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Do You Feel the Need? The Need for Speed?

Does Hit and Runing 5 dice at a minimum into your pool, getting a reroll on some of them, slamming damage then go off to the next round sound good? It does to me too, which is why I took Hexen’s initial concept list, made a few changes over on swdestinydb.com and ran as fast as I could to claim all the credit. Here’s the list on front street.

 

Click the image to see this deck on swdestinydb.com

 

Step 1: Get a Third Resource

If you win the battlefield roll, always pick your own Theed Royal Palace and use it as your first action of the game. With an average roll-off of between at least 4 (70%) and 5 (45%), your odds aren’t the absolute best but at least in this initial meta you’re competitive against pretty much all the non-Vader decks.

The importance of the third resource also guides your mulligan decisions. Pitch everything that isn’t Truce in search of it. In the worst case scenario where you both lose the roll-off and don’t get Truce, get Han in the pool to try and leverage his double resource sides.

Step 2: Determine how your First Round needs to go.

The flowchart is a tad complicated, but messing it up has the potential to either cripple your options in future rounds or reduce your combat effectiveness needlessly.

How fast is your opponent likely to be is the critical question. Control of the Battlefield, no matter whose you start on is of utmost importance to keeping Defensive Position and Hyperspace Jump profitable for you, and to make Retreat a true bad choice for your opponent. Your first round is your slowest round especially if you have to find a third resource the hard way, so if it looks like your opponent is going to be comparable in speed then plan on using your H&R this early if you have it. Also don’t go crazy on the rerolls, and be mindful of how likely your opponent is to claim at any given point. A good tactic I use to get just a bit more time is to forgo any random damage dice hanging out (Han’s/Biggs 2-side primarily). Two resources off the Falcon Die and BF control are better for your long term plans than two or three damage.

If your opponent is certainly not faster than you, hanging on to your Hit and Run effects is better to snipe some lethal damage off later on. In the meantime, actually roll Han out prior to Biggs/Falcon. If you can bait your opponent into using removal on him that at least reduces their remaining options for the round as a form of soft mitigation by preventing massive ramp or maximum rerolls. This also gives you maximum protection against blowout removal like Into the Garbage Chute, Entangle, or Easy Pickings.

Force Speed, number of chars, good rolls, mismatched die sides, activatable supports, and the like are all signposts that help you plan your first round correctly. The important thing is you end the round with battlefield control. It’s exceedingly unlikely that you’ll be in a position to mitigate opposing damage save Hasty Exit, but that’s ok so long as Biggs doesn’t die. If you end up with shields via BF roll-off or the Falcon die put them on Biggs because he is the target.

 

Step 3: Get your Millennium Falcon

This is the weirdest/most awkward thing about the deck, in that you absolutely do not want your key card in your opening hand. If you do, you essentially have two options. You either discard to reroll 0 dice, or you get Han out there and reroll him with the Falcon in search of more damage.

 

4.) Execute your Plan

For round 1, follow what you planned. For future rounds, Hyperspace Jump and Retreat are your get out of jail free cards if you preface the escape route with a Hit and Run effect. Otherwise, Aerial Advantage and Defensive Position and Negotiate help stem the bleeding. Slide Maz’s Vault in wherever you can, a bit of supplemental income helps get the Falcon up to a four-die status.

 

5.) Tricks

Obviously, at some point the goal is going to be to kill a character or win the game in an unrespondable way.

Across the Galaxy always pays for itself, and gets Drop In back online before you draw or play Hyperspace Jump

Swiftness is a 1-card swiss army knife. It forces Drop In to do what you want it to, turns the Arc Caster into most of a Hit and Run, makes Aerial Advantage a Never Tell Me the Odds on the offense, and ensures you keep battlefield control after playing any of your removal.

Daring Gambit is the most experimental of everything in the list, but my initial thoughts are pretty positive. Sometimes the mismatch between direct and indirect damage types, not to mention Han’s special make things really awkward. Turning one of those yellow dice into what it shows +X is almost perfect for securing a kill or overwhelming indirect damage. It does need more testing, and is somewhat reliant on having at least one Arc die plus Han’s in your pool, so if you don’t like it replace it with the second Dorsal Turret

Dorsal Turret Can eke you out a bit of extra damage against someone slow, but don’t bet on it.

Arc Caster Puts the pressure on for sure, but keep in mind you don’t get Biggs’ reroll effect when you use it to activate the Falcon, and it can only reroll dice in your pool prior to proccing the Falcon ability. It’s not always the best decision to just use it’s ability, but when you need it its there.

 

6.) Matchups

It’s still too early in the meta to draw hard and fast conclusions of viability or anything more than a rough feeling of how this stacks up against the field but I do have enough games for a very general statement of effect. Three character lists are the most difficult due to sheer health pool, and the faster a deck is the less damage you will be able to do each round. The most obvious baseline for testing is the new Darth Vader, which feels pretty dependent on how swiftly you draw your Hyperspace Jumps and how effectively you can time your Retreats. You don’t have very many ways to stop a Rise Again, and the list feels too tight to put Scruffy Looking Nerf Herder in over anything unless everyone in your local meta is in love with the Sith Lord. It’s very winnable, especially if you can fire off one of those Negotiate‘s early.

 

7.) Playing Against

Methods to interact with this deck are few and far between. Cards like Suppressive Fire Stifle and Scruffy Looking Nerf Herder certainly help but aren’t guaranteed solutions to the unrespondable damage.

Your best opportunity is round 1. Maximize you damage however you can, and focus Biggs down to turn off Hit and Run and reduce the effectiveness of Aerial Advantage. This will also put a very large resource pressure on the Flyboys to get Second Chance down.

In the absence of better options, disrupting the decks resources is effective as is discarding cards, so long as you don’t hamstring yourself with what you can do for the rest of the round.

Vehicle destruction in the form of N-1 Starfighter, AT-ST, Vandalize, Sabotage, Surgical Strike, and Sebulba Always Wins will ensure your win almost 100% if their effects can be pulled off in the first few rounds but that is no easy task. Surgical Strike and AT-ST seem the most viable to me.

 

Conclusion

I find it somewhat amusing that the first decklist I put out in a while is using a three-point plot. Three points is a price that I had previously identified as totally unusable in the vast majority of cases, but this isn’t the only deck I’ve seen put Armored Reinforcement to good use, so I guess I’ll be just inserting this here foot in my mouth right quick.

This decks is fun, effective enough here at the outset of the new meta, and doesn’t require a massive amount of cards to run with so I highly recommend it for those of you who don’t really know where to start.

 

Remember boys, no points for second place.
-Agent Of Zion

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#Armored Support, A Proposal to Bolster #RallyAid

This article, if you want to call it that, is going to be one of the least useful things I’ve written. I feel compelled to write it however, not just as a method by which to stretch my writing muscles after so much downtime caused by real life obligations but because I’ve been incredibly bothered by a couple of posts committing what I feel to be a cardinal sin.

 

You don’t point out problems without providing a solution, or at least a path outlined to eventually arrive at a solution. To do otherwise is whinging at best, and fear-mongering at worst. So when I read Bobby Sapphire’s (TheHyperloops) article here, and shortly thereafter read Pearl Yeti’s article here, both about the issues surrounding ongoing player support I was somewhat bothered. They are good articles, and put forth exactly spot on criticisms, but they merely hinted at solutions rather than provide directly actionable methodology.

 

Then I remembered that my primary use-case for twitter is to roast FFG, and the weight of hypocrisy started bearing down. So this is a very generically directed article aiming at correcting all that and though not written as such, should serve as an open letter to FFG Organized Play. If my wildest dreams have a possibility of coming true on this, they are free to completely take anything written and present it as their own. This is unlikely, hence the probable futility of writing it in the first place. C’est la vie.

 

Problem Definition:

The real, measurable, problem facing destiny is not one of prize support, game balance, release uncertainty, ill-defined rules interactions, or lack of tournament organization. They are all contributing concerns, but the real problem is summed up in three words and a hypen. Declining Player-base. Correcting this problem and all of those contributing factors and any other passing concerns hinges on four facts.

A.) Companies exist to make money
B.) Employee time costs money
C.) If fixing a problem costs more than the revenue generated by a solution, it won’t happen
D.) The less people a problem effects, the less revenue is gained by solving it

Scope Definition:

As I am fond of saying, no-one knows your meta better than you. No-one can propose a solution that works in your area, or my area, they have to be much more general. I interpret that scope requirement as a need to give specific areas the tools to meet their individual needs.

By way of example, I would love to have giant community run events as proposed by Bobby Sapphire, but I recognize that those events will interest a large number of people, but only actually apply to a small subset of them (namely the fortunate people with both the time and money to attend). There would be upstream benefits like streaming and free advertising, but those are nebulous at best.

So any solution needs to apply to the maximum number of people possible, to notably include FFG whose primary motivation is again, dollar bills.

My Solution:

The one location where you can reach the highest number of existing players, increase the player-base, generate additional revenue for FFG, and appeal to every different motivation that applies to any player is the local game store. To be more specific, it is at the events that any given local game store runs on a regular schedule.

As we all know, we have quarterly prize kits. They are wholly insufficient. Quarterly means that a very active store could conceivably run through 12 of them. This is disappointing to everyone.

1.) Collectors don’t actually have that many things to collect. In a game without foil cards, the alt-arts contained within these kits are acquired quickly and since they are recycled so much there isn’t much “bling” value or room for the collectors to show off.

2.) Value-driven players get no value. Because there are so many of each of these in circulation, they are dirt cheap.

3.) Social/Casual players get left out. When there isn’t any inherent incentive for a Collector or Value-driven player to come out to a weekly tournament then that obviously leaves fewer people at the store for people to simply hang out with.

4.) Competition Driven players also get left out. With less people showing up at the store, the purely competitive players have to do a cost/benefit analysis on time and money spent that will usually end up not favoring FFG or their local player-base. Opinions on TTS aside, it exists, it isn’t going away, and it’s time and money costs are far below going to a local store.

So lets revamp the Quarterly Kits.

Introducing Monthly Kits, Limited Kits, and the Quarterly Championship

Monthly Kit Contents:

Every Month, FFG should put out a low production cost kit designed to entice everyone in one form or another. Of absolute top priority is that everything in the kit should be from the most recent set release. This adds nothing to the cost of the kit, keeps the contents relevant for the maximum amount of time, and enhances the excitement of the new set. The contents of the kit would include the folowing.

A.) Sixteen alternate-art faction neutral commons. Sixteen of them makes it pretty much an attendance award and puts something in everyone’s hands. The power level of the card doesn’t really matter but the card should be neutral and the color should be rotated around to hit as many players as possible, some of whom do only play certain factions or colors.

B.) Eight alternate-art uncommon cards. Again, rotate the colors around but notably in this case you want to make these format staples. Making them staples makes people want as many of them as possible, and only putting eight of them in a kit means most people will have to attend at least two events to even get a playset.

C.) Four alternate-art rare non-character cards. These should be pushed towards the theme of the set. These cards are going to be cards everyone wants, but making them Top 4 awards keeps them fully in reach for the vast majority of players to win, and again, motivations of a playset will pull people back for more than one event.

D.) Two alternate-art characters. There isn’t a need for people to want more than one of these for personal use, but because they are ideally decent characters they will be in high demand both for competition, and on the secondary market. Iconic characters push the brand, sell boxes, and get people involved. There is a reason this is under the Star Wars licence after all. Non-uniques can work, but aren’t the best choice since they will only be available for four weeks. At the same time, you don’t want them super bonkers, so as to provide the Spot Gloss team with good room to maneuver.

By doing a kit like this monthly, there is going to be a third of the total amount of these cards in circulation as opposed to the current quarterly kits. This both drives secondary value up, and pushes people in the stores more often because each kit will go out of circulation after four months. That’s what I call a win/win.

The nice thing here for FFG is that this is all cardboard. The most expensive part is the art, and in the vast majority of cases, simply making it full-bleed ala Flank and Lightsaber Pull is perfectly good enough. The money was already spent, just fire up the printer and sell the kits.

What you don’t see are token sets of any kind, which brings me to…

“Quarterly” Championship Contents:

The ideal way to cap off a meta for a store, the Quarterly Championship should be held in the few weeks leading up to a new set release. A final sendoff if you will. While most people wouldn’t go super far out of their normal stomping grounds to try and win the contents of a monthly kit, the contents of a Quarterly Championship kit should get people excited enough to make the trek in the same ways that Store Championships do, but without any sort of bye cards that would lead to a win-cycle. These tournaments should be friendly, separate from the current competitive structures, but get player-bases mixed up a bit and introduce people to the competitive structure.

The contents of this kit should be entirely faction neutral (with one exception), and push the overall theme or new concepts that the most recent set introduced. It is as much marketing as it is a tournament.

A.) Thirty-two staple uncommons. Large player-bases get a participation prize, and presumably will want to go to another tournament to get the playset, smaller playerbases will have enough to not need to drive four hours for another attempt #RuralProblems.

B.) Sixteen rares. FFG has playtesting data that will point to good selection here. Think Holdout Blaster, but done right before SoR came out. Something that will continuously see play throughout the lifespan of the card. You want them attainable for collectors, sellable for the value-driven players, and just plain blingy for competitive players.

C.) Eight staple Legendaries. Something that pushes the theme of the set is ideal, but definitely a card people will want. Think the Force Speed promos.

D.) Four Flagship Legendary Characters. Drop the bomb on this one. Bring out the Vader, the Luke, the Thrawn, the Lando.

E.) Two token sets. These should be planned out over the block and keep to a specific color theming. White boxes this year? White tokens. That sort of thing. One quarter for shields, damage, and resources.

F.) One playmat. Winning one of these tournaments should be something you can show off, nothing really fits that better than a playmat. It should feature the art from the eight staple legendaries contained in the kit. Think the Force Speed playmat/card combo.

Some of our most competitive readers would think that they don’t care about anything above the Legendary Character prize. That is by design, again to emphasize the community semi-casual nature of these events. They aren’t the appropriate venue for long drawn out rules conversations or arguments. Low pressure and low barrier of entry comes out to a welcoming environment which is one of FFGs core goals.

This would be an expensive kit to produce as compared to pure cardboard, but its only three times a year and the contents make good prize ticket sinks for GQs and Worlds.

Wait a second, did I just say quarterly championships are only three times a year? Yup. Three sets per year, three quarterly championships. Which is why I wouldn’t call them quarterly tournaments, I’d call them the “Insert Set Name” Championship. Branding. Good shit. But that does leave us with some time to fill, given that I already put down three “monthly kits” for each set.

Limited Kit Contents

For the first few weeks of every set, a focus on the Limited formats should be a priority. Sell and ship these to the stores in packs of four along with their order of the new set. One to serve as a possible midnight or day-of release kit for the set, and three others for the first month of release. These need to strike a delicate balance. Make the contents too good and people may not actually buy the Rivals set (or presumably whatever comes along to replace or update the Rivals set). Make them god-awful and you don’t encourage limited play.

A.) Eight cardboard deckboxes. Those cardboard deckboxes are actually really useful for limited play, and for a player who owns absolutely nothing to jump in and play (with a borrowed or purchased on-site Rivals kit) they give someone brand new a basic storage and deck carrying solution. Most people will trash them or give them away but for those people, the appeal of a new set is probably enough of an attendance prize.

B.) Four alternate-art dice cards. This is the compromise to the corporate overlords. Can’t actually use these without owning a Rivals kit, ensures sales, but since pretty much every die in the kit is playable in limited, you can just pick one at random and run with it. Bonus points if its standard/trilogy viable but we aren’t too picky.

C.) Two alternate-art Character cards. Same compromise, but these are much more likely to be limited specific. Collectors will want them for sure.

Keeping things like Hidden Motive out of the kits is good to keep the Galactic Qualifiers and higher level tournament options open, same with the “play the staff” challenges that are common. Assuming FFG does plan on replacing Rivals at some point, there are more than enough dice cards to keep the limited kits flowing for two years worth of set releases (though characters will need to be subbed out for the other dice at some point).

Specific Contents:

I’m peering back at Way of the Force, just to plug some card names into the slots I’ve identified to see how this would have looked if I had my way. And I think it looks pretty spectacular.

Monthly Kit 1:

16x In The Crosshairs
8x Pacify
4x Resistance Crait Speeder
2x Boss Nass

Monthly Kit 2:

16x Grand Entrance
8x Reprogram
4x Count Dooku’s Solar Sailer
2x Sebulba

Monthly Kit 3:

16x Beguile
8x Climate Disruption Array
4x Mandalorian Vambraces
2x Fifth Brother

Way Of The Force Championship:

32x Risky Move
16x ARC-170
8x Dagger of Mortis
4x Luke Skywalker
2x Token Set
1x Dagger of Mortis Playmat

Limited Kit:

8x Aphra Deckbox
4x Fang Fighter
2x Lobot

The Schedule:

I am hesitant to tie this down to months, so I’m just going to use numbers as placeholders. Wherever FFG would decide to start the cycle would be fine really, it only really triggers on a set release.

Month 1.) “Insert Set Name Here” Championship, and four “Limited Kit 1” for the newest set release.
Month 2.) Monthly Kit 1
Month 3.) Monthly Kit 2
Month 4.) Monthly Kit 3
Month 5.) “Insert Set Name Here” Championship, and four “Limited Kit 2” for the newest set release.
Month 6.) Monthly Kit 1
Month 7.) Monthly Kit 2
Month 8.) Monthly Kit 3
Month 9.) “Insert Set Name Here” Championship, and four “Limited Kit 3” for the newest set release.
Month 10.) Monthly Kit 1
Month 11.) Monthly Kit 2
Month 12.) Monthly Kit 3

Sadness

I think my idea is good, and I think it would go a very long way to not only maintain the player-base we currently have but to redraw in players who may have left and even gather new ones. With an invigorated playerbase, it would be easier for FFG to justify the expense of all the other nice-to-have things which we have all been clamoring for.

Sadly, and this may just be my pessimistic nature, I don’t think they are particularly interested in doing anything at the moment to kick this off. And much less likely to take advice from one of their biggest critics.

-Good Luck, Have Fun, Roll On
Agent Of Zion