It’s March 8th, and that means it’s time to unveil the first wave of adjustments we’ve made to the batch of cards released on February 3rd for Season 5. These adjustments have been made based on the play data we’ve collected from over 100 submitted vassal game logs with Season 5 cards in the last month, in addition to the many comments we received from players on Slack and in the public playtest surveys. Thank you everyone who has participated in the playtesting process so far and submitted game logs and given feedback on the new cards.
You can view the official change log, FAQs and printable cards (which now feature printable tokens for all IACP figures, including massive figures) for these changes here: IACP Official Documents – IA Continuity Project (ia-continuityproject.com)
Some cards that the community has raised concerns about are not addressed on this list of changes. We are aware of these issues but decided that we needed more data and more experience-based feedback before we felt comfortable making any premature changes. The final slate of changes will be coming on March 29th before the Community vote in April. Make sure to hop on the ZF slack, leave a comment here or take our confidential Season 5 playtest survey to let us know what you think about the current state of Season 5 and the changes that have been made, or not made, so far.
10 cards have received functional updates for v5.1. Here are the changes
Under Duress proved to be a very powerful force in the playtest meta, effectively able to discard 2 cards from an opponent’s deck each round for just 1 point, in addition to augmenting any additional strain dealt to the opponent by making it harder to prevent damage. In combination with other strain and mill abilities in a list, opponent’s command decks were often empty by turn 3, leaving them unable to draw cards or prevent damage from further strain. Many players also felt punished for including cards in their list that had abilities with strain costs like Diala or Director Krennic, as those abilities would also trigger Under Duress’s 2nd ability for free. Under Duress’s win rate was quite high, and it also had a warping effect on the win rate of other strain based cards like Escalating Hostility, Out of Time and HK-47.
We were considering dropping the 2nd effect of Under Duress and just going with the original card text but at 1 point, however after a lengthy and fruitful discussion with the community in Slack that showed us people liked the ability to sometimes be able to control the effects of strain, we decided to go with community member Adam Tebutt’s (aka SushiCat) idea to change the Exhaust cost on the 2nd ability to a Deplete cost instead. We found that this simple solution solved a lot of the problems that Under Duress was causing while allowing us to keep an ability that people seemed to like the idea of but felt was too much in its original execution. By going with a deplete cost, we are able to keep the card at a more economical 1 point and will mostly put the choice back in the opponent’s hands of whether they’d rather take a bunch of extra damage from strain or see their command deck quickly emptied of cards. But the strain player will have this one-time effect in their back pocket for when they really need to take control of the situation, likely when a strain would deal that last point of damage needed to defeat a figure. Making the 2nd ability a deplete cost also solves the issue of needing complex and confusing language to restrict Under Duress’s 2nd effect to only trigger off of abilities controlled by the Under Duress player, as depleting Under Duress on round 1 when the opponent uses Diala’s Force Push or some similar strain ability just to discard 1 card from their deck will leave the player without Under Duress for the rest of the game, a boon to their opponent rather than a crushing advantage to the strain player.
Doctor Aphra and Windfall
After reviewing the playtest data for Doctor Aphra and the community’s testing feedback, we realized that Doctor Aphra was a case of opposites, where her Excavate ability had the potential create devastating combos with cards like Terminal Protocol, Shoot the Messenger or Hostile Negotiations, but her Dubious Counterparts ability felt clunky and wasn’t enough to overcome the burden of including 0-0-0 in one’s list, which was blaringly reflected in Aphra’s win rate %s with and without 0-0-0 in the same list.
To make Doctor Aphra a more fun and active figure to play and to reduce the potential for devastating Excavation plays, and to make Dubious Counterparts feel like less of a trap, we’ve redesigned both abilities. Dubious Counterparts now allows you to bring both 0-0-0 and BT-1 in a list together with Doctor Aphra without needing to bring additional cards to do so (as prominently suggested to us by community member Trevize84). It also has a new ability that rewards Aphra’s droid counterparts for using their trademark special actions with a free action. This significantly boosts 0-0-0’s effectiveness during his activation, while also encouraging BT-1 to use his missile salvo attack which is universally considered to be much less powerful than his default 4-dice attack.
The other big change is to Excavation. Instead of costing an action to use, this ability now triggers automatically at the start of each round, but requires a command card to be discarded from the hand, providing access to a 1-cost or less card from the discard pile for the duration of the turn. This allows players to continue to have maximum flexibility on which cards they want to excavate, including start of round and end of round cards, but reduces the card advantage gained from the ability and prevents players from playing the same card twice in the same round, since the chosen card will need to be in the discard pile at the start of the round (or be sent there for Excavation’s cost, hmm…). This also frees up Aphra to play a more active role in the games she participates in, and reduces some rules ambiguity that the 5.0 version of the card was creating about when the effect from Excavation ended, since the duration is no longer tied to Doctor Aphra’s activation.
The change to Aphra’s Excavate ability finally adds some internal synergy between her deployment card and her Command card, synergy that was initially lost because Excavate used to have a strain cost associated with it (a designer’s diary for another time). With this newfound synergy making it easier than ever to trigger Windfall’s requirement while playing Doctor Aphra, and feedback from the playerbase that Windfall had too much potential for abuse for huge and sudden VP swings with cards like Black Market and Black Market Prices that also discard command cards to gain VPs, we’ve removed the +1 modifier to the VPs gained from Windfall’s primary ability.
The Wampa was one of the most popular figures to be played in the playtest league, especially in the early weeks. However even despite it’s popularity and high usage, the Wampa’s win rates never rose above 40% and mostly hovered around the high 20s and low 30s. When we tried to isolate different variables to see if popular pairings with the Wampa like the Rancor or elite Nexu were bringing its win rates down, nothing seemed to elevate the Wampa above the 40% win rate we now like to see as a minimum during playtesting, and the Wampa also seemed to be lowering other figure’s win rates when the Wampa was included in lists with them. We asked the community to tell us where they thought the Wampa was falling short, and the answer seemed to be defense. The Wampa could hit hard with support from Rebel Care Package, Clawdite Senator or Murne, but went down fast before it could really deal enough damage to make its points back.
We liked the Wampa on paper and were cautious about boosting it’s efficiency too much, so we decided that a small tweak to the Wampa’s abilities would be the best route. Hunger now grants the Wampa a choice of a defensive token when it activates, and we’ve also swapped the Bleed for a Weaken in the Wampa’s surge ability. This will help make the Wampa slightly tankier on its own, while reducing potential problems with making its durability too much with Extra Armor tokens. We like that the 2nd buff ties some of its durability to its attack so that the more figures it attacks in a round, the more the opponent’s counter attack will be weakened, rewarding aggression from the Wampa player. We also liked that swapping the Bleed for Weaken also helps to further differentiate the Wampa’s niche from the Nexu.
HK-47 seemed to be a very powerful card during the first month of playtesting, but some deeper analysis showed us that much of HK-47s success was tied to the presence of Under Duress, and when played without it, HK-47 had a far more modest performance. However, we looked at player feedback and decided to make some changes to HK-47 to make him less frustrating to play against while keeping him as a strong competitive choice for Hunter and Droid lists and maintaining his original themes of supporting strategies that involve strain and the Bleeding condition.
Query was proving to be a very swingy ability, especially when the opponent felt pressured to take the +2 damage to avoid the strain that was so often coupled with losing 2 cards from the deck to Under Duress. We decided that the choices offered by Query were just a bit too harsh. Now Query gives the defender the choice between +1 damage to the attack or suffering the Bleed condition, and we decided to move some of Query’s power into HK-47’s surge ability, upping it to a surge for +2 damage instead of +1.
Mockery’s ability to deal a strain anytime a hostile figure discarded the Bleeding condition was an ability that was probably more vexing and frustrating to opponents than it was purely powerful. We got feedback from players that it felt oppressive to have to choose between taking multiple strain from the Bleed condition or losing an action to clear the Bleed and still taking a strain, creating a lose-lose choice that felt impossible to choose correctly from, on top of already having to make the choice for Query. Instead of putting the burden of choice on HK-47’s opponent like is the case for Query, we’ve made Mockery a more active ability for HK-47 to choose whether he wants to let a figure in his line of sight suffer under the Bleed condition or discard that Bleed condition to deal 2 strain to that figure. We found that this new more proactive form of Mockery interacts nicely with the choice offered by Query on whether to take extra damage or give HK-47 the option to choose whether his target remains bleeding or suffers 2 strain, while also isolating the difficult choice for the opponent to a single ability in Query.
Elite Clawdite and the Soldier Form Card
An important aspect of the Clawdite is that while each form card fills an important niche, all of them are unique which should make it harder to run multiple clawdites in a list together, as each additional clawdite figure will compete for the form card that is best suited for the current gamestate. We wanted the Soldier form to fill the niche of a utility figure that could erect barriers and also provide a bit of AoE damage with Blast. However we realized that in being so generous with the Soldier’s attack profile, we had effectively created a clone of the Scout form by allowing there to be 2 clawdites in play at the same time that had powerful ranged attacks. To remedy this, we have removed and reduced some of the Soldier’s attack abilities, including the ability to self-focus.
We also observed while reviewing playtest game logs that when the energy shield ability was used, it was often more effective against lists with many small attackers as opposed to lists with a smaller number of powerful unique figures, and would often remove 2 to 3 of the swarm lists attacks by forcing those attacks into the energy shield rather than the opponent’s figures. We are reducing the health of the energy shield from 5 to 4 to make sure that any list can reliably remove the energy shield in 2 attacks or less.
We are also removing the +1 Health buff that was introduced to the elite Clawdite. We felt that as a 3 attack-dice Spy that also has access to Priority Target and powerful Hunter cards, the elite clawdite did not actually need to be as beefy as some other 6 point figures in the game, and we felt the performance gap between the elite and regular clawdite figures supported that choice.
The biggest comment we got on Murne was how swingy she felt when playing against a list with 4 point attackers vs a list without any 4 point attackers, and how False Orders not costing an action was the biggest problem in those games. Being able to move 4 spaces, attack with a hostile figure, and then move 4 spaces back to safety felt just back-breaking against lists with eligible attackers for False Orders. But in matchups where False Orders wasn’t in play, players reported that Murne’s abilities and stats felt just fine, and our playtesting data seemed to bear that out. As such we’ve added an action cost to False Orders again to make sure that Murne has to make a positioning commitment if she wants to force her opponent’s units to attack each other. We’ve also toned down some of Murne’s surge abilities, removing the surge for Weaken and separating the surge for Hide into its own surge ability. We hope this adds more incentive for Murne to find an unwitting 4 point figure to attack with instead of using her own attack, and in the words of one Steering Committee member, “she doesn’t need to do everything”.
Like the Wampa, K-2 has been another popular figure in the S5 playtest league that for some reason or other just seems to be struggling. While Droid lists are not much of a thing in the Rebel faction, Brawler and Spy give K-2 plenty of Rebel archetypes in which to thrive. He’s also got a great stats for a 5 point figure, a defensive ability that makes it very hard to spike damage against him, the flexibility to perform as a ranged attacker, and a strong personal Command card that lets him wait for the perfect moment to strike. Despite all this, and a high relative usage and many positive comments from players that have played with him, K-2 is another figure who’s win rate doesn’t match his popularity, having stayed in the 20s and low 30s during the initial month of playtesting. We’ve also identified him as a significant statistical drag on other figure’s win rates, while we were unable to identify any one figure that does something similar to bring down K-2s win rate.
Due to the significant rift between K-2s statistics and feedback from players telling us he’s fun and strong, we’re implementing a small buff to K-2s “Cassian Said I Had To” ability to generate damage power tokens instead of surge power tokens. The surge power tokens often don’t add much to an attack that is already rolling a green and yellow die, though this was actually by design to encourage combining K2 with Cassian, we hope that this slight boost to K-2s ability will be the catalyst he needs to start being an asset to lists rather than a liability.
Fury of Kashyyyk
Fury of Kashyyyk was predicted by some in the community to become a meta powerhouse with how much value it provides to Wookiee lists for just 1 point, but ultimately the list has put up hairier results than many may have predicted. Contrasted with the card’s <50% win rate in the playtest league, we received comments from multiple players that Fury of Kashyyyk in concert with its most commonly run figures, Gaarkhan and 2 elite Wookiee Warriors, created a list with an extremely high amount of total Health that hit hard and was hard to bring down. Further analysis of the data shows that there may be certain list configurations that include Fury of Kashyyyk that perform relatively poorly and are artificially lowering FoK’s potential win rate with more optimized lists. To avoid inflicting another hard-to-kill, hard hitting, self-focusing elite 9/5 group on the meta that’s just waiting to pick up steam after the community vote, the Steering Committee is hedging on this card by placing a limit on the free Pierce to once per group per round. Groups like Wookiee Warriors and Gaarkhan will still be able to leverage the extra Pierce to help them push damage through with their 2-dice attacks, but they will no longer be able to spam the Pierce ability multiple times in the same group activation, or in the same round in the case of Gaarkhan benefitting 4 times with a card like Furious Charge.
You may notice as you continue to playtest Season 5 after the 5.1 update that certain cards have the 5.1 update on the bottom of the card that were not mentioned here. These cards received templating updates or corrections and we felt it was important to mark these corrections so they were included in the updates to 3rd party websites and systems outside of the IACP, however for the most part they do not change how the cards play. If you see the 5.1 update on a card that has not been mentioned in this article, just know that a templating change or typo correction was made to the card’s text that does not impact gameplay.
Be sure to tell us what you think of the 5.1 changes in the comments below and on the ZF Slack channel and IACP Reddit and Facebook pages. Also keep in mind that we have one more Season 5 patch coming up on March 29th before the Community votes on the Season 5 cards in April, so there’s still a chance we change a Season 5 card at the end of March.