eSnoke/eTarkin Revisited - Deck Analysis

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1. INTRODUCTION:
Written by CLAUS STAAL

It seems like an eternity ago I originally wrote my deck analysis of eSnoke/eTarkin - SNARKIN - when in reality its been just 3 months ... the pace of Star Wars Destiny is breathtaking. Sometimes we tend to forget that in our gung-ho criticism of the latest hotness out there. There's amnesia in speed as well.forgetfulnessjpg
Can you believe that this is actually how I started my original piece on the character pairing: "Snoke has been out in the dark'ish since he got nerfed, and although I thought they went too easy on the Supreme Leader the results from various Regionals beg to differ! Searching for the perfect date for Snoke has proven pretty difficult, but Tarkin could just fit that bill".

It was actually Jack Broomell from the Golden Dice Podcast who #madeSnokeGreatAgain by taking this character team to the runner-up spot at the Conneticut Regional in a time when there was no love for Snoke. Jack Broomell wrote this deck analysis on the Golden Dice Podcast website!

Since then though, rotation has hit Destiny and Snoke has returned to his most lethal self courtesy of some new sidekicks and the two new supports that join Vader's Fist in completing "The Unholy Trinity".

The deck that I'll be analysing was piloted by Eric Braswell aka Maul from Jackalmen Games to a final 15-3 score at the Galactic Qualifier at Momocon in Atlanta (Georgia), including two Standard events and Escape Pods. Jackalmen Games btw. do excellent work for the Destiny community and has a great website as well which will definitely be worth a visit! So swoop by there if you haven't already!

2. COMPARATIVE LISTS:
Just for you to get an idea of how rotation affected the list, I've compared the two lists side by side:Comparative Snoke Tarkinjpg
Of the original list just 8 cards remained in the deck: HANDHELD L-S1 CANNON, VADER'S FIST, HIDDEN MOTIVE and PROBE, while 14 of the 30 cards from the original list rotated out!

The biggest change is definitely that fact that the deck has been transformed from a cheap upgrade deck to a more expensive support deck embracing quite a few of the new powerhouse supports available.resource curvejpg
The average resource curve of the deck has actually gone up from 1.1 resources in the original version to a staggering 1.86 in the new version, and with both Sith Holocron and Chance Cube having rotated out there's really no easy fix to get those expensive cards into play.

I'm quite frankly surprised that accumulating resources did not represent a bigger problem for this deck at the Galactic Qualifier in Atlanta, and the decision to leave out 0cost mitigation, like Doubt, is somewhat of a mystery to me. HUGE Credit to Eric Braswell for being able to balance this out so well in his games with the deck. Going 15-3 throughout the weekend is quite the feat!

3. CHARACTERS:
One could at a glance be led into believing that eSnoke/eTarkin was molded in the same cast as the once so powerful eThrawn/eSnoke, but it couldn't be further from the truth! In reality the deck plays out much differently and is relying on the combined Power Actions of the two characters to push through surprising amounts of damage.tarkin snokejpg
SNOKE offers all the brokenness we've become accustomed to from him and his Power Action looks particularly menacing early in a round on the Tarkin 2 Discard side, while it can be used late in a round to deal damage with the 2 Indirect damage side or turn a myriad of dice with either of the Focus sides. With the number of high cost cards in this deck, you'll definitely need an early Snoke Power Action of a Resource side to get your ramp started and possibly get a first round Megablaster Troopers into play which looks like an incredibly strong card in this deck with its tons of dice!

Adding TARKIN to the character team offers a great deal of flexibility and his dice are pretty scary! The decision from the design team to add the Indirect damage side (or the second Focus side) in place of a Disrupt side which has been customary previously for characters of his kind (up until Legacies) makes him much more reliable and able to combat all comers. His Power Action, although removing two dice, can quickly pile on damage on your opponent.

This deck operates with a lower ceiling for damage in the first round than its predecessor, but has a higher midgame and late game ceiling.

Coming in at 22hp you are a bit on the low side in the current meta, so your mitigation really needs to put some work in!

4. UPGRADES:
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Plenty of hate has been showered on FORCE STORM, and while I acknowledge that it can be made to absolutely broken on Palpatine - Unlimited Power, I'm not joining the hate-choir just yet. It does look pretty menacing though and the damage ceiling is obviously out of this world.Force Storm damagejpg
This deck has plenty of focuses to make that happen and although 4 resources is pretty expensive in this deck, it should be worth every single penny. I'm assuming that there will be at least 1 game throughout a tournament where this beauty is single handedly going to eke out a win for you! Biggest downside is obviously that it can only go on Snoke! An alternative could be to go 1:1 split between Force Storm and Force Wave, but I guess Force Storm is just too damn juicy to miss out on, and it accumulates same damage rate as the Force Wave after just 3 resolutions! NUTS!

I'm a huge fan of the HANDHELD L-S1 CANNON! It provides loads of damage sides, and even the +3 Ranged side looks pretty good in this deck with its wealth of base Ranged damage sides, i.e. Megablaster Troopers, Vader's Fist, Force Storm, etc. 66% damage sides is pretty good! You play so few upgrades in the deck that the upgrade limitation doesn't mean a thing!snoke tarkin3jpgNeither Snoke nor Tarkin are Troopers, which means that the RIOT SHIELD is confined to blocking just 2 damage, which I think is a bit low for this deck. I'd actually consider either Bubble Shield or a true mitigation card like Doubt the better options. The former is passive like Riot Shield and the latter has a wider application. This is of course just off a hunch and more playtesting might prove me terribly wrong. The big advantage of the Riot Shield over a mitigation card is that you can claim the battlefield and still be able to block incoming damage.

5. SUPPORTS:

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Both CONSCRIPT SQUAD and IMPERIAL OFFICER are great supports that are gaining more and more popularity. Conscript Squads feel like the perfect replacement for the trusty DH-17 Blaster Pistol while it also is the red equivalent of Energy Bow, but with functional Redeploy. Both Snoke and Tarkin are Leaders, so you even get the Conscript Squad die in the pool simultaneously with one of your characters if you need to apply some endgame pressure!

The Imperial Officer has several die sides that slots in perfectly with the aim of this deck! The Focus sides to match with Snoke and Tarkin's most prevalent dice side(s) as well as a Ranged damage side to match the plethora of Ranged damage in the deck for Tarkin's Power Action or just aim straight to the face of an opponent's character. The ability to turn one of your trooper dice works wonders on most of the suppports in the deck, but is particularly good with either Vader's Fist or the Megablaster Troopers. The latter has so many Blanks (33% on all dice) that being able to auto-focus is just AMAZING! Players are generally catching up on how strong the Imperial Officer is and for good reason!tarkin snoke4jpg
This deck also runs DROID COMMANDOS, and while it has terrific die sides, the Special being somewhat me'h though, there are plenty of arguments for switching to either Ground Battalion or Hailfire Droid Tank - if you want to stay in the same price range - or take a look at some of the cheaper supports, i.e. ARC-170 Starfighter or a Dooku's Solar Sailer.  I'm actually inclined to lean towards Ground Battalion as the ability to take control of the Battlefield can be pretty good with either Salt Flats or Theed Royal Palace (granting you either a free Focus or a Resource every round) and it makes your helps facilitate your Scorched Earth plays as well.snoke tarkin5jpg
Is there any Destiny player who's not already aware of how good VADER'S FIST is? No?! Everyone and his neighbour and your neighbour's neighbour play Vader's Fist. So should you! I'm repeating myself, but it's just out-of-this-world value! Alright, let's move on.

MEGABLASTER TROOPERS is particularly menacing in this deck due to the sheer number of dice it floods into the pool, and this is probably one of the few decks (together with Captain Phasma decks), where I'd prefer to see the Megablasters over the Vader's Fist. Normally, the Megablaster Troopers are cursed with the disease of Blanks, but in this deck the Blanks can almost instantaneously be converted into Indirect damage with Tarkin's Power Action, fixed with the Imperial Officer or focused into Ranged damage. If I could be assured of finding an early Megablaster Troopers, I'd also strongly consider Rout or Measure for Measure in this deck.snoke tarkin7jpg
Although Rout most likely caps at removing 2 dice in this deck it's still pretty strong for just 1 resource, while Measure for Measure can also be used on plenty of other dice in your deck including the Conscript Squad which you are likely to mulligan for anyways!

6. REMOVAL:
tarkin snoke8jpgA SINISTER PEACE and HIDDEN MOTIVE are your 0cost mitigation cards and while I miss Doubt, as previously stated, in here as well, both of them are pretty good.

Hidden Motive is definitely the weaker of the two, usually removing a die 2/6 times, while 'just' meddling with the die the rest of the time. There are even some characters against whom Hidden Motive sucks, i.e. General Grievous, Doctor Aphra, etc.

When I first saw A Sinister Peace, I wasn't too fond of having to discard another card from my hand, but I've come around and find it to be one of the absolute strongest mitigation cards available.snoke tarkin9jpg
Recently, Joe Colon aka HonestlySarcastc of The Hyperloops wrote an article on how BEGUILE often weren't worth the resource cost. There's some merit to his point though and you are already a bit resource strapped in this deck. While Beguile at times can be AMAZING it does put limitations to your rounds. I guess, the easiest way for you to evaluate it is to take the deck for a spin and note down how often you discard it.

NEAR MISS is great as long as both your characters are alive and a dead card in your hand the moment you lose one of them!

7. TECH CARDS:


tarkin snoke10jpgBoth VIGILANCE and MIND EXTRACTION are currently looking like great tech cards! There's a plethora of characters that can all turn dice and focuses are literally everywhere at the moment, and while some characters like Yoda are not as present in the meta as they used to be, it can be extremely disruptive to have that Vigilance down.

MIND EXTRACTION is a bit more tricky. It can be EXTREMELY powerful against some characters, i.e. Snoke, Palpatine and Padmé, and will often, when it fulfill its role perfectly end up mitigating two character dice. There's a fine balance to be found between getting your own ramp going and limiting your opponent's board state. It's often better to be the active player than the reactive player, but if you can time the Mind Extraction correctly, it can be extremely powerful!tarkin snoke11jpg
PROBE is one of my all time favourite villain events ... it's great for when your opponent has played his upgrade/supports and sits back with a hand full of mitigation. Play it before getting your most powerful dice into the pool and keep a close eye on your opponent's reaction. Normally the reaction reveals if the Probe has taken care of all mitigation. Probe takes care of plenty of annoying events that can wreck your turn!

SCORCHED EARTH is a tricky card and takes patience to set up properly! But when it hits, it can hit like a truck! You are already dealing nice chunks of Indirect damage every round and even a 4-5 damage Scorched Earth can be lethal. Controlling the Battlefield is probably the most tricky part and you might need to save it for a future turn. Also ... that artwork ... oh boy!

8. BATTLEFIELD:
There are several good Battlefield options for this deck! One of them is SALT FLATS, which gives you additional focus options, either Blanking an opponent's die or fixing one of your own, while I also feel that THEED ROYAL PALACE can be a strong contender as it almost guaranteed allows you to drop a huge support in round 1.tarkin snoke battlefieldjpg
A Battlefield that I'm curious to try out with this pairing is MILITARY CAMP. First of all, it offers very little to no benefit for most other decks and while you can't use the reroll ability of it, it will allow you to get all your character dice in the pool in one go! That can potentially put loads of pressure on your opponent in particular if you also have a Conscript Squad in play or a Handheld Cannon and/or Force Storm in play.

9. MULLIGAN OPTIONS:

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I want to see early mitigation, preferably a Hidden Motive and/or A Sinister Peace, and a Probe can really do damage early. I'm certain that aiming for a big support early is the correct play, and it looks as if the Megablaster Troopers is the right size and shape to get the job done, while I'd also prioritise getting a Conscript Squad into play early!

10. ALTERNATIVE LIST:
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