The Assembly Line: Deck Building with Trey – Firing Squad

I like to start my decks with the seed of an idea. Some spark that gives my imagination a chance to run wild. Often, for my own decks, this comes from a single interaction that catches my fancy. Whether it’s an interesting card that I feel isn’t getting enough love, or even a single interaction between cards that I feel could act as a force multiplier on a game state. Whatever it is, I start with that and work outward. Finding cards and themes that push whatever interesting thing I’m trying to feature in this deck. Often, I cheat at this and work with decks where other people have the seed idea. They come up with something they like, and I take it and run to build a streamlined, efficient deck.

I’ve had several ideas for Convergence ranging from wildly complex to downright simple. The first deck I want to work with is one we will start simple on. A straightforward, mono Red Hero Trooper deck. I’ve had a soft spot for this deck ever since I laid eyes on Rex in Legacies. There have been quite a few cards that do very powerful things if, and only if, you control the battlefield. I love these cards, but it’s a real downer to be staring at a powerful card in your hand that’s only good for rerolls because you’re fighting someone playing at warp speed. This is especially true when you start trying to go three-wide to up your health pool. With the advent of Rex’s battlefield-stealing ability, all those powerful cards turned on. My first crack at a Rex deck was back in the Way of the Force field at a GQ in Houston. I piloted Rex and two Clone Troopers to a 4-2 finish. Not quite good enough to really money, but, since I’d brought a pet deck rather than a winning deck, I was happy with the finish.

With the rotation Convergence has brought about we’ve lost the most powerful battlefield control cards (Dug In and Defensive Position), but we’ve been given some new toys that push this mono Red Hero Trooper deck in different directions.

The first task in building this deck is to determine our team. We have not only the old standbys of Clone Trooper, Rex, and Cody to choose from but also new blood in the form of Kes Dameron and the Naboo Palace Guard. For my team, I chose Rex, Clone Trooper, and Naboo Palace Guard. I probably could have gone with two Clone Troopers, but I wanted to try the new guy. A second Clone Trooper would help proc Rex’s effect if they decide to knock them down first, but the Guardian on NPG should help Rex stay alive if they target him. I also just really wanted to play the new card.

I know there’s a deck for Kes, but I don’t think this is it. His 16 points for elite mean that you can’t pair him with a wide Trooper deck. I think it’s more likely that he needs to stand up with a second color Trooper to set off some Power Action shenanigans. Cody is just right out. Sure, he lets you run more guys, but you get the same amount of dice while not guaranteeing a captured battlefield. That’s the point of this deck, at least for now.

Now that the team is in place, we need to set about building the deck. Let’s start with upgrades. I see a lot of folks packing their decks with weapons they will never play to the detriment of keeping their dudes alive. I would much rather land one or two upgrades over the course of the game and use my resources and cards to keep my dudes alive. For the weapon suite, I’ve settled on E-11, Handheld L-S1 Cannon, Resistance Ring, and Rex’s Blaster.

There are certainly other upgrades that want to see play, but I feel like these are the most efficient at doing what you want to do. The L-S1 Cannon is just unparalleled power for a minor to nonexistent drawback. Rex’s Pistol is tailor-made for Rex, and the E-11 is a solid Redeploy gun for two resources. The Resistance Ring is an exciting new upgrade that allows us to get even more use out of our red events (of which we are chock full) that comes with resource, focus, and shield sides to boot!

Our list of also-rans does look solid, but each one fails to meet the bar in ways that keep it out of starting lineup. The A300, for example, seems like a solid new Redeploy weapon, but I’m not enamored with the two disrupt sides. Even though it substitutes one indirect side, I like the E-11 better because sides four and five are not blanks. I’d prefer the damage, but I can always use a shield or more resources. Other possibilities are the new Grievance Striker, Hidden Blaster, Overkill, and Poe’s Blaster. Those all fail to knock the existing four out of our slots, however, for various reasons. Grievance Striker does have Redeploy, but the disrupt and extra indirect sides hurt. Hidden Blaster doesn’t have Redeploy. Overkill would be amazing if we had more base gun sides, but our weapon-lite upgrade package won’t guarantee using one of those +3s if we hit them.

Now that we’ve got our “kill the bad guys” cards sorted, I want to move on to what I call my “stay alive” cards. Often these are dice removal cards, but, especially in cases like this Red Trooper deck, it can mean mitigating damage in other ways, like healing. There’s little difference between removing a two damage die off the table versus letting them resolve it and then undoing the damage. Even better, it’s more psychologically damaging to our opponent to wipe away everything they worked for after the fact than it is to not let them deal the damage at all. No one is perfectly rational, and I do so love making my opponent feel bad about how the game is going. It’s a minor percentage shift in your favor, but those add up.

Mitigating damage in Destiny comes at a cost. The baseline for that cost is one action, one card, and one resource to mitigate two damage. Effects that circumvent any of those costs come at with a drawback to replace them. My first pass on damage mitigation focuses on cards that are above that line. Things that allow me to mitigate more than two damage for an acceptable cost. In other decks, these are things like Easy Pickings, where you get the second die at the cost of spotting a Yellow character and the dice being identical or Beguile where the extra dice come at the cost of an additional resource and you not really removing two of the three dice. These “above the curve” mitigation cards are in Red Hero as well. Riot Shield mitigates three damage at the cost of having to pick where it’s mitigated ahead of time. Suppressive Fire can hit a giant character die, but only that. Into the Garbage Chute costs you a dude for the round and only hits damage dice. In these cases, I’m happy to pay the extra drawback. I’m probably playing the card after you’ve already picked where you’re stacking damage, I’m cool with throwing a zero-cost mitigation that we can all see out there and waiting for something good, and I’m happy to give up my worst character for one round to wipe your two biggest damage dice off the table.  For this deck I’ve chosen these cards that are above the curve for removal:

  • Riot Shield – Blocking three damage everywhere.
  • Suppressive Fire – Cheap play that I can use when I like.
  • First Aid – Round one it’s devastating, while after that it’s merely very good.
  • Into the Garbage Chute – Straight up removing two dice is huge.
  • Measure for Measure – All these Trooper dice. You can have my worst one for your best die.
  • Mend – Three health for two resources.

In addition to those, I’ve added the exactly-on-curve Field Medic as well. Red Hero loves them some healing, and this partners well with Resistance Ring.

 After laying out the tools to keep my dudes alive, I want at least some tricks in there. That can mean bursty damage, extra resources, or anything that can surprise my opponent when presented with the opportunity. For this deck I’ve chosen Fresh Supplies (one of my two favorite new cards), Intense Fire, Motivate, and Seize the Day. With Rex I will always have the battlefield, so Fresh Supplies it literally trading a card for a resource without the pesky drawback of giving my opponent a resource or a card. The number of times I will not have more Red cards than my opponent is vanishingly small, so you can always count on Intense Fire to pop someone for +2 damage. Motivate is an interesting card in that it’s so versatile. Sure, you will often use it to snipe someone for +1 damage, but it can also be used to grab an extra resource, focus an extra die, or even keep a guy alive by snagging an extra shield. Whatever you’re into, Motivate is there for you.

At this point, we have a thirty point team and thirty cards to rock with them. The only thing left is to decide on a battlefield. Remember, whatever we choose we will have the benefit of its Power Action or ongoing effect every time. Anything with a snazzy Claim ability isn’t going to be as interesting, because we sure aren’t claiming most of the time. With that in mind, there are actually a decent number of useful battlefields to choose from. Military Camp seems right up our alley by activating two Troopers to get the maximum effect, but if our opponent uses that Power Action first thing we’re sitting there twiddling our thumbs and cursing that we chose a less optimum battlefield. Theed is nice, even post-nerf. We have plenty of dice, and I’m sure one of them will be bad. The only issue is that I’d hate to be in a situation where I have to remove a good die because I already ate my crappy one with Measure for Measure, or, even worse, I have to eat a good die with M4M because I used Theed. Salt Flats is a very interesting one I almost chose, and it’s entirely possible that this is what I should have gone with. We can definitely use that Power Action every round to soft-mitigate our opponent’s die or even set Rex to exactly what we need. What I ended up with, however, is my tried and true Rex battlefield. Good ole Bendu. I just find that thing so sexy. As long as Rex is alive he will never bite you in the butt, and often you will get the benefit of an extra die (and a good one at that). When you are fighting at Bendu’s Lair, you will either get an extra die or you will go first EVERY SINGLE ROUND. Even when your opponent Claims, their very first action has to be rolling out Bendu, after which, you activate Rex to steal Bendu and remove that die. That’s the absolute worst it can get. If they forget to roll out Bendu, or they feel the need to do something else first, you activate Rex and get a free extra die this round! Bendu is my homie. I love me some Bendu.

With all the jibber-jabber out of the way, let’s see where we are at:

Here we’ve got a clean, straightforward deck that doesn’t cost too terribly much, and can go toe-to-toe with just about any deck out there. It’s a fun, thematic team, and I’d recommend this deck to anyone who doesn’t feel the need to be super tricksy and clever when they play. This is a perfect deck for getting that new person or casual player up and competitive in no time. It’s simple enough that you don’t have to go into the tank to find the best play, but has just enough cleverity to let that Significant Other feel like a Destiny god when they crush you out of nowhere. (editor’s note: please send video of that Filthy Casual rubbing your face in when they beat you with this).

Tips for Playing the Deck

  • Your dream opening hand has at least one First Aid and exactly one gun, preferably the L-S1 Cannon. Outside of that, you’d like some sweet zeros to play. Measure for Measure for emergency removal and maybe a Motivate to ramp up your resources.
  • If you’re playing on Bendu, your first move should always be to roll out Bendu. You don’t have to forget and lose out on using him when your opponent Claims and steals the battlefield. Conversely, if your opponent starts and does anything other than use Bendu, activate Rex immediately and give your enemy the sly eye as you slide that card and die over to your side. They know they screwed up. Now they know you know they know they screwed up.
  • Guardian is a special thing. Don’t use it right at first. Let your opponent drop some damage somewhere else. If you Guardian immediately, you just paint a big target on the Naboo Guard. Making them split the damage or refocus where to put the damage puts your opponent in a painful place of having to choose from a number of bad choices. Always make them choose bad choices.