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Michael Mikaelian, Managing Editor, Star Wars Insider Magazine

Intercepting, Very Intercepting

Taking One for the Team

Talk about all bets being off. The A New Hope expansion set for the Star Wars Trading Card Game really kicked the game up a notch with the addition of Piloting, Accuracy, and Intercept. These new abilities make it possible to focus your units on the Ground and Space arenas, reduce the randomness of attack die rolls, and decide which of your units your opponent gets to attack, respectively. I've offered up some Pilot and Space unit combos and analyzed the advantages of Accuracy, but have yet to tackle Intercept. So, here goes.

Intercept (If a unit is attacking one of your other units in the same arena as the Intercepting unit, it now attacks the Intercepting unit instead.)

The advantage of Intercept is obvious: You decide which of your units your opponent gets to attack. On the surface, that seems pretty powerful: Where as before your opponent could pick your units apart one-by-one, now you can have some say over which of your units are attacked.

In the Character arena, Intercepting units can keep Character units central to your deck's strategy alive, such as Clone Officer, R2-D2 (A), R2-D2 (B), R2-D2 (C), or a host of Diplomats that are weak in combat but provide powerful special abilities. Darth Vader (A)/ Darth Vader (C) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (F) / Obi-Wan Kenobi (G) are the strongest Intercepting Character units. Not only does each one Intercept an attack for only 1 Force, both sport the ability to "Pay 2 Force -> Evade 2 (Prevent up to 2 damage to this unit.)." Rebel Trooper and Stormtrooper TK-119 provide each side with a non-unique Interceptor, though each is much less durable than the former Master and apprentice.

In the Ground arena, both the Light Side and the Dark Side have access to Tatooine Speeder. It makes more sense for the Light Side to include 4 Rebel Squad in a deck before resorting to any Tatooine Speeder cards, as the former costs 1 fewer build point thanks to its lower speed. Neither is a very sturdy unit with a mere 2 health, insuring it won't be around to Intercept too many hits. Hatch a Clone, however, can triple their effectiveness, making these crunchy Ground units go a long way.

In the Space arena, the Dark Side has more Intercepting Space units-3 to the Light Side's 2. This is balanced out only somewhat by the Light Side's Pilot Character Tiree (A). Each side has a 4 health Interceptor Squadron: the Light side has Y-wing Gold Squadron and the Dark Side has TIE Fighter Squad. Although comparable, the TIEs are faster and more powerful for one more build point. Still, the Y-wings will deliver slightly more damage on average with their Critical Hit 1 ability (This unit does 1 more damage if you roll at least one natural six.). The Dark Side also has TIE Fighter DS-61-9, the only Space unit that Intercepts an attack for only 1 Force. As with Hatch a Clone, Take the Initiative can be used to recycle small, cheap Interceptors to protect vital Space units.

Jedi Intervention is the only Battle card that can give a unit Intercept, and only does so for one turn. Giving any unit you wish "Pay 2 Force -> Intercept" provides you with a lot more flexibility than including Intercepting units in your deck. With no way to return Battle cards from your discard pile to your hand, you'll only be able to do this a maximum of four times in a single game. Even that's unlikely, since it would be difficult to find room for 4 Jedi Intervention in a deck. Moreover, even if you did include 4 copies in your deck, odds are you'd only draw 1 or 2 per game. If you find 4 Jedi Intervention aren't enough, you can also play Attract Enemy Fire, which is basically a one-shot Interception.

Jedi Intervention (and Attract Enemy Fire to some degree) is valuable for its surprise factor and the freedom to choose which unit gains Intercept. You can shift attacks from small, fragile units to larger ones with more health, and even Shields 1 (Each unit gets -1 power as long as its attacking this unit.). Note that this Battle card can be played after an attack is declared but before any dice have been rolled, allowing you to Intercept an attack your opponent might have otherwise assumed you were unable to.

What's not so obvious is this: Intercept has its limitations. The greatest limiting factor is how much Force you must pay to Intercept an attack. If you don't stockpile your Force somehow-by saving it from turn to turn or including units or Missions that give you extra Force-a unit with "Pay 1 Force -> Intercept" will only be able to Intercept as many attacks as you have Force. Most units require 2 Force to use this ability.

Just as limiting as how many attacks you can Intercept is how much damage your unit can withstand. Stormtrooper TK-119 and TIE Fighter DS-61-9 both Intercept for 1 Force, but have hardly any health. Unless your opponent gets very bad rolls (1 or 0 hits), they're going down. It is possible to couple Intercept with damage prevention, but that gets costly in build points, Force, and cards, making it an extremely short-term strategy.

Choosing the Interceptor that's right for you depends on what you expect it to do. If you need to protect your other units at all costs, use the cheapest Intercepting units you can find. Not only do you prefer low build cost units, you also prefer low activation cost ones too. They're going to crumble under one assault most of the time, but that attack might deal two or three times as much damage as necessary to destroy the Interceptor, protecting a much larger unit from being discarded. If you're looking for a durable Interceptor, you can't go wrong with Vader, Obi-Wan, Y-wing Gold Squadron, and TIE Fighter Squad.

With just a few Intercepting units to choose from-for now at least-your strategic choices are limited. Intercept can't replace other tried-and-true tactics for preventing your favorite units from being destroyed, but it is one more option to consider when planning your decks' strategies.

Intercepting Ideas
Here are some cards that work well when you use them with Intercepting units.

A Moment's Rest
This Mission makes one of your units invulnerable for one turn. Choose an Interceptor and, as long as you don't run out of Force, your opponent's attacks will be unable to harm any of your units in the same arena as the chosen unit.

Leia's Kiss
This is just one example of a Battle card that gives your unit a considerable speed boost; others include Dark Speed, Anakin's Inspiration, Windu's Solution, and Trade Federation Offensive. Make your Intercepting unit faster to insure it gets at least one attack in before it's destroyed.

R2-D2 (B)
This version of Artoo is one of the best damage removing cards in the game. Use its ability to remove 2 damage counters to keep Intercepting Space units in top fighting shape.

Splinter the Republic
This Dark Side card is good all on its own. You can use it to guarantee a steady supply of Intercepting units, or to make sure you have the right version of a unique character, such as Vader or Obi-Wan with their Intercept abilities.