Destiny Deck Evolution: Thrawnkar
This week, with Empire at War out in the wild and people fine tuning their decks, I am going to focus on a single deck, Thrawnkar (Elite Thrawn / Elite Unkar). However, this is not a deck guide for playing Thrawnkar. Rather, this will be a look into how I revise my decks. This is a long process that has only just begun. I will discuss my first draft, where I am today, and where I envision myself heading in the future with the deck.
Before diving into Thrawnkar, let’s take a look at what makes these characters so good together. What makes this combo so strong is the combination of resource generation and control. With Thrawn’s ability, you control your opponent’s hand, usually removing their best option. With Unkar, you get a second card removal while also gaining resources. However, since neither character deals damage, the question becomes, what is the win condition: mill, damage, or a mixture? While using resources to pay for expensive vehicles and doing damage with vehicles seems like a viable option, for my first attempt at Thrawnkar, I am building a version that focuses primarily on mill as the win condition.
Let’s start with my first Thrawnkar build. Clearly this is a traditional mill deck. It has several cards with discard sides on them. Interrogation Droid is a great card. It has three discard sides and can grab key events without even rolling a discard. However, this version also has discard the traditional way, with upgrades. With this build, I made sure not to have a full suite of yellow only upgrades in case Unkar dies. While On the Hunt and Vibroknucklers seem like great cards to include, in my testing they were a bit lackluster. First, they are upgrades, and they are removed when a character dies. But perhaps more important is that they aren’t really needed. Between Thrawn’s and Unkar’s ability, I was finding that my opponents were struggling to keep a hand at all. By the time I had rerolled my upgrades into discard, hands were empty.
The other upgrades, Armor Plating and Prized Possession, both performed great. In fact, Prized is such high impact that I quickly desired a second copy. Armor Plating often was played as a surprise buying me one more turn for the character under duress.
The supports perform useful roles. The Imperial Inspection/Salvage Stand control package is especially effective with this character combo. My opponent’s had a difficult time playing upgrades, and at times even playing events was a challenge. There are so many sides to trigger both of these cards that their inclusion seems almost mandatory. As already stated, Interrogation Droid is simply fantastic.
The event suite, while solid, seemed light on removal and that was already a concern going into the first set of games. I included the ever present He Doesn’t Like You and one Doubt. I included only one electroshock because I feared people would focus down Unkar first, which they normally did. Finally, I decided to test Trickery. I found myself never using it, and quickly wanting to cut the card. After a few games, I found myself desiring more, and different, removal options.
Other obvious choices for the deck were Buy Out and Friends in Low Places. Both are amazing in mill decks. Feint seemed like another obvious choice. I get to activate Thrawn a second time? Sign me up. However, while it is certainly solid with Thrawn, it slowed Thrawn’s activation down and in the end is only a one for one trade for a resource that is irrelevant once Thrawn is dead. Its eventual removal from the deck was based on the opportunity cost of including it, more than anything else. Confiscation is another great card serving as both removal and control, and it functioned great. It is especially brutal in combination with the choke effects of Imperial Inspection and Salvage Stand.
Coercion, Oh Coercion how I miss you. The card was the best card in the game when I originally built this list. However, in case you missed it, there was a ruling that nerfed the power of Coercion considerably. Now, your opponent has the option to pass instead of taking an action. While this may seem like a minor change, you can no longer let your opponent roll out, and then make them play their removal card on their own dice. Instead, they can simply pass, wait for you to roll out, and then play their removal. Against certain cards, Coercion is still incredibly powerful. However, it has gone from an always amazing card to a highly situational card. This is a massive change, and Coercion is no longer powerful enough for this deck.
Finally, I included the traditional mill battlefield, Command Center. While historically this has been the go to battlefield for mill, it just doesn’t work well with this deck. This is a much slower playing deck than many other mill decks. As such I found myself rarely claiming. Usually my opponent was scared of the battlefield and gave me the shields, but it isn’t the optimal choice.
My initial draft was certainly a strong deck. I didn’t lose any games against other first draft decks. However, I identified a number of cards that were not performing as I thought they would, especially the discard upgrades. I turned to my favorite mill deck maker, Smerle, for some advice. Sure enough he had assembled a different version, with extensive testing. The build I present to you in this article is very similar to his build, and it is a major upgrade from where I started. Let’s take a look.
The first thing you’ll notice is that this deck has a ton more resources in it. This surprised me at first. I was already able to generate quite a few resources, often buying out for ten. However, the addition of Chance Cube and Hound’s Tooth allow you to play many more high impact cards. By gaining five or more resources every turn, Prized Possession, Detention Center, and Confiscation no longer feel like a burden. They become standard control cards playable on every turn.
Detention Center was an especially surprising card to me. When I initially evaluated it, it looked quite bad. Three resources to remove one good character die and one bad one. That seem too appealing. However, when combined with Prized Possession, and other removal, it can be incredibly oppressive. Depending on how many character dice they have, even just giving it up for two character dice can destroy an entire turn. As a mill player, that’s all you can ask for, one more turn to keep pushing that mill.
Another enormous addition to the deck is Crime Lord/Ace in the Hole. This is incredibly powerful here because the deck generates so many resources. You have the flexibility of being able to play it whenever you want. Usually your opponent will go after Unkar first, so quite often Crime Lord will not be the win condition (since it can only be played on yellow characters). But if one character is carrying the load, removing that character buys enough time to discard their deck. If your opponent is only playing two characters, then killing both is a reality. In fact, nearly every time I’ve faced two character decks, I have used Crime Lord on both characters. Not only is it effective, it is a glorious way to win!
This build also has more protection and more removal. I have given up an Amor Plating for two Personal Shields. The die is quite good for getting shields or proccing Unkar’s ability. I added One-Quarter Portion to this build because it removes anything. Previously, I had been hesitant to give my opponent a resource, but there are a lot of disrupt sides, and the power of the constant shields makes it worth the trade. A riskier inclusion is Sound the Alarm. The theory is that if I am discarding my opponent’s hand, then Sound the Alarm can be devastating. However, while that is true, it hasn’t had much impact on my games. Already I am considering trading them out for other removal options.
This draft of the deck also uses a more fitting battlefield, Otoh Gunga. There is no downside to this battlefield, as the deck does no damage. Therefore, your opponent has a tough choice if they win the roll. Do they give you two shields or the opportunity to heal several damage throughout the game.
Beyond being more effective, this build is a lot more fun. Always having the threat of Crime Lord is both exciting for you and terrifying for your opponent. Gaining five resources every turn is so freeing. You know that whatever high impact card you draw on will be a playable card, regardless of its cost.
Despite really enjoying the deck, this is only the second major revision. The deck won’t be in its final form until the incoming erratas arrive and the meta game settles down. The thing with control/mill decks is that they need to know what they have to control to reach their full potential. The deck as it stands is trying to be a Swiss army knife, ready for anything. However, as the meta game becomes more defined, the deck can transform into a scalpel, targeting specific decks and issues.
One of the issues of having so many cards available is that a lot of cards get left out due to a lack of space. There are several cards I would like to fit into the deck, and these cards will be tried out in future updates.
Salvage Stand – This is an amazing card. However, with Imperial Inspection already removing many resources, and the character dice having so many disrupt sides, it isn’t entirely necessary.
Cheat – If Buy Out gets a cap, Cheat may become necessary to allow you to more quickly reach that win condition. Whether it gets used to grab another copy of Ace in the Hole or Buy Out, both can help you win the game.
Rend – Rend is certainly useful. The question is does a card that only hits zero cost stuff need to be in the deck. As the meta game is defined, we will have our answer.
More Removal – Mill decks need to stay alive, and removal helps facilitate this. I am always looking for ways to squeeze in more removal.
Armor Plating – One copy of Armor Plating just seems wrong. Depending where the meta game goes, I can envision removing one copy of Personal Shield for another Armor Plating.
Be sure to let me know how your version of Thrawnkar is working. Are there any cards that you have found to have a huge impact that I’ve missed? You can check out a video of the deck in action.
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.