by Mick Cipra
Whenever I construct a Dark Side deck I ask myself: Can this deck beat speeders? I know, it seems like a silly question and the internet had me convinced that speeder decks are bad, but real life says otherwise. I spend a lot of time losing to speeders. Much more than you might think.
Early Game Aggression
I cannot recall how many times a speeder deck has come right out of the gates at me. They can have some very explosive first turns and it was fairly common that I’d lose an objective right away. Home One or Rogue 3 with an Astromech Droid are the worst to block. All their icons are black so even winning the edge battle would often mean losing a unit and taking a lot of objective damage. Maybe on the 2nd turn I could bolster my wall, focus down their units or Lightning one off the board. But the damage was already done.
So how best to contend with such heavy first-turn hitters?
Don’t let them strike. This may seem pretty obvious today, but this article is a bit of a walk down memory lane for me; ’ve been losing to speeders for a long time.
Playing classic Devastating Sith a pretty good starting turn might have been a resource and two stormtroopers. Home One laughs at that start. Even if I double block, Home One will just shoot my second stormtrooper and sprinkle objective damage everywhere. I needed a way to ensure that Home One wouldn’t get to resolve its icons, which can be done one of two ways.
Home One Defense Strategy #1: Focus it before it strikes
Easy enough, just have a single unit out with tactics that can focus their big hitter. Maybe a buddy to shoot it a little afterwards too. The problem here was making sure that you could reliably field a unit with tactics on your first turn, and in the beginning of the game that list was basically limited to the Advisor to the Emperor. Two dudes is not enough. Enter my love affair with Across the Jundland Wastes.
Tusken Raiders! Now these guys were solid gold! Once I realized that their Reaction to bounce back to hand was optional, I knew I had to include them in everything. The objective set comes with three 2-drop units that have tactics and a black gun. Not to mention a fourth unit in the Bantha, which is effectively a 3 health stormtrooper that also provides recursion. This set was chock-full of dudes and exactly what I was looking for! The ability to tactics a unit is really good, but at the end of the day you have to also get their units off of the board. The combination of guns and tactics on a single unit blew my mind.
Nowadays we have the Galactic Scum. I remember first seeing these guys and thinking: It’s a 3dc Tusken Raider that costs only one? That’s insane! I don’t think I need to talk much about how good the Slave Trade objective set has proven to be. We all know. It’s the best Scum objective of all time. I want to frame what it does for a DS deck, which is to provide access to a lot of cheap units with tactics and guns so that you can defend against early Light Side aggression. Just turns out a bunch of guys with tactics and guns is also really good in the middle and the end of the game too…
Home One Defense Strategy #2: Kill the damn thing
Very few DS units can hit for 3+ in a single strike, so trying a strategy of cramming a bunch of triple gun units into a deck has never really been an option. There just aren’t enough Snowtrooper Vanguards to go around. Which is probably a good thing, because that unit is extremely good. So good, in fact, that I approached FFG about allowing me to make the X-treme Snowtrooper Vanguard objective set. It would have five Snowtrooper Vanguards and the art would show them snowboarding with a Mountain Dew in one hand and a bag of Doritos in the other!
They asked me to come up with something else…
Since I couldn’t rely on being able to field units that can just one-shot a 3dc Home One, I needed a way to make sure that it didn’t have 3dc when I get to strike. Enter my love affair with Darth Vader’s set. Near the end of the summer of 2013, I was trying to get away from Sith Trinity. I was still playing the Emperor, but I was trying him together with Jabba, Greedo and Shockwave. It was a pretty funny deck that had a lot of removal. But what it didn’t have was any surprise damage. Good players were able to figure out that they could protect their best units against Shockwave by committing them, and more importantly that my deck had zero Heat of Battles in it. The damage that was on the board was all they were ever going to face.
I looked at the Vader objective set with new eyes. He didn’t just provide DS decks with direct damage, but with surprise damage. LS could no longer trust that they had everything accounted for; if they wanted to attack they would have to gamble a bit. Winning an edge battle with a Heat of Battle in my stack could now let my stormtrooper clear Home One right off the board! If I was lucky enough to get Vader out on the field, I could wait for them to make a massive attack and then surprise them with Chokes and Reaction damage, while letting my minions deliver the killing blows. Vader’s set was awesome for surprise damage, but the unsung hero of the set I really felt was Heat of Battle. It wasn’t until I had played a lot without that simple fate card that I really understood what it does for a deck. It destroys dudes.
Mid/Late Game Aggression
The game drags on. Maybe I stabilized and my opponent took a turn or two to build. Great, a few lucky Attack Pattern Delta triggers and with Hoth Operations on the table, I’m staring at a horde of speeders with Edge (TOO MUCH). You wish they’d just keep crashing into your wall turn after turn, but the chaps wised up. This was real predicament. My DS deck absolutely had to be able to win a late game edge battle to stop Rogue 2 cold, otherwise my objective would be one-shot. The problem is, all the normal tricks of Counsel of the Sith and Twists weren’t enough because of Hoth Operations. Twist of Fate is an amazing card, but even if you have six of them in your hand you are going to lose an edge battle against a single speeder with Edge (1). So how do you win those late game edge battles against the speeder horde?
Winning Edge Against the Speeder Swarm Strategy #1: Double Down
Counsel of the Sith and Twists not enough? Hogwash. More cards means more edge. Throw in Reconnaissance Mission and you’ve got three objectives that effectively give you one more card to bid each turn. With three such objectives in your objective deck, you’ll probably start with at least one of them, often enough with two! That’s a lot of cards. And a lot of twists. Mix this with other Sith goodness and you’ll have high Edge cards to bid after you Twist. Or at least a lot of cards to keep bidding after you Twist. Or maybe you don’t Twist! Speeder decks tend not to run Twist of Fates of their own, so their edge ceiling can easily be counted by their Edge (X) and assuming all their bids are Battles of Hoth. As long as you can stay ahead of this number, you’re safe, and by doubling down you have the volume of cards to do so.
Winning Edge Against the Speeder Swarm Strategy #2: Fight Fire with Fire
I love Across the Jundland Wastes. It has guns, tactics and a Gaffi Stick. While LS has been building their attack force, you’ve been building your wall. Slap this one enhancement on a Tusken and suddenly you have just as much latent edge as they do. Maybe more. It is always intimidating for LS to look across the table and see a horde of guns and tactics waiting for them, but it is truly disheartening to know that you’re starting at Edge (6+). I remember playing against Andy of FullyOperational during the Second Chance Tournament this last year. He was trying to push through the final points of objective damage, but the arrival of my Gaffi Stick basically assured he would lose edge no matter what. He wondered how one chieftan could be so powerful, I said “Hey, this Tusken has six friends… and one of them just happens to be the EMPEROR OF THE GALAXY!” Good times. He crushed me in our other game effortlessly.
Winning Edge Against the Speeder Swarm Strategy #3: Wipe them Out
Don’t wait for them to strike to take out their board, take matters into your own hands! You need certain cards to really allow you to do this, as they’re under no obligation to defend against any attacks you initiate. Targeted Strike is a big help, but it doesn’t come on a lot of DS units. Plus, that unit is then not available for defense, and how much do you want to spend bidding on an offensive edge battle? No. Speeders are flimsy. I wanted Shockwave. Tear through my entire opponent’s board with just a single card. Yes please! This was particularly good because I often felt I was losing the unit count against Attack Pattern Delta decks. Try as a might, I just couldn’t keep up with deployment when the objective was triggering every single turn.
Sometimes, they would enter conflict on their second turn, and LS would already have nine units on the table! Nine units! Shockwave worked very well to help clear out those situations and later Force Storm worked even better.
If upon reading the starting paragraph you thought, “How to beat speeders? Umm, play tactics and Force Storm,” you did predict where this was going. But this was an evolution etched in blood for me. And you know what? I still lose to speeders! Because when they trigger, they trigger with a vengeance and there’s little to be done but accept your fate and get run over by the speeder bus. And that brings us to our next installment of “Never Tell Me the Odds”:
Never Tell Me the Odds:
Last article, we looked at the odds of Sith starting the game with Palpatine and Holocron. Matt Brown was the first contestant to submit the correct and certainly “told me the odds” (Flip the Force is still working out details for prizes with this contest, so please continue to submit answers while we work towards announcing exactly how this will play out).
For this month, let’s look at the odds of the speeder deck going off:
1: What is the probability that in your first 4 objectives you get at least one Attack Pattern Delta and 1 Hoth Operations?
2: What is the probability of starting the game with 1 Attack Pattern Delta, 1 Hoth Operations and 1 Defense of Yavin IV.
You can assume in these problems that all objective sets are run in duplicate and the objective deck has only 10 objectives in it. Which is reasonable. Although some players like going to eleven sets.
So, as not to force people to rush through the problem or feel they don’t have a chance for the prize, submissions for this puzzle will be kept open for a week after the article goes live and the winner will be chosen at random from all correct submissions. Please send your solutions to firstname.lastname@example.org and Never Tell Me the Odds!
Never Tell Me the Odds: Solution #1
In Mick’s last article, he detailed a fantastic problem for readers to solve. Check below for the solution and Mick’s work at the correct answer: