ReyLo - BBTF - Deck Analysis

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1. INTRODUCTION:
Written by CLAUS STAAL

REYLO - BOUND BY THE FORCE is a deck that most of you know I love to hate on! It could be one of the main reasons why you'd want to go back and sleeve up your Intimidate and Frightens. This deck is all about synergies and it definitely rewards the patient player. It doesn't have your classic "Joe Colon durdle feel" to it, but it's also a deceptive deck because it might look and on the surface feel like a  middle/middle deck, but it's really not. The characters enhance each other, but once one falls the other immediately starts faltering. While it starts off much stronger than your usual 2wide deck, although with the usual weaknesses, but the decline can be very rapid!

After having tested the deck extensively I might just start appreciating its special position within the meta. While it's a fair deck in a world of broken stuff, it does offer something quite unique. Is it powerful enough to stand up to the challenges posed by tin cans, giant slugs and teddy bears? Well ...

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The deck list displayed at the beginning of the article, and the focal point of this deck analysis, is Matthew Ranks' runner-up deck from the US Grand Championship 2019 at NOVA, and I was honestly surprised at how well he did at the event. He was on stream a couple of times and all his games were incredibly exciting. Congrats on that great run and thank you for showing how powerful this deck can be with some tight plays!

Grandpa Jake recently did a tournament report on his run to Top16 at Gen Con over at The Hyperloops and I'd also recommend you read that report!

2. CHARACTERS:
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KYLO REN definitely feels like the stronger of the two characters in the line-up and while REY is essential for your early game and ability to shield up and resisting an early attempt to focus a character down, Kylo is your finisher! Rey definitely fights an uphill battle on her own, while the more aggressive die of Kylo puts more pressure on your own opponent. Kylo's Special, feels particularly strong in the current meta as cowering behind shields is a viable strategy these days. A Kylo Special can hold an opponent's Shield sides ransom while it also slices through Riot Shields and Armor Platings. It's not unblockable damage, but it might as well have been!

You'll probably want to focus your upgrades on Rey first unless you draw a Crossguard Lightsaber in your opening hand as players tend to, understandably enough, go straight for Kylo. It also solves the problem of you often moving Shields from Kylo to Rey.

Both characters have relatively weak dice for 11/15e characters, and the 4 points for their elite dice can seem pretty excessive in a vacuum, but that's also not how the characters are supposed to be viewed. They go together like rama-lama-ding-dong.

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3. SYNERGY, BABY!
You would have to be deaf, blind and dumb not to see the synergies between these two pseudo lovers - and while I didn't acknowledge right at the release how strong it would be, and to some extent still deny it, there's no getting around the fact that if you are looking for a competitive two-character line-up, ReyLo is probably your strongest starting point.

You might only have a 4dice start, but it can effectively become much higher! If your opponent wins the roll-off for Battlefield, which he probably is going to, and opts for your Battlefield to take the shields, then prepare to feast! If he doubles up on the mistake to split the shields 1:1 on two characters start laughing manically! You are now set up for a possible three resolutions on one of your Kylo Ren dice, at a minimum two barring mitigation in your opponent's hand. That's 3-for-1, right there! BOOM!Reylo2jpg
If your opponent conversely decides to give you the shields and take control of his own Battlefield, you can use Kylo's Power Action to deal damage straight off the bat and get maximum benefit out of Rey's powerful Special! It's really a catch-22 for your opponent, damned if you do and damned if you don't!
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This is probably what has impressed me the most about ReyLo after my test games, how incredibly tanky the deck is. If you thought eLuke3/eYoda was able to shield up efficiently, just wait till Rey goes bananas with her Specials! You'll often finish round 1 fully loaded with Shields on both your characters, which means an effective health of 28hp ... that's pretty decent!

Add to this that Rey's Power Action, if not used to turn Kylo Ren's dice can be used to soft mitigate your opponent's character dice, Blanking villain dice or rerolling hero/neutral dice.

Alternatively they also have the chance of going all in on damage early on, and while it is by no means an easy feat, and you are likely to need a couple of rerolls, you can focus a character down round 1, which can be pretty clutch against Droid decks or Jabba 3wide Supports, and I've even had the pleasure of hacking a bunch of Ewoks to pieces through a Diplomatic Protection courtesy of a rampant Kylo die that would just not stop rolling Specials!
BEGINNER TIP:
Remember that you can never resolve the same die more than once per turn! So, if you resolve your Kylo or Rey Special, roll it again and hit another Special, you'll need to wait until next turn before resolving the die again.
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4. EASY PICKINGS:
ReyLo plays out exactly like a middle-middle deck, even if as previously mentioned it's not an exact fit to the archetype, and utilise powerful upgrades to push through damage. The problem with many of these upgrades in conjunction with your character dice is that it leaves you VERY PRONE to Easy Pickings and even cards like Entangle and In The Crosshairs (you won't see many of the latter though). Most of your dice share AT LEAST 2 die sides that will allow them to be picked, and it can feel like an almost instantaneous game loss to have two out of five dice picked in round 1.kyl rey3jpg
Make sure that you make it as difficult as possible for your opponent to pick off your dice. Don't get tempted to roll all your dice into the pool to maximise the effect of your discards-to-reroll if there's a risk of an Easy Pickings or any other mitigation that threatens to time walk you ... go slow, stay safe!

5. REDEPLOY UPGRADES:
Good players will generally be able to play their way around you getting too much benefit out of Redeploy weapons, so don't stare yourself blind on whether or not your upgrades are redeployable. Follow the lines of play that benefit you the most while simultaneously can disrupt your opponent's game plan.kylo rey4jpg
All three upgrades, DAGGER OF MORTIS, EZRA BRIDGER'S LIGHTSABER and REY'S LIGHTSABER are pretty self-explanatory. Dagger of Mortis works really well with Kylo and Rey both alive, first moving Shields with Kylo Ren's Power Action before moving the back with Dagger of Mortis. Synergies man!

Rey's Lightsaber has troublesome die sides which are usually outweighed by its ability to give Rey two Shields, but in this deck it normally goes on Kylo because he's usually the first target and he also benefits from the shields. You can be a bit strapped for resources in this deck so the 3 Melee side for 1 can be somewhat of an eyesore at times.

6. UPGRADES:
kylo rey5jpgLUKE SKYWALKER'S LIGHTNING ROD has great die sides for a 2cost upgrade! If only the ability wasn't limited to Luke Skywalker it'd have been CRAZY! Alas ... it's a fine piece in your starting hand, and you'll most of the time want to resolve any of the sides.

For your 3cost upgrades there are plenty of strong choices in the arsenal of blue neutral/heroes/villains. I think QUI-GON JINN'S LIGHTSABER has an interesting ability, but there would be plenty of arguments to go with another powerful 3cost upgrade, i.e. Heirloom Lightsaber or possibly Obi-Wan's Lightsaber. The former has redeploy, but the latter seems to work so well with the Special synergies of both Rey and Kylo.

YODA'S LIGHTSABER is a funky little thing. It doesn't do a whole lot of damage, but the Special is pretty powerful if you can keep yourself fully loaded on Shields! The 1 damage sides are not impressive, sure, but its low cost offers you plenty of possibilities to get a second upgrade in play as early as round 1 (if you can find a Resource side), i.e. Niman Mastery, or leave a bit of cash for a tech card.kylo rey8jpg
CROSSGUARD LIGHTSABER, NIMAN MASTERY and TREASURED LIGHTSABER are your three strongest upgrades in your arsenal and you want to see one of those bad boys in your starting hand. All of them are extremely potent and their Specials can be resolved in one swift action if needed.

It's obviously the best to draw the Treasured Lightsaber first to give you the draw advantage and while its die is dependent on finding a base Melee side on another die, its Special works better in conjunction with Kylo's Specials! The ping damage from the Crossguard Lightsaber can be nice if you are trying to wrestle down a low to midhealth character round 1, i.e. a Droid or a Sentinel Messenger, but either should serve you fine! Also remember that if you sequence things right, you can continuously boost the Treasured Lightsaber Special with the R2-D2 card draw (even after playing a card from your hand).

Niman Mastery is simply one of the best blue upgrades around (the secondary market seems proof of that)! It's CRAZY good. No Blanks on the die and allowing you to turn either a character or an upgrade die when you play it. There's so much value in the Niman Mastery Special as long as you have another upgrade die in the pool. Play your Niman Mastery on Rey while Kylo's dice are in the pool, preferably alongside a Crossguard Lightsaber or a Treasured Lightsaber, resolve as much as you can, get Rey's dice into the fray and go to town! Playing Niman Mastery also becomes a serious argument for adding at least one copy of DRAW CLOSER to the deck, but we'll discuss that later!
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7. REMOVAL:

All your base mitigation is 0cost mitigation! As previously stated, resources is pretty scarce in this deck and whatever resources you manage to accumulate will either be converted into upgrades or some of your tech cards. It's already a tough choice on playing upgrades or offering yourself as many outs as possible with your relative small package of tech cards, so you cannot afford yourself the luxury of adding expensive, but powerful mitigation like Repulse or Beguile. Even cards like Isolation feels bad to include. Removing 1 die for 1 resource just doesn't feel good.kylo rey9jpg
FORSAKEN is just good! It can be a bit tricky to set up in this deck as you have only a few supports, in fact only R2-D2, that can set it up fast unless your opponent himself sets it up by getting a single die into the pool. And usually a good player will be wary of getting himself into an unfavourable situation. Luckily, you can with relative ease bring yourself from 3-4 dice down to the required 1 through some fast Special chaining!

HIDDEN MOTIVE seems to get better in the current meta. With the meta rife with cards like Fickle Mercenaries, Chewbacca's Blaster Rifle, you are now often looking at 50% chance of removing the die you target rather than the usual 33%. I've often found that you'll be in situation where you'll have to choose between the most unfavourable result on a die, i.e. a Special on Entourage showing lethal damage, and the highest odds of removing the die, i.e. calling Indirect damage on the reroll of the Entourage die. Just keep it in mind and don't let yourself be auto-piloted out of the game.

ReyLo is probably the deck where PACIFY shines the most (as long as both characters are alive). I honestly looks tailor made for it! The flexibility of the card plays so well into what this deck does. Remove an opponent's die to give him shields and set up the Kylo Special, or remove your own die to give you shields and trigger the Rey Special. NICE!

8. FLEX CARDS:
kylo rey10jpgBoth A99 AQUATA BREATHER and YODA'S HUT were in Matthew Rank's original list for the US Grand Championship 2019 at NOVA, but in my 6 first test games with the deck prior to writing this deck analysis, I didn't play any of them a single time. I probably could have played the Aquata Breather a couple of times, but just didn't think it was necessary at the time, while I never even considered playing Yoda's Hut and it kind of annoyed me every time I drew it! I'd much rather have seen a KNIGHTHOOD in its place, which also immediately enables Kylo's Power Action and Rey's Special independently of who has initiative.

For my last 6 test games I added different cards to try them out and in particular DRAW CLOSER impressed and in fact won me two games, one which I'd have lost without it, while I also kind of liked both Qui-Gon Jinn's Spirit and Yoda's Spirit. None of them enough though to keep them in my final iteration of the deck.kylo rey11jpg
Draw Closer could also be an ATARU STRIKE, which has a lower ceiling: 5 damage as opposed to 6 damage, but also only costs 1 resource, while Draw Closer prevents you splitting up base and modified damage sides as long as you have a Niman Mastery in play. I guess that choice really comes down to preference.

9. TECH CARDS:
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I like CONFLICTED a lot in this deck! It's going to give you shields 66% of the time and only damage occasionally! Do NOT think of it as damage out of hand, but rather as a reroll with the advantage of either Shields or Damage. I'd never set up my game plan around a Conflicted successfully rolling damage.

POLARITY is great for setting up both Kylo Specials and/or Power Action and works beautifully with Rey's Special and/or Power Action as well. It obviously works the best when both characters are alive, but can still be utilised when either Kylo or Rey is left standing.

STEADFAST
You don't normally get to move 2 damage with Steadfast, but it feels good when you do! You normally want to shield up early in the game and often, if your game plan is successful, do not to take any damage on your characters round 1. Moving 1 damage midgame is usually enough to snipe off a character though! It's a mini Field Medic with the same damage swing.

10. SUPPORTS:
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I absolutely hate IT BINDS ALL THINGS and if there was any way to not include it I would! But you need to have it in the deck unless you want to add ADAPT instead. There are so few ways for this deck to ramp and that can be crucial against strong support decks! In those match ups an early It Binds All Things can be a game changer. It's bad because it's already losing lots of value if drawn round 2 and is absolutely useless round 3! Cards like that gives you that feeling of doing something wrong.

LUKE'S PROTECTION is a bit weird. It essentially reads: "Gain 1 Shield every round, but reduce your hand size by 1". That's honestly a tough call. Is the shield worth sacrificing a card every round for? It does get significantly better if you can loop it with Treasured Lightsaber and R2-D2, who by the way is so good that he might be deserving two spots in the deck, which means that you could get a potential triple use out of Luke's Protection:
  1. Play Luke's Protection, use Luke's Protection and gain a Shield
  2. Play Treasured Lightsaber, draw Luke's Protection
  3. Play Luke's Protection
  4. Play R2-D2, resolve R2 Special, draw Luke's Protection
  5. Play Luke's Protection!
If that's your thing and you think R2-D2 is going to be full of Special tricks, well ... then do like Jonathan Magnuson and add 2 of each! (You can check out his deck list at the end of this article)!

That leads us to R2-D2! This beautiful little amazing droid! Anything that can give you a card advantage is worth consideration, and he even allows you to start a Special chain! CHECK - CHECK! I'm still seriously considering two in the deck! Only thing that sours it up a bit is the support hate floating around, which in turn of course could be used as an argument for actually bringing two.
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11. BATTLEFIELD:
In 12 test games I haven't won the Battlefield roll-off a single time! This is of course highly unusual, but your dice are actually pretty bad as you functionally have 2 Blanks on each, which makes for a low average of 0.833/die.

I was pretty amused and a bit baffled at seeing Matthew Ranks play BENDU'S LAIR in his ReyLo deck and I still can't for the life of me understand why. I mean, I understand that you get an extra die with pretty dope die sides, but ReyLo is a very reactive deck that just doesn't "do its thing and claim", but is often very dependent on the last couple of actions of your opponent! You often sit around with 1 or 2 dice in the pool and wait for your opponent to resolve a Shield side (then you use your Kylo Special) or resolving damage against you before stockpiling Shields again (resolving your Rey Special) or ... I've often lost the claim and benefitted from it. Giving your opponent another die that you have to deal with the next turn just doesn't feel right.
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SNOKE'S THRONE ROOM seems built for ReyLo, but I don't like it. It feels like you are giving your opponent too much of an advantage if he claims against you, while OBI-WAN'S HUT feels safer, has a more limited application for your opponent, and helps you set up Kylo's Specials without the downside of Snoke's Throne Room.

12. MULLIGAN OPTIONS:

HAND Reylo ARTICLE2jpgYou want to see It Binds All Things in your starting hand, round 2 can be ok'ish, but round 3 it's a discard to reroll. My two favourite upgrades in my starting hand is Treasured Lightsaber and Crossguard Lightsaber. I always want two 2cost upgrades, in case I find the resources to play a second upgrade, and will pitch any 3cost upgrade. Pacify is a great utility piece that completes my preferred four, and while the second It Binds All Things would be fantastic, I'll settle for most other cards. If you don't expect any support hate then I'd also keep R2-D2 in my starting hand and definitely play that over any upgrade!

13. ALTERNATIVE LIST 1:
I like how Jonathan Magnuson from The Destiny Council has gone much more aggressive in this list! It relies heavily on card draws, i.e. Renewed Purpose and Dark Counsel, and has more tricks up its sleeve, but has had to cut back on the weapons package. Jonathan took this iteration of ReyLo to Top 16 at the US Grand Championship 2019 at NOVA.

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14. ALTERNATIVE LIST 2:
This ended up as my final test list. This is by no means a done list, but having started out with Matthew Ranks' list and gradually removing cards that rarely if ever saw play led me to keeping most of the upgrade suite, but adding the two tech cards Ataru Strike and Draw Closer, and I like the 1:1 split here, but still contemplating going all in on the R2-D2/Luke's Protection/Treasured Lightsaber package.
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