Star Wars Unlimited’s second set, Shadows of the Galaxy, will release in early July! Preview season has already started, and we’ve seen about half the new cards thus far — if you’re interested in seeing more detail on that, check out my YouTube channel, where I’ve been posting a YouTube Short review for every new card that gets posted!

This article will brief you with a quick overview what Shadows of the Galaxy will offer., covering the new mechanics, new synergies, and more! I’m very excited to get my hands on Shadows of the Galaxy and hope you are (or will be) as well!

Preparing for Shadows of the Galaxy’s New Mechanics

Shadows of the Galaxy features three new mechanics — Bounty, Smuggle, and Capture! These mechanics offer some new ways for cards to interact and are worth brushing up on prior to the set’s release so that you won’t have as much of a learning curve once the set comes up. Here’s a quick overview of what the set has to offer in this area:

Bounty: Putting Prices On Units’ Heads

Shadows of the Galaxy’s new Bounty mechanic provides a new keyword that has an interesting function — units with the Bounty mechanic give a reward to their opponent when they are defeated or captured (we’ll get to more on capture later). This means that the Bounty keyword is generally a downside, not a benefit!

Built-in Bounties

There are two main ways for units to get bounties. First, some cards that we have seen previewed for Shadows of the Galaxy have built-in Bounty. These cards generally offer unusually efficient stats and/or abilities in exchange for having a significant downside. Let’s take a look at a few of the preview cards we’ve seen that follow this pattern thus far:

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Here we have Doctor Evazan, Wanted on Twelve Systems. This unit is incredibly efficient for a turn one play — not just a 3/3 but a 3/3 with a shield! Battlefield Marine already sees a lot of play and is considered quite strong just for being 3/3 vanilla, and Evazan’s shield makes him stronger still!

However, this power comes at a cost — when Evazan is defeated or captured, your opponent gets to ready up to twelve resources! This is a very significant downside, especially later on in a game. Imagine a situation where the opponent plays Superlaser Blast, wiping the board, and gets all their resources back for doing so because they took out Evazan!

Thus, Doctor Evazan is a good example of the risk/reward tradeoff that a “built-in Bounty” offers. Yes, he’s a very efficient unit in the early game, but at the same time he has a major disadvantage if opponents can deal with him. Even as early as turn two, Evazan can be taken out in one hit by various plays, at which point the opponent gets their resources back and can play something again!

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Similarly, this Cartel Turncoat is another example of a “built-in Bounty” unit that offers unusual efficiency in exchange for giving your opponent a benefit when it is defeated or captured. A 2/3 space unit would normally cost 2 resources (see Alliance X-Wing), while the Cartel Turncoat costs only one instead — in exchange, the opponent can draw a card once the Turncoat is defeated or captured.

Again, we see a risk-reward tradeoff here — Cartel Turncoat is unusually efficient but provides the opponent a card once they deal with it. This isn’t as “dramatic” an effect as with Evazan, but Bounty can do a wide range of things!

Bounty Upgrades (or “upgrades”)

The second form of Bounty we’ve seen in Shadows of the Galaxy previews thus far comes in the form of upgrades that grant Bounty to a unit. These upgrades might be considered “upgrades in name only”, as they generally provide no actual benefit to the unit and instead just provide opponents with a reward for clearing the unit! Thus, you’ll generally want to play these on your opponents’ units to “set them up.”

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Here we have Guild Target, an upgrade that gives an interesting reward for defeating a unit — direct damage to the opponent’s base! This seems like it might be a cool card for aggro builds, giving them an interesting new tool in the toolkit.

Aggro decks in Spark of Rebellion usually don’t want to focus on defeating opposing units (see my “Who’s the Beatdown: Star Wars Unlimited Edition” for more info on this), but in the event that an aggro player in Shadows of the Galaxy encounters an annoying Sentinel or Restore card that has to be dealt with, this upgrade may allow them to advance their main game plan (damage to the opponent’s base) even when spending time on defeating a unit instead!

“Bounty Punishers”

The last piece of the Bounty puzzle is “bounty punishers” — cards that become especially strong when your opponent has units with Bounty on the field! Here’s one that is simple but effective:

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The Reputable Hunter here starts as a three cost 3/4 — basically “on curve” — but if an enemy unit has a Bounty, this unit becomes a mighty two cost 3/4 instead! This not only can be used to counter early “built-in Bounty” plays that your opponent might make, but you can “stack the odds” with cheap Bounty upgrades of your own, allowing you to give a Bounty to an opposing unit and enable your synergy!

There are several other cards that punish Bounty, which both contributes additional risk to playing highly efficent built-in Bounty units and also allows for more reward for playing Bounty upgrades, which might otherwise suffer from clunky timing compared to other effects. Where will this interplay of built-in Bounty, Bounty upgrades, and “punishers” wind up in the Shadows of the Galaxy meta? Time will tell!

Smuggle: Sneaking In from the Resource Zone

The next of the new mechanics Shadows of the Galaxy offers is Smuggle, which allows cards to be played from the resource zone under some circumstances!

Cards with Smuggle can be played from the resource zone and replace themselves with the top card of your deck when doing so (meaning you don’t “lose a resource” for playing a Smuggle card). This means cards played via Smuggle essentially “don’t cost a card”, providing a form of card advantage. Further, the flexibility that Smuggle offers means that you can resource a card early in the game but still have access to it later on if its effect becomes important!

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Here for instance we have Smuggler’s Aid, a card that functions similarly to Spark of Rebellion’s classic Repair. However, Smuggler’s Aid really benefits from being able to be played using Smuggle — this type of card is kind of “low-impact” and situational, but can be really helpful in the right situation. However, keeping it in your hand to play in the right moment can normally feel pretty expensive.

With Smuggle, though, you can get the “best of both worlds” by resourcing Smuggler’s Aid early — then, if you end up in a tight spot where you really need to heal your base, you can play Smuggler’s Aid from the resource zone instead!

Another interesting aspect of Smuggle is that some cards function differently when played with Smuggle than when played from hand, with additional effects in one mode or the other and even potentially different aspects involved! For example, let’s look at this Hotshot DL-44 Blaster:

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When played using Smuggle, this card gains an interesting new ability — and also uses a Cunning aspect icon for its cost instead of the Aggression one it has when played normally! Thus, Smuggle offers some flexible and tactically interesting options where cards can be used in multiple different “modes”.

It’s also worth noting that the “extra ability” doesn’t always come with Smuggle — this Millennium Falcon, Lando’s Pride, offers a bonus ability when played from hand instead!

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Overall, Smuggle offers an interesting design space for cards with even more flexibility than Star Wars: Unlimited’s resource system already provides. Often, the price of this flexibility is somewhat inefficient stats, but that can perhaps be made up for by the card advantage gained by playing a unit using Smuggle, as well as the flexibility that allows one card to potentially address multiple situations in a build.

Capture: Taking Enemy Units Prisoner

The last of Shadows of the Galaxy’s new mechanics is capture. Various cards allow you to to capture opposing cards, putting them facedown under a friendly unit that captured them. That unit is then considered to be “guarding” the captured card — and if the unit guarding the captured card leaves play, the captured card escapes and returns to the field!

For example, Relentless Pursuit allows one of your units to capture an opponent’s unit, taking the target off the board — while also providing a shield to help defend the prisoner if your unit is a Bounty Hunter!

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Capture thus plays an interesting role by offering a new form of removal that is highly interactive — capturing enemy units seems often cheaper than defeating them, but if the opponent can defeat your guarding unit or otherwise remove it from play, they get their captured unit back (though I believe it enters play exhausted).

To me, this means that capturing enemy units might wind up being most effective if you use a leader or other powerful card to do the capturing — that way the opponent will have a much harder time getting the guard out of play to get their captured card back!

Further, there are some cards that directly allow you to rescue captured units, like the powerful L3-37, Droid Revolutionary:

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L3 can be used to rescue a captured card without having to defeat the guard — potentially quite a useful thing to do if the opponent has used their leader or some other difficult-to-remove unit to take an important card of yours captive. Further, L3 offers great flexibility, as you can also either resource her for later rescues via Smuggle or play her as a 2/2 unit with a shield in the early game!

As a whole, I think capture will likely end up being a mechanic that winds up somewhere “between” disruption and removal — since there are many ways to interact and potentially rescue captured cards, it isn’t as reliable as simple defeat effects, but at the same time Capture will generally at least get you an exhaust and often pose more of an obstacle than that!

This means it may be a strong tool against more aggressive decks in particular — control decks might just be able to play removal on your guard and rescue their captured unit almost immediately, but aggro is much less likely to want to spend time and damage rescuing a unit rather than focusing on the base!

Shadows of the Galaxy’s New Trait Synergies

In addition to the new mechanics discussed above, Shadows of the Galaxy also brings new synergies to the table for existing traits that haven’t been as valuable yet. In Star Wars Unlimited’s first set, the Imperial, Rebel, and Force traits saw a lot of synergy, while traits like Underworld didn’t offer much benefit. However, with Shadows of the Galaxy’s thematic focus on the Outer Rim and smugglers, bounty hunters, etc. that is going to change!

Thus far, we’ve seen quite a few Shadows of the Galaxy cards that synergize with the Mandalorian trait as well as synergy for Underworld and Bounty Hunter cards. The Bad Batch is also emphasized in this set, with both some direct Clone synergy and various cards that play into the clone theme by being stronger when you have multiple cards sharing the same name — for instance, Echo allows you to discard a card from hand when played to give two Experience tokens to a unit with the same name as the discarded card!

These new synergies aren’t as flashy as outright new mechanics, but allow players access to cool new ways to build around themes they like, whether that be Mandalorians (both heroic or villainous!), the forces of the underworld, or even the Bad Batch! Further, some older cards may see new strength in light of these synergiesDisabling Fang Fighter is looking quite nice for the Shadows of the Galaxy meta with both a new focus on upgrades in this set and Mandalorian synergies entering the game!

A New Two-Player Starter!

Fantasy Flight Games has decided to create a new two-player starter for this set, focusing on some of the characters and interactions that are more thematically fitting — while Spark of Rebellion had a two-player starter featuring Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, Shadows of the Galaxy is going to bring us a clash between The Mandalorian and Moff Gideon!

Like Spark of Rebellion’s two-player starter, the Shadows of the Galaxy two-player starter will feature two starter decks designed to be played against one another and will feature a few cards not otherwise available in the set as a whole — though as with Spark of Rebellion, The Mandalorian and Moff Gideon leader cards will be available in prerelease kits as well (this time in a fancy Hyperspace treatment!), and while we have not yet seen these cards previewed I think it is highly likely that the other starter-only cards may be available in Organized Play promo packs.

These two-player starters can be a great way to introduce the game to newcomers without the added complexity of deckbuilding, and FFG has done a good job of making them appealing to established players by offering unique cards as well — while also providing sufficient copies of these cards so that people don’t feel compelled to buy multiple starter sets, which has been a problem in some past games!

A Brand-New Limited Environment!

One other thing that Shadows of the Galaxy offers that I am particularly excited for is a new Limited environment! I’ve had a lot of fun playing Sealed prereleases (and later Draft events) for Spark of Rebellion, and Shadows of the Galaxy will offer new opportunities for this, with all-new leaders and a new set of cards to explore!

Right now it’s a bit too early to tell what the Limited environment for Shadows of the Galaxy will end up looking like, but I for one am excited to see how things evolve and to bring more coverage of Limited play to The Fifth Trooper! I think it’s one of the most interesting parts of the game and — with FFG expanding production for Shadows of the Galaxy and releasing product in waves — will hopefully be more widely available than it was with Spark of Rebellion!

As with Spark of Rebellion, I believe Shadows of the Galaxy will have prerelease events that focus on Sealed play — I will hopefully have a primer for those events up in June for you to use to prepare prior to the set’s release, as well as some material covering Draft play later on as well.

Wrapping It All Up

Shadows of the Galaxy looks like an exciting followup to Star Wars Unlimited’s first set, Spark of Rebellion. With new mechanics, synergies, and themes, it looks to build on the success of Star Wars Unlimited’s core mechanics while also not overcomplicating things. Fans of The Mandalorian TV show might be especially excited to see what Shadows of the Galaxy has to offer, and I for one am quite excited to dive into the world of bounty hunters and smugglers once Shadows of the Galaxy releases in July!

Next month, I hope to bring you a “Prerelease Primer” with strategy and other information you may need to take down your local prerelease events for Shadows of the Galaxy — stay tuned for that and more Star Wars Unlimited coverage here at The Fifth Trooper!

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