With time running out before the new set, Faltering Allegiances, drops, I’m having to pick and choose which decks to share with you guys. This is the price I pay for getting lazy with my content for so long. The brain is brimming with deck ideas, and now I have no time to post them all.
Since this is probably the last one I will get out before Legacies block rolls into the Infinite format, I’ve chosen to go with what I felt was my most ingenious build of the summer. Using characters and abilities that haven’t seen much play, I built a deck that dominated my local playgroup and frustrated my opponents to no end.
Since the day it released, one of the cards I’ve most wanted to abuse in the game in Luke Skywalker – Reluctant Instructor. As a 15 pointer at 12 health with die sides that dodge large swaths of removal, Old Man Luke has seen his fair share of play. The aspect of of his character I’m most interested in, however, is one that has seen the least amount of play. From Day 1, that Power Action has seemed crazy exciting to me, but I’ve never really had a chance to abuse it.
Let’s examine the reclusive hermit’s Power Action for a moment, so you can get a sense of what I saw when I first fell in love with it.
Assuming you meet all the criteria, having an ability worth moving, a ready character that can take it, and having the time to sequence things to get the best use of it, this is a free die every single time. The idea is to plop some ability that does neat stuff onto Luke and roll him out. Once you’ve resolved, at least, the ability die, you Power Action this over to Blue Character Number Two and activate them to get the ability die all over again. To get a second go-round of a powerful upgrade die for the low, low cost of merely an action is a tremendous value! At the time, this Power Action was hampered by a lack of decent ability upgrades to pass around. The Mastery series wasn’t available yet, so you pretty much just looked for the odd Force Jump or Force Focus to augment the real upgrades in your deck, sticks to thwack the opponent with. With the addition of several new sets’ worth of abilities, our options opened up quite a bit. Just look at all these cards we can now tart Luke and his compadre up with:
Now, we’re not going to use all of these, but compared to the dearth of options from Luke’s early life, we are positively swimming in choices!
At the time he was released, there also wasn’t really any character you could pair him with to make a solid middle/middle deck (two characters of relatively even power). We had Luminara and Plo Koon, but both of them really wanted to be the leader of a team, rather than a partner, and Rey – Finding the Ways. Despite the Rey/Luke deck being viable for a time, it never really took advantage of that Power Action. It was more geared to dropping sticks and beating.
Later characters added the Rey half of Reylo and Kit Fisto to the mix, but those were still stick-based decks that wanted to bop your opponent on the noggin with laser swords rather than make Space Wizard Magic at them. It wasn’t until the criminally underplayed Jedi Knight was introduced that I felt we had a good place to start for breaking the Old Man’s Power Action.
Despite his lack of play, the Jedi Knight is a really strong character. Giving himself two shields at the jump means he clocks in at the same 12 health as old man Luke, and his die is on par with what Luke can do. Imagine being able to split Luke’s 2-shield side die resolution into giving your self one shield while bonking the opponent for one. That’s what the Jedi Knight’s special does, and that’s the absolute worst the special can do. Since Blue Hero is especially adept at shielding up, you will often have that special making a three-point swing (bonk for two and defend for one). I will admit the pay side is rough, but if you can build your deck to address it, that’s a readily available second side on his die that swing the game three points in your favor. AND, you can have a second die on him! A 24 health, four dice start where your power is split evenly between characters is an excellent seed to build a competitive deck.
One final addition to the team that wasn’t available when I first built it is United / We Stand, the plot introduced in Transformations that freely adds some extra zing to a mono colored deck. If you’re running mono and don’t need a different plot, slot this bad boy in for some free advantage during the game.
This deck intrigues me because I feel like the deck is more interwoven with the composition of the team than many other decks. Rather than just looking at the colors of the team and ginning up a toolbox of the best cards that match, we really have to dig into which cards will complement our boys on the front lines. Some of the themes that went into this particular deck:
- Abilities for Upgrades: To abuse Luke’s Power Action, our upgrade suite will need to be based around abilities as much as possible. There are some excellent Blue sticks out there, but, this time around, they’re not for us.
- Generate Money: In addition to the pay side we’re going to need to, umm, pay for, many of the best Blue ability upgrades are expensive. That means we will want to have ways to make a lot more money than a Blue hero deck might normally need.
- Shields as Mitigation: With the special on Jedi Knight caring about the level of shields on him, we’re going to want to stay as turtled up as possible to prevent damage rather than relying on cards that remove dice.
- Sequencing Issues: Because this deck is going to play a very specific sequence to maximize its power, there are some very good Blue cards we’re letting go. When you want to play and upgrade, activate Luke, move the upgrade, and then activate the Jedi Knight, cards like Loth-Wolf Bond are detrimental to your game plan.
- Special Chaining – This is a recurring theme in Blue hero, and it shows up here again. The ability to use another die to turn and immediately resolve a powerful special is a very exciting and powerful thing to do, and can present your opponent some difficult scenarios where their removal is less effective because your dice resolution has branching paths they cannot account for.
Let’s begin with the ability suite:
The biggest theme in the upgrades, on top of being abilities, is the special chaining mentioned above. Our upgrade cards all have special abilities that deal damage or prevent damage (most doing both), or turn other dice. Being able to simultaneously help yourself and hurt the opponent is an extremely powerful thing than most colors and factions cannot pull off.
Our support cards were chosen because of how well they align with our design goals stated above. To get the most out of Jedi Knight we need to keep him at least at three shields. This means that we don’t want them to resolve the odd one-damage die against him and force us to use his shield on himself if we’re trying to keep Luke alive.
note: If you haven’t noticed it, read the special on Jedi Knight carefully. The first part where you’re giving out the shield says it can go anywhere. The second part where you’re doing damage cares only about the shields on himself. If they’re pew-pewing Luke, you can use this special to defend Luke while still dealing two damage as the Knight rests comfortably behind is shield wall.
By allowing your shields to go above three with Defensive Teaching, it’s much easier to maintain the level of shieldery required to pull off maximum effectiveness of the Jedi Knight special.
Luke’s Protection is a single point of damage mitigation every single round, for free. The only downside is that using a Luke’s Protection effectively lowers the number of new cards you’re looking at when you draw a full grip. In our deck, however, that’s ok, because the shield/ability/dice resolution plan relies much less on getting new event cards to stay alive.
Notice that both of the cards so far cost zero. Having these incremental benefits cost no resources greatly aids in our quest to play big expensive things elsewhere.
The final support is Yoda’s Hut, and it’s a gem. This is a card that I’ve long been in love with, but it’s never been a top tier favorite. In this deck, however, it shines as never before. One of the quirks of Jedi Knight turns out to be a bonus here. Because he gets health 11 and 12 through shields, having this in your opening hand makes pulling off the third shield to get a resource nearly automatic. With a first action of dropping this and a second action of using it to both give the Knight a third shield and recoup one of the resources spent on it, you now have an advantage engine that will reap benefits for you in every round going forward. This is the marquee card you want in every opening hand because it allows you to push the game longer and longer, and every round you do buries your opponent under its advantage.
For the events, I’ll break them out into how they play into our themes.
These bad boys are the event tools we use to make a quick buck, and they play famously here. Adapt is outstanding at using one of the two (or four if you lost the battlefield roll) starting shields to generate advantage. Many Blue decks have to work to generate those first shields, and if you’re fighting on your battlefield, it’s a dead card in your opening hand. Not so here.
Luke’s Training is the resource generating card that was always meant to provide gas to Old Man Luke’s Power Action but never really got used. In our deck, however, it does exactly what it was always meant to do. One of the benefits this has over some other cards that generate resources for specific things is that this one can rip cards from the discard pile, so it’s never dead. If your opening grip ends up with too many abilities, you can freely toss one, draw this in round two, and then play the card you tossed. Savage.
One of the advantages Blue villain has always had over Blue hero is is ready access to zero-cost removal. Hidden Motive paired with Forsaken has always provided a very strong base on which to remove dice while using your resources to build out the attack. Blue hero has had access to zero-cost removal, but it’s never been as effective. In this deck, we still have some limitations on our free removal that villain doesn’t, but it’s a much narrower advantage for them.
- Hidden Motive is Hidden Motive. What can you say? Name the thing you don’t want to see and everything is gravy.
- Nullify is a much easier play in this deck because we simply have SO many shields running around. Sure, you’re giving them an additional health, but that’s not a big deal here. I’ve often used this to great effect to make room on one of my characters because I have more shields waiting to be loaded up.
- Pacify is great at removing the opponents’ character dice, or tossing more shields onto whomever they’re going for if you need to defend against a non-character die.
Before I get to the last two cards (I’m not particularly excited about them), I need to draw your attention to this monstrosity. I have no idea how this card has gone unnoticed by most of the community, but that’s a crime that needs to be resolved. This card deserves an apology from everyone who ever ignored it, and should then turn its nose smugly up and walk away.
This is a straight-up bomb. I’m talking nuclear blast, board clearing, game-winning, domino smashing bomb that will change the outcome of the game when you play it. This. Card. Is. Nuts.
The absolute weakest thing this card does is wreck all the plans your opponents have carefully laid for the upcoming turn. As they aggressively toss dice into the pool trying to batter through your shields, they stock more and more of their round into that one massive smash against you. Once they’ve leveraged themselves to the hilt, you casually set two resources aside and gently lay this one the table, indicating their dice pool. You’re removing two, three, four, and sometimes five dice off of their table. It’s just bonkers. And, again, that’s the weakest thing this does.
The true hammer falls when you bleed your opponent dry of options and they claim while you have tons of dice still on the table. As your gameplay is so rigidly sequenced, your rounds are going to go long. You’re going to do a lot of different things in a very particular order, pausing your plan for an action here or there to deal with whatever shenanigans they’ve cooked up.
As they toss their dice against your shields like the ocean throwing itself at the cliffs of Skellig Michael (and damaging you at about the same rate), you’re eventually going to come to a round where they’re simply out of things to do. That’s the same round where you couldn’t use Luke’s Power Action because both guys are already fully loaded up, so you have the full ten dice on your side of the board. Maybe they removed one or two, or maybe you had to use a Luke die to get some shields, but whatever the circumstance, they’re done with their round, and you have one card in your hand with a bunch of dice in the pool. In this circumstance with nothing to do but claim, they’re hoping you pitch to reroll without hitting too many good sides, they sit there devastated when you casually set two resources aside and gently lay this on the table, this time indicating your own pool. You see, with so many dice that turn other dice, getting to focus even a small amount of your own dice means you’re focusing ALL of your dice. Like Jyn and Cassian meeting their ultimate fate, your opponent can only sit there in calm surrender while you deliver every hammer blow in your arsenal onto their characters. At this point, the game is over. Even if you didn’t technically kill every last one of their dudes, it’s over.
The final two cards are, not exciting. They’re fine, but I’m choosing to think of these as two slots where you can explore yourself and make this deck your own. I couldn’t come up with much, so I decided to try a couple of things.
Ataru Strike is a big damage dealer, while Stand Firm is one of those cards that never sees play that I wanted to see it work. Honestly, neither of these ever really did much for me. I think Ataru Strike won one game that I was probably going to win anyway, and Stand Firm has been an excellent pitch-to-reroll option.
And that’s it! It’s a tricky deck to play, but if you’re looking for something fun for the next few days, I’d encourage you to give it a chance. After Faltering Allegiances drops, I still think this idea will fall into the realm of a very good casual deck for Infinite. I’m sure you will want to power up some of the choices, but the theme will still be the same.