Welcome back to The Fifth Trooper’s coverage of Star Wars: Unlimited TCG! Last month I covered some drafting strategy for the game’s common heroes — this time I’m going to discuss some strategy for drafting rare leaders in the set! While rare leaders aren’t going to come up as often as common ones, it can still be helpful to know some basic strategies for using these leaders as well.

However, before we get to that, I want to introduce you to the B.A.R.O.N. system — a helpful rule of thumb that I’ve devised to help with draft prioritization!

The B.A.R.O.N. System of Draft Prioritization

Before getting into the meat of the article with a look at our different rare leaders in draft, I wanted to highlight a more general principle that can apply to any leader you are drafting with. I call this the “B.A.R.O.N. System” because the acronym “B.A.R.O.N.” explains your draft priority:

B is for Bombs — powerful cards that can swing games on their own. Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight is a bomb card, and while you might not see him much in draft not all bombs are Legendary — one of the biggest bombs in draft, the infamous Overwhelming Barrage, is a mere uncommon!

A is for Ambush — Ambush units are often considerably better than other forms of removal and in my view deserve increased priority over traditional removal when drafting.

R is for Removal — Draft decks often do not have as much/as reliable removal as constructed builds, and drafting strong removal cards is a good way to give yourself answers to opponents’ threats.

O is for Opening — cards that are strong on the first turn of the game. Generally these are one and two cost units with good stats, like Battlefield Marine. Cards that cost one or two but are bad on the first turn (like Snowtrooper Lieutenant) do not count in this category.

N is for Nice-to-haves — cards that fill a spot in your deck and are helpful but don’t necessarily fall into the other categories. A decently efficient unit that fills an important gap in your cost curve would qualilfy as a “nice-to-have”.

The order in which these are presented is also the order in which you should perhaps prioritize them — Bombs first, then Ambush, then Removal, then Opening cards, then Nice-to-haves. B.A.R.O.N.! For more information on this, you can check out this video I recorded on the topic. I think this concept can be very helpful regardless of what leaders you end up drafting!

That said, let’s get to a closer look at some draft strategy for our rare leaders!

Drafting Rare Leaders: Vigilance

Drafting Rare Leaders in Spark of Rebellion 1

Chirrut Imwe, One with the Force can be a very strong leader in draft if you get cards that synergize with his ability. The more important part of Chirrut is his unit side, not his leader side — Chirrut’s unique ability to avoid dying from damage until the end of the phase means that even if an opponent does lethal damage to Chirrut, you have the opportunity to keep him alive by either healing him or upgrading his total HP so that he is no longer at 0 or less HP.

I have gone undefeated before after drafting Chirrut — while his leader ability is not very strong, his leader unit can be very difficult to deal with even in constructed play, and against draft decks with poor removal options Chirrut can be even scarier. The key is to get upgrades that go well with Chirrut — Jedi Lightsaber is a star, but even things like Electrostaff, Wing Leader, or Academy Training can have huge impact on the board.

Additionally, Chirrut does great with Force synergy cards like Force Throw or It Binds All Things, as his difficult-to-remove board presence in his leader state means you are more likely to be able to play them with a Force unit present. This in turn means drafting other Force units like Yoda, Old Master or Kanan Jarrus, Revealed Jedi can be an appealing and synergistic option.

However, I would caution players away from playing Guardian of the Whills unless really desperate for early units — while it might appear to offer great synergy both by being a Force unit and enabling higher upgrade efficiency, this unit’s 2/2 base stats just aren’t good enough to be a strong option.

Drafting Rare Leaders in Spark of Rebellion 2

Next up we have Iden Versio, Inferno Squad Commander. Star Wars: Battlefront II (2017) players may be familiar with this character, and she’s quite effective and resourceful in the card game as well! Overall, of the rare leaders Iden is a lot less “specialized” than some and requires a less specific set of cards.

In draft, Iden’s ability to heal your base helps you get to the late game, so she might be well-suited to playing some stronger late game cards. However, keep in mind that this ability only works if you’re removing enemy units to enable the heal, so you likely want to incorporate some solid removal and/or Ambush options as well rather than just “defensive” elements like Sentinel and/or Restore units.

Drafting Rare Leaders: Command

Drafting Rare Leaders in Spark of Rebellion 3

Emperor Palpatine, Galactic Ruler is a bold choice, but can swing games with his very powerful flip turn, which not only brings Palpatine onto the field as a dangerous unit but also can capture a damaged enemy nonleader unit. The problem, though, is getting there! Palpatine deploys after all other leaders in the game and that makes him very vulnerable to aggressive strategies.

I would recommend playing strong early game elements with Palpatine to try and prolong the game until your leader deploys. You may not need as much of an endgame as with some other builds — even though Palpatine does want to go late, his leader card and stolen unit can be a lot of endgame on their own, and you might do better to focus on surviving to get to that point!

(That said, I am not a Palpatine expert at all and welcome feedback from others who might have a better sense of how to use this leader — I tend to favor faster decks!)

Hera Syndulla card image.

Hera Syndulla, Spectre Two is one of the most thematic leaders in the game, favoring a build that runs the other Spectre cards and allowing you to assemble them even if they would otherwise be out of aspect. However, she suffers from a poor unit side, and in draft play getting a bunch of Spectre cards to go with Hera’s ability is not reliable. As a result, I would generally not recommend playing Hera in draft.

If Hera is in your leader pool and you want to stay open to her, drafting Spectre cards will help. The Ghost is a particular standout — even if you go with another leader and don’t take advantage of its Spectre synergy, a 5/5 Shielded unit in space can be quite difficult for some opponents to deal with! To take advantage of Hera’s unit side, drafting unique units if possible also helps.

Also, keep in mind that not all Spectre cards are units — Karabast and Spark of Rebellion both have the Spectre trait, allowing Hera to run them out of aspect without penalty.

Drafting Rare Leaders: Aggression

Drafting Rare Leaders in Spark of Rebellion 4

Like Hera, Grand Inquisitor, Hunting the Jedi suffers from poor stats on his leader side, with worse stats than many leaders that deploy on five resources! However, unlike Hera the Inquisitor has an extremely strong ability. You might struggle to get maximum value out of this leader in draft, but I think there’s somewhat more room there than with Hera.

Grand Inquisitor really likes units that “scale” when taking damage, whether via Grit (like Scout Bike Pursuer) or other effects (like Fifth Brother, Fear Hunter). More broadly, units with three power also synergize well with his text, getting the most “bang for the buck” when readied. Additionally, Grand Inquisitor can potentially get value out of Force synergies, though he is not as strong as Chirrut in this area since the Inquisitor deploys a turn later and is easier to remove.

Two standout cards for Grand Inquisitor are Seventh Sister, Implacable Inquisitor and Fallen Lightsaber, but these cards are both rares and somewhat unlikely to be part of your draft. However, neither of these are necessarily immediate “first pick” cards for other leaders, so you may end up with a better chance of getting these than you might expect at first.

Drafting Rare Leaders in Spark of Rebellion 5

Cassian Andor, Dedicated to the Rebellion is a leader who can provide you with additional cards (for a price) as long as you are doing significant damage to the enemy base. This can potentially be quite useful, though it’s worth noting that card draw is less valuable in Star Wars Unlimited than in many other games thanks to drawing two cards per turn instead of one.

In my opinion, the ideal situation for Cassian is to run a deck with a very low cost curve so that you are more likely both to get low on cards (so as to have a reason to use his ability) and to have inexpensive cards that allow you to fit Cassian’s ability trigger into your costs for the turn. Thus, if drafting Cassian I might err on the side of cheaper options.

Note though that running out of cards can be a real threat in draft, and that if you are drawing a lot of cards with Cassian’s ability and not closing the game quickly you may find yourself “fatiguing out” — be warned!

Drafting Rare Leaders: Cunning

Drafting Rare Leaders in Spark of Rebellion 6

Grand Admiral Thrawn, Patient and Insightful is a Cunning/Villainy leader that gives a lot of bonus information about the game and has a conditional exhaust ability that works more reliably gainst cheaper units. This can be extra valuable if the opponent uses upgrades to buff small units into more powerful threats, as their printed cost will remain the same, making them vulnerable to Thrawn’s exhaust even if they represent significantly more value than they did at first.

Relative to other rare leaders, Thrawn doesn’t necessarily need a really specialized build, so you’re free to use more general drafting tactics rather than focusing on trying to get a particular unusual type of card. Exhaust effects are probably somewhat less valuable for Thrawn than they would be for others, since his built-in exhaust power makes them a bit redundant.

One note (which I find sad!) is that Chimaera, Flagship of the Seventh Fleet, despite its thematic and gameplay synergy with Thrawn, tends to be a very poor card and may well not be worth prioritizing at all if there are good commons/uncommons in its pack. While Chimaera’s ability is quite synergistic and it has a scary statline, it’s also an eight cost unit with no immediate board effect, which is a very questionable place to be — something this slow can be pretty difficult to make work, even in draft.

Drafting Rare Leaders in Spark of Rebellion 7

Han Solo, Audacious Smuggler is a very interesting leader that offers a unique ability to turn cards in hand (or on top of the deck once Han is deployed) into “temporary resources”, letting him incur card disadvantage in order to gain a short-term advantage. This can work well in draft, and I believe I’ve gone undefeated with Han at least once in a local draft.

A core combination with Han is to use his leader ability while at five resources, bringing you up to six and allowing Han to deploy. Then, after Han attacks he brings you the top card of your deck as a seventh resource, allowing you to potentially play a seven-cost card two turns early! This can be extremely strong if Han is not disrupted, and as a result powerful seven-cost cards like Han Solo, Reluctant Hero, U-Wing Reinforcement, and more can go well in a Han deck.

(Keep in mind though that the opponent might interfere with Han before he gets a chance to attack — going for the “full combo” can be risky against disruptive opponents or ones that are poised to defeat Han shortly after he deploys, and in those cases you might want to be more careful and not put all your eggs in the “accelerated seven-cost” basket!)

I hope these tips were helpful for you in getting a better sense of the different leaders and what strategies they might want to pursue in draft! Stay tuned for more as we continue to explore Star Wars Unlimited here at The Fifth Trooper!

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