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abUse the Force - A Mediocre Time for the Sith

Star Wars abUse the Force divinityofnumber

In this edition of abUse the Force, let’s review, critique, and hypothesize about the recently released Sith (50-0237) objective, Serve the Emperor. After some preliminary playtesting, the latest Force Pack appears to have put forth a relatively mediocre offering for Sith players.


Serve the Emperor (50-1)
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The objective itself is the Sith equivalent to Jedi Training; it contributes one force icon to your side during the force struggle. The damage capacity (5) and resource potential (1) are standard and unremarkable. Serve the Emperor is a Coruscant objective, so, if one is also running The Heart of the Empire, the Protect Coruscant ability of Coruscant Defense Fleet can be used with it. For the Sith player heavily interested in controlling the balance of the force, this objective’s ability is obviously excellent. In my experience, the first two turns play out as following, with respect to the force struggle: 1) The DS player deploys and subsequently either commits a unit with Elite to the force or commits some minor unit with one or two force icons, just enough to bring the force to the DS; 2) The LS player then deploys and a flurry of strikes follows in the conflict phase, after which the LS player ends up committing a minor character such as C-3PO to the force, which is often enough to take it back. Serve the Emperor creates significant difficulty for the LS player when it comes to holding onto the force; no longer can the LS player simply commit something like a Guardian of Peace or C-3PO and take back the force. The LS player has to decide whether or not there is more to be gained by engaging with certain units, or by holding them back in order to win the force struggle. It is often the case that the LS can take back the force with a minor unit that only has one force icon; this objective prohibits that. Unwavering Resolve is an obvious LS answer. Now let us turn our attention to the other cards in this set.

Anzati Elite (50-4)
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The Anzati Elite is expensive. In most cases, she will require spending most, if not all, of your resources for a given turn. Thus, deciding to play her should not happen on a whim; careful analysis of the board is required to determine if she is worth playing. She is Force Sensitive, and thus has no trouble wielding Vader’s Lightsaber, but is also a Character, leaving her vulnerable to things such as Jedi Mind Trick. She is not unique, and thus multiple copies can be in play simultaneously. Her tactics icons are not edge-dependent; this is an obvious plus. She has three force icons; this makes her valuable as an edge stack card, but the decision of whether to commit her to the force or not is a difficult one, since she is ironically not Elite. But, the biggest drawback of this card, and the thing that I think will drag this pod away from the competitive scene, is the single unit of health that the Anzati Elite has. She is expensive, potentially powerful, but extremely fragile.

The Sith are adept at winning edge battles, so there is a high probability that the Anzati Elite will end up focusing the units that are threatening her in a given engagement. Furthermore, she delivers no unit damage herself, so one defending or attacking with her alone need not fear a Lightsaber Deflection. It seems as though the best use for the Anzati Elite is to play her on the first turn, and to play only her, and then commit her to the force (or maybe not, if Serve the Emperor is one of your revealed objectives). Given her two tactics icons and your hand of six or more cards, this has the potential to slow the LS down a bit on that first offensive, which is often crucial for the LS.

However, the Anzati Elite, as mentioned, is extremely fragile, dying to anything that can send a single damage her way. This makes her significantly less attractive, given her relatively high cost. Let’s look at a few things that could send the Anzati Elite to Sith hell: The LS player drops Han Solo and sends him into an engagement, killing her instantly; The LS player drops a Heat of Battle into an edge stack in which the DS did not play Twist of Fate; The LS player uses the ability on Questionable Contacts to kill her; The LS player drops a Heavy Blaster Emplacement after the DS plays the Anzati Elite alone; The LS player plays Lightsaber Deflection, targeting her to receive one damage; The LS player strikes with any unit that has targeted strike; The LS player uses Let the Wookie Win on Chewbacca; or, the DS simply loses the edge battle, in which case the Anzati Elite dies to anything that delivers unit damage. Sith decks do have the ability to consistently win edge battles, but they do not inevitably do so. If the DS player plays the Anzati Elite, and on the LS’s first turn Luke Skywalker hits the board, there will be an edge battle for which both sides wield many cards, making the edge battle anything but easy. To sum things up, the Anzati Elite is extremely powerful and also extremely weak. Committing four resources to playing her, in my opinion, is simply too risky in most cases. I may end up eating these words, but I think that her one health is what will keep this objective set from seeing much, if any, competitive play. However, other objective sets of the future could improve the value of the Anzati Elite. At the moment, however, she seems too fragile to commit an entire turn of resources to.

Prophet of the Dark Side (50-2)
Any time an objective set includes two copies of a card, one needs to burn a great deal of cognitive energy on considering it, since running two copies of said objective means that one will be drawing that card consistently. Looking first at the basic features of Prophet of the Dark Side, it appears quite weak; it is cheap, but has only one health and one edge-dependent unit damage icon. Prophet of the Dark Side is Force Sensitive, so he to (like the Anzati Elite) can wield Vader’s Lightsaber. The Prophet of the Dark Side’s reaction is interesting; like the Anzati Elite, the Prophet of the Dark Side appears useful, but only under the right conditions. On the first turn, since the balance of the force will inevitably be with the LS, the Prophet of the Dark Side’s ability is largely useless. The best-case scenario is that the LS player cannot take back the force on their turn, and you are able to draw an extra card with Prophet of the Dark Side on turn three. Future cards that offer some benefit for looking at the top card of your deck (other than simply getting to look at the card) could up the value of Prophet of the Dark Side. He has obvious synergy with his own objective, Serve the Emperor, but, with the current card pool, he appears quite underwhelming.

Force Push (50-6)
This card has nice synergy with The Emperor’s Web, as do all Sith events that cost more than zero, and seems to scream, “Play me on turn two.” The DS usually (almost always) passes the first turn after taking back the force, making Force Push a nice card to have in your hand going into the LS player’s first turn for a few reasons. First, the DS player can thwart a LS unit from striking during an engagement. Second, the DS player can place two focus tokens on a unit that the LS would likely have used to commit to the force, perhaps leading the LS to commit a more key unit, such as Luke, Han, etc. the DS player virtually always has the force going into turn two, so Force Push seems to have most relevance then. The card does seem slightly expensive when compared to things like Jedi Mind Trick, Succumb to the Cold, Force Stasis, and other control-oriented events. Nonetheless, Force Push seems like a decent utility card. It would have been nice to see two force icons on it, though. Some nice targets for Force Push: Twi’lek Smuggler, Twi’ek Loyalist, Guardian of Peace, Y-Wing, AAC-1 Speeder Tank, and Gotal Outcast.

Anger (50-5)
Anger is expensive and highly conditional, but potentially devastating. Anger must be played on a character unit, making it largely useless against many vehicle-heavy LS decks. Second, the LS player has to lose a force struggle, so the card has no direct and immediate impact on the board. Third, the LS player has to lose said force struggle on his or her own turn. Enhancement-based removal is nice, given the LS’s ability to cancel events via Counter Stroke and C-3PO. Furthermore, Anger is able to work around the common LS save abilities, due to the fact that the attached card must be sacrificed. An obvious answer to Anger is Force Rejuvenation. But, Last Minute Rescue has not been a competitive objective, so DS players don’t have to worry about Force Rejuvenation at the moment.

So, how will Serve the Emperor impact the current Sith deck archetypes? My prediction is not much, if at all. Most of the Sith decks that have placed highly or won regional competitions have used the de facto Sith core of Fall of the Jedi, The Emperor’s Web, Counsel of the Sith (either 1x or 2x), and filled in the remaining slots with The Killing Cold, Shadows on the Ice, and Death and Despayre, with some builds throwing in 1x of Cruel Interrogations. Serve the Emperor does not include any blast damage, and seems suited for a deck whose dynamic is to drive the Death Star dial up to 12 quickly, and prohibit the LS’s ability to take any objectives. But, given the current tournament rules, one hopes to not only win as DS, but also to have taken some objectives while doing so. Thus, given that the tournament rules reward an aggressive play style, Serve the Emperor becomes less viable as an option for competitive play. This issue is one of the reasons that we have seen so many Sith players splashing Navy; the deck benefits highly from a little bit of additional blast damage. The Sith dynamic of desperately trying to hold the force needs more development, in my opinion. Getting the dial to 12 without having taken some objectives is not the best way to win a game. Cards that allow the Sith player to damage LS objectives for controlling the force would make this theme more viable in competitive decks. Also, we have yet to see the rules for the multiplayer game type(s); Serve the Emperor could prove to be more powerful in multiplayer than in one-on-one play.

Serve the Emperor makes a disappointing first impression. When put in a lineup next to common Sith staples like Fall of the Jedi, The Emperor’s Web, Counsel of the Sith, The Killing Cold, Death and Despayre, and Cruel Interrogations, Serve the Emperor seems underwhelming, and not worth cutting one or more of the tried and true Sith staples. The game is young, and the card pool is small. Serve the Emperor may become more powerful over time. But, with things as they are, Serve the Emperor seems to be a mediocre objective set.

Thank you for reading. Please share some of your experiences in deck-building and playing with Serve the Emperor.
  • Zaidkw likes this


2 Comments

I've tried to put together a deck using this set, but I can't really seem to justify it. In my experience, I've never had any issues holding the Force with the Sith, and I can't really justify sacrificing any other objective set to put this one into my deck.

I feel as if this set is a sign of things/mechanics to come in future releases, but in the meta as it is now, I won't be playing with this pod.
If the Sith get some more effects that work on controlling the Force (like how the Jedi have more powerful Jedi Mind Tricks and the Gotal Outcasts become awesome), I might be able to see myself running one of these in a Sith deck. But otherwise, no, no, I won't use this. Every other pod, at least one copy (often both copies) go straight into decks when I get a new Force Pack; this pod went straight to my box of cards.