All eyes were on Paris as the first Nationals ever to allow Across the Galaxy was about to kick off. Questions were aplenty ... where would Thrawn/Snoke be? Could Aphra/Snoke/BD maintain it's position as the top deck in the format? Where would OTK/OTM be?
The lead-up to the tournament was chaotic to say the least. For the first time ever in Star Wars Destiny history, FFG had to release an "emergency errata" to clarify the wording of Qui-Gon Jinn's Lightsaber, to avoid an infinite loop and basically an invincible deck. The story of that errata - and how difficult it was to find the right wording, go figure, is in itself insane ... (that's for another article though).
2. THE YOUR DESTINY TEAM:
It was a pleasure meeting up with a large group of the YOUR Destiny Testing Group, and seeing them do so well at the event was particularly fulfilling. Most of these players put in hours and hours of testing prior to premium events, and seeing their dedication pay off was a great pleasure. Knowing that I will be traveling to Worlds 2019 with most of them is also a huge satisfaction and something I look very much forward to.
We've said it before, but if you haven't teamed up yet, then do so. There are really just advantages to it. The camaraderie and fun is one aspect - improving at Destiny and celebrating each others successes another!
It was also great meeting up with the French players, many of whom are our patrons, and they were hospitable and great opponents! THANK YOU guys for making our trip great!
3. A SWARM OF TIES:
TIE Fighters have changed everything for villain vehicle decks. They might not look like a whole lot, but 4 of them can punch a hole the size of a Planetary Bombardment in anything. The TIE Fighters also address several other problems that have always been the bane of vehicle decks:
- DRAW DEPENDENCY: Not drawing into your vehicle when you need them is not a problem when your initial chance of drawing 1 TIE Fighter is 55% before mulligan. And once you draw ONE, you draw them ALL!
- DECK DENSITY: Finding the right balance between supports/events has always been a problem for vehicle decks, but being able to densify your deck by pulling 4 cards out of it is an incredibly powerful way of making covering your weaknesses.
- AMBUSH: IF you can find the 8 resources, you can potentially play all of the TIE's in one swift action not allowing your opponent time to react by disrupting your resources or discarding cards from your hand.
4. VADER'S FIST:
On our way to France, I told Mads Utzon before the tournament that in my test games with Thrawn/Snoke prior to French Nationals 2018, I had never lost a game where I managed to get Vader's Fist out round 1. Not a single game! After 9 games at French Nationals 2018 that claim still holds water!
Vader's Fist is an absolute horrifying card. It's a monster that can do everything. It can deal a potential 12 damage the round it is played, although more likely to do 9 - or deal 6 damage and disrupt 3 resources or give 2 Shields. The return on investment of that card is NUTS! It's so powerful that I had several opponent's call 5 with the Thrawn activation just to make sure that IF I had Vader's Fist in hand, I'd lose it.
The Vader's Fist die is also indomitable in the famed 'Overconfidence Battle'. All but a Planetary Bombardment die perish before the FIST! The expression: 'My opponent got fisted' is nauseating, but true ... yrddk ...
I'm not yet convinced that Vader's Fist needs an errata, we are just a couple of weeks into the meta, but it's moving dangerously in the grey zone.
5. SNOKE WILL BE NERFED ...
I will not join the choir of Snoke-haters, although I do understand them, but merely conclude that the Snoke nerf is inevitable. He is, as it is right now, prohibitive to deckbuilding. How can you not build a deck around the most powerful Power Action in the game? Protected by some solid health and boasting good dice?
The real discussion is what is the right balance? Is +1points to make him 12/14e fine or are we going to make him suffer more? Change of Power Action? Destiny players are extremely divided on this question, and while I'm not settled on where to go with Snoke, I just concur that Snoke WILL - and SHOULD - BE BALANCED OUT!
I'm resigned to the fact that I'll not be playing Snoke in the current form and shape again!
6. OTK/OTM DECKS:
A veritable crusade was launched against OTK and OTM decks, I even pitched in with an article of my own, although I dare to say that my starting point was somewhat different than the normal!
The fact is that an OTK or OTM deck, in the current format, is yet to win a major tournament. This is not to say that it's not going to happen any time soon, unless FFG puts a stop to the draw mechanism of various cards, but it hasn't happened yet! Do we have to fear them? YES!
Both Joe Colon and Mads Utzon have been running wild with various versions, either in the guise of a FAT SHADOWCASTER or a BUY OUT/LYING IN WAIT deck. They are not pretty - and it's pretty painful playing against. Although the mirror-match is pretty damn exciting. Really shows of the complexity of the game!
7. FAT VEHICLES:
I'm convinced that we have to be on the lookout for Fat Vehicle decks in the future. A decked out Firespray-31 or Shadowcaster is an absolutely horrifying thing to behold, and it can take down a character team in a few swift turns. Unless we get answers to supports, similar to Fall Back and Drop 'Em, we might be in for a world of pain!
ARMORED REINFORCEMENT brings a totally new level of brokenness into Plots and tutor elements in Destiny, allowing you to not only severely reduce the number of vehicles in your deck, and maximise on other powerful events and upgrades, but also to play it at a discount is definitely something to be vary of going forward into the Across the Galaxy meta.
It did not make a huge splash at French Nationals 2018, but that was due to the oppressive nature of Thrawn/Snoke, and even that powerful pairing can at times struggle against a well-played fat vehicle deck.
This character pairing looks pretty solid and did surprisingly well at the event. It's the "new" version of Yoda/Hondo, but with the potential to be even more devastating! If you can get a Villain card down fast, i.e. Backup Muscle or Salvage Stand, you're pretty golden! That Leia Special hurts! definitely keep an eye out for this one!
9. BLAST FROM THE PAST!
I guess the real surprise package in the top8 at French Nationals was the Poe/Hondo deck, which terrorised ever so briefly in the beginning of the Legacies meta. It was piloted by Maxime Dubosc - congrats for a great showing with this blast from the past! (Click the deck list to go straight to swdestinydb to tinker with it yourself).
I'm not going to linger too long at the character pairing itself, because its power is well-known and its time in the meta limited. It will disappear - and most people won't cry too many tears over that.
What was interesting about the French Nationals was the different approaches to the deck, and while they all seem similar - and in many ways are - they still work off three distinctly different design templates.
Which one is the more powerful can be difficult to say, but the winner of the French Nationals 2018 was Gerrit Backers' version (5-1 in Swiss) which looked like this, and even playing at a disadvantage, as he had wanted to include two Vader's Fist (arguably the strongest card in the deck), but only had access to one, so replaced it with a Hailfire Droid Tank. Just imagine what kind of pain Gerrit could have inflicted with two of those monsters (not that he needed them). (Click the deck list to go straight to swdestinydb and see the deck).
The focal point is the powerful combo of Jedi Temple/Grand Moff (first brought to our attention by Artificery's Zachery Hahn at Nova 2018) that can destroy an opponent's hand in the beginning of a round to let you run supreme and unmitigated throughout an entire round. This version of the deck is closest to a CONTROL deck.
Because of Jedi Temple, your own mitigation suite is slimmed down and includes Stifles as well as Separatist Landing Crafts (as opposed to Dark Rituals) that cannot be removed by an opponent claiming out with the Temple. You run a high number of supports in the anticipation that you'll be able to maximise each of your turns, which means that you need loads of dice in the pool.
The runner-up Tony Franco (4-2 in Swiss) ran another version, which I refer to as the MIDRANGE version of Thrawn/Snoke:
It leaves behind the Grand Moff/Jedi Temple combo to focus on heavy supports and a large mitigation suite to take care of all-comers. It's the version closest to a cookie-cutter Thrawn/Snoke vehicle deck, unless you regard Grand Moff a must-include. The sustained Indirect damage from the Hailfire Droid Tanks can be quite intense and in particular when also running the full TIE Fighter package. This can be an extremely taxing deck to play against because of the quality of the mitigation suite, which then in return can limit your own ramp.
11. AGGRO THRAWN/SNOKE:
The deck that Mads Utzon (5-1 in Swiss) and I (6-0 in Swiss) brought for the event was fine tuned hours before the event itself. In lack of a better description we refer to it as the AGGRO VERSION (which is a strange label for a character pairing that in any variant can deal indescribable amounts of damage in any given round). (Click the deck list to go straight to swdestinydb to start tinker with the list yourself).
This version also runs without Grand Moff/Jedi Temple and is designed to be less disruptive, although enough to create rounds where you will play unmitigated. The inclusion of the Handheld L-S1 Cannon, probably the best gun in the game, was due to a testing session with Joe Colon aka Honestly Sarcastc where he suggested it, and further test sessions just proved its merits in the deck. It was an absolute monster throughout the tournament and made the deck a bit faster with the capability of dishing out huge amounts of damage on character dice alone.
Imperial Discipline was a VIP all throughout the entire tournament. Being able to ALWAYS focus a Thrawn die into a 2 Resource side or any other result needed gave an unparalleled level on consistency, and put pressure on the already decimated mitigation of your opponent.
The Support package is small, which at times proved troublesome when you were on the bad side of variance, but was augmented by the addition of two Boundless Ambition.
We added the Boundless Ambitions because we recognised that drawing Vader's Fist early would most likely mean winning a game. The ability to dig deep into your deck to find the Fist or secondarily the TIE Fighters could be exactly the edge needed to steal away wins in the mirror match or kill off an opponent's low health character round 1. Boundless Ambition was amazing throughout the entire tournament - well apart from the top8 game, where I lost, when it didn't manage to find me a single support.
This version of the deck can put out loads of damage fast. With the optimal board state being a Handheld Cannon on Snoke, and a Vader's Fist. That's a potential 16 Indirect Damage round 1.
This still doesn't feel like the optimal version of the deck, although I'd be running one very similar to this if I was playing the tournament again tomorrow. I'd definitely lose the Feel Your Anger (there are simply too many quality dice in the game at the moment), add a Pinned Down and replace the Separatist Landing Craft with a Fang Fighter or possibly a Umbaran Hover Tank.
Losing in top8 was a bit of a confidence blow for me, but just proves that you need to stay sharp constantly. I don't like playing the role of the bridesmaid, although I should get used to it by now, and am determined to improve my game going forward into the Across the Galaxy meta.
12. THE META IS OPEN:
Trust me, the Across the Galaxy meta is still wide open. Sure, Thrawn/Snoke is having a field day now, it won't last. I'm excited to see where this will bring us!
I definitely see Jyn/Cassian as a contender and do think that Fat Vehicles look quite dominating now, while one cannot dismiss the emergence of a new version of Fat Tires (Snoke/Bazine/BD) that can do pretty well going forward!
Leia (Boussh)/Yoda: 4
Vader/First Order: 2
Rebel Engineer/L3-37/Ezra2: 2
Cad Bane/Snoke: 1
Congratulations to Gerrit Backer for winning the French Nationals 2018. He's been training with our German group of the YOUR Destiny Crew, and it definitely paid off! See you at Worlds 2019!