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Creating a Stable and Productive Playtesting Environment

A question I get a lot is, “How do you create a stable and productive playtesting environment?” It’s a fairly simple question that has a somewhat complicated answer. There’s a lot of variables to consider when trying to answer that so let’s try to dive in to some of them.


Get an Enthusiastic Group Together


The absolute best way to create a productive playtesting environment is to get a group of enthusiastic players together. Never be afraid to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. The more people you have willing to run crazy decks, the better chances you have of finding what works for you. Have a wacky idea for a deck? Go for it. You might find that it doesn’t work, but you might also find that part of it does work and that it’s just lacking partner synergy or something similar.


Break the Game


A great way to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of your deck and your playstyle is to break the game. Start the game with the best possible hand you could have and see what happens. Then, do the same with the worst possible starting hand you can have and see if you can work around it. At some point, you will draw a terrible hand. Does your deck have what it takes to work its way out of that hole?


Constructive Criticism


Share your decklist with the others in your playgroup. You never know when they will see something that you missed when deckbuilding. It happens to me all the time and I happily take suggestions from my fellow players in regards to filling gaps in my deck. Sometimes it’s as simple as forgetting that Hidden Motive is a thing. Sometimes it’s a bit more complex, like switching out a weapons package for a Holocron package. Never be afraid to try your deck with a different configuration.


Swap Decks


Sometimes, the best way to get a feel for your deck is to see it from the other side. Swap decks with a member of your playgroup and see what happens. When playing against your own deck, it is sometimes easier to see what needs to change in it. This can also be very helpful because you already know the best ways to exploit your deck’s biggest weaknesses. This is a great way to shore up the weaknesses of your own deck.


Have Fun

Having fun is really a huge part of the game. Yes, being competitive is great. But every now and then, you need to take a break from super competitive decks and re-calibrate. Play something you know is just silly and fun. Plan a day where no one brings “top tier” decks and just build something fun and run with it. Put Awakenings Finn on the table with some Separatist Landing Crafts or break out that eJarJar/eEzra/eRose deck you’ve had your eye on. Take a day off and play some wacky jank that you’d never consider running competitively. Not only is it just fun to break out crazy stuff, you might actually find some combos worth exploring when you step outside the normal comfort zone.

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What Will Your Legacy Be?

            In the weeks leading up to a new set releasing, I generally make mental notes of the character combinations I am looking forward to and what kinds of decks I might build around them. Personally, I don’t start building actual decks until we know what the entire set has in it. Legacies was no different in this regard. I’ve had several idea floating around about what to build and I’ll post a few here as basically “rough drafts” of deck archetypes that I have yet to fully refine into the competitive scene.


Deck 1: eTarkin/eJabba

             If you have followed me enough, you know that mill is my favorite deck type. I love the mind games you can employ as a mill player, especially in this game where every card is precious. When I saw Tarkin’s point cost of 16, my first thought was, “Well I guess I found Jabba’s new partner.” Not only do both characters here have a 2 Discard side, Tarkin’s ability is surprisingly effective and scary. Mill’s big problem is when it starts to see 3 and 4 character decks and the amount of dice they can put out. Even the best control player can’t always deal with every die and 3-4 character decks make that even harder. Tarkin’s ability allows you to put a little pressure on those decks since the characters usually have less HP than each character in a 2 character deck. Fragmentation Grenade is in there currently for the same reason as using Tarkin’s ability. Indirect Damage piles up quick and your opponent can find themself on the defensive rather unexpectedly. I really like Grand Moff in this deck because not only does it have Indirect Damage sides to supplement Tarkin’s ability, it also has a 2 Discard side and it’s Power Action is excellent. If you get your battlefield, it’s a free random discard to the opponent. Even if you don’t get your battlefield, it’s still likely useful against most battlefields. Vandalize is just an all-around strong card right now since it can do so much.


Deck 2: eSaw/eYoda

             Since I’m writing this after a few Regionals where Legacies was legal have taken place, we’ve already seen what Yoda can do. Specifically the Yoda/Rieekan/Jedha Partisan deck that took second at the Portland Regional and the Yoda/Poe2 decks that have been doing well. My first thought with Yoda was to build to something a little different. I liked Saw immediately when he was first announced. He’s durable with 11 HP. He has strong damage sides at 2 and 3, even though they are Indirect. His special is bonkers good. Especially in a meta where a lot of people are running cards that cost 3 or more. Yoda compliments him well by either giving him resources to be able to play Second Chance, giving him a shield, or chaining his special into Saw’s special to force a discard and damage. With several 2 or higher sides, this feels like a great deck to include Planned Explosion. Getting it to fire is still pretty difficult sometimes, but when it does, you opponent is unlikely to see it coming unless they’ve peeked at your hand. I’ve also included the new Millennium Falcon in here because the ability is great and affording it isn’t a stretch when you have Yoda.


Deck 3: eCiena/eTalzin/Greedo

             Here’s my version of 5 Die VIllain. I think Talzin might be the best Villain character of Legacies. She brings a lot of punch for only 12 points and her ability is extremely good. She’s probably best utilized in a deck that contains mostly odd-costing cards, but I find that’s difficult to create sufficient ramp and control with. In this deck, she’s definitely the biggest threat. Ciena is able to provide money and a great target for dealing bonus damage courtesy of Bait and Switch. Greedo is almost always the last to survive since he is usually not viewed as much of a threat. This deck in it’s current incarnation has 17 odd-costing cards so the odds of hitting with Talzin’s ability offensively are still fairly good. Likewise, the odds of healing for at least 2 with Witch Magick are also fairly high. Kylo Ren’s Starfighter is basically an auto-include in Blue Ranged decks right now. Is this better than the standard Talzin/Bala/FOST? Probably not, but it’s definitely a fun change of pace that requires your opponent to consider the game differently than playing against that combination.


             So these are the first three rough drafts I have made so far with Legacies. We are barely scratching the surface of the possibilities, but these were the first ones that really jumped out at me. What character combinations are you most looking forward to?

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You Might Want to Rethink Your Technique

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Since FFG sent us all into the Upside Down with the newest Rules Reference Guide, we’ve seen a massive increase in new and creative decks. The nerf to Vibroknife is a specific one that has lead to a rise in Hero decks lately since the nerf makes shields relevant again. One of those Hero decks that I’ve been having a blast with is one I like to call “Rethink Your Technique.”

The Characters

Kanan might just be my favorite character from Empire at War. I detailed this in a previous article so I won’t go too deep into him here except to say that his ability perfectly syncs up with the new Poe’s in excellent ways. Namely, rolling a Focus on Kanan allows you to open up Poe’s entire die and you can either land big damage with it or use it for control purposes with his Special side. New Poe is fantastic in his ability to control the board. Not only does his special turn a die to any side, it also grants a shield. He can be used as a great tool for either offense or defense and his versatility, like Kanan’s, cannot be understated.


The Battlefield

I’m usually a big fan of battlefields that can’t completely wreck your world. Docking Bay is usually a good choice for that since it has a minimal use (unless you’re playing against a vehicle deck) and it doesn’t really hurt you very often if the opponent snags an early claim. It also happens to be really good in this deck, but more on that later.


The Upgrades


I decided to go with all guns in this deck. It makes the most sense for a few reasons. First, both characters have Ranged sides. Second, stuff like the A280 and Holdout not only pack a good bunch for only 2 resources, they also have Redeploy in case one of your characters goes down quick. Poe’s Blaster is a no-brainer in here. Being able to chain into the Special off of Poe’s Special is an excellent 4 damage swing. DH-17 is always good in a Ranged damage deck. Overkill is great in here because of Kanan’s ability to manipulate dice easily. Handcrafted Light Bow is a card I’ve really liked since it was introduced, I was just never able to find a really good use for it until now. Since Shields are back to being good, I expect to see a lot more Shield builds. That’s where Light Bow comes in. The Special is amazing and can do anywhere from 3 to 5 damage depending on the situation. With Poe’s Special and Kanan’s ability, it’s a very easy side to be able to resolve throughout the course of the game.


The Supports

I run two copies of Honor Guard in here. Honor Guard is a fantastic removal option for Red Hero. Her tends to be lacking in removal options in general, so being able to have one out whenever you need it is always great. As I stated earlier, the battlefield comes in big here because if you are able to claim often, you can keep getting Honor Guard back into play for free and it allows you to survive longer since you always have removal on the board.


The Events

And older version of this deck included both Heat of Battle and It’s a Trap! I removed those when the new errata for them came out in favor of more removal. Defensive Position has saved me plenty of times when my opponent has landed a God Roll or even just a decent roll. Kanan’s ability allows for a great action economy so it’s usually pretty likely that you will have an opportunity to claim. All In is amazing in this deck. Not only because of Poe’s Special side, but also because of his double Focus side. It allows for massive damage swings when Poe and/or Kanan have several Upgrades equipped. Force Misdirection feels like it was build for Kanan. He has so many options that you can utilize it with, it’s really great removal for a Kanan deck. Overconfidence is a great card that allows you to totally wreck your opponent’s board state.


The Strategy

This is really a mid-range type of deck. It’s capable of great plays through All In and Poe’s Special while also having the ability to utilize some decent control through Poe’s Special and things like Honor Guard, Overconfidence, and Force Misdirection. Generally, my first play is to roll out Kanan and then go from there. His action economy is amazing and it allows you to do some crazy things. I usually like to roll at least one Resource side on Kanan first turn so that I can resolve it with his ability and play out a weapon on Poe.

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