Battle of the Heroines – Leia vs. Sabine

Battle of the Heroines – Leia vs. Sabine

This article comes to us from Kevin over at Roll On Gaming. Be sure to check out he and his brother, Corwin, on YouTube and Spotify for more great Star Wars: Unlimited content!

Thinking of playing an aggressive Heroism deck when Star Wars: Unlimited releases in :: checks notes :: A MONTH?! You’ve come to the right place.

The SWU community has been privy to the power of Sabine Wren, Galvanized Revolutionary (SOR 14) since all the way back in mid-September, when she was revealed on social media. For even more of a time-warp, we’ve known about Leia Organa, Alliance General (SOR 9) since JUNE. Leia was, in fact, the first leader to be shared with the masses after Luke and Vader (from the Spark of Rebellion Two-Player Starter Set) were announced.

As the Spark of Rebellion leader pool has filled out, both Sabine and Leia have risen to the top of the “aggro” charts, becoming feared for both their speed and raw power. Much of that is due to the fact that, in the most popular builds featuring these two heroines, Sabine and Leia lean on the strength of the Aggression aspect.

But just because two decks share an aspect does not mean they are the same – so what sets our Rebel friends apart? In this article we will examine the similarities and differences between Cunning Sabine and Aggression Leia. Which is “better”? You be the judge.

SIDE NOTE: We will be focusing on Cunning Sabine because it has the highest profile to this point, but other pairings are also making their way to the forefront. If you’re interested in learning more about Sabine’s place in the color pie, check out this video from fellow DYL author Jack of Golden Dice Podcast!

Sharing Is, In Fact, Caring

Before we pit these two veritable powerhouses against each other, we must first look at what they have in common: a stable of staples in Aggression/Heroism:

In almost every Cunning Sabine or Aggression Leia build, you will likely find a sizable selection of familiar and similar cards. Early-impact units like the Green Squadron A-Wing (SOR 141) and Sabine Wren, Explosives Artist (SOR 142) provide the instant threat of above-curve damage, and they are supported by second-round boosts from Red Three, Unstoppable (SOR 144), Fleet Lieutenant (SOR 240) and Wing Leader (SOR 241).

Once you have softened up the enemy base with your low-cost assault, K-2SO, Cassian's Counterpart (SOR 145) becomes a dangerous puzzle for your opponent to solve. Add in a well-timed For A Cause I Believe In (SOR 152) for an unforeseen burst of direct damage to the base - perhaps even for the killing stroke! - and Hero Aggression presents a daunting challenge for even the most skilled SWU player.

Both Sabine and Leia can use these units and events to great effect without skipping a beat, leading to some potentially-difficult deckbuilding decisions. When building with either leader, though, the goal is simple: channel enough “burn” to defeat your opponent in a swift and decisive fashion before they can stabilize and regroup for the endgame.

So how do Sabine and Leia achieve that in different ways? First, we need to establish a criteria for how best to contrast these two aggro decks:

  1. Supporting Aggression (the use of Red in the deck)
  2. Complementing Aggression (the use of each non-Red aspect)
  3. Generating Tempo
  4. Leader Unit Effectiveness
  5. Cost Curve

We begin by examining just how effectively Sabine and Leia can utilize the Aggression aspect to achieve the desired result.

Loving Them is Red

This is not a cut-and-dry consideration simply because Sabine is an Aggression leader. With the sheer amount of effective Red cards that we previously mentioned, though, she will likely allow you to capitalize with additional Red support in ways that you might not choose to utilize with Leia. For example, employing an Aggression-heavy version of Cunning Sabine would allow you to insert some additional units that thrive in a Red environment: Benthic "Two Tubes", Partisan Lieutenant (SOR 156), Partisan Insurgent (SOR 159) and Fighters for Freedom (SOR 143).

This is not aspect-locked to Sabine, of course - you could just as easily build your Leia deck with both Partisans, and use her ability to attack with two Rebel units in one action, giving a double-buff to the Insurgent. But as we’ll see in a bit, Leia decks have some pretty strong low-cost options already in Command that are difficult to ignore, whereas Sabine makes it easier to get value out of those extra damage enhancements.

Worth noting that adding single-aspect cards like Two Tubes and Insurgent, or an event like Precision Fire (SOR 168), decreases the chances of dealing maximum damage with For A Cause I Believe In - that said, I still give Sabine the edge here.


Greener Pastures

Command Heroism may have one of the best 3-round opening deployments in Star Wars: Unlimited currently, and I don’t say that lightly. Consider, without taking into account any other aspects, you have an opportunity to consistently start your game with:

Round 1: Battlefield Marine (SOR 95)
Round 2: Admiral Ackbar, Brilliant Strategist (SOR 97) or Echo Base Defender (SOR 98)
Round 3: Bright Hope, The Last Transport (SOR 99)

Combine those options with even more impressive early-round drops that we’ve already discussed in our shared list, and it’s a runaway.

What can’t be ignored is Sabine’s ability to bring the Millennium Falcon, Piece of Junk (SOR 193) to bear - the Falcon is one of the best cards we’ve seen to this point in SWU. But I believe Leia’s Green units are a better enabler than the Cunning spread provided by Sabine, and mixing in one of the more versatile removal cards we’ve gotten in Strike True (SOR 127) seals the deal for me.


If You Ain't First, You're Last

Both Cunning Sabine and Aggression Leia have the potential to wipe out an opponent’s base in record time - sometimes even before their leader has deployed. And though I’m loath to give the Kansas City Chiefs any more shine after *ho-hum* clinching another Super Bowl appearance this past weekend, Travis Kelce was at least onto something. No, not that… I’m referring to his commercial about “two things at once”.

The tempo that Leia provides on both her leader and unit side to attack with two units in one action cannot be understated when it comes to putting your opponent on the clock. In non-Leia matchups, when your opponent takes the initiative, they are sometimes doing so in order to make sure they can deal with the one unit on your side of the arena that’s going to cause them trouble. With Leia, that number doubles. As a result, showing a lethal amount of damage on the board arrives more quickly, and can easily put your opponent on the back foot.

Sabine puts pressure on your opponent in other ways, with the direct damage to base from her leader ability adding up quickly, and having the ability to go wide and threaten a lot of damage in either arena. But she can still only do one thing at once, and that’s a key difference. When it comes to attacking with units, maybe two IS better than one (see, because… never mind.)


Taking the Lead

This was a tough one - how to quantify the effectiveness of a unit that you get for free (when your Leader deploys)? There are several factors to consider, and both Sabine and Leia score high marks along the way.

Leia boasts a clear statistical advantage, with a higher base power, a larger attack value, and more HP. The difference between 5 HP and 6 HP is massive in a meta where Takedown (SOR 77) and Force Choke (SOR 139) exist. Mathematically, there is a world in which her unit side is the clear choice over Sabine’s.

However, I would argue that the difference between 5-6 HP is rivaled and perhaps surpassed by the utter chasm between deployment thresholds in Star Wars: Unlimited. How soon a leader hits the table can often determine the course of a game, and Sabine is the only leader to this point that deploys at 4 resources. Entering the field of play a full round before Leia, and perhaps before your opponent is ready to deal with her, can provide an even larger boost to your damage output and your ability to respond to threats in the ground arena.

Is Sabine’s deployability outclassed by Leia’s survivability? I think it may be too early to decide. There are clear benefits to each side of the coin - perhaps in the future we can revisit which is more effective.


Pay the Cost to Be the Boss

This is also a tricky one - with all the ways to build a deck in Star Wars: Unlimited, you can approach your cost curve with Sabine and Leia in a very similar fashion. It comes down to how soon you are willing to stop resourcing cards, and how many cards you can continue to play once you’ve made that choice.

Going back to deployment costs, there’s a natural benchmark that exists for Sabine decks, since she comes out one resource sooner than Leia. With all the useful low-cost options in Aggression/Cunning Heroism, there’s an easy cutoff point where the most expensive card in your deck is K-2SO, and everything else you draw after that, you keep in your hand.

You’re always going to make it to 5 resources with Leia (unless the game ends before that, in which case you have bigger problems!) but Command presents some higher-cost options. With the amount of vehicles the deck can play, do you include Wedge Antilles, Star of the Rebellion (SOR 100) at 5 resources? Do you need more Ambush, and thus fill that void with a Rogue Squadron Skirmisher (SOR 101)? Are you adventurous enough to play Home One, Alliance Flagship (SOR 102), expanding to 8 resources to do so? What a Rebel… literally.

The same argument can be made for Sabine – Mace Windu, Party Crasher (SOR 149) and Han Solo, Reluctant Hero (SOR 198) do exist, but they don’t really fit the playstyle that Cunning Sabine decks are going for because these two heavy hitters thrive on attacking units rather than bases. Ergo, with more options to consider, Leia is more prone to stretch out those resources, which works in favor of Sabine when it comes to curving your costs.


The Verdict

If you’ve been keeping score, you’ll note that in my estimation, we arrive at an impasse. With all things being equal, if you’re looking for my absolute preference, I would lean in Leia’s direction, simply because of the challenges presented by her tempo. However, personal playstyle will be an important factor in making your decision, and both Leia and Sabine allow for that customization to flourish.

I’m no Emperor Palpatine, Master of the Dark Side (SOR 135) but I foresee both Leia and Sabine continuing to grow in power level, popularity, and effectiveness as more cards are revealed. With that said, I don’t think either of them are particularly oppressive. If you can survive the onslaught of these incredible leaders, you may be able to turn the tables in the end.

If nothing else, I hope this exercise has shown that when it comes to starting out with an aggro deck in the early days of Spark of Rebellion, you really can’t go wrong with either option. And, as we all know…

… Rebellions are built on hope.


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