In the weeks leading up to the regional I was leaning towards playing Dooku/Talzin (I used them to win Season 8 of the Artificery league, which had decklists locked in a little over a month ago) and seeing Dooku/Talzin win two regionals the weekend prior to my event sealed the deal. The top three regional winning decks so far were Vader/Greedo, Yoda/Leia mill and Tarkin/Snoke, and I like Dooku/Talzin against all of them.
Vader/Greedo – I feel like a favorite in this match up, though not a heavy one. Dooku’s ability is very good at keeping Vader off of Friends in High Places, and in my experience, I will win when Vader can’t play it (or if he whiffs when he does). Be patient with Dooku. If your opponent is showing damage on one Vader die, but not showing 7 total, don’t flip it. Just let him have it and make him play fair. If he starts rerolling, you know he’s looking for 7, and flip his highest die when he does get there. When Vader wins the roll off, he will always take Theed, and when I win, I’ll always give him Theed. Do your best to take Theed from him going into round 2 and keep it the rest of the game. With Talzin having two shields Dooku becomes Vader’s target, and I much prefer racing to 15 damage while my opponent tries to get to 12, than trying to get to 17 while Vader only needs to get to 9. Beating Vader is the number one priority, so if you can’t do it, don’t even bother bringing the deck (I’m looking at you Tarkin/Snoke).
Leia/Yoda – Dooku/Talzin is very strong into mill as it combines the two things mill hates most, god rolls (through their abilities) and action cheating. Dooku/Talzin is especially strong vs. Leia/Yoda as you can burst Leia down fast, and you don’t care about cards being ripped from your hand, as you were never going to play more than two of them anyways and don’t need a lot of rerolls. Just play your upgrades and roll into great natural damage. At Odds is great vs. mill and The Power of the Force is a blow out card into them as well. Ancient Lightsabers don’t hurt here either.
Tarkin/Snoke – Give them Theed and just blast Tarkin down as fast as you can. With 2 Deflect and 2 At Odds, you aren’t overly scared of Fist since they have to pay for it, unlike with Vader. As with Leia/Yoda, you don’t care if Tarkin rips your hand away, you have plenty of consistency and it deals damage to your target while removing his own die and shutting off Snoke’s power action. When your opponent Snoke’s Tarkin’s double discard side, you know you’re going to win.
Snoke 3 Wide Decks – These might be the best decks out there, but without the results to back it up (only 2 regional wins), I wasn’t going to switch off of Dooku/Talzin because of them. This is Dooku/Talzin’s worst match up, particularly with Rebel Traitor (which I see as the stronger version) as you are never allowed to roll in Dooku off a Force Speed special. Playing on Rift Valley improves your odds against 3 wide Snoke a lot, which is why I chose that battlefield. You’re 65% to win the roll off vs. these decks, and with the amount of work that Rift Valley can put in against Snoke’s focus sides, I think it’s a must to run Rift Valley over Theed. I was hoping to never see this across the table from me.
Every even card must be explained, because they are costly to hit with Talzin’s ability and devastating when on Rift Valley.
Force Speed is your best card (with Energy Bow a close second) and allows you to cheat in your Dooku activation and flip his die to provide fast devastating damage. Force Speed allows you to use high value modified dice to great effect as well, like Maul’s Lightsaber and Vader’s Lightsaber, since you know you’ll have a base side to resolve them.
Ancient Lightsabers are amazing value, and I felt they were worth using despite being even. I think you could do without them as well though.
No Mercy was included to give the deck some more reach to kill off a vital character faster, like Snoke in Snoke 3 wide decks, Tarkin in Tarkin/Snoke, etc. I only used it once over 11 games, so it probably wasn’t worth it. Despite being even it has some synergy with Talzin since you often only play 1 or 2 cards per turn anyways, so throwing your hand away is less costly.
Unyielding is the 3rd best card in the deck. For those who have not used Dooku/Talzin before, it is a 2x auto-include. Play some games with it and you’ll soon see why. It can easily win you games that are otherwise unwinnable. I forgot it in the Artificery league and missed it badly.
Rise Again is easy to get off with all the Theed’s running around, definitely want to include it. I think I played it 4/11 games.
At Odds and Deflect are great vs. Vader’s Fist, so they’re easy 2x includes right now.
The Lightsabers – I wouldn’t use more than 1 copy of any of the 3 cost Lightsabers, as you can turn on Flames of the Past. It may be correct to use Fifth Brother’s Lightsaber over Vader’s Lightsaber as you really shouldn’t be using Vader’s Lightsaber’s action unless you’re swimming in money, in which case you’re probably better off trying to Rise Again, or play a couple more cards that round. Maul’s Lightsaber is a different story, as it can be worth the resource and the actions to roll it in and resolve it if you’re confident your opponent has no mitigation. In any case, you should look at these Lightsaber actions as costing 3 resources and the initiative next round, as they will often cause you to lose Theed when taking the time to do them. I never used either Lightsaber’s action/power action all tournament.
You want to hit Force Speeds and Energy Bows (which have 4 sides you’re thrilled to see) and hopefully a consistent piece of mitigation. Keep any even cards you find, as you do not want them in your deck. I wouldn’t bother keeping Binds when you don’t hit an Energy Bow or Ancient Lightsaber to go with it. It’s debatable when you get it with a Force Illusion, but even then I’d likely throw them both back and dig for Force Speed and Energy Bow.
Swiss – 18 Players
Round 1 – Iden/Beckett
I rolled well and my opponent didn’t. I kept 2 deflects in my opening hand and was able to kill Iden round 2 before she resolved any dice (she rolled out poorly again that round). Iden and the baby blaster on her never showed a damage side this game. Rough game for my opponent. (1-0).
Round 2 – Thrawn/Snoke/Bitter
My opponent and I both throw back all 5 cards for the mulligan, and I draw into an atrociously bad hand. I win the roll off and give my opponent Weapons Factory Alpha (which is stronger than Theed, but more niche so less prevalent), hoping that I can burst Thrawn down with the 2 damage head start from Bitter and no shields to protect him. My opponent calls 1, sees that I have no mitigation, Energy Bows or Force Speeds among my 6 card hand and takes a Binds from me. After resolving both Thrawn dice for 2 resources (1 with a Snoke power action) he’s off to the races, playing a Fist and a Tie round 1. This game was over before the first action was ever taken. L (1-1).
Round 3 – Vader/Jawa/Retribution
I win the roll off and give Vader Theed. Round 2 starts with 2 damage on Dooku and Vader showing two 4 for 1 damage sides. I wanted to play ancient on Dooku, but decided that 8 to the face was a bit too much damage to take, despite not being enough for lethal. I flip one of Vaders dice and eat the other 4 damage. My opponent put 1 damage into Dooku from the Jawa, another from a Deflect and surprisingly (to me) flipped his blank to a 4 for 1 with Force Strike and killed Dooku while I had an unresolved Dooku die showing resource and a Rise Again on top of my deck. Talzin was able to finish Vader though, with Unyielding allowing her to resolve a 1 melee off an Ancient and her own 2 ranged side through 2 shields and an Illusion on Vader who had 3 health left. This was the first of many games that ended with an Unyielding play. W (2-1)
Round 4 – Yoda/Cassian/Anakin Mill
Dooku Talzin is strong into mill, and this game went absolutely perfectly for me. I won the roll off (81% favourite) and took Rift Valley. I played Binds, my opponent played Force Jump on Yoda, I played Energy Bow, and he rolled into a blank on Jump, and discard on both Yoda dice. I play my second Energy Bow and after some thought, he takes my hand with Yoda’s dice and I roll in solid damage with both Talzin and Dooku. Round 2 starts with me dropping Force Speed and killing Yoda before he can resolve his dice, while also getting a 1 cost ancient down. This game was over very quickly, and with the draws I had and Yoda and Force Jump never showing specials there was nothing my opponent could have done. W (3-1).
Round 5 – Snoke/Ciena/Bala
My dream of dodging Snoke 3 wide decks is over and I’ll have to beat one to make the cut to top 4. I win the roll off and take Rift Valley. I’m able to control both Ciena and Bala’s dice round 1 and keep my opponent from getting any resources and put some damage into Snoke. He claims aggressively and misses on Rift.
I learn round 2 that he was never intending to pay for anything straight up anyways, as he plays Delve to drop a Planetary Bombardment, then uses its die to play Friends in High Places into an AT-ST. I’m able to get Snoke to 9 damage and have a Deflect in hand and I’m praying that I can kill Snoke with the AT-ST die. I’m passing and he has every die in the pool except AT-ST and I’m worried he’s playing around Deflect, but he finally rolls in AT-ST and hits damage and I kill Snoke prior to any Snoke dice being resolved or his power action being used (I don’t think either of Bala or Ciena had naturally rolled resources).
In the next round, I kill Ciena and he sinks a lot of damage into both Dooku and Talzin off his monster supports. Going into the final round, he has Bala with 2 shields and I have Talzin who’s about 3 away from death and Dooku maybe 5 away. He has the battlefield and rolls in Planetary (which basically can’t get a kill) instead of AT-ST (maybe playing around Deflect, but most likely just a mistake) and hits 5 indirect. I roll in Talzin and show some damage and a force speed special. He resolves the 5 indirect killing no one and I use the Force Speed special to roll in and kill Bala with Unyielding for 8, getting past the 2 shields and resolving my mixed damage sides all at once. I’m confident that if my opponent had played a little tighter, I lose that game (at one point he missed the optional trigger on Arc Caster to activate and reroll a die when rerolling one of my dice would have been important). By round 5 we’re all making some suboptimal plays, which I certainly did too this tournament, so I’m happy to get the win and move on to the top cut. W (4-1).
I finish in 3rd with 1st going to a 5-0 Snoke Ciena Rebel Traitor. The Thrawn Snoke who beat me earlier finished 4-1, having only lost to 1st place, was in 2nd. A Vader/Greedo deck was in 4th, also at 4-1, and one unfortunate soul missed the cut at 4-1.
Semifinals – Thrawn Snoke Rematch
Game 1 – Again my opponent and I discard all 5 cards and hard mulligan. I hit an Energy Bow, but not the Force Speed I was hoping for. He wins the roll off and chooses Weapons Factory Alpha, which he steam rolled me on last time after I chose it, and I draw Force Speed off the top of my deck with Bitter. The impact of this can’t be overstated, as I get my best card and avoid hitting an even on top of my deck. He calls 1 and chooses to take Feel Your Anger after hitting a blank on Thrawn and I get to play the Bow and Force Speed on Talzin turn 1 and this time I was the one off to the races. He got down a Droid Hailfire Tank, but without endless money to drop a stream of Ties, it’s simply an overcosted die and would be no match for my two characters doing what they do best. I kill Thrawn round 2 before he can resolve his dice and it doesn’t take long to finish Snoke. 1-0.
Game 2 – My Opponent chooses Rift Valley this time and poetically Bitter moves me off an odd and onto an even. When you hit an even card on Rift Valley you’re probably going to lose as you get destroyed twice on that turn (Talzin and your claim both miss, unless you can use an Illusion to change the deck). I don’t remember too much of this game, as I pretty much knew I was done once that happened. I may have started with an Energy Bow, but definitely not Force Speed. 1-1.
Game 3 – We’re back on Weapons Factory Alpha and I think I hit a Force Speed in my opening hand, if not I got it to round 2. For the 4th time in 4 games, my opponent hard mulligans (pretty sure it was 4/4, could have been 3/4).
I have a very strong board state going into round 3 with Talzin having two Force Speeds and an Energy Bow on her and Dooku with an Ancient Lightsaber and Thrawn very low on health. I expect to kill Thrawn easily, but my opponent mitigated me like a champion keeping me off Force Speed specials and damage using Overconfidence, Hidden Motive and Beguile prior to Dooku finally rolling out fair. I eventually kill Thrawn and put a couple of damage into Snoke. By the end of the round, both Dooku and Talzin are getting low on health and my opponent had a solid board state.
The next round I roll out well with Talzin and hit some damage and two Force Speed specials. I take my time and resolve what damage I can then drop a Vader’s Lightsaber while eating some damage from a Fist. I then take 4 actions with Force Speed specials and activate Dooku needing to get to 7 damage with two rerolls and a Dooku flip, but no resources making his 3 for 1 side dead. I hit a +3 on Vader’s Lightsaber and a focus on Dooku and that was all I needed to put 8 into Snoke. W 2-1
Finals – Snoke/Ciena/Rebel Traitor
As stated before, Snoke 3 wide decks are my worst match up, but the Rebel Traitor version can be an absolute nightmare.
My outs against 3 wide snoke tend to include starting on Rift and being able to steal a Snoke focus late and force my opponent to hit damage naturally and to burst Snoke down fast prior to them getting an amazing board state set up. With Snoke, dead Cienas trick becomes expensive and a bit inefficient as you no longer have Snoke’s consistency and ability to print money. Going for Ciena first is all kinds of wrong, even if they drop a Fire Spray.
Game 1 – My opponent won the roll off and chose Theed. He activated Ciena and rolled a resource. With Feel Your Anger as my only mitigation that could stop him from ramping, I decided to take a chance on Talzin’s activation and was able to blank Ciena’s die with Talzin’s ability, and turn on Feel Your Anger. Rebel Traitor activated next and unfortunately for me also rolled a resource, so there was no stopping the ramp. He dropped a Fist and it did what it does best, and followed up with a round 2 Fire Spray with TLT and proceeded to steam roll me, getting off a round 2 or 3 Rebel Traitor into Mind Trick play for good measure. Though it took a few more rounds to finish, this one was decided quickly with his vastly superior board state. 0-1.
Game 2 – I’m on my home turf of Rift Valley and I luckily didn’t hit any devastating evens this game. I think I started with two Force Speeds as well. Once again I believe my opponent was able to Snoke a resource round 1 to ramp, but had to play a Hover Tank and was obviously far behind where he was the prior game with a round 1 Vader’s Fist. I was able to remove Snoke’s focus sides with Rift Valley this game and build up my own board state and before too long (round 3 I think) I was able to kill Snoke, then work my way through Ciena and Rebel Traitor while getting consistent value from Rift Valley. 1-1
Game 3 – We’re back on Theed and like in the previous game my opponent is able to ramp but is forced to play Hover Tank as his round 1 vehicle. I believe I started with a force speed and an energy bow and am off to the races. I was able to kill Snoke in round 2 I think and establish a stronger and faster board state than my opponent who was also rolling a ton of blanks of this game. I took this game and won the regional!
Not to over simplify things, but in game 1 my opponent started with a Fist, and games 2 and 3, he hit neither Fist nor Fire Spray round 1 and was forced to start with Hover Tank, which against 2 wide decks is a destitute man’s Fist/Fire Spray. He’s 80% to start with a Fist or Fire Spray with a hard mulligan and I was lucky that he missed them 2 of the 3 games.
To wrap things up, this was a very fun regional with very friendly people. The tournament was well organized and supported by the store (The Sentry Box) and although we only had 18 people, I feel it was a strong tournament, with all the decks in the cut being top tier decks piloted by strong players. Thanks for reading!
David ‘Vika’ Broberg