My name is Nick Nelson – most of you probably don’t know me and those that do probably recognize me from Facebook threads where I’m arguing over some sort of ruling to little effect and wasting my life away. You can also see me occasionally on various discord channels or on TTS as “TheGandork”.
I’m the community leader of the SW Idaho Destiny play group and this weekend we made a bit of a splash at the Portland Regional with our Poe2/Hondo deck, which was designed by yours truly and piloted to a win by our own Jason Reece. I was also in the top 8 with this deck, but lost out in the quarter finals, and our 3rd team member, Dennis Perlstein, piloted it to a 5-3 record in swiss, just missing out on maybe having a top 8 finish on tiebreakers by 1 win. I’m going to give you a little breakdown of our deck today and your new meta god: Hondo Ohnaka.
When I started planning for Portland, obviously I started looking at the EAW meta, primarily R2P2 and 2-character beatdown – which are really the two “archetypes” at the top of that meta.
It seemed fairly obvious R2P2 decks would pivot to Poe2/Aayla or Poe2/Yoda – but for the most part those changes felt a bit irrelevant since at their core, they’d still be doing R2P2 “type” things. Lots of survivability, high consistency but relatively low damage output.
2-character beatdown decks got quite a few new variations/characters to play with, but I generally felt if you had game vs Sabine/Ezra, you’d probably have game vs Kallus/Talzin, Zeb/Kanan, Kylo2/dude or any of those other configurations that kind fall into that type. They got new characters with big numbers on them, but they all still kind of play the same game. Try to get some damage consistently/un-interactively and then resolve it.
When Legacies “dropped” we had heard about 7th Sister/Tarkin starting to make waves early on and we saw some cool hero vehicle builds. Then OTK came out of nowhere. I think I learned of each of these archetypes through Mike and Joe at The Hyperloops and our Legacy journey basically started here.
The only other deck from Legacies I started out fairly high on was a Yoda mill build of some sort – I had cycled through eYoda/2 x Partisans, Rieekan/Yoda/Partisan (hmm…), and moved past that to eYoda/Rose/Partisan.
So we grinded out a bunch of games with all of the above various builds and the Friday before the Dallas regionals one deck archetype was standing out consistently above the rest – Hero Vehicles. I was so ready to play Hero Vehicles. We’ve seen Hero Vehicles dominate R2P2 in the EAW meta and it’s an even better deck in Legacies. Fall Back would destroy the 7th Sister/Tarkin deck. It had the survivability to outlast and then crush all the 2-character beatdown lists. Yoda Mill couldn’t clear it before vehicles hit critical mass. It was Hero Vehicles time to shine! Then Dallas happened.
Now Hero Vehicles didn’t really make a big splash at Dallas, but that wasn’t what gave me an epiphany – it was a fairly innocuous little detail in Tyler’s Poe2/Yoda list – he was running Retreat. It’s a card that I had somehow forgotten about, but it was the perfect meta answer to those long round decks that could wiggle in and give R2P2 archetypes trouble. It could absolutely destroy a hero vehicle deck single handedly. And it’s great against 7th Sister/Tarkin. And OTK. And Mill. Retreat basically could counter the whole new emerging meta – and similar cards like Hyperspace Jump or Mind Trick could do the same.
We couldn’t play hero vehicles.
I did see there was a Poe2/Hondo deck in the top 8 at Dallas – couldn’t find a deck list though, but it lead me to look at Hondo. And thus, my journey began.
With no deck list to work off of, I just jammed a bunch of stuff into the deck and off to TTS I went to try a couple games against Dennis. Yeah… it took only 1 game and we were both like “ZOMGWTF HONDO HOLY SHEEIT.” Like it was immediately obvious this guy was the real deal and just a super game altering card.
The specials on Hondo are obviously win-win, but a lot of players (myself included) at first would see that and think “they’ll just pay me and Hondo will do nothing when I need it the most.” Which isn’t exactly wrong. But the way Hondo’s special and his 2 disrupt sides can put pressure on your opponent’s health totals and the way they use their money early – it forces your opponent into making a lot of suboptimal plays, often with no good choice. Do they pay Hondo and not build up their board while the Hondo player gets to expand their board with their new resources? Or do they not pay Hondo and have a huge chunk of health carved out of a character just so they can spend those resources THEN again be in a position where they might not have the option to pay later on and just eat the damage anyways?
So once we realized the prize that Hondo was, I was able to start putting together a deck list very quickly – we were less than a week away from the Portland Regionals at this point too.
Here is our final list that we played:
The upgrades put themselves together fairly easily. Canto Bight Pistol was a little piece of tech we borrowed from the Yo Dameron list Tyler piloted in Dallas. It serves the same role here as a redeploy weapon with a special, plus all base sides means it works decently well on Hondo still after Poe dies.
Cunning is just an absolutely amazing card in our new special heavy meta. It provides so much utility and there are enough specials in this deck to make use of it even if your opponent isn’t playing any specials.
Poe Dameron’s Blaster is an obvious inclusion, same with Second Chance. DL-44 while not having a special side, the removal from it’s ability helps supplement a so-so suite of removal cards the deck has access to.
Now Fast Hands – it might be the best upgrade in the deck. For as good as Hondo is already, Hondo with Fast Hands takes him to yet another level. Sometimes you can just lock your opponent out of resources with the first action activate Hondo and Fast Hands the 2 disrupt side (remember when Han/Rey did that?). It’s just unfair. Hondo’s special while not guaranteeing to hit their resources, can still make them pay you a resource and screw up their turn right from the start as well.
Planetary Uprising seemed decent as a card to shore up Hondo’s lack of damage sides late game – I think in the future it would make sense to change this to 2 X-8s or Verpine Sniper Rifles when they’re legal. The deck is a little upgrade late which can cause it to have a shaky start when you don’t see them. Planetary doesn’t really help with the early game, but still it won us a lot of games throughout the weekend too.
Before I start getting to our removal/mitigation choices – I have to call attention to Vandalize. THIS is a top 10 card in Legacies, maybe the game. If you’re in yellow, you should be running 2 x Vandalize. It’s the first upgrade/support destruction they’ve printed that is too good not to include in every deck that can play it. There are so many fantastic targets to hit – Force Illusion, Force Speed, Chance Cube, Sith Holocron, C-3PO. You can use it to take out a 2-cost upgrade after they’ve rolled out as a kind of die removal and that’s worth it most of the time (since you’re also choking their resources.)
As far as picking the removal suite for the deck – man has it gotten hard. A lot of removal now seems good against some decks, bad against others. Electroshock needed to be included since it was the only removal that could just be played on most everything in most situations. Defensive Position is fantastic like usual in some matchups, but in special wide matchups it can leave something to be desired. Still if you can get 1 die with it, you’re good. Field Medic is like “after the fact” removal – and since it basically works on everything trying to kill you whether special or damage sides it seemed like an easy include.
Sound the Alarm and Easy Pickings were the hard picks for us here. In hindsight we would have dropped the Sound the Alarm for the second Easy Pickings – since we faced/were threatened by more special decks than damage decks. But this could be a meta call. Going forward though expecting Hondo/specials to be popular – play 2 x Easy Pickings.
Retreat was also underwhelming at Portland – we didn’t see nearly enough long round type decks for it to be relevant. It could have been cut for more removal as well in hindsight.
Hit and Run is helps you steal tempo back and gives you those surprise kills – good things to have in an aggressive deck.
Well-Connected is just there for insurance purposes – it’s not flashy, but that resource to push out a 3 drop or pay for a removal is invaluable most of the time.
Playing the deck
For mulligan conditions, Fast Hands is generally an “always” keep, then after that it’s basically looking for an upgrade (2 drop preferred) and playable removal. Fairly standard.
If you win the dice roll, I think the right call is to always take your battlefield and go first. The logic here is that Hondo is most powerful the first couple rounds of the game when money is tighter AND Hondo is always best when he gets rolled out first in each round. You want to start putting your opponent in horrible positions as soon as possible – so a first action activation already forcing them to decide whether to spend their resources or lose them is what you want.
The only reason you’d roll out Poe first is if he is about to die and you need to get some value out of his dice.
Hondo obviously gets Cunning and Fast Hands, while Poe gets everything else until he’s dead.
The deck can switch between aggressive play and defensive play to some level during the course of the game – so you really need to pay attention to times when it’s better to “live to fight another day” and shield up/play removal OR times where you need to push and forgo Poe’s special chaining to use his focus or special just to turn sides to more damage.
I don’t feel like this deck has any absolutely bad match ups – the meta might find one, but there was no game that I could find in the current known meta where I didn’t think this deck could win going into the game. Resources are a fundamental part of the game no matter what your deck is and Hondo screwing with resources will make it hard no matter what the opposing game plan is. I do have an honest worry that Poe/Hondo and/or Yoda/Hondo are going to be the new R2P2 and possibly even worse than that. It’s too early to call though. I forgot to mention back up when I was talking about the testing phase – when I started testing Poe/Hondo on TTS the week before, my record was 22-0 against teammates and randoms. Then it took another 4 rounds into the regional before I finally got my first loss running the deck. Jason Reece had a similar win percentage as I did throughout testing and the tournament.
Last Question – Yoda or Poe2 with Hondo?
The Artificery crew championed by Agent of Zion played Yoda/Hondo to great success as well. I’m not sure that one version is strictly better than the other, they’re two sides to a similar coin. I feel like Yoda is the more defensive version of the deck, while Poe2 is the more aggressive version of the deck. Yoda is a little more consistent, but needs to set up to get going, Poe2 is a little less consistent but can get the damage rolling heavy. Both decks are very similar in power level though.
It feels like in the “mirror” whichever deck gets ahead, tends to stay ahead for the most part. It’s really hard to flip the board state because once you’re behind, Hondo tends to keep you behind.
That’s all I got – thanks for reading!