Shadows of the Galaxy Prerelease Guide for Star Wars Unlimited TCG - The Fifth Trooper (2024)

Welcome back to The Fifth Trooper’s coverage of Star Wars Unlimited TCG! In past months, we’ve covered a range of topics related to this great card game (check out the archive if you want to learn more) — this time around, we have a guide to the Shadows of the Galaxy prerelease events that will be coming up this 4th of July weekend! From finding events to building and playing your deck, we have you covered!

Finding Shadows of the Galaxy Prerelease Events Near You

First up is the question of how to find events to play in! If you have local game stores that play Star Wars Unlimited, calling them to ask about prerelease events might be a good bet — most of these events will be taking place across the upcoming 4th of July weekend, though some will follow afterwards.

If you aren’t familiar with stores around you (or just want to find more events!), you can use Fantasy Flight Games’s official event locator for Star Wars Unlimited to find Shadows of the Galaxy prereleases — just keep in mind that not all events are necessarily going to be uploaded to the event locator!

One tip that can help get more value out of the event locator if you’re having trouble finding events is to specify “Purchase a product” rather than searching for the event itself — by doing this, the locator will show stores in the area that carry Star Wars Unlimited, and you can contact those stores directly to find out if they might be running events not on the tracker. (In my area, the tracker finds 3 Shadows of the Galaxy prerelease events within 25 miles… but I know of 7+ events that are not listed there!)

The Shadows of the Galaxy Prerelease Format

Next up, let’s discuss the Shadows of the Galaxy prerelease format! Prerelease events are generally going to be Sealed, a format where you open packs and then build a deck with the cards you just opened. A Shadows of the Galaxy prerelease kit comes with six booster packs as well as tokens, a rulebook, and two cool leader cards — a hyperspace promo versions of both The Mandalorian, Sworn to the Creed and Moff Gideon, Formidable Commander!

In prerelease Sealed play, you can use the two prerelease promos in your card pool as well as the cards you open in your packs! This means that The Mandalorian and Moff Gideon will always be available leader options if you want, giving you a bit more options than in a normal Sealed event.

In general, my experience from past prereleases has been that some stores will run these events as best-of-one (only one game against each of your opponents), while others will run them as best-of-three (each match has three potential games and the player who wins two out of three wins).

In best-of-three, you have more ability to play around your opponent’s build and potentially even “sideboard” cards in or out in between games, making the matches more strategic. However, this format also takes significantly longer to resolve, so some stores are likely to run these events as best of ones in order to play faster and/or allow more rounds.

Prereleases tend not to have big prizes, though they will likely often have “pack-per-win” rewards or similar, where the winner of each round wins a booster pack. This can be a good way to get your hands on some extra Shadows of the Galaxy cards while also avoiding major prizing that might cause the event to be too competitive or “cutthroat”!

Building a Shadows of the Galaxy Prerelease Deck

One very relevant factor when attending a Shadows of the Galaxy prerelease is how to build a deck! In general, when I’m building a Sealed deck I like to start off by opening all six of my packs and separating the cards into different piles based on aspect — one pile for each aspect combination in a “grid” format. This can help get a sense of which aspects you have more cards available for, making it easier to select an aspect combination.

I personally like to sort my cards in three rows and five columns. The middle row is for “neutral” cards — mono-red/mono-blue/mono-yellow/mono-green cards each get their own pile, with the fifth pile in the row being for aspectless cards. I then put the Heroism versions of these in their own row up top and the Villainy versions below, ending up with fifteen total piles.

For a detailed example of what this looks like in practice (featuring a real Shadows of the Galaxy prerelease kit that FFG sent me to open early!), you can check out the following video — I do some “pack one pick one” at first to practice for Draft a bit but then proceed to show a Sealed layout and deck build:

That said, my way is not necessarily the only way to do it — you should find an overall deckbuilding method that works well for you!

One other practical note is that you may wish to bring sleeves to sleeve your cards as part of this process.

Selecting Your Leader (and base!)

One of the most important parts of deckbuilding is choosing a leader and base. Your Shadows of the Galaxy prerelease box will supply you with six packs, each of which contains one leader — you will also have your two prerelease promo leaders. This means you will have up to eight different leader options, though in practice you may have duplicates that give fewer options.

In a previous article on Draft and Sealed play, I wrote:

One simple tactic to use in Sealed issimply to count the number of good (or at least decent) cards you have for each aspect combination in order to see what your cardpool favors— keeping in mind that you will likely run some below average cards in order to hit the minimum deck size! For example, if I have six great Aggression/Villainy cards, four great Command/Villainy cards, a fair few decently strong Aggression and Command “neutrals”, and not a lot of great options elsewhere, that might well point me towards those aspects!

(from “Star Wars Unlimited Draft and Sealed Play”)

These principles hold true here as well — a lot of what leader you want to play may be influenced by your cardpool! To continue the example above, if my cardpool points me towards Aggression, Command, and Villainy as my aspects, I will probably want to either play a leader with the Aggression and Villainy aspects and a Command base or else a leader with the Command and Villainy aspects and an Aggression base.

That said, the different leaders also have notably very different capabilities to offer in game, and not all leaders are created equal — in general, common leaders are going to be easier to build a strong Sealed deck for. Further, several leaders are going to be better with specific types of cards in your pool, whether that be Mandalorians for Bo-Katan or units with two or less power for Rey.

Thus, I’m going to provide brief summaries of each leader and how I think they can best be applied. Note that much of this is theory, since this set isn’t out yet and I have yet to play in any Sealed tournaments myself — I have messed around with some of the cards though, and these are my initial impressions of where each leader might fit!

The Mandalorian, Sworn to the Creed (Cunning, Heroism)

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The Mandalorian is a midrange leader that synergizes with upgrades, including both upgrades you use to buff your own units and Bounty upgrades or other debuffs that you play on your opponent’s units. He works best with cardpools that have multiple strong upgrades and/or Bounty Hunter synergy cards — cards like Relentless Pursuit go great for The Mandalorian!

It is important to note that while they may be upgrades, Experience and Shield tokens do not work with The Mandalorian’s ability, as these tokens are “given” by other effects, not “played.” You cannot exhaust an opponent’s unit just by playing a Mandalorian Warrior and buffing another one of your units!

Moff Gideon, Formidable Commander (Command, Villainy)

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Moff Gideon is an unusual and somewhat “divided” leader in that his focus on early units and quick deployment time incline you towards playing aggro, but his actual text rewards you for unit combat, which aggro generally does not want to do.

In an ideal situation, Gideon’s ability can allow you to get substantial bonus value from your early game and outvalue your opponent, similar to what Jyn Erso could sometimes do in Shadows of the Galaxy. Jyn was a superstar in Limited play, but I’m not sure Gideon will have the same success, as his ability only applies to early-game units. That said, if you have a lot of strong 1-3 cost units, that might be a sign that Gideon is the leader for you!

Gar Saxon, Viceroy of Mandalore (Vigilance, Villainy)

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Gar Saxon is a midrange leader that rewards you for upgrading your units. His ability isn’t as impactful as The Mandalorian’s in the moment, but it can provide value across multiple different attacks/clashes with the upgraded unit. It is important to note that Experience tokens and Shield tokens do work with Gar Saxon’s ability! This means units with the Shielded keyword work especially well with Gar.

Further, Gar synergizes well with Mandalorian synergy cards. If you have a villain-leaning pool with (beneficial) upgrades and Mandalorian synergy, Gar Saxon might be a good choice!

Qi’ra, I Alone Survived (Vigilance, Villainy)

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Qi’ra is a control-oriented leader. Her combat stats are not good (she basically deploys as a 4/4 thanks to her ability), but she can shield your units in exchange for damage and deploying her can be a major “reset”, healing all units and then dealing half their HP in damage. This works especially well with Grit units, since damaging them increases their power and the shield protects them from being easily removed.

Note that Qi’ra is a rare leader, so you are less likely to see her compared to the common leaders.

Finn, This is a Rescue (Vigilance, Heroism)

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Finn is a midrange leader that can defeat upgrades and replace them with Shield tokens. This is probably best used to trade Experience for shields, and combos with Rose Tico, Dedicated to the Cause to in principle generate major value across a series of attacks — Rose can attack, defeating her Shield and gaining 2 Experience, then Finn can defeat one of those Experience tokens and exchange it for a Shield, and the cycle continues with Rose getting stronger each time.

In situations where you don’t have good Experience generation, Finn’s ability isn’t that efficient, though playing a zero-cost Bounty on your own unit and turning into a shield is a neat trick! Overall I think Finn is a bit too combo-y to be good in this format — thankfully he is a rare leader and you aren’t that likely to see him in your pool.

Rey, More than a Scavenger (Vigilance, Heroism)

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While I’m not fond of Finn in Limited play, his sequels-era compatriot Rey is a very different story! Her ability to give out Experience tokens can generate huge value, turning less efficient units into potential powerhouses. Rey works especially well with one-cost units that she can buff on the first turn, but can get value throughout different phases of a game.

If you have the cardpool to support her — which isn’t that hard — Rey might be my pick for most promising leader in this Limited format, as she can generate huge value. Also, keep in mind that when Rey deploys, she can use her on-attack ability on herself to turn her weak 2/6 statline into a much more respectable 3/7.

Hondo Ohnaka, That’s Good Business (Command, Villainy)

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Hondo is a midrange leader built around getting extra value out of Smuggle cards. While many Smuggle cards can be inefficient, Hondo lets you add an Experience token when you smuggle them onto the field, getting some extra value out of these cards. Note that Hondo’s ability only works if you play the card using Smuggle — playing a card that has Smuggle from hand does not trigger this ability!

Hondo can be a good leader if your pool includes several Smuggle cards — and they don’t have to be units, since even if you play a Smuggle event you can use this ability to buff another unit! That said, you might want to be careful — using Smuggle can make you deck out more quickly! While I usually advocate playing the minimum number of cards possible, with Hondo I might well play more than the minimum to make up for Smuggle costing me extra cards!

Jabba the Hutt, His High Exaltedness (Command/Villainy)

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Jabba is a more control-oriented leader that “brings his own Bounty” to the table! Jabba’s ability allows you to set bounties on your opponents’ units, making him a great pick if you have multiple “Bounty punisher” cards like Reputable Hunter. When deployed, Jabba brings a “free capture” to the table as well, helping you claim bounties more easily and taking an opposing unit off the board — at least for the short term!

In order to get maximum value out of Jabba the Hutt’s ability, you will need to use him to set a Bounty on an opposing unit, defeat that unit with one of your units that is already on the board, and then play a unit that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to play. That said, this takes multiple actions and can be timing-sensitive, so sometimes you’ll have to play for less than maximum value.

While Jabba is a rare leader and therefore less likely to be seen, I think he’s less situational than some of the other rare leaders — if you have a pool with strong “Bounty punishers” he seems like a great option!

Boba Fett, Daimyo (Command, Heroism)

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Boba Fett, Daimyo (aka “Hero Boba”) is a midrange leader that synergizes with units that have keywords! (For reference, the current keywords in the game are: Bounty, Grit, Shielded, Ambush, Saboteur, Raid X, Restore X, Sentinel, Overwhelm, and Smuggle.) Since many units have keywords, Boba’s ability can pretty reliably give out buffs with a wide range of potential triggers, making Boba a flexible option. If you happen to pull Boba Fett’s Armor that card can be a super bomb if played on Boba himself — just watch out for Rival’s Fall!

Note that you can choose to resolve Ambush after Boba’s ability, allowing you to buff an Ambush unit before it makes its swing! This can be very helpful in situations where you need just one extra point of damage to take out a target.

Also note that this version of Boba Fett is not a Bounty Hunter and therefore does not work with Bounty Hunter trait synergy cards — no shield from Relentless Pursuit for Boba!

Hunter, Outcast Sergeant (Command, Heroism)

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Hunter is a rare leader that combos with having multiple copies of the same unique unit. Unfortunately, this makes him in my opinion quite bad in Limited, a format where you are much less likely to have multiple copies of the same unique units in your pool than you would be in constructed play! As a result, I generally do not recommend this leader if you have other options, as both his leader and unit side have abilities that you will likely not be able to get reliable value from.

One trick if you do end up having multiple copies of the same unique unit is that you can resource the copy in hand, use Hunter’s ability to replace it, then resource it again next turn, use Hunter’s ability again, and so on. This provides sustained card advantage but will likely prove difficult to set up well.

That said, if you do end up running Hunter — maybe he’s the only leader that fits well with the aspects you’ve chosen — his powerful stats may still end up having a serious impact on the game. Make sure you don’t get overwhelmed before he deploys though — his seven-resource deploy timing makes Hunter one of the slower leaders in the set overall.

Bossk, Hunting His Prey (Aggression, Villainy)

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Bossk is a flexible leader that can easily play either an aggro or midrange gameplan. His ability is versatile, damaging units that have a Bounty (whether that be built-in or attached to them by one an upgrade) but also offering a potential buff, allowing you to use it on your own units if you need to pack a bigger punch that turn. When Bossk deploys, he threatens collecting a Bounty twice in one turn, an ability which can produce a huge swing when paired with cards like Top Target — potentially 12 healing from one card!

Note that even if you don’t have a huge number of cards that allow you to set a Bounty on the opponent, there’s a fairly good chance that opponents will run at least some units that have a built-in Bounty, allowing Bossk’s ability to get results “naturally” — and while I’m less confident that will be the case in constructed play, it’s a nice thing to have in your back pocket for your Shadows of the Galaxy prerelease events!

Kylo Ren, Rash and Deadly (Aggression, Villainy)

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Kylo is a (very) aggro leader, discarding cards from hand to buff units on his leader side and then hitting harder when you have fewer cards in hand on his unit side! Further, his quick deploy timing of four resources means that you can potentially start landing those hits early in the game as well.

Kylo is a rare leader so won’t be seen as often as some others, but goes well with a cheap and aggressive card pool that can put pressure on early. That said, in Limited he distinctly benefits from this cardpool not including Set One removal staples like Open Fire or Takedown, which could otherwise easily kill him the turn he deploys. Watch out for Ambush units though — a Modded Cohort could end Kylo’s dreams of glory pretty quickly!

Bo-Katan Kryze, Princess in Exile (Aggression, Heroism)

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Bo-Katan is a rare midrange leader that synergizes with the Mandalorian trait. If you have a bunch of Mandalorians in your pool, Bo might be a good option! If you don’t, she probably won’t generate a ton of value for you. Note that there are several Mandalorian space units in the set that you might not immediately realize are Mandalorian (and hence work with Bo’s ability), so if you’re not seeing those iconic Mandalorian helmets on the art for your cards you may not be out of luck just yet!

Han Solo, Worth the Risk (Aggression, Heroism)

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As the name suggests, playing Han Solo is in my view likely to be worth the risk! He has a flexible ability that can easily generate major value by allowing you to get units out “ahead of schedule”. Han pairs best with Grit units and/or cards with high HP, where the damage his ability inflicts is less of an issue — he also probably does better with more expensive units in general than some, since he can bring them out quicker and these units tend to have high HP totals that mitigate his downside.

Note that Han does especially well with some of the Wookiee cards in the set, a relevant and flavorful synergy — but sadly the Stolen Landspeeder does not combo with his ability, as it dies before going to your opponent’s side of the board — it stays in your discard pile instead. Alas!

Cad Bane, He who Needs No Introduction (Cunning, Villainy)

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Cad Bane is a midrange leader that combos with Underworld cards for “ping damage” to the opponent. In some ways he can be viewed as similar to Bo-Katan — both have ping abilities based on trait synergy, just with Bo looking for Mandalorian cards and Cad looking for Underworld ones. Like Bo, you probably only really want to run Cad if you have a fair number of cards that work with his trait synergy. However, there are way more Underworld cards in this set than there are Mandalorian ones, so Cad is going to be much more reliably able to put a synergistic Sealed deck together than Bo is!

Doctor Aphra, Rapacious Archaeologist (Cunning, Villainy)

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Sorry, Aphra fans — I think she may be my pick for worst leader in the set for Sealed. While this is theorycrafting, I think you are not likely to have a deck with a lot of discard recursion cards to take advantage of her ability, and discarding a card every turn when Aphra is not deployed is going to rapidly fatigue you in games that go long. While Aphra does have some cool synergies with cards like Kylo’s TIE Silencer or Fennec Shand, Loyal Sharpshooter, I think her ability is often going to end up being neutral (or even negative) and her unit side isn’t likely to make up for it.

At least she’s rare so less likely to be in your pool?

Fennec Shand, Honoring the Deal (Cunning, Heroism)

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Speaking of Fennec Shand, here’s her leader version! Fennec is a really interesting card because she has perhaps one of the best leader abilities for Sealed paired with one of the worst unit sides of any leader in the set. 4/4 for 5 is a very poor statline, but Ambush is probably the best keyword in the game and giving it out, even at a price, can potentially generate huge value.

I am genuinely very uncertain how to rate Fennec and suspect the quality of your potential Ambush targets may be the key factor — if you have units that cost four or less and seem likely able to get good value from Ambush, Fennec might be great, but if your early units don’t seem suited for it you might be better suited just playing The Mandalorian instead, as even if you don’t have many upgrades he has much better stats when deployed.

Note that, like her boss Boba Fett, Daimyo, Fennec Shand is not a Bounty Hunter and does not work with Bounty Hunter trait synergy cards, so a pool that favors that trait might also push you towards The Mandalorian.

Lando Calrissian, With Impeccable Taste (Cunning, Heroism)

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Lando is a rare leader that allows you to deramp yourself in order to play a card via Smuggle at a sizable discount. I think this perhaps works best with an aggro gameplan where you bring a powerful unit out early, potentially overwhelming your opponent and making up for losing a resource in the long run. However, this is a risky plan to make work and perhaps especially so in Sealed.

I would be most inclined to play Lando if I had a pool with cards that have relatively efficient profiles when played via Smuggle, like the new Falcon or Zorii Bliss. Bringing out both Lando himself and one of these cards on the four-resource turn seems like it could really overwhelm some opponents — just watch out and make sure that you deploy Lando first so you don’t deramp yourself out of being able to flip him!

(A similar trap can also be a risk when using Wrecker, BOOM! alongside a leader that deploys on six resources — sequencing matters!)

General Shadows of the Galaxy Prerelease Deckbuilding Tips

Now that we’ve covered the leaders, here are a few tips that might help you when building a Sealed deck:

  • In Sealed, the quality of both decks is likely going to be much lower than in Premier constructed play (or even Draft!). This means that if you’re worried about having bad cards in your deck, don’t despair — your opponent probably has some bad cards in there as well!
  • In general, I try to run the minimum number of cards possible. (In Sealed, that’s thirty cards.) This gives you the highest possible chance of drawing your best cards. I might make an exception if I had lots of draw, Smuggle, or other effects that make me go through my deck quicker — but honestly I might not!
  • This set has a lot of upgrades, whether that be positive upgrades for your own units or Bounty upgrades that you might want to send to your opponent’s units. As a result, upgrade removal is more valuable here than it might be elsewhere.
  • Having strong Ambush and removal options is a good sign for your deck, though again because overall quality is lower don’t freak out if you don’t have much. I generally think Ambush is often better than “traditional removal”, though normal removal cards are often more flexible in that they can hit both arenas.
  • Speaking of both arenas, don’t neglect space! While space tends to be at a disadvantage in a “space against ground race”, ignoring it can easily lead to trouble, especially with cards like Lurking Tie Phantom out there!
  • Units that are “just stats” or mostly just stats are better here than they would be in Premier constructed play, as decks tend to be weaker and likely with less removal to boot. Something like a Desperado Freighter isn’t thrilling but could have a big impact if the opponent can’t deal with it.

Shadows of the Galaxy Prerelease Gameplay Tips

Lastly, I want to give a few quick words about gameplay that might seem especially relevant to a Shadows of the Galaxy prerelease. (Note that my previous articles here also cover a lot of gameplay tips!)

  • Capture can be strong but is best thought of as disruption, not removal, since your opponent can get their unit back by defeating the unit that took their card prisoner! That said, it works great against cards with a built-in Bounty, since you get the Bounty not just when you capture them but also potentially again later after the opponent rescues their unit!
  • Claiming bounties is not mandatory! If you defeat or capture an enemy unit whose Bounty effect would hurt you — for instance, let’s say you defeat a Fugitive Wookiee and the only unit on the board left to exhaust is yours — you don’t have to resolve the Bounty effect at all!
  • Smuggle is risky in games that go long, since it makes you run out of cards in deck faster given that you take a card from deck to replace the smuggled card in your resource zone. As a result, I don’t recommend using Smuggle on “low impact” cards like Collections Starhopper unless you are confident that the game will be quick (or you have more cards than normal in your deck!)
  • In best-of-three, if it looks like you’re going to run low on time, you’re still on game one (or two if you won game one), and the current game is clearly not going your way, it might be prudent to “scoop for time” and concede early in order to buy yourself more time for your other games in the match! (Sealed can be somewhat more prone to time constraints since decks are often kind of inefficient and ‘durdly’.)
  • Finally, remember to have fun! This format is a great way to play with some unusual decks, see a wide range of cards, and get a sense of what the new set has to offer.

That’s going to do it for this one — thanks for reading and best of luck at your Shadows of the Galaxy prerelease events, as well as with your pulls once the set comes out and people start opening product!

Shadows of the Galaxy Prerelease Guide for Star Wars Unlimited TCG - The Fifth Trooper (2024)
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