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New Masters of the Dark Side
Revenge of the Sith Lords
By Len "RedneckJedi" Fowler

The latest Star Wars Trading Card Game expansion covering Revenge of the Sith supplied Dark Side players with a number of lethal weapons to counter the Jedi and other types of decks afforded the Light Side. About a year into the TCG's life, the Character arena was a difficult one for the Dark Side to compete in, especially with the build cost-saving benefits the Light Side enjoys. Here are the highlights of the big-bads of Revenge of the Sith... Darth Vader and Darth Sidious.

Darth Vader (Q)Darth Sidious' newly appointed apprentice, Darth Vader, begins his infamous dark deeds by wiping out the Jedi in the Jedi Temple. This is quite appropriate in the powerful and deadly Darth Vader (Q) card. Stepping in with 60 speed, 7 power and 7 health, he's already a heavy-hitter at his base. Where this Vader is particularly brutal is the bonuses he receives when attacking a Jedi. Against any Jedi, he get's +2 power... nice for him. But, we learned in the movie that even the Padawans aren't safe from his fury, as he receives Accuracy when attacking one, increasing the likelihood that each attack die rolled will inflict damage. He has a costly damage prevention for his Evade, but then his sole purpose is to attack. Defense isn't high on his list of priorities.

Darth Vader (R)Based on Darth Vader (R)'s abilities, it's difficult to know exactly what part of the movie he represents. His Flavor Text seems to represent him in his battle against Obi-Wan. Make no mistake, this Vader is one of the most deadly yet devised. Though at a small decrease in power and health from the previous version, his Hidden Cost ability allows him to pop into battle at the last moment, and take a swipe of damage at an unsuspecting Character. It also help that the damage this Vader causes cannot be prevented! Even Yoda and Mace are helpless against attacks from him. Also unlike the previous version, this Vader packs a more robust package of damage prevention, as he can Evade and Deflect damage at a lower, though still not incredibly efficient, cost.

Darth Vader (S)Ah, here's Vader in one of his armored "beauty shots", as I like to call them. A majestic image we've all had in our geek minds of the Dark Lord of the Sith cutting a swath through Jedi as if they were nothing, clad in his trademark menacing black armor. We didn't get that in the movie, but we sure got a lot of imagery in the product packaging, didn't we? In the TCG, though, Darth Vader (S) is no slouch. Rounding out his versions is one just as powerful as his (Q) version, though a bit slower (he's more machine, now, than man, after all). This Vader packs a standard Evade, but gets additional damage prevention help with the Armor ability, making it less likely for each attack die to do damage against him. The best thing about him, though, is his ability to put 3 damage counters on a unit just prior to his normal attack... and that being on a unit he's not necessarily attacking. That's right, Vader can spread the damage around in one attack sequence, and "put" damage cannot be prevented.

Darth Sidious (E)Now we come to the architect of the insidious plot running throughout the Prequels. Through the game's history, Darth Sidious has always provided some nasty benefits for the Dark Side. Sidious is featured prominently in the Revenge of the Sith expansion, and his specialties lie more in the background, than toe-to-toe combat. Darth Sidious (E) doesn't even mess around in battle. He puts 3 damage on a Character, or Ground, unit at a cost of 3 Force and 1 damage to himself. This seems to represent the cost of heavy use of the Dark Side. Though it seems similar to Darth Vader (S)'s ability, being able to spread it across arenas and do it outside of combat is extremely useful. Not only that, but the damage counter placed on Sidious himself can, if planned properly, be negligible considering the damage movement abilities and effects other cards possess in the Dark Side's arsenal.

Darth Sidious (F)One of Darth Sidious' incarnations from a previous set allowed you to discard a Character to recoup its build points. At a cost of 4 Force, it came in handy if a powerful Character alongside him was near death, and you had another one in-hand waiting in the wings. Darth Sidious (F), however, does a little of the same. With no Force cost, you can discard any one of your units to regain half of that unit's build cost in either build points or Force in any combination. Again, very handy if a unit you possess has no other worth, or does not properly benefit you in some way. It can also perform in a particularly nasty way... but we'll get to that a bit later. This Sidious, better than Darth Vader (R) I might add, packs a defensive package that can also be problematic for the Light Side to touch.

Darth Sidious (G)Finally, we come to Darth Sidious (G)... the "corruptor," if you will. His first ability is always a thorn in the side of Light Side decks, causing all of their activated abilities to cost 1 extra Force. This may not mean too much, though, since this relatively weak version doesn't pack much punch, or have the best quantity of damage prevention (although it's a superbly efficient one). Where this version really shines (or darkens?) is his ability to take control of an opposing unit at the cost of discarding an equivalently costed unit of the Dark Side's and 4 Force. So, let's think about this for a moment... I can steal an opponent's unit, bring it into my possession... I have another Sidious that allows me to discard a unit for half its build cost in build points and Force. How could I possibly use that? This combination between Sidious (F) and (G) is, perhaps, one of the nastiest ones to date. Coupled with the older version that can discard a Dark Side controlled Character for 4 Force makes Sidious one of the nastiest Characters to go up against in the game.

The Light Side's damage prevention resources have always been tough to crack, and these versions of Vader and Sidious are just what the Dark Side needed. Between damage that cannot be prevented and the ability to steal and then discard an opponent's units, the Sith truly get their revenge against the reign of the Light Side.

Later, prepare for even more Dark Side mayhem in August, as TheForce.Net covers the next upcoming expansion: Rise of the Empire! This expansion promises to expound on the events leading up to, and after, Palpatine's conversion of the Old Republic into his Empire. There are few details at this time, but we're hoping to see more Sith, Jedi, Wookiees, Clones... and the diabolical General Grievous!

18 July 2005

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