Since the beginning of the ATG meta, people have been complaining about the power level of Armored Reinforcement. It brought a level of consistency to vehicle decks, especially those centered around mods, that we hadn’t seen before. Combine that with some powerful vehicles introduced, namely Firespray and Shadow Caster, and Armored Reinforcement decks came out of the gate firing on all cylinders. Many were calling for a nerf early in the meta. Yet, as the meta has progressed we’ve seen these decks decrease in popularity, and they haven’t quite been able to claim a spot at the top of the meta – largely due to an increase of vehicle destruction cards in the meta. So which is it? Is Armored Reinforcement too good and in need of a nerf, or is it a card that requires too risky of a strategy to be good?
3 Reasons why AR Should be Nerfed
It provides too much consistency
Though a small deck size and strong mulligan make card draw less inconsistent in Destiny than many other games, it is still a large part of the game. AR bypasses a lot of this inherent inconsistency by allowing you to guarantee the vehicle of your choice to start the game. This also allows mods – most of which are very cost efficient – to be hyper consistent, where they should be more inconsistent than other upgrades because of the requirement to have a vehicle in play. All of this makes fat-vehicle reset decks – the primary abusers of AR – far more consistent than they should be.
Shadow Caster reset decks are too strong
While they haven’t been dominating current standard, Shadow Caster reset decks appear to be one of the strongest trilogy decks, and look poised to be one of the strongest archetypes post rotation. These decks can do absurd amounts of damage in one round, making them extremely powerful. Add in the consistency mentioned above, and you’re looking at a potential juggernaut.
Shadow Caster reset decks are a negative play experience
Shadow Caster reset decks are the closest thing we have currently to an OTK deck, a style which is never fun to play against. One of the best attributes of Destiny as a game is the back and forth, interactive nature. These decks can take some of that away – your opponent can quickly run out of things to do as you keep resetting your Shadow Caster. These decks aren’t as bad as they were out of the gate, because the nerfing of the draw based decks prevents them from going off round 1 or 2. But sitting back and watching as your whole team dies in one round still isn’t a great play experience.
3 Reasons why AR shouldn’t be nerfed
Shadow Caster decks are the only AR decks that are problematic
In non Shadow Caster decks, AR has proven to be good but no where near broken. Talzin/Iden is a good example of a regular AR deck – it gets a nice benefit out of a plot, but nothing too crazy. In this case, it’s not a whole lot better than other 3 cost plots. In addition, with the loss of Cienna to rotation villain versions centered around Firespray take a huge hit, as they don’t really have any ways to reset a loaded up vehicle. This leaves Shadow Caster reset decks as the only real reason we would consider nerfing this plot.
Vehicle destruction almost completely shuts down fat vehicle decks
Fat vehicle decks have been relegated to Tier 1.5 in the current meta, and this is mostly due to the presence of cards like EMP Grenade and Vandalize. So much gets invested in the AR vehicle in these decks, that vehicle destruction becomes devastating – it is very difficult to come back from it if they destroy your Shadow Caster or Firespray before you have been able to pull off at least one big round with the vehicle. And while some of these cards rotate, there are still a number of cards that can destroy vehicles – N1-Starfighter, Vandalize, Force Rend, Flames of the Past – and the only card that can prevent these plays is also rotating (Shield Generator). Each new vehicle destruction card printed will represent a sucker punch to the gut for these decks. All this to say, these decks are risky and represent an “all your eggs in one basket” kind of style. This makes me think they are unlikely to ever be meta dominating for long, as they will be victims of their own success
Do we really want to nerf the only plot you can actually build your deck around?
Besides AR, we haven’t really seen many decks built around plots (Solo Sabine being a fringe exception to this). Sure, Profitable Connections has seen a decent bit of play, and we’ve seen the occasional deck include Double Down or Stolen Intel. But these decks aren’t really built around the plots – the plots are just throw-ins that add a nice bonus. Having plots that you actually build your deck around leads to unique and interesting deckbuilding experiences that deviate from the typical “start with characters you want to pair together and then add the best cards” template. As the game gets older, these sorts of unique experiences will be important to keeping the game fresh and interesting. Are we really going to nerf the first plot that does this?
My instinct is to leave the plot as is. It enables a unique deckbuilding and play experience, and in the majority of situations it is not OP. Having said that, Shadow Caster reset decks are certainly a concern, and should be watched going forward. A format dominated by these decks would not be great, and I’d be forced to reconsider my assessment if these decks dominate standard post rotation (though even then, it may be Shadow Caster and/or reset cards that need a hit more than AR). But for now, my vote is to put the nerf bat down and leave the plot as is. Keep flying my friends!