If you flip around the channels on your TV long enough, you'll probably come across some type of Texas Hold 'Em poker tournament. It seems as if this poker game is the hottest thing around these days. So what does this have to do with the Star Wars Trading Card Game?
We've discussed how Return of the Jedi's Hidden Cost fits in with poker-style bluffing, but there are other parallels to draw between the two games -- and strategies to learn from them. Just as in poker, knowing the tendencies of your opponent can win you the game.
Around the Table
In my group, all the players have different tendencies and have been labeled accordingly:
"We will then crush the Rebellion with one swift stroke!" (Grand Moff Tarkin)
James is the Hammer. Regardless of his deck, you can always count on seeing cards, such as Well-Aimed Shot, that give him power-ups. He just wants to beat you into submission with a big hammer. This type of player hates seeing cards like Jedi Knight's Survival when he puts the hammer down.
The Shield or Healer
"A Jedi uses the Force for defense, never for attack." (Yoda)
Stuart is the Shield or the Healer. He loves to use cards like Strange Lodgings, Hero's Dodge, and so on to shield himself from damage, or play an Oil Bath to quickly heal his units. He'll also take attack dice out of your hand. You can't damage him if you can't roll dice. This type of player dislikes Mission cards that apply direct damage to his units.
"Patience, my friend." (Emperor Palpatine)
Rick is the Staller. He loves cards like Discuss It in Committee that allow him to build up his other units or draw cards for his ultimate combos while stalling in an arena. Orn Free Taa (A) has become one of his personal favorites so that he can prevent one of your units from attacking and buy himself a little more time to prepare. This type of player despises having his stall disrupted.
"I prefer a straight fight to all this sneaking around." (Han Solo)
I've been labeled as the Disrupter. I like to use cards such as Change in Destiny to prevent my opponent from doing whatever he hopes to do and force him to battle with what's on the table. This type of player cringes when his disrupt is disrupted.
Shuffle Up and Deal
When you play against the same people for a period of time, you'll learn their tendencies. But what if you're facing someone new? Pay close attention to what your opponent discards during his or her mulligan. If you see one of the cards mentioned above, you might gain insight into the type of player you're facing.
During setup, you can best employ your feint strategy. You might start loading up units in an arena where you have no intention of fighting in hopes that your opponent will overspend in that same arena. Cards such as Departure Time will allow you to put out some cheap units and then sack them for extra build so that you can beef up in the other areas, hopefully catching your opponent off guard in the process.
Bluffing is one of the hardest things to do in poker. For you to be successful at it consistently, your opponent has to think that he or she knows your tendencies. Do you always raise the bet when you're holding a high pocket pair? If they think you do, then when you're sitting on nothing, a well-timed bluff may win you the hand.
The same holds true in the Star Wars TCG. If you've previously pulled in units with Hidden Cost and you're sitting on a ton of Force, you might place a few counters on a bunch of units to make your opponent think that you're coming out into a particular arena. You might even position them directly below that arena, and a little acting can help sell the idea, too. If your opponent takes the bait and starts spending build on units in that arena, you've pulled it off. But beware -- this isn't easy to do, and you could get burned by it.
Sometimes your opponent just gets the best of you in an arena. You have to know when it's time to switch gears and give up in one arena to concentrate on winning in another. Try to recognize this sooner rather than later; otherwise, you may be up a creek (or river) without a paddle, and the game will be lost.
Knowing your opponent's tendencies will allow you to build decks that confront these strategies head on, avoid them altogether, or even exploit them to their fullest. Nothing is more satisfying that turning the tables on your opponent and watching his strategy backfire -- or maybe that's just the Disrupter in me talking!
Until next time, this is Rogue 9, standing by . . .
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About the Author
Tim Bresnan is a long time Star Wars fan and player of the Star Wars Trading Card Game and the Star Wars Miniatures Game. Located in the heart of the Midwest, Tim sees his role as teacher and recruiter for both games. On any given day of the work week, you'll find him spending his lunch time playing a game of Star Wars TCG with coworkers and fellow Star Wars enthusiasts. Tim is a self-proclaimed noncompetitive player and enjoys creating themed decks that are just fun to play.