Hi Destiny Players!
Today will be the first article in a series in which we will dissect the entirety of the Awakenings Set. Initially I'm going to review all of the characters in the set, but before we do that, let's first get a grounding in the value of different faces of the dice and how we might rate what constitutes a "good" or "bad" dice.
Dice in Destiny: The Good, the Bad, and the Blank
/ : Damage is, generally, king. Barring some edge strategies such as Crime Lord or mill, damage is the way that you are going to win the game, so any time that you resolve a damage result, it is pushing you further towards a win. You can see how important damage is when you look at characters; characters that have high or multiple damage results tend to be expensive in points, or have conditions on the damage (eg they're a +, or have a resource cost).
When evaluating a character, damage results are generally what I would consider the premium faces of their die. Most characters do not have more than two damage faces, and the few that have 3 either have a resource cost tagged on to one of them, or low numbers. Characters such as General Grievous, who currently has the highest total damage faces in the game (2/2/3 with resource), are potentially very powerful. Conversely, characters that contribute little to no damage such as Jabba the Hutt and Admiral Ackbar should be providing something very key to your strategy in order to be considered for a character slot.
: Much like Damage, Shields will contribute to your winning of the game - except they do it indirectly, by stopping you losing. Since most games are a race to see who can kill who first, a point of shields is theoretically equivalent to a point of damage in terms of value. However, whilst shields are very good, there are quite a few reasons why they are not actually damage's raw equal.
Firstly, gaining a shield does not contribute towards getting opponents' dice off the table by killing characters, and does not directly contribute to winning the game. Shield values on dice are almost universally lower than damage values (barring stuff like Diplomatic Immunity) so trying to just out-shield someone will generally be a losing strategy; damage will eventually win out. Shields are capped at 3 per character, whereas damage is not capped, so that double-3 rolling Vader is going to laugh at your double-1-shield result. Opponents always have the option of ignoring your shielded character and going for your lesser shielded character first, diminishing the effect of your shields, and of course there are also cards that deal unblockable damage!
Shields do give us some great options though; cards like Riposte or Qui-Gonn Jinn can turn shields into damage. I rate shields quite highly, and they are generally my preferred "filler" for the none damage/resource slots on most dice.
: Resources are an interesting result when trying to gauge a dice. You want a lot of them early to build a board presence, and they do stay useful throughout the game (depending on how your deck is built), but often after the first couple of turns you're wishing they were something that affected the board instead - damage, focus, special abilities - basically anything but a resource.
Generally, having a resource on a dice is fine. Having multiple is great if you're looking for higher odds of coming out of the gates swinging, or if you are going to rely on your dice for early cash instead of cards such as Enrage or Logistics. Characters like Han Solo that bring both multiple resources and good damage to the table are therefore great for strategies that are looking to get ahead early.
I rate resources somewhere in the middle of faces I'd like to see. They're great early game and get slightly worse as the game goes on, depending on how your deck is built. More than any other face, their value varies with how your deck is constructed.
The Millennium Falcon; expensive, but with big numbers and no blank!
: Disrupt is a very situational ability. Whilst sometimes it can hamper an opponent's turn heavily, often it's an educated guess as to whether the disruption will be worth using up the dice, and your action, to take resources. I think Disrupt gets exponentially better as it goes up in value, though, so Disrupt 2 is a lot more than two times better than Disrupt 1; leaving your opponent with no resources at all is a lot more impactful as it gives you more certainty around what the opponent cannot do.
The biggest issue with Disrupt is it's tendency to simply be a blank face; particularly in the early turns, resources will be spent as the first actions as people upgrade their heroes, leaving them with no resources for you to take. I don't value Disrupt 1 highly at all, and I think Disrupt 2 (such as is featured on Darth Vader) is only situationally good.
: Discard is my least favourite action. This is mostly because of the game mechanics of Destiny; players generally can't play all cards in their hand in a given turn due to resource restrictions, and even if you randomly hit a card that they did want to play, it likely means they're just going to play something else. Not to mention that unlike most games, a player refills their hand at the end of the turn, so the lack of cards is temporary.
Much like Disrupt, I think that the value of Discard increases exponentially as it gets higher - eg, the 3 found on the Millennium Falcon can take a lot of options away all at once. Discard will certainly have more value in fringe strategies based around it (hi Ackbar!) but I don't think they'll be competitive until future sets when Discard sees more support. Right now I don't rate Discard significantly higher than a blank face, though I am looking forward to someone doing something creative and proving me wrong!
: Focus is a very strong dice effect, that only gets stronger if you have better characters and upgrades with bigger numbers on certain faces. Luke and Vader, the Falcon, AT-ST all become highly scary with Focii around (yes, that's the correct plural) but every dice in the game can benefit from you choosing its result. Ackbar's 2 result is very strong, and you can see his Admiralty shining through in his card design.
Focus does come with a downside, and that downside is a hit to your speed in the race to claim the battlefield. The extra action involved in focusing, especially if you do it multiple times, can easily lose you the claim race alone. I rate focus quite highly, but it requires practice knowing when to use it and when saving the action is important.
: The value of an action varies by card. In some cases it can be easily assessed, such as Lightsaber dealing a slightly-better 2 damage. I won't talk about this one too much right now, since I'll be chatting about it more when I review individual cards.
You definitely don't want to let Mind Probe's action resolve!
+ : The plus sign. So simple, so innocuous, and so frustrating to play! If you've played much Destiny at all you'll know that the plus sign is the cause of many facepalm moments as you realise you actually just rolled a blank. Whereas the general consensus on these faces is that they "sometimes don't work", I'd urge a more cautious approach; consider your + sides to be blank with a potential upside.
Dice control is a big thing in Destiny, and as we mentioned earlier, damage faces on dice are always at a premium. Seeing your beautiful Luke + Luke Skywalker's Lightsaber 3+3 turned into a 0 because someone re-rolled or removed your 3 result is painful. Anyone who played Rey at a launch party will already be very aware that she often feels like she isn't even present with her two + sides.
I rate + / sides quite highly as damage is hard to come by, but only if you build your deck around those result (eg, Rey really wants some melee weapons or a second melee character to make sure her +2s fire). I don't rate + faces very highly as resources are generally in even shorter supply than damage and these are therefore often blanks.
Yellow Costs: Whether you are happy with faces that have an attached cost really depends on the effect that you're paying for. Generally, resource costs come with higher damage results such as Grievous or Hired Gun's 3 damage, though there are also odd occurences such as Count Dooku's double discard.
Generally I wouldn't let the resource cost deter me from rating a side highly but you do need to build with it in mind if you choose these characters or cards, and keep your deck cheaper than usual or have more ways to generate income.
Putting that all together, what do we have?
Damage is king, it's the way you generally win the game, and the premium dice face. High damage values or multiple damage values are great.
Resource faces are good and found as a 1-of on most character dice. Whether you want more or not depends on your build, they are rarely useless but often not needed at a given moment.
Shields are also very good, but aren't rated as highly as damage because they can be played around - but they do offer some utility via card effects.
Discard and Disrupt are both only situationally useful. 1-value sides are generally quite weak, but 2+ value sides can be very impactful.
Focus can be very powerful but is very action heavy.
Action faces vary by dice/card.
+ faces should be played with caution and demand some amount of build-around in your deck to ensure that they work often.
Resource-costing faces are generally fine because they tend to be attached to powerful effects but, like + faces, demand building around them to make your resources flow smoothly.
Remember, though, that the value of a given face or resource is always going to vary with what you do with it! If you want to build a deck that relies on stripping the opponent's hand, then the comparative value of your faces is going to go up. If you're focused on getting out big things fast like Crime Lord, AT-STs or the Millenium Falcon, faces are going to be more valuable to you. faces are going to be more valuable to people seeking to exploit specific cards with action faces, or those that have high natural values on their characters. That's the great thing about deckbuilding - what's most important to your deck may be rubbish for someone else's, though you should always bear in mind what's actually achievable with the cards at hand and be realistic (for example, I don't think that Resource Disruption is a viable strategy right now compared to raw damage - there just aren't the cards and dice to support it - but there probably will be in future!).
I hope you enjoyed this article - please check back very soon for our next one, in which I'll be covering Villain cards. if you feel like showing your appreciation, we'd be very thankful for dropping us a quick like on our Facebook page and hitting follow on Twitter! We'd love to hear your comments, thoughts, agreements or disagreements, or even just your feelings about Destiny in general (search them, you know them to be true...) in the comments below.
PS. Thanks to Paco of http://swdestinydb.com/ for all of his hard work in creating this awesome builder and resource, and for letting me link the cards on his site!