The 5.1 updates from 3/8 have been playable for several weeks now, and we’ve been reviewing the game files that have been submitted as well as the feedback from the community on which cards are working and which cards still needed more work. We’ve looked at player reactions and suggestions and will be making the following final changes to Season 5 before the cards go up for community approval in the community vote later this week.
The ability to play cards like Planning, Intelligence Leak, and Hostile Negotiations twice in the same round with excavate, as well as the virtual card advantage gained was too strong in the 5.0 playtesting period, so in the previous update we had changed the timing to the start of the round and added a discard cost to use the ability. We had hoped that removing the action cost would also allow Aphra to play a more active role in games, along with a surge for Accuracy to make her more viable as an attacker. Players reported that while the new timing restriction worked well for preventing abuse with cards like Hostile Negotiation, the discard cost went too far and meant that most of the time it wasn’t worth it to use the Excavation ability. Instead, Aphra was being used in lists just as an efficient 4 point attacker with good stats, with an attack that was actually slightly stronger than Greedo’s attack profile, both Focused and unFocused.
We’ve removed the discard cost from Excavation to make it more of a focal point of her card once again and to give Scum a unique brand of Command card manipulation, while keeping the newer start of round timing window that prevents abuse with certain command cards. We’ve also reduced her Pierce 2 surge ability to Pierce 1 so that her attack is still very relevant but closer to Hera’s attack profile than Greedo’s.
One of our goals with HK-47 was to create a choice for the opponent where each choice had an equal chance of being selected by the defender instead of one choice almost always being the obvious right answer, the way it is with Hondo to almost always choose the +2 damage instead of the 4 point VP swing. A secondary goal that was added later in his internal design process was to give him an ability (Mockery) that rewarded lists that utilized the Bleed condition, part of our larger goal to create cards that encouraged new list archetypes in the game.
We found that the choice between taking +1 damage from the attack and taking the Bleed condition was actually quite balanced on its face (1 damage now vs the possibility of choosing between 2 strain or a lost action later), but by linking the Mockery ability to the Bleed condition, it was always weighting the choice from Query in favor of the +1 damage being the correct answer a majority of the time to avoid triggering Mockery. And this would always be further compounded when Under Duress got involved if Mockery involved dealing strain. While there were many suggestions from the community on how to solve this issue that were considered, the Steering Committee decided to simplify things by removing Mockery’s link to the Bleed condition. Mockery now simply allows HK-47 to choose a hostile in line of sight once per activation and deal that figure a strain. This makes Mockery a straightforward and flexible way to dole out strain.
Sometimes less is more, and ultimately, HK-47 was probably trying to accomplish too many meta goals for a single card. Making strain a more relevant archetype for the Scum faction was a primary goal for this season, and HK-47’s ability to deal out a strain at will, as well as giving the opponent the option to avoid extra damage by taking a Bleed, which itself can deal strain to a figure, makes HK-47 a strong option in any strain-based Mercenary list.
Clawdite Form: Soldier
Much like Aphra, we realized we went a bit too far when correcting the Clawdite shapeshifter and the Soldier form in the 5.1 update. The original Soldier form in 5.0 was too strong, and it was undermining the uniqueness of the Scout form as the good ranged attacker form and thus undermining one of the limitations of running more than one elite Clawdite in a list, which made it very easy for Hunter lists to maximize their Spy count without reducing their Hunter count. However, based on the community’s feedback, we believe we went too far in limiting the Soldier’s attack strength, primarily by making it too difficult to fulfill it’s 2nd primary function to deal Blast damage by making its Blast ability cost 2 surges.
We are separating the +1 damage and Blast 1 surges, as well as adding an accuracy surge. Along with keeping the Professional ability, this makes the Soldier more of a true jack-of-all-trades attacker but one that does not rival the Scout in terms of range and single-target damage, which means players bringing more than 1 Clawdite will still have to manage the diminishing returns of only being able to have 1 Scout in play. If you are shapeshifting into the Soldier, we want it to be because you want to either use the Energy Shield ability or the Blast 1 ability, not just because you want to have a 2nd copy of the Scout in play.
We’ve also corrected a typo on the IACP Senator and Scout cards, which had their accuracy bonuses switched.
Fury of Kashyyyk
After we added the restriction of “once per group per round” to Fury of Kashyyyk’s pierce ability in 5.1, we got a lot of comments that it was difficult to track which groups had used the pierce ability when using cards like Parting Blow and Dying Lunge. We also got comments from the community that it was disappointing that a card meant to boost Wookiees didn’t provide more reward for running the non-melee Wookiees in the game like Chewbacca and were so strongly concentrated around the Wookiee Warriors and Gaarkhan.
For 5.2, we’ve changed how the Pierce ability works to address the feedback we’ve gotten from the community. The Pierce ability now rewards any elite Wookiee that’s attacking a figure within 2 spaces if there is another friendly Wookiee within 2 spaces of the target. Now a wider variety of Wookiee figures can benefit from this ability, and the more Wookiees you play with Fury of Kashyyyk, the easier it will be to trigger the Pierce, and the range restriction rewards aggressive close-quarters play. It also removes the need to track which groups have used the ability, while also limiting the Pierce value for each attack to a maximum of 1 instead of 2.
The Generals Ranks
The Generals Ranks has been doing great in playtesting, seeing play on the Heavy Stormtroopers, AT-ST and even some Scum figures in Empire lists like Wampas, Tusken Raiders and the Bantha Rider. However recently it was brought to the Steering Committee’s attention that there is an obscure rule that when a large figure uses “move x spaces”, it cannot change its orientation, which makes things really awkward for players that want to use The Generals Ranks with a large figure like the AT-DP or Dewback Rider. We’ve updated the wording on this card to allow figures to gain additional movement points and bypass this obscure rule while still avoiding the creation of an infinite loop where the card keeps continuously triggering itself.
When we first spoiled Mara Jade, we realized we hadn’t addressed an important question that had been brought up during our internal Committee testing but forgotten until Season 5 Spoiler season: What happens when Mara plays Arcing Shot? Without any added restrictions to the ability, and without going too deep in this article into the unique templating of Arcing Shot that enables this to happen, the answer was that she could attack and hit any figure adjacent to any space in her line of sight without any range restriction.
Though it was suggested within the Steering Committee to just not allow Fast Learner to be used to play Arcing Shot, we didn’t want to kill a potentially interesting combo before it had a chance to be tested and instead tried to add a clarification whose text ended up being as long as the ability itself, that if Mara attacked something beyond range 2, she had to check accuracy on the dice for the attack to hit. But that ended up confusing some players who thought the ability allowed her to make ranged attacks by default, and also cluttered up an ability that was already fairly complex because of how novel and strange it was.
Ultimately though, out of the 70+ games played with Mara during the Season 5 playtest period, not a single list included Mara and Drokkatta together. We also realized that we had already added a similar exception for a single Command card with Aphra’s Excavation ability and Take Initiative, so we already had the nice short templating of “except ‘Arcing Shot’ available. Ultimately, it wasn’t worth the confusion and hefty wordiness to protect a combo that clearly nobody was interesting in trying, so we decided for 5.2 to just exclude Arcing Shot from being played with Fast Learner and calling it a day. While Mara has been one of the most popular figures in Season 5 playtesting, she has maintained a consistent win-rate that is close to 50% and so far has proven to be a solid but balanced figure, so we are not making any other changes to Mara before she goes on the community vote.
These cards and the rest of the Season 5 changes will be on the Community Vote going up later this week and will run until April 11th. Make sure to participate in the Community Vote when it gets posted to make your voice heard on which changes in Season 5 will or won’t be added to the IACP.