Season 9 Spoiler: Hope Springs Anew!

You know what time it is. You clicked the link. It’s not just New Year’s Day, it’s New IACP Cards Day! That’s right, IACP Season 9 Spoiler Season begins today, and while this season is going to be reduced in overall volume and length compared to previous seasons, it still packs a lot of punch in exciting new cards, as well as much-needed changes to the old. And what better way to kick this off than with something that’s a little bit of both of those things.

When it was introduced, Spectre Cell (the Skirmish Upgrade, not just the group of characters themselves) was met with a number of reactions. While we can all agree that the end result of that card was way over-tuned, and defined its meta, the simple idea of using a Skirmish Upgrade to make a themed roster more mechanically viable was met with general approval–

Wait wait wait! Come back. Don’t close the browser window. We’re not buffing Spectre Cell, don’t worry. That’s not what’s happening here. Instead, we’re taking what worked about the idea of Spectre Cell, and trying a different approach, with a different band of Rebel rapscallions.

[John Williams music intensifies]

Unlike Spectre Cell, which had exactly 39 points always accounted for, leaving room for only a single 1-point skirmish upgrade, A New Hope is a bit more modular. Even with the negative deployment cost, A New Hope players won’t have enough deployment points to fit all seven characters into a 40-point squad. You’ll have to decide who you cut, and what you do with the remaining points. This will create some fun list-building opportunities as players explore just what combination of heroes from the original film works best, and with which upgrades.

Spectre Cell was indeed very strong, but unlike most competitive armies at the time, the characters were all over the place when it came to traits. This made building a Command card deck particularly challenging, since any given trait was only shared by at most half of the squad. They of course made up for this with the raw stats and bonus attack from the Spectre Cell card. But as I said, we’re taking a different approach here. Instead of buffing the stats on what are, objectively, seven already-great figures, we found a way to alleviate some of that trait awkwardness. What if they could all play each other’s unique Command cards?

This creates a ton of unique interactions to explore that give A New Hope lists a special identity beyond other Rebel Hero lists. Inclusions like Son of Skywalker and Debts Repaid are going to generate obvious value, but even under-played cards like I Make My Own Luck and the non-IACP version of There Is Another suddenly have a place where they can really be valuable.

If the part about names and sub-names (where is Luke Skywalker?) seems odd, it’s done that way to exclude Jedi Knight Luke, since he’s very explicitly from Return of the Jedi, and this is A New Hope. A little look behind the scenes: This presented a bit of a challenge, as excluding him means we can’t use just names or sub-names, since he shares his name with farmboy Luke and his sub-name with Obi-Wan.

What’s In Store

We’re doing something a little differently this season. Each season, we create a handful of new or improved non-unique Command cards, and spoil them over the course of the spoiler season. This season, we’ve decided to reveal all four of them right up front, here in the first article. That way, you have the context of each of these Command cards to consider as you focus on the Deployment cards in the articles to come later this week. Of course, any new unique figures will have their unique Command card included in their article. With that explained, let’s dive into this Season’s bevy of Command cards.

*thudding sounds*

Our first selection is an unassuming inclusion with some very interesting implications. When looking at Brawlers, it’s been true for a while that they’re really sorted into two categories: the ones that can make good use of Parting Blow, and the ones that can’t. Mostly, the latter group is populated by 2-dice attackers, such as double-attackers and multi-figure groups. Beat Down bridges this gap neatly. This simple force multiplier not only improves the two attacks your Gamorrean Guards are making this activation, but also buffs their Parting Blow if you can trigger it during the same activation. I’m excited to see how this card changes the way Brawler lists are put together.

“You’ll regret that.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

Guardians have gotten a few great cards since IACP came around (where they had none before, in this writer’s opinion), but they all have one thing in common: They’re all centered around keeping your figures alive. But what happens when you can’t save everybody? Guardians need to be able to repay their enemies in kind. We weren’t eager to repeat the era of Rising Phoneix Mando, when attacking into a Scum Guardian list was almost certain to result in a free attack back, regardless who was attacked. Instead, Retaliation grants the Guardian their choice of a Focus, 2 damage power-tokens, or 2 movement points. Whichever is most likely to help them dole out some vengeance.

“Stay on Target…” – Luke Skywalker

The introduction of the Technician trait last season was met with overwhelming support, and we’re excited to expound upon this new trait in the form of a new Command card, Network Connections. Reinforcing the interaction between Technicians and Droids, this card allows Technicians (or other Droids!) to use a(nother) Droid as a targeting beacon, in order to make shots that would prove otherwise impossible. Relieving the attacker of the need to aim allows them to focus on really bringing the pain, in the form of a bonus surge, which Droid attackers can even combine to devastating effect with Hunter Protocol.

“Patience you must have, my young Padawan.” – Yoda

Good things come to those who wait, they say. So it only seemed fitting to place our update to the classic Meditation card at the bottom of this article. Not too long ago, Imperial Force Users received an updated Lure of the Dark Side as a capstone Command card, but Rebel Force Users have been patiently waiting their turn. And it is a doozy of delayed gratification. Meditation has now been increased to 3 Command card points to fit that “capstone” role, and improved in power to match. Now, instead of simply “banking” an action as it did before, it can be used to bank almost an entire activation’s worth of value, still at the cost of only a single special action. If drawn early (*cough* Yoda+Channel-the-Force *cough*), it can create an explosive opening, as a jedi attacker meditates in safety during round 1, before bursting out into the opening the next round and laying down a handful of lightsaber attacks. This one should create some very exciting games, and I am hype to see what the Jedi can do with this one.

And that’s it, folks. Season 9 will be live for playtesting this Friday. Tomorrow, the twin suns of Tattooine shine down on two new Scum deployments in Imperial Assault. Until then, Happy New Year! Don’t get that gym membership you were thinking about getting. Save your money, and just play some IACP instead!

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