Written by David Holland
The news that Covert Missions will be delayed until sometime in the first quarter of 2020 certainly dampened the spirits of everyone looking forward to shouting “Stand by alert! Death Star approaching!” at our opponents while showing off our new Destroy the Death Star plot. But while we have to wait a little longer than we may have liked before trying out the new win conditions, we can spend this time productively. And no, I don’t mean tweaking, perfecting, and practicing with that Satine/R2-D2/C-3PO build. I mean doing something useful, like trying out a new style of play that doesn’t involve playing the same Tier 1 decks over and over again.
If you’re looking to mix it up, there are always the Trilogy and Infinite formats in addition to the new 40 point/40 card and 2-vs-2 formats that both have potential, but let’s take it a step further. Here are four formats to try out at your next locals to test your deck-building abilities.
Remember that scene where Wat Tambor gives the Death Star plans to a Sentinel Messenger, who delivers them to Jabba? No? Me neither. The point system for constructing decks in Star Wars: Destiny creates some cool opportunities to put together characters from different eras and factions and watch them interact. If you’re anything like me, it also presents plenty of opportunities to see how many different character combinations add up to 30 points with a primary focus on good dice and helpful abilities.
At a local tournament or during casual play, switch it up sometimes by suggesting a “Canon” format, requiring that all characters on each player’s team have appeared on-screen (or page) together in at least one movie, television show, or book. Encourage players to build a team around scenes from their favorite movie (a challenge that is guaranteed to bring those Jyn2/Cassian decks back to life). Of course, there will still be certain decks that are guaranteed to dominate a tournament with this structure. Even with the changes to hero droids, people will jam anyone they can with R2-D2 and C-3P0. Reylo(Rey3/Kylo3) and Ewoks also survive this format pretty much unscathed, which means the most competitive players will all gravitate toward these decks. That’s why you might want to consider the next format…
Tier 1 Ban
This article was spawned out of a conversation at one of our locals a few weeks ago. It was shortly after NOVA and we were processing the Covert Missions news and trying to decide how to keep up local interest in the game until the new set comes out. One person sketched out an idea for Tier 1 Ban Night. The rules are actually pretty simple: The week before the tournament, each person in attendance would choose one card that cannot be played with the goal of eliminating the top decks. There are some obvious top contenders: Temporary Truce, R2-D2, Wat Tambor, and Ewok Warrior to name a few. If all of these cards are banned for a night, players have to bring their best not-quite-tier-one decks. This will encourage experimentation with Yoda2, Maul2, Thrawn2 and all of the other cards that we really want to be good but aren’t quite yet. It also makes decks less predictable and therefore more difficult to tech for. There’s a great chance that someone finds a surprising combination that can’t quite survive the top tier but cleans up at the lower level.
Although most of the Star Wars saga is focused around those few characters that we know and love, we are occasionally reminded that there is an actual war going on in those stars. And most of that war is being fought by unnamed folks we never learn anything about! The Hoth Troopers probably had a family, hobbies, and career goals. Same goes for the Mudtroopers. And the Nightsister Zombies… well maybe not so much with the hobbies but you get the idea. Give these unnamed extras an opportunity to shine by challenging the players at your local to a Non-Uniques Only night. See what creative combinations you get of various troopers, smugglers, Jedi, droids, and shapeshifters.
This is another way to test your creative skill as a deck-builder. If you sat down and worked at it, you could probably name at least 20 of the 30 cards that you would see in any version of the top tier decks. But a format like this makes you think outside the box! Are you going to load up your First Order Stormtroopers with a bunch of Redeploy guns so that the last one goes out in a blaze of glory? Or will you try to overwhelm your opponents with a droid army that is backed up by STAAPs and Assassin Droids? Oh, and you can breathe a sigh of relief when you realize that the restrictions on the Ewok Warrior prevent them from showing up to kill all of your troopers with sticks and rocks.
One point of conversation at my locals has been providing incentives to people for creative deck building ideas. We want to acknowledge both great pilots and great decks, and a Deck Trade night would be a great way to do that. It’s simple: create your team of characters like normal, sleeve up thirty cards, pack up your dice, and when you get to the tournament put your name in a hat. Each player draws the name of a different player and plays that person’s deck. If you have people who are willing to chip in for some prizes, you can provide an alt-art or some fancy tokens for both the winning player and the creator of the winning deck. That way people don’t just put all of the worst cards in their deck knowing that they won’t have to play it.
With Prime season upon us, you may be thinking “Why would I try a silly format like this? I’ve got Satine/R2/C3PO sleeved up and I need all the reps I can get with it”. And I can understand that line of thinking. But formats like these aren’t just for fun. As I said above, new deck-building styles will push you to try new cards and will make you practice sequencing in new ways. If you only play your top tier deck against other top tier decks, you’re going to find yourself surprised at a Prime when someone sneaks in something that you’re not prepared for, and that unpredictability gives your opponent an advantage. These formats can make you see value in different cards or spark ideas for improving decks that are stuck in a rut. If nothing else, trying a silly format in which a Clone Trooper, Vigilant Jedi, Enfys Nest’s Marauder, and Hoth Trooper go toe-to-toe with an army of Battle Droids might make for a game that is just plain fun. And that feels