Eight days before the Portland Regionals, my buddy Jay Laske asked me if I wanted to carpool up with him from California. My instinct was “thanks, but no,” because I hadn’t played Star Wars Destiny since Empire at War came out. Short on time and cash, I just hadn’t kept up with the game. Now I was being offered a chance to travel to a large event when I knew barely half the card pool?
Needless to say, I’m writing this article because I changed my mind.
Everything that happened this past weekend was thanks to the immense generosity and support of the Destiny Bay Area/Northern California players, who variably lent me cards, tested with me, drove me, and encouraged me. Without them I would have had a quiet weekend at home with my cats. Instead, I made it to the Portland Regionals quarterfinals with a unique Hero deck that I am excited to share with you today.
“Rey1 Aay2 Wook3”
I initially picked this team because I wanted to run Close Quarters Assault and The Power of the Force. 30 hit points and 4 dice seemed like good numbers, and I had always wanted to find a list that could use Wookie Warrior well. I had experience with Hired Gun and he seemed like the Hired Gun for this job. I filled the rest of my list with lightsabers and various removal cards and got down to testing.
Within two games, I had ditched all the cards I’d originally intended to run. Close Quarters Assault always ended up being a reroll for me, and the Keen Instincts/Protective Mentor package I had included for The Power of the Force was just a pile of dead cards. The Power of the Force was itself usually only a net +2, for 1 and 1 card—on top of effectively removing a black die that I typically wanted to keep around for modifiers.
I used the free slots to add more removal, including Easy Pickings at Jay’s suggestion. The list fluctuated by a card or two over my dozen testing games, and then again the morning before the tournament started: adding two Truce, Force Throw, and One With the Force over Destiny and Battle Rage.
As I sat down for my first game, I was fairly nervous. I had spent significant time and money coming to Portland. My own deck was half cards I didn’t own, and the field was going to be full of powerful decks I hadn’t tested against. I took a deep breath and hoped Rey would survive.
Rey1 All The Way
I’m sure some of you remember Rey Han decks with Infamous and Ambush blasters. The few of you who knew me before this may recall my own rainbow “Ghost Ship” deck that relied almost entirely on Rey’s action-cheating. But these memories must be distant, dwarfed by the newer and flashier action-cheaters FN-2199 and Sabine Wren. Maybe the change to overwriting upgrades is what did it, or maybe three sets of distance alone are what got between my opponents and their desire to kill Rey.
Whatever the reason, Rey was my opponent’s first target in only two games, and one of those was in the eighth round against one of my California comrades who knew my deck inside out. Rey died maybe a total of two times in the entire tournament. Round after round, like clockwork, my opponents went for Aayla Secura. And I’m glad they did.
At the end of the day, this is a Rey deck.
I only have two Ambush upgrades, but they are enough. If my opponent wastes time chewing through Aayla’s health and leaves me Rey with two lightsabers, I am in a great position. Round 3 or 4, I throw down a Vibroknife and go for a combo kill. This happened in almost every game, and, as I noticed it occurring, I began playing into it.
My first action every game was to roll Aayla in. No upgrades, just roll. My opponents would see an elite Aayla and they’d start damaging her. I had good mitigation thanks to Easy Pickings, Guard, and, of course, Aayla’s , so I could usually keep her alive for a few rounds. Besides—while it may seem counterintuitive—I was fine to lose my elite character. She was almost a red herring, primarily serving as 10 Plastoid Armors for Rey.
While my opponent began hitting Aayla in round 1, I would take my time playing cards like It Binds All Things. Then, once Aayla had damage, I would upgrade Rey—hopefully twice, with a saber and Force Speed—and start going to town. Here’s a learning moment: If you’ve done a couple damage to Aayla, and I signal that I’m dumping upgrades on Rey, switch your target! No one did. Not wanting to split damage, my opponents would keep their focus on Aayla. She’d hang on, thanks in large part to Heroism, Guardian from Fort Anaxes, and Dangerous Maneuver—preferably coupled with double Shoto Lightsaber on Rey—and my other characters would commence the beat down.
I don’t want to accidentally imply that Aayla was mere bait. Her dice were amazing for me—especially for fixing Rey’s—and if my opponent ignored her, she could become a threat in her own right in the late game with enough upgrades. But the key difference, I think, is Rey’s ability. Aayla doesn’t become significantly stronger in the late game; Rey does. When my opponent’s characters are at 5 or fewer health and I have Vibroknife in my hand, Rey can easily do something Aayla will never accomplish: out-of-hand murder, without allowing any response or mitigation.
If I had to pick a key aspect of the deck that led to its success, it is this. I expect that this deck has weakened significantly merely from my explanation. Kill Rey, friends. She’s an amazingly powerful character, even with only one of her pitifully bad dice.
In the swiss rounds, I faced the following teams:
- Round 1: eSeventh Sister, Greedo, Ciena OTK
- Round 2: eZeb, eYoda
- Round 3: eTalzin, eKylo2
- Round 4: eAayla, Padawan, Padawan
- Round 5: eTalzin, eBala-Tik, Trooper
- Round 6: eYoda, eHondo
- Round 7: eTalzin, eBala-Tik, Trooper
- Round 8: eVader, Tusken Raider
My one loss was to the Yoda Hondo player (Agent of Zion), and my only really close game was in the first round (Zion beat me without breaking a sweat). My round one opponent, Jeremy, got good damage early and had the prescience to go after Rey. I would have lost the game for sure if I hadn’t thrown away an Ancient Lightsaber to exactly prevent lethal Round 2, then topdecked Vibroknife and rolled perfectly to kill Seventh Sister. My other games, while fun and full of back-and-forth, were much more decisive. The couple closer calls were when we got down to time.
With a 7-1 record, I was second seed in the cut. I unfortunately bombed out against a cool rainbow hero mill list in the quarterfinals.
I have more in-depth commentary on each match on Star Wars Destiny DB, so I’ll just go with broader strokes here: general play advice, lessons learned, and things I would do differently.
Mulligan for Weapons
In almost every matchup, this deck wants to mulligan aggressively for a 2-cost saber (or, failing that, Lightsaber Pull). It Binds All Things is great in the starting hand, as is Force Speed if you already have a 2-cost upgrade—but pitch both if you don’t! Chopper, a favorite of mine for resolving modifiers, is too slow for the early game. Dice mitigation should only be kept at priority against high-damage teams (e.g. Vader Raider or Seventh Sister OTK).
An important, and somewhat counterintuitive note: don’t keep Vibroknife in your starting hand if you have any other 2-cost weapon, or even if you have Maz’s Goggles as a round one play. You want to not play it until you can kill someone with Rey’s ability. If it’s your only upgrade, you keep it and use it, but otherwise you want to put it back in your deck. It’s much better late-game.
Claim The Other Battlefield (But Enjoy Yours, Too)
This deck is quite capable of good initiative rolls, and I won a lot of them over the course of the tournament. You almost always want your opponent’s battlefield if you get the choice. The 4-life difference is huge, and starting at an effective 32 is simply overwhelming for decks that can’t burst us down quickly. That said, you should always be happy if your opponent somehow picks Fort Anaxes. Despite having three characters, we claim faster than most decks thanks to Rey’s action cheating and judicious application of the “don’t always roll the Wookie” rule. Team-wide Guardian is really oppressive in a 30-hit point, 3-character list. Most of my opponents who won initiative were able to deduce this, and they picked their own battlefields, ceding the shields.
I stated earlier that my opponents were loathe to split their damage against me. This is a generally good strategy, but don’t be dogmatic. I won my second round match by switching from beating on Zeb to killing Yoda. My opponent had placed a bunch of defenses on Zeb—Second Chance, Force Illusion—and Yoda was generating two per round. I switched to killing Yoda, and dispatched him fairly quickly. This made it a lot easier to get Zeb down to 1 health left. We were going to time, so I opted to leave a bunch of my damage in the pool so as not to trigger Second Chance.
vs. Yoda Hondo
I wish I could give you advice on dealing with Hondo decks, but my loss wasn’t super informative. My opponent got both Cunnings early, and I didn’t draw a weapon until Round 3. Between his mitigation and my bad luck, I never had a chance. I don’t want to downplay Zion’s strength, nor the strength of his list, but unfortunately I didn’t really learn anything from this match. If you face it, let me know how it goes!
vs. Rieekan-Yoda-Partisan Mill
Mill in general is this deck’s weakness. Our extremely high hit point count is irrelevant, and a lot of our cards become blanks, like Force Illusion and Dangerous Maneuver. Breon’s deck in particular was really cool, and we had a couple close and fun games. I missed his misplay in our second game—he used Easy Pickings even though I’d killed Jedha Partisan, his one yellow character—and that cost me the match, but I think we’re at least even if not favored against this list in general. After some consideration, I’d say you need to kill the Partisan first to turn off Easy Pickings and to make Into the Garbage Chute significantly worse for him. Always pick his battlefield, and claim as often as you can. Mulligan aggressively for Shoto Lightsaber in particular, and resolve your die sides when you get them. Good luck!
As I wrote earlier, I think this deck is going to perform worse in the future than it did in Portland simply because I am revealing that Rey is the keystone. That said, it’s still a fun deck and I encourage folks to go out and try it.
Legacies Starters weren’t legal in Portland, but I would use some of those cards going forward. Namely, I would make the following changes:
- 1x One With the Force => 1x Heirloom Lightsaber
- 1x Force Throw => 1x Heirloom Lightsaber
- 1x Double-Cross => 1x R2-D2 (the new, blue one)
Additionally, since Vandalize—a card I didn’t know existed before the day of the tournament—seems to be making waves, I would try to find room for one or two of those. Maybe at the expense of an Electroshock and a Heroism.
Parting Shot: Roll With Wookie!
I hope this post has been interesting. I encourage everyone to try out some version of blue/yellow hero. You can try using Maz Kanata in place of Wookie to make your deck faster—add DL-44 Heavy Blaster if you do—or you can try switching the elite die between Rey and Aayla. You could also opt for a rainbow deck by replacing Aayla with Snap! Note, if you stick with Wookie, that mid-game you’ll want to roll him out early so that you can play Double-Cross or Truce, as appropriate, when your opponent least expects it. Regardless of where you go with this deck, I am excited to hear back from folks who try it out or have any input on deck construction and gameplay decisions. I can also discuss my card choices at greater length if there’s interest, but I didn’t want to bore everyone with a novella.
This was my first event this size, and it was a real thrill. I can’t state strongly enough how much of a rush it was to advance this far with my own weird brew, or how grateful I am to my friends in the local scene who helped me get here.
Lastly, a huge shoutout to Sean for running the event very professionally. The entire weekend was a treat! Thanks for having our motley crew in Portland.