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Star Wars: Destiny Analysis, Part 2: Villains

Hi Destiny Players!

 

 

Following on from my last article on the value of dice in Destiny, today we're going to get into card analysis proper. This article will cover the Villains characters available in Destiny, and I'll be rating the cards on a scale of 1-10, taking into account their costs, their dice, abilities, and where they fit in the 30-point character "puzzle". That last one is an important one, as the value of a character will change as more sets are released, but I think it's important to consider the wider implications when rating a character

Before we do that, let's have a quick preamble about what "average" dice look like on Destiny characters (I meant to do this in the first article but it was getting a bit long!) so that we know what we're comparing!

 

Dice in Destiny: Composition of a Dice

If you look across the whole spectrum of Destiny characters, you'll see that there is a common pattern amongst the distribution of faces on most dice. Characters almost universally have:

2 / faces

1 blank face

1  face

and then the remaining two faces are generally selected from the remaining symbols (I'm going to call these "filler slots" from now on), with ,  and  being relatively common and  or  being somewhat less common.

Some characters, however, do sport a third damage face, or a second resource face, and First Order Stormtrooper has a second blank. Some faces will variably include or a resource cost (generally the highest damage faces, the third damage face, or the second resource).

Most characters have a mix of 1 and 2 values on their sides, with the more expensive characters (or characters that have more inbuilt downsides such as resource costs or pluses) tending towards more 2s. 3s are very rare and generally only appear on higher-cost legendary characters or with a resource cost.

It follows that characters hat deviate from the "norm", whilst not be necessarily "better", are worthy of a little extra attention as to how they can be best used - particularly "support" characters such as Jabba the Hutt, who don't do damage themselves. It's very important to consider this when selecting your characters.

 

Destiny: Villain Analysis

(I'll be linking the titles of each character to swdestinydb.com - click to see the card stats. Also, apologies for some of the low quality images that I've had to scour the internet for!)

 

Captain Phasma - 6/10

Phasma's one big selling point is bestowing Guardian. Guardian is a very strong ability - dice control is amazing in Destiny, and recurring dice control, that doesn't cost you an action, is brilliant. You pay for this somewhat in Phasma's below-average dice; with just a single 2 and an array of 1s, she is not incredible for 11/15 points, though she does have above average health for her cost. I think most peoples' first instinct would be to take the two dice version with a couple of Stormtroopers, but I'd also consider running her at 1 dice with two Tusken Raiders instead - more HP means more Guardian, and access to yellow. 

I think Phasma is a character that is primed to be fantastic at some point in the future when she has better options to bring along with her. Right now her Guardian ability can certainly be powerful but she is somewhat lacking in the dice department for me.

 

First Order Stormtrooper - 8/10

The Stormtrooper does one thing, and does it well; it shoots people (oh, the irony). With no pluses to worry about, a third damage face, and good damage numbers, these little guys are really cool. I don't despair that it has two blanks, as so many characters have poor filler in their 5th slot that I'd rather see the rest of the dice good than have a random 1 discard or similar thrown in here. Plus, this second blank makes Stormy combo incredibly well with Power of the Dark Side for a whopping 5/6 effective damage faces, four of which will deal 2!

In addition to their great dice, 7hp for 7 cost is a very good hp total per point spent. Destiny characters get less hitpoints per point as they get more expensive, so filler non-uniques are a good way to bulk out your hp total.

The final thing that I love about the Stormy is that he fits well into so many 30 point lists. Villains have plenty of unique characters that 14 points of Stormtroopers fit well with, and he is also cheap enough to allow 14 point characters like General Veers to fit a Tusken Raider in for some yellow. That 7 really makes a difference to his playability, and to the flexibility of Villain lineups in general (something that the Hero lineup doesn't have, which we'll get to next article)

 

Grievous is currently holds the title of "most damage on the most character dice" in the game. And he is brutal! He is extremely consistent, and playing against Grievous will see a lot of pressure applied to your characters from turn 1 and continuously throughout the game. I think he will immediately become a staple of heavily offensive strategies (he already is in the online meta). Grievous is so good that I feel like Kylo Ren is 13 points so that you can't two-dice them both together. However, he does play really well with 1-dice Jango, 1-dice Veers and 1-dice Dooku; he's just cheap enough to be able to take a unique as his backup, which can make for some seriously hard-hitting teams.

You'll want to make sure that your economy can support his resource costing 3 damage, as you're going to want to fire it when it comes up, so make sure to build with that in mind (and probably avoid a bringing second character with a resource cost, such as Kylo - yes this contradicts the above, but I'd still run it if I could 2-dice them both!)

Grievous is one of the few places where I think 1 works. When you're taking consistent high damage from a beater like this, you need to make efforts to stem the tide, and having even 1 resource stripped whilst under pressure can really hurt. If anything was going to be in Grievous' filler slot, I think this is probably the best thing he could have wanted, as it compliments his pressure game nicely.

And the sweetness doesn't stop there. His ability is really good, especially for a character that outputs so much damage. Not only does he steal an upgrade, but he grabs said item before Redeploy kicks in, so you get double denial against a lot of popular items such as Lightsaber and Holdout Blaster.

Be wary of Grievous' HP pool; 10 is low for an 18 point character, and he will be focus fired, so keeping him alive to deal his damage is normally the challenge. Still, Grievous is great value - super-consistent damage, a great ability with a lot of relevance in what the meta will probably look like, and a very reasonable cost for doing all of this. We're going to be seeing him (and being murdered by him) a lot!


In the online meta, I've barely seen General Veers except when I've been playing him. Which is surprising, because I think he's very good - he's not flashy, but he gets the job done. Everything I said about Stormtroopers applies to Veers, except he's just a bit more expensive and a bit tougher to kill. Consistent dice, well costed, and more importantly you can fit him in easily with a number of other Villain uniques (one of the decks I've been playing is 2 dice Jango + 2 dice Veers and it's pretty brutal). He's a solid all rounder, with the one downside that his HP is a little on the low side for his cost.

Note that I've not mentioned his ability yet, and I'll tell you why; if your aim is to get out supports with dice, then you want to use the supports' consistent damage and that fact that supports are quite hard to kill to win you the game. Support-based decks are trying to play a "long" game, and as such, want to keep their characters alive whilst their supports go to town. An 11/14 point 9 hp guy is not where you want to be if you're playing a support-based deck, even if he does make their dice more consistent. That said, I think that a lot of Villain red decks will be running two First Order Tie Fighter so Veers should be able to get some more consistency out of them if he is around when they're rolling, but with the current card pool I consider his ability to be gravy rather than something you should build around. Much like Phasma, this will be an ability that improves over time, and you'll see Veers get even more useful.


Dooku is interesting. He is not incredibly expensive, but he is expensive enough to rule out a "big" unique character with him as anymore than one dice on either. He's the only character in the game with a stock resource cost on something other than damage - 2  is not something I could imagine myself paying for very often, but could have a nice payoff when used at the right time.  is my favourite filler ability, though Dooku's cost limits him from being able to focus any really big guys - perhaps 1-dice Dooku with 2-dice Grievous is the best way to use his focus on a character dice, so his Focus would probably be most often used on upgrade or support dice. Aside from those things, his damage is average for a middle-cost character.

Dooku's ability is pretty decent, though of course only relevant if he's being attacked; opponents will obviously try to avoid him in favour of killing something easier first. Utilising Dooku to his fullest will mean using this to your advantage, a simple example of which would be putting non-redeploy upgrades like Kylo's Lightsaber on Dooku. In mid-late games where you are racing for claim, rather than using all of your cards for rerolls, Dooku's ability can also be a nice way to get some value out of your cards that would otherwise sit unused.

Overall I don't think that Dooku is incredible. He is a reasonably solid and certainly playable midrange character, possibly a good way to get yourself access to blue if that's what you're looking for and don't want to run Kylo.


The man himself, with a power level befitting of his legend. Vader's dice is all killer, no filler - 2 and a sought-after 3 damage, 2 Disrupt which can hamstring someone at any point in the game if you get an opportunity to use it, and a shield to reinforce his already best-in-game health pool. 

As if this weren't enough, his ability is incredible - the ability to strip a resource from your opponent every turn, at no action or other cost, means that your opponent is almost playing the game with a 4-card hand. It's even a "may" ability, so it plays well with Mind Probe if you want it to. Speaking of Blue cards, Vader also really likes Force Strike for that big 3.

Of course, all of this comes at a price, and that price is a 16/21 cost - the highest in the game. This limits Vader's friends to a single non-unique, or Bala-Tik. Having all of your power condensed into one place (and hence a single action to roll those powerful dice) is a huge advantage in the claim race as you can often skip rolling your other character's dice since they're not a huge loss; it also means you get your powerful dice on the table and resolved much more quickly. Of course, condensing all of your power makes Vader a big target, and 13 is not a lot of hitpoints in Destiny, so you'll need to utilise Vader to win fast and win big, or make sure that you can protect him to get your value out of him.
10/10 might seem a bit much, but I believe that Vader is tied for best character in the set at the moment (read the next article to see who I think his tie is... or try and guess in the comments!) and I think we will see a lot of him, so get ready to deal with him often!


By now we've probably all played with or against Kylo at some point. I think he is pretty excellent; he only really has one filler on his dice and it's an always-useful shield; the other filler slot is occupied by his special action, which means that he is essentially a character with 3 damage faces. OK, so his third face might be a bit random, but against most decks it probably averages around a 2, and it also lets you see a card from their hand. I'd also say that you haven't lived until you've Mind Probed someone for 4 and then hit a 4 with Kylo's ability straight afterward!

Kylo plays particularly well with Emperor's Throne Room, giving you a way to use it from turn one whilst offering your opponent a potentially blank claim (more on breaking the symmetry of battlefields in a future article...)

Kylo comes with 11 health, which is on the high side for his cost, which is incredibly cheap! He does have the one downside of having a resource cost on his 2, but given the power of his dice, ability, and hp total - Kylo is a very strong card, not particularly flashy, but he brings a lot to the table for very little investment. Importantly, this low cost lets him combo really well with other powerful villains, and it's easy to put 4 dice on the table with Kylo plus many other Villains.


(Only pic I could find! Also note that swdestinydb has her ability wrong - she forces a reroll not a removal of a dice)

Nightsister is the Villains' blue non-unique, and she is a reasonable roleplayer. Her action in particular bears special attention, as recurring dice control is very powerful, though its cost of 1 damage and an action is reasonably high - it's best used sparingly, to save yourself from high damage rolls, blank some +'s by trying t get rid of their only non-plus dice, or get rid of important actions such as Crime Lord.

I think Nightsister's ability is her main selling point, as her dice is pretty weak, having both 1 and 1 fillers, but more criminally, bringing ranged instead of melee as her damage type meaning she does not go well with the + on the blue melee weapons that are a big draw to playing blue in the first place.

Nightsister is definitely solidly playable, but she is not brilliant - she's one of the few (only?) characters that is mostly there for her action and not her dice, and I'd conservatively guess that 33% of the time when I play her (with Vader) I don't even bother rolling her dice as I'd rather conserve the action. When I play Villain, I'm a little jealous of Padawan for sure.


Bala-Tik is currently the cheapest unique in the game, with his 1-dice version being the same cost as non-uniques. And what a cool little dice he has - , which is always nice to see on a small supporting character, and a handy shield. He does unfortunately have a + on one of his damage faces, so you'll certainly want to play him with a range-based character, but other than that his dice is very solid. The fact that you can get two of this dice for just 11 points makes Bala-Tik a very attractive supporting option whilst still maintaining a good damage output, especially if you're looking to add yellow to your deck. His hp of 8 is also not bad for his cost, especially if you're running him at 1 dice.

Given the above, I'd be satisfied with Bala-Tik with no ability, but his ability is great too; it's triggered, so doesn't cost an action, and particularly if you are the one getting the first kill he can really force that pressure home by getting an extra round of dice. Ready effects are very powerful in Destiny and even the potential for a ready will make your opponent think twice about who they want to kill first as they won't want to let this trigger when they only need to go through 8hp to stop it - which makes Bala-Tik an even better supporting character, as it means he's a nice buffer for your main character. It is just unfortunate that his +2 damage result doesn't combo well with Vader or Grievous, both of whom would love to run him, but even that might not be offputting enough not to use him with them anyway.

I like Bala-Tik, and I haven't seen him show up much in the online meta yet, but I suspect that we will see a lot of him going forward!



I'm not a big fan of support-style characters - I don't think that there are enough ways to make them useful enough that will make up for their lack of damage faces (caveat - Crime Lord will be a deck, and who else but Jabba should that be attached to?). That said, if I was going to get behind a support character, Jabba would be it. Cheap cost, a high health pool for his cost, and importantly a very solid dice. Two focus results makes hitting them consistent, and his Discard and Disrupt both being 2s means that when you do want to use them they have impact. Finally, his triggered ability granting rerolls to make these dice more consistent - and being able to use that reroll on other, potentially more powerful yellow dice (whoever he's paired with, Crime Lord, Flame Thrower, etc)

I don't really have much more to say about Jabba, other than he has good numbers and consistency all round for a cheap cost, and it's highly possible that after playtesting him (which I haven't done much yet) that he should be rated higher.


You might be surprised to see Jango at 10/10, but this innocuous looking character is my solid pick for 3rd best character in the set. He has 3 damage faces (even though the numbers are low), and two resource faces (even though one is a +) which gives him Stormtrooper-like focus in what he brings to the table; I feel like this consistency in having the faces that an aggro deck wants to see outweighs the downsides. His health pool is average for his cost.

His ability is incredible. In a game based around manipulating dice and getting to the claim faster than your opponent, getting what amounts to a free action every turn and having your dice completely immune to manipulation is absolutely huge. The way that Jango messes with timing is brilliant. Opponent focused Jango down and claimed before you? no problem, Jango will still get a chance to resolve dice before he dies. Opponent has a Force Throw showing action? No problem, you'll still get a chance to resolve Jango throwing a Flamethrower 4 damage before it can get thrown at you. You have to play this ability to really understand how good it is, but I struggle not to want to run Jango in everything I make with Villains (my current deck runs Jango+Veers). He only gets better when you load him up with equipment. I had a game recently where I put a Jetpack on Jango T1, my opponent claimed, T2 activated his Stormtrooper and Jango threw 7 damage in response and blew him up before he got to resolve. I won that game.

Jango brings this to the table for a very reasonable 12/16 points. Whilst I like to run him at 16 (to take advantage of his ability), he is also very playable at 12 (fits with Grievous at 2 dice). If you haven't used him yet, I urge you to get some games in with Jango; it feels like cheating.


(Again, only pic I could find)
The Tusken Raider does his job solidly. Three damage faces and a shield in his filler spot makes him good in combat, if having a high level of variance due to his 1/1/3resource damage results. He is maybe a little on the expensive side at 9 points and only 8hp, though at least he is still easy to fit in as a filler character into many combinations of characters.

What's cool about the Raider is that, like Jango, he lets you break timing rules - though less powerfully and at the cost of a card. This is strong in combination with his 3 result, giving you an easy way to force it through. If you have upgrades on him, it's also a good way to force through any particularly special dice that you may roll (such as a Flamethrower 4)

Overall I think that the major downside to the Tusken Raider is that he is a drain on your resources to use him well, and he is also a little inconsistent. His ability ideally wants upgrades on him to increase the chance of rolling a dice worth forcing through, though his low health pool makes that a potentially bad idea. He does combo well with the efficient Gaffi Stick (almost like they were made for eachother...) having plenty of melee results to utilise its + abilities and special, and it having redeploy to make sure it doesn't get wasted on him. If I was wanting to buy in to access to yellow I think I'd be more likely to grab a cheap Bala-Tik, though depending on what your deck is doing, the Raider is certainly a playable option.

***

Ok, so that was a little bit long, but I didn't want to split it up into two articles.

One thing that you'll notice reading the above is how many characters are 8/10 and above, and how few are less than 7/10. Now I'm not saying that my reviews are gospel, but I think (or at least I hope) that the fact that there is so much good to say about almost every character is a testament to what a good job the Destiny designers have done on the internal balance of the faction. This theme does continue to the Hero characters too.
Speaking of the Hero characters... check back very soon for the next article, when they'll be getting the same review treatment! I hope you enjoyed the read, and if you did, I'd really appreciate you dropping us a like on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Also don't forget to check out the upcoming events at JustPlay in Liverpool if you're in the UK, including our Destiny tournament on 3rd December!

-Ian





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