Alternate titles included: Paying the Iron Pryce, The Pryce is Right, The Pryce of Rent (is too damn high), and Pay the Pryce.
Options for legitimate decks has never been quite so open with the release of Way of the Force, and it’s oftentimes hard to see the forest for the trees. One of the things we are seeing with the new set is a heavy incentive to go with theme decks or at least decks heavily skewed to one color. Plo Koon is coming out of the gate hot with a double Padawan start leading to six or even seven damage dealing dice to contend with, Rex is rocking out with a couple of Clone Troopers, Luke is doubling down on blue hero, and Snoke is adding an extremely heavy blue slant to decks that would previously take a red character in his place by teaming up with DJ and Cad. To kick things up a notch even more, the #FreeUnkar campaign has borne fruit so I’m sure we will get a mono-yellow Crime Lord deck since he can once again be paired with Jabba.
It’s not that the carefully crafted three color lists don’t exist, or that the old guard of a grey-heavy ranged deck and vehicles aren’t effective, but the Destiny community is made up of human beings. Human beings like new stuff, and all things being equal they also like being able to jam 30 cards together and roll out. So for at least a little while, the “obvious” decks are going to be pretty heavily represented at any local event or tournament probably up until GenCon at the very least.
See where I’m going with this?
The History of Kylo
Kylo is an interesting case study of a card, one of very few to go up then down then back up not only in use but also effectiveness. Printed in the two-player game we saw his strength when combined with the co-released Phasma push FFG to bump the latter up by a point due to her much more general versatility. At the time, modifying Kylo’s own point cost would have completely removed his purpose for existance since either Darth Vader would have usurped his grandson in any given deck which although poetic would have been bad for the game.
But that left Kylo with no four die start that even made remote sense, and he somewhat disappeared from the meta entirely until right before PAX Unplugged. At that time, there were three mono-colored decks in the format in QGJ/Kanan, Sabine/Ezra, and Palpatine. Since two of those decks also relied heavily upon their weapons an eKylo/Grievous deck started to make the rounds and was one of the most played decks at day 1 of PAX. The only problem is that a Kylo/Grievous deck can’t pay for it’s damage sides, play weapons, and pay for removal all at the same time. The proof was in the pudding there and the only Kylo deck to make the top tables that weekend was piloted by yours truly, not with Grievous, but with SoR Darth Vader eschewing weapons for a Holocron package that left money in the bank.
Then…. Total silence on the Kylo front until the Rivals set along with Legacies was released. Rumblings of a pairing with Anakin made their rounds, but were ultimately discarded by most as a knock-off of the much more popular Rey/Aayla deck which boasted a much higher resource efficiency and defensiveness, and the common wisdom was that mono-colored or not the burst potential and incredibly strong removal package Sabine had meant even trying to prey on those two meta-staples was an exercise in maximum round 1 damage, a job best left to Boba/7th which ALSO had much better resource efficiency.
Well look where common wisdom left us. Edwin Chen made it work all the way to a World Championship and here we are. I’m willing to bet that the sine wave stops here, or at least, it should. I don’t think that he is going to be a cornerstone of the long WoTF meta but he is something you should keep in your mind, and something to carefully consider when building your decks. He is most effective when people forget about him and even when he is around, the unexpected partners and included cards become a force multiplier to be reckoned with.
Enough Self Indulgence
Still with me? Cool. One of the things that led to my success at PAX was the Holocron. It wasn’t super reliable, but removal across the board was at a premium and meta-methods to remove specials were at an all time low (see also R2P2, a deck which even some high-profile players thought was a joke until they played against it). There was a silver bullet in Rend but then as now, it was really difficult for the field to find the space for two copies of it in their stack of 30.
There’s a reason this deck is called the Pryce of Success. Kylo’s strengths are obvious but Pryce gives us that force multiplier he is always begging for, and she provides it in spades. One damage side, plus the only native special chaining available to villain in the format with the addition of chance cubes to fuel long term planning and incessant blowout removal. Lets run it down.
The Holocron package here is a pretty stock standard starting point. Wave is tops versus all the three character decks running around right now even if they have a mixture of colors, and when you aren’t trying to make Talzin work it is really hard to find a better source of pain than Mind Probe. The singleton Throw is in there just to up the count to five which feels like a sweetspot, and on-card removal will save your life in the late game especially if Kylo goes down. I would also entertain Force Lightning over the Mind Probe or Throw, but at the moment I find the discard and disrupt sides of Mind Probe to be highly relevant and infuriating for an opponent to play around. When an opponent dumps a couple of cards early just to have you Pryce into a 3-Discard is close to a turn-wipe. Combine with an opponents Force Illusion or two and you have an alternate win condition that really isn’t as uncommon as you would assume.
Chance Cube is the secret sauce for sure though. Already super good at making money on the back-end if you don’t need it on the front side of a turn (which we don’t), it is absolutely incredible if you Pryce special it for four money. With that alone, it almost counts as Holocron number three and four in the deck, while paying dividends all throughout the game for our plentiful money dumps. Short of Holocroning in a Force Power the chance cube is the best use of a Pryce special you can get in round 1. Do it, don’t look back, it’s okay to give up three damage now in favor of it.
Spend the Money
That Chance Cube, the money you save by not needing to pay for upgrades, or even a plain old self-logistics on Pryce’s dice will give you plenty of money to fuel this stuff. I’m still toying around with Art of War but I really think that card is a sleeper hit, it’s done extremely well for me against a wide variety of decks. Very playable when you have the battlefield, it excels when you’re actually behind on tempo and have to work your way through an odd situation. Not only have I never failed to remove at least two dice with it, the perfect hand information lets you navigate your turn optimally and boost your Kylo activation’s odds. The only thing I have to caution you on is to not do it while you have your own dice in the pool.
A softer, less easy to directly see reason the card is so good is a trait shared with Mind Trick. If they know you have either card, or suspect you might, their turn slows down to a crawl and in a lot of cases you force them to take what they can get when it comes to rollouts. This sort of soft control which imposes forbidden actions plays to one of the core tenants of the deck.
Take your Battlefield, maintain your Battlefield. Pryce works wonders with it, and remember what I said about the unexpected. How often do you expect a villain deck to have shields? One resource for three health is still great! Superior Position is a removal card that helps if you’re behind in the game and more likely to be claiming early and can really turn things around as a non spot blue card, and solidly keeps you in the lead if you’re already there by establishing a no-win scenario for players who are navigating their way around a possible Mind Trick or Art of War.
Maintaining the Battlefield is easier than it sounds with the recent Sabine nerf, and Force Speed is your primary method there. I don’t usually use it to reroll, it’s better served by rolling out Pryce then working from there, and in cases where you’re mostly done with your turn, firing off one last removal then claiming is great as well. Speaking of which.
Rebel War Room is my battlefield of choice at the moment, but it’s neck and neck with Throne Room. I’m not finding it incredibly difficult to get my specials in general, and claiming the Throne Room for a Pryce die only currently works out the way you want it to when you already have control. Generally I’m finding that my opponents are more likely to select my battlefield if they think they can use it themselves, and even though I haven’t seen a special heavy deck in Way of the Force just yet, I’m not convinced they are gone forever. The decks that are comparable in speed or even faster like Hondo/Yoda or Boba/Phasma are already the more difficult decks to deal with without giving them a gift like the Throne Room while the War Room really only measurably helps Cad/Snoke.
What You Don’t See
Kylo cannot be ignored, he will grind decks to dust even if they aren’t mono-colored so he is naturally going to be your opponents first target and rightfully so. Pryce is going to carry your Holocrons, and usually the Chance Cubes too, which makes Leadership kinda a non-starter. Her dice are perfectly resolvable on any side unlike Cienna so you can’t just jam leadership in the deck and make it work out.
The same applies for Price of Failure to a lesser extent with one caveat. I am on the cusp of cutting a card somewhere for a copy just so I can kill of Kylo himself once he is almost dead and Pryce has a force power or two to her name. You can plan for this eventuality by keeping track of your single copy of Dark Ritual.
A Different Path
I really like the phrase “There’s more than one way to skin a cat”. I like em well enough, but my wife absolutely adores cats so I get a good reaction out of her whenever I use the phrase. Plus it’s interesting to consider when exactly in history we were at a point where not only was cat skinning a common enough occurrence to generate a proverb that persists to this day but that people needed to skin cats in more than one way. From my point of view there’s really only one way to skin a cat, messily.
So here is another take on the deck concept.
- Battlefield control is a nice-to-have rather than a core concept.
- More dice equals more fun, and more difficult for the opponent to control.
- Ancients go a long way to ensure Kylo’s longevity.
- More dice also equal more targets for Pryce’s specials, meaning you don’t get time-walked as often.
- Rewards a higher skill ceiling.
- Harder to save up for the Rise Again or Dark Ritual.
- Certain types of removal will be far more effective, especially when you don’t control the battlefield.
- Somewhat more roll reliant.
- No huge damage die like Mind Probe or Force Lightning.
- More Kylo dependent, necessitating Unyielding and All In.
Probably the most impactful change is the addition of Leadership and Price of Failure. Since Kylo can effectively use all weapons, Leadership and Price of Failure can enable blow-outs as early as round 2. The Chance Cube still does it’s job in getting your ramp up extremely well, and leaving you with the money to do what needs to be done but unfortunately falls just shy of making Maul’s Saber a must include here. The main reason lies in still planning out for the long game with Dark Ritual and Rise Again, a great plan with the redeploy weapons.
Something to note alongside the better aggression however is that our own removal package takes a hit, which may be a significant problem against the dice-spammy decks like Plo/Pad/Pad or the upper end of the health scale found in 4-Wide vehicles. Going against a three character list of any variety is tougher, and in contrast to most conventional wisdom you probably want to kill off the smallest characters first (except Rex, kill rex) just to reduce the total number of dice you need to worry about to compensate. The upside though is that against decks like that you will still generally come out on top with the tempo plays putting Pryce right back where she wants to be.
I hope you all have fun with the Pryce of Success, and that it doesn’t end up being just a regular old PoS.
-Agent Of Zion