Monday, December 26, 2016

Heroes of the Resistance isn't the slam-dunk best first expansion

When new players ask what Rebel expansions they should buy first on Reddit, someone will inevitably suggest Heroes of the Resistance. There's few ways to go wrong with a first expansion, and Heroes of the Resistance is definitely OK. As a two-ship combo, it's $5-$10 cheaper than buying the Millennium Falcon and another small ship separately. It's also a great expansion for fans of The Force Awakens.

However, Heroes of the Resistance isn't the slam-dunk best first purchase many people think it is. When I wrote the Beginner's Guide to Budget Lists Without Proxies, I expected Heroes of the Resistance to feature prominently in Rebel lists. Two lists ended up using pilots from Heroes of the Resistance. In comparison, four Imperial lists featured ships from Imperial Veterans. No list used both the T-70 and the YT-1300 from Heroes of the Resistance.

Why did that happen? Well, I ran into two problems. First, the expansion comes with a lot of niche pilots. Rey, Poe Dameron, Nien Nunb, and Jess Pava (<3) are all good. However, the new Han Solo and Chewbacca are both overshadowed by their original counterparts. HotR Han Solo has a gimmicky ability, and new players especially will get more use from the original Han Solo. HotR Chewbacca has awful synergy with the mandatory Gunner, and needs a larger collection of small ships to get the most out of his ability. There's a strong set of X-Wing pilots, but starting with Heroes of the Resistance almost commits you to flying a two-ship list with the Falcon and a small ship. New players would get a similar experience using the Poe Dameron which comes with the Blue Core Set and possibly buying a different small ship expansion for variety.

Second, the strong Heroes of the Resistance pilots require a lot of upgrades from other expansions to work. Gunner effects are almost mandatory on the YT-1300, and those come in other big ship expansions. Rey can use Finn instead of Gunner, but she needs Kanan Jarrus crew (from the Ghost) to consistently get opponents in arc. On the X-Wing side, they often need elite pilot talent and astromech upgrades from various other expansions to get their value. Even the generic T-70 pilots want cheap astromechs from other expansions.

In comparison, the original Millennium Falcon expansion gives players the same experience and comes with everything the ship needs. You can run Han Solo with Veteran Instincts, Luke Skywalker crew, the original Millennium Falcon title, and Engine Upgrade just from the expansion alone. You're missing C-3PO or Hotshot Co-Pilot, but this build gets enough value out of the investment. Pair it with Miranda in her K-Wing with the Twin Laser Turret upgrade and you have the cheapest strong budget list along with some of the most important upgrades to expand from.

Heroes of the Resistance gets better for those willing to proxy upgrade cards. Rey Poe can compete against most squads. On the other hand, this Chewie Poe list gets you a similar experience for $10 less (assuming you have the Blue Core set), and there are tons of other non-Falcon options once you can proxy cards.

Buying Heroes of the Resistance shouldn't give you buyer's remorse (unless X-Wing wasn't the game for you). It's a great expansion for your collection! For new Rebel players looking for the best bang for their buck, the Millennium Falcon is the best bet for a turreted ship, and Rebel Aces is the best bet non-turreted ships.

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