By Matthew– February 20, 2013
In my last post, I looked at the upcoming expansion of the Capture mechanic and the Scum and Villainy affiliation. Today, I want to take a look at the previewed help coming for the Smugglers and Spies affiliation. Like its Dark Side counterpart, the fully realized S&S affiliation promises to be the affiliation of tricks and surprise. In anticipated order of release:
Our first S&S preview card is the Prepare for Evacuation objective. It serves 2 functions: showcasing the “Hoth-matters” theme and demonstrating the abilities of the affiliation. We already have Swindled to show us that S&S likes to bounce units. This gives us a much more impressive bounce – any unit, not just cheap ones. Granted it can only be used when Hoth objectives are destroyed, but at very least it makes it an unappealing target for your opponent. Just think what happens when you have 2 of them out and both of their interrupts can be used…
This is a bit more like it. The event card A Stinging Insult allows you to dictate how your opponent blocks. It appears to allow you to force a target enemy unit to defend in an engagement where you declared a S&S character as an attacker. While not quite as nice as targeted strike, it does allow you to pull Tarkin or Motti into the engagement where they can be easy targets for your unit damage icons or Heat of Battle.
Now the previews come out in force.
This fan shows us 2 S&S cards. First, the 2-cost unit Saboteur. We don’t know much about it beyond its name, cost, and single force icon. We can probably guess from its name though that it will have some sort of fun ability. The second, and fully spoiled, card is the event Over My Dead Body. This is a 1-cost event that cancels the effects of an Action or Reaction ability of any unit in play. The uses are pretty immediately apparent. Who among us hasn’t wished for some way to stop Vader’s ability? Or maybe you need to stop a Nightsister or Rancor (I’m assuming that Forced Reactions are still Reactions). And I know I’ve certainly had my tactics icons rendered much less useful by Motti sitting around. The only real unfortunate thing is that this card is in a different affiliation from Counter-stroke.
Ignoring the ability for a minute, this is still a fairly playable unit. It compares favorably with Dark Side Apprentice or Kuati Security Team, just swapping a blast damage for tactics. The ability, however, is quite useful. It can remove a focus token from any of your units, freeing up one of your big hitters, and place it on one of your opponent’s smaller blockers instead. Even if there are no good targets on your opponent’s side of the table, Cloud City Operative can always move the focus token to itself. Less useful than locking down a DS unit, sure, but worth it if removing a token from Han.
I love the flavor on this card. Wookiees have been known to rip off arms if you don’t let them win, after all. We also have seen that at least one Wookiee card that gets stronger when it has damage, making it appropriately a great combo with this card. Finally the LS will have their own version of Force Choke.
While a bit expensive on the surface, once again the ability on this card is crazy useful. Just like A Stinging Insult, we get the ability to manipulate how the DS player blocks. The flavor is nice too… it’s much easier to run a blockade alone after all. Most of all though, I’m liking how it appears that this will be the affiliation of combat tricks. Giving units extra icons with Crossfire, Han being his awesome self, bouncing units with Swindled mid-engagement, forcing something to block with A Stinging Insult, and now keeping units from blocking the Blockade Runner. And we still have one more card to look at…
Can you say awesome ability? So many ways it can be useful. You can use it with the Blockade Runner to get damage through easier. You can use it when you lose an edge battle to remove a scary enemy unit. You can use it to remove that lone surviving defender to now be unopposed. Perhaps you attack with Han and your opponent over-commits on defense (he’s your last big attack threat, and with Lando sitting there to remove one of the defenders they want to be sure to kill him… and with Targeted Strike they’ll all be targets for him either way) – then you use Lando to remove Han from the engagement and watch as your opponent helplessly focuses all of his defenders to strike at nothing. The options are endless.
While Jedi are likely going to remain the affiliation for control via messing with the force balance and placing tons of focus tokens outside of combat, S&S is poised to become the king of combat tricks. The tactics of combat were already complex, and soon it will be even more difficult for the DS to decide the best course of action against S&S players when they never know what surprises may be waiting for them.