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Tacster’s NA Championship Breakdown: The Quest for 4 Medals

Gen-Con, a five year tradition for my wife and I, is an experience I would recommend to anyone a fan of board, card, or role-playing games, and with that comes the second largest Destiny event of the year (we can call EU Championships a solid third largest). So many things to do at Gen-Con, I was relieved to have the tournament earlier in the week so that I could enjoy the later half the the con. Leading up to it though I had fairly limited practice with notable meta decks in way of the force.

I had been leaning towards Thrawn / Snoke vehicles deck for its consistency, control, and hand knowledge, but the possibilities of large amounts of aggressive decks lead me astray and fear got the best of me leading me back to the old familiar, Hero Vehicles. The list I played was not really any big innovation of my own but really the brainchild of Hexen and Agent of Zion from the Artificery team. Its not a flashy deck, it doesn’t have anything we haven’t really  seen in hero vehicles outside of 2 red characters and the new card First Aid (which was quite useful).

Little did I know, picking this deck was kind of the choice of a crazy person seeing as I was the only player in the top 32 for the event that dared play without Blue. I definitely did not have the repetitions with this deck in before the event but it plays so similar to things I’ve played the last year it was fine.

The real important thing here was my defending title of Medal Champion of Star Wars: Destiny. For those that don’t know, medals are awarded for placing in the top 16 at either World’s or Continental championship events. So far there have been 6 total, and only 4 in the U.S. Andrew, from the Destiny Council, and I were the only 2 people who made top 16 in worlds both years, but he was not playing at Gen Con last year, leaving me one medal ahead of the pack. So my biggest motivation here was making that top 16 yet again. And as I will describe in the match-ups below, I got to be the gatekeeper against Launch Bay OTK to make that dream come true. Making me the only player to get all four US medals, with several players now joining the 3 medal club (Andrew and Brian from Destiny Council, Joe and Mike from Hyperloops). Congrats to all y’all great players and looking forward to the fifth medal at worlds next year!

The Deck

Again not a whole lot to say about the deck specifically. There is one of 3 different 3 cost vehicles to diversify with the N-1 Starfighter helping in other vehicle matchups. First-aid was a great card to have as well. Rigged detonation was probably the only weird one and is definitely not necessary but it was OK and at least worth the try here while it did not actually meaningfully contribute to winning any of my games.

Match-Ups

Round 1:  eYoda / eCassian Mill

  • This was a very close game where I was hit with FILP (Friends in Low Places) or Scruff-Looking Nerf-Herder every round making it hard to keep my removal / good cheap supports. I ended up winning after I had no cards in hand or deck doing 2 damage overkill. While this mill is very fast, this is the kind I would prefer to face against since it only has 20 health baseline and allows me to bully them a lot more with indirect damage using Wedge’s 2/3 sides. I would say I actually have the advantage against that deck unless they get really strong Hyperspace jumps off.

Round 2: eFinn / eMaz  Profitable Connections

  • This was not a matchup I was terribly scared of because of my high health pool, and with the profitable connections instead of long term plan it could not scale up as well against me late game. He was unable to punch out very hard round 1 and while he was able to get hit and run both rounds 2 and 3 I was still able to close out the game round 3. He got a good amount of damage on Rose round 2 and rolled his hit and run into 11 damage to one shot Wedge round 3. The problem with playing a 19 HP deck and going all in with no resources is that the indirect damage stacks up fast.

Round 3: eKylo / eSnoke

  • Another matchup that was in my favor from the beginning. After throwing out a good bit of indirect early that he put toward snoke and a little more direct damage, I was able to secure that kill round 2 making the indirect damage all the more potent going forward. Controlling at least a few of the few damage capable dice he had each round was an easy victory that was also done by the end of round 3.

Round 4: eTalzin / 2x Mandalorian Supercommandos

  • This was my first loss of the day. The matchup overall can be quite dicey especially if I cannot save Rose through the end of round 2. The deck just has so much consistent damage and health gain / block its just very hard to get ahead on HP until the late game. If I had won the battlefield roll and not had to be on Rift Valley I think I would have been able to get ahead enough in ramp and not get that extra removal used against me that I could have pulled out the game. I do believe this version of the deck was not nearly as effective vs my deck as the one I played in the top 16 and that took 2nd place.

Round 5:  eSnoke / Piett / Rebel Traitor

  • This match I kind of feel bad for. I was able to ramp multiple vehicles round 1 while stopping him from using Snoke power action for more resources. Round 2 I killed his Rebel Traitor and pinned down both it and Pietts resource sides to again deny the Snoke power action. At this point I was so far ahead I never lost a character and slowly whittled down his large HP pool.

Round 6: eSnoke / Piett / Rebel Traitor

  • This was a very different story from the last game and was probably my favorite match the whole of Gen-Con. He was able to ramp out insanely well and I had very little to answer for it in the first 2 rounds. This saw me sitting across an arch-angel, pirate speeder tank, planetary bombardment, and fang fighter over the course of the game. This was also the game I finally got to use the naboo n-1 starfigher to destroy a pirate speeder tank showing 5 indirect with C-3P0’s action. He did not end up seeing it coming which helped a bit, and I baited out removal on it in a later round for fear I would kill his 2nd pirate speeder tank. The game cuminated in a huge rollout with arch-angel, planetary bombardment, and pirate speeder tank and he hit damage on all 3. I removed the bombardment die, and he resolve the other two putting me down to 1 HP on just wedge. I then ended up killing Piett to remove damage he rolled, removed snoke die with a Flank, and had no money left. I was sitting across from a fang fighter with a 2nd pinned down in hand and no money. I spend the next few actions discarding to reroll just C-3P0to get my hand smaller before he hit damage on fang. By the time he did I was able to rally aid for the 100% chance to cast Pinned down for free. From there it was just a matter of getting out my vehicles and finishing out the game surviving by 1 HP.

Round 7: eYoda / eCassian Aggro

  • Luckily I knew of the group of people playing this variant so I was not fooled into thinking it was a mill deck. I was able to put a decent enough amount of pressure early and was able to kill off Cassian round 3 after a scruffy looking nerf herder to get rid of a removal and see that no jump or second chance were on the way. After this it was an easy victory tearing through yoda who did not have much in the way of damage potential. I had lost rose at this point, but Wedge and the hired gun were quite healthy still. He was running cunning and at least lightbow for some special chain package. Was not sure if he had force wave but that could have turned the tide if he did.

Round 8: eYoda / Cassian / Anakin Mill (Reflex the 2018 NA Champion)

  • At this point I had already made day 2, so there was very little pressure this game and I knew my chances of winning were quite small. I probably made amisplay early by slamming down N-1 starfighter just to kill off his ankin podracer instead of playing my HWK. While I ramped fairly well, I still was not able to really get that close to finishing him off and it was an easy victory for him.

Top 32: Ezra / Jar Jar / Anakin / Gungan Launch Bay OTK

  • I was quite scared when I sat across from this. I had never really played much against the deck but luckily I was aware of how it worked even when we were not shown decklists (which is a first for an event like this in the top cut). The first game actually had my ideal start vs it. I had drawn C-3P0 and a modified HWK giving me access to a 4 side to use with the C-3P0 action for discard. Knowing most versions of this deck run 0 removal, I was able to use Wedge’s power action to turn the HWK to the 4 side every round and he was never able to get a cohesive combo off. The second game was a little scarier since I did not get C-3PO until round 3 and we had to play on fort anaxes which really messed with my rose dice when they rolled indirect. I was at least able to shield Wedge to get him to 14 HP as a protection from the salvo. Luckily enough the disrupt sides on all 4 of my character dice, Roses base discard side, and the discard side on the T-47 Airspeeder were enough to keep him barely out of full combo potential. Couple with the good amount removal my deck has, this matchup was actually quite easy for the deck because of how disruptive it could become when it needed to. I still really don’t like playing vs that deck since it forces me to play a completely different game that I was luckily a skilled enough pilot to handle. With this win I got my 4th top 16 medal!

Top 16: eTalzin / 2x Mandalorian Supercommandos (Jordan the 2018 NA Champ Runner-up)

  • Neither of my games in this best of 3 were very close. In the first game I  got wrecked hard by force rend played via holocron. He killed my rally aid round 1 and then my ARC round 2 leaving me with no vehicles on the board and rose dead. By the time he killed my hired gun the next round or two when I still only have one vehicle out I just conceeded and moved to game 2 since I had a total of 2 dice to my name and about 15 health to still chew through. The second game, if I had been able to survive until the end of the round which I died on there was a chance I could find lethal, but I did not have enough answers to the constant pinging of the supercommandos. The force rend and force wave in his deck really swing the matchup far in his favor in my opinion where were cards I did not see in the previous opponent playing the deck. He played great not making any notable mistakes and the constant damage was just too much to come back from.

Conclusion

I am still stunned after to fact to find that everyone else was running blue, but it makes sense with how strong the color is. While I have still yet to actually win a large event, I am still quite happy with my performance despite not bringing the best deck for the tournament. I want to congratulate everyone that made day 2 at this large event of 250ish players. My opponents were great and nothing but solid experiences. Lastly want to shout out to the Hyperloops for such a great performance at this event. They have done well at all tournaments we have run into each other at, but I think this to me was their biggest event and a great show of teamwork and practice paying off. Look forward to playing with you all again at Worlds next year and for those coming to NOVA in the coming weeks. Just know I intend to remain the King of the Medals!

 

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Hero Vehicles Chicago Regional Tournament Report

How I started Playing Hero Vehicles

Two weeks ago Agent of Zion and I piloted hero vehicles to top tables at our respective Regionals. Ever since PAX Unplugged I have been really enamored by the play style of the vehicles decks playing a eMaz/eHera/Ezra variant. I even tried to play with Hera and Wedge at the beginning of Legacies which felt okay but not as reliable without Maz in the mix. It wasn’t until I made a joke deck the week before the Portland Regional that I really fell in love with Rose as a character and her potential with a support based deck. Rose and the Boys (2x Clone Troopers) was my fun mono red hero support deck.

After the Portland Regional I went back to the drawing board to try Rose as the centerpiece of the vehicle deck being able to utilize her special to make the Modified HWK-290 playable. I started with some of the more expensive vehicles with Hera and Ezra as well but found that without Maz, Hera’s special was extremely unreliable and very easy to be controlled away every round. This prompted the move away from Hera to a more aggressive character, Aayla Secura. Blue doesn’t really buy the deck much in terms of cards outside of Caution and R2D2, but Aayla alone really adds threat to your character dice that never really existed in the Mazherati variant. Removing Hera also came with the shift to cheaper vehicles.

The List

The first big showing of our version of the deck was the list Zion and I ran at the San Diego and Madison Regionals:

You have a lot of great removal and the deck felt great and smooth to run. Zion won his Regional, and I took 2nd at mine in Madison having loses only vs the same hero mill deck (Rieekan/Yoda/Jedda Partisan). Fast forward 2 weeks and we have had another weekend of Regionals where the aggressive decks came out. Sabine/X and 7th Sister OTK (in particular with the Nightsister and a much more explosive early game) were the most notable ones. Both of these decks do fairly well vs vehicle decks on top of being able to handle the Mill decks which are also weak to the more aggressive decks. Having loved playing vehicles I decided to keep playing that for the Chicago Regional but with a few tweaks for dealing with Sabine and 7th sister OTK. These were dropping a few cards to fit in Scruffy Looking Nerf-Herder and Vandalize. Vandalize most notably being useful to handle Running Interference, Force Illusion, Maul’s Lightsaber, and C-3PO against mill. Scruffy Looking Nerf-Herder was to help combat removal (such as Easy Pickings and Into the Garbage Chute) or even hitting key events or upgrades for the various decks: Hyperspace Jump in Hondo or Sabine decks, C-3PO for mill decks, and Maul’s Lightsaber or any of the reset effects for 7th sister OTK. Here was the list I used in Chicago:

Round 1 vs eAssaj/Kylo2

Whenever I sit down to play and see Kylo2 as a vehicle deck I am usually pretty happy. In general the matchup is really solid for vehicles because it is very hard to guess the hand colors with Kylo2. Added in here Assaj I was not that worried since I don’t often find myself rerolling more than once per round with vehicles. Regardless, I still targeted Assaj first especially after there was an upgrade thrown on her early. I was able to ramp into a few vehicles along with indirect character dice show early to kill Assaj before losing a character and overwhelming Kylo shortly after.

Round 2 vs Hero Vehicle Mirror

This was one of my few times playing the mirror. My opponent was definitely running a few different things, notably Flanking Maneuver which deals damage based on the amount of supports in their pool. Luckily he ended up drawing both early on and ended up pitching or losing both of them before being able to play them. I won the battlefield and the first claim getting he ahead in resources which felt like the important part in the match up. I was able to kill his Rose before he got both damage tokens off his Modified HWK and before he killed one of my characters which helped immensely in staying ahead. The match practically went to time as well.

Round 3 vs eKylo2/eMother Talzin

Another Kylo2 match-up and he was unable to hit any of his damage activations. There wasn’t a whole lot notable this game as it is quite the favorable match-up (unless they get off Force Wave 1 or more times). I did not have any issues ramping my vehicles here and staying ahead killing a character before he killed mine.

Round 4 vs ePoe2/eHondo

An interesting match-up that I had not gotten to play in a tournament till then. Ideally staying ahead of the Hondo player in money would keep him from ramping too much or dealing too much damage. I was able to get a Rally Aid out early and use that to keep playing vehicles for cheap. He targeted Aayla first and I was able to keep her alive for a long time with Caution. Round 2 was huge for me being able to pile on 14 indirect damage (Resistance bomber, a y-wing special, and 4 from character dice). This left Poe with 1 health and Hondo 6. The next round was an easy cleanup.

Round 5 vs eObi-Wan/eMaz

This was my first loss and the first time I could not ramp out enough vehicles. I did not see a tech team or rally aid in the first 20 cards of the deck. This left me with awkward hands with removal and vandalize and about 1 vehicle each round. Having the early mitigation kept my characters alive for a long time. I was able to kill Maz the same round Aayla died with 4 damage splashed on to Obi afterwards. Things seemed to be in an ok spot but I was never quite able to hit enough damage to kill Obi and the round I finally drew ramp cards and extra vehicles I sadly had no removal and was put down to just 2 hp on Ezra. He also got a 4 card Close Quarters Assault against mean which prevented me for rolling into the 5 damage I needed across 3 vehicles to finish off Obi. This was the more standard Obi/Maz style deck, which normally I should have had a good match-up versus but the timing of cards worked out poorly as it sometimes does.

Round 6 vs eYoda/eEzra/Rookie Pilot

Wow now this was a really cool variant on a vehicle deck, and boy did it whoop my butt. Yoda into Ezra specials really put pressure on me in ways I never want to have to play against again. I was not able to get any reasonable removal in my early hands even though I had it in hand due to the oppressive Ezra specials. I was forced to play out vehicles instead or lose my money. This led to Rose dying early round 2 before being able to do anything and I had no way to remove his dice. At this point I had not done any damage to characters because of indirect damage and caution. I was significantly behind even though the only vehicle he had out for the most of the early game was a y-wing. After eventually killing ezra, I was in a position where I might have been able to win with decent rolls and no removal from my opponent, but alas he had Into the Garbage Chute on his rookie pilot which stopped all chances I had. I also was not able to find my tech team or rally aid this game until the 3rd round even after a full mulligan which felt really terrible. But overall, this vehicle deck seems like a good matchup for my opponent because of the resource control.

Round 7 vs eTarkin/e7th Sister

Tarkin 7th sister might sometimes struggle with three character decks, but as a vehicle list with a lot of indirect damage it can be hard to punch through and kill a character fast enough before the indirect damage overwhelms me. Not to mention Tarkin’s discard sides are brutal especially when he hit 3 cards from my hand round 1 including a caution. I did not draw any vehicles round 1 so losing most of that hand didn’t feel the worst and I was able to ramp up more money to get some out the next round. He also played out about 4 upgrades by the start of round 2 which really meant I had no way to stop tarkin from doing his power action. The best thing I had going for me was that his 2 force speeds that he played out never rolled a special in any of the 3 rounds and I was able to mitigate a decent amount of the 7th sister’s damage each round, though I was taking damage from my Modified HWKs that I could not get all the damage tokens off of. I knew by the end of round 3 I had to kill off the 7th sister as I could not survive another round with both characters alive. Killing her wasnt too hard, but I got lucky and ended up getting enough Indirect to kill Tarken as well winning the game.

Round 8 vs eSabine/eEzra

After having teched in the Vandalize and Scruffy Looking Nerf-Herder, I finally was able to face a deck I knew could pose some problems for me. The first round, Sabine was able to stick about 4 damage on Aayla and I was able to use caution to help keep her healthy. My character dice otherwise rolled into the resources necessary for me to stick 2 y-wings right away. He controlled one of them round 1, but I was able to get a special off. Round 2 Aayla went down fast with the Ezra dice plus Sabine activation hitting 9 damage. I was able to get an airspeeder out this round. After some rerolls and my opponent lacking removal I was able to hit both y-wing specials a 2 on the airspeeder and the +2 on Ezra. Seeing I could not kill sabine this round, I put the 4 direct damage into Ezra to finish him off and sabine was sitting a 6 damage by the end of the round. Round 3 sabine only had 2 resources going in and overwrote an upgrade to get the action cheat. She hit enough damage to kill rose right away and still have a resource side showing on her last die. I removed that die wiht Pinned Down stopping him from being able to play 2nd chance or Hyperspace jump stright up unless he also had Truce. It turned out he had the 2nd Chance but could not play it due to the single overwrite rule. This allowed me to roll out my vehicles and snag the kill at the end of round 3.

Top Cut

Having ended 6-2 for the day but with a weaker strength of schedule I did not make the top cut but I can give a rundown of what did and how it went. There was only 1 undefeated deck and that was an e7th Sister/eBoba Fett deck. Along with two 7-1 decks which were 7th Sister OTK and the eYoda/eEzra/Rookie Pilot vehicles deck I lost to in round 6. The remaining 6-2 in the top 8 were: Rieekan rainbow mill, Kylo/Talzin, Sabine/Yoda, Hero Vehicles (Aayla/Rose/Ezra), and Obi/Maz.

7th Sister/Boba played and beat the Hero vehicles player 2-0. Sabine/Yoda played and beat the Kylo/Talzin player 2-0. 7th Sister OTK beat out the Rieekan mill deck 2-0. And the Yoda/Ezra/Rookie Pilot vehicles deck went to game 3 vs Obi/Maz and ended up losing on time I believe.

The undefeated 7th sister/Boba deck faced against Sabine/Yoda in the top 4 and lost 2-0 with 7th sister dropping early in both games due to Running Interference Locking him out of removal possiblities.

The Obi/Maz deck faced off against the 7th Sister OTK deck in the top 4 and won 2-0 with the OTK player never able to fully get his combo off in either game.

In the finals it was then Sabine/Yoda vs Obi/Maz. Obi/Maz took game one pretty quickly, but Sabine/Yoda came back and took game 2 even after losing 2nd Chance and Never Tell Me the Odds from a 6 damage force illusion. Obi/Maz edged it out though winning in game 3 of the series and taking home that Nationals bye and Worlds seat.

Final Thoughts

I had a great time there at the tournament in Chicago at the Pastimes game store. The entry fee was more than most at $25 but the prize support was better than I could have ever imagined with top 4 getting 2 full boxes, top 8 getting 1 full box, and top 16 getting 20 packs, with it diminishing more after that.

I think a big takeaway from this tournament is the first Obi/Maz Regional win and it was with a list that I am truly impressed by. In the finals, the two decks are actually quite similar at heart as this Obi/Maz list was running some of the same cards to work around removal that Sabine/Yoda was. This includes Running Interference, Hyperspace Jump, Maz’s Vault, Force Speed, and Concentration. I think this truly was a great showing for Obi/Maz and how much better of a deck it is capable of being if you can switch around the play style from deck that just usually just played fair and rolls a lot of big damage dice to one that can punch in for a large amount of unmitigated damage.

While this might wrap up my Regionals season I’m ready to keep training for Worlds and upcoming Galactic Qualifiers.

Hope this gave you all some good insight.