Return of the Jedi: 10 Best
Return of the Jedi has been with us for a couple of weeks, with 109 cards added to the known Star Wars TCG universe. Having examined the complete set, James McCoy selected the 10 cards he feels will have the greatest impact on the game, as they're added to known decks.
Malakili (A)'s appearance has been cheered by Creature decks throughout the galaxy. After the banning/restriction announcement earlier this year, Creature decks were thrown for a loop. Low and behold, Malakili comes back to provide the added push Creatures needed to reach tournament quality. Will the unique Malakili be enough? This still stands to be seen, but expect this rare to be sought after and the focus of Creature decks in the not too distant future.
While Nein Nunb (A)'s a very specific and conditional Pilot, he's also completely insane. Arguably the best Pilot when working in cooperation with an astromech, this little smuggler will make any starfigher roll dice like a capital ship and give it Accuracy 2. Light Side Pilot decks have been around for a while; Nien Nunb is such a high quality card that you'll see these decks quickly adapt to put him in. I almost feel bad thinking about the first time someone plays Power Dive on a unit he's piloting.
In Constructed play, this might be the best damage prevention card ever printed. Just about any combat-orientated deck can easily make this card playable for every unit in two arenas. At that point, it is already significantly better then Pilot's Dodge. I expect to see this card turn up in a lot of decks.
You know, if there's any card that surprised me in the set, this has to be it. Dark Side actually received a quality 3-build starfighter. At 60 speed, it will be able to attack before nearly all unstacked Light Side units. And with 3 power and Critical Hit 1, it will definitely cause some concern as it has a chance of getting a good die roll and destroying any 3-build Light Side Space unit. Lastly, with "Pay 1 Intercept", after it attacks it can then take one for the team, and intercept whatever big scary thing Light Side has in Space. This is definitely going to be a staple Dark Side unit for the foreseeable future. This card alone helps solve some of the issues Dark Side has had for the past year, of how to efficiently win Space without specifically designing your deck around winning that arena.
Jabba's Sail Barge (A), a.k.a. Jawa Sandcrawler 2.0. Jawa Sandcrawler has, for a very long time, been a staple Ground unit for both Dark and Light Side, and Jabba's Sail Barge will take a share of the glory in numerous stalling decks. Whether it's Duel of the Fates, Han's Promise, Death Star, Jedi Council Quorum, or a Chewie-based deck, you'll find one or two Jabba's Sail Barges. Just be careful, because -- unlike Jawa Sandcrawlers -- this unit is unique.
Jabba's Guards are somewhat fickle, but for 4 build for a 5/5 unit with "Pay 0 Intercept", and "Pay 3 Retaliate 3", it will definitely find its way into some decks. The Upkeep can be a little steep, but for both Light and Dark, these guys fit a role. For the most part, there are few aggressive 4 or 5 drops. As a 5/5 for 4, these guards can certainly get the job done. Even without paying the Upkeep, Jabba's Guards can still deal damage with its Intercept and Retaliate abilities. I expect to see its addition immediately into Ground Stalling decks, such as Death Star and Han's Promise-based decks. These decks, while wanting to stall, should still have the ability to win Ground if needed. Jabba's Guards provide exactly what they're looking for.
Jabba's Palace is king of pumping other cards. With this Location in play, all Neutral units get +10 speed, +1 power and +1 health. While this seems like a great ability, it unfortunately works for all Neutral units -- both yours and your opponents. Return of the Jedi adds a few key efficient Neutral units for the Ground and Character arenas, and -- when combined with the Armored Space units from Rogues and Scoundrels -- this card could be a powerhouse.
Jabba's Spies are not only a fairly efficient unit with Hidden Cost, they also have the rare ability to disrupt Battle cards. While discarding a 6-build unit to disrupt a Battle card might seem a little excessive, in the right deck this ability can be devastating. Would you discard a 6-build unit to win the game? Of course you would. It will definitely be hard to get the right mix of aggression and utility to make this card playable, but when you find it, you're going to be very well off.
With all of the quality people around Jabba, it's time to talk about the big guy himself. Jabba the Hutt (C) is the most game altering card we've had for some time. With a Hidden Cost of 2, this 5 build, 4 power, 6 health unit is already fairly efficient. What clearly puts Jabba ahead of the pack is that each of your other units in the Character arena receives "Pay 0 Force Intercept". While Jabba doesn't give himself Intercept, he can give it to spirits like Yoda's Spirit (A) or Anakin's Spirit (A) which prevent all damage done to them. Jabba can also be used with Rune Haako (A) to nullify one Character's attack per turn and set up possible Rebel Surrender opportunities. Jabba (C) has a ton of possibilities, and I'm expecting to see him in a variety of decks.
10. Endor Ground Locations
There are two of these Locations which both do roughly the same thing: prevent damage to your Ground units unless your opponent pays Force (these two being Ewok Village and Forests of Endor). Combining these with Characters like Princess Leia (K), Wicket W. Warrick (A) and Chief Chirpa (A), and you might have the most frustrating deck in this game's history. Part of the reason is that Dark Side has a significant lack of quality Force-gaining cards. The only real defense Dark Side has against these tactics is to run some of the three arena playable Locations and hope to replace these annoying Locations quickly. But, that shouldn't be much of a problem, as I expect almost all Dark Side decks will soon be running anywhere from 3 to 6 tri-arena Locations.
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About the Author
James McCoy has a long and storied collectable card gaming career. The major victories include the 1998 Spellfire World Championship, North Carolina M:tG 2002 State Champion, numerous M:tG Pro Tour Qualifier top 8's including a recent qualification for Pro Tour Nagoya, and semifinalist in 2004's Star Wars TCG Champion Series. While James doesn't plan on attending Nagoya, you can see how his ranking goes for all his Wizards of the Coast card games here.