My name is Eric Wainright, and I’m addicted to playing Padawans. I’ve had some success with them over the past year, and when Artificery asked me to talk about my Regional win, or more generally about Padawans, I thought there might be a segment of the Destiny population that would be interested in how the deck grew into being what I’ve been playing lately.
My path to the Padawan way of life started at the beginning of Awakenings with a look through the cards. I came across Force Misdirection and wanted to maximize the card. The two cards in Awakenings that could remove multiple dice for one resource] were Feel your Anger and Force Misdirection. Since blue dice were the lynchpin of the deck, It Binds All Things and Power of the Force were the other two build around cards that were the core of the deck idea.
Next, I needed to find some blue characters to power the deck. Rey jumped quickly to mind. Two blue dice for 12 character points seemed like a steal. This left me 18 points to play with. My Awakening options were one dice Luke, two dice Qui-Gon, or two Padawans. I wanted a four dice start so Luke was never tested, but I tried both Qui-Gon and Padawans… and I fell in love. The Padawan’s two main selling points were that they fixed Rey’s biggest weakness (her +2 modified melee side) and the economy to get more blue dice onto the table faster. Here is an early draft of the deck.
This wasn’t the first draft since I know I started with only one Rey’s staff and it over performed to the point I needed two. It acted as a round one Enrage, by letting me overwrite it with a three cost ability upgrade on round one. And the die was very useful (if not blue). Aside from ramping resources the key to playing this deck was getting Lightsaber and One With The Force at the right time and overwriting your valuable upgrades before a character died.
You may notice BB-8 had earned his spot early on. One cost dice don’t need to do very much for me to like them. One cost supports mean that it doesn’t even take up an upgrade slot. The downside to these supports is that they are super slow. Being slow has never been a problem for me. In Awakenings I was playing as Han/Rey decks and constantly getting out claimed by the likes of Jabba/Dooku, one of the slowest decks in the game at the time. Once I leaned into the fact that I just wanted to ring every last piece of value from my dice, and wasn’t claiming often meant playing cards like BB-8 became obvious.
One day in the shop, someone said, “You’re playing the ‘Younglings’ deck.” I was a bit disappointed that someone else had already figured the deck out. But I went online and found everything I could about the “Younglings” (not a fan of the name). My deck was very close to what the community was running, but with the limited card pool, I guess that should be expected.
Some fiddling went on throughout Awakenings, but the significant changes prior to SoR were:
1) Power of the Force just wasn’t performing well enough. You really want four or more upgrades to make the card good, so you had to draw it late enough to have played four upgrades, but before you’d lost your second character. It would happen, but not consistently. It became a one of and then eventually took a seat on the bench. One of my three deck pillars had just hit the bin.
2) Local Han/Rey player extraordinaire, Zach Bunn, looked up after one of our games and said, “are you running Holdout Blaster in this deck? Because it would be insane.” I was immediately hesitant, and tried to explain to him why I didn’t think it was a good fit:
- I didn’t really care about the action cheating on Rey.
- The dice sides are ranged, and not great on their own.
- It’s a grey dice, and will weaken Force Misdirection and It Binds All Things
After he listened to my list of reasons that it wasn’t a good fit, as opposed to try and convince me otherwise, he said something along the lines of “just try it.” I went home that evening slotted in holdouts and goldfished a dozen games or so… It turns out Zach knows a thing or two about Destiny. They were Rey’s staff three and four early game and had action cheating utility late game.
Soon after the holdouts went in, It Binds All Things came out. Second pillar bites the dust.
Spirit of Rebellion
SoR came out the same weekend that Covenant hosted Destiny Weekend. I had played in the pre-release and drafted Thursday and Friday night at Covenant, but I had not spent a lot of time thinking about SoR cards. The evening before the constructed tournament I was looking over all the cards in SWDestinyDB and decided what to swap into my Rey/Padawan/Padawan deck. My friend Mark lent me the cards in the morning. The deck looked like:
Nick Cuenca from the Hyperloops did a great write-up about the deck. Aside from the deck name “Young Thugz” (still not a fan) I think Nick had a much better handle on the deck than I did at the time.
Guard, Vibroknife, Handcrafted Light Bow, and Trust Your Instincts were the 4 auto includes I got right. In hindsight the other two auto includes should have been Force Illusion and Caution (I did play one).
Journals of Ben Kenobi moved into the deck day one, and it has never been close to being cut. I really like card draw, I really like money, and I’m a sucker for one cost dice. Makashi Training and Destiny did not stay in the deck for long, although both of them did some significant work for me at that specific tournament.
Also you may have noticed that there was only one Force Misdirection in the deck. I will blame that on having to make last minute cuts to fit in all the cool new toys. But It does mean that five out of the six “core” cards of the deck were now sidelined. The deck had definitely morphed from a goal of abusing blue upgrades to abusing the Padawan’s ability. If you are interested in watching some games of me playing the deck, below are the semis and finals of Destiny Weekend:
The semis were the first time I’d played against Palpatine so I was learning on the fly. Also you might notice I used a Guard on a grey dice at one point. I ended up losing that game so fortunately it did not affect the outcome.
Han/Rey had been my nemesis throughout Awakenings, so it was fitting to meet it in the finals. Getting Han disrupted round one, and being able to claw back felt even better, since that is the opening that really kills this deck. If it doesn’t ramp well round one, it is just a fair three character deck with 24 HP.
The Kansas City people that came down to Destiny weekend suggested that I run Close Quarters Assault in the deck. Rand (the Emperor player in the semis, and part of the Twister Rancor Trio podcast) Had lots of good showing with his flavor of the deck in the Kansas City meta. The card is always in my list of cards that might make the cut.
My summer was busy, and it didn’t line up that I was able to make it to any of the store championships in the area. I put the Padawans on ice for a while and I spent most of SoR playing around with eGrievous/Assaj and a Patience deck.
Empire at War
Next came the 1-2 punch of the two player starter and Empire at War with all the goodies that would significantly upgrade Padawans. I was back in. Some notable cards from Empire at War:
- Ancient Lightsaber
- Shoto Lightsaber (two cost blue weapons!)
- Rey’s Lightsaber (another redeploy option!)
- Keen Instincts
- Protective Mentor (zero cost blue upgrades!)
- Lightsaber Pull (The perfect card for this deck)
- Reaping the Crystal (how does a first round one cost Light Bow sound?)
For my first iterations after EaW I went back to trying to abuse Power of the Force. I cut the grey upgrades except Vibroknife, and added back in Power of the Force, It Binds All Things, and all the blue upgrades from EaW including two Keen Instincts and two Protective Mentors. In my deck, these were basically zero cost upgrades that did nothing. Also this was the first iteration of the deck that ran Force Speeds. Did I have some insane second rounds with Power of the Force? Yes, yes I did. Did the deck suck when I didn’t draw Power of the Force but had played out 0 cost do nothing cards? Yes, yes it did. I kept trimming and trimming the zero cost do nothing upgrades, until they were all gone. Force Speed did prove itself to me. Power of the Force became that 28-32nd card in the deck, always in flux. It would go in and out. A pillar partially back in.
The other things I was looking forward to abusing were Reaping the Crystal and It Binds All Things. What I found was that I didn’t want both in my opening hand. And yet individually each card is at its best on round one. With Five cards, if I have two weapons, an It Binds, a Reaping and a zero cost mitigation card that means, if things go according to plan, I have zero cards to reroll. Don’t even get me started if I sat down against Papa Vader or Thrawn. So my “ideal” opening hand just wasn’t ideal.
There is something to be said for running a 2/1 split so you have three cards in your deck that you want in your opening hand, but even then I’d need to know which one I wanted more. I settled on Reaping for a few reasons:
- Reaping is a resource on round one, It Binds is a resource on round two, and three, and four. In general resources go down in value pretty quickly in a game. If that extra resource round one turns into a droid, or an extra two cost weapon round one I’m probably getting at least one resource “extra” value on round two, three, and four anyway.
- I have the most control over my opening hand. If I have either too many three cost weapons, or not enough, I have my mulligan to hopefully fix the problem to make Reaping great. For It Binds, I can fix my round one to maximize it but if you don’t draw a blue upgrade on round two, three, or four you just lose the resource.
- Reaping has more utility than It Binds on round two or three. Playing Binds on round two is situational. Playing It Binds on round three or later just doesn’t happen. Reaping also loses value over time, but not as significantly as It Binds. A slight win for Reaping over It Binds.
Please don’t take this justification as me saying Reaping the Crystal is way better than It Binds All Things. I think it is close. It Binds will always have more targets that it works with than Reaping since it works with one and two cost upgrades as well, with a couple other deck changes, I might agree It Binds is a better fit for the deck..
As for Rey’s Lightsaber it was basically a strict upgrade over Lightsaber. I ran two for a while because of how much my deck likes redeploy. I had four redeploy upgrades in SoR, and it felt like I wanted more. Now I had access to eight redeploys, 2x Lightsaber, 2x Rey’s Lightsaber, 2x One With The Force, and 2x Lightsaber Pulls. I finally had gone above what I needed. I don’t know when I came to the decision, but I eventually settled on five being the minimum number of redeploys I wanted for the deck. With Lightsaber Pull available it didn’t seem like I needed two Rey’s Lightsabers, I went down to one regular Lightsaber at one point as well. And there was the odd game where I’d draw Rey’s and Lightsaber early and draw a Lightsaber Pull later and have no redeploys to pull out (since I couldn’t pull the One With The Force), so my redeploy issues weren’t perfect, but definitely more resilient than in Awakenings.
The other thing EaW did was force me to actually look at character pairings again. Kanan was new and exciting and slotted into Rey’s spot seamlessly since we had two extra character points we never used. Other people I talked to thought it was an obvious upgrade, but I wasn’t so sure. They had the same health (10 hp), and they both have an action cheaty ability. Before playing with Kanan, I decided these two abilities were about a wash. So it was down to just comparing die sides.
Rey: 1 Melee, +2 Melee, 1 Discard, 1 Resource, +1 Resource, blank
Kanan: 1 Ranged, 2 Melee, 1 Focus, 1 Disrupt, 1 Resource, blank
With the number of base melee sides in the deck I didn’t see the +2 on Rey’s die as a significant downgrade from having all base sides, but there is certainly some benefit for being a self sufficient dice. Point Kanan.
Rey’s dice make better use of Guard, Kanan’s dice can make better use of force misdirection. I called it a wash.
I value discard over disrupt, but the difference isn’t huge. Point Rey
The resource and blank are the same, so it all came down to +1 resource or focus. I think I puzzled over this for multiple days (without playing any games). I tend to reroll my focuses early in a round (with my Padawans) and accept them later. I already had a focus on each Padawan. I really like resources, even if a modified side can be inconvenient at times. If it sounds like I was trying to talk myself into Rey, I think it’s because I was. I love Rey as a character and she had already won a big tourney for me. So maybe she could hold off Kanan and be the superior elite pairing with Padawans… and then I played a few games with Kanan as the main man, and it wasn’t even close. Kanan’s ability was exceedingly more useful in my deck than Rey’s had been. And his focus side is just absurd; it is like a super focus (focus play an action). It turned Force Misdirection from a very good card into an unfair card. Here is a list I was using at some point during EaW.
Three of six pillars back in play.
Some other side bars on characters. I tried eKanan/Rey/Padawan some. I also tried slotting in Ezra Bridger or Wookie Warrior for a while when Kylo2/FN was an oppressive deck just to diversify colors (and to play with Friends in Low Places, Chopper, and Running Interference). Side note, Chopper was not as good as BB-8 in the deck. I’m normally dropping droids late in the round, and Chopper’s special is a blank at that point.
These aren’t double Padawan decks, so we won’t dwell about them here, but the short of it is that a one Padawan deck is a lot different deck than two. I’m not saying it is weaker, in a one Padawan deck you just use the Padawan for the benefit but you probably shouldn’t build the deck around the Padawan’s ability since the payoff is less significant.
After the balance of the force I think Kanan/Padawan/Padawan was a viable deck choice. It had a good matchup against Qui-Gon/Kanan. It wasn’t as good against R2P2. But, I didn’t have any big tournaments, and I was on to trying to break Quinlan/Assaj the last half of EaW.
Fast forward to spoiler season, Aayla came and went from my mind quickly. Sure I’m always on the lookout for 14 or less point blue hero characters to slot in with Padawans. I was very doubtful that the two indirect damage in a melee deck was much better than a blank. Even with two blanks I admitted that she could be good for her cost but I did not see her unseating Kanan from that spot. I forget when Heirloom Lightsaber was spoiled, but when it was I couldn’t believe my eyes. My first reaction when someone showed me the card was, “this isn’t real. A Vader dice that you get to keep for the rest of the game?” It’s a weapon, it is blue, it has redeploy, it doesn’t have pay sides, and it doesn’t have modifiers. It checked all the boxes for the card I would want in my Padawan deck. But I don’t think that was the best card that Legacies bestowed upon the Padawan deck. That was a little plot called Stolen Intel. Padawans are a card hungry deck, especially in round one, so starting with six cards was just what the doctor ordered.
I had two regionals coming up: Dallas on January 20th, and Nebraska (Bellevue) on Jan 27th. I really wanted to run Quinlan/Assaj in at least one of the events. Legacies had exactly one card that I would have slotted into the Quinlan/Assaj deck. When the decisions came down from the store owners that Dallas would be Kegacies legal (no rivals), and Nebraska was going to be EaW, it solidified that I would be running Quinlan/Assaj at Nebraska. For Dallas, I was leaning towards Padawans but I needed to test and see how I felt about it. If it didn’t get there I’d just run Quinlin/Assaj at both.
So now I had some serious character questions to answer. Did I want:
- Rey and Stolen Intel
- Aayla and Stolen Intel
Stolen Intel was better than I could have hoped. I quickly put Kanan to the side. I really tried to justify playing Rey but the Aayla special was just ideal for this deck. Padawan’s are ramping up the first few rounds and rely on zero cost mitigation to slow the other deck down enough where my board state can take over. Aayla was on-board soft mitigation for free! It didn’t take many reps with her to get locked in on Aayla. Funnily since I didn’t own any copies of Yoda at the time of the Dallas regional, I never got around to testing him in that slot. But man, maybe with his resource generation, you could cut Reaping the Crystal from your deck (less pressure on your starting hand size) and have some even more disgusting first and second rounds.
The other two cards from Legacies that went into the Dallas deck were Stronger You Have Become and R2D2. R2 is a strict upgrade over BB-8, and I considered replacing the little guy, but I had reservations of taking him out, and thought that my deck might be able to support two 1-cost upgrades. I won’t lie, the fact that BB-8 won at Destiny Weekend and caused a bit of a stir did factor into my decision process to hang by him. Heirloom Lightsaber filled so many roles. It allowed me to finally cut the last One With The Force. I love One With The Force, but since I now had three redeploy weapons that were “good” (heirloom x2, and Rey’s) One With The Force seemed like a luxury item. With the two lightsaber pulls I’d hit my five redeploys threshold.
With the new plot, I tried putting both Reaping and It Binds back in the deck. It certainly makes round one with both very good. (as long as you get two weapons and a zero cost mitigation card in the other four cards), but in limited testing I wasn’t convinced it was necessary, so I went back to the build I was comfortable with. Power of the Force got the call for this event, and so three of the six pillar cards (one Force Misdirection) were in the starting lineup. A few days before the Regional Tim Bunn decided to jump on the Padawan bandwagon with me. The two changes he made to the deck were Handcrafted Light Bow over Obi’s Lightsaber, and Vibroknife over Shoto Lightsaber. He convinced me of the Light Bow, and I’m glad he did, I never wanted to Lightsaber Pull for Obi’s but there were multiple times I pulled for the Light Bow, and times I needed to have 2 of them. Vibro over Shoto is the one card difference that we ran during the Dallas Regional. I was worried that Vibro loses synergy with Lightsaber Pull and Power of the Force. I think if not for the blue color Vibro is better in the deck. I think this is a close call. The deck ended up looking like the above.
My Regional season continued with Nebraska next, so I went deep into Quinlan/Assaj testing. After that we had a few weeks before the Tulsa regional. Tim, Mark and myself started working on a deck that I still have high hopes for, but it didn’t come together in time for Tulsa, so instead of trying to bring in an unpolished deck, I defaulted back to my Padawans. The only three changes I made from Dallas were: +2 Hidden Motive (Rivals wasn’t legal in Dallas), +1 Mind Trick, -1 Shoto, -1 Sound the Alarm, -1 Stronger You Have Become.
I’m not sure where the deck goes from here. If OTK keeps climbing in popularity the battlefield will probably need to switch back to Secret Facility. OTK uses Fort Anaxes to better effect than Padawans does. It also might be time for Close Quarters Assault to get back in the deck. The one thing I do know is that I’ve gone to four big tournaments this past year (Destiny weekend and three regionals), and I’ve won each event where I ran BB-8, and didn’t win the one where I didn’t bring him. So if Padawans is the deck I take to Worlds, you can bet the little guy will be rolling in with me.
Playing the Deck
If you’ve read through this history lesson and are still with me, it’s possible that you may be interested in playing Padawans at some point. Here are some tips about running the deck. I’m going to give the standard disclaimer that I have probably broken each of these guidelines at some point while playing the deck. These are not hard and fast rules, so make sure you are always thinking about your current situation.
Round 1 is the most important round of the game for Padawans. I believe this is true for most decks, but it’s especially true for this one. Your character dice are solid (but not spectacular), your hit points (24) are low for a three character deck. You are giving up a fair amount for the Padawans ability, so you need to use it and use it early. The idea in round one is to play, at a minimum, two weapons. I see other players online talking about playing two 2-cost upgrades (Ancients, Shotos, Vibros, Rey’s staff) and that is perfectly fine, but I typically am trying to play a three and a two cost upgrade. That is my baseline, and without disruption it happens over 90% of the time.
Assuming you aren’t facing any disrupt or any discard dice (or Thrawn) my first play is to drop as many Force Speeds and Journals on Aayla as I have, and then roll her out. You can’t play these upgrades on Padawans before you place a weapon or you turn off their ability. The Force Speed specials combo really well with Aayla’s special (having the force speeds on her is almost like having Kanan back). Also, unless a Padawan is close to dead, you are going to be rolling out Aayla first each round. Getting the Force Speeds into the pool early gives you more options. Journals of Ben Kenobi is a money maker or card drawer. If you need a weapon or a mitigation card you want to draw it early in the round, so you can craft your round around it. Getting money before you roll your whole team out means you can maybe get an extra upgrade on the board. By putting that all on Aayla, you get all those dice out right at the beginning of most rounds. I’ve broken this rule at times if I feel I need dice in the pool (probably because I have Guard, Caution, or Force Misdirection in hand), Then I’ll either let a Padawan have the upgrade later, or just use the card for re-rolls.
During round one I am looking for Aayla’s special and resources. I’m not going to be rerolling the two melee very often. If I have a Guard in hand, and I’m worried about some of my opponent’s dice I might even leave a one melee side in the pool. At this point you should feel free to use zero cost mitigation as needed.
The below steps ignore when to Guard or Caution because it is very game dependent. I won’t use costed mitigation round one unless I can eat three or more dice (or two really good dice) with Force Misdirection, the one money is probably worth more than the damage they do to you. The other note on Guard is if I can Guard two dice, I generally do it, and I Guard resource sides over two damage sides most of the time.
Next, if I have Trust Your Instincts, and I don’t have the above sides in the pool, I will use it to try and improve the dice. I want to see my extra card early in case it changes what upgrades I try and play. Or if I get a zero cost mitigation, I am better able to use it.
At this point you should know how many resources you have to spend for the turn. If Aayla is showing a special you can count that as an additional resource since most of the time I will be focusing to resource when I soft mitigate. So now you play your first weapon on a Padawan. If a Padawan has taken any damage (or one has fewer shields) and you have a redeploy option I will normally play the first upgrade on the hurt Padawan.
At this point if you need one more money to have a good first round, and you have a lightsaber pull, I might play a two cost upgrade first (since it isn’t redeploy I’ll place it on the less hurt Padawan). Then if later in the round you get the resource you can use Lightsaber Pull to tutor for the three cost weapon, and if not you can find another two cost weapon. Next roll out the Padawan again looking for resources first and good damage sides next. If you haven’t used a Trust Your Instincts yet and the dice could get better go ahead and use it now.
At this point resolve any resources you can (unless an ancient is sitting in your pool with a +3), and put whatever else you can on the second Padawan. Roll the second Padawan out. If you have any other money and you have a droid, get it on the table now. Now it is time to use the rest of your cards to reroll. If your opponent has resources try and play around Easy Pickings, Defensive Position, Force Misdirection, Guard, etc (anything that can remove multiple dice). I don’t worry about spot mitigation. If they want to spend a resource to get rid of a dice on round one (even a three melee) I think that is fine value for the dice. If you have two or more rerolls I will definitely reroll the 1 melee on the Padawans and Aayla the first time. I will also normally reroll the focus at that point. I’m hunting for resources and 2 melee sides. If I’m down to the last reroll of the round, I might hang onto 1 focus (depending on what other dice I’m rolling). The Padawan dice are so consistent that you can feel pretty safe rerolling their dice and not getting less than you had showing.
If you get out of the first round ahead on the board (not in damage, but in dice quantity and quality) you can now focus more on getting the most out of your dice and mitigating your opponents dice. This is where you want to be using Force Illusion, Caution, and redeploy weapons to make the opponent think about changing targets and if they don’t change targets make them earn it. Try to get as many extra activations out of redeploy weapons on rounds where a Padawan seems like they might die. If you are not ahead on board, you may have to use all your resource to continue throwing dice down, and just hoping the opponent isn’t going to roll well (or your zero cost mitigation is enough to slow them down).
There are games you are going to win with two or three characters remaining. There are games that your characters will drop like flies, and you will lose. But the games that are going to make the difference are the games that are going to come down to the one last character with a chance to beat whatever the other team has left. You should almost plan for this to happen, because if you don’t lose a second character you probably were going to win anyway. The two big exceptions to this are against mill decks, and indirect damage decks (I include Palpatine in that list), since there you can very well have three character alive right before you lose. But against a “regular” deck, be very careful about playing the fourth weapon. Unless you have an Ancient Lightsaber that you are confident that you are going to be able to use to heal, that fourth weapon might not get you more than one dice before you need to overwrite it with a weapon that’s being redeployed. I love dice, but three cost for one die is a steep price. In close games you will normally have a character with three 3 cost weapons, or two 3 cost weapons and an Ancient.
Hopefully you’ve been able to use Force Illusions before this point, since reducing your dice count at this point in the game is a big deal. When you get to this point in the game resources generally are worth very little. Aside from looping Ancients, playing a droid, or the odd Mind Trick the deck just doesn’t have ways to use resources this late in the game. So be aware that when you get close to this point in the game that resource sides are to be rerolled.
Some mulligan guidelines I use:
- I need to see two weapons. If I have zero weapons in my opening five cards, I will keep at most one card (Trust Your Instincts doesn’t count). The one card is matchup dependent but the default order is: Reaping the Crystal, Guard, Caution, and Force Speed.
- If I see one weapon I will keep up to four cards (assuming they are good enough) I want one piece of zero cost mitigation (Guard and Caution are the best, I’ll take Hidden Motive if the other two aren’t there). I won’t keep a second removal card. The other two cards can be a combination of Reaping the Crystal, Force Speed, and Journals of Ben Kenobi.
- If I have two weapons and no zero cost mitigation I’ll again keep up to four cards: Reaping, Force Speed, and Journals.
- If I have two weapons and a zero cost mitigation, now I’ll keep up to five cards and I’ll extend my list of cards to: Reaping, Force Speed, Journals, more mitigation (zero cost, Force Illusion, or Force Misdirection) and either BB-8 or R2-D2.
- I will always keep one Trust Your Instincts (it can always cycle), I will always throw back the second one so I can get it on a later round.
- The only cards I never keep are The Power of the Force and Mind Trick.
I hope that something in all of these words was insightful, or at least interesting to you. Thank you all for reading!
Have magnificent week,