Building Destiny Decks with a New Set
I’m back from Gencon, having finished in the top 8, and ready for another article. It is now time to look towards the future. With Empire at War on the horizon, it is time to examine how to build competitive decks when a new set releases. It’s important to note that this isn’t the goal for everyone and that’s fine. But if you have a major event coming up soon, or you are like me and can’t stand losing, then you might want to be competitive, as soon as possible.
The first and easiest step is determining which new cards will improve existing archetypes. An easy example is Poe/Maz. Are there any new items for Poe to throw at his opponent? If so, are they better than the old ones. There is, in fact, already spoiled the most explosive support so far, the LR1K Sonic Cannon. Yes it does cost 3 to resolve the 6 side, but it is highly flexible. If you are broke Poe can throw it for 3. If you have some cash you can choose whatever you need.
Another perfect example is FN. Are there any spicy new weapons? So far there are not. However, you can be sure there will be some 3 cost high impact new weapon. Additionally, weapons with redeploy should be given a close look as they are perfect for FN.
Awakenings Vader/X is yet another archetype that seems to constantly get more tools. In Spirit of Rebellion we got Price of Failure, Fast Hands, and Force Speed. So far with Empire at War, we have already seen Hate as a piece that can add some serious damage to the archetype. Additionally, the addition of Ciena Ree as a 9 cost unique allows for the use of Leadership. Imagine activating a loaded up Vader 3 times in a round with a Leadership followed by Price of Failure. I salivate just thinking about this combination.
If you want to win early in the Empire of War cycle, you should include the cards no one wants to include, removal! Whenever a new set comes out, people get so obsessed with trying the new cool cards that they forget to include removal in their decks. In addition to including old removal staples such as He Doesn’t Like You, look for the most efficient new ones. Pinned Down is an excellent example for any deck that is using vehicles. We haven’t been shown any other premium removal pieces yet, but I will be surprised if there aren’t any.
When a new set comes out there are always a few under costed cards. In Spirit of Rebellion, there were quite a few cards that were obviously above the power curve for their cost: Force Speed, Fast Hands, FN, Riot Baton, and Maz. My first decks of the set featured all of these cards and put me ahead of the game.
With Empire at War, we haven’t been shown anything so obviously under costed yet. However, there are a few cards that look very strong for their cost. Hate is a 1 cost redeploy upgrade that does direct damage. Redeploy alone is worth a resource, so the card is clearly under costed. Trying this in a wide array of decks will grant a lot of value. The Seventh Sister also looks to be a high value card. At 11 character points, she gets 2 dice and 11 health. Similarly, Hera costs only 9/12 and has a very strong ability, but we will return to her later.
You should be on the lookout especially for characters with low cost/high health and strong abilities. FN is the best example from Spirit of Rebellion. Also, take a close look at any weapons with redeploy, as they are often high value. When Riot Baton was revealed for Spirit of Rebellion, I mentally slotted this into every red villain deck. Finally any cards that do direct damage for 1 cost are usually quite strong. This is especially the case if it does 3 or more damage. I’m always looking out for the hero version of Force Strike.
Avoiding trap cards may be the most difficult and important part of succeeding with a new set. Trap cards are quite easy to spot if you know what you are looking for. Trap cards promise huge rewards, but are hard to pull off. In Spirit of Rebellion, Planned Explosion Premonitions, and Friends in High Places are prime examples. These cards were key pieces in many early decks. However, while occasionally they were amazing, usually they did nothing.
So far Empire at War has offered several trap cards. It Will All Be Mine is a great example of a trap card. The ceiling on the card is insane. When it works perfectly, you get to take all of your opponent’s dice and kill a character. Moreover, you can even use a few other cards to set it up! What could go wrong? The reason this is a trap card is because it will rarely work out. Additionally, the one time it does work will stick in your brain forever reminding you how good it could be. At night it will whisper, “remember that game we won together, play me.” These are the cards that competitive players avoid. High risk, high reward cards can be a lot of fun, but they also lose a lot of games. This is especially true for a card like this that begs you to keep it in your hand several turns waiting for the best moment to use it.
Whenever a new set comes out, the first thing I do is build a mill deck. It always seems close, and when it becomes legit, it will dominate. Not many mill cards have been spoiled yet from Empire at War. But we have seen the EMP Grenade which has a two discard side and two disrupt sides. It may be playable, is it the card mill needs to become amazing? Definitely not. Thrawn is another mill possibility. Upon activation, you take a card from your opponent. However, without any discard sides on his die, I’m not convinced that he will be the character that makes mill great. Be on the lookout for events that cost 1 or 0 and take cards from your opponents’ hand or deck. Loose Ends was a good example of this from Spirit of Rebellion. Mill is getting close, I can feel it.
New archetypes are the most exciting, but often difficult, decks to make with a new set. There is no blueprint to work from. However, sometimes new builds are fairly obvious. For example, FFG has been rather aggressively stating that they are pushing supports in this set. There is a lot of obvious synergy between Hera, Ghost, Reckless Re-entry, and many other cards from EaW. Clearly there is a support deck to be made. The only question is, will it be a good deck? I will definitely try it, but I fear that it will take a few turns to get set up, and by then the game may be about over. I plan to try to extend the game by using elite Hera, elite Ezra, and Maz. This character suite allows you to use Second Chance on multiple characters to keep the game going as long as possible. This way once you are set up, you have time to exploit your supports that you worked so hard to get going.
Another really strong archetype should be Thrawnkar, elite Thrawn and elite Unkar. This is going to be the strangest archetype we’ve had yet. Both of the characters have neither mill sides nor damage sides. A strange combination to be sure. With this duo, we should have a powerful control archetype. Between Funkar’s ability and Thrawn’s ability, you can decimate your opponent’s hand. But not just take their cards, with Thrawn you get to target the card that is most problematic for you. Additionally, you get to see your opponent’s hand, enabling you to craft a detailed plan for each turn. Also, between Thrawn’s two resource side and Unkar’s ability, the deck should have piles of resources. With all these resources, the deck will most likely excel as a support deck which wins by controlling your opponent’s cards, controlling their dice, and doing huge chunks of damage with supports. This archetype is especially appealing because we have not seen a control deck excel in quite some time. I’m not totally convinced this strategy is going to be top tier, but I am hoping that it is amazing. I personally love decks and cards that reward players for having a deep understanding of the meta, and Thrawn fits this description perfectly.
While supports sound powerful, I’m most looking forward to trying out a brand new archetype, direct damage. This deck is built around the premise that it doesn’t matter what you roll (ok that’s a lie, but it matters a lot less). We already have a number of strong direct damage cards like Backup Muscle, Fight Dirty, Armed to the Teeth, Lightsaber Throw, Bait and Switch and Force Strike. With the inclusion of Hate, and whatever else is coming, it seems like direct damage decks might finally be viable. Additionally, having more cheap blue upgrades means power of the force could become a powerful damage event as well.
I am going to start by making a blue/yellow villain deck using the aforementioned cards. Seventh Sister/elite Bala Tik / Guavian Enforcer seems like a good starting point. Because Seventh Sister gets an additional die, this lineup starts with 5 dice and 27 health. I’m hoping the Seeker Droids are cost effective enough to include 2 of them, to bolster their dice and allow cards like Force Strike to remain viable even after the Sister has been defeated. By having 3 yellow dice to start the game, Fight Dirty is active from the beginning of the game. Additionally, Bait and Switch works well with both Bala Tik and Gauvian Enforcer. There are also many cheap upgrades in the deck to enable huge swings with Power of the Force and Armed to the Teeth. I can imagine a late game scenario, in which you activate with Hate, roll damage, play Power of the Force for 3, and then end the game with Armed to the Teeth for 3 more. That’s 7 damage from one character showing a single damage side.
Barring no more direct damage cards, I doubt that this will be a top deck, but if Empire at War contains any more, this archetype could be a real threat. Below I provide my first attempt at a direct damage, but make sure you try other character combinations. I consider this merely a rough draft, and one with limited data.
I hope you are all looking forward to Empire at War as much as I am. It is shaping up to be an interesting set. Remember while we are all looking for the next amazing deck, have fun with the new cards and try new things!
Until next time, you can find me at www.patreon.com/TinyGrimes creating regular content and on Itunes/Youtube with the Smugglers Den and other videos.