The Return of the Swarm
Now that the Fires have died down, Light Side swarm decks make a comeback.
When players saw Unfriendly Fire in the Sith Rising expansion (and in just about every Dark Side deck), a good many of them swore off of Light Side swarm decks… and still haven't returned to them. That's too bad, 'cuz they're more fun than ever now. I looked through my collection of decks and realized that my old swarm deck hadn't been played in a while either. I'm guilty too. So I brushed off the dust, updated it with new cards, playtested it several times with a decent amount of success, and now present it to you below.
For my money, the best way to go in building a swarm deck is with Tuskens. They're cheap and can easily get the best boost ability out there: Accuracy. True, the Tusken Characters are pretty wimpy, but if 4 or 5 units can easily score hits, even the Dark Side Jedi can't Evade them all. The Tusken Ground units are beefier, with only a marginally higher cost, so they can often stand up to the huge Ground units the Dark Side deploys.
Tuskens gain Accuracy by way of the Tusken Sharpshooter, so this is the priority build of the entire deck. And since it isn't unique, it's quite good to deploy them in numbers. A large number of Tuskens is a good idea as it beefs up the diminutive Tusken Raider to respectable levels. I've had one has high as 9 Power before, though by the time it attacked it only had 6 Power. If only it were faster… What is faster is Massiff. Often attacking before unstacked Jedi, their Stun 2 can be quite annoying and the Dark Side Jedi will almost always Evade even a single point of damage from this unit. Since these units are so wimpy, I wanted a way to protect them. I originally tested the deck using the Intercepting Obi-Wans (G & F), but his build cost was too much for my swarming tactics. Cordé (A), on the other hand, is cheap and can protect a Character without spending any precious Force. I'd gladly give her up over any of the Tusken Characters.
While the Ground-based Tuskens are a beefier lot, their aren't as many good ones. The Tusken War Party special ability isn't that great and the cost is a bit too high for a swarm deck. I decided on just two different Tusken Units here: Domesticated Bantha and Tusken Raider Squad. The Banthas are a very cost effective unit as it's very easy to find additional Tuskens to give it the +2 Power boost. The Tusken Raider Squad ability isn't that great as the unit is slower than most Speeders, but its stats are good enough to warrant inclusion. The fact that it's a Tusken makes up for it all. Another great unit for a swarm deck is the Elite Jedi Squad. Their Critical Hit 2 offers some help should the Sharpshooters not pan out. Providing a bit of Speed boost for these units are a couple of Luxury Airspeeders. Cheap and fast, they can get in a hit or two before just about anything attacks.
Unfortunately, there aren't any Tuskens in Space. However, the Light Side has plenty of good swarming units. At 3 build apiece, the X-wing Red Ten, Jedi Starfighter 3R3, and Bravo N-1 Starfighter are good deals. For extra hitting power and a bit of resiliency, Luke's X-wing (A) and Luke's X-wing (B) do the job.
A good swarm deck relies on a good crop of Battle and Mission cards. This one more so on the Missions. Since no single unit in a swarm deck is crucial to the deck strategy, the deck doesn't go with much in the way of defense. The best defense is a good offense, or so they say. Three Pilot's Dodges can help units stay alive to keep local superiority in an arena. Anakin's Inspiration will give a nice boost especially for the Ground and Space arenas, where the 40 and 50 Speed units there could use a bit of extra help. In Character, even +20 Speed won't help the slow as molasses Tuskens there.
Since the units are small, there are always extra build points to be found for Missions. Especially for Regroup on Yavin. This card powers up the swarm strategy like none other. You'd think that low build rolls would work just fine for the deck, but it actually needs to be able to make a deployment each and every turn to work. Regroup ensures that will happen. When you do have leftover build points, drop them on Desperate Confrontation. This card is where most of the deck's Force is going to go, so save up some Force before finishing it. Also, wait to use it until you know that you will be fighting in at least two arenas. Otherwise you don't really get your build's worth. The deck has several units with Critical Hit on account of this card. Cordé (A), Elite Jedi Squad, Bravo N-1 Starfighter, and Luke's X-wing (B) all have a much better chance of scoring a Crit with the extra two attack dice. When build rolls are on the high side, the deck can run through cards quickly. Wedding of Destiny is the best card drawing card in the game and will keep the units and Missions flowing. Lastly, just in case you do face Unfriendly Fire or any other nasty Battle or Mission cards, a couple of Slumming on Coruscants do the trick. I've played against Unfriendly decks and won just about every time. This deck has so many threats and gets so many attacks that it's very difficult to save up the 7 Force necessary to play the UF.
I hope you have similar results.
Here's what the deck looks like all put together…
After seeing your initial hand, feel free to discard all Battle and Mission cards you draw, except for Regroup on Yavin. This deck has a lot of small units, so you will deploy roughly 9 units during setup. It's possible to run out of things to build, but it hasn't happened to me. The Regroups are worth the small chance of it happening. A good opening setup (subject to Dark Side plays) is: 2 Tusken Sharpshooter, 1 Tusken Raider, 1 Cordé (A), 2 Domesticated Bantha, 2 Tusken Raider Squad, 1 X-wing Red Ten, 1 Jedi Starfighter 3R3.
Even if you aren't planning on fighting in all 3 arenas, you should build a minimum of two units in each arena so you can take advantage of the Regroups. You can retreat the units each time after you Regroup, so they'll still be alive when they are needed again later. Saving these units pays off handsomely when you build a Desperate Confrontation, as you can make a return to the arena with some extra oomph. This tactic often forces the Dark Side to build and deploy units into arenas needlessly for fear of a quick hit and run attack.
It's a good idea to forgo playing Characters as long as possible during setup. Hopefully you can catch the Dark Side with but a single unit there, then you spend your last 8 build points to deploy 3 units and have a nice advantage over the bad guys. It's also a good idea to hold off there in case the Dark Side is overly strong or fast in Character, as they could knock out your Sharpshooters before they even get to roll.