Since the beginning of the Star Wars Trading Card Game, there have been many themes that have improved with each set. Return of the Jedi has given Creature decks a very big boost -- much needed after the hit they took with the banning of Kessel System, a key card in the Lockdown Creature decks that dominated the 2004 Qualifiers.
Since Kessel System is no longer an option, the now "ronin" creatures must find a new teacher. And so Malakili (A) steps up to lead the Creature deck back to the forefront. This unit allows all creatures to gain +1 power, +1 health and, as the icing on the cake, "Pay 1 Force Intercept". Combined with Return of the Jedi's other mighty offerings, Rancor and Sarlacc (A), creatures are indeed a force to be reckoned with once again.
The Creature Engine
We start with a typical creature engine, which is more or less the same as the Kessel/Creature decks of the past. Since we can't use Kessel System for build gain, it's been replaced with San Hill (A), YV-664 Light Freighter, and Departure Time. Eopie, Scurrier, Kouhun, Mynock, Shaak, and Massiff are all cheap creatures (even cheaper with Wampa Cave out) that provide fuel for the game's best creature, Orray. Play every single Orray you draw during setup.
Malakili (A) fills a major hole that even the broken Kessel System version of the deck suffered from. His Intercept-granting ability adds protection for the deck's key units. Orray no longer needs to retreat from the arena if Malakili (A) is in there. Who should be the recipient of the ability? Shaak is the interceptor of choice in the Ground arena. Because of his ability, he wouldn't usually get attacked, and now it won't even be an option.
Massif can also attack first, and then provide fodder for Scurriers and Kouhuns (who usually have a big bull's-eye on them when deployed). Kouhun becomes that much deadlier when attacks on it are Intercepted. Sarlacc (A) can also be deployed without winning Ground, since you can protect it, and is now free to lockdown a threat in the Character arena, such as Chewbacca (G). And who better to protect Sarlacc (A) than the aforementioned Shaak? Well, how about Rancor with 9 power and 9 health (10/10 with Malakili (A) deployed)? It can pull double duty by soaking up damage from other creatures, such as Orray, or just own the arena and have other creatures protect it.
The Sacrifices and Backups
The Rancor and Sarlacc (A) have steep build costs, as well they should. Sacrifices must be made to warrant their inclusion in this deck. But what's a Dark Side deck without a little sacrifice? Go ahead -- sacrifice Eopie to drop Rancor, or tribute Shaak to drop Sarlacc. Failed for the Last Time gives you this option. 5 build for this Mission may seem steep, but it's much cheaper than playing the full build cost for the Sarlacc or Rancor.
Most Creature decks don't and can't win the Space arena (another big weakness). Aside from tricks like using Kessel System to build big units such as Death Star or Imperial Fleet, Creature decks usually disregard Space altogether. Again, we are without Kessel System, but Return of the Jedi comes through again to save the day with Endor Imperial Fleet.
Though we won't have a lot of build to spread around, Force isn't an issue outside of Intercepting attacks and our only Battle card, Vicious Attack. Light Side players won't be able to drop one Space unit and build in the other two arenas (a common strategy to beat Creature decks). Boba Fett (H) provides the same effect for the Character arena, as he adds that extra punch to help you out in a pinch.
This deck doesn't have the draw power or abuse of the Kessel System version, but what it lacks in raw power, it more than makes up for in versatility and consistency. Let's compare what the two versions offer.
As you can see, the decks are very similar. Return of the Jedi offers new options that more than make up for the loss of Kessel System. One major plus of the Creature Teacher deck is that Rebel Trenches isn't as feared as it used to be. However, the deck doesn't have the lock with Imperial Blockade that the Kessel version had, and since it doesn't have the same draw power, the Imperial Blockade combo isn't optimal for this version.
As I said earlier, Malakili (A) adds a way to protect the key units in this deck, which the Kessel version didn't have. I really missed creatures when Kessel System was banned, but thanks to Return of the Jedi, the Creatures deck is back and arguably better than ever.
Finally, as if this deck needed any more tricks, you could always use the Imperial Blockade lockdown combo:
Drop: 1x Failed for the Last Time, 1x Sarlacc (A), 1x Rancor, 2x Vicious Attack. Add: 2x Learning the Force, x3 Imperial Blockade.
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