I’ve been gradually building up my Space Marines deck, but it hasn’t been without its challenges. With only a First Wave of 1, and a reliance on characters to leverage its Fleet Card, during playtesting it seemed all too common to have too few units at sectors over the course of a game. This numerical disadvantage seemed ever-present – leading me to ask the question, “What advantages do Space Marines have that can overcome this deficit?”
The answer was staring me in the face: card advantage. Every faction gets a hand of 4 command cards (more or less) which lets them sway the battle in their favour. Vanilla Space Marines, however, must rely on their 6-card command hand to win sectors. But, you can’t predict what cards you’ll draw in each command hand. How do you build a deck such that you can reliably turn cards in your hand into battlefield advantages that let you capture sectors?
Discard is the answer! Specifically, discard outlets. When you have discard outlets at sectors, you guarantee that the cards in your command hand will always find a use, regardless of whether or not you draw relevant command lines.
Space Marines are very good at keeping themselves alive with their command hands. In addition to the virtually-universal 3 armor of their infantry units, they have key cards that can boost their infantry’s armor far beyond the reach of most attacks.
In addition to armor boosting, Space Marines are good at rallying. They’re also good at using discard outlets to rally units. I don’t believe any player would turn down the opportunity to turn command cards into additional BAs to attack opposing units.
Imagine that a Chaos Space Marines unit is firing at your Squad Damocles. You also have a locked Apothecary Singa at the sector. You discard a card of die 3+, saving your Squad Damocles, while its counterattack destroys the Chaos Space Marines. By discarding one card, you just saved a flag unit.
If you could discard a card to essentially lock an opposing unit, I think every player would take that trade 100% of the time. The tempo advantage is enormous.
Of course, most players won’t play into this trap, but this theoretical scenario illustrates the transfer of value from your command hand to a sector. Command cards are a resource to preserve your flag units while depleting your opponent’s. If you look at it this way, discarding cards for extra battlefield options becomes a no-brainer.
An ancillary benefit to discard outlets is providing a use for useless command cards. Even the best of command lines can be rendered unplayable in a specific situation. Whether it’s a nigh-impossible 6+ test command line, a “BA: Rally any assault unit” when you have none at a sector, or a “E: You get -1 flag”, a discard outlet turns those bricks into value on the battlefield.
Synergy is also important when gauging these extra abilities. For Space Marines, gaining new ways to boost armor plays into their overall strategy of outlasting their opponents. The discard outlets you choose should fit into your deck’s strategy.
I hope this has given a new perspective on discard outlets in your deck. Are there any other factions which make good use of discarding cards? Let me know!