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Agent Of Zion’s PAX Unplugged Day 1 6-0 Report

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THE DECK

The Artificery Crew just launched a team swdestinydb account. The account is on cooldown for a few more hours, once that expires we’ll post a link to the account and this decklist!

For everyone clamoring for a list over the weekend, there it is in all its glory. But before I talk about it in detail I want to talk about another deck. A deck that was in very high attendance day 1, a deck that nearly everyone was convinced was a format staple, and a deck that just had the wheels fall off over the weekend.

This is not the exact list we started with, but it is a representative enough example (provided by TheHyperLoops) to serve the purposes of this article.

In a world where Sabine/Ezra and QGJ/Kanan are T1 top contenders, everyone was looking at Kylo2 as a way out. Obviously his ability is solid against mono-colored decks, the only question was who to pair him with post Phasma-nerf. Since TheHyperLoops team and HonestlySarcastc in particular have been championing the 5-Die Villain deck for a while, General Grievous seemed like a natural fit for a wide meta environment like PAX or a TTS tournament. What you lost in reliability off of Kylo, you were able to make up for in raw damage output off of the Droid General’s die, and his ability to snatch a weapon from a squishy chararacter shored the match up well enough to be competitive.

Naturally, the deck was a strong candidate during the Artificery team testing in the weeks leading up to PAX. Myself and Elrathion were the primary people looking specifically at it and the Kylo/Grievous deck underwent many changes during our process.

First, we cut all the weapons. All of them. With no dice that cost one, and exceedingly little in the way of free mitigation, we found that we either had to completely forgo adding our dice in the first round, leave ourselves totally open to maximum damage, or hope to draw and meet the conditions of a ramp card. And when you get right down to it, Sabine/Ezra dice and Five villain dice all with 2-sides can make short work of even a 12HP char once the opponent realizes the way is clear.


Enter the Holocron Package – stage right.

Not only did this let our removal do some work from the beginning but we had enough free space by cutting the previously necessary Enrages/Logistics in the deck to throw Dark Counsel in – a truly amazing card. Drawing extra cards, focusing your dice, always usable with Manipulate and even paying for itself, Dark Counsel is my favorite one-cost upgrade in the game.

At this point Elrathion and I had a difference of opinion. As most of our differences in opinion go, it got heated. He was absolutely adamant about adding in No Mercy because of how little people play around it and how it can snipe a major chararacter out from under mitigation or Second Chance. My argument against was that the red and grey cards diluted its utility too much, and upping the blue count made the mirror match much worse and there was no middle ground where the trade-offs matched up. However, his arguments in favor of No Mercy were very compelling.


Enter SoR Darth Vader – stage left.

What we gained from Vader was bonkers. We were able to get maximum value out of No Mercy, the ability to hard-cast our force powers in a pinch, even BETTER raw damage than Grievous, and a natural source of damage that couldn’t be guardianed. I’m still salty about Vika’s guardian deck is all I’m saying, and I had an inside tip that a highly proficient Phasma player was going to be in attendance at PAX.

What we lost though was very concerning. Vader may have one health more than the General, but he hurts himself. The match-up against Kylo/Grievous was entirely dependent on our ability to guess correctly, and the Five-Die match-up tanked because of their fully turned-on redeploy package.


Enter Rise Again – roped down from the top of the theater on glowing blue wings.

During my run through the latest Artificery League, I played primarily Palpatine. While I wasn’t very successful, the games in which I was able to Rise Again were so solidly in my favor it felt unfair. Without needing to pay for upgrades, and with the resource reliability that Dark Counsel provides, we could have the resources required at any given time. This more than made up for the edges lost in dropping General Grievous off the team, and reinforced our Holocron package.

Since we were flush with cash at this point, the swap from Rebel War Room to The Emperor’s Throne Room was a natural fit. Not because claiming for specials was critical to the deck (though it is a decent consolation prize) but because it scares people into giving you shields even when they win the BF roll and starting Kylo at 13 HP and Vader at 12 HP is a huge leg up.

The one thing that Elrathion wanted me to include but I stuck to my guns on was Feel Your Anger over Manipulate or Sound The Alarm. I just couldn’t justify it. I’m already going into every game hoping my opponent rolls poorly, and I figured that most opponents would be playing around FYA against me anyway. I ended up being correct on this one. I never missed it during my tournament run, and although I may be convinced to slot one in over Sound The Alarm to up the No Mercy value, I’m more likely to just put in another Manipulate. Resources are there, but they aren’t infinite, especially when Kylo, Vader, and both of our major force powers have paid sides.

As I Have Foreseen was clutch. I know that some people will say that it is a dead card in mono-color matchups, but hand information is always useful. The best use for it in my experience against multi-color decks is to take that look, then leave Kylo just chilling out as long as possible if my odds were 50% or worse. It had a tendency to make my opponent either help my odds out when I finally did activate, or slow them down to an absolute crawl by having them use their cards in very sub-optimal ways.

The rest of the event suite is pretty stock standard. I skewed more towards general use, and lowest cost possible. Assuming that in the majority of match-ups I either wouldn’t have a chance to control character dice very often (cough Sabine cough), or that the character dice themselves weren’t the threat (Blue Hero, 5-Die) Isolate got cut early on. In retrospect I’m glad I was as scared of Blue Hero as I was, because Intimidate got play in every single match that day across the entire range of decks. Notably, it saved me against Poe/Rey which was a deck barely on my radar prior to PAX.

Playing the Deck

This is a pretty good representative of a perfect opening hand. Substitute Deflect in for Doubt when appropriate but all in all this is what I’m looking for. The main thing is getting Dark Counsel and Sith Holocron. Always keep them, and mull everything else within reason (Intimidate is a keeper vs Hero Blue) to get them.

Always take the opponent’s battlefield when you can with one exception. Gathering up a bunch of damage dice all in a row to power through Second Chance is tough, so allowing Sabine to play on Starship Graveyard gives me the heebie jeebies. Luckily, the near 100% hit rate of Kylo’s ability makes up for the 4-HP swing in the beginning and the only specials they usually have to proc on Throne Room are Ezra’s. And at the end of the day, Second Chance tends to ramp them down, while Rise Again powers us up.

Your first turn is most critical. Against non-Caution decks (including Hero Mill), use that Intimidate straight away if they opted for shields. You actually want to go pretty slow on their first turn because you want them to select a target before you load up one char too much. I don’t have any issues playing Dark Counsel on either char because it can be overwritten with a Force Illusion, but if you’re against a two or three color deck and load up Anakin with a Holocron, you may not get to proc it in time to be useful.

My general rule of thumb is that Anakin gets the Holocrons while Kylo gets the Force Speeds. If all goes well, you can use Force Speed to roll out Anakin and fire off a special or massive damage spike unhindered.

No matter who you get them from though, Force Speed specials are a resource to treasure. Elrathion constantly gives me guff for the way I use mine. Many many times throughout the testing process and during PAX I would roll one and end up not even using it. I find that for my play-style sitting on one to use back-to-back removal events, or just one removal event plus claiming is more beneficial than literally rolling the dice to see if your second action is worthwhile.

Nearly always resolve your resources, especially your Dark Counsel resources, and run through your hand every turn minus a key card or two depending on your current match. You want that Rise Again, and you want the ability to throw it down the second someone gets enough damage to make it worthwhile.

Apart from that, the deck itself will kinda guide you through the decision points. Damage is damage and specials are specials. Just keep in mind that the longer Kylo2 stays alive, the more likely you are to win. Preventing two damage on him is more important than paying for his two-side, especially against mono-colored decks.

Galactic Qualifier 1, Round 1.

 

My first round was against a young man whom I had met at Worlds along with his father (who was running Jango/Phasma day one), and I was really happy to get to run into both of them again and catch up. He loves crafting his own personal decks and bringing them to a competitive environment which is a trait I both admire and wish I had the courage to do myself. I’m much more of a “take a net-deck and tweak it” kind of guy. Both at Worlds and at PAX I was impressed with his game-play ability but my deck was a nightmare matchup for him. I opened up with a Holocron which procced into a Mind Probe for four damage on the Sister during round one, locking him into using the Royal Guards to guardian two separate paid sides in Round 2 giving me a huge resource advantage. Meanwhile he wasn’t able to draw into an ID9 Droid to bring the pain. He still dealt a fair amount of damage to Kylo, but my money stockpile converted into a Rise Again and it was too much to handle.

Galactic Qualifier 1, Round 2.

While no match I played day one could be called easy, this game in particular will keep me up at night. I straight up lucked my way into victory. Everyone probably has a decent idea about what a Hero mill deck looks like, but his list was nothing like what I had pictured in my head. The most well-tuned and practiced mill deck I have ever played against for sure. My opponent and I talked at length about it after the game and again on day 2, and while I would love to share his list he asked me to keep it under wraps until after his regional. Thankfully, we won’t share a regional. The end game state was me guessing correctly with Kylo to clear the shields off of a full health Jedi Instructor and then rolling six melee damage and three ranged damage with a force speed special and the money to pay for it all. With only two cards left in my deck/hand. My opponent had mis-counted the amount of damage I had showing and did not utilize the Hyperspace Jump in his hand, giving me the win. My odds at that point were still good had he played it because he only would have had two cards left himself to face down the mill sides of two mind probes and Vader while I had BF control, but it was only though lucky milling from those mind probes earlier to get rid of both copies of two separate key cards of his, any number of which would have won him the game.

Galactic Qualifier 1, Round 3.

My opponent for this game was someone who I had played with on TTS before, and I know for a fact that he had the practice time in with his deck to make it a tough one. I played this game incredibly conservatively, doing my best to keep Kylo alive for as long as possible and waiting for him to proc his Shoto Lightsabers before clearing them with Kylo’s activation. My thought process was that if I could make his shield sides only half as effective as they would otherwise be, that I could eventually just grind the game out with Rise Again. I was proved correct in this through use of every single mitigation card I had in my deck save one Sound the Alarm and one Doubt. Intimidate came to me right on cue to counteract his Hail-Mary Caution, and a naked Kanan was no match for a fully loaded Vader with No Mercy in hand. I was on my way to round four. Our match on day 2 would prove to be even more of a mind game and I would be looking back with nostalgia for something this straightforward less than 24 hours later.

 

Galactic Qualifier 1, Round 4.

This was my first enounter with R2P2 in the wild, and if Chazu hadn’t been giving me an IRL deck tech the night before and the earlier parts of the day during our between-round breaks, I would surely have lost. The pilot of this particular version is a TTS and Discord regular, whom I was really grateful to get the chance to play against IRL. This entire game is a blur to me at this point, so when I describe our second to last turn, I am 100% sure I am mis-remembering something. The situation was Kylo and Rey both well within lethal range for how loaded our characters were, and we are both prioritizing saving their life. I roll Vader out and manage to hit the Force Throw special and a Holocron special ahead of his Rey activation, putting him in an awkward spot. He shields up to keep her out of immediate death range in case his Ancient Lightsaber hits it’s +3. He does end up rolling that +3 which I throw at him, followed up by a Mind Probe special brought in off my Holocron. My one die that can finish the job is Vader’s, showing blank. I reroll into Vader’s Ranged side after he resolves a shield for his 1HP Rey. He then immediately takes a resource and I’m in a pickle. I have intimidate in hand, but if I play it to remove Rey’s Shield then I am gambling on his second deflect being in the last three cards of his deck. Plus using it on Rey means Poe starts the next round with all three of his shields. I opt to reroll again, this time into the three side. He does the same and comes up with lethal for Kylo on Poe’s dice. I kill Rey, he kills Kylo, then I claim. I start the final round by intimidating Poe, whom he immediately field medics away some previous damage I had gotten through to him (incorrectly on my part). I roll out Vader and hit the Mind Probe special and Vader’s 3-Side. He plays down Force Illusion just to reduce incoming damage from Mind Probe (he had 2 cards left in deck). I get my Mind Probe damage in, then he rolls Poe in. The final action of the game was “No Mercy for a Million”, and I collapsed into my chair in relief. Hardest and most stressful game of the entire weekend.

Galactic Qualifier 1, Round 5.

  

This was the second game where I was happy to see my As I Have Foreseen in my opening hand, and my perfect knowledge round one allowed me get five damage through to Phasma with the help of an Anikan special and the threat of a higher Kylo guess percentage keeping his two guardians weaponless. Five turned into seven on my second Kylo activation with three cards kept in his hand between rounds. His damage rolls were unusually good though, made better by Imperial Discipline which put Kylo at 3 HP. My opponent was clearly feeling the effects of the long day though, and he missed a critical Salvage Stand trigger. I used my Force Speed to resolve two resources and immediately played Rise Again, which all but locked him out of the game. He did eventually bring Kylo down, but by that point he couldn’t remove all the damage sides showing on Vader’s loadout, which punched through to kill his Enforcer with the help of No Mercy.

Galactic Qualifier 1, Round 6.

Round six, there were three 5-0s. Myself, Elrathion, and HonestlySarcastc. When the pairings go up, I got paired down against another Discord/TTS regular and Elrathion was put against HS. Thankfully. I very rarely win against Elrathion because he is apparently a wizard of some sort and has the ability to read me like a book. Since HS already had a ticket to worlds, and I was paired down, we had a four-man powow with the tournament organizer to check the legality of a prize split. The word came back the way we were hoping and my opponent very generously and graciously conceded to me as he had nothing to gain out of winning and I had everything to lose. Seeing as how Palpatine is necessarily mono-colored and my deck runs almost like a Palpatine-light in the ways that matter, I think I was probably favored in the matchup overall but after a ten hour tournament I was mentally exhausted and more than willing to not risk anything more than necessary.

Final Thoughts

I wouldn’t run this deck at your regional, or any other major event prior to the Legacies release. It was the perfect deck for the perfect weekend and moment in time where Rends were rare, resource disruption and mill were at an all-time low, and very few people had any way to interact with dice showing special sides. Additionally mono-colored or not, Deflects and Force Illusions notwithstanding, you’ll notice I didn’t play against Sabine once that day and I was fortunate to not have to. When you can get a character immediately one-shot on a god-roll with no chance for interaction sometimes it doesn’t matter at all how much thought you’ve put into your deck or how many times you’ve played the match-up.

Post-Script

It’s not my habit to try and convince anyone to buy something (Artificery Store excluded, check out the bundles below the article). But there was one game that Tacster brought back to the Airbnb for us to try out and I fell in love with it in less than fifteen minutes. Think Yahtzee meets an RPG system, but with enough strategy to chew on for a while and you’ll end up with something just barely half as cool as what the game Dice Throne turned out to be. I can’t imagine any Destiny player wouldn’t have some fun with this game, and it was the coolest new thing I saw or tried out of the entire convention. I can’t recommend it enough, and I wasn’t paid or compensated in any way to do so. I bought mine second hand from Neblix who generously allowed me to throw money at him for his copy once I learned that the Mind Bottling Games booth was sold out. At the very least, check out their website and see if its up your alley. I desperately want to play it with more people and I have the feeling my wife is going to stop humoring me pretty soon.

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