Thursday, March 9, 2017

My Thoughts on the ZuckManPalpx7 Errata

The 4.3.0 errata nerfed several of the top tier lists. I personally think this was a nice change because the meta was getting a bit stale and this shakes things up.

I've seen some people overreacting to some of the nerfs, so I thought I'd bring my experience into this. I've played and followed League of Legends, a computer game which frequently gets patched. Many years ago, they nerfed a character in League of Legends. People played the character less, and its win rate dropped several percentage points. It turns out they actually forgot to make the changes nerfing that character. It wasn't changed at all. The changes in play rate and win percentage were entirely due to a placebo effect.

It's easy to overreact to changes. We got used to how things were before the nerfs, and now they look much worse. That doesn't mean they're weak. Let's take a closer look and see how bad the changes actually were.


Let's start with Zuckuss. I actually think this nerf is minor. You can use him for 1 every turn until you're about to die, and it contributes significantly to your offense. When I ran the numbers a while back, Zuckuss for 1 is roughly equivalent to Push the Limit for Focus + Target Lock. Think of him as a 1-point K4 Security Droid.


I think the TIE/x7 nerf looks small but is larger than it looks. My TIE Defenders tended to survive a long time on 1 HP, and I've often used the option to stay stressed or go over asteroids. Losing even 1 health can swing a game. It also makes them a lot more vulnerable to stress control and blocking.

That said, this is still a fairly minor nerf and it can be circumvented by good play. I think Defenders are still strong, and the TIE/x7 title is still better than the TIE/D title.

Emperor Palpatine

I think the Emperor Palpatine nerf is minor and very significant at the same time. On one hand, it's rare you'll waste his effect entirely. I forgot the exact numbers, but he'll let you save a token on defense over 75% of the time.

However, it's a significant nerf because you can no longer use him on offense for free at the end of the turn if your defense rolls worked out. That's pretty significant when you consider how often 1 damage or a crit from Palpatine swung the game.

At the end of the day, I think Palpatine as he was originally printed was a ~12-point card. This change makes him worth it at 8 points, but now he's not exceptionally strong at this price point.

EDIT: I've since learned that Palpatine triggers immediately after the roll, before any modifications are applied. This makes it worse against Zuckuss on defense (even though that one Palp'd die can't be rerolled) and much worse on offense with Target Lock.


I saved the best for last! This is a huge nerf, and I think Manaroo will be much less common. My article on Support Theory suggests supports have to make their allies a lot better in order to be worth it. A Range 1 restriction not only makes Manaroo more unreliable especially in asteroid fields, it also gives opponents a soft target to go after.

On its own, Manaroo's ability lets you pass actions to another ship for ~1.5 points (I value +1 pilot skill at 0.5 points). That's pretty expensive for not gaining extra actions. However, with Attanni Mindlink, Manaroo gives any of your other ships an extra Focus token for 1.5 points while keeping her own Focus. That's fantastic value compared to other action economy upgrades which usually cost 3 points.

I think the "problem" with this is Attanni Mindlink, not Manaroo. If Manaroo were removed from the game, Attanni Mindlink will still be a very strong card. If Attanni Mindlink were removed from the game, I think Manaroo would be a very niche pilot. That said, Attanni Mindlink is hard to nerf. A range restriction on Attanni Mindlink feels even worse than a range restriction on Manaroo, and raising Attanni Mindlink's cost to 2 is too much. I can see FFG treating Attanni Mindlink as Scum's format-defining card like R2-D2 for Rebels.

With this nerf, I don't think Manaroo will see nearly as much play. In Paratanni, a Contracted Scout and 2 points is a strong alternative. In other lists, Kaa'to and Palob are much cheaper options.

Paratanni is still a strong list. Attanni Mindlink is still strong and Fenn Rau and Asajj Ventress are strong ships. They can keep Manaroo and accept her ability won't be as consistent, or swap her for cheaper options. The biggest challenge is in order to use Manaroo's ability, they have to present her as a target. Unfortunately, Manaroo is often the easiest ship to kill in the Paratanni list, and losing even one ship makes Mindlink much less effective.

The Overall Meta and the Future

I think these changes make swarms a lot more attractive. Besides nerfing some of their biggest weaknesses, the remaining top meta lists often use low-agility big ships which can be vulnerable to swarms. I think non-swarm Rebels are still in a rough spot thanks to Rear Admiral Chiraneau with Kylo Ren crew.

I think Kylo Ren will eventually get errata'd, because like Zuckuss, it's not very fun to play against. We'll see if I'm right!


  1. What if they limited Attani two only two ships? Instead of having three or more with that sort of action efficiency, you would get two, which not only makes sense lore-wise, but would nerf it without really nerf-ing it.

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