Heart of the Empire First Impressions Part 3: Mercenaries

Part 0: Clawdite Shapeshifter Impressions

Part 1: Wave X Command Card Impressions

Part 2: Imperials

Overview

This is going to be shorter than my Imperial first impressions since I already did an article on Clawdites and the top lists in Mercenaries shouldn’t change much. I wanted to save Rebels for last because I’m most excited about their new deployment cards. I’ve been running Mercenary lists since worlds, so I’m a bit tired of them. For the sake of completeness, here are my impressions on the Mercenary faction.

Current Status

Mercenaries have been the most successful faction since Jabba’s Realm came out. The two main Merc archetypes right now are Merc Hunters and Ugnaught Swarm. Bantha lists have been popular as well, although the Nal Hutta map takes those lists out of the top tier.

Elite Weequay Pirates

Top tier units in the faction include elite Weequay Pirates, Ugnaughts, Onar, IG-88, and Greedo. Shyla, Jabba, Vinto, and Bantha are tier 1.5. Notice that almost all of the top tier units also have the hunter trait. Tier 2 units include elite Nexus, regular HK assassin droids, elite Gamorrean Guards, and regular hired guns.

Devious Scheme is a great include, providing you the last activation of round 1 and the first activation of round 2. It’s also useful for locking down your preferred deployment zone in Nal Hutta or Anchorhead Bar (not as important in Jabba’s Palace). This card is especially good if you have 7 activations or strong figure who can start round 2 off with a bang like IG-88.

Black Market is a valuable card, especially with how strong command decks have become. I’ve also seen people trade cards for VP’s to win games in high level play. Definitely worth its cost if you have room.

Merc Hunters

Recipe:

  • Start with 2x elite Weequay Pirates
  • Choose Rebel Care Package (Gideon/3P0/Temporary Alliance) or Jabba or both (I think rebel care package is better than Jabba and both is too much, but that’s another article)
  • Add some more Hunters (Onar/Greedo/Shyla/Vinto)
  • Optionally take some meat or objective runners (elite Gamorrean Guards/regular hired guns)
  • Finish off the list with Devious Scheme and Black Market

This is the winning list of the last meta (pre droid uprising), taking Worlds and several regional tournaments. This list is still in the top tier, although the Ugnaught swarm matches up well against it. Maul doesn’t really fit into this list, but Clawdites supplement the Rebel care package for some added support. Overall this list isn’t affected much by Heart of the Empire and expect to see it in top tier play. Hunter units still have the best set of command cards in the game.

Ugnaught Swarm

I’ve already written so much about this list and I don’t have much to add here. The list consists of 4 regular Ugnaughts and 2 elites. The list doesn’t benefit from Heart of the Empire at all. Clawdites don’t pair well with Ugnaughts, and Maul is not as good as existing options. The Imperials got some good units to deal with Ugnaughts, but it has yet to be proven whether Imperials can climb back into top tier play. If Ugnaughts fade away it’s more likely because of people become tired of them than the list dropping in power.

Heart of the Empire Units

Elite Clawdite Shapeshifters

Their big weakness is their fragility, 8 health and a black die is not a lot for a 6 cost figure. They are extremely versatile and have the best trait combination in the game. It’s great that they can act as a support unit round 1, but you’re going to want them to contribute in round 2 and the trick then is keeping them alive.┬áMaybe Elite Clawdites will work their way up to the top tier, but since they’re such a unique unit I need to play test them some more before I can say that with confidence.

Regular Clawdite Shapeshifters

These are definitely the worse option next to the elites. All of their abilities are worse with the loss of the extra yellow dice. 6 health is extremely fragile. Their traits, cost, and versatility could land them in some lists, especially because of their senator ability.

Maul

Maul

As cool as it is to have a force user in Mercenaries, there really aren’t any force user cards worth bringing for just Maul. Pairing him with Jedi Luke seems way too expensive and one dimensional to be viable. He hits really hard and he can’t be defeated before he activates in a given round. I think he’ll be a fun unit, but I’d consider him tier 2, because of this lack of synergy with the rest of the top tier Mercenary units and because of the Nal Hutta map.

New Archetypes for Mercs

Mercenary Spies

With the addition of Clawdite Shapeshifters the Mercenary faction finally gains direct access to the powerful spy trait. The spy trait specializes in command card control with cards like Comm Disruption and Intelligence Leak. Mercenaries can also pull Rebel spies such as Mak or Murne. It’s useful to have multiple spies to get the full benefit of Comm Disruption and so you can still use your other spy cards in case your other spies die. Spies generally are fragile figures.

You’re still probably better off building a list around hunters and adding some spy flavor. Don’t underestimate the power of Intelligence Leak, it’s absolutely one of the best command cards in the game.

In theory, the spy archetype would pair well with a strain heavy archetype, giving you unparalleled control of your opponent’s command card deck. In practice, it is still not viable to build a list around dealing strain. Competitive games in the hunter meta don’t last long enough for a command card deck to be depleted. There also aren’t enough good units that deal strain to make it viable. One day Under Duress will work… one day…

Conclusion

Elite Weequay Pirates are still arguably the best units in the game, certainly the most popular in high level play at the past several events I’ve attended. Nothing in the latest wave is going to replace them. Merc Hunters are still one of the strongest Archetypes in the game and they are not going anywhere.

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