The NARP Fortnightly #15: Unlimited Shields

Hi everyone,

A lot has happened this fortnight! We got the official release of Set 5, as well as some important errata to the non-unique First Order troopers and blasters, and the 2017 Match Play Championship is almost full. (Make sure to sign up now!)

There will be time to unpack all the news, but right now I want to focus on what might be the most controversial change: defensive shields.

What’s Changing about Shields

Instead of being limited to 15 cards under your starting effect, you can now have any number of cards, as long as they are all defensive shields of different card titles.

Jabba’s Prize (V) no longer “subtracts one from the number of cards under your starting effect;” it’s simply a card you play from outside your deck, similar to a Hidden Base indicator.

A Useless Gesture (V) has been renamed Weenow Con Bantha Poodoo, so that you can have both that card and the non-virtual A Useless Gesture under your starting effect, under the new rules.

How Does This Affect Gameplay?

A little bit, but not a lot. You are still limited to four shields per game, unless you have a puller like Red 8 (V) or Cold Feet (V). The only difference is that you now have access to every shield in the game, instead of just 15 of them. But look at what the shields do: The fact that you now have access to the bad ones as well as the good ones should not change your in-game decision-making very much.

How Does This Affect Deckbuilding?

This is where the change has a bigger impact. You no longer have to agonize over that 15th shield to include in your deck; you will have access to whichever shields you want, in every game, in every tournament. In practice, that means the days of “I’ll build a Ketwol/Proton Bombs deck because no one will have the shield” are over.

How Does This Affect the Future Direction of SWCCG?

This is just speculation as I’m not on the Design & Development team, but I think it will be positive. There are several objectives in the game, which are not very good at present, but which could very quickly become too good if “helper” cards were to be made.

A great example of this is Massassi Base Operations/One In A Million. It’s fairly difficult to flip, and its Force generation is severely crippled on the 0 side. These disadvantages keep it out of the current meta. But if and when it does flip, it can set up a lethal Attack Run on the Death Star, causing massive Force loss (usually 14 Force). And the bonuses from Great Shot, Kid! make it very difficult for the Dark Side to recover.

So, if the PC were to print a “helper” for MBO (to make it easier to flip, for example), it would probably make the deck too good and upset the balance of the meta. But with the new changes to defensive shields, they could simply print a Dark Side shield that takes away some of the deck’s bonuses and/or limits the damage from blowing away the Death Star. (Before the changes to shields, the PC was hesitant to make new shields, because the 15-shield limit would make it impossible to fit all the essentials.)

Other examples of these types of objectives are Rescue The Princess, Ralltiir Operations, Dantooine Base Operations, and Mind What You Have Learned. The change opens up a lot of design space for future “helper” cards. Maybe your favorite deck will be the next one to get some virtual help!

This change hasn’t been without controversy, and I encourage you to peruse the forums and read the opinions of veteran players. Personally, I like it, and I can’t wait to see what the PC comes up with next.

Card of the Fortnight

This fortnight, I’m going to highlight a pair of cards from Set 5 that should find their way into competitive decks:

Overseeing It Personally (V)
Leia Of Alderaan (V)

These new effects aren’t identical, but they both serve an important purpose: preventing Force drains from being reduced or cancelled at one battleground. For reference, here are some cards that reduce or cancel Force drains:

Control & Tunnel Vision
Control & Set For Stun
Systems Will Slip Through Your Fingers
Empire’s Sinister Agents
Den Of Thieves
Strategic Reserves (and V)
Dreaded Imperial Starfleet
Bargaining Table
Entrenchment
Rebel Fleet
Image Of The Dark Lord (V)
Projection Of A Skywalker
Always Thinking With Your Stomach
Lost In The Wilderness
Tarkin’s Orders
It’s A Hit!

That’s a lot of cards, and these new additions in Set 5 will prevent them – as long as you can keep your leader alive. Also note that both cards are vulnerable to Alter, and they do not work against cards like Ultimatum, Resistance, We Need Your Help, or It Could Be Worse. (Those cards reduce the Force loss resulting from the drain, not the drain itself.)

These new cards (as well as the rest of Set 5) will make deckbuilding for the MPC very interesting. Hope to see you there!

That’s it for this fortnight. Until next time…

Peace, Love, and High Destinies,
-Lenny (lsrubin)