For fans of the show, Diggity Destiny is on a bit of a hiatus at the moment. We are all still really into making it for you guys, but life has gotten in the way for a bit. New job and family situations have sucked up all of our time, so we don’t have anything left to devote to producing it. We have one recorded that seems to have thoroughly illustrated to the group that we don’t have time to add the polished editing that makes us sound so good. We could release it without that, but I don’t want to give folks the (correct) impression that I’m just a stammering idiot most of the time. I’m pretty sure this is temporary, so expect to see us dive back into creating the thing before too long.
That being said, we still got spoilers for Unlikely Heroes, and I’m here to share them with you.
Asajj Ventress is back, folks! If you’ve listened to any of my ramblings on card design, you’ll know that my biggest driver in putting a card out there is what’s known as top-down design; using the flavor of the card to drive how it works. I want to tell a story about Star Wars, and I want to use the game mechanics of Destiny to do it. This version of Asajj fits that to a tee! Let me point out some flavor notes that really struck me:
- This version of the bad lady comes with the subtitle “Sister Returned”, and the art clearly shows she is on Dathomir. That tells me that our Unlikely Hero Asajj is probably from episode 19 of season 4 of Clone Wars, Massacre. In this episode, Asajj returns to her home planet with the idea of enlisting her sisters in exacting revenge on Count Dooku.
- Her point cost of 10/12 shows that she wants to be part of a larger team rather than a pair of beaters or the main beater in a big/little combo.
- Her Power Action specifically wants that to be a team of witches.
- Her character subtype is only Witch. That means we’re at a spot in time after she was apprenticed to Dooku but before she became the bounty hunter.
- At 10 points, her health total is low, protraying a once powerful character who is down on her luck and just scraping by.
- Her die is exactly the same as the Spirit of Rebellion Asajj who comes from earlier in the Clone Wars when she and Savage attempted to kill Dooku together. Because they’re very close together in the timeline, reusing the SoR die is a wonderful way to show that this character has the same power as the other one.
- Finally, there’s meta-flavor packed into the set for this card. We’re seeing Asajj come back and ask for help from her sisters and there they are right in the very set she shows up in!
If you’re an Asajj fan, this card is just dripping with flavor nuggets for you.
But how does she play?
While they’ve put a few bits o’ witch-ness into previous sets, ARH has spent a lot more time on Inquisitors and Sith than they have on the women of the Dark Side. It seems like Unlikely Heroes aims to rectify that.
One of the things I find interesting about Asajj is that there’s a General Veers-ness about her, but at a much reduced point cost over the Red-boi. You’re spending two resources in your first Round to add an extra die to your pool. What’s more, as you increase the power of the weapons on her the power of that die you added increases accordingly. You aren’t getting the health bonus Veers’ Snowtrooper brings with it, but the lower cost on Asajj lets you just play that extra character on your team.
For all of its flavor, her die is pretty garbage, and most likely not worth the extra two points you’re paying for the second one. I’m much more interested in running her single die and using her Power Action to generate extra dice.
At 10 points, a one-die Ventress pairs nicely with Old Daka and some other small-point character like a Pyke Sentinel. One of the problems with OD is that she’s a bullet-magnet since taking her down usually spells the end for the Daka player. She will still probably take the hits first in this case, but that will just mean more time to toss out massive weapons for Asajj to spit into the pool.
One of the coolest aspects of watching AV grace our screens in Clone Wars was seeing her whip out these bomb-ass dual lightsabers. Sure, they’re very similar to Dooku’s, but where his look like an 18th century dueling pistol in his old-man hands, there’s a feminine deadliness about them in hers. Ventress’s fluid fighting style brings these curved-hilt sabers alive like so many venomous snakes darting and striking their victims. Now we have them in Destiny.
Playability-wise, this thing is a bomb, especially in the hands of Asajj. I’m excited about the potential of pairing her with some traditional Big to create a lot of offense. Traditional Big/Little decks have a severe weakness where losing your Big means the game is pretty much over. Littles tend to not be able to hit very hard, so once your beefy smasher goes down it’s just a matter of time before the game ends in your opponent’s favor. Asajj wielding these things means that your Little can deliver some hammer blows even after the Big is dead. Sure, 10 health is going to disappear quickly in today’s game of Destiny, but there will be plenty of games where it’s still enough to rescue victory. [Maul/Vader/Grand Inquisitor/Kylo]/Ventress anyone?
There’s an interesting design decision with cards like these, and I’m fascinated at the different approaches designers have taken to tell their story. How do you get across the plot point of a character being known as a dual wielder? FFG-era Destiny started it pretty simply with Rex’s Blaster Pistol. If he was wielding the pistol, then those copies were not unique. They did tie on a neat trick where having two of them let you double-trigger the ‘After’ ability, but overall it was pretty straightforward. You still had to draw the second one to really get it going, however.
Their second shot at it was with Vibro-Arbir Blades, the machetes wielded by Snoke’s personal guards. Those weren’t quite as restricted as Rex’s Blasters as any badass (read elite) character could tote them around. There was also no need to draw the second one. Instead, you just played them as a pair as long as you could afford it. I’m curious how these went in playtesting because they seemed like such a cool card until they hit the cold reality wall of four resources. Four resources in Destiny is massive. You’d better be readying a character or tossing out massive dice that I can resolve as any symbol if you want me to drop two full Rounds of resources all at once.
ARH took a stab at this in High Stakes with Ahsoka’s Sabers. These brought us back to the baseline of Rex’s Blasters where you can play a second unique as long as it’s on the dual weilder and tacking on an extra bonus. In this case it was making the dual wielder better at fighting with a weapon in each hand. You still had to draw the second one to really get the combo going, but at least you get some benefit when paired with any other weapon. Ahsoka’s sticks got a much warmer reception from the players than the VABs.
That brings us to Asajj’s Sabers. This has moved back in the direction of the Vibro-Arbirs, but it seems like the designers have really learned from the past mistakes of others. Rather than the full on commitment of four resources and two upgrade slots, these are only asking for 50% cost on the ‘second’ copy of the card. Compare this ‘3’-drop to other staples like Anakin’s Saber or Quilloned Lightsaber and I think these come out on top. There’s a much larger potential for game-changing effects with two dice, plus you can play it for two resources in a pinch. My read on this is that this price reduction will take these from unplayable to staples of Blue villain sticks decks for some time to come.
And the event?
Our final card today is this event here, Vile Machinations.
While it’s not 100% thematic since our Unlikely Heroes Ventress is pre-bounty hunter, it’s still on brand enough that I’m not docking full points in the flavor department. Asajj does eventually turn to bounties (should we have a Yellow Asajj someday?), and she spends a lot of time in the company of Yellow characters.
Borrowing from our Big/Little setup earlier, There are a few different pairings that would fully turn this card on for Asajj. IG-88, Cad Bane, and Bala-Tik are all right there to fill the role of Big and turn on this two dice hard/soft removal card. Outside of Asajj decks, I’m not aware of too many Blue/Yellow villain decks running around. I know there’s a Merrin/Ziro deck that would love to slot this in, and we do have a Second Sister/Cad Bane deck running around our local meta that is always looking for more solid removal options. It’s too bad that Convergence is rotating out or we might have a great candidate for the Asajj2/Bounty Hunter X deck that kept trying to poke its head up for a while.
Having not partaken in either design or playtesting in this round of cards, I’m very curious about the wording on this one. As it is, this card can only screw up two different dice. You have to remove the die not showing damage first. Only once that’s complete (or doesn’t happen), can you turn a die showing damage to a blank. The card would have been more versatile if the sentences had been swapped. In reverse order you could have turned a die showing damage to a blank and then removed that blank with the “remove a die not showing damage”. The card would have essentially read:
- Spot a Yellow character and a Blue character to remove a die showing damage. OR
- Fuck up two dice if they’re showing damage and not damage.
Was that just an oversight in templating the card, or was it a choice? Assuming it was a choice, what was the reasoning behind it? Was there too much power in having it both ways? Iunno, but I would love to hear that story some day.
And that’s it! Your Friday spoilers have been spoiled. Now I guess I’ve got to start mailing out these spotgloss cards…