Redemption Late-Cycle Balance Update

Greetings my fellow plastic cube enthusiasts! Today I am bringing the big one – the balance update to push us through to the end of the Redemption meta cycle. 

ARH set 3, “High Stakes”, has been announced for a 6/11 release and we are only a few short weeks away from spoilers. So, for a waning Redemption meta, how do you keep the excitement alive both in the bedroom and on the card table?  You figuratively and literally must hit the gym, trim the hedges, and get some new people in there. Let’s get into it.

Top Performing Decks

• eAckbar/United
• Hondo/Pirate Loyalist x 2/The Ultimate Heist
• eAnakin(TFM)/eLeia
• eChewie(RD)/eLumpy/Valorous Tribe
• Hondo/eKrennic or eHondo/Bail (Admiral Hondo decks)

Pirates seem to have shrugged off their nerfs to cement themselves back on the top of the meta.  A large part of that has been due to players fully realizing the power of Den of Thieves and how to abuse it to its fullest.  Additionally, pirates also bring Desperate Measures which is key to improving their chances vs another meta powerhouse in Ackbar. 

As for Ackbar, players realized that they do not really have to bring anything other than survival-based upgrades and supports and all the removal they can fit in.  Ackbar brings his own win condition if you survive long enough.  The X-Wings will provide more than enough damage to win the game between rounds 4 and 5 against any deck, so it just poses the question to all other decks – can you get through all my survivability and removal in 3ish rounds?  The answer is often no.

Anakin/Leia was right there at the top of our first Redemption tournament.  I think it got overshadowed through the Benthic period, but with him out of the way and players fine tuning their deck builds, it is hard to beat this deck. It provides so much value out of its under-costed characters with their activation abilities.

Rounding out the list we have seen Chewie/Lumpy and other Lumpy variations – his value for his points is amazing.  He force multiplies Fortitude plus healing effects and becomes straight dangerous if he gets a Syndicate Electrostaff on him.  And we have also got the Admiral combos with Hondo, which due to his ability being triggered on activation, you can get a lot of Pirate Loyalist dice into the pool and maximize discards to reroll.

Watch List Revisited

Our last watch list had Transformations Anakin/Transformations Han, Den of Thieves, and Lumpy on it – and I am sad (happy?) to say Han is the only sneaky rogue to get out of this balance update untouched.

Balance Philosophy for This Update

As this should be the last big update before the High Stakes release, we had a few goals:

  1. Try to open up/shake up the top performing decks in the meta to keep things interesting.
  2. Address any balance issues that will impact the design/testing of High Stakes early enough for them to work with it.
  3. Look at the pirates NPE as it still exists – this is in addendum to #1 obviously.
  4. Give some negative balances to stuff from the past few sets (CM,TFM,FA,RD) – we intentionally did not look at AoN, Conv, or SoH, with a focus on keeping our eyes towards the freshest cardboard.

New Holocron Update

Summaries of Changes

Kamino Cloning Facility – added to the ban list.  There has been a correlation across the top performing decks that they have all taken advantage of some sort of big health extender.  Ackbar has Kamino, Hondo decks have Den of Thieves, and blue decks have primarily featured Leia and her ability to create shields.  Kamino has been on our watch list frequently since it has been released and we felt now was possibly a good time to act on it as we look towards High Stakes.  The other health extenders are getting hit as well, but with Kamino we could not easily find an erratum that wasn’t going to be equivalent of a ban anyways.  Additionally, it has always been a card that has a very large impact on win percentage when it hits the table early but requires very little agency from the player playing it.  It is a high variance, unearned reward essentially, which is not very fun.

Den of Thieves – Errata to change it to use damage tokens instead of resource tokens.  This shuts off its combo with Raiding Party and Think On Your Feet which turned Den of Thieves into a much bigger damage sink that initially envisioned and as per the health extender points above, was too much.

Pirate Loyalist – Errata to remove its ability entirely.  It is now a blank text box, a generic 7-point yellow pirate scoundrel character.  The previous change to Pirate Loyalist did not really do enough.  You couldn’t cheese it with weeny characters anymore, but still getting to have the ability to steal an opponent’s resource on a stick whenever you needed it was too good and an NPE.  It shut players off from even wanting to resolve resource dice and cards throughout the turn, even to just get 1 resource to turn on removal.  Pirates will get to keep their quintessential resource stealing card in Plunder, but they will no longer have the ability to consistently steal whenever it is best.

The Ultimate Heist – No longer has errata. Since pirates are losing their most consistent way to make an opponent lose a resource, it seems fair to give them back just needing 4 resources to flip The Ultimate Heist.

Leia Organa (RD) – points increased to 13/16.  Anakin/Leia is the top deck that is getting broken up, but apart from that it is obvious that Leia provides much more value than her previous 15 points.  She brings a large amount of health extension to blue hero with her ability, particularly when players got better at managing their card costs in their deck to make it more reliable.  That you could get two under costed characters on the same team that also synergized well together was just too much.  Leia still has a lot of good partners to protect at 14 points and below, including newly negatived Cal Kestis, that I am sure we have not seen the last of her.

Anakin Skywalker (TFM) – points increased to 12/16.  This is a looooooooong time coming. He has had his time in the sun, it’s about time he is fairly costed. I do not really have to explain here.

Admiral Ackbar – Points increase to 23/30.  This is essentially taking away United/We Stand from Ackbar (or possibly other future plots).  This part is not as big as the Kamino ban nerf for him, but even without Kamino he is going to be strong into many other midrange and late game decks.  It is an additional small dial back for him.

Lumpawaroo – (Lanza: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!) points increased to 10/12. The secret is out on Lumpy, he is too good at 10 points.  He is possibly still too good at 10/12.  This is an attempt to make his points cost line up more with his value, plus close the gap a bit for future design space.  His ability to extend the value of any healing or health pumping effects – like Run to Safety, Fortitude, Valorous Tribe – is very powerful and very just straight value added for his cost since those cards are good on their own.

Negative Balance of the Force

There’s a whole lot of them, go check out the holocron.

Watch List

Hondo Ohnaka and Pirates – There is some consideration that maybe Plunder is still too good/too NPE.  We are not touching it for now as it is basically the quintessential pirate card, it is their “thing”.  If you are going to have a powerful effect, it is best to let it keep living on an event – Hit and Run, Desperate Measures, Heroic Protector, etc. Events are not super consistent, and pirates are generally a huge tell your opponent has Plunder giving you the opportunity to play around it.  Will Plunder still beat ramp decks? Yes, but that is expected.  It is ok for ramp decks to have a deck they struggle against as long as that deck is not dominating into huge parts of the field.

Admiral Ackbar – Losing Kamino is a big blow towards his chances vs aggressive decks like eKylo/eDooku/Ro2 like we saw in the March league finals just last night.  The point increase to lose the plot is relatively small though and there is great potential that Ackbar is still too good and gate-keeps too many midrange decks. Future considerations might include capping the number of X-Wings he can bring in to 4.

Heroic Protector – There’s been some rumbling around this card and it is very powerful. It is a reciprocal effect which makes it fair most of the time, with the exception of when you can overkill a character so you don’t eat the full cost of the damage from the guardian. E.g. your 1 health remaining Lumpy Heroic Protector Guardians a Blizzard 1 7 ranged side, effectively only taking 1 damage to deal 7 + 3 (from Lumpy) damage. That is a small corner case at least.

Aggro Decks – We intentionally hit a lot of health extenders, so it is a good day for aggressive deck archetypes like Trandos, Kylo/Dooku/Ro2, Rebel Pilots builds, Vader/Savage, Bane/Zannah or other good combinations that come out of the negatives. Hopefully it’s not too good of a day.

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