Singles Inferno: The Value of Single-Aspect Cards in (Un)Limited

Singles Inferno: The Value of Single-Aspect Cards in (Un)Limited

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!

My name is Kevin, and I have a problem.

I love Star Wars (no, that’s not the problem). Because of this passion, I tend to think very favorably about new Star Wars content that comes out, and it’s difficult to dispel that benefit of the doubt. This attitude has been pretty helpful in allowing me to find enjoyment in pretty much anything Star Wars-related that releases.

This is not particularly helpful, however, when approaching a trading card game, where not every card is designed to match my level of excitement or be considered “good” in the main formats. And therein lies my biggest problem with Star Wars card games, specifically…

… I want every card to be good.

Now, this has been my downfall in constructed formats in the past. I was one of the players in Star Wars: Destiny who wanted to prove my mettle by playing the characters that nobody else played and having success with them. It’s the biggest reason why I hardly ever made it to the knockout rounds in SWD tournaments, while my brother Corwin (the smarter, slightly-less-attractive other half of Roll On Gaming) was winning Prime Championships and making top cuts at Worlds.

SWU to the Rescue

But the fine folks at Fantasy Flight Games are throwing guys like me a bone by designing Star Wars: Unlimited as a game where EVERY CARD CAN BE GOOD! Okay, maybe not that definitive… how about, EVERY CARD CAN HAVE ITS USE! And the way to explore those uses is through the limited formats of Draft and Sealed.

(If you haven’t already read the article on SWU draft strategy by Jack of the Golden Dice Podcast, I would highly recommend doing so. A highly informative read by a highly skilled player!)

Rather than strategy, I’d like to focus today on some of the cards that may not (quite frankly, will likely not) find a home in your constructed decks, but could add a surprising amount of value in games of Limited Play. I’ll be the first to tell you that my opinions are just that: opinions. We still have around 40 cards left to be revealed in Spark of Rebellion, but so far, the cards I will reference have piqued my interest in Draft and Sealed, and I am here to offer some insight on that interest.

So let’s begin with a card I think is outstanding in Limited which may be my hottest take: Mission Briefing (SOR 171).

Wait, What?

Got your attention? Good - allow me to explain myself. Mission Briefing provides two of what I believe to be very useful facets of playing Star Wars: Unlimited in Draft or Sealed.

For starters, Mission Briefing is a single-aspect card. While it has been demonstrated by the designers of SWU that adding aspects can also add power level, Limited Play is where single-aspect heroes have their time to shine. They are the easiest to find a home for, since you can add whichever common base you’d like to your pool of drafted leaders… a pool that may feature both Heroism and Villainy leaders.

Secondly, Mission Briefing provides unconditional card draw. In either of the limited formats, filtering through your deck to find the 1-2 copies of the best cards you drafted or opened in your packs can be essential. Where Mission Briefing excels is that you don’t have to do anything else other than playing the card in order to be able to draw. Other single-aspect cards like Rugged Survivors (SOR 67) and Star Wing Scout (SOR 163) have game effects tied to their draw capabilities, and while they pack a more significant punch for their cost than MB, you may not always meet the conditions required to add cards to your hand.

Yes, for the same price as a Mission Briefing you could pay for a Yoda, Old Master (SOR 45), which draws you a card when it’s defeated and also provides a 2/4 unit with Restore 2. But what if you’re not in Heroism or Vigilance with your strongest combination of cards and Leaders? When you have full control over the contents of your deck in Constructed, choosing Yoda over Mission Briefing may be a no-brainer.

But in Limited Play, your deck is determined by the cards you receive, and if you choose Aggression as one of your aspects, it might be worth giving a long look at Mission Briefing.

Shields Up!

Because of the relative inefficiency of the decks being played in Draft or Sealed, your opponent is generally going to have fewer answers for certain outliers that you can play. This increases the power level of units that stay on the board longer… cards like Wilderness Fighter (SOR 64) and Crafty Smuggler (SOR 207), which have the Shielded keyword.

To be fair - Crafty Smuggler has already been inserted as a staple in Cunning decks because of its low cost. Playing a Shielded unit early can be devastating for an opponent because it’s not as easy to trade into. While you may not be able to play it Round 1, Wilderness Fighter provides that same trade dilemma to your opponent, with two extra HP to withstand early attacks.

Both of these cards maintain the flexibility of belonging to a single aspect, giving them a much greater chance of making it into your deck no matter which morality – Heroism or Villainy – you lean towards. But because of the shield, Wilderness Fighter can also potentially provide a 2-for-1 trade into your opponent’s units, which is a neat trick for 3 resources.

So far, this Trooper has made appearances in Chewbacca, Walking Carpet (SOR 3) and Grand Inquisitor, Hunting the Jedi (SOR 11) builds, but has mostly been overlooked beyond that. In Limited Play, though, having a shield presents a much stronger likelihood of lengthy survival than would be otherwise possible in Constructed - which is also what makes Moment of Peace (SOR 73) another valuable piece to consider.

Moment of Peace is a mobile Luke Skywalker, Faithful Friend (SOR 5) action that costs the same, save for the additional card from hand that you wouldn't have to pay with Luke's ability. We have already seen numerous examples in early gameplay where being able to maximize that extra floating resource on a turn by applying a shield to one of your units is very relevant. Moment of Peace, however, skirts the restrictions of needing to shield a Heroism unit or a unit played in the same phase. That added flexibility makes MOP an intriguing card with loads of potential in any deck that wants to add some protection.

Let Me Upgrade Ya

As more cards have been revealed for Star Wars: Unlimited, the general approach to upgrades has been relatively simple: if it’s a lightsaber or Entrenched (SOR 72), it’s probably worth an include. Many other upgrades have fallen more into the niche category, but there’s one that’s been revealed which might prove beneficial in both trades and tempo, and that’s Snapshot Reflexes (SOR 215).

If we are sticking to the established tenet that 1 Experience Token = 1 Resource, then without any other abilities, Snapshot Reflexes would be considered “on curve”. Where SR shines is by mitigating the loss of tempo.

Let’s revisit our friend the Crafty Smuggler for a moment, since both are in Cunning. If your opponent drops a 2-cost 2/3 unit Round 1 like First Legion Snowtrooper (SOR 130), your Crafty Smuggler is not going to be able to remove that unit by itself. However, playing Snapshot Reflexes the ensuing round and attacking into that Snowtrooper will allow your Smuggler to delete the enemy before your opponent has a chance to respond or get value out of the Snowtrooper by dealing damage to your base.

In a format where 1 damage could be the difference between one of your precious few units living or dying (or one of your opponent’s precious few units living or dying, for that matter), Snapshot Reflexes might be just what you need to get the edge and keep it. 

The Grass is Greener

So we’ve talked about cards in Aggression, Vigilance and Cunning… but what about for our friends playing Command? Let’s pivot away from the Commons for a minute and talk about a newly-revealed Rare card that could have some combo potential for a ton of value in Draft and Sealed: Frontline Shuttle (SOR 110).

First things first: if you see this card in a Hyperspace variation, you should probably draft it on appearance alone - this is going to be a beautiful IRL card. But aside from the aesthetic, Frontline Shuttle provides an unassuming threat in an unpopular arena. How much damage is swinging for 1 really going to add up in the grand scheme?

However, when you start playing units that matter, the Shuttle provides you a way to guarantee being able to attack with them, as long as they’re on the board. By defeating Frontline Shuttle as an action, you can attack with an already-exhausted unit, as long as you aren’t attacking your opponent’s base. This includes your Leader!

When Frontline Shuttle is in play, you can choose to attack your opponent’s base with a high-value unit and then get a second attack against a unit afterwards by sacrificing FLS. Or, if your best unit has been exhausted by a card like Asteroid Sanctuary (SOR 218) or No Good To Me Dead (SOR 186), you can ensure its potential isn’t being wasted.

The combos get even stronger if you use Frontline Shuttle to attack with a unit that has the Overwhelm keyword, allowing you to destroy an enemy and put damage into your opponent’s base at the same time. Or, if you’re playing in Villainy, you can use the Shuttle in tandem with Blizzard Assault AT-AT (SOR 88) to damage multiple units, or AT-AT Suppressor (SOR 39) to get an attack off when all other ground units have been exhausted!

Unsung Heroes

When making difficult deckbuilding decisions in Limited Play, it’s important not to lock yourself into any one strategy too soon and be unable to pivot depending on how the cards bear out, thus missing out on your early selections. In Star Wars: Unlimited, this appears to hold true: drafting too many dual-aspect cards off the top could force you into an unfavorable build once you’ve seen more cards cross your path.

Will the strength of dual-aspect cards outweigh some of the benefits of pursuing these Single Kings and Queens? Sometimes. Your entire draft strategy may be dictated by your Pack 1/Pick 1 if it’s a card you absolutely have to have or want to play. But even if that happens, chances are you’ll still need a third aspect to fill out your deck - and when you do, these Singles will be ready to mingle.

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