Here is the list I piloted to a Top 4 finish at the Ft. Worth Prime on Saturday, 10/7/2019.
Here is the only match I played on stream with it. (Jump to 5:46:30 below to get to the match. I will update this link once they clip it out)
At the very beginning of the Spark of Hope meta, I came up with the idea of putting a bunch of Ewok Warriors and a Hoth Trooper with Plo Koon. It was a beautiful creation that wrecked face locally, but I never got to pilot it at a meaningful event. At the very end of that meta, dem Italian boys proved my idea by taking a similar version to a GQ and ruining all comers. Now that Ewoks have been officially banned from the Arena of Death, I had to go back and see if there was any way to keep it alive. Unfortunately, despite the Top 4 finish, I don’t think this deck can survive. It only loses a single point of health, but the switch from Ewok Warrior to the second Hoth Trooper in the main list has made this deck much more difficult to pilot successfully. It’s also a deck that preys on players’ ignorance, and relying on my opponents to make mistakes is not how I want to attack World’s next week.
That being said, there are still folks who will want to sleeve it up, so it’s up to me to tell you all about it. The restricted list actually created an interesting fork in the deck. There are now two versions. This one remains true to the spirit of the original, swapping the sole Ewok Warrior in the list for the Hoth Trooper plus Bitter Rivalry in an attempt to live fast and die hard in the Arena. It wants to push as much damage as possible using its character abilities, and then, once your characters start to drop, switch the whole fight over to the Arena to finish your opponent off with the oh-my-characters-are-dead-that’s-too-bad-for-you damage. The other version keeps the Ewok and instead runs Petranaki Arena. A fighting place that wants to chip damage into the opponent rather than deal it in bursts. This second version eschews all of the battlefield switching for cards that attempt to keep your critters alive.
In the Petranaki Arena, you try to win by hurling rocks from a distance with living murder bears. In the Arena of Death, you’re trying to win by bludgeoning your opponent into submission with Ewok corpses.
I’m all about using dead murder bears as clubs, so I focused on staying true to the original plan. *hat tip to Jason Griffin. While I was floundering about trying to figure out how to make the original team work with a different battlefield, he had the idea of using Bitter Rivalry to change the team but keep the battlefield. Smart man.*
These are the cards you use to pour damage into the bad guys. These are non-negotiable.
These are the slots that free up in the other version of the deck but are required here to get us to the Arena of Death. Across the Galaxy is strictly better than Shortcut, but the second one has the drawback of also being named Across the Galaxy. If your opponent drops a Separatist Embargo on one of them, you still have the other available.
In addition to helping you jump to the right battlefield, the dice on the Podracer and Crait Speeder are incredibly useful. Like any burn deck, you are very good at dealing lethal damage, but not much more. Every point of damage you can squeeze out of your dice is one closer to the Triumphant Double Claim of Victory.
playing this deck protip Podracer’s ambush action is a good way to swap battlefields out of nowhere.
playing this deck protip If you have only the Podracer on the table, be careful with a rollout. You don’t want a roll of blank completely blowing you out. It’s unlikely, but you don’t want to straight lose the game to a bad roll. More than once my resources were so tight I ended a round without activating it.
Hero has some of the best multi-dice removal cards, and here is your chance to leverage them. One of the most significant changes to this deck is the number of times you have a character on the board with nothing to do. They’ve activated everyone on their team, and you don’t have anything to do with that second Hoth Trooper. Into the Garbage Chute is a perfect way to leverage an otherwise useless character.
playing this deck protip If you’re trying to set up a game-destroying Strength in Numbers after the first round, cards like Into the Garbage Chute are an excellent way to get your characters exhausted without telegraphing it. There were a couple of times where I used ItGS in a slightly suboptimal way to disguise my real plan of getting everyone tapped. Using your last two resources to fire off a big Strength while they have a disrupt showing on the table is extremely satisfying.
Reversal was a last-minute addition to the deck. This is my favorite card of all time, and I wanted to squeeze it in for some surprise value. It wasn’t super useful for most of the tournament, but it did become a lynchpin in securing my victory over Reylo in the Top 4. Turning Kylo’s 1 melee back into lethal for Rey was key in winning that game.
By far my worst card all day was Diplomatic Protection. Lots of people don’t know how to play against this deck, but they can damn sure figure out not to kill the guy with Diplomatic Protection on him. Previously, this was an auto-include, but now I think this belongs to a particular platoon of cards. Cards like Inflict Pain can reap huge rewards when you pair them up, but without it, I was at the mercy of the bad guys to make Protection fire. If you have a way to kill your own dudes for fun and profit, this can be amazing. In future builds I would swap this for Invigorate. It doesn’t add as much life, but with my opponents trying to manage my dead characters, I would have hit for full value every time. It also doesn’t feed into Kylo3’s special.
Respite is another fantastic way to use a Hoth Trooper that can’t deal damage.
Special mention goes to this card. The boys in Italy turned me onto it, so I threw it in to fight big shield decks. The first time I played against Reylo in the Swiss portion, I did manage to move some rocks, but my opponent immediately chewed through them and shielded right back up. I left feeling like maybe it was a bad card. The Top 4 was a different story. In game three Zach spent most of his round turtling up, and I let him get to max shields. I deliberately did no damage because I held this card. The next round started with “clack-clack-clack” as I stacked up and removed resources followed by, “Steal all your shields”.
At the time I thought there was a good chance I was about to find out that this was, indeed, a bad card, but it turned out to be a soul-crushing play.
If there was an ESPN style plays of the week, that would have been the #1 highlightthegandork
…i thought i could feel the air leaving zach when I heard ‘Steal your shields’ and the resignation in ‘All 6?xchitownx
Piloting this Thing
There are decisions you need to get correct right from the start. The first is how to lay out your characters. Because you have multiple things to do after setup, it’s important to order them correctly. The first thing to get right is the setup phase. Don’t just flop all your guys out there like you’ve done in the past. Leave your Ewok Warrior in the Set Aside zone until it’s time to put him out. Your starting board should look like this.
From there, proceed through the setup phase.
playing the deck protip you are almost always going to get the shields because people are terrified of Arena of Death. Keeping your Troopers alive is necessary for a strong start, so I split the shields between them. The only time to consider a different approach might be against Reylo where you don’t want to give Kylo multiple shields to bang his special against. I still split them against Reylo in the Top 4, but it’s worth considering.
playing against the deck protip consider giving your opponent Arena of Death when you win the roll-off. Two health is huge, and they cannot take advantage of the Arena early. This also blanks their two battlefield switching cards.
Once you reach step 7 of the setup phase, this section of the RRG becomes relevant.
Because you don’t want your Ewok to get knocked off the board instantly, it’s important to put Bitter Rivalry’s trigger first. This forces them to choose another target. After the Bitter Rivalry card has been drawn, flop that Ewok Warrior out there next to his dad.
playing this deck protip If they put the damage on Plo Koon, mentally high five yourself. You’re playing against someone who doesn’t know how to fight you, and you have an easier match ahead. Don’t slack off, but know that you have a really good chance of pulling this one out.
playing against this deck protip Put the damage on a Hoth Trooper. Each small dude off the table is a double-dip of removal because you’re wiping both its damage as well as its effect on Plo. They’re way easier to kill, too.
The opening plays of this deck are highly scripted. You want to, in this order, do the following:
- Activate Plo. By having three different things written on Plo, you’re bumping into that simultaneous abilities bit of the rules again. Your first choice is always to do the Indirect. Turn Plo sideways, roll his die, and say, “One indirect”. That’s it. Stop. Unless you have a specific plan on whom to kill (see the bit about Reylo later) that character is where you’re going to put the targeted damage as well. Any chance you get to focus a character down makes your indirect damage much more effective.
- In turns two and/or three, you’re going to get as much use out of your Hoth Troopers as you can. Did they activate the character that got the damage in Round 1? If not, pour the Hoth Trooper damage into them. If they did activate, pick a secondary target to push damage into. It’s not as good as focusing, but your Hoth Troopers are on a clock, and you want to get the maximum value out of them.
- Turns four and beyond are where you build your explosive starts. Did you draw a Target Acquired? Drop that thing on your primary target before you activate the Ewok Warrior. Did you draw Glider Attack? Durdle around to get them to spend their money, then use Chief Chirpa to drop three rocks on their head. Need to Respite? Get it in there now. Again, use Chief Chirpa unless you have useless Hoth Troopers. All of this is to get ready for your final turn.
- During the final turn is where you crush them in the face. Push two resources aside and say, “Strength in Numbers for 5”.
Let’s jump back for a sec and peek at the mulligan part of Setup. You need to know what you’re looking for in your starting grip, and now that you know what you want to do, you can sculpt your opening five to get there. Because the beginning of the game is all about pouring on the damage, you want your opening hand to fuel that plan. Glider Attack, Strength in Numbers, and Rigged Detonation (in certain matchups) are your powerhouse damage dealers and should be prioritized keeps/mulligan-fors. Additionally, Target Acquired is a huge card to start with but weak late, so keep that bad boy if you see him. Equally important is what not to keep. Your later game cards are all the ones that need to get tossed back. Vehicles, battlefield switching, and most removal are all things you want to be doing late in the game, so toss them back.
If you don’t end up with a great hand for Round 1, do everything you can to stall out this first frame to make Round 2 into your de facto Round 1. Ditch everything in your hand at the end to maximize your chances of drawing those explosive cards.
Everything after Round 1 is your attempt to maximize damage. Sequence everything in your mind before you do it to make sure you are squeezing every last drop of damage out. Try to hold off jumping to another battlefield until they’ve killed at least one of your guys and are committed to another. Before that point, you will make better use of your resources by doing something else. You’re trying to get to an end game where they have no good choices, and every point you lob at them gets you closer.
Matchup Specific Tips
Reylo – Every other deck tried to kill Kylo3 first because they want to get all that damage off the table. If you try to do it you will lose. The toughest part of the Reylo matchup is chewing through all the shields, so you need to knock Rey3 off the table as fast as possible. Kylo3 can keep dealing damage. That just feeds your Arena of Death. This is a terrible matchup that you are probably going to lose, but you have to kill Rey3 first to have any shot at all.
Kylo2/Phasma2 – Mentally high five yourself. One of your best matchups. Watch whomever they dump the first indirect damage into and murder them immediately. This will most likely be Phasma, and that’s fine. With only one guy on the table, all your indirect is as good as direct.
Mirror Match – Win the roll-off, take the shields. No matter how far ahead you feel, this game is going to be very close. Diplomatic Protection and Invigorate are all-stars here because this match is all about total health.
Jabba Supports – This was the deck I lost to in the Swiss, but I should have won. It took some excellent play by my opponent (shredding all my Plan As with Cultural Records) as well as a number of cards stacked on the bottom of my deck for him to pull out the one health victory.
4-LOM/Sentinel Messenger/Grievous – Pack it in. This matchup is unwinnable. Oddly, it’s the Modular Frame that does it. Adding six health to his pool is back-breaking. I can’t ever remember feeling as helpless in a game of Destiny as I did staring down that mountain of health in the Top 4.
Droids – If it’s Chopper, kill him first. If it’s Han or Satine, kill R2-D2 first. Target Acquired is almost more valuable than Strength in Numbers here because their guys have such low health.
Palp/X – I didn’t play against this on Saturday, but it should be heavily in your favor. They don’t have a massive pool of health until the late game, so you should be able to get there. Again, Target Acquired is huge.
Phasma3/X – See Kylo2/Phasma2
Maul/X – Similar to Palp/X. Not a lot of health. You should win easily. Try to get a Target Acquired on Maul.
I’ve been designing decks for more than 20 years, well before I started playing Destiny, and I can count on two fingers the number of times I’ve come up with what proves (to me at least) to be format breaking lists. Once in Magic when I punted away a trip to Germany with an off-the-wall tribal build that was clearly the best deck in the room, and this time, with a murder bear list that I am confident I could have done extremely well with had I ever had a chance to play it meaningfully. With the updates to the restricted list, I just don’t see this deck maintaining viability. It’s too easy to beat if you know how to play against it. Any deck that relies on its opponent to make bad plays is just not going to do well when you get it into a room with good players. HonestlySarcastic thinks there are legs on the version that tries to stay alive long-term, but I just don’t see it. There are too many other decks that are better at doing long-term damage, and I’d rather play one of them than try to adapt something I’m clinging to out of nostalgia.