Welcome HonestlySarcastc to The Network, today we are going to explore his method to building great decks.
There are a bunch of methods to the madness when it comes to building a monster or in the search for the best deck, but there is one thing that doesn’t change and that is needing a great starting build. I’m very big on math and logic when it comes to building and I usually follow a 40-40-20 approach for the initial build and then adjust from there based on what i feel is lacking from the character lineup.
What is 40-40-20??
Very few games that I’ve played have ever had a draw mechanic where you draw to your maximum hand size each round, so I like many others had to start from scratch in this game. 40-40-20 is referring to the percentages of the deck that I want to dedicate to jobs. 40% Damage / Win Condition which we’ll call Aggression or Board State, 40% Anti-Damage / Stop Opponent’s Win Condition which we’ll call Defense, and 20% Other which we’ll call Utility. The reason for these percentages break down into a very simple thing; I’d like each 5 card hand to have 2 cards to further my plan, 2 cards to protect my guys / stop my opponent, and the 1 Utility card which is normally something akin to Ramp, Action Cheap, Hand Control, or Board Control (things that remove non-characters from the table). Simple, right??? Star Wars Destiny decks are only 30 cards total, so 40-40-20 can technically be classified as 12-12-6 as far as the numbers for each set of cards in the deck per role. Let’s take a look at one of my earliest creations which is from initial onset of the game when we only had the Awakenings set:
There might look to be a lot of conflicting arguments when looking at the list, but we have to move some things around to really see the 40-40-20. It’s also tough, because this is more of a completed product and not the initial but the 12 dice cards in the Upgrades section were for building my board state and furthering my damage plan, there were exactly 10 mitigation cards and 2 Hunker Downs, then the leftovers were 2 Logistics to help ramp, 1 Tactical Mastery for the sneaky action cheat kill, and then 2 Backup Muscle and 1 Intimidate to further help out the damage plan. Promotion and On The Hunt both technically pulled double duty so it’s not super cut and dry, but you get the gist.
Most of our card selection options aren’t always wanted and tend to have some niche scenarios where they aren’t quite good, which is the main reason that I wanted my hand to be made up of the 2 cards to further my plan, 2 cards to deny my opponent, and 1 other. My average expectation is to play 3 cards from my hand per round and have 2 for re-rolls. Being able to flexibly decide whether to play a 2 cost upgrade or 1 cost upgrade with a resource leftover to cast mitigation is important as well.
Tournament Winning List Splits
Let’s look at a more recent deck that is also a completed product and see where it stands after being separated into the different sections. Aggressive or Aggro cards don’t always have to be dice cards. In the old days we had Backup Muscle which was initially run in every deck that could pack it because 1 resource and 1 card for 3 damage was ridiculous, even if it took 3 Rounds to get that damage. Ewoks is the epitome of running as many “Backup Muscle” type cards as it could due to it’s utter lack of dice and it being counter-intuitive to start playing more dice.
Both vehicles, 2 Ammo Reserves, 2 Glider, 2 Inflict, 2 Rigged, and 2 Strength in Numbers total us to 12 cards for outputting damage which is exactly 40% of the deck. There ends up only being 10 mitigation though due to 4 ramp cards and then Across the Galaxy which is technically for aggression in the situation that the battlefield isn’t chosen and then 2 target acquired for taking down main targets. Being light on mitigation is quite fine when you have a 28 health deck because you can take a little bit more damage than usual. Most decks revolve around doing damage to defeat your opponent’s characters and win the game, which means that falling short is not an option in this category unless you can whiff on your draws and still come out okay. Ewoks cannot afford to whiff though, so shifting a few extra cards to make that all work better makes logical sense. 14-10-6 is how I would think of this split due to Across the Galaxy being part of the aggression plan, and Target Acquired being Utility.
Ewoks is a bit of an anomaly for Aggro decks, because they usually are 2 character lists that are pushing tons of damage in an attempt to defeat characters quickly and snowball whilst setting the opponent back. During past times, this would usually be decks that involved any of the Vaders, Kylo 2, Jango Veers, Boba Seventh Sister, etc etc. The name of the game was defeating characters quickly and efficiently and chucking your resources at them to finish them off at times via things like Force Strike, Lightsaber Throw, No Mercy, and Backup Muscle
Very few decks now a days tend to focus on throwing heaps of damage at the opponent without building up their board state and dice. Greg Pike adjusted and piloted my eSnoke Watto FOST list to a victory at the 2019 UK Grand Championship and it is much closer in proximity to what we expect decks to look like currently with dice cards hitting the table and damage being a plenty after Round 1.
12 of the 14 dice cards are about that damage life, there are 11 full on mitigation cards with 2 Vandalize which can be considered as mitigation and utility so I’ll split those, then we round out Utility with 2 Probes for clearing the way, 1 No Good To Me Dead for some additional Ramp help just in case, and 2 ID10 Seeker Droid for focus as well as clearing the path. Vandalize was primarily in the list for hitting small hate cards like Vigilance or making amazing trades to kill off opposing Fickles with the occasional auto win against an Armored Reinforcement deck that looks for Shadow Caster or Fire Spray.
Board State decks can sometimes chain together resources off of the cards it is playing in order to make the opponent have to deal with more dice than they have cards in their hand. This does a couple of things: 1) Diminishes the power of removal because there are too many dice to try to stop and there isn’t an endless supply of cards in hand, and 2) Creates a situation where the loss of a character doesn’t cause a large decrease in damage because the damage isn’t tied primarily to the characters.
I don’t think you’ll need to look at a stack of lists to find out that mitigation is good. Normally speaking, you would want a good balance of zero cost and one cost options. We would obviously like everything to be free, but unfortunately that isn’t usually the case, so we’ll settle for what we can get. At the very least, be sure to have about four cards be capable of mitigating any single die and if you aren’t aware, then those usually cost 1. Flank is my go to card because I’m usually running a 3 character deck, but there is normally something else in the format like Automated Defense (Pinned Down was the old school option). Villain tends to have a myriad of zero cost options but struggles in the one cost department and multi-die mitigation department; Hero tends to be short on the zeroes, but often has access to some niche 1 cost multi-die removal like Easy Pickings or Into The Garbage Chute (Force Misdirection was the old school option).
Depending on the meta and format, there are times where you’ll want cards that block damage or heal damage. Things like Armor Plating and Riot Shield pale in comparison to the Force Illusion of old, but during the times where action cheating is prevalent, then die removal isn’t always the best option to you, because you don’t get the change to ever touch it. Field Medic is a similar case due to healing, but it is much slower and requires damage to be on the character already which isn’t always good, because some times you are staring down enough damage to knock out a character all at once. Against decks running Retribution or Darth Vader Terror to Behold then you’ll be glad that you decided to pack some cards that block or heal due to it essentially being just like removal, but in this case, not nearly as detrimental.
Discarding an in-play card can also be considered as defense and is the better form of it due to it being permanent removal (usually at least). The dilemma lies in the fact that it often costs much more than normal removal and that is rightfully so. Currently we have things like Convergence, Dismantle, and Desperate Measures with only Desperate Measures feeling absolutely busted due to the “cost” of playing it just being to take damage equal to the cost of the support your opponent has in play. Paying upwards of 2+ resources can often be too expensive since that is your full round of resources given to you, but there are definitely times where it is absolutely worth it, so consider the available decks in the meta and if you have any viable options for this more permanent removal as well as if it makes sense for your deck.
Some things just don’t actually fit into the other two categories and that is what this one is for. We can generally break down this category into Ramp, Action Cheats, Hand Control, and Other.
Ramp is an oddball option that sees sporadic play. Normally, it sees it’s fair share of usage in decks that have high consumption rates that can’t be covered by character dice alone, but you’ll also frequently see it take 2-4 slots of an aggressive deck or 5+ slots of a combo deck. Ramp can also be split into continuous resource generation or one-shot. Cards like Tech Team and It Binds All Things are examples of continuous resource generation and the reason for it being in the deck is that if you can hit it in the opening, then it’ll give massive benefits over the course of the game even though there is no gain during Round 1, which is often necessary against the decks that go into the long game. Well-Connected, Truce, Logistics are the more frequently used one-shot options and fit the role of needing the immediate gain in order to afford a card that they couldn’t normally afford early or pay for a die resolution with a pay side.
Action Cheating comes and goes, but it is currently a rather large part of the Meta due to R2-D2 and C-3PO having effects that are largely beneficial and often fix the one issue that always existed with Action Cheats, which is consistency. Being able to roll out your dice, and resolve them before your opponent get’s a shot to interact has been a strong play since early on in the game. Later on, action cheats were used with focus dice and cards to turn a bunch of your dice to their best sides and then resolve for huge damage. The two drawbacks to those scenarios were that you either: A) Had to hope your natural roll in was favorable, or B) already have focus dice in the pool or cards in hand that focused and the resources to pay for them. Early on, we relied on cards like Tactical Mastery and Quick Draw, but usually it was most prevalent in decks that had it built in via Jango 1, Cad Bane, Force Speed, or Sabine. Current options being used are a bit more niche but still useful: Seize the Day, Instigate, and Ewok Ambush are the main ones with Droids Day Out / Off the Sensors being a bit specific.
Hand Control started off back in Awakening with Probe and Close Quarters Assault, but neither of those could hold a candle to Friends in Low Places which I often touted as one of the best cards in game. Being able to nab multiple cards from your opponent’s hand is absolutely killer, but if you can look at your opponent’s hand and choose a card to get rid of, then it becomes absolutely ridiculous. “Knowing is half the battle” is a quote from G.I. Joe and it is truest in sense during high level play. Knowing your opponents options lets you determine the best lines of attack as well as often avoiding worst case scenarios. If you can discard 2-3 cards with impunity then you’ll often be very far ahead, because our cards in hand are important to furthering our board state, depriving opposing options, and re-rolling our dice that are on bad sides. Hand Control is strong and when you have the option to include it in the deck, you should often heavily consider it.
After those three, everything else just gets lumped together into Other. These tend to be cards that help with consistency, whether it be drawing more cards, a tutor of another card in the deck, changing the sides of your dice, or some thing like Target Acquired that lets you funnel indirect into your preferred target. Draw should probably have a place of its own, but very seldom does it get used outside of combo decks, so being relegated to Other is fine. Drawing cards helps you to find the important cards in your deck as well as fund your re-rolls so that you can get more value out of your dice. Tutors are cards that search for specific cards in your deck and automatically add them to your hand, which is absolutely bananas if the card is strong; Lightsaber Pull was the best tutor we ever saw, with Armored Reinforcement and Entourage obviously carrying their own weight. When Force Speed got printed, it made events that focused dice very relevant, but built in action cheating and Running Interference also did their part in instilling fear in all for things like Never Tell Me The Odds and Concentrate.
With the sheer amount of Aggression / Board State and Defense that we pack in every deck, there isn’t a ton of space for the Utility cards, but their overall effect on the game can’t be overlooked. They are often the glue that keeps things together or the nail in the coffin of an opposing character. It’s very important to keep an eye on these cards, because they are the ones that you won’t often see coming and do the most damage (not actual damage).
It Is Only A Guideline
Keep in mind that just because it has worked for me and others, it isn’t a full proof plan for every deck. It is merely a blueprint that has worked, there is nothing there to prevent you from breaking the mould. Combo decks break the mould quite heavily and they tend to work just fine when they aren’t nerfed into oblivion. I’m quite terrible at parting words, so let us not think of this as good bye, but instead as hello to the world of deck building. May you one day dream crush others on your way to victory and it matters not whether it is a local event, Prime, Grand, or even Worlds as long as you are enjoying yourself and the great game that we play.