’re never enhancements while in the discard pile.

Maw’s another unit with basically both of those abilities wrapped into one. When he strikes, he can force the defending player to discard a card at random, and if that card’s an enhancement he gets to put it into play for free. A cute way to grind through your opponent’s hand, at first glance, with some minor upside, but I suspect that as with the Expendable Scout (who also comes in this objective set), his ability will actually be far more effective when used on yourself. How could that happen, you wonder? Why, because when he defends, you’re going to be the defending player. You can do some silly things with this, ranging from getting additional limited resources out on the first turn cycle by edging the rest of your hand to putting Arden Lyn into play for free. Arden Lyn just keeps getting more and more flexible!

Honestly, even if you don’t want to use his ability, I think Maw’s a perfectly fair unit with three guns and edge 1 on defense. He’s super deadly at that job, though his weak Force presence and lack of elite is going to make it difficult to justify playing him early and committing him, so I hope you can get him down with an Expendable buddy who can take the Force for him in the early game!

Endor Pack 5-06

I said that Maw’s more effective role is going to be as a defender with three guns and edge 1, and the rest of the objective set is really geared towards that end. Fallen Jedi is perfectly acceptible as a unit, being kinda like a Heavy Stormtrooper Squad that gives its second gun to whichever Main he’s fighting alongside (which I actually think is better?). I think you won’t play him often, but when you do he’ll do his job well, and certainly giving a fourth gun to Maw is going to make it really difficult for anyone to tussle with him. However, even at his best Maw can only neutralize one unit; that’s usually where a unit like Prince Xizor backs up his guns with tactics icons. On one hand, you can give this guy a Sith Lightsaber and make him a defensive champion, but on the other you can teach him Juyo Training.

Made famous by Darth Maul, whose Juyo expertise enabled him to take on two Jedi at once, a Juyo-trained Maw can be almost unstoppable when he strikes. Resolving three guns on two units is usually enough to end any attack, forcing your opponents to attack with their Mains separately and probably get into suboptimal attacks as a result. I can’t wait to get this guy out on defense with a lightsaber and/or Juyo Training and just say “come at me, bro,” because unless they can kill him or focus him before he strikes, Maw is going to be killing two units every time he strikes. It doesn’t get much better than that.

At the end of the day, though, I actually don’t think the set is going to be all that great. Maw has edge 1, but the rest of the set has terrible edge. Fallen Jedi has utility but it’s super narrow and on its own it’s very irrelevant. Expendable Scout is strong but that’s mostly because his low impact is put up alongside his low-low cost of zero. Force Pull and Maw of Madness can be great but they’re super dependent on what you can hit from your opponent, and while Juyo Training has a great best case scenario, you still need to have a unit with lots of guns and you need to be able to strike with that unit. That’s a lot of situational cards all jumbled together, so I think there’ll often be scenarios where you just don’t draw very much gas. Fortunately he’s in an affiliation that’s already brimming with good pods, so you can use the rest of Sith to support him. But don’t go to Maw as your first choice in deckbuilding.

Set Statistics:
Edge Rating: Weak (0 Good, 3 Bad)
Important Unit Cost: 4
Resource? No
Blast Icons: One white on one unit, one black on another
Tactics Icons: None
Overall Grade: C

Protect the Generator (Pod 210)

210-01

This… is actually an incredible objective. Throw this in mono-Navy and now the first unit to strike against one of your objectives is forced to double-focus (or triple-focus, if they’re committed). This may seem like a minor effect that can easily be played around, but if your opponent is striking with their chud first so their Main doesn’t get locked down, they’re not denying you that super-valuable strike economy, making it that much easier to punish them with your defensive units that might have low-health or not have shields. I expect in most contested engagements this is going to put an additional focus token on enemy Mains, potentially locking them out for an extra turn (or making it that much easier for your tactics icons to lock them out). An objective that puts focus tokens on enemy Mains is a fantastic objective in my book. These Endor objectives really need me to have a good reason to play them over other, arguably overpowered, Navy objectives, and while I’m not sure that this is overpowered (though it might be), it’s totally worth fielding. That’s going to up the Endor count, which is relevant, as you’ll see.

PS: I don’t even want to think about what happens when you have this objective in duplicate.

Endor Pack 5-07

Here’s another objective set with a Main and two chuds, and if your goal is to attack then this is what you want. Assuming you have 2-3 Endor objectives (maybe even more thanks to Missions!), Colonel Dyer is going to be a fantastic 2-gun, 1 tactics defender. Like Maw, he’s going to have some issues in Force department, having only two Force and no elite, but if you don’t have to commit him he’ll block like a champ. And if you’re up against an all-Endor deck, as Rebels are starting to look like they want to be, he becomes a truly offensive powerhouse. It’s best case scenario, but if this guy can have seven or eight icons then he becomes an absolute steal for three resources. I particularly appreciate that all his icons are black, though the two health makes that look a little scarier. Fortunately, he comes with a card that can make his statline become relevant without having to ever enter an engagement in person.

All that said, I’m assuming that there’s a ton of Endor on both sides. If you’re running only this pod as your Endor objectives, and if your opponent is playing non-Endor Jedi, you’ll find that he becomes pretty rough. I think this pod is going to only be really viable in an Endor-heavy Navy deck, and given how strong the non-Endor Navy objectives are, I’m curious to see if such a deck comes together.

Then we have the chuds. Remember how I praised the ewoks earlier for being two-cost units with black blast, two Force icons, and a way to refresh themselves? Here’s the Navy version. On one hand, these guys are much worse when committed because you’re going to need to focus an objective or enhancement to refresh them, meaning you can’t just “for free” get them back during the conflict phase. On the other hand, since you can refresh them mid-phase, you can very easily get multiple strikes out of them. And as Han’s SpecForce Pathfinders have taught us, even a cheap blast unit getting to refresh and strike multiple times can be dangerous. I don’t think these guys are fantastic, but they’re well above the curve for aggressive 2-drops.

Endor Pack 5-08

We wanted more Endor, so here’s another Endor enhancement to add to your Endor objectives. It’s a typical 1-1 limited resource (surprisingly rare in Navy) with some minor upside. I don’t expect you’re going to be focusing your Officers to generate 1 resource all that often, but the option is there, and if you want to focus your Officers to refresh your AT-STs, now you have the means by which to do it. It’s just a resource and resources are always valuable.

I saved the best, and most controvertial, for last. This reads as a somewhat complex card, but ultimately what it comes down to is this: you can Promote an Officer and that Officer gets to give their combat icons to another unit during combat. This… is incredible. Remember how I wrote a whole article on Strike Economy, in which I made the argument that at the end of the day, one big unit is better than three small units? Yeah, this lets you staple two units together and make the biggest unit on the board. And if they kill half the equation (the non-Officer half), you can just keep going with a new guy every turn.

This card is very powerful. Everyone, including myself, is going to try to live the dream and Promote Grand Admiral Thrawn for maximum board control. While it’s cute, the fact that the objectives sets basically have no other synergy has the possibility to make the deck difficult to make work (though who knows, maybe you jam Thrawn in an Endor Walker shell and go to town?). I honestly think that if you Promote almost any unique Officer in this game, you’re going to be able to spit out incredible units. Tarkin’s got a great statline, Thrawn’s got a great statline, even Yularen can give you a couple extra guns and a black blast. As you might expect, it’s almost at its best on Colonel Dyer, an Officer whose entire existence revolves around getting as many combat icons as possible.

Depending on who controls how many Endor objectives, Dyer might even be a better target than Thrawn, if you can get a ton of guns and/or blast. You’re still giving any unit a black tactics, which is probably enough. Especially since you don’t have to select who’s getting the Promotion benefit until that unit is actually striking, Promoting someone with a black tactics means you’re always going to be able to resolve that thing and focus their best unit. You don’t even need Thrawn to make this card incredible… this card is already incredible.

Now I just want to see what kind of deck this ends up going in. Does it go in an Endor Walker deck, bringing back AT-ST Commander from the Core Set, with some Officers like Dyer and Tarkin to Promote? Do you go nuts and build around Thrawn, Yularen, and Dyer and try to maximize your Promotion advantages? Do you just run it as a source of cheap aggressive blast to attack with while your Gladiator-class Star Destroyers hold down the fort? I can’t wait to see where people take it!

Set Statistics:
Edge Rating: Average (0 Good, 1 Bad, 1 Resource)
Important Unit Cost: 3
Resource? Yes
Blast Icons: One black on two units, plus Dyer
Tactics Icons: One black on one unit
Overall Grade: B

Hunter for Hire (Pod 211)

211-01

Any objective that can pick off Force Hounds is an objective that interests me. We’ve seen it before on The Droid’s Task, but that carries a fairly heavy cost of sacrificing a card during your draw phase. If only we could get that damage without having to pay any kind of cost at all…

Scum’s always had trouble winning Force struggles; it’s why they had so much trouble in the early part of the game before more recent objective sets gave them plenty of blast. Scum was able to survive through the early game but didn’t have Sith’s ability to take the Force or Navy’s ability to end the game early, and while that’s technically thematic it doesn’t necessarily play well. What Scum needed were ways to punish your opponent for winning Force struggles so they could leverage their low-Force presence to value. Somehow, killing Dagobah Nudjs and damaging Yoda when he takes the Force sounds like exactly what Scum would want. And when you have two of these things… two free damage when your opponent does what they want to be doing anyway sounds pretty darn nice to me.

Endor Pack 5-09

If you thought free damage to committed enemy units wasn’t good enough, enter Bane Malar. He takes Maw and makes the Dark Jedi look like a chump, with an identical statline, an extra Force icon, and a much more relevant ability. Three guns and edge 1 is good, but being able to have “targeted strike against committed units” is just incredible, especially since it also works on defense. I think the most relevant piece of text on this guy is going to be his edge 1, but that’s only because he already has the all-important three guns to make him capable of taking out Mains and X-Wings in a single strike. I’m really liking the way this objective set is shaping up to take down May the Force Be With You in a big way.

Even in the shadow of Bane Malar, his Lannik Lackeys are still very relevant chuds. With two Force icons, they’re solid two-cost Force Hounds and perfectly solid edge cards. White blast is fine, though not exciting on a Dark Side unit (we’ve seen better). Then there’s their text. If they’re uncommitted, these guys are exactly Kuati Security Team, which is a pretty bad DS unit traditionally. The second edge icon makes them significantly more relevant, since they have value even when you don’t play them, but then they don’t have to be Kuati Security Team clones. Commit these guys and suddenly they gain a black tactics icon and a white blast, which is actually an incredible statline for a DS unit. Interestingly, I’m not sure that it makes them that much better than Kuati Security Team, given that they’re forced to double-focus each time they want to use their incredible statline.

At the end of the day, even if they have two fairly comparable “not great” modes, the fact that they have the flexibility to take on the mode you need (vanilla blast chud with a random gun, black tactics defensive chud, two-icon Force Hound, solid edge card) means these are actually some very efficient two-cost units. And just like the other very efficient chuds in this pack, the set comes with two of them. I’m liking this new direction for chud design, even if it’s just contained in this Force pack.

Endor Pack 5-10

The biggest problem with something like Bane Malar’s “targeted strike” and the objective’s free damage is that it’s dependent on your opponent committing units that’re worth killing. However, with a resource like Abandoned Hideout, and a fate card like Echoes of the Force, you can easily twist the game into something that works explicitly in your favor. What a Scummy thing to do.

I don’t have to say much about this set, except that it’s a set with a solid Main and a resource (and that resource, if unneeded, has an incredible ability). And the two chuds are noticeably above average, and the free damage you get from the objective has two cards in the same objective set to abuse it. This is a very strong Scum objective set, and I expect it to be particularly brutal when splashed into Sith, which is soon going to gain an objective set that punishes your opponent for losing the Force struggle… putting them in a really bad position.

Set Statistics:
Edge Rating: Strong (1 Good, 0 Bad, 1 Resource)
Important Unit Cost: 4
Resource? Yes
Blast Icons: One black on one unit, one white on two units
Tactics Icons: Sometimes one black on two units
Overall Grade: A-


 

If you’re the kind of player that likes outnumbering your opponent with relevant threats, this is a pack that you should consider looking into. Three of the five sets have well above-average chuds in duplicate, and the Scum set is just fantastic from top to bottom. The Sith set is solid if below replacement level and the Rebel set has all the pieces Rebels could want so it just remains to be seen if they can come together. Beyond Bane Malar, none of these objective sets really scream “incredible” to me, and all of them could be passed over if that affiliation or play style isn’t your thing, but all of them are playable and all of them are interesting on some level. I’m looking forward to playing with all of them.

Join me in two weeks, when I talk about a couple upcoming objective sets you’re going to want to give a lot of consideration.
~Dav Flamerock

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