Posted on

The Fringe Meta Strikes Back

With the Legacies meta coming to a close, I thought it was time to reflect on some decks that made the game fun during the time period. I’m not talking about the top tier decks that everyone knows. I’m talking about the fringe decks that hang around and toe the line between getting beat down by the top tier and coming out and dominating a tournament. Let’s show some love for the Tier 1.5 and Tier 2 decks for Legacies.

 

eKanan/eZeb

Ghost Protocol

Figured I would get this party started with my personal favorite fringe deck of the Legacies meta. If you’ve read some of my other articles, you’ve seen how much I gush about Kanan. I think his versatility is incredible and his ability just makes him downright dangerous. Combine Kanan’s ability with Zeb’s and you have a recipe for destruction. Zeb’s ability allows him to synergize with Kanan as well as being able to add cards in the deck that both characters can utilize like Jetpack. Being able to drop Second Chance on Zeb is really nice as well. The biggest weakness this deck faces are generally from within. When existing within the realm of Hero cards, removal can be difficult sometimes. Two of the best Blue removal cards, Guard and Force Misdirection, don’t work at all with Zeb’s character dice. Force Misdirection works well with Kanan’s diverse die, but Guard is usually lacking with him since he only has one Melee side. Another issue is the paid side for Zeb’s big damage. This doesn’t tend to be a huge issue in the mid to late game since Maz’s Vault helps out a lot in those stages of the game.

 

eTarkin/eSeventh Sister

TarkinSis

This is a very interesting deck and one I struggled to put on here. This combination saw a ton of play early on in the Legacies meta and won a good deal, but seemed to really fall off the map as the meta progressed. Tarkin’s Power Action is just brutal and really makes your opponent be scared of blanks. This combos well with cards like Anger so that you can get the most out of the dice at your disposal. Seventh Sister is probably the best 14 point character in the game since she gives you 3 dice for that cost. The biggest weakness of this deck is really any deck that can deny you resources since Tarkin decks really require you to have dice out on the table to utilize his Power Action well. Anything with Hondo is usually solid against Tarkin since he can deny your upgrades from hitting the table.

Battle Droid Army

Roger-Roger

Who doesn’t love Battle Droids? These pesky guys can gang-up on you very quickly with their ability to activate quickly and push out a ton of damage. The really nasty variation of this deck includes the LR1K Sonic Cannon and Imperial Backing. These two cards combo for some massive damage if you get them out early. Being able to field five characters is always intimidating, especially if you include a few Redeploy weapons that continue to bounce around. The big weakness for this deck is definitely Sabine. Against her, you’d usually down two Droids by the time turn 2 is in progress and needless to say, the effectiveness of the Droid declines rapidly when you start losing them. This deck has a few variations that include both Endless Ranks and Separatist Landing Craft that I have seen. At the end of the day, this deck is super fun to play, if a bit squishy and inconsistent.

 

eVader/Nute

Nader

This is a deck that is way more fun than it has any right to be. This is almost a fun call-back to the old Vader/Raider deck with a few notable exceptions. The biggest difference between this deck and Vader/Raider is Nute’s die. While is die is very weak in this deck, he makes up for it with a really brutal ability against certain decks. Losing two cards or a resource every turn is a massive nuisance. You also get a huge boost by being able to play Leadership on him to give Vader a second activation. You can also combo that with The Price of Failure if you have a particularly good opportunity and give Vader a third activation in one turn what can be really brutal. The biggest weakness for this deck is really a lack of removal combined with a very weak Nute die. Vader/Raider could survive long enough and push through extra damage with the Raider’s die at the end of a game. Nute can’t really do that unfortunately. While this deck is pretty fun, it lacks the explosiveness and options to be really threatening at the top of the meta.

 

eObi-Wan2/eRose

Hello There

In my never-ending quest to find wacky combos with characters, I somehow ended up here. I had a lot of fun with this deck. Hero Red has some great defensive cards like Field Medic and Honor Guard. The added bonus of having Leadership available can really be big when wanting to push through damage. Electrostaff is also a great include in Obi-Wan decks since it takes some pressure off that paid side that he has. The main problem with this deck is that it is way more inconsistent than it’s more productive counterpart in Obi2/Maz. Resource generation here is slower and damage is far less consistent since you don’t get the Maz ability. While this deck can be extremely defensive, it has trouble pushing out enough consistent damage to really be a threat against the more popular decks out there.

Posted on

7th Activation and The Price of Leadership

Card games are a really fickle thing. The metagame can shift at the drop of a hat once something wins a large tournament. What was once dubious and new with the release of a new set can quickly become set in stone. We saw this happen in both Spirit of Rebellion and Empire at War; Rainbow Nines and R2P2 quickly rocketed their way to major prominence and continued to gain steam as their respective formats came to a close. You’ve probably heard me say this before, but the beginning of a new format is my favorite time to play. Nobody knows what’s good. Everyone is experimenting. And unlike the end of a format, where people are honing in on the best deck because they don’t have the desire to put their time towards testing and grinding with something else, the start of a new format is when creativity and innovation really start to take hold.

I think that was the case with a new deck that has rocketed into the scene since the release of Legacies, representing a deck that is not only brutal, but is also legal for Empire at War. This is the first real combo deck since people griped incessantly about the loop with Millenium Falcon and Hyperspace Jump. Introducing: One turn kill Seventh Sister.

Kudos to Rebel_trooper, as he was the one who was first utilizing Seventh Sister in this manner, though the deck has gone through many iterations (and improvements!) since he started showing it off a few weeks ago.

The Idea

Once upon a time, Leadership and The Price of Failure were both used in 3-character lists featuring either Lukebar or Darth Vader, but they were never, to my knowledge, combined together. Previously, this was just a way to get one big character with good character dice to roll in twice during a single round for a big swing at the expense of either killing or exhausting a character. The problem with this was two-fold: you couldn’t guarantee you would see either of these cards in a match and, even if you did, they would oftentimes be dead cards or, worse, just not have the desired effect because your dice didn’t roll well enough. 

The game has changed fairly significantly since the days of 3-dice suites, though, and villain continues to get a lot of prime value out of the low-cost character range. Seventh Sister affords you three dice for only fourteen points and she’s perfect for facilitating multiple activations in a single round because she gets an additional droid die every time she rolls in. There are a wealth of 8-cost red and yellow villain characters to pair with her, but the most important one right now is Cienna Ree, who is an 8-cost unique character that can trigger Leadership.

From there, the plan is simple: load up Seventh Sister, keep her alive using removal and Fort Anaxes, and get her in a position where she can activate once, twice, or… three (?!) times in a single turn. It sounds easier than it is. There is a lot of complexity to choosing when to activate your characters, when to resolve your dice, when to remove your opponent’s, and when to go for the big play. The Price of Failure can really screw you over if you’re not prepared to go ham on your opponent. Further, you can really clunk up your hand with cards if you aren’t pushing to use them proactively. There’s a lot to this deck — it is a combo deck, after all — but it’s also incredibly satisfying when you pull off the necessary shenanigans with Seventh Sister activating consistently.

The Core

There are a lot of cards that make this deck tick. Let’s get into the bulk of them:

Ancient Lightsaber and Force Illusion are practically must haves in any blue deck, period. They provide a lot of value for their cost and are going to be staples for quite some time. ID9 Seeker Droid always finds an include with Seventh Sister and this deck is absolutely no exception. We already know that The Price of Failure and Leadership are what make this thing tick and the only way we can achieve a rainbow character suite with Leadership is by using Ciena Ree. You have three options for your 8-cost yellow character to round out your list: Bala-Tik, Bazine, and Guavian Enforcer. Bazine actually isn’t awful in this case, considering she has a Resource side and her Special can potentially chunk someone for three damage. Bala-Tik’s Focus side is great and helps chain Focus with ID9 Droids, but he has fewer ranged damage sides, fewer resource sides, and one less hit point than Guavian. There’s always something visceral about people’s hatred for Bala-Tik, though. Maybe he provides good bait because people are afraid of him, but I never like underestimating my opponent’s intelligence.

From there, we shoe in a bunch of cards that help us reach our goals. Doubt and He Doesn’t Like you are easy removal inclusions for the deck. Boundless Ambition makes sure that we can cycle through our deck to find the combo pieces we need as early as we can possibly get them. Friends in High Places is actually shockingly easy to achieve with Seventh Sister’s ID9 Droid and lets you either a) play upgrades or Rise Again for free or b) let you find a card that will allow you to continue to cycle through your deck. Cheat makes sure that you have more opportunities to use key cards, whether you’re cycling them for a second use or pulling them from your discard pile because your opponent managed to get rid of your hand. And, of course, you have the aformentioned Rise Again explicitly to make sure the key to this all, Seventh Sister, doesn’t get dumpstered too early. Your battlefield, Fort Anaxes, provides an additional piece of removal (or sometimes even two) that helps screw with your opponent’s ability to resolve their dice the way they want.

From here, you should be adding more upgrades with high impact die sides, additional removal, and any tech cards that win you match-ups that you don’t feel comfortable about. The upgrades are the most important part — you need something to throw onto Seventh Sister and get more bang for your buck out of each of her activations. Friends in Low Places can completely disrupt your plan; it might be worth including two of them yourself to make sure you get out ahead of your opponent and avoid a fatal discard.

Notice something yet? I’ll give you a second chance (hah) to check the Core again.

There aren’t any Legacies cards here. You can take this to your Empire at War regional. Swaggy, right?

The Plan

7th Activation is all in on just that — getting Seventh Sister to activate more times in a single round than she has any right to. You don’t have a wealth of removal pieces, so you want to make sure you’re using each one you get wisely, especially considering your Friends in High Places is probably going to end up discarding a few of them. For this reason, you’re going to almost always want to take your battlefield so that you can get extra leverage out of your yellow character before you throw them into the trash with a well-timed Price of Failure. Your ideal mulligan includes a copy of an ID9 Droid because getting a second die out there is key to producing an easy Friends in High Places to start the chain of events going. You’re also looking for something that will allow you to cycle through your deck and start looking for your combo pieces. You can also just settle with a single copy of Leadership as well; there’s nothing wrong with resolving all of Seventh Sister’s dice on the first round and killing off one of your opponent’s characters or putting yourself in a highly favorable position for the next round after a second activation.

You want your opponent to kill your yellow character. You don’t care about your yellow character because Ciena Ree is gold. You need her to get off two of your Leaderships. If Ciena Ree goes down, you only have one activation that you can cheat and it comes at the fairly hefty price of losing your yellow character. With that same concept in mind, you never, ever roll out Ciena Ree unless there is absolutely no possibility of you drawing into a Leadership over the course of the round. Don’t do it. Don’t be tempted. You’re better than that. And if you do get into a situation in which you can untap Seventh Sister, make sure you don’t waste too many of your cards rerolling her dice to get them off the field. There’s no shame in disrupting your opponent for 0 if it means you practically get a free reroll from her dice. And don’t forget that you get an extra ID9 Droid off Seventh Sister when she rolls in for the second time — don’t resolve the droid you originally rolled with her ability, because it stays on the field.

The plan with this deck is mostly playing damage control until you can start doing bonkers things with Seventh Sister. Make sure you’re being attentive about how much damage your opponent can deal to your characters, not just Seventh Sister, but her two companions as well. You don’t want your yellow character to die before you can kill him yourself with a Price of Failure. You don’t want Ciena Ree to die before you can use Leadership once or twice (or three times with Cheat). Discard is practically the bane of this deck’s existence, so don’t be ashamed of using some of your removal to get rid of Discard sides if they could potentially threaten to ruin your master plan. If your opponent is playing yellow, especially yellow villains, you absolutely have to be cognizant of their events. Friends in Low Places and Coercion can both completely ruin your day. Hyperspace Jump and Retreat can make you waste a Leadership or, worse, a Price of Failure. You need to know that these events exist and be aware of when your opponent is angling to use one of them.

With this deck, it’s imperative to think a few turns ahead and plan out your rounds, because when things work, they really work. Just wait until your opponent is sitting across the table with all of his characters exhausted, no resources, and a single card in hand — and then watches as you Price of Failure a Guavian Enforcer with 8 damage on him and he can’t do anything about Seventh Sister rolling out for the second or third time this round.

 

Let us know what you think on our Discord server. Do you feel like this deck is a gimmick that can’t succeed with any consistency? Are you convinced R2P2 just out paces 7th Activation in the Empire at War format? Are you certain you’ve got the right meta counter against it? Maybe you’re just excited to talk about your upcoming regionals. Whatever the case might be, come give us a shout and say hello!

This article was original posted on 1/17 on Patreon for all patrons at the Padawan level and higher. If you’d like to see exclusive strategy content two weeks earlier than the rest of the world, head over there and check out our affordable patron levels and get all the best content in advance!

Posted on

Creating the Holocron: A SW:Destiny Cube Development

Cube. The mere word can strike fear in the hearts of algebra and geometry students everywhere… To fans of Magic: The Gathering, it will signal one of the most exciting aspects of a CCG. The format is loved by a large spectrum of players because it tends to blend constructed strategies with a limited format. Now it’s time for Cube drafting to enter into the world of Star Wars: Destiny.

One of the biggest benefits of Cube is that you don’t need every card. You can utilize whatever cards you have to create your Cube. For example, my Cube goal was to make a high-power, tournament level playstyle. Your cube might be all $1 rares, uncommons and commons, or simply “no legendaries”. Make Cube whatever you want. This is a great way to play in a non-competitive style.

What is a Cube?

So what exactly is this Cube thing and why would I want to play it? To summarize, Cube is a draft format that blends drafting and constructed play. The creator of the Cube decides what he/she wants the themes to be, and fills the Cube with particular cards to best match that experience.  Once the Cube cards are compiled together, the next step is to get a group of friends.

The players draft the Cube as you might draft a normal draft. Pick one card, pass the pack, pick another. Everyone continues until all the cards are selected. When all “packs” are done being drafted, the players then create a deck to play their opponents. In Destiny, this is 20-30 cards.

The beauty of Cube is that you can do whatever you want with it. However, there are some common guidelines that most Cubes adhere too. They are:

  • Balanced card availability across all colors.
  • Single copies of each card, presenting interesting and difficult picks.
  • Variety of drafting strategies to keep the experience exciting for multiple drafts.

I’ll dive into each topic below, utilizing my own Cube as an example. If you disagree with my thoughts here, that’s okay too! Cube is what you want it to be! But first, let’s discuss how I got to my Cube.

Development

I, for the most part, have left Magic: The Gathering. The only thing that keeps pulling me back is to draft the Magic: The Gathering Online Cubes. I’ve always dreamed of bringing the concept to Star Wars: Destiny. I toyed with the concept early on with Awakenings, but I quickly found the card pool to be too limiting. The game had not developed yet, and there were clear winner and loser cards. It also had another big downfall: lack of enough draftable cards to create a cohesive deck.

When the Rivals draft pack was announced around a year later, it got me reignited on the concept. Finally! Something to solve my problem for the card count. In addition, two more expansion sets had released, with Legacies on the horizon. I got to work creating my Google Doc with a card list. Go on and take a look. Note: Please feel free to utilize the format. You can download to keep track when designing your own cubes. It’s formatted to keep track of what cards you have, what dice you have, and keep you updated with your card balance. It also has spots for you to list what set and card number each selection is.

To start my planning, I wanted to look at what had already been built. I had seen other ideas of Cubes, but none of them sat well with me. Here are a few:

  • Draft characters, then deck cards
  • Create actual booster packs (3 commons, 1 uncommon, 1 rare)
  • Do the above, but have specific cards seeded into each pack
  • Have multiple copies of cards randomly inserted

Ultimately, I decided these all were terrible ideas that resulted in losing the flavor of Cube (multiple copies of a card against a single copy), unnecessary length (drafting characters and cards), and overly complicated setup (seeded packs of commons, uncommons, and rares). My Cube was going to have everything included into one pack. It didn’t matter what type of card. They were all available picks for the drafter.

Next, I toyed with the idea for the intended size of my Cube. I settled on 8 players drafting 3 “packs” of 15-cards. This is the same as a Magic draft, and it would allow a large set of cards to be used. In my Cube, the initial target number was 360 cards.

There is one big difference between Magic and Destiny though. In Magic, every card you draft can end up in your deck. In Destiny, you have characters, battlefields, a deck, and now plots too. The extra cards, especially characters, reduce the regular cards used in a player’s deck. Again, the Rivals draft pack solved this issue in my mind. I implemented this into my design. In my Cube, people would end up with a pool of 65 cards to build there 20-30 card deck.

Draft Session #1:

With my draft Cube assembled, I got my friends together and we shuffled all 360 cards together, and made 24 15-card packs. At this point, we had to proxy the Rivals draft packs and multiple Legacies cards. We simply did not have enough sets and cards fill everything.

“But Blake, isn’t that a lot of cards?” The answer is yes. Too many. My first draft with my playgroup was a disaster. Here are my mistakes and lessons learned:

Pros:

  • Drafting 3 packs. This felt great as there were lots of cards to select from, and it encouraged the best part of Cube: the draft portion!
  • I learned I have very patient friends. Most have never drafted, much less drafted a Cube. They liked the concept, and they gave a lot of feedback for me to consider before the next session.

Cons:

  • Two copies of each character card. My initial idea was you had to draft both copies of a character to get the two dice. This led to people not bothering with a character until the last few picks. Characters became unimportant because it was a high risk to get a second copy.
  • Too many character cards, and too few options for teams. With two copies of characters cards, this led to a lot of stale picks. As I said before, the last 5 picks in each packs were the leftover characters. In addition, I didn’t have enough cheap characters to select from.
  • Hero and Villain factions. I tried to force people to draft the faction and colors that matched their characters. I thought it would lead to an interesting draft style. This was awful, because card choice was limited already. People ended up with terrible decks.
  • Lack of dice mitigation. This was the biggest lesson learned, and one I stress to any Destiny Cube designer. With such powerful dice being thrown around, the pseudo-removal of Rivals did not cut it. People were not having fun when someone rolled and there was nothing they could do about it. There isn’t enough of draftable dice mitigation in a singleton format to support 8 players. It was a slugfest.

Draft Session #2

In this next version of my Cube, I changed up my design. I incorporated several changes:

  • I went in with the mindset of color-locked drafting only. No more faction drafting!  
  • I reduced the character card copies. If you drafted a character card, you could run one or two dice. This allowed me to include additional, cheaper characters while still reducing the overall character card slots in the Cube. More non-character cards could be added, and character picks became exciting! Pass that Yoda? You were not seeing him again.
  • I added additional premium removal to the Rivals draft pack. Each color got 2 neutral removal cards, such as Electroshock, plus a few gray cards, including Rend. While this meant a potential 8 copies at the table, it addressed the “slugfest” nature of the first Cube. People could fight back

Again, I learned more lessons!

Pros:

  • Premium Dice Mitigation. People felt the dice mitigation was great. The best dice mitigation, such as Doubt or Isolation, was still draftable if you wanted it. However you didn’t need to worry that you might not see any dice mitigation cards.
  • Expanded Character Selection. People enjoyed just having the dice options, and the expanded characters available. They felt their character picks mattered.
  • Factions don’t matter. It made things much easier to draft and opened up a lot of interesting game play. We saw a turn one Sith Holocron roll into a One With The Force, including other broken shenanigans.

Cons:

  • Rivals Draft Pack. With the addition of the premium removal, most of the Rivals draft pack became unused. Why use Targeting Computer when an Overconfidence would just undo your work?
  • Even more cards! Now the card pool to build a deck from went from 65 to 75. It was ridiculous on the card choices. Most people could run three color if they wanted.

Where The Cube Is Today

After the two play sessions, I am feeling very satisfied with the Cube’s progress, and I felt ready to share it with everyone. If you haven’t already gone to look at the card list, see it here. For my next play session, I think I have nailed down what the final form of the Cube is going to be. Here are my next changes:

  • No more Rivals draft pack. I created my own draft pack of premium dice mitigation, with a basic battlefield. There are enough characters available in the Cube that the neutral draft pack characters became obsolete. Upgrades are plentiful, and I took several Rivals cards and incorporated them into the Cube.
  • More Legacies! It’s a great set that added a lot to the game. I added some proxy cards into the Cube to fill in gaps in my collection. I know what cards I want to get, and I’m going to actively trade for those. That’s the best part of the Cube: It’s casual so you don’t have to get everything right away..

Let’s review the guidelines I set out to accomplish:

  • Balanced card availability across all colors. I feel I nailed this. Every color has access to aggro, control, mill, and combo style cards. The card count across colors is exact.
  • Single copies of each card, presenting interesting and difficult picks. Reducing character cards to a single card maintained the singleton style of draft I wanted. While I have an additional draft pack of cards for each player to utilize, it maintains the spirit of a Cube.
  • Variety of drafting strategies to keep the experience exciting for multiple drafts. The elimination of factions helped this go up a lot. I feel there are a lot of different card combinations that no one has even thought of yet.

With these tweaks, I feel I will have a great framework to build off of for years to come. I have a few ideas potentially, but nothing drastic. As new sets come out, I can swap in and out cards to change the experience. I plan to continue to update my Cube list, so if you like it, feel free to save the link for future reference. I’ll add new tabs with new sets, so you will always have access to old versions of the cube. If you have different thoughts on my Cube, or suggestions, feel free to comment. I’ve already considered making changes with the new meta shaping up (Hondo, I’m looking for a spot for you!)

Regardless of how you decide to do it, try Cube! It’s a great format!