by Mick Cipra
Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, present for cut, draw four then choose three. This beginning part of the game dictates a lot about what flavor of your deck you’re going to experience during the match. Some combinations of objectives in it will be better than others, and I wanted to talk about getting the most out of your objective flop.
Getting screwed out of not having a single resource for an affiliation match is a concern we’re all familiar with. There’s also the issue of not having enough affiliation matches to do what needs to be done. I noticed this while playing Super-Friends back in 2013. The game would drag on, I would be building my board, establishing my resource base and BAM! I’d draw six cards of solid gas and we were ready to go! Only problem was the deck didn’t have the Jedi resources matches to pay for Luke, Trust Your Feelings, and a Lightsaber all at once.
For those not familiar, the Super-Friends build back then was Han, Chewie, Falcon, Luke and Guardians. It had a standard 6/4 split and you started Jedi affiliation so you could always play your Luke (and more importantly your Guardians). The best objective in the deck was Wookiee Life Debt. I don’t think there’s any deck with Chewbacca that would ever consider tucking Wookiee Life Debt. It’s such a game changer. After that, I liked Questionable Contacts in play to let me peel excess damage off my Wookiees to take down their defenders. For the 3rd objective I’d try to get a Jedi resource. Obviously, Secret of Yavin IV was nice for protecting my potent smuggler objectives, but the objective could have been blank and I’d still take it.
When considering your splash, you should take into account how many cards of that affiliation you need to be playing. Not want to be playing, or generally playing, I’m talking about end of the line, 11th hour I got these cards in hand and I need to play them or I lose. Jedi had this symptom in spades. You’d have turns of resource after resource and nothing but Twi’lek Loyalists and other flimsy units. When you do finally draw into your gas, and Jedi eventually will, you want to be able to play it all.
Dark Side has an interesting twist on this issue of not having enough resource matches because they usually lose an objective or two during the game. 6/4 splits are very common and rarely leave you unable to field your units. What they will frequently do, however, is lose an objective, flop one from your minor and take you down from two Sith resources to only one. This can be brutal. Some decks can function very well having only one resource from their main affiliation. I usually found that turns would come up where I needed to field Palpatine and play Force Lightning, or play Force Lightning and a Royal Guard. Being locked on one resource match squeezes your options. So how can you deal with the threat of being resource screwed or resource squeezed as DS?
I tend to take the easy way out: just run more Sith objectives. It doesn’t have to be Sith, it could be whatever your major affiliation is. But let’s be honest. It’s Sith. In Worlds 2013, I ran a 7/3 split to guarantee that I wouldn’t get resource screwed on the flop and to reduce my odds of getting squeezed on Sith after losing objectives. Matt Brown wasn’t able to make Worlds that year, but I know he was looking further at 8/2 splits. He’s actually been bitten with getting locked out of his major affiliation during tournament play so that choice may have been more to avoid getting screwed as opposed to squeezed.
Another easy thing to do is to play Sariss. Dark Temple is easily the best resource in the game, and having even a single copy of it in your deck greatly increases the chances of being able to play all your Sith cards. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Sariss. Any resource card that provides an affiliation match will do. Advisor to the Emperor counts. So does the new Death Star Flight Thingy. I’m not really sure, I don’t play that one. But the point remains that if you can stock your deck with additional resources that provide matches, you can smooth things out for yourself. Navy does this wonderfully as almost all of their stuff provides an affiliation match. Almost all their stuff…. yeah, I’m looking at you Logistics Officer! And you’re not even a real officer! How am I supposed to accept your apology?!
Or you could always….not care! Matt Kohls ran a 6/4 split during 2013 and from what I could tell liked locking himself on one Sith resource. Start Recon Mission, Defense Protocol and Fall of the Jedi and just Tallon Roll your way to victory. It worked for him. Whenever I tried his deck, I would draw a Dark Side Apprentice and five fate cards. Then I’d cry.
Most of the time, 6/4 splits are run with the affiliation matching the minor splash. Some decks, however, work best reversing that convention and running the split “the wrong way”. Jake Paulson put me on the DS build I ran for Worlds 2014. It had Palpatine x2, Mara x2, Jerec x2, Jawas x2 and Wolverine x2 and started the Sith affiliation. In fairness, the deck would have been illegal had it not started Sith because of Scouring the Empire’s affiliation requirement. But if you’re not feeling the Jerec and just love Darth Vader, go ahead and make the switch. I would still recommend starting Sith.
I ran similar DS Sith/Slaver decks during the summer and most of them were heavy on the Sith side, splashing in Slave Trade and Tatooine Crash. I started Scum affiliation because I was running 6/4 and that’s how you should do it. Except I could only take one capture objective unless I wanted to squeeze myself on Sith resources. If you’re trying to live the dream with the Zygerrian Slavers, you want as many capture objectives as you can field. You want to see as much of their deck as you can to know what’s coming and to have options of what to sell back to them. When Edge of Darkness came out, Tatooine Crash felt like a bust if it wasn’t hitting their Mains. You were thinning their deck and letting them get to the good stuff faster. Once Slave Trade came out, I was thrilled to capture their chaff. There was nothing worse than needing to draw cards and seeing your selling options were Twist of Fate, Bamboozle, and Let the Wookiee Win (with Chewbacca and Wookiee Life Debt on the table, because of course they’re both there). More capture objectives meant more options.
I knew from play experience that I wanted exactly two capture objectives and a Sith objective to go with my Sith affiliation card. So I did the obvious. I ran more Scum sets. I think my favorite version of the deck was: Palpatine x2, Mara x1, Sariss x1, Jawas x2, Wolverine x2, Weequays x1 and Greedo x1. Earlier versions had an extra copy of Weequays instead of Greedo, because I love guns and tactics. Problem was that those versions of the deck had serious issues closing games out. At least Greedo and his buddies have some blast on them, but really it was Rage with the Emperor or Mara that was sealing the deal.
When Jake first showed me his DS list it looked all wrong. It was a 6/4 split done in reverse. Besides Force Storm, Jerec’s set looked like it was bringing nothing to the table; four Imperial Inquisitors is four too many and Jerec himself is nothing to shout about. Given the decks that I was playing during the summer, I knew what cards I wanted to see. It was just a matter of testing to see what Scouring the Empire did for the archetype. Yeah… Force Storm is real. Once I saw how strong it was, I had to get over the hurdle of convincing myself it was ok to run a 6/4 split in reverse. But I had played a lot of games with double Tatooine Crash and Slave Trade during the summer and found that even then I was able to start with two of them most of the time. So once you break through the barrier of conventional Star Wars deck-building, what options are open?
Live or Die by the Objective Flop
During this year’s store championship season I decided to give the Tagge-Espo Trooper-Killing Cold deck a try. My version of the deck was:
The Killing Cold x2
Vader’s Fist x2
Shadows on the Ice x1
Sabotage in the Snow x1
The General’s Imperative x1
Corporate Exploitation x1
Family Connections x2
Since the whole purpose of the deck was to set up an Espo Trooper healing loop, good ol’ Tagge and the Killing Cold needed to be run in duplicate. That’s already half the deck. For the other five objectives, I knew I wanted to maximize the number of Hoth objectives so my opponent couldn’t just go for low hanging fruit. I picked five sets with Battle of Hoth in them to add even more resiliency to the deck and to give it time to find its combo.
I looked at what I had and it was this weird 4/3/3 split. Normally, this would look totally unplayable, but the deck was all about living a dream. I picked Navy affiliation so that I would always be able to play Tagge if I drew him. Also, I didn’t want to have to flop a Navy objective because two-thirds of them weren’t Hoth objectives. The deck wanted to field as much Hoth as possible. Also, the Sith objectives were the ones with the power texts. The deck literally does nothing if you aren’t able to get Killing Cold on the table. Vader’s Fist is just a nice additional kick in the crotch to your opponent. I was betting on being able to get at least a couple of these objectives out. It was exactly like trying to get 2/4 capture objectives with a preference for Tatooine Crash/Killing Cold.
The deck was…amusing.
It could find its combo quite frequently and could create an awful Hoth fortress if LS didn’t have any answers. Problem is, most Light Side decks have at least some answer for getting Tagge off the board. People have stopped playing Han around here, but Core Luke is still around along with Lightsaber Deflection. Even the new Luke can handle Tagge given enough enhancement reactions. Still, vehicle decks struggled. I was able to beat speeders with it!! Which is something the deck had going for it. Another thing the deck has is zero unit enhancements….actually I guess that’s something it doesn’t have. It doesn’t have any unit enhancements. So it will now die a horrible death to Desperation pilot decks. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
What to Start and What to Tuck.
Obviously, not all objective texts are created equal: Wookiee Life Debt, Tatooine Crash, Killing Cold. For the decks that run these objectives, you always want to start with them and it’s a no-brainer. An objective that I always want to start, and am surprised that other people don’t, is The Emperor’s Web.
I know it only has four damage capacity, making the opponent’s victory just that much closer, but the text more than compensates. Bringing the cost of Force Lightning from three down to two is game changing. Force Lightning is the most prominent removal spell in the game, but it’s interesting because it literally does nothing if the dial is at 11 and Light Side is making their final push. If their units have struck they’ve struck. The only time when Force Lightning might be relevant in the 11th hour is if you have nothing left and need to prevent unopposed from a single unit. Otherwise the card is worthless then. Where the card shines is earlier in the game.
If LS comes out of the gate, you may need to Force Lightning something on your second turn. If you don’t manage to hit a resource drop turn one, then Force Lightning is all you’re looking at doing and LS should be fine with you not reinforcing. With Web out, you can play a Tusken Raider and still Lightning their unit off the field. Or maybe you get one of those Sith hands turn one and only manage to play a Dark Side Apprentice, who winds up staring down the Falcon. If they don’t take their action to bounce in a character, you can Lightning the bucket of bolts off the board and only take two objective damage.
It’s not just the first two turns where Web is crucial either. It could be turn three or four: you’ve just managed to ramp up to six resources and are ready to play your Palpatine, but there’s some threat out there that’s so huge you need to take it off the board instead. With Web, you can do that and still play Mara Jade or a Royal Guard and a Tusken.
The text on The Emperor’s Web also works incredibly well with Sariss’ set. Deadly Sight gives you another three cost event that you only have to pay two for, and Dark Temple gives you those exact two resources! Dark Temple is the best resource in the game. If your turn one is a Dark Temple, you can play Vader on turn two, flip the Force, free up Dark Temple, and then cast Force Lightning to clear the board. Or wait to Force Lightning or Deadly Sight on whatever they do their next turn. During their Force phase, you’ll probably win the struggle again thanks to Vader and his reaction. And then Dark Temple will be refreshed for you to do more soul-crushing next turn. Like flood the board with three Tusken Raiders!
Speaking of objectives I want to see: I actually want to see Across the Jundland Wastes in my starting flop, so I can tuck it right to the bottom. People are far too cautious about getting burned with a bad mid-game flop of Across the Jundland Wastes. I figure 40% of the time I’ll get it in my starting hand and I’ll know that I don’t have to worry about it coming in to play. Ever. Another 40% of the time, it’ll be in the bottom four objectives in my deck and it will also never come into play. Ever. That’s 80% of the time! The other 20% of the time it’s hanging out at objective five or six in the stack.
If Across the Jundland Wastes is your sixth objective, it means that for it to get flipped up, your opponent will need to blow up two objectives and give you another turn. If this has happened, it’s probably pretty late in the game and the objective won’t bog down your units turn after turn because there’s not a lot of turns left! So, the only concern is if Across the Jundland Wastes is the fifth objective in your stack, because then its effects will be felt for much longer. But there are ways to play around this, like not committing your Emperor, Vader or Sariss. Unfortunately, Mara Jade is only Elite when she’s committed, so she’s doomed to wander the sand. Still, it’s manageable. Plus, it’ll only happen 10% of the time and also only after your opponent has managed to take out an objective. I think the risk is well worth the reward. Tuskens are awesome. More people should play them.
Never Tell Me the Odds
The winner of last article’s puzzler about speeder objective flops was James Lau! FliptheForce prizes.
This time, let’s look at getting resource locked and starting enough capture objectives:
1: You’re running a 6/4 affiliation split the conventional way. What are the odds that you will draw all four objectives from your minor and get locked out of playing your major?
2: You’re running a 6/4 affiliation split in reverse! What are the odds you draw all four objectives from your major and get locked out of playing your minor?!
3: You’re running x2 Tatooine Crash and x2 The Slave Trade. What are the odds that you will be able to start with at least two of these capture objectives in play?
For all of these problems, assume a standard 10 objective set deck. Email your answers to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and Never Tell Me the Odds!