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AoZ’s Scrub Life: GenCon Edition

Deck Selection

What is a succinct way to explain that I was lazy? Oh. That works. I was at a complete loss on what to play at GenCon to be honest. I put approximately zero value or stock in store championship results until one particular deck or archetype hits an overwhelming win-rate. I don’t want to take anything away from Store Championship winners (this is what prefacing a statement with “no offense but” looks like in 2018) and people can only play the matchups they are given, but when I take a peek at the DB and see that something went 4-1 to win a 14 person SC I just keep on scrolling. And for as interesting IRebel’s tracker is, all the Kylo2/X instances hitting the top table tell me is that people like easy-to-play decks.

So knowing that Kylo2 and Thrawn were going to be particularly prevalent at GenCon, and that there would probably a higher percentage of the field taken by mill decks than I was used to, I immediately started working on a mill deck of my own. Something that could take a beating, accomplish its goals faster than other mill decks, be somewhat color diverse, and not rely on any particular card too much. Above everything else, I didn’t want to lose against Launch Bay and mill of any flavor is a good way to make sure that doesn’t happen. Luke3/Leia2 was my choice and I went to town for a while.

Then I got scared. I wish I could say it was the surge in popularity of Finn/Maz, Solo Sabine, or the random Rex decks that put me off my initial plan. That would probably be believable, but the fact of the matter is that over the last six months I have gotten entirely too comfortable with a very specific playstyle and was banking on raw efficiency to carry me over any hurdles. So I registered a vehicle deck, and ran it headlong into a meta I knew wasn’t very advantageous. Truthfully I was lucky to even get that. By all accounts I should have had at least one additional poor matchup at least.

 

Round 1

 

 

He won the battlefield roll-off, took Obi-Wan’s hut, and hit the ground running with an Ancient on Luke, which forced me to target Rey with any direct damage I could scrounge up. If memory serves, I was able to get a HWK down on round 1, but only one damage off of it. The super big deal though, is by splitting my shields between Rose and Wedge I was able to get maximum efficiency out of First Aid which allowed Rose to survive into round 3 and add some value to a Crait Speeder.

The breakpoint was when I hit my opponent with a big bunch of indirect in round 4 post-claim. He did the math on what I had sitting in front of me and assigned damage in such a way that he thought I would not be able to kill anyone even with C-3PO working his magic but an extra Airspeeder out of hand pushed the total up to a point where I was able to one-shot Luke, invalidating the Ancient heal and ensuring my remaining removal (one Easy Pickings and one Garbage Chute at that point) would work well. The plan worked as expected and I walked into round 2 at 1-0.

 

Round 2

Mandalorian Super Commando  

 

Three-wide of any flavor can be difficult for vehicles to handle, made even more so when a good player knows how to avoid Easy Pickings. Basically, the maximum amount of mitigation I would ever be able to get from any one card would be three and it would cost me the use of a character in the process. Meanwhile the pings would and did just keep coming.

He was able to get a Holocron and Chance Cube early, and turned the former into two Force Pushes which were incredibly oppressive. I know he would probably have preferred a Force Rend, but the 2-discard sides were plenty good on their own. The minutia of this match is a bit blurry, and would be boring regardless save two things. The first is that my opponent and I both tried to play Flank when the play restriction would not allow it. We were both so used to being able to Flank at will, and had a sensible chuckle both times it came up.

The ending round had us both on the ropes both in damage and in cards, with 2 cards left on my side, 4 left on his end, and four HP remaining on my HG as compared to his 5 or 6. He rolls out into 2-discard, 1-discard, a shield, and 1-Ranged. I use my flank on the Force Push showing 2-discard, with my reasoning being that even if I am guarunteed to get milled this round, I at least probably won’t lose to damage and get my full final round. In his single play mistake I saw all game, he rerolls all three dice into something irrelevant and then immediately realizes how close to milled I was. I am able to get a shield side showing on an Airspeeder, keeping me a bit more safe from a damage loss while he has to reroll again, into three damage across three dice. This allowed me enough time to get a HWK die out, and when he rerolls again he gets a discard side on the Vambraces, and two damage across the other two. I am forced to reroll, and get lethal damage so he uses his last card to remove the HWK die. He pulls the Vambraces back to hand to reroll a final time hoping for a 1/36 kill-shot, which would have forced me to use C-3PO for shields (and thus very probably lose to BF control on dual-mill) but ends up whiffing and I take a hard-earned 2-0.

 

Round 3

Kylo Ren

I don’t think I could make this interesting if I tried. Kylo is bad vs vehicles, and when I target Pryce first because I don’t like The Best Defense being used against me, the Throne Room value actually shifts to my favor due to Y-Wing. 3-0

 

Round 4

Do you know what a vehicle deck does when both Rose dice get Entangled round 1 and a Holocron gets resolved for Mind Probe? It struggles. Do you know what a vehicle deck does when the Holocron gets resolved again for a Force Throw and a Snoke PA pulls three cards from your hand? It loses. Man, I got absolutely wrecked in this game, worse than any other on the day. My opponent was super nice though, and was kinda surprised himself as to how well he was doing. After the match we chatted for a bit and he had flown all the way from Alaska with the deck his wife built since he hadn’t had any free time recently to do his own practicing and testing. Even though I got demolished from top to bottom, I enjoyed this match simply because of how upbeat and positive my opponent was, which is one of the reasons I love Destiny so much. 3-1

 

Break

Lunch break happened at this point, and it sucked. I hate breaks in tournaments in general, and usually don’t eat even when they occur. The problem is that everyone else knows I don’t eat before or during tournaments so on the wife’s orders, the entire team conspires to get me to consume SOMETHING. On the promise of food trucks I relented, and walked all the way out to the food truck alley just to find out that it was shift change time out there and there wasn’t any food actually available. This was bullshit and I’m still mad.

 

Round 5

Christ this deck is still a terror. I lost this match, but it was close. Nothing went particularly wrong for me, but when a very large percentage of your damage is indirect OTK can kinda just shrug it off. I wasn’t able to snatch away either Price of Failure and opponent used both in one round on me, while my blowout removal wasn’t anywhere in sight and my characters ended up dropping like flies after two consecutive rounds of ID-9 discards for 2+. I was still clawing at his last remaining health but by the time he got his third Ancient Lightsaber, the writing was on the wall. 3-2

 

Round 6

Aside from mill, this was the matchup I was most concerned about. I got off to a very good start and was able to get all the damage cleared off of both HWKs before Rose went down, but there were two turning points. I thought I was very clever in keeping both C-3POs in my opening hand, but in Round 3 my opponent found an AT-DP. I tried to entice him to blow up a HWK, but he saw through my ruse and went straight for the droid instead. Even so, I was able to get him on the ropes with only three health remaining on Thrawn (targeted Snoke after seeing a Rise Again discarded). In the last round he rolls out Thrawn (gets Blank and Focus) and says one. He stares really hard at both my Scruffy and my Garbage Chute before discarding the Garbage Chute, and I had a choice to make. He was down to his last few cards, he had 5 money, and I haven’t seen the other Rise Again or a Dark Ritual. I’m out of removal. So my choices are to Scruffy for event, or roll HWKs for lethal. I thought about it, but eventually decided to roll out a HWK. My thought process was that I hadn’t seen a Dark Ritual, and with the focus on board I have a clock of three opponent “free actions” before I lose. And by being aggressive, I force him to remove lethal dice.

Well. He had Dark Ritual. Still not all was lost since my first HWK had rolled four indirect. My second HWK rolled three indirect, and then he rolled in a Fang Fighter. I roll in my ARC hoping for the 1/6, and whiff. He rolls in the other Fang Fighter. I reroll my ARC for another bite of the apple, and whiff. He focused to lethal and thats all she wrote, which sealed my fate as one of the 219 people who did not make day 2.

 

Round 7

Ezra Bridger Aspiring Jedi  

Man. I was pretty ashamed at this point, and I almost dropped. To be blunt, the prizes for Destiny aren’t very inspiring. I play for the competition, and I play to prove things to myself and justify my ego. I imagine that this is roughly the same for the majority of Artificery’s readership, so I hope you all can understand the way I was feeling at this point. This is where having such a great group of friends and teammates help, and why I am so grateful to them. They reminded me that as bad as I feel at 3-3, and as bad as the possibility of 3-4 or 3-5 sounds, it would be worse if I didn’t at least try my best for the remaining two rounds. So I went back onto the tourney floor a bit butthurt, but at least faking happiness.

So there it was. A Launch Bay deck. Pull five to hand, ditch five. Get a C-3PO. Play the C-3PO, roll out Rose, get a money, play a HWK, get an extra money from opponent Truce, Wedge PA the HWK to 4-indirect, then resolve it as discard with C-3PO. Do the same for the next two rounds to absolutely shred his hand. I end up winning this via mill, but if I didn’t know ahead of time what the Launch Bay deck looked like or what it was trying to do it could have demolished me. 4-3

 

Round 8

With my confidence somewhat restored, I was able to go into the final round in a kinda-sorta IDC attitude. I wasn’t the only one knocked out of day 2 at this point, so I just had a YOLO mindset with this game. I got a HWK down, managed to get the damage off of it with Rose, then played a Y-Wing in the same round and slammed seven indirect damage right off the rip. My opponent wasn’t about to be outdone though, and jabbed me right back for six damage on Wedge and had a Rex’s blaster with control of the Outer Rim Outpost. I had a feeling I was going to get jumped so I pitch everything else in hand to try and get a Scruffy, which did get the jump out of hand, but the next round a Hit and Run ended up dealing 12 damage across all of his available dice. My opponents downfall in that round though was paying for a DH-17 pay side, leaving him trying to reroll a Cassian die in search of a resource with which to play Second Chance. His resource did not appear, and I sealed my final win of the tournament with C-3PO’s help.

 

Tournament Thoughts, and Thoughts Moving Forward

I need to get out of my comfort zone. There wasn’t a single game that I won that I would not have been able to win with Luke3/Leia2 if given the same quality of rolls and draws, and I would have very probably won one additional match, though not the DJ/Snoke. That guy was on fire. I was lucky I didn’t face mill, and still came up short. I was lucky I only played one Thrawn/Snoke and I still came up short. With perhaps one decision excepted, I don’t think I made any play mistakes but I felt like my choice in deck was holding me back all day. Something needs to change, and that something is me.

The tools are there, there are harder to play and more capable decks at my fingertips and trying to jam a vehicle deck down eight-plus rounds is artificially (or Artificerilly) holding me back because I am too scared of abject failure to take the kind of risk necessary to win big. In the case of mill, I could very well run into back to back to back solo-Sabine, Cad, or Rex matches. But it wouldn’t be any worse than taking a very mediocre deck into an absolutely hostile meta. “But it’s what I’m good at” is a good platitude to tell people, but it’s not winning me a trophy. To be very honest, the average player today is a mile ahead of the average player six months ago and I can’t rely on my opponents making more mistakes than me any more.

With 3-wide mill and Talzin/Commando/Commando hitting the final, the meta is certainly very different. It’s not certain yet, but I might be able to attend NOVA and put my Nationals bye to work. With that in mind I have a few conditions that I need to meet for a deck to take, and they are conditions I encourage you all to keep in mind when selecting decks of your own.

  • Methods of dealing with multiple chars
  • High HP pool
  • Multiple unconditional methods of removing at least one Thrawn die per round through his disruption
  • Viable anti-mill plan
  • Viable anti-hyperspace jump plan
  • Effective ramp

 

GenCon Ramblings

This was my first GenCon and holy crap was I blown away. Highlights included:

  • Battletech Firestorm Pods! I’ve wanted to play with these for YEARS and finally got to
  • Dinosaur Island is an amazingly fun game, and worth the price tag
  • Picked up a copy of HeroQuest!
  • I am very excited for the new Battlestar Galactica miniatures game, and the rules system feels very fluid
  • IDK how Steak and Shake actually turns a profit, but they are a previously unknown national treasure
  • Picked up a copy of X-Wing 2.0 and my wife is already tired of me asking her to play, its super fun

Until NOVA,
-Agent Of Zion

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