What Goes Up…
Now can come down with the Dark Side's new "elevator" units.
We've already seen units that can discard themselves in order to put some build counters on a unit under construction, but never on a scale as large as the new Trade Federation Core Ship and Trade Federation Battle Freighter (which I've nicknamed the "elevator" units). They're able to play a high stakes game of musical arenas, allowing the Dark Side the opportunity to mass its forces in the right place at the right time. However, since these units are as slow as you can get, the deck will need a way for them to join the fight in time to do some good. There's a new Battle card in Jedi Guardians that can deliver just what this deck needs. Synchronized Systems allows a slow unit to ramp up to the speed of an accompanying fast unit and they both get a hefty +3 power bonus to boot. The challenge of putting this deck together will be to make the correct pairings in order to make this strategy work.
In Space, the 4 Trade Federation Core Ships dominate, but could use the support of Interceptors by way of the TIE Fighter DS-61-9. It's also a reasonably fast unit, but for a truly impressive Synchronized Systems play, some faster units will be required. I've decided to add a couple of pilots to the deck for some speed and Critical Hit, so I need to include several units for them to pilot. The safest place for them to be is aboard a Geonosian Defense Fighter. Their 3 health can keep a pilot alive and their 60 speed is right where I want to be. Even better would be some inherent Critical Hit to take advantage of the Synch's +3 power bonus. The best unit for the job is Tyranus's Solar Sailer (A) with its Crit 2. The extra 3 dice will nearly ensure you get the Crit and then it can retreat to avoid any reprisals. To further boost its speed and to a add a bit of protection, the new Tyranus's Solar Sailer (B) can stack to get the (A) version up to 70 speed. Once the arena is in the bag, the Reserves ability can be used to prevent a point of damage to a Character unit. The elevator units will be priority targets for the Light Side. The deck needs them to live long enough to get some use out of their special ability. To protect them I've included a single Neimoidian Shuttle (A). If they get a bit too close to being taken out, for 2 Force the Shuttle can retreat them to safety. As long as an elevator unit has 1 health left, it can be discarded to switch to the other arena the following turn.
The Ground is anchored by 4 Trade Federation Core Ships and will similarly need some speedy support. The best way to do this is with Luxury Airspeeder. Not only are they fast enough to be useful for the Synchronized Systems, but even without the Synch they boost speeds by +10 each, with could be crucial in a battle of heavyweights. For the Synch, the better partner is Zam's Airspeeder (A) with its Crit 3. I decided against using Zam's Airspeeder (B), but when there's a pilot for the unit it could be added in. Finally, in order to make up for the lost build points that happen when you make the arena switch, the Tatooine Hangars are a great asset. They'll sometimes allow the Core Ship to switch to a Battle Freighter for just the 1 build point it takes to get the Freighter into your build zone. The Hangars are tough enough to hang on for a turn if you're waiting for a Battle Freighter to elevator on down to Ground.
The Character arena doesn't have much that can help the elevator units beyond gaining some extra build points or perhaps a Capital Ship pilot. I originally tried the deck with just some utility units in Character, but soon found that I needed to put up a fight there, especially when I was consolidating the elevator units into one arena (and crushing the Light Side). The utility units didn't cut it, so I switched them all out for some units that could fight and get some mileage out of the Synchronized Systems as well. The easiest way to get a super-fast unit in Character is through stacking. Darth Maul is the fastest Character around, so he makes perfect sense. The new Darth Maul (E) has a great ability for this deck: Pay 1 Force Maul gets +20 speed until end of turn. With that version on top and a few Force, nothing's going to attack before he does. Combine him with a walking target like Infantry Battle Droid for a Synch attack and the Light Side will be reeling. The Infantry Battle Droid usually gets knocked out before it ever gets a chance to perform its Overload attack, but with Maul leading the charge, he can deliver a quick 11 attack dice. To create a truly excellent combo, the suicidal Overload can be negated by the Reserves ability of Tyranus's Solar Sailer (B) and the Droid will be safely retreated to head back into Character next turn. Finally, for a bit of extra help in Space, a couple of TIE Fighter Elite Pilots can push the starfighters up to speeds the Light Side won't be able to match. With a pilot onboard, a Synch there should find you with 2 units at 80 speed with the pilot's Crit 2 having a great chance of triggering.
The Battle card that the deck relies on is Synchronized Systems. I've included 4 just to make sure that the deck can draw one and have one when you need it. Due to the high Force cost of the Synch, the deck needs some way to gain extra Force. Maul's Strategy is the way to go with Maul in the deck. Since Maul doesn't have great defensive capabilities, a few Hero's Dodges will help him out. It's usually not worth it to use them to save the Overloading Infantry Battle Droids. For Ground and Space, protection comes by way of Pilot's Dodge. But the best protection is attacking first. If the Light Side springs an Anakin's Inspiration on you, drop a Dark Speed on your starfighter or speeder, and then follow it up with the Synch after you tap to attack. Both units will attack at the 90+ speed you reach. Finally, in order to draw up a bunch of these cards during play, a single Price of Failure will supplement the card draw you get when an Infantry Battle Droid is discarded from play. In fact, the Battle Droids are a great unit to use the Price on, assuming Maul has the arena sewn up.
Here's what the deck looks like all put together…
After seeing your opening hand, it's a good idea to get rid of any duplicate Battle or Mission cards you may be holding unless you have 4 or 5 mid to high cost units in hand. A good opening setup would be: Trade Federation Core Ship, Tatooine Hangar, Luxury Airspeeder, Tyranus's Solar Sailer (A), Darth Maul (A) with (E) understacked. An early Maul's Strategy is a great way to keep the Light Side off balance and make them unable to stay in all 3 arenas. Don't be afraid to use the Synch even when it uses up all of your Force. It's effect can be devastating, so the risk is minimized as the Light Side won't have much left with which to counterattack.
This deck is fun to play, as you'll never find yourself with a bunch of units sitting in one arena wasting away. The elevator units are a great way to keep the Light Side guessing. After you've played the deck a few times against the same opponent, try adding 2 Twilight of the Republics to the deck. Being able to build last will throw them off again, just when they thought they had your strategy beat.