A Prophecy Remembered, the story of a Top Eight Light Side Deck
"You refer to the prophecy of the one who will bring balance to the Force. You believe it's this boy?"
- Mace Windu, Episode I: the Phantom Menace
Well Gen Con has come and gone, and while I did not do so well, my Con roommate and teammate Ben Weiner made Top 8 with all but the exact decks I played (one card off in each). So while I was disappointed in my own performance, I am very happy for him and our team as a whole. I want to thank Ben, Jeremy, Phil, Murphy, Nick, Joel, and Dirty for all their help in coming up with all this, testing, and listening to me yell, scream, complain, and deal with my frustration.
"Always two there are, a Master and an Apprentice…"
- Yoda, Episode I: the Phantom Menace
In our group, Ben and I decided that we would build the decks and play them and basically say "these are the best we can come up with, play them if you wish." Most of our team ran versions of them, with minor changes. Ben was the brains behind most of the Dark Side deck, and I came up with the Light Side. So sit back and relax, it's a long journey, but in the end you will find what I believe is a very strong, if not the strongest deck in the current SW: TCG environment.
Our story begins with last years Regional Championship series, where the format had only Attack of the Clones, Sith Rising, and A New Hope. We had what we believed was a dominating Dark Side deck, which most of our team played to the top 4. All five of our members at the time qualified at three different regionals, winning two of them, basically running Dark Side almost the entire day. I am sure that Ben will explain most of this in his article, so why am I mentioning it? Well sometimes the Light Side would simply win on the strength of one card: Mace Windu (A).
Occasionally the Light Side would just spend twelve build, put out Mace A, stack him a couple of times, generate some extra force, and lay a serious smack down on the Dark Side. Now if you have read any of my other articles you know of my fondness for Mace, but it really was true; when it came to the best character in SW:TCG, Mace was it.
So we knew going into testing for Worlds that our decks should start somehow with Mace, unless something better came along. Now we just had to wait for Jedi Guardians. About 3 weeks ago, the spoiler was released, and "real" testing began. After scanning the entire thing, no card that could replace the BMF was found. A lot of people talked about the new Yoda as the best character for the LS, but I just didn't see it. Sure he evaded better, but did he fight better? Was he worth the extra build? Did he deflect? Would I not rather have Yoda (E)? Most of these answers were a resounding "No" and I am not one to base decks on more than one "heavy hitter," so it was back to searching the spoiler for other goodies.
A few cards jumped out at me, especially after the "you can build into your reserves area or use an ability and build into an arena" was ruled: Yoda (E), Jedi Youngling, and R2-D2 (E). A few more seemed to find a home in the deck as well: Shaak Ti (B), Mace Windu (D), Even Piell (A), Adi Gallia (A), and Depa Billaba (A). So the first skeleton of our Light Side deck was born. Here was the original list:
3x Mace (A) - 1x Mace (B) - 1x Mace (C) - 2x Mace (D) - 3x Jedi Younglings - 1x Obi Wan (F) - 1x Wedge (A) - 2x Yoda (E) - 1x Even Piell (A) - 1x Adi Gallia (A) - 1x Shaak Ti (B) - 1x R2-D2 (E) - 1x Luke Skywalker (G) - 1x Millenium Falcon (A) - 2x Millenium Falcon (B) - 1x Millenium Falcon (C) - 2x Obi Starfighter (A) - 1x Obi Starfighter (B) - 4x Jedi Starfighter 3R3 - 2x Luke XWing (B) - 1x Luke XWing (A) - 3x Sandcrawler - 2x Elite Jedi Squad - 2x Tatooine Hanger - 3x Jedi Heroes - 2x Mobile Assault Cannon - 4x Slumming on Coruscant - 4x Windu's Solution - 4x Moment of Truth - 3x Seek the Council's Wisdom
Now I am not going to bore you with the decisions that went into these cards, because many of them did not make it into the final incarnation, but suffice to say that this was a good starting point. The final deck did wind up being about 15 cards different, which is significant. Basically the original design was to win character and space, and use the ground as support. The massive amount of Jedi units fit the theme of Mace D or Even Piell, and I would build on these concepts.
Since we knew that the LS was clearly dominant we began testing the LS deck at less than 30 starting build, as low as 27. This gave us a more realistic look at how the deck would compete in a "tournament" setting. I then found a few "universal truths" about both the Light Side and the deck:
- At two to four less build the deck had to be more aggressive. This had a few interesting implications. First the ground arena had to be completely redesigned. An offshoot of this was that I felt that the Jawa Sandcrawlers, though I love drawing 3 cards a turn, had to come out, I simply could not justify four build during set up on a non combat unit…but more on this later.
- If I had Mace Windu (A) out, I usually won. If I had him out with a Youngling, I almost always won. If I had him, a youngling, and a Seek the Council's Wisdom, and at least three build on turn one, the DS needed to have a great space and ground set up. This essentially meant that the deck needed a decent amount of Force to run, but once it got rolling, it was unstoppable. It was also very resilient to Force Denial strategies (Capture Obi Wan/Maul's Strategy).
- The Falcon was only good with Luke on it, as an offensive unit, it would have to change.
- Yoda (E) was completely insane.
- Shaak Ti (B) was very good.
- Even Piell (A) drawn later in the game with 6-10 Force was essentially game over.
So what did all this mean? Well I had to rebuild the ground arena with combat units, which luckily the Light Side had a plethora of. I will go into the details of this later. The main cuts were the Jawa Sandcrawlers. I feel that every deck needs some sort of card drawing, in any TCG, but especially Star Wars. You simply cannot be at the mercy of drawing one card a turn in a game where you need to defend or win at least two-thirds of the playing surface. So essentially I had to find a way to draw more cards, or at least make sure I drew the important cards (Mace Windu (A), Jedi Youngling, Seek the Council's Wisdom, Luke's X-Wing (B) or Obi Wan's Starfighter, Yoda (E)), each game to win.
Then I searched the list harder…and found Remember the Prophecy. This card tested very well. It started taking the Slumming on Coruscant slots, which we found were decent, but not 100% necessary. This card was basically an "Impulse" (a term based on the great magic card where you looked at the top 4 cards, chose one to keep, and put the rest on the bottom of your library) for whichever arena (or battle or mission card) you needed at the time. With the numbers of the valuable cards in the deck you were almost guaranteed not to "miss" with an RTP, but you were often not drawing more than one card either. Needed a Mace (A)? More often than not he was there. Needed a Seek the Councils? Same thing. It was a great feeling, I had the card I needed. I had my "Impulse" but I wanted my "ancestral" (reference to Ancestral Recall, a draw three cards from Magic very efficeintly, the best card ever printed in a game, IMO)…I wanted more…
"This party's over…"
- Mace Windu, Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
How was I to break Remember the Prophecy? When we tested it, the card had basically four functions: Was there a Mace (A) or Youngling in play? If the answer was no, you would call "character" and get one of them. Were you losing by enough in space or ground that one card could make the difference? If so, say the appropriate arena. Did you need Force? If so say either "character" (youngling) or "mission" (Seek). If you answered "Yes" to these questions, your default was to say "battle" and draw any battle cards in your hand, which were never really dead cards. This was great, but it never really netted you more than one card. This meant that essentially I was trading one build for one card, not a great ratio. So how could I raise my chances of drawing more than one card that I would want to use immediately? Simple, fit more battle cards in, or at least reduce the amount of Mission cards, so we would not have four choices, but three. Not just any battle cards, but the ones that mirror the effects of the important cards in the deck.
I looked, and found Strike Me Down. The ruling that Reserves units can use their abilities and then move into the arena tapped was huge. It meant I could use a youngling to gain two Force, then move it in, sacrifice it, and gain six more Force. This meant that I immediately got three "turns" out of my youngling right away, gaining a huge tempo advantage, as well as saving myself three build over that time. All this for the cost of three build (two for the youngling, one to gain two Force) and two cards. I don't need to tell you what the Light Side can do on turn one with eight extra Force (12 total), but suffice to say that Mace isn't going anywhere, and that's the minimum effect. The fact that it is a battle card meant that if I used an RTP to get it, I would most likely draw an additional card also. The flip side is that if I had the SMD in hand, and I needed a youngling, I could use RTP for characters and most likely get a stackable Mace or another cheaper character as well.
"It is done, then…"
- Mace Windu, Episode II: Attack of the Clones
So I had my deck. What follows is the decklist we played (Ben Weiner, Top 8, and I) and the justification for each card. The end is the changes I would make going forward:
"I will take whatever Jedi we have left and go to Geonosis to help Obi Wan"
- Mace Windu, Episode II: Attack of the Clones
The Obi-Wan's and Luke's are pretty self-explanatory, find the best cards, and play with them. Either one is great on its own, and when you get both out, that's pretty much "I win" in space. The other Jedi Starfighters are there to feed off of Even (known affectionately as "Ears") or Mace, and are great units in general. The X-Wing Attack Formations provide more beatdown than the Falcon, and the Red 10s are for extra attackers versus the mass amounts of droid overload ships that we knew we would see at Worlds.
The LS currently dominates the space arena, and this set up will give you that advantage.
The ground arena is certainly more offensive. Basically it is the best units available for the Light Side. The average damage on the Elite Jedi Squad is insane (something like just under 3 for 3 build) and when you use "ears" or a Windu's Solution (or have Mace (D) on top), it is just not fair. The Jedi Heroes and the Walker are just great units, the evade on the heroes and the massive damage on the walker are sick. The last units were in there specifically to take out executioner's carts, which we did not see a lot of, but tested against extensively.
This ground set up gives you a great chance of winning the arena, especially combined with support battle cards and units in character arena.
A lot of this has been explained before. The basic set up is to use Mace as your main hitter, with the other characters in overall support. Many times unless you are using Strike Me Down on a character, Mace will be the only character in the arena all game. Shaak Ti is a great support character and very underused. With Yoda out she is virtually unkillable. The Younglings, Yoda, and R2 help you in other arenas, as well as this one. "Ears" is insane in a deck with this number of Jedi units. Finally the Obi-Wan Kenobi (G) can take some hits for Mace if you are low on Force, and is great when he dies, since he adds to the Force total.
Again, self-explanatory. Windu's Solution and Yoda's Intervention are great overall cards. The Strike Me Down combo has been explained. Moment of Truth is absolutely insane in a deck based on Mace, and a good card in general if he is not out, due to its usefullness.
No comment needed.
The perfect opening set up would be: Mace (A), 1-2 Maces understacked, a Jedi Youngling, Obi Wan's Starfighter (B), Luke's X-Wing (B), an Elite Jedi Squad, and then start building a Yoda (E).
If I had to play this deck again, I would cut out Red 10s for another X-Wing Attack Formation. I would also cut the Freerunner for another Heroes, the Cart was not as big of a factor, and the Heroes is simply a more flexible unit. The other Red 10 becomes another Yoda's Intervention to give me one more battle card.
I want to give a general warning. Not to sound conceited, but this deck is not for the tame of heart. Decisions need to be made every turn that will make or break a game. This deck is not "play a unit, attack, repeat." The RTPs make each turn, and the ones that follow, very important. There is a lot of strategic retreating that goes on, and you need to be very aware of your Force output each turn, before the turn is played. Do I have enough Force for all three arenas? Can I afford to retreat Mace? When should I start building another Mace? Ever?
Good luck, and May the Force be with You.
Scott Landis is a five-time MtG Pro Tour player and founding member of the SW Team PDS (Philly Death Squad). He can be reached for comment at Scott_Landis@Yahoo.com.
Try not, do or do not, there is no try.