Despite my best efforts to branch out, testing mill, faster aggro, and everything in between, I always seem to end up on a mid-range aggro deck with a good amount of health and control options. Vehicles has been that deck for me during the 2018 season, helping me to a number of top placements with the previous 3 character combinations. Ever since Worlds 2018 however, I’ve been enticed by 4-wide vehicles due to the amount of health, and with Snoke combinations becoming more prevalent, health is at a premium.
The general idea is to use the massive 31 hit points to hopefully hold off the faster Snoke or Pryce enabled aggro decks, and set up a tidal wave of dice as my board state, with the best 2 for 1 removal I can get.
I’m using non-elite versions of Rose, Ezra (Yellow), and Anakin (Yellow), with a Jedi Temple Guard. Health wise this is similar to the 4-wide builds brought to Worlds by Nick Obee and Agent of Zion from the Artificery, but I have made some key changes.
The Hired Gun/Ezra/Jedi Temple Guard/Rookie Pilot (Artificery build) has the advantage of being more offensively positioned from the get go, with solid damage on all character dice. I however wanted to focus on consistent resource generation instead, and opted for the new Anakin, and for Rose, who synergises really well with some of the newer vehicles. This still gives me two yellow characters, for a better removal suite.
Anakin also has the often forgotten ability (by my opponents at least) to change the die of a droid to any side when he activates. I don’t have a ton of droids in the deck, but this is definitely a relevant ability with R2-D2 and C-3PO. Jedi Temple Guard is a must! Guardian is an amazing ability, my personal favorite in fact. It has been less useable with all the special chaining and action cheating, but with a new set the value seems to be up, and the 2 Shield and 1 Resource sides of the die are always useful.
My vehicle philosophy is fairly simply: Flood the board. To that end, I don’t play vehicles that cost more than 3 resources, as I don’t want any sitting in my hand for any reason other than a needed reroll.
The highlights of the vehicle lineup are two newcomers: Crait Resistance Speeder and ARC-170 Starfighter. The Crait Resistance Speeder is a much needed aggressive 2cost support, featuring 50% damage sides that are already solid, and can be boosted on the fly with the special ability. The Shield and Resource sides are also very relevant, as the ability can also boost those sides as well.
With Rose you can frequently play an early speeder, grab 2 resources, heal it and snag a third resource to get another vehicle down on turn one. It goes hand in hand with the T-47 Airspeeder, still a staple for me with good damage, and the ability to extend turns with card draw.
The ARC-170 Starfighter has pretty much replaced the Y-Wing for me, something I didn’t expect going into the set. I knew I liked it: 50% damage sides, no pay side, resilient to support removal, it has got a little bit of everything. The reason it’s replacing Y-Wing has more to do with the metagame, however. With the amount of Thrawn decks I’m facing, and decks generating more resources in general, than I’ve seen in the past, the Y-Wing special can get exceptionally weak late game, when I really need that damage to finish opponents off. The ARC-170 continues to hit like a truck, and you can use that amazing die as C-3PO focus-fodder to get massive finishing blows.
The N-1 Starfighter is also a new addition, but isn’t what I would consider “staple” territory for me yet. I use 1 as a little bit of tech due to the special. The sides aren’t bad, as the 2 shield side is relevant, but it’s really as a potential assist during the grindier games with opposing vehicle decks, or the Thrawn/Snoke decks dropping giant supports that I need to deal with early, that the starfighter earns its place. I could see this being something else if a given meta doesn’t have a lot of support-focused decks. I would also consider the Resistance Bomber. It hits hard, and it’s previous issue of being a large target during a Boba Fett filled metagame has diminished. Plus you have Rose to help keep it alive. Fang Fighter remains from previous iterations, as indirect damage only goes so far, you need a good finisher.
The deck doesn’t lack in resource enablers with Rally Aid being the biggest contributor. Tech Team can be useful, but I never really like seeing two of them, and it’s the most dead draw late game, so I cut it to one in previous iterations, and it continues to be fine. The advantage of 4-wide for me is getting a lot of value from Aftermath. This card frequently generates 4 resources for you over the course of a game, and is a turn extender, allowing you to play a vehicle and still have money for removal, or just ramping further into more vehicles out of nowhere.
Last but certainly not least are the trusted droids: C-3PO and R2-D2. I mentioned the droids earlier with Anakin’s ability, and while that is a cute combo, it’s not something to depend on. Anakin is frequently dead early, but these droids are perfectly fine on their own. I personally include two copies of C-3PO due to its sheer impact, and how targeted he is now. Vandalizes and other forms of discard frequently victimize the poor guy, and I want to make sure I get him to enable those huge blowout turns to end games. R2-D2 is amazing as well; no blanks plus the ability to focus and draw helps when you’re playing most of your hand every turn. I find one to be fine though, as he is strong, but doesn’t create the board states that C-3PO can.
My primary focus when picking the right mitigation for the deck was to get as many two-for-one removal cards as I could justify. A two-for-one is a huge momentum swing, that will frequently put you on a winning track, if your opponent isn't able to return the favor.
Easy Pickings is, well, an easy inclusion. Into The Garbage Chute has a tendency to be dead in more match ups, but in the match ups it works in it’s extremely affordable as none of your characters are particularly important. Entangle is our third option, but I still limite it to 1 copy. I tried to find room for the second, but once opponents are savvy to your suite, they tend to target Ezra and Anakin down pretty quickly. My previous 3 character builds ran Overconfidence, but when your blue character is a guardian, that spot is just too risky.
Flank and Pinned Down are simple, single die removal with restrictions that rarely prevent you from playing them. Caution with 4-characters tends to be a huge health swing and is a good reason to keep blue.
There are a number of new removal options in Way of the Force that didn’t make my final list, but definitely merit a discussion and most likely an inclusion with more testing.
Suppressive Fire helps against the looming threat of Cad/Snoke and their effective 4 Discard which would just decimate you. Pacify is also a consideration as a Caution replacement for me. It’s more flexible, with the ability to remove opponent’s dice, or remove your own and get 2 shields, and when you’re down to one character it isn’t a dead draw like Caution. When it comes to card evaluation, the vehicles were a lot easier for me to fit in, removal is something I need a bit more time to find the right mix .
5. TECH CARDS:
This is a short section because I don’t have a ton of tech cards; cards are either killing the opponent or removing their dice. However, Scruffy Looking Nerf Herder continues to be a key element, taking out Hyperspace Jumps or key pieces of removal to help end games. Vandalize is also an option, but I just haven’t found the need for it currently. I found it more useful in the 5 dice, 3 character variation.
Weapons Factory Alpha is a standard battlefield for vehicle decks. It gives you at least 1 free resource and helps your early ramp. Even if you only get to control the battlefield once, it will still functionally be as if you had included a Profitable Connections. On top of this, Weapons Factory Alpha really only gives you, or decks that also play vehicles, an advantage.
7. MULLIGAN STRATEGY:
I mulligan to get the best starting vehicle generation as I can, tossing all removal to get there. The only time I’ll keep removal is against stuff like Yoda/Hondo where I can get a hugely valuable Easy Pickings off. You don’t win if you don’t get vehicles out, so losing a character turn one is completely fine at the expense of dropping a Tech Team/Rally Aid/Aftermath with a Crait Speeder and a T-47 Airspeeder or some other mix. Check out the article on mulligan strategies!
8. STORE CHAMPIONSHIP REPORT:
I played the deck in a smaller Store Championship at Dragon’s Lair, San Antonio with 13 people attending, but well run and organized with a lot of metagame variety.
ROUND 1: Bye.
ROUND 2: Thrawn / Talzin .
Was expecting to see Thrawn/Snoke vehicle deck, something I had experience testing with in the previous week, so Thrawn/Talzin surprised me a bit. It’s definitely scary, especially when they get a turn one Force Wave down, and the threat of packing Rocket Launchers. A turn one Force Wave was in the cards for me, and Talzin didn’t die until around turn 4, but I was able to generate a lot of resources from those dead and dying characters from my Aftermaths and he spent most of Thrawn’s discards on my removal, versus halting my vehicle production. I eventually finished Talzin off and kept him down to 4 resources to prevent any Dark Ritual shenanigans, sneaking out with a few hit points left.
ROUND 3: Plo Koon / Padawan /Jedi Instructor
Again, a twist on what I was expecting. It generates fewer resources but would be ostensibly more consistent. Unfortunately for my opponent it didn’t pan out. He had a tough time generating damage, and my two-for-one removal (Easy Pickings, Into the Garbage Chute, Entangle) was doing a number on his dice. Once I had 6 vehicles, I finally nuked Plo Koon.
TOP 4: Yoda/Hondo
I came into Top 4 at the second seed to a fellow Austinite Winno Andrew being the 1st seed with his 3-0 Plo/Padawan/Padawan. I was up against Ryan with Yoda/Hondo, a deck I was hoping to duck. He had a few new Way of the Force inclusions, but I didn’t see a lot of it.
In game 1 he got a first turn Cunning, second turn Force Wave, and that was painful. I used guardian where I could to steal his 2 indirect side (on the Force Wave die) to prevent multiple Force Wave activations in a turn, but he still hammered me. Once I got Yoda down, things got considerably easier, but I was still barely hanging on. After a few turns of generating resources though, I was able to pay off Hondo perpetually, and remove the threatening Verpine Sniper Rifle and Cunning dice.
Game 2 he got a turn 1 Force Wave, something I wish I could stop seeing! No Cunning this time, but still, the hammering continued. I was able to start controlling the dice with some spot removal, and killed Yoda on schedule, so this one went a little easier than before. Still a very close game, but I’m very happy to have faced three early Force Waves on the day and come out unscathed.
FINALS: Tarkin/Seventh Sister
I was up against yet another Austin local to make the trip, Gene Hogle. While he’s a known X-Winger, he can sling some cards too, being one loss from Day 2 at Worlds (3-3), and I’ve had trouble with this pairing in the past. He’s made some adjustments with the new set, but again, this is something I expect to be at least mostly similar to what I faced pre-Worlds.
Game 1: I had a slow start damage wise, and he was able to spread the love with indirect quite a bit. His removal was softer, so I was able to play around it more than he would have liked. I almost played into what would have been a catastrophic Scorched Earth, had it not been for Scruffy Looking Nerf Herder. Avoiding that, I was able to pull out the win.
Game 2: This game I accelerated very quickly, dropping multiple vehicles turn one. I played much more carefully for Scorched Earth, limiting it to 3 damage, and took game two a bit easier. Well played match all around, and Gene has an awesome deck.
Overall I faced almost none of the new decks I was testing against and expecting, and instead had to slog through early Force Waves and some of the best decks from the previous metagame, with Way of the Force adjustments. Not sure which I would prefer, but I think it was a great proving ground for the deck. I’ll be testing many more combinations in the near future, as we have a load of Store Championships on the horizon, but something tells me I may end up at my old vehicular standby.
SC Winner, San Antonio, Texas.