Dirty Little Tricks
When a new set comes out, I always hear people complain about how the Dark Side got the short end of the stick. While an argument could be made that the Light Side has a wider selection of top tier units in Space and Character, where the Dark Side picks up the slack is in its assortment of very powerful (and very dirty) tricks. From force drain to Unfriendly Fire, nothing pleases a Dark Side player more than letting the Light Side get comfortable, then pulling the rug out from underneath them. The new Empire Strikes Back set extends this theme with the cards Sacrifice and Imperial Misdirection. The threat of both of these cards should weight heavy on every Light Side player's mind.
We all got a glimpse of the disrupt mechanic with the preview card Darth Vader (G) that was included in certain packs of Jedi Guardians. That Vader didn't see a lot of play as his ability was fairly easy to play around. Sacrifice takes Dark Side disruption to a new level. For the price of sacrificing a unit, you can disrupt a battle card with total force cost of four or less. I know what you're thinking: that's a pretty steep cost. Indeed, blowing up one of your units isn't something to be done lightly. However, done at the right moment, this card can swing the game in a big way. For example, in my last article I talked extensively about the matchup between the wildly popular Tusken deck and our Light Side "fog" deck. That matchup swings back drastically in favor of the Tuskens once they start packing Sacrifice. Suddenly, it's a huge risk to leave just one unit in an arena with the intention of playing Peace on Naboo or Lull in the Fighting. The Tusken player will be more than happy to sacrifice one of their formerly-useless space units to force your lone Rebel Armored Freerunner to do battle with his army of angry Tuskens. In most cases that's just going to be game over. The list of popular battle cards that Sacrifice deals with is extensive: Anakin's Inspiration, Yoda's Intervention, Windu's Solution, Peace on Naboo, Lull in the Fighting, Lost in the Asteroids, and Strike Me Down. Yes, that's right. Cards that don't have any force cost, like Strike Me Down and Protection of the Master can be disrupted with Sacrifice. The look on a Light Side player's face after his Strike Me Down is disrupted should be priceless.
Where Sacrifice will make Light Side players stop to think twice about playing cheap battle cards, Imperial Misdirection will mess with their heads when it comes to how combat itself goes down. Attempting to deliver the killing blow to my heavily-damaged Death Star? Intercept with a small TIE and, before dice are rolled, Imperial Misdirection the 10+ damage counters onto the TIE. "Is my pristine Death Star up now?" Or, consider the other application: the Light Side player has one of those annoying space units out with "pay 2 force evade 2". Rather than trying to punch through their evade, just attack another one of their units without evade, and Misdirect the damage onto the evader. Since it's not "dealing damage" but rather "moving damage counters" it can't be evaded. The unit just dies. And it's not just good in space! If they're using silly intercept tricks to spread damage out in the Character arena, just Misdirect lethal damage onto the unit you want dead. Again, there is no chance to evade. This card is nasty and flexible. I'm expecting it to see a lot of play.
So there you have it. Dark Side players everywhere should be very happy with the new tools at their disposal. Not to mention that the new Vader (I) that was spoiled in Henry Stern's article about Top Down design will be more than happy to dig these wonderful surprises out of your deck for you! Never has crushing the lofty hopes of the Light Side been quite this much fun!
As always, thanks for reading.