Mid-FA Balance Update #2

Hi everyone, we are back with another balance update! We can’t believe it has been over a month since the set was released. We have been so excited to see all the new decks people have come up with, and it has been a real pleasure to see the first meta unfold in ARH Standard.

Let’s start by revisiting our previous watch list:

United/We Stand: We have been beyond thrilled to see the flourishing of mono decks, and we recognize the importance United has played in increasing the adoption of them. At the same time, we laid out several issues in our last balance update, which we feel have not been resolved yet.

Given its current meta dominance and low deck building cost, we felt like it was the correct time to do something about the card. While there was a desire for an errata, we feared that it could invite confusion to errata FFG printed cards at this stage. Therefore, we have decided to ban United/We Stand. We will re-approach the card later with a more nuanced errata once we know FFG is officially done with supporting the game as to avoid player confusion.


Let’s tackle this more in depth. It’s actually easier in this case to put the cart before the horse.

We’re walking a tightrope here in trying to add to a game that has been announced as cancelled, but which still has one World Championship and ideally, one more set with a presumed FFG-written RRG update and Holocron update. We have an ongoing responsibility to cater our balance updates in whatever form they may take towards not only the die-hard Destiny fanatic, but also the casual player. Specifically, the kind of casual player that is not glued to discord but enjoys our set, and would love to turn out for a final Worlds Championship or any sort of FFG-official play events for Wild Horizons.

Putting an errata on a card that might see future play under a completely different ruleset functionally creates a new card entirely, but shares the same mental space and reference (TFM#9A/9B). If a card is played, under any format, it is greatly preferable that everyone is in agreement on what that card actually does. So, this FFG-produced card and any other FFG-produced cards (hopefully none) that are determined to need adjustments of a nature that go beyond mere clarification will be either restricted or banned, not errataed. This also applies to point adjustments on FFG-produced cards. We would love to go poking at character costs (looking at you Sinjir!) but the negatives that arise when the same exact piece of paper is fundamentally different depending on what format you play it in outweigh the benefits.

A similar hypothetical would be the kind of confusion that would arise if point costs for characters still in standard had different point costs in the infinite or draft formats. Keeping a format mentally separate is already a non-trivial task. Our decision to move to restricted pairings was done partially with the goal of making that task easier. Creating a new card with the same name, design space, and set number would make that task harder.

United / We Stand very clearly does not warrant a ban the same way Fateful Companions did. So now here is the case for why it needs an adjustment.

Functionally, plots share the same design space as characters. Points devoted equal something you can do, with positives and/or drawbacks. They start the game in play, are always “on” in some fashion, and either share or adjust your deckbuilding constraints in the same ways characters do. Their main differences are that they never come with dice (yet), and have their eligibility on a decklist determined by your characters.

United / We Stand has a current play-rate exceeding that of any character in Destiny’s history including Snoke, Sabine, and Hero Droids. While play-rate of a card cannot be the sole determining factor in adjusting a card (or else Hidden Motive would be considered the most needed adjustment of all time), it does indicate that a look may be required. Doubly so for a card that begins the game in play and has no draw requirement or opponent interaction on whether or not you are able to play it.

United specifically, is a card that also requires essentially no deck-building tradeoffs or decision-making. While you have to run a mono-colored deck, there are currently what we consider to be a healthy number of good reasons to run a mono-colored deck given our “color matters / subtype matters” push with FA. At zero points, it’s a major force multiplier for already incentivized deckbuilding and one that has a vastly asymmetrical effect on the game given the rarer occurrence of multi-die removal and zero-cost removal.

We don’t want a situation where for the competitive player, they have to run a mono-colored deck with at least United or be preyed upon by the decks which do (known internally as the “Theed Effect”). For the casual player we want instances where your opponent gets to say “nope, what you just did is voided” to be narrower in scope (Stifle, Separatist Embargo, Sliced Terminal) or a core part of the decks appeal or identity (Vader – Terror to Behold).

We aren’t foreseeing a huge meta swing where tier-one decks are now in the dumpster. TFM Luke will still be an unstoppable shield-wall, Bala/Bing will still de dropping Vibros on the board left and right, and Taron/Vader will still be poking holes in your gameplan with every activation. What we do foresee is a slight uptick in deck viability for the previous lower tiers, an increase of core multi-die mitigation like Block and Dodge, and much more player interaction.

It is not intended that the United / We Stand ban be permanent. The effect is cool, it is fun, and it is interesting. These are the hall-marks of a card that deserves to see play. But for it to be all of those things, and not ubiquitous or “must-have else you lose” it requires an adjustment of some sort that we can’t make right now for the reasons outlined above.

R2-D2: If anyone is so inclined to need a refresher on why hero droids has been problematic, please read up on our previously shared thoughts here.  While we have not seen widespread play of droids as of yet, we believe the deck might be right around the corner with a United Nerf. Rather than trying to continually tip-toe around the problem, we have decided to restrict R2-D2, and introduce restricted pairings. More on this later.

Vibrosword: This weapon has certainly become a meta staple for every yellow deck, and we are continuing to watch the card. However, both Hero and Villain Yellow decks are not overly dominating the meta, and we do not think any change is needed yet. However, the card remains on our watch list.

Introducing a re-imagined restricted list

As we continue to add cards to the restricted list, it has become increasingly clear that certain cards should not be restricted together. Typically, when we add cards to a restricted list, it is because we feel certain interactions are problematic.

Playing multiple cards out of the restricted list outside of their problematic pairing, however, should not be an issue. In addition, multiple players in high ranked play have accidently included two cards from the restricted list in a deck which had no problematic interaction. Therefore, instead of one large list, we have broken restricted pairings into multiple smaller, focused lists.

Introducing the new restricted pair listings:

1.       R2-D2 (SOH-56) /C-3PO (SOH-77)

2.       Chopper (SOH-94) /Abandoned Refinery (CM-157)

3.       Trandoshan Hunter (CM-42) /Face the Enemy (CM-27)

4.       No Answer (CON-128) /Resistance Ring (CON-87)

It works as follows: While you could not run R2-D2 and C-3PO on the same team, you could run C-3PO and Chopper on the same team without any issues. You can only pick 1 card from each restricted list pairing to include in your team/deck.

We believe this new restricted list pairing is more intuitive and will make it so that people don’t make deck building mistakes. As an added bonus, it will also be easier to maintain for the future. We hope you enjoy it!

Watch List

The following cards have been added to the watch list:

Closing In: Closing in has been a plot that has made bounty hunter decks highly desirable. At the same time, its existence is a source of great frustration for the casual and competitive scene alike, as no one enjoys not being able to activate their character. While there are silver bullets available, and the deck archetype isn’t super prevalent in the meta at the moment, we are keeping it on our watch list because of its potential to develop into a true negative player experience (NPE).

Force Affinity: This card has been celebrated by all blue players, both hero and villain alike. By the same token, I think we all realize the card is very pushed in certain archetypes. In most decks, it is a free 2 card draw, which is strong, but fair.

But in certain specific decks, it becomes a draw 3 cards or draw 2 and deal 1 damage for free, which is heavily above curve, and decks are being built around that strength. When we look at some of the top decks in the meta, Taron/Vader, Big Luke/Obi and Anakin/Ahsoka/Youngling all benefit tremendously from this card. At this stage, we believe no action is required, but we will continue to monitor its impact in the meta.

Kamino Cloning Facility: This card is incredibly potent and we realize it’s very pushed. By removing United/We Stand from the meta, we are aware that the strongest multi-die removal lies with red. Having to no longer be encumbered by trying to play around United, we foresee the possibility that this might make red decks highly desirable. We will be watching the evolution of red in the meta and will see if Kamino becomes a problem. This is a very precautionary add, as the value of Kamino drops very swiftly after round 1. (Note: We incorrectly stated earlier that red does not have tutors. This was incorrect – Thanks Daniel Sotelo for pointing this out)

Taron Malicos: This character has been a force to be reckoned with in combination with Vader and has wreaked havoc in many tournaments. While we are slowly seeing some contenders enter the meta to counter this pairing, we do believe that Taron is quite pushed, and is a candidate for a future point adjustment if he continues to dominate the meta as he has.

Unending Hate: While this card as it stands does not show any competitive issues, we are adding it to the watch list for its NPE aspect. The card has become ubiquitous in blue villain decks, and if you’re the player who rolled those 3 blank dice, you might hate your life 😉 We do not anticipate any short term action on this card, but will still be monitoring it.

Vibrosword: Remains a subject of close scrutiny.

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1 Comment

  • It is just grate to see such good communication.
    Explaining all of you processes and keeping us players updated about you balancing thoughts is good..
    Thank you for all your work.

    Jan Andersson
    Posted November 17, 2020

Comments are closed.