Last weekend Destiny players from across the US and Canada headed to Redmond, Washington for one of Cascade Game’s Premiere Play Galactic Qualifier weekends. We were in attendance to stream the event along with Monk’s Gaming Battlefield and get in some rounds of Destiny. This was the second time in three years that Evergreen Tabletop Expo (ETX) hosted a Destiny event series, the first being in 2017 shortly after Spirit of Rebellion was released. I have fond memories of the first ETX Destiny events – it was the first time I took first place at a larger event and it kicked off building relationships with many great players, and now friends, in the Seattle area.
That first ETX win was on my mind as a sliver of the Crew prepped and drove up to our campsite that would be home base for our weekend in Washington. The past two years of Galactic Qualifiers I’ve been so close but not quite there, losing some close games and meeting some great players. The most recent of those losses was to Dass, fellow Crew member and awful car navigator, in the Infinite event at Denver the prior month.
The events at ETX were capped at 64 players, same as they were at Denver, due to space issues. There was also some communication issues around the requirement for badge and pre order cutoff deadlines. The largest event peaked at 60 players and the smallest dipped to 32 and I think those communication issues and the cap artificially reduced the number of players that showed for the event. That said, Cascade Games ran a tight event with a lot of credit going to Nick and judge-in-training Dennis. These two are quickly becoming community heroes for their dedication to judging and support of the game.
I expect reports to come out from the winners of the Standard events (spoiler alert – Palp and Snoke are still a thing) but I am most excited to read the report from the Derek, who took down my vanilla Phasma/Trooper to win the World’s seat with his very interesting Wat/Watto/Clawdite list. That just leaves the winner of the Infinite event to write a report which, if you haven’t guessed by now, is why this article exists.
Yup, no Price of Failure. No Rise Again. No Ancients or Force Speeds or any of a dozen other cards allowed in Infinite that could have fit into this deck. The very simple explanation for that is all those cards were 3 hours drive away at my house in Portland. Playing Red Vader was an 11th hour decision with less than 10 minutes to put the list together before the event began. Dass and I had both planned to run Snarkin – the same deck we ran at the Infinite event in Denver. But with success comes popularity and after a number of players had mentioned they’d be running the Snarkin list in the event we decided to pivot to using our Day 2 Standard Vader lists with anything we could throw in them.
With the expectation of a Snarkin field a helpful bystander remarked that people should just run Scorched Earth and make their day miserable. Fortunately KyloSpren of Dice of Failure was on hand to loan his copies of Scorched Earth and Dass and I divided them up into our decks. Expecting large dice pools and lots of blanks I also threw in Feel Your Anger and Mind Trick – a couple cards I had in my Infinite bag of tricks. Had I really been prepping for a Snarkin field I would have also included an It Will All Be Mine.
If Zion was writing this he would meticulously put together db decklists from the blurry images submitted in Best Coast Pairings. Zion, if you haven’t figured out already, is much less lazy than I am so you’ll just have to live with the character teams. There is a good chunk of my games on the stream so you can check them out there too!
Round 1 – Mace1/Ahsoka2
I’ll be honest and admit I didn’t realize how much fun Fighting Pit Vader would be until playing him in the Standard event day 2. It was high on the success of those pit fights that I ran into Derek’s Mace. All day with Vader I took my battlefield when given the choice. This would come to bite me later on in the day and it nearly cost me two games, including this one. Mace’s die is scary and my Vader die has a tendency to roll shields, so taking the Pit and losing starting shields was probably a bad idea. Neither of us ever once used the power action on Pit making it a dead battlefield, but the bonus from Reach the Stars did come in handy to finish off Mace.
I was able to down Mace relatively quickly but was left with a loaded up Ahsoka rolling out five dice on activation. This game really came down to the amazing mitigation I had in hand for two rounds in a row – I was able to get rid of all the base sides on his upgrade dice leaving him with Ahsoka modified sides he couldn’t do anything with.
Once my mitigation ran out he put serious pressure on Vader and this game really came down to the wire. Fortunately our last rolls saw me rolling out lethal and his coming out short, giving me time to resolve before he could finish me off.
Round 2 – Palpatine/Watto
I knew that Marisa had won Standard with this list and I wasn’t looking forward to go against a skilled pilot who I guessed had way more time piloting their deck than I had. This game was short and brutal. Vader rolled fire round 1, putting five damage on Palpatine after getting rid of the starting shields. A good chunk of that damage came from hot Vader rolls on both activation and in the Pit with Palpatine.
While Marisa had Force Storm in hand round 1 she ran out of resources while trying to mitigate Vader damage. By the time the round was nearing its close she decided it was a pointless decision to play it and assumed Palpatine would be dead before he could find the benefit. She claimed the battlefield to turn off Pit. After activating Palpatine I was able to Tactical Mastery into the five damage to finish off Palpatine. The game was a foregone conclusion after that .
Round 3 – Han3/Fenn Double Down
I am guilty of abusing Hyperspace Jumps with about a quarter of my decks including them in construction, but these Double Down decks take the abuse to new levels with three Hyperspace Jumps and three Retreats. Orlijn made me hate life and got off five of his six end-the-action-phase cards and made it so that Vader rarely rolled out. But this is where the beauty of Red Vader comes into play – he has enough Red action cheating to get around shutdown decks.
I honestly can’t remember when the Hyperspace Jumps and Retreats happened, there were just so many of them. I pegged Han with three damage early on and then got Jumped to switch out Pit with my opponent’s battlefield. Given that I had battlefield control before the Jump I went first, hitting a Tactical Mastery on Vader to hit double four-for-ones and killing Han. I thought that would be the end of the game, but Orlijn hung on and kept himself in the game and me on my toes until I was able to get the win. If Orlijn hadn’t had ice cold rolls on his Instigates and other action cheating rolls the game easily could have gone to him as he had the resources and the cards to end my action phase before I could do more than a single action.
The game wound up with my getting down a Fist and getting Jumped. And then me playing Tactical Master into a Spot Vader Fist power action, getting the three damage I needed to defeat Fenn before I got Jumped, again.
Round 4 – Solo Sabine
Matt and I have played competitive games before and they are always, always nail biters. My first reaction when I saw the pairings come up was “awww #$%.” On top of that, I continued my questionable decision to play in the Pit after winning the roll, giving Sabine two shields and pitting me against a character die that is almost as chunky as Vader’s. Questionable choices indeed.
Round 1 we decided we didn’t want to activate our characters – I Mind extracted Sabine and he played Tenacity on Vader. After that it was blow for blow, with Matt hitting max damage on two rolls (but only having action cheating to resolve one).
I got Jumped and Second Chance’d in all the right places. A lucky draw found a Dooku’s Saber in my hand when I needed a single point of damage to pop Second Chance and maximize my character dice damage for the round. This became very important when my Vader died, leaving my Trooper and Tactical Mastery and a 1/3rd chance to find two damage to win the game. Luck was on my side and I was able to move on to the last and fifth round for a chance at a World’s seat.
Round 5 – The Pit
Dass and I met undefeated in Round 5, with the mirror. The last time this happened at Denver I took my only loss from Dass and he went on to win the seat. That game was brutal as we both wanted a chance at the seat but its always tough to sit across from a friend and try to take them down (tougher for me than Dass, apparently). Our game in Redmond was a little different from that though…
Round 5 started up 8 minutes before the ETX raffle began. With every friend at the con in the Infinite tournament and us exhausted from 22 rounds of Destiny we decided to wrap up our game fast and fun and head to the raffle with everyone’s tickets to see if any of us won (we didn’t).
This was not a traditional game of Destiny, not by a long shot. But it was the most fun dice rolling I did all weekend. Our gentlemen’s agreement was to play in the Pit and only the Pit. His Vader took an early lead but my Vader was able to make a surprise comeback after his Vader entered the Pit and rolled blanks two rounds in a row. My Trooper entered the pit against his with a two shield advantage, but Dass’s FOST had advanced training and took down my Trooper. With a near dead Vader and a Trooper rolling hot, I was getting a bit worried. The final roll saw my Vader hit just enough to kill the poor soldier and his Trooper taking a dying shot at Vader leaving him with just enough health to get me the seat.
Should this sort of finals be allowed or any sort of scooping for that matter? Artificery’s record shows we support it, and better players on the Crew than I have scooped to allow strangers to get their seat to Worlds. If FFG wants this to change they have to put something on the line to sweeten the pot for repeat winners, especially if they ever decide to move to an invite only Worlds.
Taking the Pit every single time is a questionable decision that in retrospect I don’t regret. Throughout Standard and Infinite it put enough fear into my opponents’ that they were claiming early while we both had dice in the pool, leaving me with ample opportunity for control-free re-rolling. Having Reach the Stars pumped to the max is also important in many matches although I am exploring other cards to replace it.
I really enjoy Red Vader and I feel like it has an answer to everything in the meta. I’m going to continue developing my Standard list and getting more time in with the deck in the off-chance that we see a Convergence meta at Gen Con, this just might be the one.
Founder and Crew member of Artificery, Sean has played CCGs since the mid 90’s when his friend gave him a starter and then destroyed him with a Millstone deck. After an-off-and-on relationship with MTG, Sean stumbled across Destiny during the pre-release event in a sleepy game store in Portland and fell in love.
Sean runs weekly Destiny events at The Portland Game Store and enjoys organizing Regional events at historic Portland venues. When not chasing wins at tournaments across the country you can find him in the Artificery Discord under the made-up-name Pearl Yeti.
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