Written by LUKE MAGNUSON
The Across the Galaxy meta saw Darth Vader live up to his name, as he terrorized the meta (racking up an impressive 23 Regional Championship wins). While some may argue that other decks were better, it’s tough to argue that any performed as well as eVader/Greedo, which won 14 more regionals than the next closest deck. But many of his most powerful cards are going away with rotation - the biggest being Friends in High Places, Price of Failure, and Rise Again.
This has led many to suggest that we will see a lot less of Vader decks in the future, perhaps even that his time in Tier 1 is close to an end. In today’s article, I’m going to consider how Darth Vader - Terror to Behold might replace these cards, and speculate about where Vader decks may go from here.
2. REPLACING THE POWER CARDS:
FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES
This really is one of those cards that is just plain busted if you can pull it off, and Vader was the perfect character to do it. Playing Vader’s Fist or Rise Again for free could dramatically swing a game, and even something like Vader’s Saber or Darksaber represented huge value.
At the end of the day, what this card allowed Vader to do was break the resource curve. So, while we may not be able to replicate this card exactly, if we can find other cards that help us break the resource curve we may be okay. In this case, I think that eVader/Greedo still has the necessary tools.
You can still choose from an assortment of resource generation cards - Respite, Truce, Well Connected, No Good to Me Dead, Delve - to generate the type of broken resource curve that makes eVader/Greedo so menacing.
And don’t forget that Vader still has the 2 resource side! Vader decks did not need to play Friends in High Places every game in order to play Rise Again or Vader’s Fist.
This was another card that represented insane value in Vader decks. It increased survivability dramatically without slowing down ramp. This is a great card, and it will be difficult to fully replicate the impact it had on Vader decks. In particular, this card more than any other allowed Vader decks to play slim removal suites, something I think we will be unable to get away with any longer. So how do we replace this card? You could just replace it with Dark Ritual, but while I think this is a viable card in Vader decks, I don’t like it nearly as much.
It requires very specific timing to be played effectively, and unlike Rise Again it does nothing to push ramp or damage. So I think that we probably end up replacing Rise Again just by playing a normal removal suite. There are some good options available to him.
Lack of Faith is a very underrated card that fits quite nicely with Vader. Forsaken will be a great new option for Vader and his little partner.
I even think that an odds package running Witch Magick and Rift Valley could be a good direction to go with Vader.
The bottom line is that we can replace the survivability represented by Rise Again, but it’s going to take more cards and decrease the aggressiveness of the deck.
VERDICT? Partially replaceable
PRICE OF FAILURE
This is another card that has a uniquely powerful effect that is difficult to replicate - it pushes damage without using resources. We obviously aren’t going to be resetting Vader for free any more (or at all... unless we get a new reset card with Convergence there are no options for resetting Vader). This means we can only pseudo replace this card by switching to other cards that help push damage.
Fear and Dead Men is obviously staying, and I think we could see Vader add Double Strike into the mix. Shield removal cards like Frighten and Intimidate are other possibilities. Maybe even something like Scorched Earth? So there are other options available to help push damage, but they’re either expensive or situational; nothing really comes close to the power of Price of Failure.
So will Vader be able to make up for the loss of these cards? Yes and no. Clearly, these three cards are incredibly powerful, and it is impossible to truly replicate the impact they can have on the game - and Vader was as already stated the perfect character for these cards. But we do have replacement cards, that while lower in power level, do help to accomplish similar goals. In the end, while Vader clearly goes down in power level, I don’t think the decline will be quite as steep as some have predicted. I definitely expect Vader to remain a player in the meta.
3. SUGGESTED LISTS:
With that in mind, I’d like to finish the article by suggesting a couple places I think Vader could go moving forward.
Tried and true, I still think this will be a deck to beat going forward. It will do similar things as before, seeking to break the resource curve and abuse expensive cards, pushing damage along the way. It still has some big power cards in Vader’s Lightsaber, Maul’s Lightsaber, and Vader’s Fist, and it should still be able to afford them, even without FiHP. Mandalorian Jetpack is a nice little addition to Vader decks, as it’s Special side could net you 4 damage off of a Vader die - incredible value for a two cost upgrade.
eVader/Battle Droid + Retribution
This one’s a little more outside the box, but we did see a few Vader + Retribution decks make top cuts during Regionals season. I really like the idea of utilizing 1 cost focus dice with Vader, especially since Retribution makes removing his dice especially painful. The Witch Magick + Rift Valley set up really improves survivability, and I think there are just enough good odd cards to pull it off. Reprints of The Best Defense and Probe are really great for this deck as well. This is a very different style of Vader deck, one that is much more defensive focused, seeking to keep Vader alive as long as possible. Losing the great ramp cards hurts a lot though (and pushed Vader’s Fist out of the deck, though it may still be worth trying to include). I’m not as sold on this version, but I think it may be worth exploring post rotation.