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abUse the Force - Vader's Fisticuffs

Star Wars abUse the Force divinityofnumber

After being a bit underwhelmed by Serve the Emperor and The Ghosts of the Dark Side, I find myself pleasantly surprised with the new Sith objective, Vader’s Fist. As fans of the Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU) surely know, the 501st Legion of clone troopers were indeed with Lord Vader for quite some time, beginning when he was a young Jedi-in-training. Does this set live up to its name? Let’s find out.

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At this point, when examining new Star Wars LCG cards, it only takes a millisecond to see the 5 damage capacity and 1 resource and instantly bounce my center of vision to the center text, hoping that an objective has a great ability. In this case, it indeed does. If you haven’t had the chance to playtest with this objective set yet, you are in for a real treat (or bout of frustration, if you are on the receiving end of Vader’s Fist). Some of the other SWLCG “While this objective is undamaged” abilities seem nice, and their conditional nature is their balancing point, the thing that takes them from being excellent to being merely good. The ability on Vader’s Fist is amazing, and, without an off switch, might even be overpowered, given that a deck can contain two copies of it. The on/off switch is what balances this card out, but, in my opinion, does so in a way so as not to make the ability itself pointless. Let’s take a closer look.

First, Vader’s Fist is a Hoth objective. This offers pros and cons right now. Since it has the Hoth trait, one can sacrifice units via The Killing Cold to remove damage from it, potentially keeping its ability turned on longer. Second, one can move damage off of Vader’s Fist using The Desolation of Hoth; this is a nice play when it works out – one not only turns the ability of the objective back on, but also does damage to a key LS unit. And, Vader’s Fist being a Hoth objective, it reduces the cost to play Wampas by two, and also allows Succumb to the Cold to be played. The Hoth trait on Vader’s Fist also increases the probability that the DS player(s) will be able to turn off “if you control more Hoth…” abilities of the LS player(s). One potential negative of the Hoth trait here is that your LS opponent could be running Prepare for Evacuation, allowing them to send a major unit (e.g., Vader, Palpatine, Devastator) back to your hand when Vader's Fist is destroyed. Thus, Vader’s Fist has within-Sith synergies, but also creates potential opportunities for your LS opponent to cause you trouble.

Now for a discussion of the objective’s ability itself: While this objective is undamaged, reduce each opponent’s reserve value by one. I notice two important things immediately. First, the word each, and second the words by one. These two items have important consequences. Since the effect affects each opponent, this card has increased utility in a multiplayer setting. In addition, since the card does not mention specific reserve values, or place limits of any kind, multiple copies of it continue to reduce each opponent’s reserve value. Thus, if you have two of these revealed, your opponent’s reserve values decreases by two. And, in a multiplayer setting it will be possible to reduce your LS opponents’ reserve values by 4, if you and your DS teammate both manage to pull two copies of Vader’s Fist in your opening objective draw, or they enter later and are all undamaged (given that there will not be some alterations regarding effects or deck building for multiplayer of which we are not currently aware). Watching two LS opponents begin a game with 2 cards in hand would be an amazingly hilarious sight. Since the DS sets up first, and players must return their hands to their reserve value during the draw phase, each copy of Vader’s First that is in play and undamaged will have your LS opponent discarding a card from their hand that first turn. And, DS players, don’t forget to make sure to win the force struggle that first turn, or your LS opponent will shut off the ability of Vader’s Fist before it is ever even used. With all of that in mind, it is my opinion that Vader’s Fist is an excellent objective in and of itself. Let’s now take a look at the rest of the cards in this set.

501st Legion
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This is, in my opinion, exactly what the Sith needed, another powerhouse unit and significant threat to the LS heavy hitters (e.g., Luke, Obi-Wan, Home One, etc.). The 501st Legion is going to kill just about anything that the LS can send your way. This is of course assuming that it does not become focused down, and that its unit damage manages to go through (i.e., not be deflected, protected against, absorbed by a shield, etc.). Also nice is that this unit has a cost of 4, making it playable on turn one, regardless of which objectives you draw in your opening pull. Unlike some of the other DS units, the 501st Legion is a significant threat to the LS that really changes the board; it simply must be dealt with or worked around. Luke, Han, and others can simply power through other smaller DS units; the 501st Legion is likely going to take whatever it hits out of the game. And, it also has two force icons and the Trooper trait. True, Troopers has yet to become a tier one deck, but who knows what the future holds.

501st Trooper
The 501st Trooper is a nice supporting unit. As FFG designer Erik Dahlman mentioned in his interview with Team Covenant at GenCon 2013, each SWLCG objective set is designed to have one standout card, a few decent but definitely lesser cards, and one average or poor card. To put things in Magic: The Gathering terms (blasphemy, I know), the 501st Trooper would definitely be an uncommon; it is not as good as something like the 501st Legion, but is definitely better than some of the other minor DS units. It is a trooper, so the black unit damage icon makes sense. But, it also has an edge-dependent blast damage icon, and the ability to do additional blast damage when striking against a Hoth objective, which are quite prevalent in LS builds at the moment. So, what we have here is nice low-cost unit that is capable of being a standard low-level defender, but can also deal 3 damage to a LS Hoth objective if left unattended. The 501st Trooper is versatile in this way, and provides some added blast damage to Sith builds, which they are usually fond of splashing in Imperial Navy objective sets to get. That isn’t to say that one would not want to still splash Navy into a Sith build running Vader’s Fist, but rather simply to point out that the Sith affiliation in and of itself has gotten some more blast damage with the introduction of this objective set. Additionally, the 501st Trooper is of course a Trooper, and so gains various benefits, such as that of the next card we will discuss, E-Web Heavy Repeating Blaster. The 501st Trooper seems to be a rather effective DS minor unit, and a welcome addition to the Sith cardpool.

E-Web Heavy Repeating Blaster
Well, what do we have here? At first glance, this seems like another mediocre attempt at getting us to try out Trooper builds. Someone on the design team really wants Troopers to be viable. But, are they yet? I would rather have had this enhancement cost more, but then grant all Troopers the extra blast damage, without the enhancement having to focus for the effect to be active. Yes, Orbital Bombardment exists. But, something in the two or three cost range that added an edge dependent blast icon to Troopers would have been nice and balanced. This card seems like it could be a nice mid- to late-game draw, but I find myself tossing it into the discard pile when drawing it in the early game. You have to pay one resource to get it onto the table, and then you have to focus it to get its effect. It seems like a nice minor boost to a board that is already established, but far from a game-changing powerhouse. The enhancement is not unique, which is nice; you can have two of these going (or even four in multiplayer) at once, which could be quite powerful. But, the same can be said about a great many cards. This card is average, neither awful nor superb.

Battle of Hoth
Well, what more can we say about this card? It has the ability to keep Vader’s Fist turned on longer, which is great. The three force icons also continue to make Battle of Hoth an edge-stack beast. One bad thing about this card is that it has an Edge Priority of 8, which means that it resolves before the LS Target of Opportunity, which has an Edge Priority of 9. Remember, regarding Fate Cards, “In ascending order (from lowest to highest) of priority number, each player resolves the effects of fate cards placed in his edge stack. If the priority number of two or more fate cards are equal, the attacking player decides the order in which they are resolved.” (SWLCG Core Rule Book, p.20). This means that a LS Target of Opportunity will still leave Vader’s Fist with damage on it, which is unfortunate for the DS player.

The Verdict
Vader’s Fists seems to be a welcome addition to the Sith cardpool. Its ability is powerful in one-versus-one play, and threatens to be even more so in a multiplayer environment. In a game where the edge battles are so important, being denied one or more cards per turn can hurt badly, as some of you no doubt have experienced when testing this objective set. Additionally, the 501st Legion is a powerful DS unit that threatens an instant death to major LS units, if all of its damage goes through; and, it can be played on the first turn, regardless of one’s objective draw, which is an important thing to consider when evaluating the card’s potential. The 501st Troopers are cost effective, and dangerous if left unattended; if the LS overextends, these 501st Troopers can punch through some major damage against LS Hoth objectives, which seem to be quite common occurrences in LS builds right now. Preparation for Evacuation seems quite common right now also, making the Hoth trait on Vader’s Fist a potential detriment. But, at the same time, DS cards such as Succumb to the Cold, Wampa, Desolation of Hoth, and The Killing Cold provide synergy and reward for taking the risk.

Please write about your experiences with this Sith objective set in the comments. I am excited to hear the community’s impressions regarding this set’s power level, as well as deck-building strategies; when you have tried Vader’s Fist, what traditional Sith staples have you been cutting out to make room for it?

Thanks for reading abUse the Force!
  • Midian and bigfomlof like this


10 Comments

The 501st Trooper seems pretty good to me. In a Sith deck it is 2 drop that has objective damage (well, edge enabled) and good potential for a second icon. The objective is great, yet no events come with it, so not that good for a Vader based control.
    • Ironswimsuit likes this
the 501st are pairing well for me with Spice visions. With everyone testing out speeders a hoth trooper can 1 shot a hoth objective with spice visions out.
This pod is bonkers. The objective effect is much more powerful than I initially thought. And they stack. A LS player who cant cycle is dead in the water a lot of the time. The 501st Legion is a classic example of what DS wants: black pistols...all of them. Great article.
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Ironswimsuit
Aug 30 2013 03:09 PM

The 501st Trooper seems pretty good to me. In a Sith deck it is 2 drop that has objective damage (well, edge enabled) and good potential for a second icon. The objective is great, yet no events come with it, so not that good for a Vader based control.


Play the other Vader.

Play the other Vader.


Which one? And, play both. Vader's Fist fits in nicely (oh the puns) with Fall of the Jedi.
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Ironswimsuit
Aug 30 2013 03:49 PM
Navy Vader! For maximum firepower!
As someone who has been trying to make a Trooper deck work since the Core Set came out, I am always on the lookout for new objectives, and this one is easily the best addition to the Trooper card pool we've gotten so far. One of the major problems I've had with Trooper builds is that so few actually have Blast damage, most of them are pure Unit damage. You have to rely on effects like Orbital Bombardment or Trooper Assault, or get your objective damage through unopposed. Having potentially four more units with Blast icons in the 501st Troopers is a big help in speeding up a deck that is often forced to turtle and hope that beefy Unit damage monsters like Trooper Elite or 501st Legion can mow down the opposition.

The Trooper deck I've currently been testing is:

Sith Affiliation
2x Vader's Fist
2x Counsel of the Sith
2x Imperial Command
2x Take Them Prisoner
1x Sabotage in the Snow
1x Asteroid Pursuit

It might be time to concede that Take Them Prisoner just doesn't work that well; I want those events to work, but they rarely do much in practice. Maybe switch the affiliation to Navy and swap out TTP for Cruel Interrogations for some hand control and some more Troopers with shielding.

Navy Vader! For maximum firepower!

Navy Vader was supposed to a LS card.
May be the strongest objective out so far. It's extremely difficult for the LS player to push through any damage to turn it off when he's only got 4 or even 5 cards and the DS has good early game defenders.
    • SirKhan likes this
I have played 10-15 more games with Vader's Fist. The objective card itself is devastating to the LS player, even if it only hits them for a couple turns—and the effect stacks! The cards within the pod are hit or miss. I almost like Tuskan Raiders better, b/c their tactic icon. The 501st trooper is great on turns 5 and 6 to finish off popular Hoth objectives.