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WRITTEN BY LUKE MAGNUSON
The Gen Con / NOVA / Euros meta saw 5-dice Chopper Droids emerge as one of the top contenders. It was an incredibly flexible, terrifyingly disruptive, and very aggressive deck that could compete with pretty much anything. After the pre-Worlds Holocron update, the deck had to adapt and change - but the core strengths remained. The first action disrupt play is mostly gone, but the deck remains capable of making an opponent’s life difficult through big Discards and continuous Disruption.
You start with less dice and lose Droids Day Out, but the addition of the plot: FATEFUL COMPANIONS and Ewok Ambush allows the deck to maintain explosive capabilities. The main weakness also remains the same - all of your characters are FRAGILE, sitting at only 8 health, and losing any one of them early is devastating. At the end of the day, there’s a reason this deck won Worlds in the hands of Andrew Rothermel of The Destiny Council - it’s a deck with many inherent strengths and a very high skill cap.
[EDIT:] This is a deck analysis of Andrew Rothermel's World Championship 2019 winning deck!
I need not say much about the Fateful Companions themselves, R2-D2 and C-3P0, and their incredibly broken synergies. So much value is provided by these characters, especially when the plot is included! One of my favorite aspects of their abilities/synergies is that they give you so many options - what separates the best droid players from the rest is their ability to get the most value out of these two and know which sides should be pumped when.
CHOPPER is also well known, but I think an underrated side effect of his Power Action is the ability to play expensive removal while ramping at the same time. The ability to play a Salvaged Arm or Grappling Arm AND Entangle off of just your starting resources is huge.
The Upgrade - Mods are the core of the upgrade package, and each provide unique benefits. SALVAGED ARM is the best of them, particularly because of it’s flexibility - it enhances your disruptive capabilities while also increasing your damage reach, while GRAPPLING ARM allows you to push more damage early, and the Focus side is an incredible pump option for C-3P0.
ROCKET BOOSTER is the worst of them (thus why it’s a one off in the Worlds winning list), but the 2 Shield side in particular can come up huge in certain matchups and that Action can save you in close games!
The deck has a startling amount of one-off upgrades, but it makes sense once you realize they’re all Unique! These are the cards that can really help up the damage reach, and it’s important to get a few of these down in the early rounds, to make sure your board state is sufficient to close the game.
It’s worth noting Rex’s Blaster Pistol here as a potential include. It gives you a pseudo action cheat when you control the Battlefield, and makes your kill shots from 3 damage out automatic. The downside is that the Ranged sides can end up slowing down your resolutions, and the lack of Redeploy can come back to bite you - especially since it’s best on R2-D2, who is usually the first target. The Electro Sword is another card that saw play in some of the top Chopper decks, most notably amongst The Hyperloops players, and makes a lot of sense if you’re worried about shieldy decks like ReyLo - the downside being that the die kind of stinks for its cost, especially if you don’t need the Unblockable Damage.
This is a deck that can also run supports, though it does slow you down (making cards like Flee The Scene and Rex’s Blaster Pistol less advantageous). CRAIT RESISTANCE SPEEDER is always an option as an efficient 2 drop, and Hired Muscle/Fickle Mercenaries are potential includes here as well. And don’t forget the R2-D2 support! Though it won’t be played in many games, the ability to turn back on Fateful Companions after R2-D2 is dead is huge, and it allows you to play mind games with your opponent in the top cut (where your opponent has access to your deck list). It makes it tough for them to go after R2-D2 early, knowing you have the support, allowing you to more freely play your non-redeploy weapons on R2-D2, where they are most effective.
The removal suite in this deck is HUGE. Exactly half of the deck is dedicated to preventing your opponent's damage. This makes a lot of sense for droid decks (particularly plot variants), as so much value is lost once a character dies - the longer you can hold that off the more likely you are to win the game! Andrew Rothermel’s list in particular is a good blend of blowout removal and consistent removal.
The blowout options are EASY PICKINGS, ENTANGLE, ROUT and FLEE THE SCENE. All of these cards allow you to remove multiple dice at once, and when combined with other removal can serve to time walk your opponent. I won’t say too much about the one Easy Pickings controversy, but the bottom line is that 4 spot yellow removal options is pushing it for this deck, and Entangle is the better option into the ReyLo matchup, which is a tough one for this deck.
NEAR MISS and AUTOMATED DEFENSE provide the super consistent 1 die removal for this deck (ultra important into Vader’s Fist!). They’re almost always online, and can remove anything - which is exactly what you want from these kind of cards. RIOT SHIELD and FIELD MEDIC provide the damage block/healing for the deck, which is important in the mirror match, helping to prevent action cheat kills. Riot Shield gains additional value in this deck because of Chopper - you can overwrite your mods for free and then pull them back from the discard pile.
5. ACTION CHEATS:
This deck can have anywhere from 3-6 Action Cheats, depending on how you want to play the deck. EWOK AMBUSH is the auto include - super effective with both R2-D2 and C-3P0, and free to play. INSTIGATE and OFF THE SENSORS are also options, and both are really good in this deck. How many you decide to play depends a lot on what matchups you expect to see - they can be crucial in the mirror matches, but are less good into the wide villain support decks, where you don’t always gain much out of a surprise kill.
Theed Royal Palace is a common choice for this deck, but BENDU'S LAIR is definitely the best choice, in my opinion. The biggest reason Bendu’s is so good in this deck is that it gives you an extra die to use with your R2-D2 and C-3P0 effects. One of the weaknesses of a 4 die start with Fateful Companion is that early die removal can render your Fateful Companion’s proc mostly useless on round 1. Bendu’s helps fix this by providing an extra die you can pump or turn. It’s also a much higher impact battlefield than Theed, and since Chopper is one of the fastest decks in the meta it can provide a ton of value over the course of the game.
You want at least one Upgrade - Mod (Salvaged Arm is best, though Grappling Arm is also a very strong start), plus one additional mod or a 2 drop upgrade (Ezra Bridger's Lightsaber is a great one to start with). At least 2 removal options - which ones you want round 1 will depend on the matchup, but Riot Shield to overwrite the Salvaged Arm is pretty good. And I’ve warmed up to Ewok Ambush as a good card to keep in your starting hand - you can use it round 1 to guarantee you pump the sides you want (good players will know that removing the correct dice before you activate C-3P0 can lead to a lackluster round 1), or save it for a first action round 2 kill (huge in the mirror match.
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