Vader/Raider SW:D Deck Recon

By: Kirk Buckendorf

As you may have noticed, I’ve only just started with Star Wars: Destiny. Our first weekend was spent playing the Rey and Kylo starter decks while we waited for our Saga sets to arrive. The next week, when they had arrived, we were still new enough to the game that we had to find a few decklists to try out and get our feet wet before delving into our own deck building ideas. I’m going into this with my brother, Eric and our friend Dane Young. There were some Top 8 decks posted recently on cardgamedb.com from a tournament in the Twin Cities area, so we looked them over along with some decks on swdestinydb.com. I, being the biggest Darth Vader fan had to build Bill Sweiden‘s Vader/Raider deck that won the Twin Cities tournament (Check it out by clicking the link, I hope to have card pop-ups here soon).

(Anakin? I don’t know of this, “Anakin,” of which you speak. I’ve been the biggest bad-ass in the galaxy since 1977.
Definitely not a whiny teenager, that would be stupid.)

Eric chose a Phasma/Bala-Tik, Trooper build he’d found that appealed to him swdestinydb.com that had done well at some other tournaments. Dane’s cards hadn’t arrived yet, so we built him a deck from our sets that didn’t overlap too much in one of the other Twin Cities Top 8 deck in Han/Rey. There was a Wednesday night event at Maximum Comics, so we took our decks to try them out and learn more about the game. There were 8 players, so we paired up for the first of 3 rounds. I played against a Count Dooku/Kylo Ren deck the first round and tried to play carefully to not make many mistakes and learn the cards in the deck. It felt pretty good as I learned more about what a really good deck with a focused strategy wants to do in a game. Vader/Raider is focused on rolling some big Melee damage, while using its Event and Upgrade cards to control the opponent’s dice.

(This is Chopper, right? It totally looks like Chopper… I hope it’s Chopper. Do you guys think it’s Chopper?
I hope we’ll see some Rebels as character cards at some point.)

Deflect, Electroshock, Feel Your Anger, He Doesn’t Like you, Isolation, Use the Force and the Special abilities on Force Choke and Force Throw all look to bend your opponents’ dice to your will, ether removing them as threats completely, or forcing your opponent to spend card and actions to re-roll them. I especially like the utility of Use the Force in that you can use it one your own dice or your opponent’s. I’d probably run both copies in future builds due to my own taste and play style. Deflect, Electroshock and He Doesn’t Like You feel like staple cards you’re going to want to run in any deck playing Blue or Yellow, and this deck feels like it runs Tusken Raider specifically to get access to these yellow cards.

(Oh, good, a Clone Wars character too… this bodes well that we’ll get some expanded universe characters soon.
Now where is a card with Dr. Aphra… I need some comics characters in this game as well.)

Force Strike, Intimidate, No Mercy, Back Up Muscle, and the rest of the Upgrades, except for Sith Holocron, add more damage dealing sides to Vader and Raider’s already heavy Melee damage output. Force Strike feels like it’s most effective in a deck that has multiple dice with 3 damage on one of its sides. No Mercy is a powerful finisher which I used a few times to really break a couple games. I used it in my third game against a Luke/Ackbar deck to take Luke out in the 2nd round crippling my opponent’s ability to put together any kind of damage. Because of this card, and the deck’s already strong melee damage output, I did feel like the single Intimidate wasn’t really needed. I’ll play with it some more, and I can see the merit of removing 3 shields for zero being the equivalent of doing 3 damage, but that’s still a little too situational for my taste (in that they need to have 3 shields on them for maximum benefit), and I’d probably switch this out for the second Use the Force which serves well in both offensive and defensive situations giving you a little more flexibility. In the games I’ve played, I haven’t looked at a character with 3 shields and felt I couldn’t do enough damage to get through those and put a few damage tokens on anyway. And for the decks that don’t play a lot of shields, it just makes the damage output that much more deadly without having a dead card in Intimidate.

I also want to point out the genius of this deck sticking to just the best 3 yellow cards (making 6 total yellow in the deck) to make sure No Mercy is still effective. Just awesome design.

(“Hey guys, ‘member Black Lotus?” “Yeah, I ‘member!”)

I’ve put all of the cards in this deck into two categories so far: Damage output or Dice Control, but there is one card that doesn’t fit into either of those and it’s Sith Holocron. I honestly don’t think it’s as broken as Black Lotus, but there are similarities. It’s a zero cost card that let’s you cheat the resource system a bit. Black Lotus for zero cost gave you 3 mana – but it was one time use. This was a HUGE swing on turn one, and still relevant in later turns as it would give you enough mana to cast multiple cards in a turn you’d normally only get to cast one. Sith Holocron also cheats the Resource System, but it has the added chance element of that ability being a 1 in 3 shot. But, if it’s one thing that really makes Star Wars: Destiny’s game design around dice and randomness work, it’s the inherent ability to “fix” those random rolls.

If you play Sith Holocron round 1 and roll its special ability, without needing to spend your opening 2 resource on anything else, you can get a free Force Throw or Mind Probe into play and still play a Force Choke or Force Training with your two left over resources. Or you have the option to roll the die of the Upgrade you cheated into play into your pool for 1 Resource instead of playing a second upgrade. I’ve already I mentioned I like options. If you switch in the Use the Force for Intimidate, you can even just combo Sith Holocron with it on your first turn making sure you get the Force Throw or Mind Probe into play along with getting its die rolled into your pool for your opening 2 resources and only loosing one card (Use the Force) from hand; because the Sith Holocron returns itself to your hand. Unlike Black Lotus, we’re not spending one card of advantage when it is used. It comes back to either be played again or discarded later in the game to re-roll some dice.

Again, it’s definitely not as broken here as Black Lotus was in Magic, but any card that helps cheat a game’s inherent resource system will be abused; especially as more high-cost Upgrade abilities are released with new sets. If you don’t like playing against it now, wait for future sets.

So back to the games I played that night with the deck. I won the first match against Dooku/Kylo and then had a mirror match the second round. This was good, because it gave me a chance to see someone play the deck that had logged more hours than I had. Of course, it wasn’t a card for card mirror, but that’s almost always true and we call them mirror matches anyway. Anyways… I’d been cramming and studying as much of this games info as I could the past few nights, but just reading all 170-whatever cards isn’t going to reveal all the tricks and secrets; especially for me, I’m going to skim over and miss a lot of things. You need to play some games, and see the cards work to really get to know them and this is when I learned what is obviously one of the coolest (or not, depending on how you look at it) things about Sith Holocron: It doesn’t have any color restrictions AND it specifically ignores the restrictions of the card it cheats into play.

So I was especially tickled when my opponent played it on his Tuskan Raider and proceed to have that Raider “learn” how to Mind Probe me the first turn. Of course the card works that way, but no matter how hard I study, until I get some games in and see the cards in action, these are the little things that make playing and discovery fun. Needless to say, I lost that game, but I enjoyed playing Star Wars: Destiny immensely. I’m still very impressed at how well they’ve incorporated dice into a game without letting the volatility overtake your ability to mitigate the randomness with smart plays. Kudos to Bill for this list and to those who came before and inspired it, as it feels super solid. I’d only make the one change I’d mentioned in swapping out the Intimidate for Use the Force, but that’s probably more to cater to my play style.

(I lied… I’d also cram another one of these in because IT’S KYLO REN’S FREAKIN’ LIGHTSABER)

My third match, I played against the Luke/Akbar deck and won, so I ended up going 2-1 for third place out of 8 players. It was a fun night and everyone was awesome and patient in helping us learn the game a little better. I’ve played some more games with it against Dane, Eric and friends playing some other decks like Eric’s Phasma/Bala/Trooper and a Jango/Veers deck and Vader/Raider still feels like the most Powerful. Against Jango with other decks I HATE activating my characters and giving him the free activation, but with Vader I didn’t mind as much, because his dice were just so much more powerful.

This week we’ll play at another store for a Thursday night event, and this time I want to try a decklist I came up with. It’s still influenced by this deck, but with two completely different characters. I think it will have even more of a Melee attack output, and most of the same blue the dice control cards, but with some discard stuff I want to try out as well. I’ll report back next with my list and how it fared.

-Kirk

(Also, here’s a sneak peek at a “Darkside” PlayMat I’m working one. This is just a color sketch, and I’ll probably add some Tie Fighters to it, and make a “Lightside” version as well)