1. DECK SELECTION:
Historically, I struggle to settle on a deck before any competitive event. This has been the case for every FFG game I’ve played: Netrunner, Conquest, L5R, and Destiny. I’m a fan of playing less popular decks even if it means sacrificing power in doing so. The added challenge is generally more rewarding to me than results. I vowed that this event would be different; this time I would settle on a deck at least a few days in advance.
I played 5die Villain at our local event a few days prior. It felt well positioned against vehicle decks, which usually have a number of lower health characters and allows for some crazy Bala-Tik reactivations, and I did expect to see a lot of vehicles. I was also expecting a number of Launch Bay decks (HERO OTK), so I wanted to be packing some hand disruption.
Despite losing a couple of casual games at dinner the night before the main event, I was feeling pretty confident about the deck. But as we were about to enter the Skywalk that leads to the convention center from our hotel, it didn’t feel like the right call. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I’d have solid results with the deck, it’s an inherently powerful deck and I’ve piloted it a number of times, but I quite simply wasn’t in the mood to play it for eight straight games.
The one certainty I had going into the event was that I would be playing Mother Talzin. I had the shells of four different Talzin decks in my bag, and I decided on a whim to bring out the Mandalorian Super Commandos. In my mind, it was/is the more competitive villain counterpart to my favorite Way of the Force pet deck, Qui-Gon/Ezra2. It was also the second deck I ever put together after WotF launched, so it had some sentimental value as well. I sat down for about 5 minutes, shuffled some cards around, and headed on my way.
2. "WHAT THE HELL":
I don’t want to rehash what’s already been done by the YOUR Destiny guys on this deck (read the analysis here). I think most of the analysis is spot on, despite the few differences in deck choices. Instead, I want to talk about a handful of cards in the deck that might have raised a few eyebrows.
LL-30 BLASTER PISTOL
One of our local players, Corey Miller, won a nearby Store Championship with this deck and thought they offered a lot of value despite being 2-cost and not working well with neither Talzin's ability or Witch Magick. The Redeploy keyword helps keep dice on the board and the Ambush action allows for some sneaky 2-damage plays with both Super Commandos alive. I’d never tried it before, figured ‘what the hell’, and threw it into the deck.
I ran Thrawn/Talzin at Worlds this year, and my biggest gripe was the lack of mult-dice interaction. Sometimes you just need to impact more than one of the opponent’s dice at a time. Triple Threat is restricted to character dice, and it’s not hard removal, but it lacks spot restrictions, has an odd cost, and can act as an additional focus side. Also, I’d never really tried it before, figured ‘what the hell’, and threw it into the deck.
Odd cost? Check. Diversify the color portfolio against Kylo decks? Check. Can affect multiple dice? Check. Potentially useless against decks with large amounts of indirect damage and mill decks? Double check. The hope was to leverage the large health pool and healing/damage prevention effects to soak up more damage before losing a character. Also, I’d never tried it before, figured ‘what the hell’, and threw it into the deck.
Crystal Ball/Hunting Rifle/Relby V-10
This was just a preference call. I have another version of this list that runs these upgrades without the Holocron package. It works well, too. I’d argue that a variation with these cards has a slightly higher floor with more playable upgrades but a much lower ceiling - Sith Holocrons are capable of providing value that just can’t be found elsewhere.
If you hadn’t noticed yet, the deck was cobbled together in a pretty haphazard fashion. The core of what I wanted was there, but about 6-7 cards were game time calls, some being cards I just wanted to test out for kicks. If I were to do it all again, I’d definitely drop the LL-30 and Triple Threat, probably in exchange for another Electroshock and a possibly a Vandalize. I think I’d probably double up on Force Rend or Force Wave at the expense of Force Throw as well.
MATEI DRAGNE (Drive-by-Shooting)
Matei was seated before I got there. I saw the Worlds Top 8 Maul mat and got excited. This was a good start to the tournament. My favorite part of gaming is playing against skilled opponents. I also had some immediate regret about taking a rogue list that I hadn’t played in some time. I started with a couple of cheap upgrades and put Ezra on 5 or 6 damage by the end of Round 1.
He struggled to find resources early and was never able to fully ramp into damage. Ezra toppled at the beginning of Round 2 with minimal damage on my characters. The game was in hand from there. The most important takeaway from this game was realizing that there are very few options for vehicle decks to remove a Chance Cube die. (1-0)
AGENT OF ZION (Hired Gun/eRose/Wedge)
My fortune continued. Another well-known, skilled opponent so early in the tournament. I was eager to improve my tally against the Artificery team to 1-1 after losing a close match to Sean (Pearl Yeti) in the final round of Day 2 at Worlds earlier this year. I pulled a Chance Cube Round 1 and was able to put 7 damage on Rose.
Unfortunately, Agent of Zion exploded out the gates with a Resistance Crait Speeder and two T-47 Airspeeders while hitting me for 5 indirect damage. We traded hits and heals for the rest of the game until we both drew through our decks. I had four cards in hand to his three cards in the final turn. He had a Hired Gun with 4 health remaining and two shields, while Talzin still had 7 health.
I got tunnel vision going for 4 damage on board since I had a Frighten in hand and I was fairly certain he had no mitigation left . I would have been better served shooting for the mill victory based on my initial roll out and cards in hand, but instead i pitched my hand and was unable to find the necessary damage. He rolled into victory hitting about 9-10 damage across his vehicles. (1-1).
Seeing a two character deck was a relief from the previous two matches. Burning through 27 health in a deck with Armor Platings, Force Illusions, and Witch Magick is a tall order for any two character lists.
In Round 1, my opponent played a weapon and rolled into the 4 discard on before I could drop an upgrade. I was left with Backup Muscle and was still able to put in 6 or so damage into Cad going into Round 2. I ended with no damage on my own characters after removing his remaining Cad Bane die with Frozen Wastes. He didn’t see the discard side again in round 2 and hit me for a handful of damage. I used Witch Magick to remove most of it and slayed Cad Bane by the end of round 2. (2-1).
Another two character list. I was confident in this match up from the start as I felt I could remove his shields with either Mandalorian Super Commando Power Action, damage or Frighten to prevent taking damage from Qui-Gon’s ability while simultaneously taking out Yoda. Round 1 he played Heightened Awareness which was undone by Frighten. He didn’t have any zero cost mitigation and couldn’t hit Yoda’s special side until he’d already taken 9 damage. I killed Yoda at the top of Round 2 and Qui-Gon a couple of rounds later. (3-1).
I wish this round had ended on a better note. My opponent had a unique deck that I plan on tinkering with in my spare time. He used Ambush weapons with Rey to net the additional action from her ability, then rolled in Ezra followed by Maz into the pool to (almost always) steal at least one resource. Round 1 he dropped a Holdout Blaster on Rey, performed his combo, and stole a resource. It was definitely flashy, but the net effect was some minor ramp for him and a slight hindrance to my economy.
I plodded through my turn, plinking Maz with a Chance Cube a couple of times and ultimately dropping a Backup Muscle. Maz ended the round with 4-5 damage on her after I ate through a shield.
We continued through turns 2-3, where he cycled through the same combo. There was little damage to my characters, as most of his money was being spent on mitigation trying not to lose Maz. He dropped a Second Chance in Round 2 and cycled it again in Round 3 with the Battlefield Starship Graveyard, effectively making me kill Maz for the third time. I decided to leave Maz a health or two from popping the Second Chance so he couldn’t recycle it again for T4. Most notably, I left a damage on my backup muscle to eat through a potential Caution or Force Illusion later on.
I was then able to pop the Second Chance for the third time in Round 4 and get Maz to 1 health. He resolved a Shield side, believing it would save Maz. I activated the Backup Muscle for the kill at the end of the turn. Since it was Round 4, he was certain I had already activated Backup Muscle three times before killing Maz. I was certain I had only activated it twice. We probably should have called a judge, but I think we both believed it to be unproductive as it was a discrepancy that couldn’t really be proved. Ultimately, there was one token on Backup Muscle, which was the only ‘evidence’ to support either of our claims. We continue playing, though the mood, understandably, had been soured. I took out Ezra soon after, and though he eventually brought down Talzin, the deficit was too much to overcome. (4-1).
I truly feel bad about this game, as I know how I would feel about my opponent were I on the opposite end. I need to play more cleanly and deliberately to prevent issues like this in the future.
This deck fooled me. When I saw the pairing, I immediately thought ‘mill’, and played conservatively. Towards the end of Round 1, he dropped a Holdout Blaster on Cassian, and I realized I had been duped. He rolled out a handful of damage, but I was still able to put Yoda on 7 or 8 by the end of the Round while healing damage with Witch Magick. I dropped Yoda early in Round 2, and brought down Cassian soon after. (5-1).
ALBERTO (Ezra/eYoda/Rookie Pilot/Long Term Plan)
This match was a blast. It was a competitive but laid back atmosphere, which is a hard balance to strike with people you don’t know, let alone at a big tournament towards the top tables. I honestly don’t remember too much about the game play.
I know I was behind early, perhaps drawing zero upgrades Round 1 while he had an OK ramp and of course increased his Long Term Plan count. He settled with the Long Term Plan count at 2, and was in control for most of the game. I started mounting a comeback by getting some good value from Holocrons, but it was too little too late. (5-2).
BRYAN HOURIGAN (eCassian/ePoe2)
Another game that’s a bit hazy. Fatigue was definitely settling in at this point. This game was similar to other two character match ups throughout the day. My opponent put a handful of damage on me while I put in 8 or so damage on Poe. He wasn’t able to sneak in a kill in Round 2, leaving him with a lone Cassian after Poe fell against a full squad. The game snowballed a bit from there, and I was in the cut. (6-2).
4. TOP CUT MATCH-UPS:
TRAVIS PAKONONE (Hired Gun/Jedi Instructor/Rose/Gungan)
So, here’s where we should possibly put a giant asterisk on my run. Travis, who was clearly doing work the previous day with a 7-1 finish, sat down to the table and fished around in his bag for a minute only to realize he didn’t bring his deck with him. He’d left it at his hotel about 15 minutes away after switching out its contents the previous day. He called up a friend he was staying with, and the race against time was on. Travis proposed he would concede the first game, and we would still play two more once his friend arrived. I’d much rather play than just receive a free win, so I agreed, simply adding the condition that I would win if the second match went to time. So we waited.
Our table drew suspicion from the judges eventually, as we were sitting there just chatting and watching the other games. Travis explained his situation at hand but was told that he would receive a match loss once 10 minutes had passed in the round. I felt (and still do feel terrible about the situation, and was hoping his friend could make it in time. 10 minutes passed, and the judge declared the match in my favor. We told the judge about our arranged agreement to play, but he insisted that the rules must be followed as written. Travis appealed to the Tournament Organizer, and the decision stood).
Travis and I still had a bunch of time to kill before the round ended, so we figured we’d might as well do what we came to do and play some Destiny. We finished two complete games with time to spare, and though they were close, Travis’ health pool and ramp proved too much to overcome in both cases. I was swept 2-0, yet I advanced to the top 16. This was not how I wanted to start the day - I play competitive events because I enjoy the game and good competition. Receiving a free win felt hollow, but I wasn’t going to drop.
NICK OBEE (Wedge/eRose/Hired Gun)
Nick was playing the same character list, and I assumed largely the same 30 cards, as Agent of Zion the day before. I felt more confident about the match up since I’d played it once, and I think the three-wide vehicles list is easier to play against as losing Rose significantly impacts the game plan. In Travis’ list from the round before, losing a character was mostly inconsequential for him.
In the first game, I got off to a blistering start, that I’m not sure I could have scripted better if I tried. Nick used Friends in Low Places only to find a handful of upgrades, which included a Holocron, Force Rend, Force Push, Chance Cube, and some fifth card.
I was able to drop both Force Rend and Force Push and additionally generate money with the Chance Cube. I destroyed his Rally Aid with Force Rend in Round 1. Rose died at the top of Round 2, and I used Force Rend to discard an ARC-170 Starfighter in the same round. He scooped a turn or two later to save time in the event of a Game 3.
I don’t remember many specifics about game 2 other than Rose again died at the top of Round 2. He was able to ramp more efficiently in the second game, but Talzin and the Mandalorian Super Commandos churned out damage too quickly.
MARC-ANDRE MARTIN (eSnoke/eKylo)
I didn’t know Marc, but I was excited to see him when I sat down. He was part of the play-in match at the beginning of the day to decide the final two spots of the Top 32. He won that match and eventually made it to the Top 8, beating out the 1-seed in the first round. Seed-wise (I’m not convinced there’s that much difference in skill amongst the top players at these larger events) he was an underdog, and I’m a fan of underdog stories.
Regarding our match however, I wasn’t particularly concerned about his list. Snoke either doesn’t pull his weight or actively helps me kill Kylo.
GAME 1, I saw a Holocron and Vambraces for my Commandos, and he played an Ancient Lightsaber on Kylo. He eventually focused into 7 damage, which was disrupted by Under Attack, spreading the 4 base damage amongst my characters and leaving the modified 3 stranded. Kylo had 7-8 damage on him by the end of Round 1, and Marc was forced to pop the Ancient Lightsaber early in Round 2.
After getting Kylo down to 2 health, he played Rise Again and brought back a Crossguard Lightsaber from the discard pile. Most of his dice were mitigated or the damage from them healed. We played a couple more rounds, with him netting yet another Rise Again, this time with no upgrade from the discard pile, but Kylo was eventually put down.
GAME 2 saw a similar start on my end, putting 7-8 damage on Kylo, but Marc didn’t have the healing support he did in Game 1. Kylo died late Round 2, and the game was sealed.
5. ROUNDING OFF:
I think I’ll stop there for now. There’s a lot more to unpack, particularly regarding the finals, but that’s going to be finished up in an article on the Hyperloops website (be sure to pass by there for the last part of the write-up).
All in all, it was a great run that benefited from a little bit of luck, but sometimes that’s what it takes.
With my specific list, I felt Talzin/Commandos to be dominant against most two character lists, with fairly even odds against vehicles and at a slight disadvantage against three-wide mill. Depending on the meta, I think there are 6-7 cards that can be tweaked to gain a few percentage points against the vehicle and three-wide mill decks without sacrificing too much in other match ups. I’m a much better player than I am deck builder, though, so I’ll leave that to the community to figure out.
Lastly, thanks to YOUR Destiny for giving me the opportunity to recount my run. Thanks to my opponents who made the day what it was - long days of full competitive, yet friendly Destiny matches. And, of course, thanks to all the guys from Grand Rapids, both in attendance and following back home, for cheering me on throughout the two days. I believe all of them were truly more excited about my run than I was, and it’s awesome to have that kind of support.
6. RECORDING OF THE FINALS: