Is Hero Mill holding Hero back?

With a rhetorical question like that you can bet the author has an opinion they want to share. Odds are that if the opinion was no, they wouldn’t be going through the trouble of writing an article about that topic.

So yeah, I think Hero Mill is holding the rest of Hero back. I think it is occurring in two ways: on the table and in design.


On the Table

It’s no secret that Hero has a bit of an efficiency issue. It most commonly crops up regarding their ability to translate their resources into damage. Part of that is their supports just don’t put out the same damage to resource ratio Villains have, and that upgrades in general are fairly weak in that respect. It also doesn’t help that Hero does not have effective zero cost mitigation. In all, Hero has to spend more resources to match Villain’s damage output.

There is another area where Hero efficiency is an issue beyond just resources, that being card efficiency. Hero has to put more cards on to the table to match the damage output that Villain can get from even a single card. While this wouldn’t be a huge deal in a Damage vs Damage match, it is in Mill vs Damage.

Every card you play is one less card Mill needs to take from you. Every additional card you need to see in order to get up to a lethal level of damage output is another chance for them to mill it before you can get it on the table. And if you’re playing on Occupied City, you are doing their job for them. With Hero Mill capable of ending games in the same time-frame as damage decks, this added card inefficiency is a huge liability for Hero in to Mill.

Beyond just that Hero features a reliance on some mechanics that are near entirely useless when sitting down across from Mill, most notably Shields. Shields as the Hero “thing” is something FFG has been pushing since Awakenings, to various degrees of success. Blue Hero can have a 3rd of it’s cards in any given set either entirely or mostly focused around this mechanic. Very few of those cards turn Shields into something beyond damage mitigation, which is useless against Mill. 7 out of 10 Hero die-Characters in SoH have at least 1 Shield side, some have two. By contrast Villain has 1. Now this is one of the more extreme sets in that regard, but it’s easy to see that Hero has a sizable portion of their card pool that lose significant or all utility when not playing a Damage match-up. Beyond Shields you also have healing, damage only mitigation, and abilities like Chewbacca’s all of which feature heavily in Hero and are dead into Mill.

Both of the above make Hero Mill a very uphill battle for other Hero decks.

In Design

Now this is all conjecture. I don’t know Jeremy’s thought process. I’m not in a playtest group. Though I feel I can extrapolate some things based on experience with other games as a playtester, experience with Destiny, and conversations with others that have the same. Maybe everything you’re about to read is just wrong and Jeremy just doesn’t like Hero. But I have to assume that isn’t the case.

Every card that Hero gets can be utilized by Hero Mill, therefore every card designed for Hero needs to be considered for its impact in Hero Mill. Hero Mill has been a consistent performer in Destiny for awhile now. Even pre-Yoda/Cassian/Anakin it did have some traction and was getting a fair bit of attention design wise considering the number of cards released geared towards it. For the past year it has been the only consistently good Hero archetype. It’s also dodged any killer RRG attention in that time period.

Most simply put I think Hero has missed out on a number of power cards because of how powerful they would be in the Hero north-star that is Hero Mill.

Non-mill Hero mitigation has been a much-maligned topic through most of Convergence. Their 0-cost mitigation is weak forcing them to pay for everything, and even the stuff that they can pay for can be very unreliable in common scenarios. Hero Mill mitigation, by contrast, is actually quite good. First, Pacify goes from very meh to very good, because Mill doesn’t care about shields. Second, it takes fewer resources in supports/upgrades to mill an opponent then it does to kill them. This means Hero Mill can afford to spend resources on mitigation where Hero Damage often cannot. With Hero Mill mitigation being solid, is FFG gun-shy about giving Hero better mitigation for fear of how it improves the already strong Hero Mill archetype? Perhaps.

We also have cards like the recently spoiled Desperate Measures and Separatist Embargo. There’s already been a number of Discord conversations wondering out loud as to why those cards, specifically Desperate Measures, are Villain and not neutral (if not Hero).

Desperate Measures is comically efficient support removal. It is exponentially better than the hero option of Convergence, and well ahead of the neutral options of Vandalize and Dismantle. Its “costs” are cheaper, it’s play requirements easier to satisfy, and it’s targets less restrictive than any of the three just named cards. So why does Villain (aka the better faction) get this amazing new toy and not Hero? I don’t think it’s because FFG thinks Convergence is a viable option, because that would be laughable. I think it’s because Desperate Measures would be back-breaking in Hero Mill. Support removal with such value in Mill is far stronger because limiting what your opponent can put in the pool is how mill survives. They take away threats while milling so that their mitigation can deal with whatever gets through. Cards like Vandalize and Dismantle are already stronger in Mill decks compared to Damage ones, and Desperate Measures would be as well since it is far and away stronger than those two.

Embargo doesn’t have any piers to compare it to, so it may be more of a reach. But again, limiting what gets on the table is what Mill does. Handing Mill a tool that allows them to  preemptively avoid what they consider their biggest threat would play further into that strength of mill.

If Desperate Measures is supposed to be the push-back against supports, which are too good, why is it confined to just Villain? I honestly think the answer is because while Hero needs it, Hero Mill does not. And I think that can be said for a number of things Hero needs but doesn’t appear to be getting.

Maybe I’m off base. Maybe FFG thinks good 0 cost mitigation is part of Villains identity and Hero shouldn’t get it. Maybe FFG thought during design that Villain was under-performing and needed big new tools. Maybe FFG thinks that shields are amazing. I hope I’m not completely off-base though because if FFG thinks any of those 3 things we’ve got some big problems.

But if I’m right and the issue with Hero is “yeah but Hero Mill” then FFG needs to take a long look at if they really want a minority of Hero cards gate-keeping the majority from viability. At the very least FFG should be looking at providing Shields some sort of reliable utility in Mill match-ups, because right now a lot of Hero cards are DOA there. And it’s not as if Shield heavy strategies are dominating damage match-ups either.

I’m not one of those that want Mill as a win condition to be removed, but I do operate under the principal of the needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few when it comes to Hero’s viability as a whole not just as the Mill faction.


One thought on “Is Hero Mill holding Hero back?

  1. Shields should be able to block mill as well as damage. Put them in front of your deck and each one stops a card removal. It allows shields to function within the game mechanics.


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