By Zach Bunn– November 26, 2013
Inspired by Steven’s blog yesterday outlining his Netrunner top 16 decks from worlds, I decided to post my own blog detailing my top 16 decks from the Star Wars Card Game World Championships. Both my light side and dark side decks are derivatives of the decks I used at the North American Championships back in August, so I’ll start with my dark side deck (ie the less interesting one).
Affiliation: Imperial Navy
2 x Imperial Command
1 x Reconnaissance Mission
2 x Executor Arrives
2 x Fall of the Jedi
1 x Ghosts of the Dark Side
1 x Emperor’s Web
1 x Counsel of the Sith
The big changes to the deck were the addition of the Executor Arrives and dropping an Emperor’s Web for a Reconnaissance Mission. Nothing too off the wall, except for maybe the fact that I’m only running a single Emperor’s Web.
Often regarded as one of the best objective sets in the game, I was finally convinced to drop one set after a several hour discussion with a local player (Grant, finalist at GenCon, top 32 at Worlds) that the Emperor wasn’t as good as he once was. Instead of analyzing the entire deck, I want to discuss The Emperor’s Web.
First, let’s look at what’s in the objective set:
The Emperor’s Web
1 x Emperor Palpatine
1 x Emperor’s Royal Guard
1 x Sith Library
1 x Force Choke
1 x Force Lightning
The Emperor’s Web
According to conventional wisdom, the weakest part of this objective set is the objective itself. The objective being four health is a liability, particularly if it’s dropped as a replacement objective in the middle of a game. The reduction of the first sith event is solid, but in a deck with Force Chokes and Dark Precognitions it can often go unused on most turns. Running two means you have a solid chance of seeing at least one in your opening objective draw. This basically forces you to choose the other three objectives.
Considering that the light side needs to do, on average, 15 objective damage, you have to ask whether reducing the light side win condition by 6.6% is worth the cards in the objective. So, let’s take a look at those cards.
In a vacuum, or if you used this character for the first 5-6 months of the game, the Emperor is the boss. Practically guaranteeing you the force and being one of the best blockers in the game, it’s hard to argue with this card. Yet, I’m going to anyways.
First, the issue I’ve had with the Emperor from the beginning. He costs six. It’s likely that if you drop him early, you are going to be spending all of your resources and possibly doubling up a resource (so using it for two turns) to play the Emperor.
This not only means you have less cards on the board, it also means you kept more cards in your hand. This effectively means you’ll be drawing less on your next turn, with the side benefit of having more cards for the edge battle on your opponent’s upcoming turn. This issue has been slightly mitigated thanks to the Sith Holocron, but without that card it’s an issue.
Second, thanks to Sleuth Scouts + Blockade Runners (note both finalists at worlds were using at least a pair of these objectives) he can easily be useless in a game as a blocker. You cannot pay 6 resources for a card that won’t be able to block. You just cannot.
Now, he is still great to pitch to an edge battle and against anything not running Sleuths and co, he’s fantastic. I still think he’s great. The probably comes in with the frequency at which you see him. He’s not great early and he’s not great late. You really care to see him in the middle of the game when you have a solid board presence and can seal the game with him. Outside that, he’s an edge card.
Emperor’s Royal Guard
This is perhaps the greatest two cost dark unit in the game. Packing the all important two unit damage, alongside THREE health plus the ability to protect your other characters all for the cost of two, it’s really just crazy. I would argue that if there is a reason to run this objective set this is it, not the Emperor himself. No arguments here, he’s a great card.
How can you argue with this card? You definitely want resources in your deck, but if I have the choice to play this or the Sith Holocron, this is effectively a dead card in my hand.
The importance of resources in Sith decks was taken down a notch thanks to the Executor Arrives, providing a consistent boost to resources for Sith decks that once heavily struggled with resource production. So, while I still want resources in my deck I don’t want as many as I did at GenCon. I have the same issue here that I have with the Emperor. It’s not that this card isn’t great, it’s just that I don’t want to see so many limited cards any more.
While I love this card more than I care to explain, it’s really just not that great right now. The decks I think can beat this Dark Side deck generally rely on vehicles, not characters. So unless I have Darth Vader on board, this card is of no use to me. Again, it’s not that I don’t want this card in my deck, it’s just that I don’t necessarily need four in my deck at this point in the game.
Once the bane of the Light Side, this card has really lost some edge for me. Sure, it’s great at removing a unit. It also triggers Vader and you can recur it with Palpatine. The problem I have with this card currently is that I have to pay 3 resources and a card to remove an opponents unit, with the contingency that they must also be focused down.
If my opponent has characters, I can generally kill them through damage. That means this card is going to most often be used against vehicles. See the problem yet?
The best vehicles, or at least the ones most often fielded, cost 2 or 3 resources. Is killing a 2 resource vehicle that has already been used to strike worth 3 resources and a card? I would so much rather spend a resource and a card on a unit… or a Force Shockwave. I find myself sitting with this in my hand and ultimately dropping it in an edge battle more than not.
This card is great, but again, how many do you really want to draw?
So, as I begin to really look at the objective set, the main conclusion I draw is that just about every card in this objective set (excluding the Royal Guard), is probably better as a one of. I’ll see everything a little less often, which I’m actually quite happy about. In a vacuum, sure. This objective set is nearly an auto include. But when you start looking at the deck as a whole and considering what you’ll be sitting across from, it’s just not as good as it once was.
My Dark Side deck lost one game out of seven at the World Championships. I think the Dark Side has the advantage right now and this is a deck that can answer pretty much any light side deck I’ve run into. Nothing extremely fancy, but for now I’ll be running a single Emperor’s Web and drawing a lot less dead cards throughout the game.
Now, let’s talk about the Light Side!
Affiliation: Smugglers and Spies
2 x Trust Me
1 x Asteroid Sanctuary
2 x In You Must Go
2 x A Heroes Journey
2 x Secret of Yavin 4
1 x Forgotten Heroes
Before diving too far into this discussion, it’s important to note that I refuse (currently) to use Sleuth Scouts / Blockade Runners. I think they are fantastic and are probably the best option for Light Side right now, I just don’t get any enjoyment out of using them.
I also think that as Dark Side you have to prepare for these and I enjoy running decks that people aren’t preparing for. At the time of worlds, that meant running Jedi… sort of.
After opening Edge of Darkness and going through the cards, I made two conclusions. First, that the most game changing objective set in the box was Trust Me. Second, that Asteroid Sanctuary was probably the ‘best’ objective set in a vacuum.
We all know how good the Falcon is, so I don’t really care to go into that. However, I do want to talk about Trust Me, it’s overall affect on the current game state, and why I think the lack of it being around has caused Sith Control to dominate.
So, let’s look at the objective set:
1 x Lando Calrissian
1 x Saboteur
1 x Cloud City Casino
1 x Sabotage
1 x Target of Opportunity
This objective is AMAZING. For starters, it has two resources. It also comes with what I feel is one of the most meta breaking abilities that exists right now, which is the ability to cancel enemy event cards. The ability to cancel a Shockwave or Force Choke or a Talon Roll (ie Matt Kohls deck) is absurd. All of the things that really take Sith over the top, excluding the Holocron, are shut off by this objective. More on this below.
For four resources, we get a character with a black blast damage and tactics. We also get a unit that is Elite. If that wasn’t enough, we have one of the most powerful abilities in the game.
The options that open up when you can pay a resource on your and your opponents turn to push a character out of an engagement are just silly. By attacking with a single unit, your opponent has no good option. If they block with more than 1 unit to make sure they can block, you pay one to bring your unit out and they are now focused down. If they block with a single unit, you can push them out of the engagement.
So. Freaking. Good.
By no means is this unit lighting the world on fire, but having enhancement removal can be huge. This is particularly good against Imperial decks (which I actually think are viable) and is decent against Sith. If they are running Ghosts of the Dark Side, dropping off a Dark Memories from an important character can be key. Even just tagging one of their resources can make a big difference over the course of a few turns.
Cloud City Casino
More resources? Sure!
This is a very tricky card. The first time I actually used it was against a player attacking with an Emperor Palpatine and an Advisor to the Emperor, just to lock my board down. It was quite excellent. Like the Saboteur, this card isn’t fantastic, but I do think it is great against Imperial decks. Note that you can use it on your turn, which can really surprise an opponent.
Target of Opportunity
A great card to have as light side, I’m almost always happy to see this. I know I need roughly 15 damage to win, so this card scores lots of points in my book.
You run this objective for Trust Me and Lando. One of the biggest weaknesses of the Jedi is that you can invest a lot of resources in a single unit (see Luke or Yoda + enhancements), and then your opponent plays Aggression or Force Lighting, ruining your day. The ability to cancel events at will is big. Lando is also a great character that you can place Trust Your Feelings on, drop in with the Falcon, or just play to great affect. I’ve won so many games on the last turn by dropping Lando into play on that final turn.
I only lost twice as the Light Side at Worlds, my one regret being that I only ran one Asteroid Santuary. Any game where I had Falcon semi-early was just extraordinary. He also helps me get around resource match for my big characters (dropping Obi-Wan in is the best) and I saw way too many protectors all day long. I would much rather have seen Bamboozle, Cloud City Operative, or Twist of Fate more often. I typically have an In You Must Go on the table, so that makes Cloud City Guest Quarters just crazy. It was the better choice and I didn’t catch it until too late.
Lando, the Chosen One
You may not know this, but the entire Star Wars story arc is actually about Lando. Ok, maybe not. However, I want to touch on why I think in the current meta Lando is the one that brings ‘balance to the force’.
Most top level players would agree that Sith is ‘the’ deck at the moment. It has answers to just about every good Light Side deck out there and destroys objectives while slowing the opponent down. I think there is a viable Imperial deck, so in games where they show up the not so great cards actually become worthwhile card slots.
I can’t help but look at my own Dark Side deck, which is probably a little lighter on events than most Sith Decks, and realize that 8/50 cards are events. That’s roughly 1/6 cards (16.66%) of my deck that becomes much less effective with Trust Me on the board. So if I am drawing 4-5 cards a turn, odds are good that one of those cards is an event. I can’t stress this impact enough.
Now, I imagine a meta where Trust Me is in 30% of Light Side decks. As a Sith player, that’s terrifying!
After spending a few days at worlds playing against and discussing the game with some of the best players on the planet, I am extremely excited with where this wonderful game has come through it’s first deluxe and cycle of Force Packs. I think the balance is leaning to the dark side right now at 60 / 40, but don’t think it’s skewed enough to be a problem. I’m extremely excited to see where this game is after a few more cycles and will be waiting patiently for Scum and Villainy to have their time in the spot light.
We’re entering a quiet season for the game, with Store Championships not until February / March, so I really recommend experimenting and trying out objective sets that don’t see as much play. If I could make any recommendation to players of this game it’s to not settle for ‘conventional wisdom’. I really hope to see a wide range of decks win throughout the Store Championships, Regionals, and of course at the North American Championships and Worlds.
Until then, if you’d like to see our local players duking it out (including World Champion Dennis Harlien and myself), we live stream the top table EVERY Tuesday night from 6:30 pm to 10 pm central standard time. You can catch our live stream here.
Before I end, a huge congrats again to World Champion Dennis Harlien on the win. Also props to Matt Kohls for finishing second at worlds and then partnering with me to take the 2 v 2 title home. Crossing my fingers that it’s an “official” format next year.
May the force be with you,