Plo-Koon/Hoth Troopers - Deck Analysis

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(CLICK THE IMAGE to go straight to swdestinydb and start playing around with the deck yourself!)

1. INTRODUCTION:

Written by CLAUS STAAL

I HATE THIS DECK ... but there's no denying that it's pretty crazy efficient. But just so you guys know: I HATE THIS DECK! It also annoys the sh*t out of quite a few opponents.Hoth trooper quotejpg
Alright, I'm not sure it deserves all-CAPS LOCK, but the deck in so many ways counter what I thought I knew about Star Wars Destiny, but then again I'm willing to go with the flow, and throughout my testing this deck has really earned its stripes. You can easily annihilate a low-health character round 1, but the power level of the deck rapidly decreases as you start losing characters.

Although I've taken some nasty losses against this deck and won some games I had no business winning, I'm confident in saying that it's really just a janky deck. That doesn't mean it's not good or cannot be extremely fun to play - on the contrary.

BUT ... You'll often have games that looked like sure wins because you start like a furious thunder storm, dealing damage left and right, but then suddenly nothing seems possible and you'll end up with a defeat that just two rounds earlier looked impossible. That's very much the nature of this deck, but if you're up for that kind of thrill, then I'm sure you'll enjoy this deck.Hoth troopers waitingjpg
Maybe the most interesting thing about swarm decks, and not limited to the Hoth Troopers variant, is how they make cards, that are incredibly bad in almost any other deck, incredibly good. Maybe that is their true merit as an archetype: To revitalise the cardpool and make us consider the cards that were previously dismissed as junk. And maybe the price we pay for this is our acceptance of the anti-thesis to what we all believed to be Destiny - although reluctantly.
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2. CHARACTERS:

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Any time abilities stack, there's a possibility of abuse and that in itself merits closer examination. This was originally clarified with Plo Koon teaming up with Padawans for super discounted upgrades and later with Jedha Partisans for some big a*s discards from an opponent's deck. Being able to stack the damage from the Hoth Troopers ability makes for some scary damage dealing potential. Sure, it drops exponentially as Hoth Troopers start dying, but they are not necessarily THAT easy to get rid off and Plo Koon himself can prove a pretty tough alien to wrestle into the ground.hoth12 eventsjpg
You are effectively looking at 28hp as you'll be taking 2 Unblockable damage from BITTER RIVALRY at the start of the game, but adding Shields to the equation, and you'll probably never win the Battlefield roll-off and no-one will ever choose yours, you are still looking at 30hp. And even with 4 of your characters being 5hp characters, it can nonetheless be a tough nut to crack. Your opponent will need to maximise damage to take down characters fast, while your job is to spread the damage around or avoid it altogether, while focusing down characters while you still operate at full power, which is probably only going to last 2 rounds.hoth13jpg
From Round 3, you will likely be facing the daunting task of only being able to deal 1-2 damage per round or possibly none, and all the while your power level is waning your opponent's will be growing due to upgrades and supports in play. You will probably have no dice at all.

Sounds like your idea of fun?

3. DAMAGE OUT OF HAND:
Basically, cards that allows you to activate multiple characters work as damage out of hand as long as your opponent has at least one ready character. Hoth Troopers excel at spiking ready characters, but they are so slow that you are always at risk of missing out on damage.
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DEPLOYMENT and SQUAD TACTICS both solve this problem as they allow you to activate all your Hoth Troopers in one swift action. That can be up to 4 guaranteed damage. Not too shabby for 0-1cost events. It can be combined with SEIZE THE DAY for some fast paced damage that can put loads of pressure on low to mid-health characters.Hoth3jpg
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS work well with both Deployment and Squad Tactics because you can maximise the damage before starting to lose characters. Combining Squad Tactics with Strength In Numbers, which can be played round 1 without additional resources, can put 8 direct damage and 5 Indirect damage on an opponent in just 3 actions. None of it can be mitigated other than by your opponent activating the focused down character.

In a few of the versions I've added INFLICT PAIN, but that could easily be a Chain Lightning instead, or make room for both, and the latter might be preferable if the meta keeps developing along the fault lines of Droids or swarm decks similar to this one. I'm strongly considering adding two just to be able to deal the death blow when your opponent is down to one character and keeps eluding your damage from the remaining Hoth Trooper(s) by activating his character before you can respond.

[EDIT]: Since I completed the analysis, I had more games in with the deck and it definitely needs a bit of bite. I'd recommend adding two Inflict Pain or split 1:1 between that one and Chain Lightning.

4. READY, AIM, MAIM, KILL!!
Most decks will be going for the most dangerous character first. This deck is really looking at what it can kill. If you can take out a character round 1 or early round 2: AIM, MAIM, KILL!

Because you are not relying on dice, AT ALL, you'll basically need to calculate how many actions you need every round to defeat something.Hoth5jpg
Both SEIZE THE DAY and SEIZING TERRITORY helps your calculations because both speed up your rounds by ensuring you initiative and maximising damage from your characters. Especially that early big hit from Plo Koon can be essential midgame. If he survives that long.

Seizing Territory is great at setting up your next round by denying your opponent the Battlefield after he has claimed it and by taking initiative you also put your opponent in the defensive, while working well against opponent's relying on the Battlefield, whether it's eHan/R2-D2/C-3P0 with Rex's Blaster Pistol or lightning fast vehicle decks like Biggs Darklighter aboard a Falcon. Ahh ... and maybe it's worth mentioning Vader/redX ... yeah ... he might be a true terror against this deck! I guess the caption here is pretty apt.Hoth6jpg

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5. REMOVAL:

Hoth10jpgBLAZE OF GLORY and INTO THE GARBAGE CHUTE are both amazing in this deck. There's absolutely nothing better than overkilling a Hoth Trooper by a gazillion damage. Both cards can essentially be a time walk on your opponent when he's been rerolling dice to form the perfect killing blow on several of your characters. They are also both yet another example of great cards at splitting base damage sides from modified sides. The best thing is you still get to do damage on an opponent's ready character when Blaze of Glorying into your death.Hoth troopers triggerjpg
Don't for a second though think that your opponent can't smell a strong mitigation card from a mile away the first time you pass with a ready Hoth Trooper, whether you've been sitting back with Blaze of Glory or Into the Garbage Chute.Hoth9jpg
ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE, HIDDEN MOTIVE and PACIFY are your 0cost mitigation cards, and while the event suite is generally cheap, you also don't have any way of generating resources other than Plo Koon's 16% chance of hitting it right off the bat or Respite, which means that your free mitigation is precious. Make it count.

Electromagnetic Pulse is definitely a meta call and you might want to add a Suppressive Fire instead, but I'm almost confident that you'll get to use it in more than 50% of your games, with both Aphra Droids and Hero Droids looking to dominate the meta for a while and vehicles not completely out of the meta.Hoth11jpgOUR SITUATION IS DESPERATE and SNUFF OUT are your get out of jail cards. They are both excellent because you either easily fulfill the requirements for it to break the ceiling for efficiency (Our Situation Is Desperate) or do not suffer the negative consequences of it (Snuff Out). Being able to remove 3+ dice for two resources is pretty amazing.

Snuff Out is tricky though, and while it's nuts against godrolls, the round you play it, you'll most likely not be doing anything else. It completely depletes your resources and you'll either need to save up the resources or often find yourself stuck in a catch-22.Hoth14jpg
RIOT SHIELDS are amazing on the Hoth Troopers. Because they are all Subtype - Trooper it functionally increases their health from 5 to 8!

6. DOWNGRADES:
Hoth8jpgI've been testing out HAMPERED and in some games it hasn't really done anything while it's been a real gem in others. It's great against decks that rely on modifiers to spike damage on a character by splitting the base damage, usually character dice, from modified sides, usually upgrades and/or supports. Another great thing is that it can be played reactively, so it doesn't really slow you down. You still get to activate your characters and can sit back and wait for that discard to reroll or Focus into a million damage before playing it. In some games it has functionally been a two dice removal card (and it cost 0).

It's probably, if you decide to keep it in the deck, still a one-off, but can serve as an out when you need it.

7. FLEX SPOTS:
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In this list I did a 1:1 split between OFF THE SENSORS and CRASH LANDING, and while Off The Sensors can be great for its versatility it never really felt good, and I often found it difficult to pay for. Crash Landing on the other hand always seemed handy. Being able to spread damage wide is just good in a deck with 30hp.

In many games resources are tight, and Aftermath would go a long way to solve that problem. Unfortunately it is now limited to 1 resource per round, which kind of makes it a big maybe (that change was of course made due to Acceptable Losses, which would have been a stupid resource generator otherwise). You might also want to look at other "swarm cards" like Support of the Tribe, etc., but I haven't tested those at all.

8. BATTLEFIELD:
Hoth Troopers SoH battlefieldjpgYou are actually not too slow a deck if your draws are good and things generally go your way. You don't have any dice to reroll and all your characters can potentially be activated in a few turns, but you'll often be in race with your opponent to claim the Battlefield, who'll want initiative to keep you from focusing down one character. And although you have Seizing Territory to recapture the Battlefield, your opponent is still likely to benefit from the Claim ability - if any - so, you are probably looking for a Battlefield that doesn't have too high an impact.

Going for ARENA OF DEATH is probably the strongest strategy as it is likely to have a big impact for you midgame while little to no impact for your opponent (unless your opponent is a swarm player as well), but in a few games I've considered Bendu's Lair as a possible Battlefield - in the unlikely event that you actually win the roll-off - as it brings a bit more damage and a 2 Shield side which is pretty good.

9. MULLIGAN:
HAND Hoth Troopers ARTICLE2jpgYou are looking to spike damage as fast as possible, so any of your Squad Tactics/Deployment and/or Seize the Day will be a great start. That way you can put a possible 8 damage on a character almost at will. I also like to have an early Respite to start accumulating resources, sift through the deck and prepare for the onslaught in round 2 and 3 where you'll need your expensive mitigation pieces. A couple of free mitigation, whether it's Hidden Motive, Pacify or Crash Landing are all great, but I'd also settle for an Into The Garbage Chute. You'll probably want to ditch cards like Snuff Out, Our Situation Is Desperate and Blaze of Glory. Keep at least one mitigation card and ditch the rest to find your speed cards early.

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