I know it has been a long time since my last article, but I finally have put all the finishing touches on some of my Empire Strikes Back deck ideas and I am ready to write them up for all you readers to read. I have to say that after playtesting for two months that I thoroughly enjoy the Empire Strikes Back set. I still have more fun playing with cards from this set than from any other.
With such a large set, sometimes it is easy to test the waters and not find a style that is particularly fitting to yours and the new cards. I know that with over 200 cards I was pretty overwhelmed at first trying to figure out what would be worth playing and what wouldn't. I eventually settled on an old favorite of mine with a new twist.
One way I've always tried to make decks is by creating a theme that the whole deck can benefit from. Certain themes like Tuskens and Clones are sometimes harder to play because their themes don't fit in every arena and they don't have Battle cards specifically related to their subtypes. With so many new creatures in Empire Strikes Back, it seems like an added bonus to receive Space creatures, along with Battle cards that actually help your creatures. Using my template for several previous decks I tried to make a very inexpensive but very strong creature deck for the Dark Side. It has performed excellent for myself and if you give it a try I'm sure it will do the same for you.
Trade Federation Droid Bomber x4
Tie Bomber EX-1-8 x4
Devastator (A) x2
Tie Bomber Pilot x2
Darth Vader (C)
Darth Vader (H)
Darth Vader (I)
Darth Vader (K)
Battle Cards: 16
Strength of Hate x4
Vicious Attack x4
Dark Speed x4
Pilot's Dodge x4
Jungles of Dagobah x2
Wampa Cave x2
In my Tuskens deck that I used at Gencon this year I found some strength in my Bombarding Space units. So with the addition of the Tie Bomber EX-1-8 I saw that the Space arena can be even more threatening for the Ground arena now. The eight cards that Bombard give my ground arena the perfect protection. I really like the new Mynock card. You don't even have to hit or damage a unit in the Space arena for this little guy to make their power -3. He usually gets attacked since the Light Side doesn't like that power restriction so he also works like a free Intercept unit as well. Since Mynocks are creatures they can also benefit my card drawing with an Orray or two down. And with the Wampa Cave in play they only cost one build point. And if my opponent doesn't attack them I can always play Vicious Attack and give them a +6 power! The two copies of Devastator generally serve as a good backup to my smaller units. With Empire Strikes Back out in the environment I see a lot of Rebels being played which makes my Devastator that much stronger.
The Ground arena in this Creature deck is certainly not as aggressive as my Tusken deck. The Tuskens had speed advantage and strength in numbers. In this Ground arena I tend to focus more on gaining a game advantage than an aggressive stance. Reeks can take advantage of Wampa Cave and Jungles of Dagobah. The Reeks can also have Vicious Attack played on them, as well as helping me draw cards when deployed if an Orray is in the Ground arena. They can also use their own game text to tap and draw a card and in this deck card advantage is a very good thing. The Bogwings and Dragonsnakes both take advantage of the same things that the Reeks do, but they also allow me to discard cards off of my opponent's deck. I have seen this come in very handy sometimes and even though only eight cards in my deck can do that, it still seems quite effective each time. The Orrays can also take advantage of all of the previous mentioned creature cards, but they also help me in my card drawing as well. With an Orray or two in the Ground arena and Wampa Cave in the Character arena, drawing cards is quite easy to do!
I have seen a lot of new activated abilities that almost require a Dark Side player to run Nexus. They can also take advantage of all the creature cards, they can deploy for one less build point if Wampa Cave is in play, and they're speed 50s which make them somewhat aggressive if the opponent is playing in the Character arena. Scurriers also take advantage of all the creature cards in the deck. They can swarm fast and generate some great power advantages as well. Kouhuns are also creatures and like almost every unit in this deck they can take advantage of all the creature cards. I've seen a lot of good come from deploying a Kouhun for only one build point. The Darth Vader stack in this deck and all the creature swarming seem to be the icing on the cake. Each version I have included of Darth Vader does something unique and different for the deck. Darth Vader C can help protect my creatures if needed. Darth Vader H can add power to each of my weaker units making the creatures that much stronger in numbers. His disadvantage of discarding a unit that does no damage is equally met with my ability to draw cards and play creatures cheaply. If I have a few units that do no damage and are discarded I can easily replace them for cheap. Darth Vader I can pull out one half of all the Battle cards in this deck. That ability makes the card very useful as you rarely use much Force while playing this deck. Being able to find a Dark Speed or Strength of Hate at a key time can be game winning. Darth Vader K is very good at stalling long enough for your creatures to seriously damage the Light Side's deck. He has the ability to Pay X - Evade X and as long as he doesn't have to go up against Yoda C he is a surefire winner.
Vicious Attack seems to be the best Battle card in the deck. For only three Force I'm able to make one of my creatures +6 power. With so many creatures it's hard for my opponents to decide which ones to attack because generally one of them is going to have their power pumped. Even a small, little Mynock makes my opponents rethink their strategies. Strength of Hate is almost like running an additional four copies of Vicious Attack. It isn't as high of a power pump, but it can be played in any arena and on any unit, which makes it just as useful. Darth Vader I can also search for as many copies of it as you need. Pilot's Dodge is just the kind of prevention this deck needs. Cheap and effective. The longer my creatures live the better! Dark Speed allows my units to get a speed jump on the Light Side when it's needed. Usually with Jungles of Dagobah out it is not needed in the Ground arena, but it can make a big difference in the Space arena with Mynocks and the Devastator.
Well, that is my deck. I hope you guys are enjoying Empire Strikes Back as much as I am. I hope this deck gave some insight into how to play a very effective and cheap deck that actually wins a lot! This deck only has eight rares and six of them are from Empire Strikes Back.