Posted on Leave a comment

DraftWerks – The First Houston Destiny Draft

Scroll to the bottom for a glossary of draft slang as well as my notes for running your own draft.

Initial Thoughts

  • This is the most fun I’ve had in Destiny in a while, and I like constructed, a lot. I love seeing cards that are good, but not “the best” get play. They affect the game in slightly different ways than expected and result in different, and wholly enjoyable, game play. From my brief discussions with the other folks in the draft, they all felt the same way. Rivals is going to change Destiny in a very good way.
  • The tournament structure, as outlined in the official rules, is just too long. When you play with worse cards it’s going to take you longer to win (or lose, but let’s stay optimistic here). Playing five matches at this pace takes forever. Add on top of that the time it takes to actually draft the cards, and you’re looking at a five hour event. That’s fine for a high level tournament where I’ve dedicated my whole day to slinging cards, but a pickup tournament should be no more than three and a half hours from start to finish. You can mitigate the time by enforcing the match length, but with the much longer game play you’re just forcing more matches into tiebreakers rather than an actual winner. That doesn’t feel optimal to me. My suggestion is to run three rounds of Swiss with a single match playoff for the winner, but extend the time length (or just remove it) to allow more matches to play to a natural conclusion.
  • Did I mention this was fun?

Draft Rules Recap

For those of you a bit fuzzy on the specifics of a draft, it boils down to this. I’ve included some tournament structure notes for things that aren’t listed in any official document from FFG. 

  • Players sit around a table.

*STRUCTURE NOTE* There are no official rules for how to order players around the table. I used five cards with cost 1 – 5 on them and had the players pull a random card. I was spot 0/6

  • Players have 6 packs of Destiny in front of them. Everyone should have the same mix of packs, but it’s not required. We each had two from the existing sets.
  • Players choose and crack three of their packs. (Most folks chose one of each, I chose two AWK packs just to be different).
  • Set all the dice you opened in front of you. They will stay there for the duration of the draft.
  • Each player flips through their fifteen cards, chooses one, places it face down in front of themselves, and then sets the remaining fourteen cards next to the player on their left.

*STRUCTURE NOTE* You’re going to have a lot of face down piles of Destiny cards in front of you, especially near the end of the draft. Minimize the confusion by waiting for everyone to select their card and put the remaining pile down before picking up the next pack.

  • Players then take the fourteen cards from their right, and repeat the selection process.
  • Continue until all the cards are gone.
  • Players take a moment to review their fifteen cards.

*STRUCTURE NOTE* In other games, high level tournaments run at Prison Rules level do not allow you to look through your drafted cards in between picks, only between packs. At less Prison Rules-y drafts you can flip your previous choices at your leisure. With no official rules for Destiny we chose the more relaxed approach for this draft.

  • Players crack the remaining three packs, repeating the drafting process above, but this time the packs are all passed right.

*STRUCTURE NOTE* Another thing the official rules don’t address is how to get the dice to their owners. We chose to go with a pass method. After the card selection portion of the draft is complete look at the six dice in front of you, choose the dice you drafted, and pass the rest right. Continue until everyone has all of their dice.

  • Finally, everyone finds a spot to build their deck. Combine all the cards you just drafted with the Rivals set you brought with you and build the best deck and team you can. While color rules are still in effect, (no Yellow cards unless you’re playing Yellow characters), Villain/Hero faction restrictions go right out the window. Feel free to plop that Sith Holocron down on Jar Jar Binks and make that fan theory a reality. You’re still limited to 30 point teams, but the deck can be anywhere from 20 to 30 cards. If things went WAY wrong, you’re not stuck throwing in every bit of garbage just to make a deck.
  • Once your deck and team are assembled, simply play everyone else one time. Whoever wins the most matches wins the tournament.

That’s fine dude, I know the rules. How did YOUR draft go?

I hosted a draft at Kingwood Hobbies HQ on Friday 12/15, inviting some of the stiffest competition in Houston to partake in the first draft in the area. The stakes? A box of Empire at War to the winner.

  • Lawton Burkhalter – Only two-time Store Champs winner in the Houston area.
  • Justin Strickland – Store Champs winner (Austin) and second place at the Austin regionals. This dude owns Austin, apparently.
  • Michael Moomey – Perennial top tabler at Houston area tournaments with multiple Store Champs top 4s.
  • Josh Devara – Tournament ringer from the south side of Houston (this place is big, ya’ll)
  • Matt Giese – Regular in the top end of the Store Champs series and always a tough competitor.
  • Me – A Very Tall Man, now sporting the saddest mohawk you’ve ever seen.

PACK 1

  • My first pick was between Force PushRebel Trooper, and The Best Defense… The pack had an Outpost in it, but no, not P1P1 (Pack 1 Pick 1). Being influenced by the FFG article on drafting I was almost settled on the Rebel Trooper before I woke up and realized that I already had characters, and instead needed cards that actually did something. Force Push hit the table in front of me.
  • P1P2 was a windmill slam of C-3PO. Honest to god I think this may be the biggest bomb in the entire Awakenings cycle. Dice, and particularly dice faces, are at a premium.
  • Pack 1 proceeded with various comments around the table about crap getting passed, some counting to see how many idiots didn’t take this crazy-good card right here, and tough decisions about what to do with our decks.

Pack 1 Notes

PACK 2

  • I have no idea what I opened in the first two packs of round two of this draft, because seeing the Handcrafted Lightbow die staring back at me from the third immediately blasted every other card from my head. It took longer to get the pack wrappers to the middle of the table than it did for me to plop down the HCLB.
  • This going so fast allowed me to peek over to my left (where my next pack was coming from), and salivate over the goodies coming my way. Josh had opened both an LR1K Sonic Cannon AND an AT-ST. I think I did a little hop-dance in my chair waiting to see the joy this next pass would bring. It was also wonderfully seeing Justin’s face crash down when we all reminded him that this pass was to the right, and he wasn’t getting any of this.
  • Initially I’d hoped for the Cannon (I’m going to have crappy characters to pay its sides and it’s cheaper), but ended up having to “settle” for the AT-ST. Somehow I’d live with the disappointment.

Pack 2 Notes

  • I had a rough decision at one point between Field Medic and Leadership. The thought of tapping crappy Lobot (note, NOT crappy) to get a second Anakin activation was enticing, but in the end I went with the guaranteed damage mitigation. That decision may have been correct, but it came back to haunt me in a game I had to luck my way into winning.
  • Somehow a Magnaguard made it to me well after all the dice cards should have been gone. Up until then I was on the Anakin/Lobot/Jawa plan, but at 9 points Magnaguard lets me swap that Jawa for Ketsu Onyo. Not only is she a much stronger character than Jawa Scavenger, but it would open me up to play that sweet Diplomatic Immunity I snagged on a whim in P1 in addition to some pretty good Rivals cards.
  • All of that yellow talk was made moot when these people passed me Kanan. Now I have TWO blue melee characters for the Force PushGuardFuneral Pyre, and Isolation in my stack. Thank you gents, I’m now on the Kanan/Anakin/Magnaguard plan.
  • The final notable thing in the selection portion of the draft was what a joke Luminara is. For all the talk in the FFG article of snagging characters first, Luminara ended up being my P2P15 booby prize. Good dice sides in theory, but that ridiculous cost makes her hot garbage in practice.

DECK BUILDING

  • I will get into my draft deck building process more once I refine it further (besides, I can’t dump everything in one article), but there were some interesting choices to be made.
  • For one, I noticed that my team of Anakin/Kanan/Magnaguard could also be Anakin/Kanan/Lobot. The high cost of some of my cards making the pay sides on Magnaguard tough, combined with the Lobot special to go with Emperor’s Throne Room, I made the switch to my final team arrangement of Anakin/Lobot/Kanan.
  • I picked up an All In that I wanted to play, but with extremely few focus sides I swapped it for the Deploy Squadron I’d picked up earlier. That ended up being the right call.

Dem Games

Round 1 vs Lawton
This was quite a back and forth game that saw some fun plays on both sides. It never really felt like I was losing, but it never really felt like I had that much of an advantage. Lawton managed to land Detention Center (which rivals C-3PO for draft bomb status) along with Fang Fighter and Z-95 Headhunter, while I tried to stave off damage and roll out my crappiest character die first each round.

I finally managed to land the AT-ST, but my greediness got to me for one activation. The AT-ST die was sitting out on a Special for my first action. I was trying to make Lawton commit to rolling out one of his shooty supports so that I could get extra value when he used He Doesn’t Like You to completely erase it. That one hurt.

In the final round of the game I had all three characters while Lawton had lost one. We were both down to our final cards when he ended up paying for a mistake. His plan to kill me was to use Undying Loyalty to never run out of cards. With that and two other cards in his hand, he pitched [IRRELEVANT CARDNAME] in hand to reroll some damage. Some sides came up that were not nearly enough to kill me, so I used C-3PO‘s action to resolve the 2Ra (2 Ranged Damage side) from Force Push as a discard. I blew the remaining cards from his hand and won the game.

1-0

Round 2 vs Josh
This was the battle of the big guns. AT-ST vs. LR1K Cannon. Fortunately, I held the trump in that my big gun could kill his big gun. It didn’t come down to that, though, as I landed AT-ST very early, and it took him quite a while to find the Cannon. Although this game was fun as hell, there weren’t too many interesting plays. I did manage to Lobot special the AT-ST 5Ra1 (5 Ranged Damage for 1 Resource) to shoot for 7, the most damage I’ve ever resolve on a single die in my time playing Destiny. Turns out when one side is the only one bringing a gun to the gunfight, it’s over pretty quickly.

2-0

Round 3 vs Matt
Matt was the first person to kill one of my characters. We went back and forth, but he wasn’t able to land any of his more interesting cards to make the game go long. Matt did have the idea to attack the opponent’s deck by including cards like Patience and Local Patrol. I think this is an interesting choice that would have paid more dividends if the game had gone longer. 

​3-0

Round 4 vs Justin
Justin was pretty unhappy with his deck’s performance up to this point. He was 1-2, and the cards just weren’t turning over the way he’d hoped. Goody for me, his luck decided to change just in time to sit down across from me. yay. He won the roll and chose my battlefield. I’d been terrified I was going to get burned by my opponent’s Lobot on just this sort of situation all night, and it turns out my fear was completely founded. Justin is an excellent player who knows when it advances his game more to claim the battlefield early (thus denying it from your opponent) even if it means leaving a few options on the table from your own round.

This meant his Lobot had to go. All of my dice focus-fired on Lobot attempting to blast him off the table while Justin developed his board elsewhere. There was one turn where I sat on a Force Push special turn after turn waiting for Anakin‘s character and upgrade dice to reroll something worth Pushing. He finally rerolled into something I needed to stop, so I used the special to blank two dice. His next action was to claim and use his Lobot die to resolve a resource for three. He opened the next round with at least five resources, and never looked back. Upgrades fell from his hand like rain on Anakin and the Outer Rim Smuggler while I tried to knock Lobot off.

At one point I claimed super early to whack Lobot away, foregoing a Kanan activation to do so. Justin casually pitched to reroll, and God Roll appeared. While I stared, unable to do anything, Anakin got beat in the head for all the damages, and I had to flip him face down and bin all his upgrades. My other characters fought valiantly, but with my three dice staring down his fully tarted up ORS and Anakin, there was no hope. 🙁

3-1

Round 5 vs Michael
This was the scariest match I’ve played in a while. Michael completely owned me from the get-go. I couldn’t get resources to play my Big Guns, and Bala-Tik went nuts. He was able to get THREE extra activations out of Bala over the course of the game, and this was with him sporting the DL-44 and Ascension Gun akimbo. It happened once when he killed Lobot, once when he killed Anakin, and finally, when I got cute and didn’t off Lobot with the damage I had on the table, Leadership tapped the soon-to-die Lobot to ready Bala.

The game finally turned when I pulled off a hell of a play. I’d spent the entire previous turn waling on Bala with Anakin, only to lose the fight between the two. Bala dropped infinite shields on himself, and had a bunch of damage and Lobot specials to pew-pew my guys. The round ended with my side of dead Anakin, dead Lobot, and half dead Kanan with an upgrade (it was a Lightbow, but it wasn’t rolling well), while he had a fully healthed Anakin and a Bala with four damage and all the guns. I began by rolling out Kanan and hitting a Kanan Focus side plus 2Ra on the Lightbow. His action removed the Lightbow die, and mine rolled out Fang Fighter into nothing useful. He followed by rolling Bala-tik into so much damage that would kill a real horse. It was do something or die on my part. After thinking about it for a moment, I declared my action.

  1. Use Kanan‘s ability to resolve his die. Resolving the Focus to turn the Fang Fighter die to 3Ra.
  2. Use Supporting Fire as my action to resolve the Fang Fighter‘s 3Ra die for four damage, offing Bala and removing all those scary dice from the pool.

That wasn’t the end of the game though, I just didn’t die yet. He still had an Anakin to deal with, and I was trying to do it with a half dead, and already spent for the turn, Kanan.

The next round he was able to snipe Kanan down to 2 health remaining, while I was pounding away with Lightbow and Force Push. In the end, I had to dodge four of his Fang Fighter rolls across two rounds while mitigating Anakin‘s dice with the likes of High GroundForce Push special, and Isolation. For my first action in the final round I rolled out Kanan and hit enough damage (2) to end the game. Instead of being able to try the third go-round on the Fang Fighter die, he had to do something about mine, so he played Scramble. I ended up rerolling into even more damage and taking the match. What a hell of a game.

4-1

The final tally ended with me at 4-1, Justin, Lawton, and Josh at 3-2, and Michael and Matt at 1-4. Since it was my tournament, though, I couldn’t win my own box of EaW, so the box went to Justin on the strength of tiebreakers. Him being the only one to defeat the 4-1 player.

Congrats to Justin on taking home the box. After five hours of Destiny we were all ready to be done, but still everyone went home with a smile on their face while chatting about all of the fun and interesting things we’d just gone through.

Destiny Draft Glossary

PxPy Pack x, Pick y. Used to denote where in the draft the card is taken. Most often used to comment on P1P1 for denoting an exceptionally powerful card, or pointing out how screwed you were with nothing good for the first pick.
Windmill Slam You just got passed a card so bonkers it’s not even worth looking at the rest of the pack. You windmill slam that pick and move one. Whether you actually wind your arm up and smash the card into the table is highly dependent on your surroundings.
Bomb Game breaking card. Bombs are what you hope to get and what you build your deck around. This card hitting the table can fundamentally alter the game going forward.
Wheeled The act of getting a card you want on the second (or third) go-round of the pack.  “I really wanted the Tech Team out of pack 1, but couldn’t pass up the Ancient Lightsaber. Fortunately, I wheeled the Tech Team and was able to take it seventh”
Dice Symbols Referred to through text abbreviation. Written as X[Symbol]N, where X is the number and N is any resources required to resolve. The big side of the AT-ST die is written as 5Ra1

  • Dc  Discard
  • Dr  Disrupt
  • F  Focus
  • In  Indirect Damage
  • M  Melee Damage
  • Ra  Ranged Damage
  • Re  Resource
  • S  Special
  • –  Blank

Notes for Running Your Own Draft

  • There are no official rules for how to order players around the table. I used five cards with cost 1 – 5 on them and had the players pull a random card. I was spot 0/6.
  • You’re going to have a lot of face-down piles of Destiny cards in front of you, especially near the end of the draft. Minimize confusion by waiting for everyone to select their card and put the remaining pile down before picking up the next pack.
  • In other games high-level tournaments run at Prison Rules level do not allow you to look through your drafted cards in between picks; only between packs. At less Prison Rules-y drafts you can flip your previous choices at your leisure. We chose the more relaxed approach for this draft.
  • Another thing the official rules don’t address is how to get the dice to their owners. We chose to go with a pass method. Look at the six dice in front of you, choose the dice you drafted, and pass the rest right. Continue until everyone has all of their dice.
Posted on Leave a comment

Deck Tech 2: Poe/Maz

I’m old(ish). I’ve played CCGs for a long time. My world exploded in the spring of 1994 during my senior year of high school when my local comic shop introduced me to Magic: The Gathering. It was literally the most amazing thing I’d ever seen, and I couldn’t get enough. I was voracious. Eventually, during and after college, I started playing at some higher levels.  I traveled to GPs. I made a little money.

There was a ceiling on what I could accomplish, though, and it was put in place by my pride. I didn’t just want to win; I wanted to win My Way. I was out to prove that I was not only good at playing the game, but that I could do it while playing some deck I’d built myself. Time and again I limited myself by not heeding the advice given to me by people who were much better at the game than I. “Just play the best deck,” they’d say. “But what about…” I’d stammer. “Nope, stop being stupid,” they’d say. “Just play the best deck.”

Here’s the secret. You might be smarter than literally everyone else that plays this game, but you’re not smarter than everyone else who plays this game combined. Markets work. Evolution works. With the Internet having broken down nearly all barriers to communication, we all get the benefit of all the millions of hours play testing that others are doing. Stop being stubborn, and just play the Best Deck. At least, if winning is your goal.

With that in mind, I decided to grow as a human being and stop being stubborn. If I want to win plastic Phasmas and tiny plaques, I need to put my ego on the shelf, pick up Poe/Maz, and learn the shit out of it. 

For over a month now my play test partner, Brian and I, have put in the work to learn how the deck works, why it works, what the best build was, and how to squeeze maximum value out of it. This list is the result of our work.

This list has continued to evolve throughout our tournament experience, but in the last month Brian and I have combine to run through eight tournaments (four each) including six Store Championships.

  • In the practice tournament, our 29 card mirror (he didn’t own two Bowcasters at the time) met in the finals. 
  • In Store Championship Number One, I got third (losing to another Poe/Maz that got the nuts), and Brian was one mistake away from joining me in the top 4.
  • In Store Championship Number Two, I again got third (poor mulligan decision followed by an epic card/dice failure).
  • In Store Championship Number Three, Brian top 4d before punting away his chance (to another Poe/Maz). I was distracted and sleepy, played against some good opponents, and ended up getting 8th.

What Makes the Deck Tick?

Before I get into any deck, I like to examine exactly what makes that deck tick. After all, other decks can put more damage on the table than Poe/Maz. What is it about this deck that puts it over the edge?

All Destiny decks exist somewhere on a graph of possibility when describing their dice play. The EV (Expected Value) of any given die in any given game can be computed as a function of:

  • The strength of the die sides. (Darth Vader – Sith Lord’s die is inherently stronger than Guavian Enforcer’s)
  • The variance of the die sides. (A die with five 2Rs and one blank is going to be much more consistent than one with one 10R and five blanks)
  • Your ability to manipulate your dice sides. (If you can reliably turn that second die to 10R, then you don’t care about its unreliability)
  • Dice control played by the opponent. (Variable, but out of your control)

Poe/Maz combines the most powerful dice in the game (literally, you run the cards with the biggest sides) with a 100% ability to manipulate your dice (86% to manipulate both). By zeroing out the variance on its dice, Poe/Maz dice EV is strictly a function of its dice power (highest in the game) and the opponent’s control. When other decks have to factor their own variance into that equation, they are at an immediate disadvantage.

The deck achieves its consistency in four layers.

Layer 1 – Weapon Selection: Every upgrade in Poe/Maz is a Huge Gun. It wouldn’t matter if they printed the Happy Cracker Fireball with one 10R side and the drawbacks of costing 10 resources and having five blank sides. With a Poe special you are going to hit that 10R EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Layer 2 – Poe and Maz Dice: With Poe’s dice you start with a 30% chance of hitting a special. Even if you miss on the initial special you still have a 2R and 3R1 side to shore up your rolls. Rolling in Maz’s dice boosts that special chance to 86%. This is beginning to approach certainty rather than chance.
Layer 3 – Action Cheating: Your opponent has an extremely narrow window to remove your dice, one action. If they miss on the action immediately following Poe’s roll in, then you are going to get at least one Poe die to resolve. The opponent can’t even remove your best Poe die and continue because whatever die remains is simply going to get turned to a special and resolved. Add in the Hit and Run, twice a game action cheat, and you have key moments of the game where your opponent simply watches themselves die.
Layer 4 – The Battlefield: Even whiffing on the first two rolls doesn’t mean you’re going to miss. Simply claiming your battlefield gives you a 100% certainty on hitting the biggest side of the biggest card in your hand.

This redundancy has lead me to describe Poe/Maz as not having dice. Rather, it simply has turns. If it gets its turns, it will do its thing. There is a vanishingly small chance that Poe/Maz will ever lose to its own dice, and, if it does, it’s usually because the pilot made a mistake rather than the deck failing.

Card Selection

There have been many builds of Poe/Maz posted to the Internet. Many iterations of people trying to find the optimal build. Here are some of the cards I chose or didn’t, and why I believe I am correct:
New Orders, Specifically, Two Copies: Getting your battlefield is crucial with this deck. You always want it, and you always want it very early. Having two copies of New Orders maximizes the chance of drawing it early. There is no better feeling to starting the game than this sequence of plays:

  1. Lose the roll (or win and take the shields, but they will get suspicious). Opponent’s hopes escalate.
  2. Roll Poe, get garbage (blank, disrupt is perfect here). Opponent’s hopes increase.
  3. Play New Orders to pitch BFG at one of their characters. Opponent stunned.
  4. Claim to take the battlefield and throw BFG #2 at that same character. Opponent reeling.

That’s three actions, and your opponent has been left broken and psychologically damaged.

Ascension Gun (vs. Cunning or Holdout Blaster): The card in this slot is generally there to upgrade Maz. I’ve found Cunning to be generally swingy-er than the other options. It’s trying to either do what you’re already doing with the Poe dice or make Emo Vader stab himself in the face. With the former you run the risk of either running out of gas in hand or getting an unusable side, and with the latter you run the risk of not playing against Baby Vader. Holdout Blaster offers a bit more punch in this slot for helping Maz finish out a game on her own and the Ambush plus Redeploy are certainly nice. The 2R side costs a resource, though, and resources are at a premium in this deck. I’ve found that Ascension Gun has both the 2R (for free) to help Maz put that last opponent down, another focus for enabling Poe dice, and a special that gives you additional access to your battlefield if you happen to be in the unfortunate situation where you lost the roll and don’t have New Orders. Don’t underestimate the psychological damage you can do to your opponent by rolling out Maz and claiming three dice out of nowhere to seriously damage their character(s). (Maz Focus > Ascension Gun Special > Emperor’s Throne Room Claim Ability > Poe Special)

C-3PO: I like the card C-3PO quite a bit. I think its power level is some of the highest in the game. The problem with it in this deck, though, is that it’s slow. While it does give you an additional layer of certainty, it does it by slowing you down and exposing you to additional dice mitigation from your opponent. Claiming the battlefield is incredibly important with this deck because so much dice mitigation relies on the mitigating player having dice in the pool (He Doesn’t Like You, Negotiate, Loth-Cat and Mouse, etc). If you’re going first and rolling Poe immediately, you have the opportunity to turn off all of that dice mitigation long enough to resolve at least one of Poe’s dice.

Playing the Deck

The Mulligan
The standard hand you want in your opening five goes something like:

  • Damage card
  • Damage card
  • Removal
  • New Orders/Planetary Uprising
  • Fast Hands

You want to be able to do something with those first two Poe dice, shore up your periphery game, and have a bit of defense. When you’re mulliganing, pay special attention to damage cards, like Rocket Launcher, and how they will affect your opening turn. Are you going to use New Orders (hint: if you have it, yes)? That’s both of your opening resources, so throw back that Rocket Launcher for something better.

One card I see people excited about getting in their opening hand is Hit and Run. This card is weakest at the beginning. It’s much better later in the game. Much of what goes into optimally playing this deck (or any deck, really) is accurately managing the expectations of your opponent. Your opponent is carefully planning how they’re going to use their actions to stave off defeat and/or bring about your ruin. A mid-game Hit and Run to accelerate their demise is an excellent way to completely hork up their plans.​

Poe/Maz 101: The Script
You will need to expand your repertoire of Poe/Maz skills to achieve higher levels of success, but it all starts with the basic script.​ Get these steps down pat before moving on to trickier skills.

  1. Roll Poe. 
  2. Roll Maz. If Poe was on a special, resolve it and another die. If not, move on to looking at the Maz dice. If you hit a focus, focus a Poe die to the special and chuck four or more damage at the other team.
  3. Claim your battlefield. Change the other Poe die to the special and chuck more damage at the other team.
  4. Rinse.
  5. Repeat. ​

Poe/Maz 102: Deeper
You Actually Have an Opponent Trying to Stop You

Your dice are going to get controlled. It’s a thing. Leave them exposed as short a time as possible. If you can’t immediately Fast Hands something, get them off the table on the next action. If you have something else to do on your turn, like dropping Ascension Gun or Planetary Uprising, do that before you roll Poe out. At the absolute worst give them just one chance to stop you. As stated above, a significant amount of removal in this game requires your opponent use their own dice. Remember that just because they rolled out instead of controlling your dice on their action it doesn’t mean that a Negotiate is not coming your way on their next action. 

Pick Your Spots to “Waste” Actions
Almost always, you’re going to need the help of some of your support cards to help implement The Script. Recognize when a round might not stay on message and utilize that moment to to play Dug In, Electroshock, Ascension Gun, Planetary Uprising, or Field Medic

DL-44 Heavy Blaster is an Excellent Play
Don’t push for it too hard, but if you find yourself in a situation to activate Maz by playing DL-44 Heavy Blaster Pistol it’s an excellent play. It doesn’t cost you an action, can mitigate a powerful die on the other side of the table, and has an excellent 3R side you can focus to and resolve when you roll Maz.

Finish Him!
Many, many games with Poe/Maz end with a Claim followed by a first action Claim in the next round. With Planetary Uprising on the table you claim to resolve a Poe die + 2, and then start the next round with the claim to deal the final two. Before pulling the trigger on this move, total up the possible damage your opponent can do to you. If they simply cannot kill you, feel free to watch the hope drain from their dead eyes as you claim on the first action of the round.

Poe/Maz 103: Wizardry
Maz is (usually) a Support
For the most part, Maz isn’t a character in this deck. She’s a mechanism for turning and resolving Poe dice. To that end, it may not be necessary to roll her out every time. Pay attention to what your opponent is going to do. A claim on your part is also a claim they do not get, and sometimes going first (and turning off your opponent’s die-costing mitigation) is more important than resolving both of your Poe dice. With that in mind…

Architect The Next Turn
Before blindly grabbing your resources and untapping, stop and think about what’s going to happen on the next turn. Is this your turn to heal and mitigate dice? Do you have one resource left over and DL-44 in hand? Plan how to order your turns to sucker your opponent into exposing one of their big dice so that you get the maximum benefit from it. 

Dig, Dig, Dig
Discard aggressively at the end of the round. Are you at zero resources and plan on landing that Planetary Uprising? Ditch that Rocket Launcher. Will a Hit and Run finish the game? Pitch your whole hand to dig for it. Even if you miss the Hit and Run you will most assuredly get something useful. One reason we have so many Ginormous Face Smashers in this deck is so that every fresh five cards has an excellent chance of pulling at least one. 

The Games

I put a few games into this to show you how to put people away. It was more difficult than I would have expected to get a good recording, though, as a high percentage of folks just get angry and quit when you start performing shenanigans.

Final Thoughts

There actually is a Best Deck. Right now that deck is Poe/Maz. It’s not just the best deck; it’s BY FAR the best deck. Over a significant sample size, there is no deck that can take on the field and consistently dominate like Poe/Maz. There are plenty of Good Decks, but they’re all at a significant disadvantage against Poe/Maz. Every other deck has to deal with bad dice at some point. Poe/Maz just doesn’t.

As much as I love playing with this deck, I hate that this deck exists. At its core, Destiny is a game of dice, and by removing the dice rolling from the equation FFG has broken the game. Other decks can do more, sometimes, but they can also do less. The certainty of the dice in this deck are utterly oppressive to the viability of anything else. I look forward to the day when FFG wakes up and cripples this deck. I have thoughts about the best way to accomplish this, but I will save that for another time.  (hint, errata in a CCG is a terrible idea) For now, I will continue to play the Best Deck so that I can win, and so that my results will contribute to the data FFG needs to do something about this.

Posted on Leave a comment

Deck Tech 1: eSheev (Palpatine)

So this guy cropped up in Spirit of Rebellion, and people got REAL excited. I was not one of them. My first take on ole Palpy was that he was too fragile, and even with 15 health and very strong dice he just wouldn’t be good enough to see competitive play. He was instantly off my radar as a serious contender for winning tournaments.

A week or so after the set released, however, a strange thing happened. My buddy, cousin-in-law, and in-person play test partner, Brian, showed up at my house with his two shiny new Palpatines itching to sleeve them up. In an effort to help him out, I thought I would give Mr. Krinkleface a whirl, and see what I could do with him

After some brainstorming about the theory on what makes The Man strong, it occurred to me that Palpatine literally has five damage sides. Ranging from 5 to 2 damage each, simply resolving one of his dice advances your game plan of killing the threats to galaxy-wide order. To me, that means he doesn’t really need to load up on guns; Darth Sideous is his own load up on guns. That meant I didn’t have to throw a lot of aggressive upgrades into the deck. Force LIghtning and such were unnecessary. 

Not having to load up on cards to power up Plagueis’ Apprentice meant I could devote more card slots to addressing his weakness; namely, the 15 health. I said to myself, “Self, you might have the makings of the first true control deck in the game. Let’s pick out the best dice control cards, and get to shuffling.”

Heavily influenced by Our New World Champion Dan’s theories on the game (your limiting factor is resources rather than cards) I started flipping cards into a pile. Many iterations and games against Brian later, I settled on this build:

Mulligans
This is a true control deck, and you start on turn one. With most decks you’re trying to get your guns on the table so you can start hitting your opponent. Sheev‘s guns are on the table to start the game. Your opening hand should include as much removal as possible.  You can keep a two cost upgrade if the other four are removal, but if you have a hand of upgrades pitch them all. Against decks that don’t care if you’re blanking a die (Poe/Maz) prioritize dice removal (DoubtIsolation, etc) over changing them to blanks. 3-Cost force powers, Rise AgainTake Cover, and Rejuvenate are all auto-pitches.

How to Play the Deck
Always, always, always be prepared to remove your opponent’s dice. If you’ve only got removal that costs 1, then do not play an upgrade. Save your upgrade playing for spots where your hand has zero cost removal.

Learn to predict the damage coming in. Without Premonitions it’s going to require tight play to know that two turns from now you’re going to need Rise Again. Even if you don’t have it in your hand, play like it’s going to show up when you need it.

When deciding what to pitch for a re-roll, think about when you’re playing Rise Again. If it’s coming next turn, don’t hesitate to bin a Force Push to return after untaps.

If you need a Rise Again, don’t hesitate to pitch your whole hand, including removal, at EOT. You will get more removal, and you will maximize your chances of hitting that back breaking Rise Again.

With this much removal in your deck, Use the Force is a legitimate attack card. Try to save it to blast your opponent for 5, but don’t hesitate to use it for protection if it’s all you have left.

Be patient, especially on cards like your upgrade specials. There is nothing more frustrating for your opponent than staring into a Force Push or Force Throw special that’s just sitting out there.

You can certainly re-roll your Sith Lord‘s dice, but don’t push too hard to hit his guns every turn.

  • 2 Shields + F-11D Special is as good as removal, and smashes your opponent for 2..
  • 2 Discards + F-11D Special helps limit their rerolls, and smashes your opponent for 2..
  • 1 Resource + F-11D Special moves you closer to that odd number of resources for Rise Again, and smashes your opponent for 2.

Actions are incredibly important. Carefully plan out what you’re going to do for the entire turn up front, with contingencies for what your opponent is going to do or roll.

Abuse your battlefield. If you are in position to claim and have a solid feeling that one their characters is going down next turn, don’t hesitate to move a non-redeploy to it. In that same vein, work to blow up cards. Constantly claim and stack the fourth upgrade on one of their guys.

Enough rambling; let’s get to the games.

Game 1 eSheev vs. Junkar
Game 2 eSheev vs Qui-Gon/Rey

Card Choices
Let’s go over some of the choices I made for this deck. Specifically, cards I didn’t include.

Cards That Were Too Aggressive

There are some excellently aggressive cards in Villain Blue, but this deck is not about being aggressive. This deck is about dodging and weaving while the ex-Senator does his thing with his dice. As such, there was no room for cards whose sole purpose was to push damage through.

Crutches

This category, and Holocron in particularly, will probably end with the most disagreement from the community at large.  While I am still open to being wrong about Holocron, I feel like both of these cards are trap cards, and you are better off simply becoming a better player who doesn’t rely on crutches like these to make up for loose play.

Let’s start with the less contentious one, Premonitions. With 30 cards in your deck, devoting two spots for cards that do nothing means that you’re handicapping yourself on cards that would do something by almost 7%. Assume for a moment that you play with Premonitions, and exist in Magical Christmasland where you hit Rise Again on Premonitions every game. That means you devoted three cards to healing five damage, or an average of 1.67 damage per card. Now, take the two crappiest defensive cards you see in my list. For argument’s sake we will take the lowest damage mitigation ones, Rejuventate and Take Cover. Instead of three cards to heal/prevent 5 damage, now we have three cards to heal/prevent 7 damage. That’s 2/3 damage per card better than the previous iteration. In a deck where every point of health matters, that is a huge swing. And this doesn’t even take into account how holding a Premonitions without a Rise Again screws with your ability to play cards. Holding onto do-nothing cards turn after turn means you’re drawing fewer replacements that will actually keep your character alive. “But, Trey!” you might say, “What about how awesome it is to get a free Rise Again?!” To that I would respond, “Get better. Stop leaning on crutches to play the game, and simply get better at resource, turn, dice, and card management so that you no longer need the training wheels of cards like Premonitions.”

Hmm, I think I’m going to save Sith Holocron for its own post. It’s not completely useless like Premonitions, but I don’t think it’s an auto-include every time. Consider this:

  • How differently does playing out your turns ones go when you’re shooting for the 1/3 chance of hitting a Holocron special versus simply paying for the upgrade you were going to put out anyway?
  • How much does it slow your deck down to try and use the Holocron? Something that only has a 1/3 chance of hitting, and that’s assuming that they don’t deal with the die before you can use it.
Posted on Leave a comment

Spirit of Rebellion Incoming

I got home from World’s (amazing time, met many awesome people) to find 7 boxes of SoR waiting on me, and at least five more waiting for me to pick up. If you know anything about Houston, you know that driving around to a bunch of different places means basically planning a visit to a distant city. In the interim, I’ve gotten all seven boxes opened and collated, and I’m about to put them up on the site.

Pricing updates are coming. I haven’t had time to research what exactly market prices are, so you might find something that seems weird. If it’s way too high, rest assured that I will bring it inline with the market later today (fingers crossed that Real Job is quiet enough for me to catch up completely). If it’s too low, then definitely take advantage of my ignorance to score some deals.

​If I’m out of something, I expect to have five more boxes of cards up by tomorrow at the latest.

Posted on Leave a comment

New Stuff Today

Added a few cool things today. Some were even on the todo list.

    Added ability to take credit cards, not just PayPal.
    Added a link to show all of the stock I actually have in. It’s more kludgy than I’d like, but it works. Now there’s a button at the top of the store that will open a PDF of stock. I still have to publish it every day though, so it’s a manual process. It does have links to take customers directly to the inventory item though!
    Finished off my inventory of promo cards.

Posted on Leave a comment

KingwoodHobbies.com is live!

I’ve spent a lot of today working on the site, and getting it up and running. Now that I have some inventory in we’ve started taking orders.

Things left to accomplish on the site:

    Create a way for people to see what I actually have in stock on one page.
    Add Armada inventory items.
    Finish X-Wing Upgrade card inventory items.
    Get a logo.

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what I have in my head so far.