For the first time since the launch of Arena back in May 2018, we have repeated a format. But this repeat has new cards, so it isn’t the same thing again. But there are lessons to take from the last time we danced. Let’s do this!

Format Rules and Technical Data

The scenario rule for Rushed Defenses completely changes the flow of the game.

Bases go directly into play when acquired, and are scrapped when destroyed.

We’re playing with the Core Set starter, along with Promo Pack 1 and Crisis: Fleets and Fortresses. Trade decks begin with 107 cards this week.

Just like last week, the base-heavy theme of Promo Pack 1 heavily incentivises buying bases. The scenario rule pushes that through the roof!

The beginning of the game is now completely different.

If you can acquire a base within the first two turns of the game, you should. With bases now providing immediate benefit, they can’t be ignored. And depending on the state of the trade row, your purchase can sometimes force your opponent’s next move — and in my experience, doing that is a key way to win in this format.

Veterans of this format know that turn one or turn two bases are key. This time, there are many more than before. Here are the bases that are in the format that will survive your opponent’s starting deck:

Trading Post3 (net 2)Trade Federation4 Outpostuncommon
Blob Wheel3 (net 0 if scrapped)Blob5common
Battle Station3Machine Cult5 Outpostuncommon
Fortress Oblivion3Machine Cult4 Outpostuncommon
Space Station4 (net 0 if scrapped)Star Empire4 Outpostuncommon
Recycling Station4Star Empire4 Outpostuncommon
Barter World4 (net 2)Trade Federation4uncommon
Border Fort4 (net 3)Machine Cult5 Outpostrare
Breeding Site4Blob7rare
Starbase Omega4Star Empire6uncommon
Starmarket4 (net 1)Trade Federation6uncommon
War World5Star Empire4 Outpostrare
The Hive5Blob5rare
Mech World5Machine Cult6 Outpostrare
Defense Center5Trade Federation5 Outpostrare

If you can acquire Starmarket, Barter World, Space Station, or Blob Wheel, you have the potential of purchasing very, very expensive cards right away. So do so, if you can!

Authority gaining cards are much, much better than in the normal game.

Because bases do not stay in your deck, you cannot count them as extra authority forever (as you can in the normal game). This has the effect of increasing the power-level of the Trade Federation and their authority-gaining cards.

Cutter is largely seen as one of the best cards in the Core Set. It’s value goes up even more under this week’s scenario. Don’t sleep on Federation Shuttle though. It’s a cheap ship that leaves you enough trade to purchase a base, should one appear on the trade row after you buy the shuttle.

Early damage is generally more important than early trade.

If you have the choice between adding +2 trade or +4 damage to your deck, you should usually add the damage. If you don’t, your opponent will have the opportunity to run away with the game if they get lucky. I have won most games where I get at least one big-damage card into my deck before the first shuffle. (Easier said than done, of course.)

Never, ever leave a base on the trade row.

If you can buy a base, you almost always should. If you don’t, you run the risk of your opponent gaining an advantage. If they have just two bases in play at the start of any turn, it can become impossible to defeat that. They can keep buying bases and leveraging the synergies between them, and drive you right out of the game.

In order to ensure you are not leaving bases on the trade row that they can purchase, you need to be very careful about your own purchases. If there are no bases on the trade row, if you buy a ship there is a chance a base could appear. If you don’t have enough trade to purchase that newly-arriving base, there is the chance that you can hand victory to your opponent. (Of course, this doesn’t happen if you buy an Explorer, which is why sometimes I will buy one even if there are more-powerful cards available.)

MATH TIME: In this week’s card pool, there are 35 bases out of the 107 cards in the trade deck. That means there is a 32.7% chance that each new card is a base. This will shift up and down as the game progresses, but you should assume that one out of three cards that appear will be a base. (This means that you should see at least one base appear if you scrap the whole trade row with Battle Screecher.)

In Conclusion

This format can be difficult to handle at times. Sometimes your opponent will grab the first two bases that appear and they run away with the game. There will be some games you just can’t win – but those are few and far between. Even with bases going directly into play, there are still opportunities for smart players to gain an advantage. Find your plan – authority gain, scrapping, big damage, or something else – and make it happen.

Andrea Davis is an award-winning designer and producer. They have designed Star Realms promos, Hero Realms Boss Decks, and cards for Epic Card Game. Andrea is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Game Design and Development at the University of Limerick in Ireland.