Throughout Store Championship season (February 20014 – March 2014) the popular Dark Side deck of choice was a version labeled Targeted Sith 2.0. This list was an expansion of the ideas found in Matt Kohls’ Dark Side list, Targeted Sith, which was used to win Nationals and took second at Worlds. For Regional season this year, many themes and concepts from the original Targeted Sith made their way in to many decklists, and as a result a new form of Targeted Sith has emerged and ultimately shifted the concept of Core 4.
A large part of what went into Targeted Sith 2.0, was the understanding that it needed to perform in similar nature to the original Matt Kohls version. Let’s take a look at the original Targeted Sith:
Vader and Emperor are the peanut butter and jelly of this deck. Not only are the two units powerhouse units, but together they give Vader four copies of Force Choke, enabling his ability frequently and consistently keeping the opponent’s board empty.
Counsel is here for card efficiency and draw, and just so happens to give more resources and Sith events for Vader’s reaction.
Defense Protocol helps to continue the lock on your opponent’s board by constantly threatening Targeted Strike. The Tie Attack Squadron also brings two blast icons, meaning it serves as a double threat of removal and board control. It’s Twist of Fate is also crucial.
Motti is here for additional resources, additional defenses, and additional blast icons. While the set isn’t strong on its own merits, it does provide crucial elements often found lacking in Sith sets. Recon Mission, the other one-of, provides three fate cards to help enable TAS’s text, and it also provides an addition to your starting reserve.
At Worlds, a major focus was the idea of Core 4 for Dark Side, which consisted of Fall of the Jedi x2, Emperor’s Web x2, Counsel of the Sith x2, and Executor Arrives x2. These four objective sets, when played together, give the Light Side player numerous problems on their way to victory. By adding Defense Protocol x2 to Core 4, you create a very consistent deck that was able to thwart just about anything the Light Side through at it.
But this is a Living Card Game, which means constant changes to the meta with each and every release. Having several sets from the Echoes of the Force cycle in the wild meant that Dark Side would have to change their ways to continue on winning.
In preparation for the Las Vegas Regional, we felt that the Light Side had several strong decktypes while the Dark Side did not. Mara Jade’s set seemed very strong, and as such we spent lots of time testing it in a variety of ways. Ultimately, we saw it best as a replacement for Defense Protocol. While both sets have their strong merits, they didn’t seem to work well together and Mara’s objective set seemed to be at a slight advantage thanks to the resource behind Sith Library.
Our Las Vegas Dark Side list was simply Core 4 + Mara:
This seemed like the most ideal change, but because we were putting aside Defense Protocol, we didn’t feel like the deck could be aptly named Targeted Sith 3.0. It plays drastically different, for one, since often times is more dominating than controlling, as compared to Targeted Sith.
What we liked most was using Rage on an Executor, as the powerful giant ship could also combo out with its ISB Liaisons to finish off objectives. The deck, however, felt a tad inconsistent. It performed well for us in Las Vegas, winning a high percentage of its games (two of us piloted it, taking 4th and 9th). But we weren’t sold entirely. It felt like it could be better.
Deciding to tighten its grip a little, we removed one Executor (which often times was just an edge card) and replaced it with one copy of Imperial Command. This gave us slightly better defenders, resources, and a clinch ‘win’ card with Orbital Bombardment. The official list for the Colorado Regional was:
The deck took second in the low-turnout event, finishing with a record of 5-1 on the day, its only loss being in the finals where my opening hand consisted of a Sith Library, Mara, her Saber, and a single 2drop. If the 2drop was deployed turn one and Swindled, it would have been instant game over. The hand couldn’t be mulliganed, because if it drew no units or only one 2drop, it would be in the same situation or worse. The only mulligan hand that one would want against Sleuths would have been one with two 2drops instead of only the one, and that’s not a mulligan worth taking.
For the Missouri Regional, there simply wasn’t a change worth making. Adding Motti to the list over the second Executor had worked wonders, but nothing else felt like it was a burden on the deck’s performance (and admittedly, only losing one game gave it a solid win percentage). Though nervous about the deck’s performance against Sleuth, it did feel like having a different starting hand would have made a big difference in the one game it had lost.
In the Missouri Regional, the deck continued its consistency and finished the day at 5-1, losing to David Jones’ Light Side Mains (he had a stellar early and mid-game, finding both copies of Han and Luke, and finding Yoda, along with two Jedi Lightsabers and enough protect to keep everyone mostly healthy).
It certainly seems like a safe bet that the new Core 4 is Mara, Vader, Emperor, Counsel. That isn’t to short Executor from the list, but more to the point that when continuing consistency, Core 4 is still incredibly vital to the Dark Side’s performance. What is very interesting is that the new Core 4 now includes two units with Targeted Strike, possibly combining Core 4 and Targeted Sith into one core concept, without having to mix affiliations.