by Mick Cipra
With testing for an event like Worlds and playing the same decks over and over again sometimes the mind starts to wander. I should know better. I really should. But for the last week, the only thing going through my mind has been: MALAKILI RANCOR PARTY!! UNTZ UNTZ UNTZ UNTZ…
Malakili has a big heart. You see him tear up during Return of the Jedi. He loves his Rancor. I imagine he would love other Rancors too. I decided to mash them together into a deck. As Scottie once said somewhere on the boards “the only viable way to deck-build is to start with stupid and end with less stupid”. After playing too much Navy, I was ready to dive into stupid. Rancor-style.
The Hutt’s Menagerie x1
The Slimiest Scheme x2
The Hunter’s Flight x2
Shadows of Dathomir x2
Black Squadron Formation x2
Counsel of the Sith x1
Clearly, the deck had to include all three Rancors. After that, The Slimiest Scheme was a natural inclusion. If Malakili was going to be my rancor whisperer, I needed to be able to bring him back to hand so he could be replayed to go find other rancors. Or pulled back to hand to prevent one of his untamed rancors from eating him. That happens a lot too. Slimiest Scheme also comes with Chain Reaction, which can be devastating if they attack with a brigade of mains and you win edge and double up on Jabba’s Rancor’s reaction. Or they get chicken and try to build and you Chain Reaction your regular rancor’s forced reaction to eat both their lizard and their Yoda. Oh the look on their face….
Speaking of cards with back-breaking reactions, pilot Boba’s still a bounty hunter and Hutt’s Menagerie has a bounty hunter tutor. The Fett would need some more vehicles in the deck to reliably play him, but that’s not a bad idea for a deck centered on fielding rancors. Black Squadron Formation would give me a couple more vehicles and the all-important dance partner for Boba Fett once Slave I’s on the table. Plus it gets the deck up to four Stay on Targets.
To round things off I decided to throw in Counsel of the Sith. The deck didn’t have any Twists yet and it could use some card draw to dig to its shenanigans. Such a great feeling when you draw a Stay on Target at the beginning of LS’s turn with Boba in the discard pile. Or you Dark Precog into a Chain Reaction when you play Boba Fett. Honestly, a lot of what makes the deck at all viable is the power of Boba Fett coming out of nowhere and nabbing a main. And if you can get the set-up doing it again turn after turn after turn.
DS pilot decks can be very powerful. I think they’re much more powerful than their LS counterparts, even without having to worry about a card like Grand Moff Tarkin that can strip a pilot every turn. But I made the deck to have fun with rancors, so when I played it more and more I tried specifically to get rancors onto the table. The results were….interesting.
In a meta where LS is primarily centered around Jedi or other character builds having a unit that will just eat their cheapest thing is really funny. I enjoy putting my opponents into weird and unusual situations. Most people haven’t seen a regular rancor on the table since the core set…if even. One play that seems like DS’s gotta have something better, but I love doing, is the first turn “Rancor, go”. It’s interesting watching the LS player weigh their options. Do they play a main and watch it get eaten next turn? Do they try to flood the board with cheap units that will all eventually get eaten before the rancor moves on to their juicy mains? Do they let me time walk them and watch my force-committed rancor eat itself? Those are tough choices! If they try to provide enough feed for the rancor to protect their mains Malakili putting a 2nd rancor into play can quickly put LS into a situation where they are losing their board every DS refresh. Which is awesome. Until the Rancors eat each other. Then Malakili cries. Oh wait, he was already eaten awhile ago.
The deck has a surprising amount of recursion. It, of course, has the full Boba Fett, Slave I, Stay on Target combo, but Black Squadron Formation gives it the ability to also recycle Black Squadron cards. Bring back a TIE Advanced or Black 2 for edge. Pull back Mauler Mithel from discard to swap out with Boba…again. Pull a scum unit back to hand using Slimiest Scheme. Replay Malakili to find another rancor. Replay a Palace Security to heal a scum objective. Pull back a Palace Security to use in an edge battle!
Even though the deck only has one Twist, it can do some decent edge battling with all its two dot guards and Nightsisters. In a pinch, you can pull back a Palace Security with Slimiest Scheme and focus Black Squadron Formation to get Black 2 back and suddenly you have four more dots than you had before! And you know who likes winning edge battles? Jabba’s Rancor! That thing’s reaction is crazy. It’s nuts. LS has fits over that guy. He’s insane. And if you’re lucky enough to have Hutt’s Menagerie out, you have even more recursion with the ability to put him or one of your other rancors back into hand from your discard should you lose them. Or you just use the objective to cycle Bubo. He can be another two dot edge card.
Have these things come together for me while playing the deck? Sometimes. Getting all three Rancors out has actually not been the pie-in-the-sky I thought it would be. All you need is Malakili and Slimiest Scheme. The deck has plenty of resources. The biggest problem I’ve run into is while I can field the rancors and have them eat the opponent’s board, they eventually turn on themselves and while I was at an advantage for awhile I wasn’t able to capitalize on it because so few units in the deck have blast damage. The deck is also terrible against Sleuth Scouts which I didn’t think anybody was playing anymore…but they are.
Mostly this deck has been a big distraction for me. Let my mind cut loose a bit. But it’s been so much fun to play this last week. It’s had me reevaluate a couple cards I didn’t even think that I’d be thinking about. In most games, Disturbance in the Force is a three dot edge card. And at three dots it’s great. But in one game it was absolutely clutch in focusing out a Yoda after I lost the edge so that my rancor could kill him. Hand’s Blessing is still the stinker in the set for me, but when half the deck is centered on pilot shenanigans, it obviously won’t get much use. Perhaps it would actually see play instead of always being edge’d if I changed the deck to include Xizor. A Xizor that can’t be locked down sounds pretty good. Plus you get protection for him with Bubo along with all the other uniques in the Menagerie that can combo with the Prince’s Schemes. That might be a future version of the deck.
I actually have high hopes for the future of the Malakili Rancor Party deck. I didn’t think about it until playing the deck for awhile this last week, but the recently spoiled Sith creatures set in the Endor cycle would be a fantastic addition. Fearsome and Foul has three Sith Worms—or is it Wyrms? I like “Worms”—which have their own built in recursion. Another way to cycle two dot edge cards?? Yes please! Then there’s Dark Lair: a straight up one-for-one Sith affiliated resource that lets you DRAW A CARD whenever you play a creature!! I like playing creatures. I like digging creatures out of my discard with Hutt’s Menagerie. Replay them and draw more? Wow. Feeding Frenzy is of course amusing and is just begging to somehow include Ice Trompers in the deck so they can push Luke Skywalker out and feast upon his soul. Ignore the fact that lore-wise Ice Trompers are herbivores. Rancors can shoot down Rogue Squadron X-wings in this game. Lore doesn’t bother us. The part about Fearsome and Foul that has me most excited is the objective itself. If I can flop it I will ALWAYS be able to start the game with a rancor in hand and that is just awesomesauce.
I’m looking forward tremendously to seeing people at Worlds. Until then, I’ll have to put up with the images of Nightsisters and glowrods because in my head all I got is….MALAKILI RANCOR PARTY!! UNTZ UNTZ UNTZ UNTZ