1. GENERAL COMMENTS:
While we’ve already covered two other pairings for Snoke in previous articles, namely Cad Bane and Thrawn - we’ve yet to cover the most direct and to the point option Snoke presents. While there’s not really anything truly innovative or new about the idea of playing Kylo Ren - Tormented One with a 13-point character, there’s something about the raw power found in this pairing.
I’ve played a multitude of different Kylo options, from his release pairing with Phasma, to the FN-2199 abomination, to both Holocron and weapon options of the Kylo/Anakin pairing. And finally with Way of the Force: Snoke. Snoke has so much power that he should be tested and played with all possible options, and I believe that Kylo one is the best I’ve found so far.
2. THE MINDSET OF THE SITH:
There’s a difference to play styles and decks, and while I’ll try to expand on this in a future article, one small discussion we’ve had with regards to this deserves mention.
After EUROs 2018, quite a few of the YOUR Destiny / European Gauntlet people were sitting in a diner in Birmingham (UK), enjoying some variation of English breakfast while both playing and talking Destiny - apparently the 3-4 days of intensive Destiny playing wasn’t enough. I had my 15th game of Kylo/Anakin vs. Mads Utzon's Rey/Aayla. During the first turn of the game, I rolled out my Kylo, guessing correctly, and presented two dice showing 2 Melee damage for 1 resource. You’ve probably all seen Mads’ article on the importance of resources (it's almost become a school of thought by now), and he seemed slightly baffled by me resolving both, putting a significant amount of damage on Aayla early in the game. While building your board and ramping is a significant and important part of a good game of Destiny, dealing enough damage to force your opponent on the back foot has its own merit.
Resource heuristics are all well and good, but remember that raw force does present itself as one solution to bad draws and unlucky rolls - resolve what the game gives you, and force your opponent to play a defensive game if you can’t have your perfect starts.
Kylo Ren - Tormented One, is simply too good a character, not to try to squeeze into any deck available. A World Championship winning character, 12hp and a good die, with a character ability giving you somewhat close to a 10% win chance swing in some match ups. Decks based on Kylo will always be stronger if the meta favors monocolored decks, but will reward you in most match ups, as long as you know the main Gauntlet decks and their color spreads.
With regards to his ability, I usually try to map out two things when analyzing a meta ahead of a tournament I intend to play him in. First of all, as mentioned above, the average power spread. If your opponent uses his or her full hand, you know his played cards and discard pile, turning a chance guess into a qualified guess. Stick to your math, a 40% guess can fail 5 times in a row and still be the correct one - you being unlucky is just variance.
The second part is decks and their mulligan targets. Claus Staal wrote an excellent article on statistics and mulligans, and you should know what they want to mulligan into. HonestlySarcastcs excellent ‘Drive-By-Shooting’ deck had a really good chance of nullifying Kylo's power, but you know that it prioritizes Rally Aid and red vehicles early, giving you a decent chance of guessing correctly by calling Red in the first couple of rounds. Use all the information you can, remember the cards revealed - hits or no hits - don’t be lazy and skip counting discard pile colors, you should know how the odds change during a match.
Snoke is in a league by himself. 11 HP for a 13 point elite character is an indicator of the set power creep being directed at increasing health pools. Decent dice, no resource cost on any sides, the two-focus side villains have been searching for in a support - all coupled with an absurdly powerful power action.
Turning Kylo’s dice into a 3 Melee damage, 4 Melee, 4 Melee for 1 resource, 3 Disrupt or 3 Resources, means your baseline expected damage output from Kylo is somewhere around 5 Melee damage (both dice), with the possibility of having 8 damage adding together Kylo’s ability, Snoke’s Power Action and Kylo's damage sides. The important thing to remember, is that most people will do whatever they can to mitigate Kylo’s dice whenever possible. There are a few things you need to keep in mind. First of all, Force Speed is still a way too powerful card - play it on Snoke, roll a Special, use the first action to activate Kylo and second action to resolve the best die you can. This won’t always happen, your opponents will try to remove your best die, so time it as best you can.
Most people like playing their initial 2 cost upgrade early, meaning that they won’t have the 1 resource most hard removal costs. Try to stall slightly by playing an upgrade on Snoke, rolling out Snoke, while biding your time until they’ve spent resources. Also, all your die sides on Kylo matters - if you can resolve the full 3 Disrupt against any deck within the first 2 rounds, you’re in good shape. 3 resources early, or 4 damage throughout the game is obviously good, but never ignore what the dice gives you, shape your plans around it!
Watch Snoke/Kylo go toe-to-toe with their blue hero counterparts, Rey2/Luke3, on the YOUR Destiny YouTube Channel where we pit some of Europe's best Star Wars Destiny players against each other.
First of all, it is possible to build Kylo/Snoke as a Holocron based deck, using Snoke's Focus to enable the full Holocron package. I’ve tested some games with it, and I’d much rather use Arihnda Pryce as a support character, enabling special chaining Holocrons and powers (remember to read the character analysis of Pryce). For Kylo/Snoke, Melee weapon upgrades fits much better, enabling consistency and stability within the deck. Snoke not having black melee sides, means you want black sides on the weapons themselves.
These upgrades are at a power level all by themselves and I consider them auto-includes. Good versatile cards, that I add in pretty much any Kylo deck nowadays. Force Speed on Snoke is very VERY good, activating Kylo and resolving before your opponent has a chance to mitigate ends a lot of games. Not much to say which hasn’t already been said of Force Illusion and Ancient Lightsaber, the best mitigation and the best 2 cost upgrade you can get.
Shoto Lightsaber is an excellent weapon - but mostly when paired with another blue weapon. The deck needs two-cost upgrades, and it fits the bill. Solid weapon, doesn’t provide a lot of black sides though.
Through testing I’ve cut it down to one Crossguard Lightsaber - it’s a very nice weapon, but with Kylo being as big a target as he is, it feels bad to play it on him after round 1. Furthermore, it has the Shoto Lightsaber issue of not providing you with a lot of black sides - it does have the special though. Could be cut for something better, could be a 2-off depending on how fast you need to be.
Heirloom Lightsaber and Dagger of Mortis are both fitting the same slot - three-cost redeploy weapons with good black sides to Snoke focus into. I’ve had a decent bit of success with one of each - Dagger is pretty much a better weapon, but we want Heirloom for the three solid black sides it gives Snoke late game.
Mauls Lightsaber is a tad odd - the amount of modified sides doesn’t really fit the deck, but the raw power of the card means you always want to have it around. The deck has a total of eight weapons, which might seem low, but has hit the sweet spot for me so far. If you want to go to nine to have a better chance of drawing weapons each round I’d add a Crossguard, but I haven’t found the need so far.
Now for the last upgrade: Torment.
Initially, I wanted to get a good feel for the new cards, so I exchanged my two It Binds All Things for two Torments. This has been a resounding success for me, and I haven’t looked back since. Torment fills the same role as a ramp card, but has both a few advantages and disadvantages compared to It Binds All Things.
First, the bad things. Torment is tied to a character, and since you’re probably playing it on Kylo to trigger it with Snoke's Power Action, it’s on the first character you’ll lose. Also, it doesn’t give you your resources instantly, meaning that you might want to play it on Kylo, roll him out to resolve something, before getting the resource so you can play a 2-cost upgrade on Snoke.
On the other side of the equation, the resources can be used for anything. It’s not just blue upgrades, but also your event suite, some of which is a bit on the expensive side of things. Also, a thing you should remember when playing it - you can overwrite it. I’ve had a fair few games where I late in the game overwrite it with either a redeploy weapon or a Force Illusion, when Kylo’s end is near.
All in all, my testing so far has shown it to be superior to It Binds All Things. You want to mulligan for it, you want to play it within the first two turns of the game to get a decent effect, and it doesn’t do a lot for you late in the game.
The first thing we want to take a look at, is the die control/removal part of the deck. I usually try to bring at least ten cards for this, ensuring a decent distribution of them throughout the deck, with almost all hands having one or more.
This almost feels boring, nothing new or exciting, just good efficient and relatively cheap cards. Even though the deck can generate a decent amount of resources, it does not have a reliable source - hence why we want our die control events cheap and accessible. Both Hidden Motive and Feel Your Anger are somewhat dependent on the meta, and can be replaced if something specific needs to be targeted.
As long as people are playing a decent amount of decks resolving shield effects, Intimidate is too good to pass up. Often doing 2-3 points worth of damage at the cost of an action and a card is a very worthwhile trade. Lightsaber Throw, as a comparison, does 2 points of damage at the cost of an action, a card AND a resource, while requiring a melee die in the pool.
No Mercy has more merit here, than in most other blue decks. While being a really good card, it does have a heavy cost, requiring most or all of your had to have the impact a 2-cost event usually requires. Aside from the obvious cases of surprise-killing characters without lethal character damage showing on board, this card helps ending close games - you will have games where Kylo dies, leaving you with a low-damage Snoke to deal the last points of damage. In these games, a surprise No Mercy on the Snoke two indirect side solves a lot of Snokes issues.
This card is where some of the true power of using your power action on resource sides show. Healing 5 on Kylo while pulling a 3-cost redeploy from your discard pile turns games like few other things. A lot of my games have been won on keeping 3 resources while claiming, discarding the rest of my hand, to dig for a decent chance of a Rise Again. You will win games due to this, it is worth throwing away your hand for a chance of a game ending Rise Again.
All in all, a relatively simple two of everything event suite, it is open for modifications - Dark Ritual over Rise Again, changed removal, expensive removal to target specific decks - are all options. It works pretty well out of the box, has room for tweaks to suit playstyle and shifting metas. One card I’ve been trying to find room for is Enrage, doing a damage on Snoke isn’t that bad, and a tad more ramp - and a way to trigger torment before rolling out - would be a nice fit. I’ve tried cutting a few cards to squeeze it in, but I find myself missing the cards I cut more than I appreciate what Enrage gives me.
This is the place where I’m in doubt about what to bring. I’m currently mostly using Rebel War Room as a natural place to start, but with only one of Kylo’s sides showing a resource cost, it seems rather inefficient for a somewhat fast deck. If I’m sure the meta is shield heavy, Ewok Village could be an option.
Recently I’ve had some success with Outer Rim Outpost, but that’s risky against a lot of the even faster decks, such as Cad Bane/Snoke. In the above decklist I’ve gone with Rebel War Room as it’s reliable and decent, but some tinkering here could be advantageous.
7. MULLIGAN OPTIONS:
I’ve been having a fair bit of success with some very heavy mulligan use here. Unless I know I absolutely need specific removal, I tend to dig hard for Torment, Force Speed and a two-cost upgrade. You want ramp, you want Force Speed to avoid removal on Kylo’s dice when rolling out, and you want to start putting more dice on the table.
I hope you’ll enjoy this deck as much as I do. It fits a very aggressive playstyle, brute-forcing your way to victory, using the power of two very thematic and very powerful characters. And remember:
8. HOW TO DEFEAT KYLO/SNOKE?
Beating Kylo/Snoke is actually somewhat simple - you have to remove Kylo's resource sides, kill Kylo first, and try to accept him dealing a lot of damage. I’ve used this deck as a test deck fairly often, and it stress tests two different aspects of deck building.
First, do you have enough removal to control Kylo? You need to consistently be able to remove his dice, especially the resources early. Do you have a plan for what happens after your most important character dies? Kylo is usually capable of at least trading even, so it punishes decks relying mostly on one character. So in short, remove Kylo’s dice, don’t let the Kylo/Snoke player get 3-4 extra resources, as these often tie into Rise Again plays, into either a Force Illusion or an expensive redeploy weapon, ruining your plans.