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SWLCG "Desolation of Hoth" Force Pack Review

Star Wars LCG Community Review

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.


A Message from Beyond: 6 out of 15 possible points.
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CobraBubbles (1/5) – AKA ‘Jedi Draws - The Pod’. Yep, it’s the game’s first unitless objective set. That’s not awful in itself, but there a couple of design choices that relegate Message to binderhood for the foreseeable.
The main problem with unitless pods, obviously, is that they decrease your chances of drawing units on any given turn. That could potentially be ok, if the non-unit cards you were drawing could advance your game by themselves. But every one of the cards here is dependent on you getting a unit out before they do anything. At first the objective seems to help with this, letting you chuck away your enhancements to dig for units and then recur them when you have a target. Alas, the timing is all wrong - the enhancement comes to your hand before you draw, only exacerbating the dead draws problem.
All the cards here are pretty strong when you do get a chance to play them. The Spirits let you voltron up a main without fear of sudden removal via Lightning or similar, and once you’ve got them built up with a couple enhancements the events here can make them into quite the powerhouse. But the massive variance increase this pod brings to your deck is just so hard to stomach, especially as Jedi have almost no unit-heavy pods that could compensate for this, even in the modern cardpool. I guess they could play the next pod though…

BakaMatt (3/5) – This is a set with some great enhancements, but without units it becomes a tough sell. Weapon Mastery and Calm try to compensate, but I really think at least one token Jedi unit could have helped here, maybe in place of the Heat of Battle. The interrupt of Obi-Wan's Spirit is a bargain at one resource, forcing your opponent to take down a character twice or bog it down with tactics, becoming even more pronounced if you attach a second copy, or more. The objective has some promise combined with Spirit or any other powerful enhancement, but the timing of the reaction is before the draw phase which makes it a bit less useful than it could have been had it been a limited once per turn action or even a different window. Cards from this set would totally have been cherry picked for decks in open construction, but in the objective based system it is hard to run this pod and ensure you have enough units to stay on the board.

Majestaat (2/5) – A pod without units for an affiliation that usually starves for them. That's a huge swing against this set. Rebels and Smugglers can't really get that much mileage of what's in here, so they're usually a no-go as well, though Old Ben's Spirit can be pretty annoying with Wookiees.
On that note, Old Ben's Spirit is really amazing. The oldest players may remember how nightmarish it was to face Core Luke and/or Han with this on. It's just very efficient protection.
The objective is okay. Unfortunately it doesn't give you card advantage due to its timing, but it gives you some more flexibility on what you can do with your enhancements.
If only this set wasn't printed so early, we might have seen some other fate card here. Heat is good, but doesn't really fit here. Well Equipped would be very synergistic. Protection would have been cool too. Stops your Voltron from getting shut down from cheap tactics, or just gives the objective a bit of extra survavility to keep doing its thing.
Now, the events... Man, they suck. Weapon Mastery is superfluous, to say the least. Doesn't really have much impact. Calm is just way too restrictive. Sure, it's free, but it demands a unit with two enhancements, and can only be used on defense, so it's not directly helping you win. They're saved from absolute mediocrity because they have two pips each, and even then they're still terrible.
Though it has its own niche, if you're desperate for some protection, Secrets of Yavin 4 is a superior choice all-around. But if you want to show off how mad you are, run both for invincible Guardians of Peace, and thus, an invincible board. Until they get captured, anyway.

Hoth Operations: 11.5 out of 15 possible points.
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CobraBubbles (4/5) – This is more like it! I love this pod, not least because a RSXW combo deck with 2 copies of it carried me to the Top 8 at UK Nats 2015. More recently I’ve been having fun with it alongside The Secret of Shantipole - Wedge on Blue 9 can triple strike for 6 black blast, and Keyan on Rogue Three can do 3+ before your opponent even has an action window in the engagement.
Sure, Survival Gear is a dead card in most decks you’d play this in, but if you do want to build Hoth 2-3 health for 0 money is good value, and 2 pips means it’s fine otherwise. In the Hoth Speeder deck the objective can get pretty crazy. This is also one of the few Hoth pods that really benefits from Hoth being hardly played, because sometimes you flop Ops in a game with no other Hoth pods on either side and get free edge. Finally, Target is always good and makes sense here. It’s an all-round excellent pod that does what Light Side needs to do: tons of objective damage.

BakaMatt (3.5/5) – The Hoth mechanic is parasitic and I wasn't a huge fan from the start, but if you do go that route, the lack of any real dark side Hoth objective seeing play (outside of Killing Cold) means you can almost always count on these types of objectives being enabled. Hoth Operations has a nice boost for edge battles which is a nice way to shore up the typically mid-range to low pips Rebels have. Wedge Antilles serves as a vehicle version of Trust Your Feelings, which is decent. The available choice of dropping him as a weak blast shouldn't be completely ignored, but his best combo is landing him on Rogue Three, an absolute powerhouse with a couple enhancements dropped onto it. As long as you can keep Rogue Three out of lockdown it promises to snipe objectives with impunity. It's well costed with no upper limit of potential, but the lack of Elite can make it a tactics sponge. Target of Opportunity is solid here. The Snowspeeder is a disappointment. Given its low damage capacity, it isn't uncommon that this unit will be destroyed before it ever gets a strike off. They work fine if cheated into play via Attack Pattern Delta, but not a happy regular deployment. The single that sticks out like a sore thumb is the Hoth Survival Gear. In an objective entirely about speeders, why is there a character enhancement? A relic of the rough early design of the game, these kind of cards are missed opportunity at a choesive set. Hoth Operations isn't a bad choice in a vehicle build, mainly for the power of Rogue Three and Wedge, and it pairs nicely with cheap enhancements like Astromech Droid Upgrade, but it's lower down the totem pole in arsenal of available rebel vehicle objectives.

Majestaat (4/5) – Even today, this remains a juicy set. Sure, the Snowspeeder has poor stats (probably to compensate for how absurd the Speeder synergy can be) and the Hoth Survival Gear is out of place here, but at least it has two pips, and is actually pretty decent if you ever get a character out.
The objective is stupid. Doesn't really rely on having more Hoth objectives in your deck, and the effect is insane. When even the vanilla Snowspeeders get edge 1 (or two, with the objectives stacking!), you can see why they have subpar stats. If you can get a swarm going, it won't matter if you're dumping your hand, you'll still have good chances in edge battles, even more if you happen to get lucky with Attack Pattern Delta. Ridiculous amounts of free edge.
Target is a nice fit in just about any Rebel vehicle set, as they like going aggressive, this one being no exception.
The real money is on Rogue Three and Wedge. The former does very well on its own at 3 cost, 3 health 2 black blast. Even 3 pips to boot. The latter is a Trust Your Feelings that can double as a unit, can be discounted thanks to pilot resources or even be recycled with Stay on Target.
Combine the two of them and you get a flying ball of death. If your opponent can't stop the piloted Rogue Three right away, he lost right there and then.

Echo Base Defense: 5 out of 15 possible points.
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CobraBubbles (1/5) – ...yeah I was kidding before, don’t play this set. It’s awful. Sometimes I’m a fan of repetition in pods. Getting 2 Kyles in H&L is awesome. Those Rogue Squadron cycle pods that have 2x free pilots and 2x chud ships make sense as they fill a specific role. Hell even maxi-chud pods like Corporate Exploitation and Tribe of the Trees can do that. But here the 3/2 split seems kind of pointless.
The Fighters are good value when you have 3 Hoth out, but 1 pip and 2 health is a real shame, and make them look pretty atrocious anytime other than in the best-case. Subzero Defenses is the really egregious design choice here, because it can’t stack, so the second copy is completely pointless. Seems like the kind of card that should have had MORE THAN ONE GODDAMN PIP.
Here we can also see the beginnings of an assumption on FFG’s part that would continue throughout the cycle: Dark Side is gonna be coming for you! In fact, the extreme power of Core Sith control meant that aggro Dark decks were nearly non-existent at this point, so defensive Light Side pods like this one got the short end of the stick. That’s not to say that this pod is playable in a Dark aggro meta though - if nothing else, 5 total pips rules that out.

BakaMatt (3/5) – At first blush, this looks like a good way to inject a dose of "main" level units into a deck. If you control even two Hoth objectives, each of the three Wilderness Fighters sport four icons for only three resource investment. That sounds like a deal. But mains they are not. The biggest issue is the need to run this alongside other Hoth objectives given that it's a limit one per deck set. All the best Hoth objectives are vehicle based, so you're lacking synergy (and don't try to sell me by saying this is why Hoth Operations included Survival Gear). Subzero Defenses looks scarier than it is. First, it has to be up againast an aggressive dark side that wants to attack - as I've mentioned in previous reviews, the dark side much prefers fortress style control play, only swiping at objectives after its firmly entrenched. Second, it has to be the first unit to strike, so your opponent has control over who gets the axe. Third, it has to be a Hoth objective, so it can't protect any of your other "while undamaged" effects that you want to keep going. Fifth, getting a second copy out is nigh useless as both recat to the first strike. Lastly, even if the stars align and you get to destroy something with Subzero defenses, it happens after the strike is resolved - you can't even prevent any damage. Did you notice that this set also has abyssmal edge count? Every single card sports a single pip, making this the lowest edge count since Corporate Exploitation. I opened with how tempting the units seem, but there's too much work to bring them up to par to the point where you might as well just run a better set with an always-enabled main unit. Ultimately, I feel these Wildrness Fighters are... left out in the cold (pun intended).

Majestaat (1/5) – It doesn't seem to be that bad on paper, but in practice it's quite the worthless set. The objective wouldn't be half bad if we actually had enough good Hoth pods to choose from. If you want to maximize on it, chances are you have a subpar deck. If you don't do it, it's only protecting itself. The DS will just ignore it and leave you with a blank objective.
The Fighters... sure, they can get a ton of icons, but they have poor printed stats for their cost. Practical example. You paid 3 for a unit that, in a best case scenario, can defend quite well, but doesn't provide any utility and can't hold the Force, meaning the DS will just sit back and laugh at you. If you want to go aggressive, these guys need to win edge, which is difficult in a set with only 5 pips. Worst of all, they get absolutely destroyed by the very simple 2-costers with double guns.
Finally, Subzero Defenses. Could be quite devastating, but apply here what I said about the objective. You make some big concessions to make it reliable. And with nothing here to pressure your opponent for playing defensively or buy you any more time, why would he even want to attack? For the last few ticks, Subzero Defenses won't do a thing, since the unit is destroyed before its strike resolves.
Like the Goat Simulator expansion, this set is a "waste of space".

The Killing Cold: 12 out of 15 possible points.
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CobraBubbles (4/5) – On the face of it, there’s no particular reason for this to be a Sith set rather than Neutral. Somehow I doubt that the evil order ruling over the galaxy through political manipulation and dark power had any particular connection to the livestock on a remote ice world. But it feels very Sith all the same. It’s a control set obviously, which fits with Sith’s most common approach to victory. More specifically, it’s control through attrition, through lots of one-use effects that slowly wear down your opponent’s remaining hope. Fear makes a lot of sense here - sitting across from this there’s a real sense of the futility of your efforts to overcome the sheer power of the Sith.
People generally play the set for the Trompers, but every card here can pull its weight. Fear is great in the Force Hunters archetype - even the great Master Yoda feels a tremor sometimes. Desolation may look like a poor Sith’s Imperial Fist, but the flexibility of being able to murder stuff while healing your objectives makes it extremely powerful when the stars align, and when they don’t it’s 3 whole pips. And you get a Twist into the bargain.
For a review series looking to the past, we’re unusually timely in discussing this pod now - just a few weeks ago it featured in Mick Cipra’s Worlds-winning deck, proving its continued relevance. It’s plenty versatile though - if you want a completely different way to play it, there’s a combo deck with this, General Tagge and the Espo Troopers. I’ll let you figure it out.

BakaMatt (4/5) – This one actually saw recent play in the 2017 world champion's deck, piloted by Mick Cipra, so boo to anyone who says the Hoth cycle is irrelevent! All silliness aside, The Killing Cold has seen a lot of play over the years because of how well it functions in a Sith control shell. The two Icetrompers are good for messing up engagements by removing key characters, and cause incidental damage. The Desolation of Hoth is a crazy swing card that can flip the game state from near loss of an objective, to a fully healed one and a dead key opposing unit. It helps greatly that the set is one of the few with a Twist of Fate, always a fate card that you're happy to see. The objective text isn't window dressing either. Even when not comboed with the sacrifice happy Hoth Executor, there are windows of opportunity where it can be useful to trade a unit for objective healing. When a unit is heavily locked down by tactics and won't be freeing up anytime, the objective outlet can make use of them, especially if they happen to be a unique that you have another copy ready to deploy, but can't. Fear lets you drop any pesky character out of the force struggle, often making it easy to seize back the force with the Sith heavy hitters. It's especially fun to drop onto Yoda. If there's one area that the Killing Cold set suffers, it's that the majority of its effects only work on non-vehicles. This makes it great to run out against Jedi (and often Smugglers), but most Rebel decks will give it fits with an assortment of heavy hitting vehicles that couldn't care less about the force struggle or those silly creatures on the ground. A great injection for any Sith control, and one of the best Hoth sets from the entire cycle, hands down.

Majestaat (4/5) – I've never quite been able to make this set shine. I may just lack the finesse required for it. But my own experience has zero merit when you see others being so successful with it, to the point they even include it in a World's winning deck. I'm sure he has heard it enough, but congratulations again for Mick Cipra and his headband.
Anyway, this set provides some seriously good control tools, and unlike Shadows in the Ice, you don't need to invest on Hoth pods for this one to work. The objective is still one of the best sacrifice engines in the game, and while it's been nerfed, it's still a great pair with Sith Executor. In general, it's also rather annoying for the LS. Similar to facing Navy, the LS needs to one-shot Killing Cold or it could heal back to full HP. Sure, it needs sacrifices. If anything, it gives a purpose to your units that have been focused to no tomorrow or that are about to die without accomplishing anything.
Icetrompers have slightly weak stats, compensating instead with an amazing ability. Worst case, it's just protecting a valuable objective momentarily. In better scenarios, you couple one of them with a tactics unit for an easy lock down. You may fail miserably the very first times you use them, but with time, you'll grow to like them a lot.
Fear is one very cheap way to stop Yoda from dominating the Force early on, allowing you to contest it even if not drawing some big elites.
Desolation of Hoth can be brutal, being a game-winning event if certain conditions are met. Because they can be rather hard to meet, it's quite good to see it was granted 3 pips, making it useful at any time.
Nothing we need to say about Twist. If anything, having one here is more relevant now than in the past. With core Vader having no resource, Counsel was an amazing fit in Sith decks. GA Vader, however, comes with a resource and doesn't demand a bunch of free events. You wouldn't want so many limited resources either. All this makes The Killing Cold a great alternative for modern Sith decks in need of Twists.
All in all, a well focused set that doesn't rely too heavily on the Hoth trait, unlike Shadows in the Ice, making it much more versatile.

Lord Vader's Command: 5.5 out of 15 possible points.
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CobraBubbles (1/5) – “is anyone else surprised about how few hard choke effects there are in this game?” - Me, in the last instalment of this series.
Gotta hold my hands up here, I forgot all about this one. Making events more expensive is actually pretty good, but I don’t think anyone will blame me for forgetting (or possibly subconsciously repressing) this set. Three of the five Vaders we have in the game can have a huge impact on the board by themselves, and the Pilot one can be similarly impactful when paired with only one other unit. In every situation other than when attacking as part of a team, this Vader is just a blank version of his fellows.
Still, good thing he comes with a bunch of efficient, playable units to go along and attack with him, right? ...oh. In what world would that Officer ever be good? In the very next pack we get the Fleet Navigator, which is just infinitely better, so why they designed this guy and put him in a pod with Darth freaking Vader is beyond me. The Droids are similarly awful. Suppression is nice but temporary cancel, and certainly not enough to redeem the set. And oh yeah, all those cards bar Vader have 1 measly pip. No thanks.

BakaMatt (3.5/5) – I'll start with an interesting tidbit. From an interview with FFG's art director carried out by the community (shout out to the awesome guys at The Combat Guild), the artwork for this Vader was originally to be on the Core Set Darth Vader card, but when they received the artwork for Vader's Lightsaber, it was far more suitable for a unit, so it ended up as the character card. Donning my tinfoil hat, I'd almost claim this objective set was thrown together on short notice to make use of the existing art they had already commissioned. A conspiracy theory is fun to account how the dark lord of the sith ended up in a middling set. It starts strong enough with great objective text that functions exaclty like Imperial Blockade. Darth Vader, while weaker than his previous incarnation, has a nice boosting ability that seems tailored for leading cheap troopers into battle. The issue wiht that line of thinking is that he costs a lot for a unit booster at five, so there are better trooper options to look into. Vader is still a four pip elite with effectively four icons, so aces there. Imperial Suppression is a nice event to delay enemy events at no cost. The rest of the package is what keeps this set from seeing any real play. Communications Officer is embarrassingly bad - could we have not even received a Control Room in place of this? He's a three-for-one resource with an etremely fragile body and low pip count. The last two spots are devoted to Probe Droids, which are more or less units that read "deploy for two, deal one damage to an objective later". I feel like this one's unit heavy with intent of capitalizing on Vader, but they could have thrown us a decent resource and maybe a few troopers in lieu of the droids. The whole package isn't bad, it just has some glaring rough parts. When you don't want to really ever draw three cards out of the five, it isn't an enticing set.

Majestaat (1/5) – This is Shadows of Nar Shaddaa levels of bad. Like with that one, we have an interesting objective and a great event. But the rest is all garbage. Like, actual garbage.
A Vader for swarms in a set that can't swarm. Even if it did, his ability would just become overkill. Not to mention he's blank on his own. Was it really necessary to take one of his printed blast icons away?
Probe Droids are too expensive for what they do. Couldn't they have two health, or at least a black gun instead of white? How about a recycle ability like the Viper Droids? It'd be expensive, but they would actually become situationally useful. As they stand, you shouldn't even bother playing them. At all.
And don't get me started on the Communications Officer. If he's not allowed to have combat icons, health or pips, at least make him elite, so he's more of a high risk, high reward resource.
As said, the objective and event are quite interesting, providing some unusual control against enemy events, which can be devastating. So much that some people, which I can only define as REAL MEN, actually ran this just to mess with things like Yoda, You Seek Yoda.
Now we have Jamming Protocol in the Moon Blockade pod. Not a single reason remains to run this. Sad news for Vader.

Shadows on the Ice: 10 out of 15 possible points.
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CobraBubbles (3/5) – Between this and Killing Cold, the Dark Side Hoth deck got a much better start in life than the Light one. There are some pretty neat little cards here. Succumb to the Cold is a solid bit of free control, and could go pretty nicely in Sith Hoth (Soth? Hith? Hog-Sothoth?) with GA Vader I reckon. The Wampas are similarly impressive, an absolute steal for 0-1 resources. And you get a 5-2 objective to help you ramp out. If there were a good Dark Side Hoth deck this would certainly be a solid include in it. So was there such a deck? Hang on til the end of our Hoth cycle reviews to find out! (But don’t get your hopes up...).

BakaMatt (3/5) – Shadows on the Ice feels like it would be a great splash objective were it not completely tied to Hoth. Wampas are a steal for one resource (or free)! Succumb the Cold is a great control card to keep the enemy down. Battle of Hoth sports great pips and heals up your own Hoth objectives. What defeats it is the parasitic nature of the Hoth mechanic. To really play Shadows on the Ice effectively, you want to be heavy or all-in with Hoth objectives, and the overall package is not only average, but restrictive in what you can build. This is a limit one objective that is great splash... to a very narrow margin of decks. Putting it into your average deck id going to disappoint as you pay for full price Wampas (admittedly, not the worst units) and have to pitch your unplayable Succumbs. I understand this is the HOTH cycle, and the cards make sense thematically, but a more generic method to "turn on" these cards would have increased its stock, or even letting us run it as a two of.

Majestaat (4/5) – Admittedly, my vision must be warped on this one, as I've played with AT-ATs for the longest time, and in that deck, Shadows is not only a great fit, but a crucial component, I'd dare say. Two resources on the objective helps paying for the big Navy vehicles or Sith mains. Wampas aren't impressive on their own, but they're still resilient defenders that don't care about edge to be threats. If you do get a discount on them, especially early on, your board will be too much for the LS to risk going aggressive.
Succumb to the Cold is a crazy control tool. The kind of control Navy was sorely lacking in the pre-IE days, so I could write a whole essay about how amazing this card is. Never mind me.
Battle of Hoth is a good edge card that can provide minor yet useful healing. DS likes that.
So all around the set helps doing a bunch of things the DS wants to do: ramp, defend, stall. And it's effectively full of free cards in the ideal scenario.
Now, the big downside of the set as a whole is that it's completely reliant on having Hoth objectives out to shine (Wampas) or do anything at all (Succumb to the Cold), which severely limits your deckbuilding options if you want to make use of it. I can only hope we'll see good Hoth pods in the future, as unlike many other pods this cycle, this one doesn't feel like it needs any buff. Just more (good) options to pair it with and it could see a lot of play, and I mean A LOT.

It seems like articles keep taking longer and longer to produce. I know an apology won't do the trick, but there's little else I can do at this point.
Would say next time won't be like this, but I despise empty promises. I'd try to deliver, sure, but I'm not sure I would actually make it. Just a bunch of stuff going on this year. Sorry.

But let's not talk about that boring stuff. We officially started re-reviewing what must be the most hated cycle in the game's lifespan. We'll see if so much bashing is justified or our views are simply distorted.
Regarding this one pack, at least, I think it's safe saying it includes two very solid pods that can work quite well on their own.
Though two others are pretty terrible, admittedly.

The Search for Skywalker is next. Hoping to have that one up in just a couple weeks from now, but... you know. Stuff happens.

On the Mos Eisley Mafia reviews, I'm ashamed to say the Technological Terror review is not done yet. May vent a bit once I actually get that one uploaded, but for now I'll keep my mouth sealed.

And that's it this time. 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!
  • 4wallz, teletubbietoet and Renegat like this


I put the Ion gun from Kallus' set on Vader and played it with Black Market exchange in a odd Scum Navy hybrid droid Trooper deck.
    • 4wallz and Majestaat like this

Nice way of giving the Probe Droids some real value. Sounds like it must be a little too gimmicky, but it certainly seems to get the best out of the bad cards.

    • Rio and 4wallz like this
Thanks for the content! The Hoth Cycle has its issues for sure but I loved this first pack. Keep the reviews coming please! :)
    • Majestaat and Rattlehed like this