Release Review: Rogue Archaeology (Pod 263)

Dav Flamerock: This… is actually a pretty great ability. It doesn’t look like much, but I’ve played plenty with Fleeing the Empire and that can do a surprising amount of damage prevention if you know where your opponent is going to attack. It gets far more valuable on the dark side, as there’s no other light side win condition besides attacking objectives, and if it’s not preventing damage then it’s still doing its job of keeping a particular objective safe. As we’ve seen from Heartless Tactics, the ability to prevent objective damage is super valuable. That this only triggers off of non-Sith cards seems bad, but as we’re soon to see it’s not nearly as difficult as it looks, because you’re going to be playing lots of Scum cards with Aphra, and because the multitude of neutral cards also allow you to trigger it.

Farsight: This objective has a great ability, even if this pod has no synergy with shields. While this doesn’t really go with the rest of the pod it’s a nice bonus. The effect is sort of a Sith version of Heartless Tactics, better in some instances (easier to trigger) but worse in others (can’t protect three separate objectives). Since this pod will pretty much only be played in split affiliation decks, you should be able to trigger it regularly regardless of deck composition especially since neutral cards work as well. One thing to keep in mind while playing is to try and space out events or units that can be played on the opponent’s turn so you can maximize the value of the reaction. It doesn’t really go with the rest of the pod but it’s a nice bonus.

AussieJedi: Here Sith get a 5/1 objective with a really interesting ability. The ability of being able to place a shield can be done at anytime during the turn and should you have an objective with a shield on it already, played in the last turn, you can do it in the next turn, which could really mess with the damage math in an engagement. I love it.

GreedoShotFirst: This Objective is extremely good at any point in the game. When you realize that it is ANY non-Sith card (like Sith Libraries for example) you can see how this can increase the light side players win condition by 2-3 damage each game (just shield your most damaged objective). Also works on your opponent’s turn, so cards like Threat Removal skyrocket in value as you can then protect your non-engaged objectives a little more which may discourage subsequent strikes.

Dav Flamerock: Here comes Dr. Aphra! I’m actually thrilled to see her introduced into the game, even though I don’t really read the comics all that much, because from what I do know about her she’s a really interesting character worth developing more. In this game I’m somewhat questionable about her, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy playing with her regardless! To answer the question, “Is she good?” well… At four cost, a unit has to be really good to justify not being elite. In fact, I actually see an echo of Sariss in this unit: she costs 4, has a black tactics, has a cute ability, but also has a crippling weakness. In Sariss’s case, it’s her 2 health. In Aphra’s case, it’s her lack of elite. It’s particularly hilarious because her ability double-focuses her with no way to remove them both, and while the ability can produce very powerful swings as a strong Droid shows back up at the end of an engagement to murder a light side character, you’re then paying 4 resources for a combat trick. I’m dubious of this strategy. On the plus side, if you run her with the new Scum(/Sith) affiliation to remove an extra focus token each round, she’ll be able to mitigate her big weakness, and if you do so you’ll always be able to play her regardless of affiliation match. Perhaps the developers are trying to tell us something…

Farsight: Hooray for comics characters appearing in the game! If you haven’t read the Darth Vader comics by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca where this character first appears then check them out because they are great. As for the card itself, it’s a tricky puzzle. Just based purely on stats she is a little below the curve for a four-coster, with only two Force pips and two black icons, and no keyword ability. So if you’re playing this unit – and this entire pod, for that matter – you’re playing it for Aphra’s ability. Fortunately, I think she can deliver. This game hasn’t really seen a reanimation effect like this before so it’s difficult to judge for certain but it could very well be extremely powerful.

Let’s start with the downside first: double focusing is a brutal cost that we almost never see. It pretty much demands that you play her with the affiliation cards that can remove an extra focus token on refresh. There are other cards that can keep her refreshed like Motti or the Emperor’s Shuttle but relying on a two-card combo is very risky compared to the guarantee you get from the affiliation card. So, if you build your deck correctly to use her, what is the payoff? The Sith faction itself offers Dark Trooper Legions and Interrogation Droids which is not bad but most of the payoffs are in Scum.

The various versions of IG-88 are definitely the first ones to consider. Depending on the engagement there could be the right IG for any situation. The GA version of 4-LOM is great as a surprise attacker, and even the Assassin Droid could work well. Now, it’s not that you can actually surprise your opponent with these droids – your opponent can look at your discard pile whenever they want and you can bet they’ll be double checking the contents once Aphra comes down. What Aphra brings to the table is the threat of activation, where you can mess with your opponents engagements without actually activating her. When you have an IG-88C in the discard pile, your opponent has to think carefully before making any attack – you could leave it unopposed then choose to jump in IG leaving them no choice but to damage it. Similarly, they have to be very careful when defending while IG-88B is in your discard, since if they don’t defend enough you could pop IG into the engagement, pull one of their units in and them kill them with very little opposition. You don’t even have to do it, just the potential for it to happen will change their engagements. In light of that, it’s not surprising she can be played with Scum resources, it’s certainly where she wants to be.

Of course, droids don’t just magically appear in your discard pile, they have to get there somehow. You could get the full value of the unit by playing it, making your opponent kill it, then bringing it back with Aphra but that’s a lot of work. Pitching the droids to win an edge battle then popping them back into the engagement is a great way to do it, and gives your opponent very little time to react to it since they’re already committed. The Sith faction even has a few extra ways to do it with instant discard abilities – Dark Precognition, the Inquisitor, or even Give in to Your Anger if you don’t mind rolling the dice.

Finally, don’t forget that Aphra for some ridiculous reason can even reanimate droid from your opponent’s discard pile! The light side has a lot less scary ones than the dark side but there are two you should be on the lookout for – the event cancelling C-3PO from the core set if you suspect there are events coming during an engagement, and the Captured Courier Droid from Chopper’s set to hit your opponent with some random discard, preferably before the edge battle starts to really mess with them.

AussieJedi: A strong main that has a nice spread of icons, even if they tend to be white on some key ones, depending on the circumstance. She is a touch light on Force icons, but the beautiful thing about this card is that Scum resources can match her payment. She can bring out droids to help out in the engagement and it even works in 2v2, which I just played a few games of (for the first time and loved it). I am not happy that she needs to be focused with two tokens for her ability to work and yet, she isn’t even elite. And yes, she can even take droids from your opponent’s discard pile.

GreedoShotFirst: Here’s a four cost, three health main with 2 guns, a tactics, and a bomb. An ability that lets you bring in a droid to kill a guy or prevent unopposed damage by double focusing but no elite? Well, I guess you should probably run the Scum affiliation that lets you remove an extra token or else it may be difficult to utilize her black tactics effectively. I feel like the ideal time to see this unit is mid to late game where you don’t need to commit her and can make better use of her ability. But, more Sith black tactics are always welcome in my book.

Dav Flamerock: This droid looks bad, but I think it might actually be great. If you have any ways to add guns to a Droid (of which there are a few), he becomes a one-cost unit that kills a weak guy when he enters at the end of an engagement. That sounds pretty dirty. If you’re attacking with the edge, he’ll give you a bomb too, I guess. Somehow I’m imagining this unit is going to do a lot more work than you expect him to, and at only 1 cost this card is pretty pushed.

Farsight: FFG seems a little paranoid about sudden ambushers in combat so we’ve never gotten one that’s really good. In terms of the immediate effect, if you just want to deal one damage to a unit Heat of Battle does the job a lot better. This guy has a few more things going on that what’s printed on the card, however. As a non-Sith unit that can be played on your opponent’s turn this is a perfect way to trigger the objective and get a free shield, which makes up for this being a pretty serious non-combo with Aphra’s ability since it can already jump into combat anytime without her help. Second, the droid trait is a useful one to have on the dark side. They have several effects that can buff them, and more are on the way with Triple Zero and Beetee. All in all not a great chud but he’s got a few tricks up his  sleeves. (Even if he’s a robot that doesn’t have sleeves…)

AussieJedi: This is the polar opposite from that of the chuds from the first two LS sets in the pack. A 1 cost chud with one Force Icon, a black gun and white blast. There is a touch of synergy here with the droid being able to play in an engagement where you go in unopposed, play this unit and get a shield on the objective, since the card is non Sith. You can even play it on defense to get a shield and to throw off the math from the opponent.

GreedoShotFirst: After playing around with this guy for a bit, I really like it. He has the ability to prevent unopposed damage and stays on the board for future strikes. Pairing him with IG-88B also gives him another gun which could kill an attacking chud.

Dav Flamerock: Here’s the dark side version of Necessary Alliances. It’s a 2-1 enhancement resource with a solid ability (Influence) that helps the primary mechanic of the set function. Sounds like a lot of cards we’ve seen over the past few years. Not flashy, gets the job done.

Farsight: While I think the light side version of this in Jyn’s pod was not very strong, this influence enhancement could end up doing a lot more work. The dark side has never been as good at split affiliation decks as the light side (which was running tri-color decks with Cracken even before they had influence objectives!), and a lot of their power cards encouraged mono-faction decks anyway. They’re going to need more cards like this to push the limit of what they can do with the split affiliation cards. That brings me to my one concern about this card: considering how much the dark side needs these, it arrives in an extremely niche pod. Jyn’s pod is really just about attacking which pretty much every light side deck not built around Luke’s Skyhopper was busy doing anyway.

This pod, on the other hand, really wants to be played with several other droid pods to get the most value out of Dr Aphra. It’s not that the pod is unplayable with no droids since the objective, resource, and fate card can fit nicely into any split affiliation deck. Aphra can even make a decent defender in a pinch even with no droids around. That still leaves you with some mediorce edge cards and a pod that is considerably less powerful than other stuff Sith can field. Still, I wish this card appeared in a pod that addressed more general mechanics that Sith and Scum like to do together, like capturing things.

AussieJedi: Although I don’t tend to like 2-cost-for-1-resource enhancements, this one has the most awesome “Influence” keyword and this enhancement just rocketed up the awesome scale. No idea what that wheel is for though…

GreedoShotFirst: This is the influence enhancement copied from Jyn’s set on light side. While I like my 2 cost resources to be INSANE good, this one is simply situationally great if you get locked out of a particular affiliation. It is also non-limited so you ideally hope to see this early game for the resource ramp, but it is nice to match affiliation for many Sith removal events as well.

Dav Flamerock: Similar to Secret Information, this card is about as unexciting and utilitarian as it gets. This will cost you 1 resource and turn itself into whatever the best Droid unit is in your discard pile, if you don’t need the 2 edge. I expect that most of the time it’ll want to get back Guri, but I can imagine playing it in the deployment phase if I have some extra money to get me an IG-88 or the upcoming 0-0-0.

Farsight: Like the Droid Commando, this is another card in the pod that has anti-synergy with Aphra. You do all that work to get droids in the discard pile, just to pull them back out? There isn’t a droid on the dark side with more than two pips anyway so you’re not doing it to improve your edge hand. So we’re left with the situation where you have a droid important enough that you want to buy it back from the discard pile but that also needs to stick around longer than Aphra’s ability will allow. Not to mention that all the droids you might want to do this with (mostly IG-88s) are expensive to begin with and now you’re paying extra. It just sounds very slow to me… altogether this looks like a card that’s going to get pitched frequently.

AussieJedi: This card is just ok. I do like recursion and the cost here is nice, but I think this should have been a neutral card, to trigger off the objective.

GreedoShotFirst: Have you ever wanted to utilize this with Guri so badly? Once you successfully off your Guri, you can just rip her back to hand to let your opponent wonder… should I win this edge battle or are they going to throw a Palpatine in the edge and just win outright. This will likely have more utility with high pip droids in the future to help win an upcoming edge battle.

Dav Flamerock: While Allies of Necessity is an awesome card, and this art is epic, I think it’s going to be significantly worse on the dark side than on the light. This card wants to go in attacking decks, as it’s half Target of Opportunity, and in the first couple turns the dark side is often not in a position where they can attack. If I have to jump through all the hoops just to get a glorified Heat of Battle… well it’s not nothing, but it’s also not great. At least you’re already strongly encouraged by this pod to run Sith/Scum as a 5-5 split.

Farsight: Like the resource enhancement, I think this card varies strongly in evaluation depending on which side of the board it is on. The dark side naturally spends more time defending than the light side which means that blast damage bonus is probably going to get wasted a bunch. Also the dark side doesn’t have nearly as many cards that enable multiple strikes which could let you get extra value from the icons. That leaves you with harder to use Heat of Battle, which isn’t nothing but is certainly a decrease in power. A few notes—even though you’re going to be mostly interested in the unit damage, don’t forget it still needs to target two units. The Droid Commando can be a good partner for this since you can drop it into an engagement after blockers are declared but before the edge battle, and since it’s neutral it will always count.

AussieJedi: I love this card. As it was mentioned by someone on Tuesday, it is perfect to be in a cycle that requires you to take multi-affiliation. Great design here with the card.

GreedoShotFirst: Dubbed “Friendship is magic” by our community, the silly name does nothing to illustrate how amazing these cards are. I’ve stated before that the stronger cards in the game can be utilized on both offense and defense. This is the fate card that can do that. Maximal benefit is of course on offense where an Energy Spider and IG-88B can wreck any potential blockers (or ones you drag into an engagement).

Final Grades

Dav’s Set Statistics:
Edge Rating: Weak (0 Good, 2 Bad)
Important Unit Cost: 4
Resource? Yes
Shields? Yes
Blast Icons:  on Aphra and the Commando Droid
Tactics Icons:  on Aphra
Overall Grade: C

Farsight Rating:
This pod is easily the hardest one to pick a grade for in this Force pack. As I said in Aphra’s card review, this is a new effect to this game so I’m partially judging her by how it plays in other games (really well!). It also has a bit of a bizarre amount of anti-synergy as the set’s droid and event really don’t play that well with Aphra herself, and the defensive power of the objective doesn’t really go with any other card in the pod. Normally when you get defensive pods like Heartless Tactics or Enforced Loyalty they have at least a few interactions along those lines. At the same time, this pod has a lot of synergies outside of itself with droids and split affiliations. There’s definitely powerful cards here, the question is what else do you have to add to make it all work. If you can figure that out, this should be a pretty strong pod but in the meantime I’m going with a medium grade.
Overall Grade: B

AussieJedi Rating:
There are 8 force icons in the set, which is pretty meh and the enhancement has influence, otherwise I dont like this set too much. I am not sure how I will find the slot to put it in one of my decks, but I do like Aphra somewhat.
Overall Grade: C+

GreedoStrikesFirst’s Judgment:
This set is another in a string of rewarding mixed affiliation play, but is limited to a droid deck archetype which has not seen a lot of play in the competitive meta. With the killer droids coming in an upcoming pack, I am curious to see if this will emerge as a new competitive deck as a possible answer to the influenced bad boys of light side.
Overall Grade: B+

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