I was initially inspired to investigate this combination after seeing a few Dice Commando videos featuring the pair. I like seeing what teams people are playing, but instead of copying the deck exactly, either from finding a decklist for it or reconstructing it from the video, I try to piece together what cards I think make the team work. The premise is that Maul2 is a big bad guy who can do hella damage, while the MSC plinks damage and build out his weapons. Maul2 does Maul2 things until he dies in Round 2 or 3. Then, you have the MSC with 2-3 upgrades to bring home what Maul2 started.
Dagger of Mortis – Ideally this is one of the few upgrades to be played on Maul2. He is typically the first target, and, if you can get it on him after they have already committed 8-10 damage, you have a decent chance of getting a parting shot before Maul2 goes down. It can even force opponents to consider switching targets to the MSC to avoid the redeploy, buying Maul2 more time. The shield stealing is also big, not just for the bonus damage, but because several times it has forced an opponent to spend more dice than they wanted to bring Maul2 down, sometimes even buying a whole extra activation out of him.
Mandalorian Vambraces – 1 cost, no blanks, pings the MSC power action, and every side is useful. I love to start with this card in my opening hand. Since most of the events cost 0-1, playing this first gets you the damage from the power action while leaving a resource to spend on a 1 cost card, or saving you a resource for a 3 drop next round. It is also an easy overwrite opportunity to proc the Super Commando Power Action at a discount.
Pulse Cannon – This can be a lifesaver after Maul2 is down and you need to pump big damage to seal the deal. If Maul2 is still alive, its huge dice make the opponent spread their removal.
Recovered Sith Lightsaber – This is in the deck purely because it costs 2 and can remove 1-2 shields. Against Reylo, choosing your battlefield and immediately stripping the two shields feels good. Be mindful of the timing rules when playing this with the Super Commando’s Power Action. You must deal the damage from the PA before the shield stripping of this card takes effect.
Treasured Lightsaber – Another two-cost upgrade with added card draw. I like starting off the round playing this with the MSC power action and drawing back up to five cards. The special is nice, but the die is weak. Often this is my first choice when overwriting.
Vibrocutlass – This is another lifeline for the MSC once Maul2 goes down. Four resources are tough, but you can build up to it with overwrites. People tend to forget about Fear and Dead mean once Maul2 goes down, so resolving this die this with it can be a rude awaking.
Act of Cruelty – An absolute all-star card in this deck. I have won too many games to count with this card. Maul2’s Power Action naturally spreads out damage, and this brings it home. It is unblockable damage out of hand that not only makes use of your spread damage but can be a surprise kill move your opponent can’t prepare for.
Armed to the Teeth – This is another damage out of hand card that can give you that little push you need to get the kill when you are out of dice to resolve. If you get it early, it’s a guilt-free discard to reroll, but Round 3 it can get you a surprise kill when your MSC needs it most.
Desperate Measures – Easy include, favorite targets being Hired Muscle, Fickle Mercs, and Mr. Bones. A surprise target is It Binds All Things immediately after your opponent plays it, costing them the investment, and keeping them two resources away from that three-drop.
Doubt – 0 cost potential removal – easy peasy
Electromagnetic Pulse – 0 cost droids and vehicles removal or guilt-free discard.
Entangle – Costly, but too good not to include. After MSC has 2-3 upgrades in him, you can afford to pay for this to stay alive.
Fear and Dead Men – This card won’t find as much use as it will in a Vader3 deck, but at the right time it’s amazing.
Forsaken – May different ways to work in this amazing 0 cost removal. Pro Tip: Pay attention to your opponent’s Forsaken as well as setting up your own. Don’t be a fool like me and let someone Forsaken Maul2’s 3 melee side.
Hidden Motive – Natural include.
Truce – I hate to give money most times, but it is nice to follow it up with an Act of Cruelty or MSC power action.
Well-Connected – Sometimes feels like a wasted action, but if gets you the MSC power action and an upgrade, it’s worth it.
Playing the Deck
I tend to start almost every round with the following plan:
- Activate Maul2
- Power Action Maul2
- MSC Power Action
- Roll in MSC
If Maul2 hits big damage, don’t be afraid to interrupt this script to take what the dice have given you. Starting off the action phase with Maul2 exposes you to the full range of their removal, but it also puts the pressure on them to react. Forcing them to react keeps you in the aggressor position, which means you should have more opportunities to claim the battlefield.
The Texas Galactic Open: The First Big Test
This is a passion project by a San Antonio fellow by the name of Jacob Walsh, and despite not being an official tournament, had a great amount of prize support. They hosted simultaneous tournaments of Armada, Legion, X-Wing, and Destiny with a great turnout all around. This seemed like the ideal place to run this deck against the big boys. I was on hiatus for the first TXGO in 2018 and was excited to have the opportunity to go this year.
Despite play-testing Mauldalorian exclusively building up to this event, I almost chickened out the night before and net-decked Jabba3 even though I’d never touched it. My only other big tournament experiences were in 2018 going 0-2 in the Austin GQ and Houston Regional, so my expectations were rather low. As such, I planned this as a get-away weekend with the wife where we would drive up from Houston on Friday, play the first few rounds going 0-3 or 1-2 on Saturday, leave at the lunch break and enjoy a nice evening on the Riverwalk. This how it all went wrong, or right, depending on your perspective.
Even though the numbers called for five, the organizers decided to run six Swiss rounds, followed by a cut to Top 16 which would each be a best-of-three match. A little unorthodox to be sure, but we figured it wouldn’t matter.
Round One: Palp3/Motti
In the first match, I felt certain I was starting the day off 0-1. In my playtesting against this deck, I lost 80% of the time. Even without the health increase of each ability and Bacta Therapy, you must get in front on Palpatine3 so that they cannot use Force Jump or Soresu Mastery on Maul2’s dice. It is very easy to get to a point where you simply cannot resolve any dice, and they don’t even bother with removal because they are controlling damage through shields, making Retribution useless. Maybe that speaks more to my ability as a player than reality, but I struggle against Palpatine3. That said, rolling 3’s early really helps. I did feel a little spark of hope when he pitched all 5 cards to mulligan.
Round 1 started the action off by rolling in Maul2 and rolled 3X, 3X, but was immediately saddened by Motti sticking his face in front with a The Best Defense…. Motti takes 3 and Palp3 takes 1 from Retribution. Still effectively 2 value from each dice, but far from ideal. I was able to Power Action the Super Commando and get a few more damage into Palp3, who managed to only get a single ability out.
Round 2 I started with Maul2 again and rolled my favorite start with Maul2, 2X and 1 Resource. I like this start because it gives me options no matter what my opponent does. Sure, double 3’s are sexy, but they’re too apt to net you one Retribution damage when both get removed. With 2X and 1 Resource (or even blank), opponents seem less likely to burn a Flee the Scene, Entangle, or Beguile if they are simply removing two damage. This is exactly what happened in this matchup, my opponent spent lesser removal on the 2X, leaving me one Maul2 die to Power Action. I get 3x, and suddenly Motti has 3 HP left and Palpatine3 is half dead. Palp3 got another upgrade and the MSC Power Action nets me another point of damage, but that was all I could do. Going into the Round 3 Palp3 is down to 3, Motti is at 3, and I have only taken 6 damage.
I start off the round again with 3X and 3X. Motti sacrifices himself with another Best Defense. I follow up with an Act of Cruelty which pings Palp3 and pitches the Bacta from hand. An MSC Power Action and roll in later, I get the first tournament win of my career.
I know full well that the bad starting hand for my opponent went a long way to deciding this match, which legitimately lasted about seven minutes. Even with mitigation, being able to keep the pressure on was a huge boon. I am glad it was a normal Swiss round because I doubt I could have taken 2 out of 3.
Round Two: Reylo
Another matchup where I must pounce early and ping shields off, to do well. If Kylo3 isn’t dead or almost dead by Round 2, I am probably about to lose Maul2 and won’t have enough damage to keep up with Rey3’s shields. That said, my opening hand includes the Recovered Sith Lightsaber, which is awesome against Reylo. I win the roll-off, choose my battlefield, and immediately play the Saber to remove both shields from Kylo3. This game was another example where going first and rolling hot paid dividends. I hit another 3X on the Maul2 Power Action in Round 1. That round ends with Kylo3 more than half dead and Maul2 more than half alive.
I finished off Kylo3 in Round 3 with a ping from the Super Commando Power Action, leaving only a half-dead Rey3 (thanks to the double damage by Maul2’s PA) to face a Maul2 with 3 HP left and full health MSC. Maul2 takes the shields off, and then I overwrite to bring in the Pulse Cannon and burn Rey3 down.
This is another match that lasted perhaps ten minutes. I know that I am rolling lucky, so I don’t really allow myself to feel too excited. I am sticking to my game plan, but by and large, I feel like I am winning on accident.
Round Three: Satine/Droids
This is the first game against a player I know, a fellow Houstonian and regular winner of big tournaments. Not knowing my first two opponents probably helped me to focus more on what I was doing than how good of a player they may have been. With this opponent, I knew that my margin for error was extremely slim because I always expect him to make the best move. That is stressful to play against.
Despite the player, I generally feel confident against droids with Mauldalorian. While Satine is the build I had the least experience against, if I can hit the PA’s for decent impact, I have a reasonable chance of getting R2 off the table early and then cleaning up. I did underestimate the level of ramp with this deck, and how it differs from the other versions of droids.
By and large, this game hinged on a few key points. I feel like my game plan was strong, but I made glaring mistakes. While Maul2 did not perform as well as he had in previous games, I cannot blame the dice. In Round 1 I had a Maul2 die on a resource and an upgrade die on a blank. I needed a resource badly, so I decided to go ahead and resolve Maul2’s dice. I completely forgot that I was on my battlefield, Theed – Royal Palace, and could have used the blank for the resource and kept Maul out there. I cost myself another resource at minimum, and the opportunity for more value with a reroll of Maul2 over the upgrade. I also felt forced to break from my game plan and buy his Fickle Mercenaries. While I did get three damage out of them, it cost me three total resources to do that, and I could have done more with the MSC power action and another upgrade instead. In the end, R2 and C-3PO were down and Satine had some damage on her, but the steady supports got their damage in before I could. I feel like with the same dice but better decision making, I had a chance for success. I am still conflicted, as my instinct is to attack the droids first, but maybe I need to let R2 hurt Maul2 and attack the ramp instead. While I was upset at my mistakes, I am getting more able to recognize them than I would have in the past, which helps. I was also happy that a fellow Houstonian got the win rather than a foreigner.
Round Four: Ewoks with Hoth Trooper
This is another deck I felt like I could do okay against. My approach to this matchup is to spread damage around and then proc the Power Actions and/or Fear and Dead Men to suddenly clear many Ewoks. While I was able to kill two Ewoks in Round 1 and the Hoth Trooper and another Ewok Round 2, I got hit with a big Strength in Numbers before they died. He was also able to jump battlefields at the end of Round 2. It was a very close game which I initially lost to a double claim on Arena in Rounds 3 and 4. It was only afterward that we both realized that the Arena of Death caps the damage at 3, and I had taken 10 instead of 6. Fortunately, the judge was right there and we were able to rewind and play the final round back with 4 damage on the MSC to start the round instead of 6. I rolled 2 damage and finished with an Armed to the Teeth for the win. My opponent was a complete gentleman about the different outcome, and I’m glad we were able to resolve what could have been a complicated issue with absolutely no drama. The win was secondary for me in this case, I was grateful for my opponent, not only willing but insistent that we get it right, and for a TO that was happy to let us work it out ourselves.
Round Five: Han3/Droids
I had had the opportunity to watch this player when a few of my rounds were relatively short. He appeared to be wrecking shop with droid shenanigans along with the 4-cost Falcon. A ton of action cheating and dice flips. This is another droid set up that I had not faced much of but seemed was a harder matchup for me than others. My approach again was to hunt the droids first and deal with Han3 later. This match hinged on a few important factors. Maul2 was rolling hot again, my opponent was not rolling well, and he only played one Droids’ Day Out and one Instigate. By Round 2 I was ahead, and it just seemed as though my opponent could not catch a break. In Round 3 the gap had closed, but I was able to Act of Cruelty to ditch two cards from hand, and then follow it up with a 3 damage Armed to the Teeth to spike Han3 for the win. The four damage out of hand prevented another round from happening which was huge.
Round Six: Chopper/Droids
This is the droid build I have the most confidence against. I am not sure of the exact reason, other than with Maul2 and my plink damage, it is not too hard to clear Chopper and clean up R2 early. Unfortunately, my opponent was a friend from the Austin area who had traveled for the event as well. Since the game had no impact on either of us making the cut, it was casual. I do not recall much from this match other than I was able to accomplish wiping Chopper early Round 2 and clean up from there. He threatened decent damage by having Chewie’s Blaster on C-3PO at the end, but Act of Cruelty ditched his removal and MSC sealed the win.
Top 16 – Reylo
This match was a learning experience for me. It was the same opponent I had beaten in Round 2, and I underestimated not only Reylo but my opponent as well. The quick win earlier had given me false confidence that was quickly squelched.
Game 1: This was frustrating. Maul2 was rolling bricks and my opponent played it perfectly. Their game plan was on point, and I floundered to try and get momentum. It was a relatively short game, as by Round 3 Maul2 were dead. Kylo3 was almost dead, but Rey3 was fully loaded with three shields, no damage, Yoda’s Lightsaber, and Obi-Wan’s Lightsaber. I grumpily conceded the first game, feeling frustrated with myself. While I had no expectations of making it this far, I cared more than I thought I would about doing well.
Game 2: This game was an echo of our first encounter in Swiss where everything went my way. By the end of Round 2, Kylo3 was dead and Rey3 had six or seven damage with no shields. A fast start in Round 3 and my opponent decided we should move to the rubber match.
Game 3: With all our games being one-sided one way or another, we both agreed that we would like to see a close game to decide things and that is exactly what we got. This was a slugfest with Maul2 and Kylo3 going after each other and MSC and Rey3 being support characters at best. Rey3 would throw up some shields and the MSC would ping them off. It was very back and forth. Maul2 and Kylo3 both made it to Round 3, but both were close to dead after aggressive rerolls for damage on both sides. I had Kylo3 down to 1 health with a 1X and a blank showing and got greedy. Instead of just dropping Kylo3, I decided to try and get Maul2’s Power Action off so that I could drop Kylo3 and start in on Rey3 before Maul2 died. As I deserved, I rolled blank, twice. This allowed my opponent to play a Niman to blank my damage, and it ultimately cost me 3 damage from Kylo3 I could have avoided. Rey3 had a pretty good defensive suite but at the cost of not having anything to easily wipe the MSC. The Mando had a relatively weak offensive suite with two Vambraces and a Treasured Lightsaber. By the end of Round 4, the MSC had 2 health left, I had resolved three total damage on three dice, with a blank on the Treasured Lightsaber, one card in hand, and Rey3 at 1 health. My opponent wisely chose to claim to get the shield from Obi-Wan’s Hut. Unfortunately for my opponent, the last card in my hand was Act of Cruelty. MVP card that has saved my bacon more times than it should, and part of the reason I was fine with aggressively rerolling. I was hoping to draw some unblockable damage and it happened at the perfect time.
Top 8: Chopper/Droids
This was a game against another friend of mine, this time from Waco. Are you listening, FFG? We travel across this great State for Destiny. Show us some love! Anyways, this, again, was one of my easier matchups. A very quick 2-0 match where I was able to chew away at Chopper and R2 relatively quickly. The most exciting part was getting off a Fear and Dead Men for 2 damage across the board. It’s awesome when it works, but I find it often does not make sense to play the card. I’m wondering if I should cut one or both. I hated to beat a friend to advance, but he was a great sport and even became my unofficial coach before the next match.
Top 4: Reylo
This matchup was against another fellow Houstonian who also tends to win the tournaments the other fellow doesn’t. He happened to be the reigning champion of TXGO 2018 here to defend his title. Another hugely intimidating player for me to face, and at a time where I was feeling both the pressure of the moment and fatigue from what was most games I’d ever played in a day. Rather than playing worse, however, sitting across from Lawton seems to have brought out the best in me. I made decisions I don’t think I would have even thought to make, and I hope I am able to learn from that.
Game 1: My opponent won the roll-off and put shields on Kylo3. I played Recovered Sith Lightsaber on Maul2 to strip the shields. Things progressed relatively normally except I was not expecting Steadfast, he played on back to back actions to move three damage from Kylo3 to Maul2. Ouch. Instead of me being ahead on damage, by the end of Round 1, Maul2 had 8 damage on him.
Since I didn’t have the resources for an MSC Power Action, I used Theed to give me the resource I needed to overwrite the lightsaber on Kylo3 with Dagger of Mortis. This was the first time I’d actually played a Redeploy weapon on Maul2 That move was the defining moment in this game. I was able to get one more activation out of Maul2 before he died. With the Redeploy giving me a second resolution out of the Dagger in Round 2 let me put Kylo3 down and start in on Rey3. In Round 3 I rolled the nuts with the Mando and he had no removal. I was shocked. This was certainly the most accomplished player I’ve ever beaten in tournament play.
Game 2: Before today, I’d never played a best-of-three, and that inexperience led to my first mistake. My opponent was able to adjust their game plan, while I didn’t even think about that. Even now, I’m not sure what I’d do differently, but I definitely know that it was worth some thought. His first adjustment was splitting his shields to start the game. This made a Recovered Sith Lightsaber play substantially less valuable. Even in the moment, I was able to appreciate how that slight adjustment made a huge difference. I not only failed to adjust from game one, but I even went against what had actually worked by returning to my default roll Maul2-out-and-play-weapons-on-the-MSC approach. This vanilla approach could have worked had my opponent not made another adjustment that profoundly altered the course of the game. He went after the MSC first. I was not at all expecting that. His timing was perfect as Maul2 rolled bricks to start and failed at the power action. With the MSC under attack, I was forced to not play my typical upgrades on the MSC for the slow build-up because it would be wasted value. I am not sure if his strategy would always work since Maul2 can be devastating at times, but in this situation it was perfect. The MSC went down early Round 2, and, while I was able to get some upgrades on Maul2, losing the ping damage made it hard to get around all of his shield shenanigans. I’m not sure I killed a single character in that game.
Game 3: I did make an adjustment for this game. I’m not sure if it was a wise one, but at least I thought about it. It ended up not helping me, but it could have. I am not sure. I started with Well-Connected, Truce, and Vibrocutlass in my starting hand. Normally I would ditch all three to start the game, but I decided to get the Vibrocutlass out in Round 1. Ideally, I would get one or two whacks with it before they killed him, and then it would redeploy on to Maul2. I thought it could be a winning strategy. It’s a beast of a die, and maybe I could get cute and draw a Fear and Dead Men for the 4 for 1. Instead of starting with Maul2 I started with the MSC, thinking at a minimum it would force removal on the Vibrocutlass and maybe free up Maul2 later in the round. I never got to find out. The Vibrocutlass only rolled disrupt, every time. It wasn’t a threat, it did not affect my opponents game plan, and I could not chew through the shields. I think starting with Maul2 helps at least remove shields early in the round. I really don’t remember a lot else about this matchup other than failing to accomplish much. Poof, tournament over. One bit of consolation is that Lawton went on to win the tournament, defending his title against the Palp3/Motti player I beat in the first round. I lost to the best, beat the rest, and learned a lot doing it.
In the end, I am extremely happy and lucky to have made it as far as I did. Playing opponents of this caliber and finding some success gives me hope that I will transcend scrub status. I already have ideas for improvements that I hope will give me the opportunity to keep playing this fun pairing awhile longer.