Season 8 has now been in public playtesting for over a month, and it’s time for the first of 3 updates to the Season 8 cards after observing game logs and listening to community feedback. 14 cards from Season 8 will be getting updates for v8.1, along with 3 cards from previous seasons receiving minor templating corrections, 1 of which just very slightly changes how the card can be used. Here are the changes.
Instead of forcing ourselves to decide what happens when a figure gains 2 instances of the same ability, we’re just changing the card so it no longer grants the Professional keyword to figures that already have it printed on their card.
The only thing we’re changing here is swapping the ability names. It was pointed out that generally the movement ability leads into the damage prevention ability, so it made sense to put the movement ability first as “I’m one with the Force”.
Some of the cards we’re updating for v8.1 aren’t even from Season 8. They’re just cards that we realized needed to have something fixed to either be more clear or work the way they were intended, and we just decided to throw these in to get them done with.
The original text of Vague and Unconvincing was “while defending, your player and your opponent cannot..”, implying that the ability worked while either player was defending. Now it’s clearer that it’s only working while K2 is defending. Also while fixing that I realized that it didn’t make sense for Cassian Said I Had To to not be an optional ability since it might trigger while K2 already has 2 power tokens, so that has been changed to be a “may” ability.
Another one that’s been bothering me, and I know that the previous wording has confused people on when the card should be played, and a much clearer wording of that timing has been there the whole time, “after rolling or rerolling dice”, so much clearer now that this card is played during the reroll step, after the attacker finishes performing their rerolls but before the defender performs their rerolls.
You’ll also notice that these pre-Season 8 updates have an errata date included on them, so players who see them will be reminded when the text was updated and whether their printed copy is out of date or not, though for these 2 cards, the errata does not change how the cards function, it just makes them easier to understand.
Neutral Cards v8.1
We have now seen that Orbital Bombardment can absolutely win games if it is set up correctly to do so in the late game, however there is also massive risk involved in the card from being an attachment. What we’ve heard many players say is that the card is just too expensive at 4 points, which is often equivalent to a premium figure that has to be cut from the list to fit the card.
We’ve found that 2 point skirmish upgrades, the minimum cost of a figure, are already seldom played enough that we’re comfortable trying out this card at 2 points. We did remove the extra strain splash damage though to make sure the card isn’t too powerful but also to reduce the wordiness of the card as well.
The original wording caused some amount of confusion as to whether players could sneak in a Tools for the Job or Wild Attack after this card added the yellow dice in order to break the 4 attack dice total limitation. By changing the text to “as you roll dice”, we hope there is no longer any confusion that the Yellow dice are added to the dice pool as the very last possible thing that can happen before rolling the dice.
While this card performs well when used with figures like Second Sister, Saska and Chopper, it feels very punishing to use this to add 1 attack die to a 3 dice figure and still get burned for 3 strain, which made it difficult to justify taking it in certain lists, even ones that have a lot of Technicians if some of them are 3-dice attackers. Changing the ability to deal strain based on the number of dice added to the attack makes it feel more fair to the figures that get less utility out of the card, which should make it easier for players to justify including it in their Technician decks which have some 3-dice attack Technicians like Chewbacca or Cal Kestis.
Rebel Cards v8.1
If there has been one clear winner of Season 8 so far, it would have to be Baze. One of the most played figures in the playtesting meta who as of last week was played in 22 of the 88 lists seen in 46 playtest games as of 5/21/23, holding down a 75% win rate, Baze has taken the lions share of the wins so far in v8.0, which has actually made it difficult to accurately gauge W/L data from the other cards because of how warping Baze’s performance has been so far.
However, we’ve also seen lots of feedback that players love Baze. He’s powerful but also has a fun and unique playstyle and set of abilities, and players seem to be glad to have a powerful and efficient figure available in the Rebel faction that can compare to 6 point powerhouses in other factions like Onar and Thrawn.
We believe that the main problem with Baze lies mostly in his Command card. However we are making 1 change to Baze’s Deployment card, swapping damage power tokens for surge power tokens. We’ve noticed in many games with Baze, his base attacks can deal a lot of damage to the target with those damage power tokens, but he often struggles to get surges through to power his unique suite of Blast and Ranged Cleave abilities. Hopefully this change will allow Baze to be more destructive overall while being slightly less lethal to his immediate target.
As previously mentioned, Baze’s Command is what was determined to be the main problem. Originally meant to be a cross between Miracle Worker and Extra Protection that protected Baze’s activation for that round, the card too often represented 3 additional attacks for Baze that he would have not otherwise gotten, which was too much for a 2 point card.
We have removed the Miracle Worker effect that keeps Baze in the fight and instead gone with a hybrid effect of Dying Lunge and Extra Protection. This helps with keeping the card very flexible, but limiting it to granting just 1 additional attack along with some movement points, which is a bit more fair for a 2 point card.
Cal’s been doing well for himself so far, but in hindsight, 13 health with a white die and no innate defense bonuses was just a bit too low for an 8 point figure, especially when compared to figures like Kanan and Zeb. 14 Health will hopefully be just right.
And a very small change to Cal’s Command card. It was just feeling 2 points was too much to have to pay for an effect like this, especially in a game now where there are so many great Command cards to choose from, and you still only get 15 points to do so. We’re hoping this will also help make this card see more play with Cal and make Cal a little bit more durable as well, as well as making Technician Command cards that cost an action a bit more appealing to play.
So this is another card from before Season 8 that we needed to change. Shrewd Scoundrel can now only be used on rerolls that originated from Lando’s Resourceful ability. While this is technically a functional change to how the card works, it’s mostly a correction to an oversight that had not really mattered until this season. We had thought during Season 4 that limiting Shrewd Scoundrel to while attacking or defending meant we didn’t need to also limit it to the Resourceful ability, but with the introduction of the Double or Nothing card, we realized from playtests demonstrating the interaction that it is just too easy create a situation where you use Double or Nothing to reroll a die with 2 symbols on it, guess 2 for Shrewd Scoundrel, and change it to a green die, and now you have a 50% chance to quadruple that die’s results, which can be rigged with Lando’s Cheat to Win Command card, leading to Double or Nothing becoming an easy way to add +6 damage to Lando’s attack (by quadrupling 2 damage pips into 8).
While we looked at options for how to change Double or Nothing to fix the problem, it became clear that making the small change to Lando’s ability was the lowest impact way to fix this problematic interaction. But we also took the opportunity to snazz up Lando’s boring IACP grey background art with a fresh Cloud City inspired background for the card.
Empire Cards v8.1
Probably the card that has been the most discussed since the season dropped, including a zero hour change to the card after it was spoiled to the community. Vaders Finest was the 2nd most played Season 8 card this playtest period so far, which has given us lots of opportunities to see the card in action with a lot of different types of Troopers.
Del Meeko was identified very early as a problem with this card by the community, able to constantly auto-focus himself for free every activation or get a free 6 movement points from attacking if he was already Focused. But we also noticed some other potential issues with the card, especially with the free 2 movement points after attacking. These could be combined with Jet Troopers Fly-By for either an easy retreat back to complete safety, or a devastating attack + Overrun combo. With Super Commandos, it gave them exactly the ammunition they needed to be able to fire a rocket off for free after attacking. And for long range figures like Scout Troopers and Iden Versio, it allowed them to pop out 3 spaces from cover, perform an attack at long range, and then pop back 3 spaces to the safety of their cover. We also noticed that the ability to discard a harmful condition when using the focus action was very incidentally powerful, especially when a figure was able to attack without needing to move, and it just removed a lot of the counterplay options against the card.
While I’m sure many of you were predicting we’d limit Vader’s Finest to only non-unique figures to solve the issues presented by figures like Del Meeko, Iden Versio and Captain Terro, we realized that still left us with several problem cards like Snowtroopers, Dewbacks, E-Webs and Sentry Droids, who all can consistently become 4 dice attackers with very low figure costs. To handle these problem cards and still deal with the unique troopers like Del Meeko and Iden, the Focus ability will now only work for Troopers with 2 or less dice in their printed attack pool. Additionally, that ability no longer discards a harmful condition, as we felt that getting a Focus was good enough value for a single action. We felt that this change made a non-unique only restriction unnecessary, and actually feel that it’s good to keep this card open to unique Troopers that might still benefit from the additional movement action.
The 2nd change was to change the 2 movement points after moving to moving 1 space. This means that Supercommandos can no longer use the card to fuel their Rocket ability, Jet Troopers will now be 1 space short from being able to retreat back to their staring point with Fly-By, and snipers will also not be able to use peakaboo positioning with impunity, as moving 3 spaces with speed 4 will only leave them with 2 movement remaining after attacking.
The changes to Vaders Finest will hopefully make it less hyper-efficient with Del, but there was still the issue with his Expertise being a bit too easy to trigger for such a huge reward of a free action, on top of being an efficient 3-dice attacker for 5 points. While the synergy with less played cards like Take Cover and Focus were nice, being able to play Command cards like Strategic Shift, Grenadier, Set the Charge, Urgency, Field Tactician, and Del’s own card Support Specialist was extremely potent for such an efficiently costed card. For the most part this only affects problematic command card combos and doesn’t lessen Del’s combat efficiency that much. We are going to try out giving Del a half of an action instead of a full one by giving him 2 movement points instead. A nice upside of this change in concert with Vader’s Finest is Del can still play the card somewhat well, effectively getting a free “Hit and Run” command card each turn from it, just without the Focus now.
This is a change that we’re especially going to be watching in playtesting and listening to feedback to see if we need to make further changes or revisions.
The Second Sister
The Second Sister is getting a small change to limit how many figures she can attack with Saber Orbit to 3 max. While reducing her attack down to 1 red die does reduce her base damage to about 2-3 average per attack, we’ve now seen in action how devastating it can be when she can set up a Saber Orbit on 4 or more figures at the end of the round and then do it again to the same formation at the start of the following round, especially once her variety of available offensive command cards start getting added into the mix.
But not everything for the Empire is a nerf. Second Sister’s original Command card left many players a bit underwhelmed, especially since it required adjacency and therefore would often require sacrificing an attack. Force Drain now reaches out to target a figure within 2 spaces of Second Sister, as well as dealing an additional point of damage.
Mercenary Cards v8.1
Gar Saxon probably has the most changes of any figure in Season 8. The first obvious change was to increase his health to 9. While we were trying to be cautious about making Gar too durable in Empire with Zillo Technique and Extra Armor tokens, we saw in several games where took exactly 8 damage and died after only being attacked once, usually finished off by some incidental ability damage, and 9 health would have made a difference required an additional attack or ability to finish him off, and the community feedback seemed to agree that 8 Health was too low for a figure that is so integral as a centerpiece to the list that he’s in.
Next up we changed his surge abilities, changing the surge for +2 to +1 damage and converting his innate +2 Accuracy to a surge for +2 Accuracy. The reason for changing the +2 damage surge ability was just that giving a 2nd surge for +2 damage ability to other mobile figures made their damage too swingy. It either didn’t matter altogether or it allowed for huge spikes in damage, neither of which are great qualities. He did gain an innate +1 damage to his attack to make up for this downgrade to his surge ability. And by changing his innate accuracy to requiring a surge, it actually gives the Mobile figures around him more options, especially greatly appreciated by Probe Droids and Sabine, neither of whom have a way to convert surges into Accuracy. It also forces Gar to get in closer to be effective as an attacker, helping to compensate for the generous 4 space reach of his Airborne commander ability.
Something we noticed about Gar’s Flamethrower ability was that players almost always would forego using it in favor of giving him an attack instead. We also had made the mistake of giving it the same name as IACP Boba Fett’s Wrist Flamethrower ability, which caused confusion with Gar’s Command card. While coming up with a flavorful kicker ability to make using the Flamethrower more appealing, but not too powerful if used multiple times in a round with his Command card, we realized that discarding power tokens was a mechanic we had not done much with, and while we use power tokens very often in our designs, currently the only card in the game that can remove a power token from a hostile figure is Doubt. So we are experimenting with Gar’s Flamethrower ability burning away 1 power token from each figure that it damages.
Choose a Side
And finally, Gar Saxon’s aforementioned Command card. Aside from the technical change of the ability name to “Gar Saxon’s Flamethrower”, the major change for this card is to reduce it’s cost from 3 points to 1. We knew we were playing with fire by allowing multiple mobile figures in an Empire list to be able to gain a Flamethrower ability, as well as giving Boba even more defensive benefits from block tokens, so we costed this card very conservatively. However as many players noticed, there were some major issues that made the card less effective than it might seem at first. For one, the action cost on Gar’s Flamethrower ability made it difficult to spam it more than one extra time with most Mobile figures preferring to use that action to perform an attack instead after moving. Similarly, Personal Combat Shield generally (though not always) only provides a max of 2 defensive bonuses per figure per round since it’s tied to spending block tokens, compared to the commonly played Fuel Upgrade which gives the same defensive bonus with no conditions or limits for a full turn for just 1 point, and can be played at the start of the round.
Choose a Side also now only affects other figures, to avoid confusion about what happens when Gar gains multiple instances of the same ability, similar to how we changed Just Business.
A huge thank you to everyone in the community for submitting your game logs and playtest reports, and for engaging with us and giving us feedback and opinions on the cards as you play with them. We could not make this happen without you. And a huge thank you to There is No Try who worked with us to get the Vassal module updated early so you can all enjoy these updates a day early. You can download the updates 8.1 Vassal skirmish module here: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AlCd5BRrzxGCh7F5FvPl21ZAVuY5OQ?e=JX65YT