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The Phantom Menace, Reviewed

Every new Star Wars Trading Card Game expansion brings threats—threats to bring unforeseen themes out from the shadows, and threats to bring down well-established combos. The Phantom Menace is no exception. Sith, Jedi, Droid and Gungan armies, Diplomats, multiple Locations—the set has it all.

Following the SW: TCG Championship, more than a few TPM cards made their way into competition decks. Yet while TPM threatened quite a bit, what did it actually deliver? Before we present the decks themselves, we consider the cards and offer the following look back through the latest expansion.


While the Light Side may continue to dominate the Space arena, The Phantom Menace introduced a few solid units to give hope to Dark Side generals.

With 50 speed, 5 power, 4 health, Shields 2 and Critical Hit 1—all for 5 build—the Modified YV-330 (A) claims that lonely mid-build slot alongside Tyranus's Solar Sailer (A) that Dark Side players have always struggled with. As it is a unique neutral unit, you may have to contest it, but this will not happen very often—the Light Side already has its quota of Space units, from stacked Millennium Falcons, Luke X-wings and Obi-Wan Starfighters, to Corellian Corvettes and X-wing Escorts.

And while it doesn't compare in the power stakes, the ability of Sith Infiltrator (B) to destroy Locations can't be overlooked, as it can get rid of those annoying Rebel Trenches or Dagobah Systems.


They might be weak in the Character arena, and a little slow, but the Gungans are a solid Ground force that cannot be ignored. With the majority of units costing 3 to 4 build points, Light Side and Dark Side decks can easily deploy a swarm of Jar-Jar supporters able to bolster each other's strength and provide abilities such as Shields 4 and Accuracy 4-5—something surprisingly easy to achieve with the Otoh Gunga Location, which allows you to draw a Gungan unit every build step.

Apart from the Gungans, however, The Phantom Menace offered few other Ground units of pure dominance. Again, the Dark Side was the one to benefit most, as they got their own version of the Rebel Armored Freerunner in the form of Sebulba's Podracer (A). And again, contesting should not happen very often, as the Light Side should be running the Freerunner over the Podracer. Plus, Bongo Sub is a solid, inexpensive speeder—which I expect to get better with age, as I'm sure we've not seen the last of Aquatic Locations.


Here, things are really interesting.

Darth Sidious (D) is now leading a resurgence in Dark Side Control decks with his Force demanding ability. He may cost 8 build and not have the best Evade in the world, but along with Nexu he can lock down decks relying on Force-activated abilities. In limited, he is just insane.

I'm a huge fan of Orn Free Taa (A), considering that he has to be one of the most annoying Characters in the game to date. His ability to tap any unit in any arena sits most effectively in Dark Side decks, as it makes that stacked Millennium Falcon or Gungan Grand Army a sitting duck! His damage prevention ability (separate from his tapping ability) either ensures that this annoyance continues for many turns or weakens your Character arena as you try to take him out. Well worth the 8 build cost.

The Dark Side got yet more goodness in the form of the intensely frustrating Nute Gunray (C) and Rune Haako (A) Intercept/card drawing/retreating combo. Annoying does not come close!

Another unit I'm a fan of is Finis Valorum (B). For 4 build, you draw a card, gain +1 Force, and gain +1 build each turn. Expect to see him in a lot of Light Side decks.

Mission and Battle

The Light Side won big here as The Phantom Menace gave us one of the most powerful Mission cards ever: Duel of the Fates. Yes, that's a big claim, but the continuous Battle phase loops that this card ignites have already been used to good effect by Dantooine System/Millennium Falcon (E), (F) decks.

Podrace is another Mission card worthy of mention for the sudden acceleration this generates for Light Side decks. On the other side of the table, the new Blockade {TPM} continues with the Dark Side Control theme, and a well-played Gas Attack can be devastating.

While there are a number of interesting Battle cards, such as Let the Cube Decide and A Bigger Fish, the ones of real interest are Discuss It in Committee (the new fog), and Fight on All Fronts—which, for an initial 3 Force, is great value.


Themes were well rewarded with the new Locations, with Otoh Gunga and Swamps of Naboo for Gungans, Jedi Temple for Jedi, Trade Federation Hangar for Droids, and Mos Espa for neutral-themed decks.

Watto's Shop is powerful in any deck, but Corridors of Power is a little dodgy. To be truly effective, the Corridors must stay around for 3 to 4 turns without delivering any immediate benefit. With so many popular Ground Locations, odds are it won't last that long.


So, the verdict?

The full effect of Duel of the Fates has yet to be seen, but it is certainly the card of note from the set. With the exception of the Dantooine System/Falcon/Fates deck, the current environment should not be affected too much; rather, the card introduces a few units and tricks to bolster existing themes.

The Phantom Menace is very powerful in limited, however, offering great synergy with Sith Rising, and certain cards—Modified YV-330 (A) and Darth Sidious (D)—that are incredibly effective in this format.

Damage Prevention Poll

Now we want to know what you think! We've assembled a "Best of" damage prevention Battle cards poll—which do you think is the most effective?

Which do you think is the most effective damage prevention card?
High Force Dodge
Human Shield
Pilot's Dodge
Strange Lodgings
Yoda's Intervention
Hero's Dodge
Jedi knight's Survival
Luke's Warning
Discuss It in Committee

Results to come in a future article.

Thoughts or comments? Visit the message board thread for this article here.