Exploring Pace in Destiny
By: Dane Young
Dug In is unplayable.
Okay, stop yelling, it’s a great card. Sheesh.
But I do think it’s unplayable in some decks, which has become sort of a thought exercise in what I want to call “pace” in Star Wars: Destiny. Let’s explore what I think is a core concept of the game.
I started playing Destiny using a lot of Rey-based decks. Part of me found her explosiveness fun, but more than just taking a bunch of actions in a row, I liked flying through turns and being able to claim the battlefield so that I could go first again the next turn. That fast pace is what I think draws a lot of players to Rey, despite her dice being really bad.
Similarly, Jango Fett lets you speed up the pace basically whenever you want (usually after you put a weapon on him). This is part of what makes people so uncomfortable playing against him, leading them to operate in a manner that is counter to their deck’s inherent pace. Yes it is scary to roll into a loaded Jango, but unless you have a solid plan to play around it (unlikely), completely changing the way your deck wants to operate is a good way to fail.
My current working theory is that you want your deck to operate at either a fast or slow pace, and you should typically avoid being somewhere in-between. Once you figure out which end of the spectrum you want to work from, your card choices should match. This means Dug In isn’t an auto-include in a slow, four character rainbow control deck, and you need to consider how much a support card slows your pace down if you want to be fast (think First Order Tie Fighter in Jango/Veers).
“But Dug In is so good!”
Like I said: it is a great card. But it’s useless if you can’t play it when you draw it.
How often do you control the battlefield with your deck? 90 percent of the time? 50 percent? 25 or less? Can you play Dug In (or Defensive Position, or any other card with stringent requirements) regularly when you draw it? If not, it may be a mistake to include in your deck regardless of its power level. This issue is magnified on teams of more than two characters in a format dominated by two character teams. Remember, all of your cards have the ability to be discarded to reroll–you don’t want to include cards that only have that ability.
Think about this example: you’re playing Ackbar/Hired Gun/Hired Gun against Jango/Veers. Your deck is built to collect a sack of resources and power out expensive, slow supports like Millennium Falcon and Launch Bay. Jango/Veers is built to dish out damage and disrupt you a little. When, especially after you get a Millennium Falcon into play, are you going to have control of the battlefield? Given that Jango/Veers has one less character, little-to-no slow support cards, and the ability to accelerate with Jango naturally, I believe the answer is somewhere around never. You could bend over backward and waste a lot of dice to claim the battlefield, but that would just give give the opponent free reign to dish out damage and probably kill one or two of your characters. And yes, you would have the battlefield for the next turn, but that’s not guaranteed for subsequent turns. So as powerful as Dug In and Defensive Position are, they seem like awkward fits here. Of course, those cards can be good early if you get the battlefield from the roll-off, but you need to both draw them and start with your battlefield for that to happen.
So how am I putting this theory into practice?
As I mentioned, I started off my Destiny experience by playing a lot of Rey decks–both Han and Poe versions. As I got more comfortable with the game, I started trying to really push the pace with more action cheats, ranging from the ubiquitous Holdout Blaster on Rey, Hit and Run/All In combos, and I really focused on firing off my hand as quickly as possible so that I could dig through my deck. What I learned was that while I was able to do a lot of cool things, playing at such a fast pace against an opponent who was able to deal with my extreme pace left me strained for resources and cards in hand, and at the mercy of my rolls. Sometimes I would rush a bunch of mixed die faces into the pool (one of the huge problems with current popular Rey decks (by the way, I think you should usually kill Rey first)) and have to take forever to resolve them, giving the opponent a window to disrupt me before rolling out themselves.
Yes, I controlled the battlefield often, which let me play Dug In and Defensive Position, but that’s yet more actions spent doing no damage against an opponent who has accepted the fact that I am the aggressor in the game and adjusted his plan accordingly. And when you’re staring at a bunch of modified sides with no black damage, are you going to sit on that Defensive Position hoping for a blowout that might not materialize, or are you going to discard it to reroll in hopes of getting damage in this turn?
Now I’m starting to look at slow decks like Hyperloop, Dooku, and Phasma control decks. I started with two Dug In in each of them because that was popular opinion, but after a couple of games I started to think about how slow these decks are, and how rarely I’d be able to play them when I needed them in the midgame. I asked my friends what they thought about taking them out and got the “it’s too good to not play” claim from them, but what good is a theory if you don’t test it, right?
I’m happy to report that things have been going well since I started embracing my deck’s inherent pace. I’ve been able to win games with the replacements for Dug In that I can actually play when drawn, and by not worrying about having the battlefield I have been able to play more slow cards like First Order Tie Fighter and Speeder Bike Scout. It will be interesting to see if this pace theory continues to hold up after Spirit of Rebellion, which looks like it will speed up the game even more with all the damage faces it’s providing thus far.
And we can’t forget about the action cheats I mentioned earlier: Hit and Run, Tactical Mastery, Squad Tactics, All In and It’s a Trap! can really catch an opponent off guard by speeding up your pace out of nowhere, letting you set up big turns and follow-up plays that can swing a close game. Even when they are expecting you to have these effects, there’s often little they can do to play around them. For example, the ability to play a lot of these action cheats is a big reason why the eLeia/eAckbar guns deck is very good, even when the opponent knows they exist.
Those are my basic thoughts on pace and card selection. I would love your feedback–agreement, disagreement, counterarguments, situations I’m missing that would be correct to play off-pace cards like Dug In in the Ackbar/Hired Gun/Hired Gun deck–so that we can discuss it as a community and continue to grow the game. Thank you for reading and I look forward to the discussions!
P.S. Is anyone interested in watching my Tabletop Simulator League (Season 2) games? With or without commentary?