by Mick Cipra
To follow up my previous article, I was going to write a reflection on my shortcomings, but new cards have come out and I’d rather gush about them!
Attack Run hit this past week. I picked up my copy early at the Event Center and sat down with a friend to enjoy an afternoon of cards. This pack in particular had me excited because of the possibilities for deck-building as the DS. Vader finishes out the TIE deck from Rogue Squadron and Scum received a new version of Boba Fett as a pilot with a kill spell. I wanted to see how both of the pods played so I mashed them together in a deck. They both have pilot stuff so it didn’t seem totally unreasonable.
The Empire’s Elite x2
Guarding the Wing x2
Defending the Trench x2
Masterful Manipulation x2
The Hunter’s Flight x2
The first game was a bit of an awkward start. I played a pilot resource and Slave I then agonized over whether or not I wanted to commit it. I think I did. My opponent, Dan, had a great start: played a Speeder Bike, tutored up Gun Yoda and went in for the attack. I blocked, bid a Black Squadron Fighter, Prince’s Schemes (yay Slave I being unique!) and I Have You Now. Dan had Jedi’s Resolve and Protection. Not only had I lost the edge battle since he put only fate cards in the edge stack, but the shield from Protection went on the bike putting it just out of range of the DS-61-3 in my hand. Had I played my pilot before the edge, I could have at least sniped his Speeder Bike, but I got greedy figuring the bike would take care of itself.
I was pretty deflated after the first turn. My best chance of wiping his board was gone and Slave I was now buried under focus and not coming back. Miraculously, however, I drew into Boba Fett, put him on a TIE Interceptor and cleared Yoda after all. It was a bit of a precarious situation because I only had the one unit available to defend, and holding the line with a TIE Interceptor is not my idea of a good time. He played some more gas and came at me again. This time I used DS-61-3 before edge to replace Boba Fett and kill the Speeder Bike. The rest of the game had more good back and forth. I eventually wound up losing, but the deck seemed promising. Later on I realized I had misplayed the second turn defense forgetting to trigger Slave I to return Boba Fett to my hand. That would have been useful. Clearly, there were a lot of tricks and interactions to get used to. The deck looked to a great well and I could just keep dipping.
Building a deck that puts pilot Vader and Boba together took me well outside of my comfort zone. Not only does the deck not feature Palpatine, but it can’t field a hoard of dudes with tactics either. And it doesn’t have any Twists of Fate! This is madness! But all those things that the Emperor’s Web and Galactic Scum do for a DS deck get covered by other things. In homage to Flip’s “DRP” acronym to help players prioritize their deployment phase (Draw, Resource, Protectors) I tried to come up with an acronym for what to check for while making a DS deck (beyond x2 Palpatine). This is what I got: GRRRR!
Great Resource Curve
The best decks have great resource curves. They’ll build a resource base to make the later plays their deck needs while not stunting their own development. Most decks tend to want 4-6 one-for-one resources. Two-for-one resources can have issues with tempo loss since they don’t immediately return their value the turn they’re played. Ever had Native Support and Luke Skywalker in your hand first turn? Sucks.
All DS decks will, at some point, get attacked. The question is how your deck will defend itself. Tactics and guns is always a solid choice. You also tend to have to win the edge battle. Sneaking in extra damage with Heat of Battle or a Vader reaction can also help clear out more units than LS thought you could.
While this ties in with being able to repel attacks, sometimes something hits the board that needs to go away and you just don’t have the unit damage to clear it or LS isn’t sending it in to conflict. Force Lightning is the premiere removal card of the game and Force Choke along with Vader reactions dominated the scene for…well, it looks like they’re continuing to dominate much of the scene.
Ok, this isn’t so much “racing” and more “closing the game out”, but GRRRC looked silly. While it’s possible for DS to win by turtling forever, it gives LS just too many opportunities to find what they need. Once the dial hits 9, DS decks are best when they can at least threaten to take two objectives. Some blast is needed. Contesting the Force, I think would also go in this category as it can keep the dial moving and shorten the number of turns LS has.
All pretty obvious stuff, but it helped me to list it out because the new pilot deck was doing some unexpected things and seemed to be coming together more often than most new-pack-Wednesday decks I throw together do. Granted, I did have those games where for the first couple turns, all I drew were Black Squadron Fighters and Stay on Targets with no pilots. But even a turn of that isn’t the end of the world because this deck is all about c-c-c-combo!
How GRRRR works in this pilot deck.
Great Resource Curve
Normally I hate two-for-ones, but quadruple pilot resources actually work pretty well in this style deck. With six 2-resource objectives, you can usually start by double focusing an objective to put out a resource and still be on four resources your next turn. Maybe more with Masterful Manipulation out. Sometimes you get flooded with pilot resources, but they’re not limited so spam ‘em out. If you have two 2-resource objectives in your flop you can double focus both of them to put out two pilot resources and still be on four resources both that turn and next. Not to mention that they reduce the cost of your first pilot card each turn. This is strangely relevant for sneaking in DS-61-3 on your opponent’s turn. He’s free! Plus, they provide resource matches which is important for deploying lots of units or paying upkeeps on Black Sun Headhunters.
The deck also has Guarding the Wing which turns all your Black Squadron cards into Black Squadron resources. Honestly, this would see a lot more use if I paired it with the other Black Squadron cards in Sith, but it can find uses here too. Vader and DS-61-3 can be used as resources once they hit the board to swarm with more Black Squadron Fighters. This is important when your other resources are all being spent to play things like Xizor. Elite Pilot Training is the only limited enhancement in the deck and while it won’t chain as often as it would in a Navy/Sith deck, it can still get a few triggers in this version.
The deck has a lot of one-gun units. Striking with TIE fighters can be sort of a death by a thousand paper cuts type thing, but it still needs someone to lead the charge in the final battle. Xizor fills this role with his two guns and two tactics, and he comes with Prince’s Schemes to help you secure any edge battle he or Slave I is a part of. He’s a formidable blocker and tough for LS to break through.
Edge battles for this deck range from terrible to good, to impossible to lose. Unfortunately, there are a lot of zero icon cards in the deck. Closed Formation always gets an eye-roll whenever I draw the second copy. There are also a lot of one icon cards in the deck. Bail Out always gets an eye-roll whenever I draw either copy. The deck doesn’t have any Twists, which I think is weird for a competitive DS deck, but Prince’s Schemes goes a long way in helping secure edge battles, plus Darth Vader is an awesome edge card! I love pitching that guy to the edge. He’s a navy card with four Force icons! It’s painful because he’s really good on the board too, but you can get him back…
Then there’s the high end. If you get Baron Fel out and successfully beat off an attack or two with minimal casualties, your edge will go through the roof. There’s nothing like sitting back with Xizor and a whole squadron of TIE fighters providing him with edge eight. Normally, I dislike spamming crappy units late-game because it diminishes your edge hand, but here a Black Squadron Fighter is just as useful on the board as it would be in your hand. Actually more useful, because you’ve played a card, got some blast, and are digging further through your deck to the really fun stuff.
The rest of the “repel attacks” stuff actually doubles up as “removal” because they’re cards that are played during combat. Well, Fett is usually played during deployment but he can be put into play during conflict and when he is it’s pretty devastating. And the best thing about these removal cards? None of them are events.
This guy’s a jerk. He’s the killer of speeder bikes. He’ll shoot Han first. Win edge with him and you have 3-4 damage in your first strike. If they want to get frisky sending Luke or Yoda in turn one against your lowly fighter(s), they better hope they win edge or this guy is popping out and their main is gone. Put him on Slave I and you have four damage going at Yoda. Survivors? Sure, I still did 3. See ya!
Sometimes you want to use DS-61-3 before edge. If you can kill their only attacker before edge, why not? Guarantee you win the edge and maybe focus someone on the back line. There’s also the issue of taking units out before fate cards can put shields on them. Other times you may want to see who wins the edge battle and yet other times you may want to wait until after your first strike.
“Ok, I’ll shoot the Millennium Falcon with my Black Squadron Fighter”
“Whatever, I kill it”
“Hold on there! If you’re passing on your action I have one…”
Once DS-61-3 gets on the table he’s a lot less exciting, so you need to find some way to get him off the table again. Unfortunately, LS tends not to want to shoot at whatever he winds up flying. Later in the article I’ll go over ways to recur him as Boba Fett has the same issue, but first I want to talk about the big removal card.
I Have You Now
Win an edge battle, kill a dude. Holy moly! Ok, it only has 1 dot so you need to back it up with something to secure your victory (Prince’s Scheme, Baron Fel, Pilot Vader), but a fate card that kills a participating unit is…wow. It’s good. It’s really good. It’s not an event so they can’t cancel it with 3PO or Ferus. It’s not damage so it can’t be protected or redirected with Shien Training. It just kills things. Their best thing. This with Xizor means you probably have dealt with four of their units killing their best one. Just imagine if the game drags on, they build and build, then go in and you play two of these! This card can be backbreaking for the LS. If I’m confident I can win the edge the only thing I’d be worried about is them Twist’ing. But there are ways to deal with that too.
Darth Vader Dark Lord of the NO
So, I guess everybody loved playing against Brienne of Tarth in Thrones so much that her effect has found its way into the Star Wars LCG. It’s interesting, because used to his fullest potential Darth Vader provides no combat icons—He’s just a dude sitting on a ship—and yet he creates situations that prevent LS from winning the game.
They want to Twist your I Have You Now. No
Seeds on Xizor. No
Protection on Speeder Bike. No
Trigger Survivors. No
Protect to Guardian. No
Protect to Qu Rahn. Still No
Shien Training. N
Trust Your Feelings. No
Force Rejuvenation. NO
Bounce the Falcon. No
Bounce with Heroes and Legends. No
Targeted Strike that dude back there. No
No No No No No No No
Pilot Vader, Pilot Vader, Pilot Vader let me go
New Boba Fett has a capture set aside for me, for mee, for meeee
(commence head banging)
There are seriously a lot of triggered effects that happen during an engagement and the Dark Lord stops them all. I’m still getting used to how good this is. In one game, Dan was using all of his tactics to try to keep the TIE Interceptor Vader was on buried so his cards would do things. Even then, Vader was still contributing four icons to the force! Vader is a sick pilot that prevents your opponent from doing a lot of stuff. But I love combo and this deck also packs a sick pilot that allows you to do a lot of stuff.
Captured is a phenomenal removal card. After playing it a lot my biggest complaint about the event isn’t that it’s in Greedo’s set, but that it’s a Scum card and can’t be recurred with the Emperor. The new Boba Fett opens up a whole new world for keeping the board clear.
First, for the kind of removal the card provides is under-costed. Most kill spells of this type cost three and as a pilot Boba costs a mere two. But he’s probably the first pilot you play on a turn and given the glut of pilot resources in the deck, he may only cost one or nothing at all! Or perhaps you didn’t “play” him, but rather put him into play with Stay On Target.
Removal cards all have some kind of restriction. Force Lightning can only hit focused units. Captured can only be played on your turn. Boba Fett is no exception as he can only hit units that costs four or lower that aren’t enhanced—but that’s most things. And unlike Force Lightning or Captured, with Stay on Target Boba can be used preemptively to remove their attacker. They want to rumble turn one with Luke Skywalker or Yoda against your Black Squadron Fighter? Bid a single Stay on Target. Doesn’t matter if you lost the edge their attacker is gone! Boba Fett’s also great at taking out their annoying backline that never wants to engage with you. Leia? You’re getting captured. Hyperspace Maurauder? He’s got your number too.
Once Boba is on the board he’s pretty lackluster. On a TIE Interceptor he can help with the force struggle, but really he’s a contract man and needs to leave play so he can be rehired again. After playing around with the deck, I’ve found a couple ways to do this that don’t involve trying to get LS to kill him for you. Because they never obliged.
You can use the pilot override mechanic to get a new pilot on and Boba Fett off. Once Boba’s secured the area, Vader or Fel can hop in that TIE Interceptor, contribute their icons to the force and their ability to the field. Boba goes to the discard pile, but not forever. Stay on Target now becomes a fate card that can pack as much punch as I Have You Now. Imagine a turn where you declare Boba’s TIE as a defender, play DS-61-3 to discard Boba and deal two damage, then bid Stay on Target to bring Boba back onto the TIE capturing a main and getting DS-61-3 into the discard pile! LS’s head will be spinning.
If your other pilots are all on the board already, you can also put Boba on a Black Sun Headhunter. When next turn comes around you can evaluate if you’d like to keep your four health shielder or not renew the contract and let it and Boba Fett go to the discard pile. Or maybe he doesn’t go to the discard pile.
Slave I was a card that didn’t seem all that exciting to me at first. It’s a main that’s not elite, doesn’t have tactics and has a narrow ability—but that ability is awesomely combo-tastic. If you manage to get set up, Slave I removes the need to draw Stay on Target to keep your engine going:
My turn: I play Boba Fett and capture something.
Their turn: They attack and I replace Boba with DS-61-3 to deal 2 damage and interrupt with Slave I to return Boba to my hand.
My turn: I replay Boba Fett capturing something else and triggering Slave I to return DS-61-3 to my hand.
Their turn: they throw up.
I had to double check, but Slave I can only be triggered once per turn so you can’t chain Boba and another pilot together to capture their entire board in one go. If you want to do that sort of thing, you run Boba with Training Procedure, but then you’ll lose all your friends.
If you go the Headhunter route, you can trigger Slave I when you decline paying for the fighter to get Boba Fett back in hand. You have to lose your Headhunter so you can’t do it again next turn…or do you? Another interaction I found while playing with Dan was how The Empire’s Elite works with Boba Fett and the Headhunter. It’s pure evil. You skip on paying the Headhunter and get both it and Boba Fett back in hand using the objective. It’s removal every turn for 2-4 cost depending on how many pilot resources are out. All you have to do is keep the objective up.
One risk of capturing mains instead of outright killing them has always been the risk of LS one day getting them back. While that’s still true for this deck, I’ve found that I like storing my captured cards in the bowels of the Death Star. Yeah, blow up that 10 health objective. Get your cards back. Between Xizor triggers and Boba Fett you can amass quite the bonanza underneath the Trench, and since LS will usually prioritize killing The Empire’s Elite, those cards are never going to hit the table again.
If you manage to live long enough, this deck has no difficulty whatsoever blowing up objectives with a swarm of TIES and edge[bajillion]. It’s even pretty good at peppering them up with unopposed attacks too if you manage to clear their board once or twice. Worried that LS might have some final trick up their sleeve when you go in for the kill? Send Vader. He’ll stop most shenanigans. He also stops them from shielding their objective which is pretty funny too.
Is this deck the top of the line? Who knows. It’s a different type of DS deck with a lot of powerful combos. Like any combo deck it will definitely have games where it draws poorly, but then there will be other games where it has all the answers. All I know is during the afternoon of playing it, I kept finding more and more things that the deck’s capable of. It’s a deep well and you can keep on dipping.
Never Tell Me the Odds
Last article’s puzzler was one of the trickiest ones so far . Guillaume Berwick successfully picked through all the cases and has become the first repeat puzzle winner! For this article I was going to look at the chances of drawing particular combos in the fighter deck, but really I’m happiest if I see one of two things in my starting hand.
1: What is the probability of having either Xizor or Boba Fett in your starting hand? You’re playing the deck mentioned in the article and if you don’t get either you mulligan and pitch for a 7th card.
Email your solutions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and Never Tell Me the Odds!