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The Assembly Line: Deck Building with Trey – The Special Kids

Update: Because I have all the power with this site, I can add blurbs from folks who really appreciate what I’m doing after articles are already published. From the Coaxium Discord, moments after posting the link.

So, it’s been a while, like a long while, since I dazzled my fine readers with wit and wisdom surrounding one of my deck concoctions. I don’t have much defense except to say that the advent of A Renewed Hope cards has really kept me busy with Kingwood Hobbies, and I just haven’t felt up to it. I’ve still been deckbuilding for my Wednesday night shenanigans, though, so I have a long list of delicious brews to send your way. For my first foray back into the deck writing game I’m going with my baby. This is the deck I’ve been coaxing along for months now. With the writing bug hitting me again, this is the one I want to share immediately.

One of the major themes in ARH sets has been the Inquisitors. If you’re unfamiliar with these rapscallions, they show up in the post-prequel, pre-OG trilogy era. Despite the vast majority of the Jedi getting the wrong end of several dozen E-11 blasters, some few of them escaped Order 66. Ole Palpy was having none of that, however, so he decided to form a crack squad of twisted Force users to help the remaining Jedi survivors become one with the Force. This crack team was known as the Inquisitorius. Known only by a number and their gender (Ninth Sister, Sixth Brother), these individuals raced around the galaxy whacking Jedi on the noggin with the scary red lightsabers in an attempt to fulfill the Emperor’s wishes.

The Inquisitors have been represented in Destiny’s history a number of times. Empire at War gave us the first two versions of these characters in The Grand Inquisitor and Seventh Sister. Ole GI was mostly a dud, but Seventh Sister was a knockout, landing in multiple Tier 1 decks of her era. Way of the Force rounded out the last of FFG’s attempts to make Inquisitors with the dud, Fifth Brother.

Four more sets from FFG crossed our paths with nary a mention of these baddies, but that was all rectified when ARH took over development. Inquisitors are literally everywhere. So much so that I think they might be someone’s pet project. Faltering Allegiances had Ninth Sister and Second Sister as well as the plot, The Inquisitorius. Redemption brought us Cunning-on-a-stick, Tenth Brother. High Stakes introduced us to a new version of the Grand Inquisitor. Of the eleven unique Blue villain character cards in ARH-created sets, 36% of them are Inquisitors. Someone’s got a fetish, y’all.

Despite us being waist-deep in inquisitorium options, they’ve actually not seen that much play. So much so that both Ninth Sister and Second Sister had their points dropped in an effort to boost their playability. It’s the very lack of playtime that piqued my interest, however, as I have a crushing need to prove I’m smarter than everyone else by whipping them with their own castoffs.

The first iteration of the deck was quite easy. Nearly all the cards that felt like they wanted to be in the deck fit, and there weren’t really all that many tough decisions to make. Many of Blue villain’s normal options come with the word ‘Sith’ explicitly written on them, so that knocked a bunch of options off the board immediately. There were some tweaks when things didn’t work as I expected (Malice might just be bad, folks) and some additions when later sets were released, but it was actually playing the deck that required a lot of adjustment. I had to shape what I naturally want to do to what the deck was offering to really get the most out of it. Once I surrendered to the cards, however, this stack o’ thirty has become something to be feared on Wednesday nights at Dragon’s Lair. This deck regularly drops, and uses twice, Shien Mastery in the first round.

May I present, The Special Kids

The Squad

The point values on this team line up just like they were designed. Second Sister got that one-point drop, but it was completely unnecessary. This is the team you want. Four dice geared around getting exactly what you want with enough points left over for a completely free soft mitigation action every round. (soft mitigation or soft removal is when you turn a die away from a side your opponent would like to resolve rather than simply removing the die. It’s called ‘soft’ because your opponent has an opportunity to undo the removal)

There haven’t been that many good battlefields for this deck recently. As a control deck, it’s not going to claim all that often unless you’re foregoing some juiciness, so I don’t really want anything that’s going to power up my enemies. For the longest time Valley of the Dark Lords was what I ran with. There’s a lot of character-specific dice removal in this deck, and it was nice to have a panic button to get out of situations where my cards were telling me ‘character die only’ while the die threatening my demise came from an upgrade or support.

That all changed with the release of this dumb reprint list, however. If you’re going to give me free specials, or, more accurately, terrify my opponent into giving me shields because I’m not winning the roll-off with character dice this small, I’m going to take it. Enter Emperor’s Throne Room. I am a little sad, though. Valley of the Dark Lords was interesting and different. Emperor’s Throne Room is easy and boring.

The Deck – Upgrades

With one character’s special saying, “Be any other special” and the other character’s special saying, “Special Chain that other guy’s dice”, the upgrades were always going to be about abilities doing neat special stuff. All of the upgrades have specials and all of those specials are awesome.

These are the heart and soul of the deck. Once you land these on the board you don’t even need to roll their specials to get their specials. It’s great if you do, but either Tenth Brother‘s dice or Second Sister‘s dice into Tenth Brother‘s dice get you everything you need out of these cards. I tell you, there is nothing like ruining someone’s night by resolving four Shien Mastery dice in the same round. I can do that in Round 1. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

The final card is a relatively new addition to the deck. Force Crush is absolutely soul-destroying. Essentially a soft removal version of Reversal on a stick, it’s one of those cards that tips the normal, I-want-my-opponent-to-roll-bad-while-they-want-to-roll-good dynamic on its head. They’re soiling themselves afraid that they’re going to walk those giant dice they’re tossing right into you slapping them across the face with them, and you’re making that creepy Jack Nicholson nodding gif begging them to throw the nuts. The only downside to Force Crush is that you have so much other mitigation running around that you don’t always need this special, and there really aren’t any other sides that do something you want. It’s either soul-destroying or whiff, there’s no in-between. For that reason, I only have the one.

The Deck – Supports

For all the cards in Standard that irksomely have the word ‘Sith’ on them, there are some shockingly good bits of cardboard catering specifically to Inquisitors. One of the things I love the most about sleeving up something off-the-wall is my opponent having to pick up and read a card they’ve never really internalized as it smacks them about the face and neck. In this case, I’m talking about Interrogation Chair.

At first glance, this bit of chicanery may not look like much, but you have to remember that there are certain dice sides you simply cannot resolve. If you point this at a modified Blue side, a paid side when they’re broke, or a blank they are completely unable to fulfill the ‘unless they resolve that die’ part of the card, and are simply stuck with taking two to the face. In a deck that specializes (<-lol, I really didn’t do that on purpose) in turning dice to blanks this translates simply to “Take 2” every single round. That’s a heck of a return on your investment of one card and one resource.

The second piece of interesting tech here is the inclusion of Prescient Leap. Because the dice in this deck tend to chain together, (resolve this die to turn that die to a special and resolve it), you’re going to be constantly ticking up this bomb. There are so many splashy upgrades in the game today that it often comes in handy to be able to dispose of them. If they’re not playing upgrades, though, this makes for a good pitch-to-reroll choice.

The final array of supports come in the form of money makers. This deck tosses big, feisty cards around. It has a voracious appetite for money, and it absolutely wants that money immediately. That’s why I have one more card slot than normal dedicated to generating the cash.

The Deck – Events

Because we have so much small removal wrapped up in the cards we already have on the board (our plot, Second Sister‘s ability, all of our upgrades, Tenth Brother looking at any of the above) we don’t need to devote any event slots at all to it. We can load up on those bomb-ass multi-dice removal cards that can really blow our opponent out of the round.

Your Powers are Weak is just a misery-inducing play for two resources. I’ll take three Hidden Motives that blank the die if it misses, please. The number of times I remove three dice with this is just ugly.

Dark Dispatch is a really interesting card in that it mucks up two dice, one permanently, but then also adds a high-damage die to our side of the table. I’ve finished off characters with that Purge Trooper die a number of times.

Pincer Movement is gross. Y’all seriously, it’s just gross. I have a really tough time keeping my poker face when I pull this off the top of my deck. There’s a flow to this playing this thing, both playing it and playing against it. One of the contributors to this flow is that most of my mitigation comes from dice in my pool. If my opponent can get the jump on me and get their dice into the pool before I can roll out, they will have a window to resolve something bonkers before I can respond. Deep into a game when my opponent has figured that out, they tend to claim early to make sure they have the battlefield and then immediately roll their best character into the pool. It makes sense because they want the juiciest dice out there before I can do anything about them. It’s in that moment that I break their will. Spend a resource, plunk down Pincer Movement, and watch their spirit flee their body. Not only do I utterly wreck everything they just did, but I put ALL of my dice into the pool to set up the rest of the round. The entire moment flips from them being the aggressor to a moment of “oh shit, I’m going to die if I don’t do something about this plethora of dice”. It warms the cockles of my heart.

Contentions Opportunity is a card I resisted for a long time. I hadn’t really recognized the power of rolling a die back into my pool after an opponent’s dealt with it. I’ve always wanted to focus on my remaining dice and move forward. After finally seeing it in action, however, I’m hooked. Again we go to the fact that this deck wants to chain all its dice together for MAXIMUM DISCOMFORT. Having that die back out there gives us more links in that chain and more opportunities to wreck stuff.

Harness the Force exists because sometimes you don’t roll the specials. It’s always satisfying to see the relief on my opponent’s face that they dodged the special barrage only to ignite that chain with a card from my hand.

No Mercy is in here because you sometimes, not often but sometimes, just need to pitch your hand to murder a dude. Spending two to deal 6 and off someone out of nowhere is alright in my book.

Playing the Deck

If you decide to sleeve this list up you’re going to learn from my long list of mistakes, but dammit, you’re going to spend some time reading about them first. In hindsight, it all makes perfect sense, but that’s the beauty of hindsight. Things you smash your head-on at the time end up looking easy once you figure them out.

There were two main issues I ran into early in the deck’s development. Soft removal and money.

While hard removal (pointing at some dice and declaring that your opponent get that crap out of the pool) is always the same, Vader escapades aside, soft removal is heavily dependent on the overall state of Destiny. Because your opponent always has the option to pitch and reroll, the probability dynamics of what they will hit when they reroll contributes mightily to what soft mitigation can really do. If I’m trying to stay alive by turning your die from a 3 melee side to a blank, it’s a lot more effective if that’s the only damage side on the die. If that die is five 3 melee sides and the blank, a pitch to reroll is probably going to get them right back where they want to be.

The state of Destiny today is that it has some seriously BLADDOW! dice being tossed around. The main die that won the first World Championships looked like the one on the left, while the die on the right can’t even find a home any more. Power creep is real, y’all. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s something we must contend with if we’re going to rely on soft mitigation.

Early in this deck’s development, this was a huge deal. I was turning dice only to have my opponent pitch something and get 80% of the goodness right back in the pool. I wasn’t losing my dudes in Round 1, but I was so far behind that I simply couldn’t catch up.

For a long time, I was convinced that the answer was cards that hit the opponent’s hand. The rationale there being that an opponent facing the hard choice of playing that last card in their hand or pitching it to reroll was good for me. It’s the reason I relied on Malice for so long. That’s a one-drop upgrade with multiple discard sides as well as specials that do some damage while their dice are blanked. In theory, it was great. In reality, it was simply too slow. It just took too many actions to both flip their dice and take cards out of their hand.

Eventually, Malice hit the dustbin in favor of Niman Training. I figured out another way to make the soft mitigation work and was able to remove a bad card for something that contributed to my game plan.

The second, and biggest issue I faced was money. If you want to scroll up again and look at the cards I’m slinging, they ain’t cheap. It was taking me forever to build up enough resources to drop those tasty upgrades. This was intertwined with the soft mitigation problem because I was essentially relying on that soft removal to stay alive for a round or two while I built up the cash to let those big hammer upgrades take over. With a little luck, I could get there, but my kids had taken quite the beating during the process. It’s rough trying to win when your game plan starts with half-dead characters.

The solution to this wasn’t a card change but gaining more understanding of the deck. Up until this point, Second Sister had kinda been that red-headed stepchild that wasn’t quite as loved as the more popular kid. Tenth Brother does some WHACKY stuff with his dice and is the reason I wanted to give this deck a go. The Sister was just there to maybe muck up a die on activation, bring that plot online, and sometimes win games by flipping a Tenth Brother die to deal 4 melee damage. She just wasn’t a strong pairing with TB.

That’s on me, though. Second Sister is AMAZING. Once you learn how to play her correctly, she lights the booster rockets that fling this deck into outer space. She has go juice that I never dreamed of when I started tinkering with this. Imagine this sequence of plays: (this is the Magical Christmasland version, but you can do 80% of this regularly in Round 1)

  • Early in your turns you activate Second Sister, hitting literally anything on both dice. You’re also turning an opponent’s die to something that matches whatever hurts them the most.
  • You pay two resource to drop Niman Mastery on Tenth Brother, turning one of your Second Sister dice to a special.
  • You resolve your Second Sister special to turn her other side to a resource. That’s two resources for you unless, sweet baby Jesus, they have a resource showing. Then, you get three resources.
  • Overwrite Niman Mastery with Shien Mastery. Toss that die into your pool. Some sides are better than others, but anything you get is going to be sweet, sweet sauce.
  • Activate Tenth Brother. You literally just rolled three dice into your pool with the ability to rip off a Shien special. IN ROUND ONE!
Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4

The catch there was me learning that Second Sister can make INSANE MONEY early in the game when you need it, and then switch to dealing out the blows later when you’re trying to finish the opponent off. By embracing Second Sister and learning her ways, this deck went from something I was tinkering with that got beat regularly to something that people fear at the tables of Dragon’s Lair. This also solved my problem with the soft mitigation because I was able to back it up instantly with hard removal. You want to pitch to reroll something better because I ruined what you already had? That’s fine, but you’re doing it into my multiple Shien Mastery dice. Good luck.

This deck is super fun to play because it totally fits my controlling play style. If you’re looking for something that’s going to roll sticks all the time and pound your opponent into the dirt, this isn’t it. This is going to frustrate that person across the table to no end over and over and over as you do just enough to make them feel like they can’t make any headway in killing you.

A few other tips before I go:

  • Always keep an eye on your opponent’s cards for juicy specials to hit with Tenth Brother‘s dice. They hit anything, and it’s even more satisfying to win by resolving their specials than it is yours. Don’t be too obvious about it though, because they’re likely to forget that from time to time. I dunno, fly casual.
  • Just because you have a million specials on the board does not mean that you have to resolve them all in one go. Use just enough to break up what the bad guy is doing while keeping yourself loaded for whatever they come back with.
  • If they have a million dice in the pool and only one of them is what they want, it’s often best to let them hit you for two rather than softly mitigate that die. They’re going to pitch to reroll anyway, so you want to save that die turn for when they can’t fix it. Turning their die into an obvious reroll situation opens you up to getting blown out by big rerolls.
  • Thoroughly exhaust the mitigation you have on the table before you start firing away with the big cards in your hand. They know you can break their rolls with what you have showing, so they’re going to try and play around it. Often, it will take everything they have to get through what you have showing. If they finally break through and you have nothing left out there, that’s when you hit them with the card you’re holding that ruins their whole round.

And that’s it! I hope you found something in here you want to sleeve up, or at least you were entertained. Until next time! (it won’t be another year, I promise).