Written by CLAUS STAAL
Cards in hand is one of the most important and powerful commodities in Star Wars Destiny. Cards in hand will:
- Allow you to play cards that can advance your board state, either via powerful abilities and/or effects, or
- Add cards with dice that can be rolled into the pool.
- Cards in hand also allow you to interfere with your opponent's board state either by temporarily removing dice from the pool, i.e. removal cards such as Easy Pickings and Automated Defense, or permanently by removing cards in play, i.e. Vandalize and Desperate Measures.
- On top of this there are numerous powerful effects from various cards that can help you secure wins either by healing characters, i.e. Field Medic, deal damage to an opponent's character or something entirely different ...
- Finally, any card in hand can be discarded to reroll as many of your dice as you want to.
You already know this, obviously, because it's a fundamental aspect of Destiny and every deck builders finest task is to figure out how to maximise the effects of each and every card you draw throughout a game. I'm merely mentioning this to make the following point: "If you could draw your entire deck at the beginning of a game, you would win any game!" ... and while this isn't entirely true, it's not far from the truth.
In fact, many of the attempts made at breaking the game have involved drawing your entire deck in as few rounds as possible to consequently either mill your opponent's entire deck or deal lethal damage to all opposing characters in one deadly round! These were the so-called One Turn Kill decks (OTK), although it is in fact One Round Kill decks.
This slowly brings us to the main topic of today: The power of drawing cards!
Some of the most powerful characters in the game today allow you to draw additional cards! And while not all of them are broken, by any measure, the ability to functionally increase your hand size is insanely good. This includes possibly one of the best support characters in the game, the SENTINEL MESSENGER, as well as the giant slug JABBA THE HUTT - INFLUENTIAL KINGPIN. Both are incidentally a part of the character line-ups that form one of the best trios in the current Standard Format: the 3wide Jabba Support deck (and it doesn't hurt that Wat Tambor is also a pretty feisty fella). Here is Tony Franco's European Championship winning deck:
Both characters allow you to swiftly filter through your deck allowing for a HUGE event suite, 19 cards, while effectively increasing your hand size with 2 throughout a game! It also gives you the benefit of being able to qualify your starting hand, opting to keep several powerful supports and aim for events with either of Jabba's and the Sentinel's draw ability! You are in fact looking at 81% chance of drawing a yellow event in your initial activation, round 1, with Jabba, provided you have all 8 yellow events in a deck of 25 cards remaining. As long as you get your sequencing right, you should also be able to play any of the cards drawn with the Sentinel!
Nobody takes the card draw mechanism to the same broken heights as Doctor Aphra! Despite her high cost and relatively poor die, she has still managed to be the gravitation point in one of the best decks in the format, although suffering a bit a the moment, and in conjunction with her trusty murder droid, BT-1, as well as events dealing yourself Indirect damage, she can race through your deck at an uncanny speed. In the most successful version of Doctor Aphra decks, her ability is augmented by the Sentinel Messenger as well as GRAND DESIGN, allowing for some crazy card draw effects! Below is Hyperlooper Nicolas Cuenca's Top16 deck from the US Grand Championship 2019 at NOVA, which in addition to all the aforementioned draw cards also includes RESPITE just for good measure!
Other characters with powerful card draw effects include the DARK ADVISOR and MAZ KANATA, neither really doesn't see any play though, and of course the special interaction offered by CHOPPER with your discard pile!
While being able to play cards from your discard pile doesn't offer you an increased hand size per se, it nonetheless functionally offers you more cards by allowing you to discard cards to reroll and bring them back into play! We'll look a bit more at Chopper in this article.
When Mads Utzon and I were preparing for the French Nationals 2018, we were deep into the eThrawn/eSnoke meta and were trying to figure out how to get an advantage in the mirror match as we correctly expected Thrawn decks to be everywhere! We immediately gravitated towards BOUNDLESS AMBITION, likely to be one of the best draw events EVER! Restocking your hand with cards to either give an abundance of discard to rerolls or find the supports you needed to win the game could be, and proved to be, game changers in quite a few matches.
So, it was natural for Mads to use that same philosophy when looking at the Satine Droids deck that he eventually took to the European Championship 2019, and while Boundless Ambition has rotated out (AND being villain), several other events stand ready to replace it! When spotting a plot RENEWED PURPOSE definitely looks like a strong contender, while ANCIENT WISDOM has no spot requirements, but is the weaker version.
In a deck that can make a tons of resources, like the Satine Droids deck, you are obviously looking for powerful cards to spend your resources on! Hitting the right combination of cards in your opening hand can be both a difficult and fickle art. Support based decks are generally pretty draw dependent and can fold completely if suffering from consecutive bad draws. Cards like Renewed Purpose allows you to off set this weakness and will more often than not give you plenty of options! Options are key to winning!
I'm also pretty certain that the great players from Arrow Brook Gaming took note of this tech when they refined their Chopper Droids deck that sent two from their team into Top 8 and one into Top 4 at the US Grand Championship 2019. Amongst other things, ABG member Kyle Warren says the following in his tournament report following NOVA 2019:
Chopper Droids does not (normally) spot a plot, which means that Renewed Purpose is off limits for them, but as previously mentioned, due to Chopper's Power Action that allows you to interact with your discard pile, the negative impact of the normally less powerful STRONG INTUITION is totally negated. By allowing you to discard an upgrade that can immediately be recurred from the discard pile it in fact becomes as good as Renewed Purpose (in that particular setup). Nicely spotted by Kyle! The deck btw. also use DROIDS DAY OUT, which in addition to activating all your Droids allows you to draw a card as long as you activate 3 droids.
Tutoring a card from your deck doesn't really give you an increased hand size, but it offers you more copies of a particularly powerful card that you will want to play as early as possible in a game, essentially trading a copy of the tutor for a copy of your preferred card (the term "tutoring" is a leftover from the original Magic The Gathering card Demonic Tutor). Your chances of drawing (in your starting hand) a copy of either the tutor or the card you are going to tutor for is in fact increased from 31% to 54% by adding 2 additional copies in your deck. And that's before mulligan!
The most powerful tutor in Destiny probably still remains the ARMORED REINFORCEMENT as it functionally gives you an extra card in hand, as opposed to all other tutors, as well as offers a discount when playing the card picked from either the deck or discard pile! We saw the power of Armored Reinforcement during the hey days of the FAT Vehicle archetype and recently Mike Gemme reintroduced it and (ab)used it to devastating effect in the Ewok Swarm AR Deck that took the North American Championship 2019 by storm! Just in case we had forgotten how absurdly good it is! That tech is now the worst kept secret in Destiny, but it's still an amazing find!
Although Armored Reinforcement is the most powerful tutor in the game, ENTOURAGE is probably the most broken! It really offers something uniquely powerful that can only be mimicked by the TIE FIGHTER (and HANGAR BAY once Covert Missions is released), and then in a comparatively weaker version.
These tutors are obviously powerful in their own right, although they all come at a significant cost, but Entourage, simply due to the power of the support itself brings a whole new level of power to your board state!
Entourage boasts an incredibly good die, and might just at the moment be the best support, pound for pound, in the game, and can tutor for other supports that are equally good: HIRED MUSCLE and FICKLE MERCENARIES! One Entourage can snowball into 4 supports that additionally will help power its Special! That side suddenly goes from (minimum) 1 damage to 4 damage (potentially higher if you have more scoundrels in play). That's incredible VALUE! It's no surprise that Entourage is one of the go-to cards for most support based decks!
The tutor effect also makes it one of the best supports to protect it from support hate cards like Desperate Measures because it replaces itself! It's of course always going to be bad losing the original investment, but you are going to suffer much less than if you were playing a regular support.
We recently saw David Payton rise to the challenge of the Droids and Slugs dominating the top tables at the European Championship 2019 and challenge them all with his fantastic eThrawn/Sentinel/AR deck. Although eventually succumbing to the power of all that is broken he did get to demonstrate the power of drawing cards using Thrawn and assisted by several cards already covered in this article like the Sentinel Messenger and Armored Reinforcement to tutor for the COUNT DOOKU'S SOLAR SAILER!
What really made David Payton's deck work was several card draw engines, including the quite unique one offered by Thrawn himself, essentially using cards from your opponent's deck to functionally increase your own hand size. Clearly, setting yourself up to operate with a possible hand size of 6-8 cards can make even a tier 1.5-2 character combination competitive.
7. FINAL THOUGHTS:
As I've tried to show in this article, there are plenty of powerful cards available that allow you to effectively increase your hand size, and there are currently no cards or effects that punishes an increased hand size (similar to the good 'ol Black Vise in Magic The Gathering). Some cards have added effects, other than allowing you to draw a card, like increased damage from the TREASURED LIGHTSABER, playing a blue ability from your hand at a discount courtesy of the JEDI HOLOCRON or turning dice with R2-D2!
In any instance, remember - obviously - that while simply drawing cards does not win games, it will offer you a whole lot of possibilities, which translates to lines of play, that were not possible prior to you drawing those cards. Possibilities in turn means offering you ways of winning! The next time you curse your bad draws or lack of upgrades or mitigation, maybe you want to look into some of the cards discussed today!
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