How Sith Rising Expands Upon Attack of the Clones (SWTCG)
The Clone Wars have begun!
In my previous article I discussed my history with the Star Wars Trading Card Game (SWTCG), the origins of the game, and a quick introduction to the first set Attack of the Clones (often abbreviated AOTC). Playing with that first set is the best way to learn and understand the basics of the game – deploying, stacking, attacking, using abilities, playing battle cards, etc. But once you’ve played a few games using the Attack of the Clones cards, you will likely notice that the Light Side has a bit of an edge over the Dark Side. Thankfully, the second set of SWTCG – Sith Rising – is a fantastic follow-up, providing lots of new and awesome options to expand deckbuilding strategies and bring the power levels between the 2 sides of the force more into balance.
Let’s break it all down to see what was available in Attack of the Clones and what Sith Rising brought to the table as a complement. (click on any of the images below to expand)
The Light Side is definitely a bit stronger in Space with Attack of the Clones.
Neutral Space units don’t provide any support for either side. With the exception of Coruscant Freighter AA-9, there isn’t a single Neutral Space unit from Attack of the Clones even worth considering to include in a deck (and honestly, I’m not even sure that card is any good). Therefore, both Dark and Light sides must rely on space units from within their respective affiliations.
Unfortunately, Dark Side Space units don’t hold up well against their Light Side counterparts. First, the low-cost fighters – Droid Starfighter DFS-4CT and Geonosian Fighter – have equivalent speed, but less power and health. The Dark Side could opt for a more expensive Space unit with similar power and health to Light Side units – such as Droid Starfighter Wing, Commerce Guild Starship, or Intergalactic Banking Clan Starship – but honestly, the best Dark Side Space units are its two unique ships – Tyranus’s Solar Sailer (A) and Slave I (A) – and the Trade Federation bombarding ships – Trade Federation War Freighter and Trade Federation Battleship. That said, the Light Side Space units are still just more efficient, so we’ll need to look to Sith Rising for help…and help it does!
With Sith Rising, the Dark Side gets quite a few new Space units that are very good, while the Light Side only gets a couple additions. There are no Neutral space units in Sith Rising, so nothing new there.
The Light Side really only gets 2 new good units in the second set – Jedi Starfighter Scout and Senatorial Cruiser. Jedi Starfighter Scout can be boosted by Padme Amidala (A) from Attack of the Clones, which is a nice perk, and it has the new Stun keyword ability – whenever a unit with Stun damages another unit, the target unit loses power equal to the Stun value for the rest of the turn. Senatorial Cruiser has solid stats for its cost and comes with 2 good abilities – the Shields keyword to help with defense, and when it’s deployed you can return any Starfighter from your discard pile to your hand for a little card advantage.
The Dark Side gets some much-needed upgrades to Space with Sith Rising. First, there are 2 new unique ships –Slave I (B) and Sith Infiltrator (A) – with good abilities and stats. Slave I (B) can be stacked with Slave I (A) to boost its speed up to 50 to match the good Light Side units, which allows the Slave I to attack first; it also features the new Stun keyword ability – Stun 3 – which is incredibly relevant as the best Light Side starfighters all have 3 power. Sith Infiltrator (A) also has 50 speed to match the Light Side and can be returned to your hand at the cost of 2 force when it would be discarded. There are also a few good generic ships added to the mix – Techno Union Warship,Droid Starfighter DFS-1VR, and Geonosian Defense Fighter. The Techno Union Warship is slow, but its high health and ability to pump its power for attacks is very good. The Droid Starfighter DFS-1VR is amazing! These little “kamikaze” droids get to roll 6 dice at the cost of 2 build points, plus they have 50 speed which often forces the Light Side player to use a speed boost effect in order to deal with them; this droid starfighter is hands down one of the best swarm units in the game to this day. Finally, the Geonosian Defense Fighter is just a straight upgrade to the Geonosian Fighter from Attack of the Clones – the +10 speed boost and +1 health are just flat-out better than Critical Hit 1.
Again, the Light Side has slightly better units in Ground with Attack of the Clones.
There are two really great Neutral units in the first set that both players have access to. Jawa Sandcrawler has a low cost, high health, and a fantastic ability (during your build step, tap to draw 2 cards, then discard 2 cards); this is so good that it’s often played in most competitive decks, even today. Luxury Airspeeder is cheap, fast, and boosts the speed of the rest of your ground units; it’s often more beneficial in Dark Side decks since they win ties.
The Light Side seems to have slightly better units with good speed and high damage; their Walkers – AT-TE Walker 23X and AT-TE Walker 71E – have surprisingly high speed (considering that’s not a quality we’d normally think to attribute to Walkers) and they have a few cheap, efficient units as well – Elite Jedi Squad, Speeder Bike Squadron, and Jedi Patrol.
On the Dark Side, arguably the best ground units are Trade Federation Battleship Core, Destroyer Droid Squad, Battle Droid Squad, Reek, and Commerce Guild Droid Platoon. But what does it say about the strength of your units if 3 of the best 5 don’t even have abilities? Not a whole lot… So again, we need to look to the next set for some help.
Thankfully Sith Rising provides great new units for both sides of the force, but again the Dark Side gets more of a needed upgrade than the Light. Yet again the Neutral units are pretty irrelevant aside from Tusken Camp and the Raiders , but that won’t really see play until we get more Tuskens in later sets.
There are some great Light Side additions with Sith Rising. Jedi Heroes is a fantastic unit – with 50 speed, 6 power, and evade...it’s everything you would want from a core unit; in fact, Jedi Heroes becomes a staple unit in Light Side decks for years to come. Clone Facility opens up a brand new deck engine for a Clone-themed deck, which is super cool and fun! Plus there are 2 new Republic Walkers – AT-TE Troop Transport and Mobile Assault Cannon. The AT-TE Troop Transport is oddly fast, like its Attack of the Clones predecessors, with good stats and Shields. The Mobile Assault Cannon is slower, but has good stats and just enough speed to attack before the new Trade Federation Control Core.
The Trade Federation Control Core and the Hailfire Droid are probably the 2 most impactful Dark Side ground units from Sith Rising. Trade Federation Control Core is just a “vanilla” unit with no abilities, but for 10 build points it has a whopping 12 health and 14 power! Oftentimes dropping this big guy down in Ground can single-handedly intimidate your opponent enough to deter him/her from committing any more units to this arena. The Hailfire Droid features the new Stun ability, and for just 6 build points its stats are quite good. If you combine Hailfire Droid with Luxury Airspeeder from Attack of the Clones, you’ll have a unit that will consistently attack first and trigger Stun 3, significantly reducing the swing-back and keeping your Ground units alive longer. There are also a handful of other good, efficient Dark Side Ground options – Homing Spider Droid, Battle Droid Assault Squad, Commerce Guild Spider Droid, Geonosian Artillery Battery, and Super Battle Droid Squad are all more playable than anything the Dark Side had access to with Attack of the Clones.
Character units from Attack of the Clones are a little more balanced across Dark Side and Light Side.
The Light Side definitely has a lot more options, with a plethora of good unique Jedi units to choose from – Anakin Skywalker (C), Obi-Wan Kenobi (A) and (B), Plo Koon (A), Shaak Ti (A), Yoda (A) and (B), – plus they also have Padme Amidala (A) who can play a vital role in any Light Side deck to power up Anakin and boost the speed of all Jedi units in any arena.
The Dark Side has a couple of their own force users who can make some quick work of any Jedi – Darth Tyranus (A) and Darth Sidious (A) – but more importantly they have some very good support units that can hurt Jedi’s or other units that rely heavily on the force. Some examples are: Nexu, Assassin Droid ASN-121 (A), Poggle the Lesser (A), Jango Fett (A) and (B), and Zam Wesell (A).
Sith Rising adds some incredible characters into the mix, and upgrades some of our favorites as well!
For the Light Side, there’s no doubt that the most impactful addition is Mace Windu! We get 3 versions of Mace, and while all of them are good...Mace Windu (A) is a game-changer! Mace Windu (A) is just a straight upgrade over Yoda (A); for only 1 more build point he has 60 speed, 8 power, 7 health, more evade and the best deflect in the game! Plus he also gains you an additional force point at the end of the battle phase to fuel all those force powers! Another new Jedi Character unit is Jocasta Nu (A), who I believe is very underrated; the keeper of the Jedi Archives may not be able to deal much damage, but her strength is allowing you to draw 2 extra cards every turn, which is really powerful – consistently seeing more cards from your deck creates the opportunity to find what you need to turn the tides of battle! Clone Captain is a perfect addition with Clone Facility to help fill out a Clone-themed deck. We also get new versions of existing characters. Padme Amidala (E) can be helpful to reduce the build cost of your other Character units by 1. There are 2 new versions of Anakin; Anakin Skywalker (F) is just a good unit with Stun and Anakin Skywalker (E) can be a beast – he lacks evasion, but for 6 build points he can roll 11 dice (13 if combined with Padme Amidala (A)). Similar to his padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi (D) also gets an upgrade with Stun 3. Forget about me you will not…Yoda gets a huge boost in Sith Rising; known as “Tap and Zap Yoda”, Yoda (C) is the strongest version we’ll have available for a while, with his highest evade plus the ability to deal damage that can’t be evaded unless the target is a Jedi Master or Sith Master.
“At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have revenge.” The highly-anticipated addition of Darth Maul doesn’t disappoint! We get 4 versions of Maul in Sith Rising, and each one is more than playable. Darth Maul (B) and (D) are quite good, and are well-costed at the uncommon and common level, respectively. Darth Maul (C) doesn’t have the most efficient evade, but he can prevent the Light Side from evading at all! And finally, Darth Maul (A) is just a beast! He has the fastest speed in the game to date at 70, plus his ability allows him to roll at least 11 dice to punch damage through that pesky Jedi evasion! Darth Sidious (B) has an interesting ability that fits thematically – he can turn force points into build points by sacrificing other characters. Jango Fett (E) is the first version to include defensive abilities; unfortunately none of the Jango’s have Armor because it hadn’t been introduced into the game yet (in our house, we have a rule – every Jango Fett has Armor 1!). Darth Tyranus (D) has the same “tap and zap” ability as Yoda (C) but with less efficient evade, which actually makes a big difference – I wish they were the same, but the designers clearly wanted Yoda to be a little better. That said, Darth Tyranus (D) is still a very good uncommon version with great speed, Stun 2, efficient evade, and a low build cost of 6. Tuskens are also introduced in Sith Rising – Tusken Raider and Female Tusken Raider – but this strategy won’t be “a thing” until more pieces are released in later sets.
Battle cards from Attack of the Clones are quite balanced. There is a good suite of Neutral Battle cards available to both sides – like Pilot’s Dodge, Hero’s Dodge, and Padawan’s Deflection – which helps equalize the power level. The Light Side has several Battle cards that are very good, and are sure to make their way into many decks – Yoda’s Intervention, Anakin’s Inspiration, and Windu’s Solution. The Dark Side Battle cards aren’t as powerful as the Light, but many cost 0 force which helps to even things out – Dark Speed and Tyranus’s Gift are the standouts.
There are tons of great Battle cards introduced in Sith Rising; honestly, there are too many to talk about, but I’ll cover the main ones. The best Neutral card is probably Shoot Her or Something as it’s really the first good Battle card to re-roll dice. Brutal Assault is also a powerhouse; I think it’s better in Dark Side decks to get through all the Jedi evasion, but it’s good in any deck. Moment of Truth is the best Light Side Battle card because of its interaction with Mace Windu (who, as we discussed, is the best new Light Side Character) and its cost of 1 force point which pairs neatly with the best Light Side damage prevention in Yoda’s Intervention that costs 3 force points. This makes 8 damage prevention Battle cards the Light Side can play in any arena – honestly, it creates a significant imbalance to the game that will take some time to correct. Thankfully, the Dark side gets a couple strong Battle cards to even things out a bit. Unfriendly Fire is a game-changer and the key card that allowed a Darth Maul deck to win the World Championship; it may seem like a lot of force, but that’s no issue for a Maul-themed deck. Trade Federation Offensive is also strong, as it serves as the Dark Side version of Anakin’s Inspiration.
Mission cards from Attack of the Clones may be the most balanced between the Light and Dark sides of the force, plus there are quite a few good Neutral options. In fact, many Neutral Mission cards from this first set became staples in competitive play for years because they provide a useful effect – like Departure Time, or Slumming on Coruscant – or because they provide a cost-efficient means of removing damage from each type of unit – Mending, Starship Refit, or Return to Spaceport. On the Light Side, the best Mission cards allow the player to either draw, search, gain force, or prevent damage to units – Wedding of Destiny, Jedi Council Summons, Seek the Council’s Wisdom, or A Moment’s Rest. The Dark Side also has some great options that allow the player to drain/gain force, draw, or search – Capture Obi-Wan, Dark Rendezvous, Plot the Secession, or Splinter the Republic.
The Dark Side gains a slight advantage with Missions in Sith Rising because of 1 card – Maul’s Strategy; this replaces Capture Obi-Wan as the best force drain Mission in the game. Combined with Darth Maul (and his suite of offensive abilities), Maul’s Strategy will leave a Jedi with only 1 force remaining, making it nearly impossible to evade. It will also gain you 3 force points, allowing you to play Unfriendly Fire on turn 1 (get wrecked Light side!). Maul’s Strategy will be the key to force drain decks for years to come, and provides a much-needed counterbalance to the strong Jedi characters who have more efficient evasion. The Light Side does get a couple new Mission cards that are useful; Recognition of Valor and Visit the Lake Retreat are the standouts. Also, there’s one Neutral Mission – Reassemble C-3PO – that sees quite a bit of play, particularly on the Light Side because of the need to heal units that couldn’t evade due to Maul’s Strategy.
(Queue the music)
If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking around! I know this was a long article, but there was a lot of material I wanted to cover for you. I really hope you enjoy playing with Sith Rising and incorporating these cards and strategies into your decks.
Starting July 1, our Beginner League will be expanding its available card pool to include Sith Rising – I’m really excited to see what people come up with! You can sign up online if you'd like to join; the League is specifically intended for new players so it's casual, and people can come and go as they like.
Next time we’ll begin exploring the original trilogy with A New Hope and discussing the new keywords from this set – Intercept and Accuracy.
This is Gold Leader, signing off…
Links and other good stuff:
Article: How to Play SWTCG Online
Online deckbuilder: www.swtcg.com
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