Hi Destiny Players!
Welcome back to the blog. Today we're going to be talking about Destiny's Hero characters, and analysing how they rank in terms of power level. If you haven't read our previous articles then don't forget to read them too, but if you have, let's dive right in!
Destiny: Heroes Analysis
I opened Ackbar at the launch party, and I was really excited until I read him; I was even less excited once I'd played him. Having a double is nice, but having only 1 and also being burdened with a 1 leads to a lot of rolls that aren't doing enough. Really, he's all about his 2 which can be incredible on the right turn, but I don't like his odds of hitting it - I'd have liked him more if he he had two 1 faces like Jabba. He is also a little low on the health side for his cost; I'd like to have seen him at 10. On the upside, he is not horribly expensive, and that big focus result can be a game changer if you like high variance dice rolling (or if you have some 1-focus stuff around to focus him into his 2-focus result; I did this a lot at the launch party with BB-8) - and his two-dice version does fit in neatly with a lot of setups such as 2-dice Leia or double-Trooper, so there is room to experiment.
Ackbar's raison d'etre outside of his focus result is his ability, but in practice it is quite difficult to use without a dedicated discard setup or at least some slots dedicated to it (eg Commando Raid) and because the opponent chooses the damage target, it is questionable as to whether the payoff is worth the setup. It is also easy for the opponent to play around if they know it's coming. I view it more as a fringe benefit to Ackbar, able to occasionally chip in some damage to your total or make the opponent hold back a playable card to avoid the damage.
I'm confident that we'll see some mill/discard decks based around Ackbar but I don't think that they have the support to go the distance currently - no doubt our favourite Mon Calamari meme generator will improve over time. I expect he'll also work his way into some decks as a support. I'd certainly like to try him more and I'd definitely be open to revising his rating upwards a little bit if playtesting proves that there is a good way to get more out of him.
The Rebel trooper is humble, but solid. He has a decent statline similar to a Stormtrooper, with slightly less damage but a instead of a blank, as befits the Hero playstyle. His health is the standard unique 7, and with a reasonable cost of 8 given his ability...
Guardian! Rebel Trooper is currently the only card that natively has the Guardian keyword. As we've discussed before, dice control is very powerful; Guardian provides repeated dice control, with no action necessary other than activating the character. Guardian is a great ability for this reason, though of course it comes with the cost that it is not dice removal as the damage is still going somewhere, and every hit point is valuable. Still, when you manage to pull the only natural melee out from a Rey that's rolled two +2s, or many of the other combinations in which you can do similar, you're still potentialyl saving yourself from a bigger hit. Activation order also becomes important for your Guardians; you ideally don't want to load them up with too many upgrades since you don't want to pressure yourself to activate them early and potentially waste your Guardian.
Overall a nice combination of a decent dice, a useful ability, and a cheap cost - plus the ability to provide a Hero lineup with cheap access to Command cards - makes Rebel Trooper a great consideration for your lineup.
Luke was described by my colleague Ritchie as "too boring", and to a large extent I agree. Luke doesn't do anything special; he just has a very solid dice, a solid ability, and is solidly costed. As much as I normally like Focus results, I'm not a huge fan of it here; Luke's dice are expensive, and you ideally don't want to be spending them to focus something. I'd rather see a more impactful result - Vader (who Luke will always be compared to for both flavour and game mechanic reasons) has a 2 in this slot, for example. His health of 12 is average for his cost (I'd have liked to have seen 13, though).
Luke's ability offers counterplay to discard strategies, increases the options you have available each turn, and is generally pretty good. However, I do have a bugbear with it; it is not optional. This means that it can be a negative against Mind Probe, can accidentally draw you into an expensive card you didn't want against Kylo, and potentially helps mill strategies to kill you more quickly.
Luke does fit extremely well with many of his Hero companions, though. He's cheap enough for you to take a 1-dice Rey with his elite version, 1-dice Ackbar if you fancy your chances of focusing Luke's dice (Padme can do the same but is less supportive of Luke's damage-focused strategy).
Luke is a great card, that does nothing flashy but puts up great numbers.
I wonder whether Padawan is the best non-unique character in the set, and I think she probably is. Her dice is so reliable; no + faces or costing faces like you see on other non-uniques, and she also brings a to help support whatever big, unique character(s) she's running with. The fact that she doesn't suck up any resources on her damage results and brings this supporting focus element to boot is exactly what I'm looking for in my filler characters.
And her tastiness doesn't stop there! Her -1 cost to weapons is really nice. Continuing her potential theme of not sucking up too many resources that you want to be using in other places than a support character, this is again a great ability ion a support character. If you pair her with a redeploy weapon (such as a Lightsaber) so that when she is inevitably murdered you don't lose the asset, you can squeeze some value out of this. You won't use it all of the time, though - sometimes you'll just want to put your weapons on something bigger to maximise your first roll of any given turn.
If it wasn't obvious, I like Padawan. She's going to see a lot of table time, both supporting uniques and in some 4-dice builds with non-uniques.
Qui-Gonn is pretty unique as Destiny characters go, having a dice that is very different to usual and an ability that demands that you build around him. He is the only character to feature two faces and the only character to feature a 2. The 1-1-1-2-2 faces are slightly on the low side as far as numbers go compared to some of his peers, but you can be assured the Qui-Gonn is going to consistently deal damage or prevent it.
There's been some confusion on the forums as to how Qui-Gonn's ability works, so read him closely; before you gain shields you may remove a single shield to deal 1 damage. This means that you can use this ability when you are already at 3 shields, though obviously if you're gaining more than 1, you'll lose any excess.
In simple terms, this means that every shield you gain - through Qui-Gonn, other characters, or effects like Take Cover can be converted to damage. As we discussed in our article on dice, damage is generally preferable to shields, so Qui-Gonn essentially improves every source of shields that you play whilst maintaining the flexibility of gaining shields if you want them. This makes Qui-Gonn a very consistent damage dealer, essentially giving his dice four damage faces. It means that the aforementioned Take Cover reads "gain 1 shield or deal 1 damage for 0 cost", a card that would be almost an autoinclude in every deck if it existed. And there are more combos, too; Resistance HQ, especially played on a turn when your opponent is already out of resource, turns every card in your hand into "deal 1 damage" - no deck will be able to stand up to more than a turn of that happening before they fall so far behind that they'll never recover. Hunker Down exhausts for a damage every turn.
So we've established that Qui-Gonn changes the fundamentals of your cards, and that is always a powerful thing; why isn't Qui-Gonn rated higher? Firstly, his damage is kind of low. He is going to kill things by "plinking" them to death with lots of 1 damage results, and this means that you can simply be overrun by more full-on aggro decks packing cards with powerful numbers such as Jedi/Sith style decks, Jetpacks, Flame Throwers, and so on, or you won't kill things fast enough to deal with Crime Lord (and your shields will be useless). Using lots of individual actions to deal damage with shield cards also means that you're likely to fall behind in the claim race. Secondly, there are lots of ways to eliminate multiple shields such as Intimidate and First Order Tie, so using a shield-focused deck leaves you open to some efficient counterplays.
Qui-Gonn existing for his ability also means that you can easily run him at 1 dice, leaving you 17 points to play with for other characters. If you want to outlast your opponents, you could bring Rey and a Padawan; access to Red could be a 2-dice Leia, or a Rebel Trooper to further push your damage-control theme with guardian. There are great options for 1-dice Qui-Gonn, and this is still the case if you run him at 1-dice, as he can bring 2-dice Rey or any number of other cheaper options. He fits nicely with his cohorts.
Qui-Gonn is a very flavourful card, that interacts in a fun (and powerful) way with lots of other cards - you can see this by how wordy his review section was! A lot of people are already building around him, me included, so I think we'll see him on the table a lot.
Rey has one of the more interesting dice of Destiny characters. If you played her at the launch party as I did, you'll know that having two sides with a + is incredibly frustrating if you don't have plenty of other dice to support that. On the flipside (and now that we're talking constructed decks), her dice is really good when properly supported. She doesn't eat a resource for her 2 result like her counterpart Kylo, and she has nice double-resource faces as long as you can activate the +. Her is the only thing that I don't really like.
Her ability is also very good. The value of action economy in winning the claim race should not be undervalued, especially since Rey has a great claim trick with Imperial Armory (claim, which lets you play a cheap upgrade, and you get a free action).
The main reason, though, that all of the above is so strong is that Rey is insanely cheap for what she does. The potential of her dice, her great ability, and her 10 health pool can come at a cost of just 9, which puts most non-uniques to shame, and her 2-dice 12-point version is also incredibly well costed. She does so much for her cost that it's hard not to love her simply for having solid numbers. She slots easily into many builds and I expect she'll be showing up everywhere in both versions.
Finn is lazy bad card design. B-A-D. Effects like this are just so boring, though they're flavourful for Finn. The weapon and vehicle clause in particular, though, is going to be problematic; game designers often seem to include this type of effect in their first set, balanced against a limited card pool; 5 expansions in, there is a deck that has no theme, no interactions, no synergy or combos, and is simply made of all of the most cost-efficient cards from both factions. Alternatively, to stop this from being the case, they're forced to only release mediocre weapons and cards... also bad. It's happened before, and it'll keep happening until someone realises that this type of ability bad idea. Sorry FFG, this game is incredible but this card is going to bite you in the ass.
So rant over, let's look at Finn. His numbers are low, though he does have 3 damage faces, with a rare mix of ranged and melee. I'm not a particular fan of mixed damage types; yes, you're less exposed to Block or Dodge style effects but the tradeoff is less consistency in + effects from your own cards, which is going to affect you much more often than cards people might not even play. Finn's melee face seems to be mostly there for flavour (he used a Lightsaber in the film!), though it does also help our Rey's +2 when using the starter. But we're not talking about starter games; Finn's dice is just a bit weak. His health of 10 is nothing special for his cost of 13/16 either.
What cards can our deck gain from Finn, to make his cost worthwhile? The list is currently limited to AT-ST, First Order Tie, and F-11D Rifle. AT-ST is mostly going to be used for a deck specifically built around it (eg Poe+Finn), but the Tie and Rifle are both really great, solid cards that - when used in conjunction with the currently limited card pool - can give you a deck build that is more consistent and solid than you'd be able to achieve without Finn.
Are the gains in terms of your deck worth the offset you get from Finn being a pretty weak character? In my opinion, not really, though as mentioned he is definitely going to get better with age and at some point is probably going to be incredible.
Han is a great example of a character that has perfect synergy with himself. His dice is solid, with good numbers, and his dice's filler face is a 2 which is both flavourful and impactful when it turns up at the right time. He has two resource faces which is always nice, and somewhat offsets the cost of his 3 face. His health is a little lower than I'd like, but since his ability is survival related, it's easily worked around. And through.
Han's ability is AWESOME. Say it with me: AWESOME. Hitpoints are a very finite resource in Destiny, and though there are lots of ways to work around or remove shields, I still like them a lot because they are easier to come by than healing. Being able to generate lots and lots of them is powerful. To get the most out of this ability you want to focus on Ambush cards, which is fine, because Hero Rogue cards have access to some great ones (including my personal favourite weapon, the DL-44). In particular, Infamous is amazing with Han, as well as being an amazing card in it's own right. It's so easy to get mileage out of Han's ability because Ambush is such a powerful mechanic already. You should also look closely at Mos Eisley Spaceport, which I run in my current Han build, as it means that you can replay Holdout Blaster every turn for a shield at essentially no cost in resources or actions; you can also recur DL-44 for its powerful entering play ability whilst gaining Han some shields. Good times. Also worth mentioning is that Han's double resource faces synergise well with the fact that he likes to play lots of cards to get free shields.
At 2 dice, Han does not fit amazingly with any synergistic options other than 1-dice Leia, but there are still plenty of options. If you want to run him in 1-dice mode and simply make more use of his ability then this obviously opens up a lot. However you run Han, I think he is in the top 3 characters in the game and we're going to see a lot of Han decks!
Hired Gun is sort of like a mini-Han in terms of its dice. It costs for damage - on both faces - but it also brings two resource faces on its dice. In an ideal world you're generally looking for the faces early and the powerful damage faces late, but it won't always work out like this, so Hired Gun can be a little bit inconsistent.
What makes this Rodian stand out is his health pool. At 9 health for just 8 cost, he bulks out your total health on the board better than any other non-unique. This is a real selling points, as getting 9 health plus cheap access to yellow combined with good resource generation and a powerful 3 is a lot of potential in a cheap package.
Padme Amidala - 5/10
Most of what I said about Ackbar can also be applied to Padme. Her dice is generally pretty weak, but her big 2 can be tremendous, and she does have 10 health which makes her a little more durable than the squid.
If you're running Padme, though, you're doing it for her ability. She is potentially a staple of a mill strategy (a strategy whereby you try to win by running your opponent out of cards - named after a Magic: The Gathering card called Millstone which enabled the same strategy), able to consistently take cards off of your opponent's deck thanks to her double action faces.
As I've said before, I don't think that there is currently enough support for that strategy to really be worth it, and I'm not going to spend much time talking about it, but I'm sure Padme will have her day. Until then, she's probably not going to see much play as there are probably better options if you want access to Yellow and hitting her focus side is too inconsistent to bring her for that reason alone.
That's it for our hero roundup! For the next article, we'll be taking a break from the vacuum card-analysis and talking a little bit more about real world deckbuilding and strategy (as has been requested by our readers!)
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Thanks and see you soon!