A New Vader – Across The Galaxy Decklist

Earlier today FFG spoiled a new version of Darth Vader (Terror to Behold) that is releasing in Across the Galaxy and I haven’t been this excited about Star Wars Destiny since the moment the game ‘clicked’ for me after Gen Con 2016! I am also reconsidering my decision to only get one Across the Galaxy Saga Set, considering Vader, his lightsaber, AND Vader’s Fist are all legendary…

As a huge fan of Darth Vader, I immediately headed to SWDestinyDB.com and started building decks. The first two are below. Both feature the new Vader and a First Order Stormtrooper, but one is a control variant and the other is more of an aggro deck. Being able to build two very different decks with the same characters is an upside of such a large card pool at this point.

You Must Learn Control

Elite Darth Vader (Across the Galaxy)
First Order Stormtrooper

Obi-Wan’s Hut

2 x Ancient Lightsaber
1 x Dagger of Mortis
2 x Force Illusion
1 x Heirloom Lightsaber
2 x Torment
2 x Darth Vader’s Lightsaber

2 x Become One
2 x Dug In
2 x Feel Your Anger
2 x Force Strike
1 x Frighten
1 x Indomitable
2 x Overconfidence
1 x Rise Again
2 x The Best Defense…
1 x The Price of Failure
1 x Fear and Dead Men
1 x Unyielding
2 x Witch Magick

The goal of this deck is to make it as difficult as possible for your opponent to kill Vader. Between Dug In, Force Illusion, Witch Magick, Unyielding, and Rise Again, your opponent should have an immensely difficult time with Vader. A notable trick is using Become One on a 3 or 4 melee side of Vader’s to resolve resources. This can help you ramp into upgrades or play cards like Rise Again when your opponent is not expecting it.

Once you have a few upgrades on Vader, don’t be afraid to nuke your Stormtrooper with The Price of Failure. This will enable your Indomitable if you haven’t already seen the card. It should also mean you are first to claim the battlefield, enabling Dug In as well.

Another finishing move is Unyielding, which can let you get past shields or Force Illusion. If you can stomach the risk, I also love the swagger of playing Overconfidence to re-roll a Vader die and an opponent’s die!

Give In To Your Anger

Elite Darth Vader (Across the Galaxy)
First Order Stormtrooper

Ewok Village

2 x Ancient Lightsaber
1 x Dagger of Mortis
2 x Force Illusion
2 x Vibroknife
1 x Darth Vader’s Lightsaber

2 x Boundless Ambition
2 x Enrage
2 x Feel Your Anger
2 x Force Strike
2 x Hidden Motive
2 x Lightsaber Pull
2 x Fear and Dead Men
2 x Overconfidence
2 x Respite
2 x The Best Defense…
2 x The Price of Failure

Where the control deck aimed to have Vader on the board as long as possible, this one wants to get ahead on the damage curve and never let up! The goal is to get a few upgrades on Vader and hit the Boundless Ambition + The Price of Failure combo. The key to winning with this deck is going to be timing The Price of Failure. A lot of times Price of Failure decks feel like you’re playing it too early, but the moment you can reasonably kill an important enemy character it is usually worth going for the kill.

I was so excited to get the new Vader on the table, that we even proxied and played games with him yesterday! You can watch those games below and in one of them, I actually play Price of Failure on the very first turn! I play against Obi-Maz, Mother Talzin Commandos, and Solo Sabine, giving a good idea of how Vader might pair against a variety of decks.

From what we are hearing from distributors, the release date for Across the Galaxy is now set for November 8th. This means the window to sign up for a booster box subscription to get the best price and free shipping on Across the Galaxy booster boxes will be closing soon. We also have a very limited number of Across the Galaxy Saga Sets remaining, if you wanted to skip the randomness of booster boxes and guarantee you get Vader!

As exciting as the new version of Darth Vader is, I am even more excited about what this means for the future of Star Wars: Destiny.

The End of an Era

In an old interview with the original Destiny lead-designer, Lukas Litzsinger, he mentioned the first two sets were designed before the game was released. Since it takes months to print sets of any game, this was not surprising. If the second set was going to release anywhere near the first, it had to all but be at the printers by the time Awakenings released.

This also meant that the third set, Empire at War, was the first set designed after the game released. I once heard another designer say there were more games played on the day of release than in all of play-testing. With thousands of players playing, it turns out you learn quite a bit about the game after release.

Over the past twenty years, I have played every Star Wars tabletop game I could get my hands on. One thing I have noticed is how many of them make the first version of Vader a complete monster. Unfortunately, it is also very common for him to be over-costed.

Awakenings Darth Vader was no exception. He had the highest health in the game and his damage output was only matched by Luke Skywalker. He was so good, in fact, that he was featured in the deck that won the first World Championship. At the time, I remember wondering if maybe FFG had pulled off a miracle and appropriately costed Vader… Two or three sets later though, it became apparent that even they had fallen prey to over-costing.

Unfortunately, most of the early characters also feel over-costed. They either don’t have a good character pairing or aren’t bringing enough to the game to be playable. In turn, this makes other characters seem under-costed. Characters like Maz Kanata (Spirit of Rebellion), Yoda (Legacies), and Kylo 2 (2-Player Starter) keep a lot of the other characters off the table.

In retrospect, it seems like there was a general lack of understanding in regards to the cost of cards in Destiny. This extended to the events, supports, and upgrades in those early sets as well. A quick comparison of Feel Your Anger and Undermine makes this painfully obvious, with Undermine representing a reigned-in, balanced version of Feel Your Anger.

While the early cards are all either unplayable or so good they make the rest of your cards irrelevant, there is a silver-lining. As the Legacies cycle comes to a close with Across the Galaxy, cards like the new Darth Vader give me confidence that the designers have learned critical lessons from past failures and are actively applying them to their future card designs.

This can be seen in the design of the newest Vader compared to the Awakenings Vader. Investing 21 points for Elite Awakenings Vader was significant. If your opponent could control one or two of his dice on the first few turns, he didn’t create enough of an advantage on the rest of the turns to ever put you back in the game. A single Easy Pickings on the first or second turn removing both Vader dice was enough to lose you a game.

The new Vader doubles down on fixing this issue. The first (and most obvious) fix is his power action. Being able to take an action and roll all removed dice back into the pool means your opponent is going to have to spend multiple cards and resources if they want to control Vader. He doesn’t completely prevent your opponent from controlling him though, since back to back turns with control cards can remove his dice.

The second way they addressed the core issue with the original Vader is by giving him a third damage side. Awakenings Vader only had a one in nine chance of rolling two damage sides, while the new Vader has a one in four chance. As bad as Easy Pickings was, it could go even worse if you only roll one damage at a time and your opponent can play 0-cost cards like He Doesn’t Like You or Hidden Motive to mitigate his dice. While the new Vader loses his ability to discard an opponent’s card each round, he gains a critical 2-resource side.

A New Era

While it is easy to get wrapped up in the hype of this insane new Vader or the release of a new set, I am even more excited for set 7 to arrive and for the first three sets to rotate out of standard play. The card design in the Legacies cycle is much stronger than the first cycle, so I believe the improvement in gameplay after rotation is going to be significant.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to rotation? Are you excited about the new Vader? What would you change about my decks?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

  1. It’s pretty clear that when FFG developed the 3 sets in the Awakenings cycle, the design team and platesetters did not realize that competitive players would generally prefer to start with at least 4 dice on the table: 2 elite characters or 1 elite character and 2 regular characters. Players even built 5-dice teams when possible! The fact that Vader Raider won the first World Championship is a testament to the winner’s deck building and play skill, and the power of the original Vader.

    It will be interesting to see how this new Vader is, because at his current cost, he can’t be played with another elite character, either. (Not even Greedo!! Ha!) This is pretty thematic, though, since most of Darth Vader’s classic confrontations are head-to-head light saber battles with a single opponent. Darth Vader can handle things himself!!

    But in the Awakenings meta and through the Legacies set, MANY iconic character pairings were unplayable because they demanded a 3-dice start and just weren’t competitive. One of my biggest pet peeves is that Jyn Erso, even though she was a good card, was so wildly overcosted that you could hardly play her with anyone. Maybe a Rebel Trooper if you also included Training in your deck. Babe Malbus and Chirrut Imwe is another great pairing that nobody ever played competitively because you can’t play them elite together.

    Then, when Cassian Andor finally came out, you couldn’t play Jyn + Cassian together with each of them elite!! Aaaargh!

    But I think FFG learned and adjusted. During Zach’s game with Jeremy Z, Jeremy spoke pointedly about how he wanted to rectify the unplayable character situation by making sure characters are properly costed and can be paired together at the elite level.

    So: I AM looking forward to the new set! (Elite Jyn Erso + Elite Cassian Andor…FINALLY! I do the happy dance!!)

    And Zach, I wouldn’t change a thing about your decks…for now! I’m definitely going to try the new Vader, too. I like your idea of playing him with a Stormtrooper because of the access to the red card pool.

    I’m not really looking forward to rotation, though, because I really like some of those cards from Awakenings, Spirit of Rebellion, and Empire at War: Hand-crafted Lightsaber, anyone? He Doesn’t Like You. The Best Defense…Bait and Switch. It will be a shame to see those go away from the competitive scene. (Zach cries as “Fair” Trade rotates out…)

    But fortunately we’ll still be able to play with our favorite cards at home and in casual, non-official settings.

    Thanks for the great articles and videos, guys!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the blog and videos! I am hopeful that they reprint previous cards (ie Mind Trick) and also adjust old cards (Original Vader, Jyn Erso, etc.) to include them in future sets. Some of the early cards and concepts of cards were great, just not designed with all the lessons learned since the game released.