eThrawn/Sentinel - Deck Analysis

Thrawn deckjpg(CLICK THE IMAGE to go straight to swdestinydb and start tinkering with the deck list yourself!)

1. INTRODUCTION:

Written By DAVID PAYTON

This deck was created and piloted by myself to a top 16 spot within the recent European Continental. My Destiny history includes two other UK National Top 8s and one other Top 32 Euros. My best friend, John Stanford also piloted the deck (albeit with one change) but sadly didn’t make the Day 2 cut, though you can catch one of his games on the Day 1b stream. 


Since the preview article that announced Spark of Hope revealed that we had a new Thrawn coming, I was immediately looking at him and wishing he would be competitive. With every spoiler, I was hoping the set would contain a perfect partner for him for another elite pairing. Once the set was released it became apparent that we had very limited options for elite partners to go with Thrawn. Many simply disregarded him, deeming him as not competitive as a result. 


The journey to this deck will be published by my friends over at The Hyperloops, along with a Q&A regarding it, so please make sure to check it out. It will be useful to understand some of the insights.


Now, let us begin…

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Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art ...


With Gen Con, the early meta had established itself with the Droid flavours, Reylo, Jabba and Ewoks. Decks that could be studied. Known. A very good knowledge of decks; likely cards and threats is paramount to any success with this deck. It is not for the faint of the heart and is not forgiving AT ALL if you make a mistake.

2. CHARACTERS:
THRAWN – GRAND ADMIRAL is the core basis for this deck. His points cost is very awkward at 19 points, meaning there is a complete lack of effective elite pairings and not high enough to even benefit from Darksaber, though comes with a chunkier 13 health.Thrawn2jpg
Unlike his previous version, Thrawn possesses two damage sides, including a 3 Melee side. The rest of the sides are great, with the focus and discard sides especially useful. The latter proving to be quite handy against the decks currently that want to keep their hand. He can be a beat stick, but he is not as aggressive as Vader or Maul. He does not have the ability to resist mitigation, nor cause more damage like those other big little decks. 


The star of him is his ability. When activated, the Thrawn player can choose to look at the top four cards on either deck. This is the epitome of the above Thrawn quote, allowing you to know what your opponent has coming up. This is extremely powerful as it means you can plan for the next turn since you know what is going to happen. One of the major draws of the deck is in the ability to be able to plan out what your opponent will be doing and go about your game plan as a result. 


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Adding to this is the threat of Thrawn’s Power Action that can let you meddle with your opponent’s plans. The most obvious use is to use your opponent’s mitigation, which can help to bolster our mitigation package with our opponent's and give that extra juice to control them.



However, what most miss is it can be used for-any- event. Combo deck using Old Daka? Use their Common Cause and draw loads of cards. Truce? Get a resource and another action. Seen Ewok Glider or Droids Day Out? Just use them yourself to no effect, bar simply removing them being played against you. The Power Action can be so versatile that it’s impossible to list all the various combinations and uses that you can get out of it. Some of my favourites are using my opponent’s Convergence, Across the Galaxy or Desperate Measures.



A SENTINEL MESSENGER completes the character line-up, granting us access to blue with a great die that possesses a melee side with focus. The after ability can offer us an effective hand size of 6 cards from the start of the game; though this will be increased through other cards in the deck. 


3. UPGRADES/SUPPORTS:
If you’ve managed to watch my Top 32 game against Satine Droids, you’d have noticed how ADMIRAL plays out. The ability to get several activations from Thrawn is what enables this deck to be able close the gap in games and can suddenly hamstring your opponent. Thrawn’s ability lets you set up for the most optimal play; looking for the times to when your opponent simply cannot stop you and getting at least three activations of Thrawn in a single turn. Its other sides are great for us with Focus galore along with Shields and Indirect.Thrawn1jpg
GRAND MOFF forms part of the combination to go along with it. First, it’s a title so we can make better use of one of our tech cards which we’ll explain later on. Second, in combination with our battlefield its power action gives you more card advantage and helps provide resources. Even at it’s worst, the Power Action will switch over to your Battlefield which against Ewoks can save you from the dreaded double claim. Lastly, it’s die sides include Discard (already known to be powerful for us verses the support decks) as well as a two resource side that can help with ramp (or the Admiral play)

DAGGER OF MORTIS and DARTH VADER’S LIGHTSABER form our weapon package. The Dagger is simply so good to use for against Reylo along with stripping shields from enemy R2-D2s. The redeploy is a backup answer that can turn Sentinel into a threat to close out a game for if Thrawn falls. Vader’s Lightsaber has some pretty powerful sides that can help Thrawn hit harder, while also allowing you to roll back a Thrawn die for just one resource afterwards. With the earlier ADMIRAL reset, a single one of these weapons can make Thrawn very dangerous.Thrawn3jpg
MASTERMIND is one of my favourite new upgrades in Spark of Hope. Its die has everything we want for Thrawn at a cheap 1 cost. Focus. Resources. Special. The Special allowing you to name a card then look at opponent’s hand and remove said card from the game. When working with Thrawn, you should already know what they have in their hand but at worse can let you see it and plan accordingly in case something messed up your earlier knowledge. (Such as Entourage or Jabba activating) - it’s worth noting it’s die is essentially like the Inferno Droid, with a Blank instead of a 1 Melee. Personally, I prefer the Mastermind as its Special does not grant your opponent an additional action but Inferno could be a decent slot into this position still.Thrawn4jpgMEGABLASTER TROOPERS, VADER’S FIST and UMBARAN HOVER TANK are backup options that can assist you in closing out games; especially if Thrawn is able to get burst down very quickly. The Umbaran especially great in matchups verses Ewoks when used in combination with our plot, though with the prevalence of three wide it has it’s uses in other matchups as well. VIGILANCE was a last minute add to try and combat Droids.

Leading us to our final support: COUNT DOOKU'S SOLAR SAILER. A cornerstone of the deck and is the main reason to run our plot over Profitable Connections. The first round we are generally aiming to get Sailer out through use of our ARMORED REINFORCEMENT.Thrawn5jpg
It’s die sides are great for us, from the Focus; meaning we can switch Thrawn into whatever we want; to the Shields or Resources that can help keep Thrawn alive and ramp us further into our big Title plays. Last but not least at all is the activation ability allowing us to draw another card.

Remember when we mentioned how the Sentinel Messenger can have us play with an effective SIX card hand? The Solar Sailer makes this a SEVEN card hand and Grand Moff can make it an EIGHT card hand. This much card advantage is exactly what a control deck needs to thrive; while also enabling us to go through our deck to find what we need; when we need it.

4. REMOVAL:
Thrawn7jpgWhat may be surprising to many is how light the mitigation package for this control deck is. Blue enables us to get the best zero cost mitigation in the game with FORSAKEN and HIDDEN MOTIVE, while shoring up with A SINISTER PEACE and AUTOMATED DEFENSE. Generally, our resources need to go on our Upgrades or Supports, leaving very little to be spent on mitigation.

Additionally, while we can construct our own deck with mostly zero cost mitigation, we don’t have the same luxury with using mitigation from our opponent’s deck. An argument could be made for another copy of Sinister Peace, simply because we can discard our Titles with it and retrieve later.Thrawn9jpg RIOT SHIELD I class as mitigation, pre-empting it which I see as very necessary versus Droids who can simply pump damage into you before any chance of mitigation.

It is important to remember that even with less mitigation than normal, we overcome that with the ability to potentially use mitigation within the opponent’s deck. Nothing better then using an opponent’s Easy Pickings.

5. TECH CARDS:

As we’ve seen in red villain so far, COUNTERINTELLIGENCE is such a fantastic card. With Thrawn it’s even better, enabling us to potentially use said event if you wish afterwards. It forms part of our key plays to be able to perform our plan without interference from the opponent. To go along with this is also PROBE, which when using Thrawn is not as blind as it can be normally. You should know four of the five cards in your opponent’s hand most of the time, so you can know when playing PROBE could be most effective.Thrawn10jpg
SUDDEN IMPACT has been mentioned in so many articles right now, though for us it works with many die sides including the natural three side from Thrawn or the indirect ones from our titles. It’s in for purely the Ewok matchup, though it could be argued to be useful for the three wide meta we are facing. The only issue with it is I found I wanted to kill certain characters rather than spread the damage out.Thrawn13jpg
LOGISTICS is a key to help with our ramp, providing that all important extra resource from any of our die showing a resource. With both the Solar Sailer and Grand Moff, both cards you want to see early, possessing a 2 Resource side, it can turn them into enough to get out a Title with our key tech card. Additionally, it makes it more bearable to resolve Thrawn’s weak 1 Resource side when in a pinch. Talking about our key tech card:

YOU ARE IN COMMAND NOW is a key component that helps our deck work. With the amount of card draw we have; we don’t often want titles to remain in it and clog it up. Discarding our titles to keep the flow of cards coming or to even use for A Sinister Peace is perfectly fine as one of the key parts of this event is allowing us to play a title from our discard pile. Although it can be from hand if needed.Thrawn11jpg
Even better if allows us to do so at a discount of 1 resource. This might not seem big but let me tell you that getting to three resources is far easier for us then getting to four. Adding the gravy is then the ambush, which for titles like Grand Moff can then allow us to get back a resource and a card to replace it. Extra tricks with this card involve using it to bring an Admiral into play, overwriting Grand Moff and then paying the two to just ready your character. It’s why both Titles work so well together in the deck.

6. BATTLEFIELD:
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OUTER RIM OUTPOST is simply the best battlefield we could possibly have simply for one reason alone: Grand Moff. The ability for us to draw a card while also gaining a resource mid turn helps further our plans in control through more options in our cards while helping us get to what we need to win.

7. MULLIGAN OPTIONS:

The first consideration is that generally you are looking to pop Armored Reinforcement first round and spend both your resources. You’ll generally want to keep 0 cost cards. Counterintelligence and Logistics are great cards for your starting hand as they can help you plan your turn out to decide whether to ramp or damage. Remember that between Thrawn and Sentinel dice alone you can spike 8 damage and kill off a droid. One of the BUTs with using Armored Reinforcement first round is for the Jabba matchup considering the risk of Desperate Measures.HAND Thrawn ARTICLE2jpg
My perfect hand would generally be Counterintelligence, Logistics, You are in Command Now, Grand Moff and Forsaken or Hidden Motive. This could potentially get you out the Count Dooku's Solar Sailer AND the Grand Moff with using the Logistics on the 2 Resource side. A round 1 Thrawn with Grand Moff is very scary and sets up perfect for Admiral.

8. CLOSING THOUGHTS:
davi paytonjpgI find the deck such a blast to play with, fitting in very much so with the theme of Thrawn himself. If you’re not patient, nor a fan of durdling, I’d recommend you not try this deck! You have to learn what your opponent can do before going for your winning play. You’ll need plenty of reps to get into the right mindset, while also building upon your own memory skills in regard to the cards you can see with Thrawn. It’s a deck that in my belief is quite complex, prone to mistakes and fatigue but very rewarding to play with.

9. THANK YOU:
Thank you firstly to Az Johnston. Many of you will know of Az as he is one of the pillars of our community and was judging at this weekend’s event. Az has been helping in the testing of various Thrawn decks, helping me hone down into this pairing and setup. He’s been with me through the highs and lows of the last few months in my life recently and I cannot thank him enough.



Thank you to my local play group involving John Stanford, Gareth Parfitt, Tim Martin, Matt Flockheart, Matt Mccann. Every Thursday we meet up and it’s been great for you all to have let me bounce off various crazy iterations of Thrawn in different flavours. Putting up with my constant “I’m not sure about this, should I x or y or z?



Thanks to my semi regular opponents of John Snape, Aaron Booyhan, Carl & Kayne Harrison for the real life meetups or TTS play throughs. 


Other thanks to Phillip Stinchcomb (Chimaera), Jonathan Moss, Simon Willis (Sith Holocron), Chris and Simon from That Garbage Will Do Podcast and many more for their contributions and support.



The last thanks are to all of YOU: The Destiny Community that came out in support of me during the streams and the sheer joy from people in the usage of this deck.
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