1. GENERAL COMMENTS:
Quite some time ago, closing in on the end of the Way of the Force meta we published a deck analysis of DJ/Aphra/Battle Droid by Tim Meads, which honesty came very close to make it for my shortlist of decks for Nordics 2018. I had play tested it for some time, so did Mads Utzon, and both of us were pretty impressed at how the massive amounts of damage that could be accumulated by using DJ's ability. In that particular deck he was of course helped by Doctor Aphra and her murderous droids, but I still couldn't shake the feeling of how good DJ was ... and quite honestly much better than I ever gave him credit for.
Fast forward a couple of months and DJ once again made another showing at the Arizona Regionals. It was admittedly a fairly small Regional event, but for any player to make it into the finals is still an achievement. The deck was piloted by Ezrian who, according to his small write-up on swdestinydb only lost two games during the event, both against eVader/Greedo.
After having looked at the deck for a bit, I decided to take it for a few spins to get the feel of it. And it does feel pretty strong. I'd definitely be making some changes, if not for anything else then at least to suit my own playstyle, but the shell looks solid. It's flexible, mostly due to Snoke's Power Action, pretty consistent and able to burst good chunks of damage.
It's not really a control deck, but rather a midrange deck with strong control elements, but we'll talk more about that.
For the purpose of this deck analysis, I'll be analysing Ezrian's deck exactly as he played it at the Arizona Regionals.
2. GEN CON 2018 LIST:
It's interesting how different approaches there can be to a relatively simple character pairing like Snoke/DJ. As I was getting my head into this deck analysis, I remembered alsarkis' deck that took top16 at GenCon 2018, which I'll post below for easy reference.
Across the 30 cards (AND the Battlefield) the two decks share just 5 cards (in total 7 copies): Force Illusion, Entangle, Feel Your Anger, Hidden Motive and In the Crosshairs, and while the version we are analysing here did have access to Across the Galaxy and the Gen Con version was played in the Way of the Force meta, only 2 cards are included from AtG (4 copies).
Objectively both decks are trying to utilise very much the same strategy, but their strategic pieces varies tremendously. That's of course a testimony to the current large card pool in Standard format (1060 cards), but also to how individual players will construct and shape decks to fit their own strategic understanding of Destiny - and the fact that it's impossible to make the perfect deck!
The power of Snoke lies both in his deceptively good dice and in his ability to turn anything into a strength. No matter who you pair him up with it, be it 2wide or 3wide decks, he'll make his sidekick(s) into huge threats. Even the lowly Battle Droid can at times look pretty menacing when teamed up with Snoke.
Take a mediocre die like DJ's, add a teaspoon of Snoke Power Action to the mix, stir, and voíla ... you have one nasty machine staring you down.
While you might not want to resolve a 1 Discard or a 1 Disrupt side unless it gives you an immediate advantage, and could be tempted into rerolling it, a 3 Discard side is basically a powerful Close Quarters Assault and could all but end an opponent's round, while a 3 Disrupt can strip your opponent of all his hard earned resources in one devastating blow. You'd probably want to resolve those at any time given the chance.
The ramp potential of a Snoke Power Action on a Resource side is well known and has been the focal point for quite a few vehicle decks already while the burst damage potential from a 4 Ranged damage side is nothing to scoff at. Dealing 1 damage to yourself in return seems like a pretty low price to pay.
Add to this his Focus sides and the odd chance of dealing some Indirect damage, and you're looking at everything you'd ever want and need from a support character. Yeah, it's silly ... he's never been a support character. He's the MAIN MAN!
Btw. do not underestimate the power of DJ's ability. You are playing with 14 removal cards, several of them able to remove multiple dice as well as a Battlefield that allows you to Guardian away dice. The Indirect damage can stack up fast! If you can deal 2 Indirect damage per round triggered off DJ's ability that is functionally an extra character die added per round.
The ENERGY BOW is almost as good as the DH-17 Blaster Pistol, which has been a staple in Red Ranged decks, and while it is missing the 2 Ranged/1 Resource, it does have a Resource side which is pretty dope for a 1 cost weapon. It fits nicely with DJ's Ranged damage, although you'll often need your Focus sides to make the die sides behave the way you want them to.
EXTORTION was an interesting choice for me. It's a choke/control element and has two Resource sides that can trigger Salvage Stand and help fund your removal package, but it still looks somewhat off in the deck. The condition of having to show MORE dice with Ranged damage than an opponent for the Special to trigger is annoying, even if you can always remove your opponent's damage sides. It leaves the Extortion a bit stranded. I'd definitely prefer EITHER a stronger focus on control/choke generally or add a Chance Cube in this spot.
It's good! Play it! It also means that you can focus on removing other impactful dice and use the Force Illusion as pseudo-mitigation for damage sides.
BACKUP MUSCLE is still good value. As always when it comes to Backup Muscle, timing is important. You are potentially dealing a lot of Indirect damage throughout a round, Snoke's character dice and DJ's ability, so it's worth letting it sit in your hand until the Indirect damage has been assigned. That can easily be the difference between defeating a character at the end of a round or having to spend actions in the next round to kill it!
SALVAGE STAND is absolutely amazing! I love getting this in my opening hand. It can, in particular if you add Chance Cube to the deck, feel like playing with a Blockade every round! It can definitely force your opponent into suboptimal plays.
I recently had a discussion with one of the members of our testing group, The European Gauntlet, on the merits of Kylo Ren's Starfighter as a tech card against monocoloured opposition and while I'm generally opposed to it, it has the potential to just simply wrecking face!
(If you don't believe me then check out this game that has previously only been available to our Advanced and Expert Tier Patrons ...)
Speaking of WRECKING FACE ...
You're probably grown tired off hearing about it all the time, but here goes ... IT'S GOOD! It really is. The question is whether or not it fits into this deck?! DJ/Snoke spends loads of resources on mitigation and plays some quite expensive mitigation cards, with its only means of ramping being Snoke's Power Action on DJ's Resource side or to an even lesser extent Extortion. You don't play Theed Royal Palace, Truce or Well-Connected, which in reality means that your are barred from any reliably resource generation. Relying solely on Snoke to be able to Focus a DJ die into a Resource side is a tricky line to walk.
But I get it ... The Fist is almighty and we all want to feel the rush of pure aggro power from fisting our opponent. The best mitigation really is killing a character round 1 ... move along!
5. MITIGATION CARDS:
You play a huge event suite, 18 cards, of which 14 are removal cards. You should at the beginning of any give round sit with 2-3 mitigation cards in your hand, which means that you'll be able to remove roughly 30-60% of an opponent's dice every round (provided you can find the resources to play all the mitigation).
0 COST MITIGATION:
Your free mitigation is actually not particularly good. In order to capitalise off DJ's ability you'll need to actually remove the dice, which is also why Doubt is not included, so you'll need to play smart. HIDDEN MOTIVE normally removes a die 33% of the time and those odds are not particularly favorable. Preferably chose dice that gives you 50% chance of removing them and take care of the other harder to guess dice with other mitigation cards.
HE DOESN'T LIKE YOU removes an opponent's die (good), but also one of yours. The problem is that you are playing with just 5 dice apart from your character dice, which is probably your most valuable commodity, and removing one of those is going to sting. It really has to be a GREAT die which is removed to make the trade-off worth it (unless you have an Energy Bow or Extortion in play ... then just go ahead and remove it).
1 COST MITIGATION:
All your 1cost mitigation is pretty good and have huge potentials of swinging the game in your favour. They also feel very situational and comes at a price! And I'm honestly a bit surprised not see Overconfidence in here as well since it should be in a pretty safe spot as DJ will most likely be the main target for your opponent.
DEFLECT is going to make a comeback in most decks as we are moving towards a Ranged damage heavy meta. It's a potential HUGE damage swing as it deals damage AND removes the die!
FEEL YOUR ANGER
This can have an incredibly high ceiling, potentially removing all an opponent's dice and deal ridiculous amounts of Indirect damage from DJ's ability. It's fallen out of favour lately due to the prevalence of dice with no Blanks, but as Doctor Aphra and decks gravitating around 0-0-0 and Hailfire Droid Tanks (both with no Blanks on their die) are nowhere to be seen, it might still have game. Just remember that Yoda is back and Vader's Fist is everywhere so ...
You still need to deal yourself all the combined damage on the dice you remove, but if you can pull off removing a bunch of 1's, then you should be golden. This is definitely a high risk, high reward kinda removal!
2-3 COST MITIGATION:
All your remaining mitigation affects several dice and is incredibly good. It's expensive though, and finding a way to fund more than one removal card per round is going to be your main challenge in your games.
DEFEND feels too situational for me, while both BEGUILE and ENTANGLE are amazing. Being able to affect a minimum of two dice removing at least one is pretty dope.
IN THE CROSSHAIRS is your only 3cost removal card and can be a blow-out card. It looks really good against focused decks, i.e. Ranged damage or Special Chaining, and pretty ordinary at other times.
7. TECH CARDS:
ABANDON ALL HOPE
Works as a great defense against decks that are looking to ramp hard, either Snoking resources or using Chance Cubes. It's wasted against a number of decks, but when it's good it's usually backbreakingly good!
FRIENDS IN LOW PLACES
Being able to control your opponent's hand is good, and removing key cards like a Price of Failure or mitigation is very strong.
Removing your own character dice is bad ... but being able to get rid of a Chance Cube is awesome. You can also go all in, removing all your character dice to get rid of a decked out Firespray-31 or Shadow Caster. Unfortunately you don't have enough character dice to remove a Vader's Fist.
8. MULLIGAN OPTIONS:
Salvage Stand is just amazing in your starting hand, while I'd also like to see an early Energy Bow. Not only for the potential damage, but it gives an additional die to trigger the Salvage Stand and feed the He Doesn't Like You.
Being able to go through a round 1 unmitigated is quite important as you need to set up and gain resources for later rounds, so the Friends in Low Places usually looks good in your opening hand.
I'd discard the He Doesn't Like You if you didn't draw a Kylo's Starfighter, Energy Bow or Extortion, because I don't like to lose my character dice round 1, while the Entangle has the ability to disable an entire first round for your opponent.
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