Cad Bane/Snoke Revisited - Deck Analysis

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1. GENERAL COMMENTS:
One of the first articles we wrote when Way of the Force was released focused on Cad Bane/Snoke. An action-cheating aggro pair right out of the box, revitalising good ol' Cad Bane and bringing to the fore the absolutely menacing power of the stand-out support character of the set: Snoke.

Most of what we wrote in the original article still stands and while the deck has lost some of its initial popularity due to the obvious weaknesses of the deck, it is still a powerful deck in its own right and plays out uniquely due to the inherent ability of Cad Bane, and has been included in the YOUR Destiny Gauntlet for that very reason.

Trying to play around some of the weaknesses, I've dabbled a bit with another route for the character pairing, leaning more on Snoke and less on the unreliable, although powerful ability (and dice) of the Vicious Mercenary. It's a slower deck, requires a different kind of resource management, but can definitely pack a punch when required to!

2. THE LIST:
This list is definitely still a work in progress and will change as I get more testing done with it. The following is the rough template of what has worked for me so far, and while nothing is set in stone, I'm pretty satisfied with the performance of the upgrade suite so far, while there's still some work to be done on the event suite.Screen Shot 2018-08-24 at 120203png

3. HOLOCRONS:
The Sith Holocron has always been one of the strongest cards in the game. The resource ramp is absolutely monstrous, and it's honestly a pretty poorly designed card particularly because it's extremely limiting to future card design (even those of us who love the card, but also the game itself, will probably not be sad to see it rotate out). Even if it has fallen somewhat out of favor it's still ridiculously strong and should shape both your deck construction and the way that you play your deck.

The power of the Holocron is threefold.
  1. It allows for incredible ramp (by playing upgrades without paying their cost).Cad Snoke Holocron playjpg
  2. It allows your non-blue characters access to blue ability upgrades, which they are normally barred from.Cad Bane SNoke holocron play2jpg
  3. It stays in the game (by virtue of switching a card in hand for the holocron in play).
Another element where the presence of a Sith Holocron affects the game tremendously is the uncertainty it brings with it. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, but everybody should! Look at this situation:Cad Bane Article Holocron playjpg
Would you as Player A remove the 3 Ranged damage/1 or would you remove the Sith Holocron Special? It's a difficult choice, right! The 3 Ranged damage could be power action'ed into a devastating 5 Ranged damage, while the Holocron Special could make Snoke a powerful late game enemy if Player B's hand suddenly reveals a powerful Force Ability upgrade (and they really all are).Cad Bane Article Holocron play3jpg
In any case it seems as if you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Removing the Holocron die could lead to potentially 8 damage from the Cad Bane dice (use the 2 Focus side to turn the Cad Bane Blank into a 3 Ranged damage/1 and Power Action one of the two Cad Bane dice) OR it could result in the 2 Focus side turning the Cad Bane Blank into a Resource side, then Power Action the Resource side into 3 resources and playing the Force Lightning (or any other Force Ability) on Snoke. The combination of Snoke's dice and the inherently powerful Cad Bane dice can make for some truly nasty plays.

4. CHARACTERS:
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[We already did a bit on Cad Bane in the original Cad Bane/Snoke article, and while most of it is "historical data" it could still be interesting for you to browse through - and we are reusing bits of the article here as well].

Cad Bane is POTENTIALLY an insane character. His die is incredibly strong and so is his ability. Ironically enough it is exactly the combination of his die and his ability which is the problem! Two of his sides are pay sides and they are both some of his best sides, and a normal round 1 for a Cad Bane player would play out something like this: Cad Bane Article Hidden Blaster playjpg
Even though your dice, combined, are showing probably some of the best results you could imagine your damage cap is incredibly limited. You spent all your resources playing the Hidden Blaster, and have no resources to resolve your big 3 Ranged damage/1 unless you resolve the 1 Resource on the Snoke die. You'll then be susceptible to removal on the Cad Bane die and IF your opponent has mitigation an removes the 3 Ranged damage side your damage cap is 6 Ranged damage, which would require that you spent ALL your dice for that.Cad Bane Article Hidden Blaster play2jpg

Enough has already been said about Snoke's Power Action in previous articles, everybody by now realizes how good it is, but Snoke also adds an unprecedented level of consistency for villain aggro decks bringing both a 1 Focus and a 2 Focus side to the party.

Your bag of tricks might seem less powerful, but by virtue of making the entire Cad Bane dice available right from the get go of round 1, you're making your deck more unpredictable for your opponent, your plays more difficult to call and the tactical avenues more diverse.

5. UPGRADES & SUPPORTS:
There are so many great blue Force Ability upgrades available, and choosing the ones that facilitate the win condition of the deck while covering as many of the weaknesses as possible can be quite tricky. This is probably the part of the deck that will vary the most from deck to deck, meta to meta and playstyle to playstyle. Find the composition that suits you the best.

I've tried to diversify it as much as possible as well as going for the strongest possible upgrade suite that would fit BOTH characters equally well.Cad Bane SNoke holocron play3jpg
FORCE LIGHTNING is probably one of the strongest aggro Force Abilities in the game. 5 damage sides, and although the two biggest Ranged damage sides are pay sides, which might spell trouble with Cad Bane already having pay sides, it is an incredibly strong card. It will put pressure on your opponent's removal cards and the Special can potentially be devastating: Dealing 1 damage AND removing a Blank (and it doesn't matter if it is yours or an opponents - "cheap" dice like Holocrons or Force Speeds can come in handy here if your ) can be super powerful. Particularly because of the consistency offered by Snoke's Focus sides.

FORCE PUSH has two decent 2 Ranged damage sides, and the Special works great in conjunction with the Force Lightning Special, while the 2 Discard can come in super handy if you already have plenty of dice in the pool and just want to make sure you can push through damage. The Special is obviously a "dead side" if your opponent doesn't have any, or only few, dice in the pool, but you can set up rounds where you distrupt your opponent's hand with Cad Bane's Discard side (even Snoke'ing it for a complete annihilation of it), then using the Force Push Special to make sure that your opponent will not get anything out of the round, and you get to durdle around with Snoke's Focuses and maximize your dice. This is a midrange game technique and you might have to reconsider your strategy against certain decks in the meta, i.e. Mill and fast aggro, whereas it's brilliant against support based decks.

FORCE WAVE is a work horse and is obviously putting in tonnes of work against 3wide and 4wide decks. The two 2 Indirect damage sides can be great when you've whittled your opponent down to one character and Snoke with a Force Wave can put in massive amounts of damage late game - do not underestimate that! If you do decide to go for an early Force Wave be aware that it requires some resource management. Both of the Specials cost resources, and you might not even want to roll it in (if it enters play from a Holocron switch) in that round.Cad Snoke Holocron Upgrades3jpg
FORCE SPEED and FORCE ILLUSION really don't need any introduction, but remember that both of these can be played using Holocrons as well, although that's probably never going to be the case with Force Speeds. Force Illusions are essentially your 9th and 10th mitigation cards, don't let them sit in your hand for too long! Play it, block 2-3 damage, get on with it!Cad Snoke Holocron Upgrades8jpg
TORMENT is an incredible card when used in conjunction with Snoke's Power Action! The ability to gain a resource every time you use the Power Action is just adding insult to injury and you can also choose to overwrite with a Force Illusion or an X-8 Night Sniper if you need to recoup the resource.

I've added the X-8 NIGHT SNIPER as a Round 2 or 3 fall back strategy where you just need to cheat out the lethal damage. It's a secondary plan and you should always mulligan the X-8 out of your starting hand and I'd not recommend playing it in Round 1 unless you have no other choice. Your plan is to lure your opponent into targeting Cad Bane and then upgrade Snoke while they try and take down Cad. There could be an argument for replacing the X-8 Night Sniper with LL-30 Blaster Pistol because the latter has Redeploy, but in all other respect the Night Sniper is really superior to the LL-30.

You might be a bit low on the Force Ability upgrades that furthers your win condition (you're running just 6). If this is your gut feeling, you might want to go all in on the Ability upgrades and drop the two X-8 Night Snipers in place of two extra blue Force Abilities that can be played with the Sith Holocrons, and you might want to consider the following:Cad Snoke Holocron Upgrades7jpg
X. FORCE THROW is as always really good, and while it only has 1 assured damage side, and it's pretty bad, the Specials are super powerful and I also feel that in the current meta that the Disrupts might come in really handy.

X. FORCE REND is a funky card. It is vulnerable against decks that are able to mitigate your base damage sides, and is mostly included as a backup plan against mill and support based decks. Being able to remove an Anakin Skywalker's Podracer, a C3PO or a BT-1, and thereby severely limiting the execution of your opponent's game plan, can be potentially game winning. Having a 2 Ranged damage and a +2 Ranged damage side is NOT NEARLY AS GOOD as having two 2 Ranged damage sides (i.e. Force Push). You are not flush with base damage sides so they all really matter!!
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In my first iterations of the deck I included Backup Muscle, and while it's been a staple in yellow villains since Awakenings, it just doesn't feel right in this deck. It might go back in though because nobody can really doubt its strengths. Salvage Stand (for some resource disruption) could also be a card that helps putting pressure on your opponent (remember there's a modified resource side on your holocrons as well).

6. MITIGATION CARDS:
Your removal suite consist of 10 cards (including the two Force Illusion), and as stated in the preface, I'm still not entirely set on the composition. As the meta is evolving there are a number of cards that used to be auto-include that are becoming fringe cases now.Cad Bane SNoke holocron events1jpg
Zero cost mitigation is good, and you'll want to see either DOUBT or HIDDEN MOTIVE in your starting hand. Hidden Motive is crazy good against characters like Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker, while Doubt has lost some of its umpphff with so many characters with crazy good dice out there.

HE DOESN'T LIKE YOU is a one-off because while it's good at removing your opponent's best die, you'd rather not want it in your starting hand as you'll need most of your dice in the first couple of rounds, also considering that at least 1 will be removed by your opponent. Cad Bane SNoke holocron events2jpg
ENTANGLE has been included for those games where you need to remove several dice, i.e. Yoda Specials, etc., but I honestly think that Beguile should go into this slot. Beguile potentially affects 3 dice, hard mitigates one and doesn't have any spot requirements.

FEEL YOUR ANGER for those blow out rounds against vehicles and OVERCONFIDENCE is really crazy good with Cad Bane's die for the infamous Overconfidence Battle (listen to Mads Utzon's talk about that here in the YOUR Destiny Podcast Episode 13).

7. TECH CARDS:
Cad Snoke Holocron events3jpgALL IN is almost a no-brainer in a deck boasting this many big damage sides as well as focus sides. A single 1 focus on a Force Speed, Holocron or on a Snoke die can set in motion an avalanche of damage.

BAIT AND SWITCH is a classic by now in Yellow villain decks, and remember that Bait and Switch plays can be made to facilitate the game winning All In plays if you have the resources, i.e. Bait and Switch a Snoke Resource Side into a Focus Side, with the Ambush Action you play All In. Then you annihilate something from the table. Bait and Switch can also be used to great effect on a Sith Holocron +1 Resource side to flip it to a Special and resolve it with the Ambush action.

You chances of rolling focuses on Snoke's dice are (just in case you're wondering):
53% (19/36) = One of any Focus side.
31% (11/36) = At least one 1 Focus side
31% (11/36) = At least one 2 Focus side
6% (2/36) = One 1 Focus side and one 2 Focus side
3% (1/36) = Two 2 Focus sides.

This means that All In plays are more than likely to happen since you in reality just need 1 Focus to set it all in motion.Cad Snoke Holocron events8jpg
ABANDON ALL HOPE is a tech card to protect the deck against Hyperspace Jumps and vehicle decks, but it can potentially work wonders against a plethora of decks that are either scarce on resources or needs every last one of them. A well timed Abandon All Hope can give you exactly the time you need to get your dice out and resolve them for a kill before having a character defeated, and although it's expensive it can also be used to make sure that your dice are not being mitigated. Because of the Holocrons you also have the ability to ramp without any resources yourself and this deck generally has plenty of access to resource generation.

FRIENDS IN LOW PLACES really doesn't need any introduction. It secures your dice by removing mitigation from your opponent's hand.Battle of willsjpgI added a single copy of BATTLE OF WILLS, and I'm honestly not sure where I'm at with this card. It can be an absolutely massive blowout card potentially destroying a round for an opponent. It works wonders against characters like Yoda or Rey because Cad Bane's dice are some of the best in the game recording a whopping value of 9 on each die compared to other characters whose dice you'll be happy to see out of the pool (needless to say, you don't want to go toe-to-toe in a Battle of Wills with Palpatine or Sabine Wren):Cad Bane SNoke Battle of Wills events3jpg

8. BATTTLEFIELD:
As opposed to the gun/action cheating version of Cad Bane/Snoke, this version does not play out fast, which means you are looking for a battlefield which is not too damaging to you. Battlefield choicesjpgMy 2 preferred choices are Rebel War Room, which helps out with Cad Bane dice as well as Force Wave and the Night Sniper, while the Ewok Village is great against decks that gather a lot of resources. Currently I'm more in favor of Ewok Village, but that's because of mill, while I generally tend to think that Rebel War Room is the one that fits this deck the best.

9. MULLIGAN STRATEGY:
Against 3wide or 4wide you want to see a Holocron combined with a Force Wave, whereas against 2 wide you probably want to see a Force Lightning instead. The Force Speed gives you an additional focus and allows you to action cheat while the Bait and Switch gives you plenty of possibilities in your opening hand:HAND Cad Bane ARTICLE2jpg
You can read more about how to mulligan in our game theory article on the subject.

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Written by
CLAUS STAAL