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SWLCG Core Box Review: Imperial Navy

Star Wars LCG Community Review

THE RATING SYSTEM:
We'll only be rating the pods as a whole in these series. No in-depth analysis on the individual cards, as everyone already has an established opinion on them and it would take more time than what we can afford. Sorry to disappoint.
While the following isn't particularly precise, the different scores could be seen as:
1 - Poor - Probably a combination of subpar cards, low edge and lack of synergy. Should prove to be a weak addition to a deck even when building around it.
2 - Bad - Overall a weaker pod that can have its moment when properly supported, but usually stays within the realm of "just fun".
3 - Average - A fair choice that is simply outclassed by other options in most cases. May prove to be the superior pick in very particular decks.
4 - Good - All-around solid and can most likely pull its weight by itself.
5 - Great - Cohesive set with with several strong elements which can fit in a plethora of decks. Or it may be somewhat niche but incredibly strong in certain archertypes.


THE REVIEWS:

Imperial Command: 13 out of 15 possible points.
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CobraBubbles (4/5) - Well, not the most exciting start to the Navy’s core set offering. The first thing anyone notices about this pod is the abundance of resources, and rightly so - if you’ve got some expensive stuff you need to play, this set will sort you out. Aside from that, we get two very generic but reasonably good defensive units. In fact these guys sit so directly on the power curve that for a long while ‘Stormtrooper’ was shorthand for ‘2 cost 2 health DS unit with a black gun and a white gun’, and any unit that was a Stormtrooper with additional upside was considered very good.
In my mind, the star of the set is Bombardment, and it makes me realise something. In Magic, famously, the designers established 3 player types which they called Johnny, Timmy and Spike. Bombardment is a quintessential Timmy card (or what we call a Shagga card in Thrones): a big, splashy, shiny, silly, game-changing effect, the kind of card that makes you think ‘If I can just get this to work, it will be SO COOL’. We don’t have a word for this in SW, and I think it’s about time we did. So I propose that from now on we call cards like this ‘Jawa cards’. Jawas get really excited about shiny things that probably won’t work, right? They make a perfect analogy. Bombardment is also a hint of things to come, the tip of the very Jawa iceberg that is the Navy’s offensive theme.
Overall Command is a fine support set. It’s no Counsel of the Sith, but it will help many Navy builds run more smoothly if they don’t have a better choice.

BakaMatt (4/5) - This is an excellent resource-fixing pod that can splash into just about anything. The objective is two resources that allows for explosive turns, and it comes with non-limited resource units in Duty Officer and Admiral Motti. Motti looks expensive at first glance until one quickly realizes he's not only a potential two resources per turn, but also a pinpoint elite on any unit you want. While fragile in damage capacity for his cost, he usually brings dividends in short order, barring the rare well-timed direct damage or targeted strike. There isn't too much to say about the two copies of Heavy Stormtrooper Squads. Doubling up on unit damage icons instead of the other chud standard of mixing a unit/blast icon (see Kuati Security Team) makes them decent units to throw into defense. Orbital Bombardment is a flexible card that will change in function based on individual games and deck composition. A lot of the time it will be tossed for two pips in an edge battle, but it can also serve to bolster damage for a late game objective push or give extra punch to aggressive trooper deck builds. This pod simply does its job well without any real padding or chaff.

Majestaat (5/5) – While not any one individual piece here is mind-blowing, I think the whole pack is really great, if only a bit niche. Great support for most decks, including a lot of non-limited resources and a couple defensive chuds. Bombardment can be a great finisher if you have an established board, and since this pod includes 4 units, you can get a ton of blast out of nowhere, turning these early game guys into lategame threats.
Also cool that the potentially unplayable cards (Motti because he's unique and Bombardment cuz it's so expensive) have good edge counts.
No wonder Sith made such good use of this early. Money for their mains. Troopers that pair fantastically with Choke and Heat. Bombardment to cover for the lack of blast.
Doesn't see as much play now, but it's still a great pick if you want to run one too many sets without resources.


Kuat Reinforcements: 7.5 out of 15 possible points.
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CobraBubbles (2/5) - The obvious comparison here is to The Defense of Yavin 4, as the two objectives are identical, and both promote a swarmy vehicle strategy. Like DoY4, Kuat presents the interesting decision point of trading edge capability for board presence. However, it’s often more difficult to justify making this trade as the Dark Side. When you ditch most of your hand for economic advantage, your opponent knows that your edge potential will be low going into their turn, and can plan their deployment and attacks accordingly. For aggressive LS decks, which can often get away with putting up almost no defence, this isn’t too much of a problem. But DS rarely has this luxury - if they don’t defend well they will lose the game, and so the proposition that Kuat offers is less appealing. Yes, this set is clearly offensively oriented, but even the most aggressive dark side decks can ill afford to throw away all their defensive edge cards. On the topic of DoY4, it’s also worth noting that this set has only 5 edge and 0 resources, compared to its counterpart’s 6 and 1.
Looking at the cards here on their own merits, the three surprise engagement-changing effects we get here are pretty strong, and are the main reason you might consider this pod in a modern fighter deck. But, as with so many core set pods, the units are really lacklustre. They all feel somewhat overcosted (a feeling FFG apparently came to share if GA Backstabber is any indication), and two thirds of them are super boring. Even in the DS fighter decks that did eventually emerge, this set is rarely played.

BakaMatt (3.5/5) - This slightly above average set fits fine into fighter builds. Backstabber and Tallon Roll are the highlights, both pushing out surprise actions to mess with combat math. The rest of the package isn't very exciting - the TIEs are decent, Death From Above a bit costly, and the overall edge count is fairly low. The objective can support swarm or capital builds. Decent for fighters, but there really isn't a standout card that screams for the objective set to see play.

Majestaat (2/5) – Being the super aggressive player I am, I played Kuat for the longest time, actually netting second place in my first Regional in 2013 with it. The set has always been risky to run with it's one dimensional nature, subpar units (Backstabber being particularly terrible in my opinion) and abyssmal edge; but the LS was much slower back then, so you could go for 4 objectives before losing 3. Nowadays it's almost suicidal to try that.
Why does Defense of Yavin 4 work so much better than this? Rebels have some good draw in Rogue Squad Assault, Command and Control, now Sacrifice of Heroes. That means abusing the objective doesn't necessarily burn your whole hand. DoY4 also includes a 1-1 resource, which is HUGE. Astromech has incredible synergy with Rogue Squad X-Wings. While more expensive than the events in Kuat, Rebel Assault is much safer for a deck with poor edge and some fragile units. All in all, Yavin has always been a reliable core piece for a vehicle deck, and became even stronger thanks to some new synergies. Kuat just allowed to play a fast deck in an even faster fashion, and hasn't gotten the sort of support DoY4 got.


The Ultimate Power: 11 out of 15 possible points.
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CobraBubbles (3/5) - This is a great time to be reviewing this set, as it’s currently seeing top-tier play for the first time in a long while (possibly ever?), in the Ultimate Promise decks with Endor Palp.
We get a nice mix of offence and defence here. Tarkin’s text and the Superlaser are arguably the two most aggressive effects in the DS cardpool even to this day, while the Moff’s black Tactics and his trapezing trooper friends bring the pain on defence. The balance here is much better than in many of the other early Navy pods (like the last one, for example).
Theme-wise, this pod hit a home run. Tarkin is suitably intimidating and game-altering (admittedly not quite as much as his IE version, but still). The objective’s effect, though almost never relevant, is a good recreation of the only line of attack that the rebels are able to take on the Death Star in ep IV. The Blast is an awesome Jawa card that made me squeal with joy the first time I drew it back when I was playing my first games with the core. Excitingly, it finally has competitive applications thanks to the introduction of missions. And most importantly, it feels just like the Death Star should. When a LS player runs up against it for the first time, they feel just like Luke, Han and Obi-Wan did when they first encountered the moon-sized battle station: ‘What is this?! No way! You can do that?!’
For all my praise though, I can’t go without mentioning how godawful the Engineer is. The restricted search effect makes sense, but given that it only has 2 targets in the core pool (and has only gained two more since then), all the drawbacks seem really unnecessary. 2 cost for 1 force, 1 health and no icons is sooo bad. And he does ‘the Conquest search’, putting the searched cards on the bottom, which is pretty unfortunate in SW where your decks will inevitably have less redundancy than in other games. Shielding is kind of ok, but it makes no sense - he’s operating a goddamn giant weapon, not shields! He definitely drags the pod down.

BakaMatt (4/5) - A good package for either control or aggression. Grand Moff Tarkin has the ability to pop objectives you dropped damage on earlier or plan to assault by effectively damaging them all. Yularen from the newer sets does this is a burstier and repeatable fashion, but Tarkin's passive ability is still no slouch. What this pod packs and Yularen's doesn't is the capability to just outright obliterate an objective with a good old fashioned Superlaser Blast. It's a costly event that you often won't have the luxury to play midgame, but nothing is more satisfying than popping this event to cinch victory when you're just a tick or few away from the win. Stormtrooper Elite packs a heavy punch of unit damage that can threaten most of the LS arsenal, making a nice chud defender (are three cost units considered chuds?). Superlaser Engineer is a card with potential to improve over time as new cards release - tutors, even partial ones, tend to be powerful tools in card games.

Majestaat (4/5) – Somewhat unsure on this one, because it was never stellar (though MTFBWY was so annoying people ran Superlaser just to get rid of it early) until Sith got some crazy missions in the Endor cycle, giving us a whole new kind of deck. The objective is particularly bad, since it's ability will hardly ever matter, yet it has the Navy affiliation restriction, messing your deckbuilding a bit. The Engineer is the other terrible piece here. I defended him back in the day saying we would see more cards for him to tutor. After 4 cycles and several deluxes, he's still pretty much worthless.
The rest is actually quite good. If you feel Tarkin is too fragile to be played, edge him or save him until you've damaged the LS objectives, using him as a sort of event to end the game. The Stormtrooper can deal with most threats thrown his way, but he's super edge dependant with only 2 life. If you can find a way to shield him not named Superlaser Engineer, he'll put a lot of work against LS mains. Control Room is a decent resource and the Superlaser Blast will instantly deal with whatever objective is annoying you.
Thing is, you'll probably only play this set in those Sith/Navy mission decks, because mono-Navy should pick The Tarkin Doctrine over this every single time.


Death and Despayre: 10 out of 15 possible points.
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CobraBubbles (3/5) - Is this the only card which has a pun for a name? I think we deserve more - get on it FFG.
More seriously, this pod finishes cementing Navy as the aggro DS faction. The effects here are very evocative - if the Empire decides they need to turn the might of their Navy on your puny attempts to oppose them, they will crush you quickly and ruthlessly. The Devastator in particular captures this perfectly, although it’s arguably a bit to single-minded to cost 6. Compare it to Palpatine for example, the only other 6 cost unit in the core, who fills 4 different roles in your deck. The big D pretty much just does one thing. But boy does it do it well. A wicked cool card.
I’m not sure if I like that the chud officer shares the Devastator’s ability. It creates a bit of redundancy on this cool Navy theme, which is nice, and allows you to set up some truly absurd turns where you smash an objective for 5+ ticks on the dial. On the other hand though it would be more interesting to have had a unit that did something unique rather than just having a worse version of the ability on the set’s centrepiece.
Finally, I should mention the defence upgrade, which is the seed of a future Navy theme. This is also pretty evocative - the Navy are the most powerful force in the galaxy, so it makes sense that they’re just passively difficult to overcome, even if they commit all their resources to offence rather than defence. Overall this is a pretty good set, and still occasionally sees play in aggressive Navy decks.

BakaMatt (3.5/5) - Devastator to this day, remains one of the few units that can singlehandedly destroy an undamaged objective. This pod encourages a control playstyle, holding off early game aggression with defense upgrade and then running up the clock with big D once you've secured the board. Where this set gets overlooked against today's pods is the low unit count. There are technically two of them, but the Officer is usually not worth playing its cost, nor is it really an effective unit on the table during engagements. If you play this, it's for Devastator and the resource. While that's often enough due to how powerful the unit is, it isn't always worth a slot.

Majestaat (3.5/5) – Decent set. Only required to have a different unit instead of the officer and maybe another edge icon thrown on one of those cards to be real solid. With the set revolving so heavily aroud the Devastator, you really feel like this is a wasted slot in your deck if you can't play it, which is often subce it costs 6. You need some good ramp and then leftover resources to get the best out of it. I much prefer Deploy the Fleet, but since you can't run it with Enforced Loyalty, the Devastator can still find a place in fortress builds looking for something that will finish the game. But even then, I think Moon Blockade is often the superior pick.


Defense Protocol: 10 out of 15 possible points.
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CobraBubbles (2/5) - It’s a real shame that this pod is half-identical to Kuat Reinforcements. Seems like a poor choice on FFG’s part. Yes, having more copies of the events here helps with redundancy on the aggressive vehicle/fighter theme, but ultimately this ends up restricting both deckbuilding choice and deck variety in the core environment. Not things you want to be doing at the start of a game.
The other cards here are solid enough - the Protocol and Attack Squadron offer Navy some targeted unit damage, which is rare for them. And the Twist is sweet obviously. But the set’s units are just as underwhelming as they were the first time, and stop this set from being a really appealing pick in any decks these days.

BakaMatt (4/5) - Despite a low raw edge count and a lack of resource, this is among the best Navy pods in the core set. TIE Attack Squadron, although not elite, conditionally has four icons, targeted strike, and as a Fighter, synergizes with the included Tallon Roll very well. This is a good deal at an investment of three resources. The set is also one of the lucky few that include Twist of Fate, the hands down best edge card, helping somehwat to offset the low edge. The aforementioned Tallon Roll is a great card for making surprise extra strikes with your fighters. The objective itself allows trading card draw for direct damage - this is a great option by itself, but works best if your deck includes ways to draw extra cards or increase your reserve.

Majestaat (4/5) – Oh, how I love this one. Kuat was all about rushing and hoping for the best. Protocol keeps a good degree of offensive prowess while also boasting some cool control options. Using the objective is costly, as cards are always so valuable. It's even worse if you're also running Kuat, so don't run them together. Tallon Roll is a lot more valuable when you've got a unit with targeted strike, and Twist is, well, Twist. The TIE fighter is unimpressive, especially with such low edge, but it's a cheap body with blast. Leave it for a last engagement when you've exhausted your opponent's defenses, or snatch the Force for a turn.
Even today, it's a strong contender in DS fighter builds, especially if you're not aiming for crazy Black Squadron synergy.


The Endor Gambit: 8.5 out of 15 possible points.
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CobraBubbles (2/5) - A.K.A: Solid but Unspectacular: The Objective Set. The objective and the Walkers are super-generic, but also reasonably strong. Worth mentioning I guess that cantrip cards (cards that draw you a card to ‘replace’ them when you play them) are better in SW than in other games because of the edge mechanic, so the Walkers are pretty neat as 3 cost non-uniques go. Still very boring though.
The Armor Plating is worth mentioning, if only because it’s a good example of FFG dodging a design pitfall. It would have been really easy to make this card only go on Walkers and condemn it to being perpetual edge-fodder. On vehicles generally it’s much more useful. It’s also a major player in an important theme in the art of Navy cards - Navy staff doing boring tasks. Control Room, Squad Leader, Pattern Analysis, The Emperor’s Legion; any boring pose you can think of has been struck by some poor clutz on a Navy card like these ones.
The Commander is bad enough that I don’t really wanna discuss him - suffice to say that the timing advantage you get from his ability over regular shielding is almost never worth paying 2 for a 1 health guy with a single white icon. The fate card choice is odd here too, as this isn’t an especially aggressive set. I’d have rather seen it swapped with Devastator’s Heat, to double down on that set’s offensive firepower and to give the Walkers a chance at taking down 3 health mains.

BakaMatt (3.5/5) - The two included AT-STs are solid units even taking into account that three cost units can sometimes make for awkward early deployments. They usually don't feel bad as an early play, sporting two force icons, three combat icons and even cycling into a new card. On the downside, they aren't elite, so they don't make the best force committals and have susceptibility to tactics. The objective helps mitigate this a little, but can't always be counted on in your opening flop. The AT-ST Commander is terrible, but Aft Armor Plating is a useful free enhancement, and Target of Opportunity can help along an agressive Navy turn. Endor Gambit has a little bit of everything, which gives it a bit of an identity crisis. It's not really aggressive enough for an objective-destroying Navy lean, but it really doesn't feel like it fits the control style of play fully either. It falls into the above average bucket, where it isn't a bad choice for decks, but it lacks the unified, focused design of many other sets.

Majestaat (3/5) – As much as I like it, I wouldn't really recommend it. It's okay, and that's it. Although it pains me greatly, a Walker deck is really subpar. If you try to squeeze this into other vehicle decks, you'd probably have better options anyway. This is too expensive a pod for fighters, while Capital Ships' got Might of the Empire to give everything elite. If that wasn't enough, then they'd still pick Imperial Command since it's got the money and early game to guarantee you can pump out those Star Destroyer later.
Without resources, a set with a couple 3-costers and a weak 2-costers that wants leftover money to justify his existence just isn't appealing.


Take them Prisoner: 8 out of 15 possible points.
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CobraBubbles (2/5) - I’ve said many times this series how chud units like these Death Star Troopers often do literally nothing to advance your game state and can really bring a pod down. Take Them Prisoner is one of the purest examples of this, as the events are all pretty strong, and with better units than the DS Troopers (more like BS troopers, amirite?!!) I think this pod would see a fair bit of play.
It’s rare to get good unit removal and good enhancement removal in one pod, but Detained and Tear This Ship Apart give you both. Trooper Assault can be game ending in a dedicated Trooper deck, or even in any deck that happens to get 2+ troopers on the board - 2 cost for 4+ black icons is pretty darn good. On top of that, the objective has a reasonably good interference ability, and the set has 9 pips, which is super high for Navy.
And despite all this, the pod is almost unplayable (a few brave souls do still try), because of the chuds. Sigh...

BakaMatt (3/5) - A rare capturing-based objective for Navy, Take Them Prisoner can serve Scum as a splash or a trooper build. The units are awful, but the rest of the package is fairly good. Tear This Ship Apart efficiently removes non-limited enhancements, which we've seen a lot more of during the Rogue Squadron and Opposition cycles. Trooper Assault is burst on demand for trooper builds. Detained is not the best removal, but still solid - you have to let them strike, it hits limited targets, and those units can later be rescued, but it still removes a unit from the table at acceptable cost. The objective is deceptively more powerful than it looks at first glance. It not only lets you deny the opponent the best card of their next three draws, but you also know what the other two coming up are. Overall, this is a support pod lacking in unit and board presence so it isn't likely to crack many lists, ranking average overall.

Majestaat (3/5) – Another pod I'm rather fond of, but likely wouldn't run nowadays. It's got great utility with a sturdy objective, unit/enhancement removal and high edge. It's the troopers what bring this set down. They're okay on paper. In practice, they barely have any impact on the game, unless you pull some combos. Although I don't think it would have been enough, it would have been cool if the troopers costed 2 and and allowed you to put a 1-cost trooper from your deck in play upon being played. Would make the swarm more consistent and helps thin your deck to draw the juicy Trooper Assault.
As it stands, you may want to run 1x for the utility events, but you'll usually have better options. IE Tarking already takes care of enhancements. Rule by Fear can kinda take care of units, as long as they cost less than 4.


FINAL WORDS:
You thought the Mos Eisley Mafia reviews were slow? Think again!
Seriously though. Very sorry for such a huge delay. This was supposed to be up mid-late November, but between some lack of communication, the usual crazyness from classes/work in that period and the festivities afterwards, it was all really awkward. Hope that doesn't repeat itself, as these particular reviews are supposed to be really quick to do.

Trying to get back to normal, next time we'll have the forever alone Boba pod + DS neutrals. Hopefully, that will only take a week to do, as it's really little work.
Thinking we might do Edge of Darkness instead of Hoth afterwards. It's like the remaining piece of the core, so it kinda makes sense to tackle it first, even if it was released later.


I extend my gratitude to the review team and the readers who motivated us to do this. I'm sure there's room for improvement. If you got any ideas, feel free to comment or PM me so we can make the next article even better.
I must say, however, that there's a limit to how many images can be uploaded. That's why I only selected a few images per pod.

If you're looking for more reviews, you can find them in our forum thread here.

May the Force be with you all!
  • ajax013, Skelton, CobraBubbles and 3 others like this


2 Comments

Great write-up, guys!  I really enjoyed it!

    • Majestaat likes this

Thanks a lot for the continued support. As long as people want more content, we will keep producing it.