This is something I’d like to start doing periodically—perhaps two to four times a year. I’m going to give a brief overview of some of the top decks (and tech cards) from a recent major event, and we’ll begin to sketch out some possible solutions for the most common decks.
A few caveats before we start breaking down decks:
- I am an average player at best. Like you, I’m always trying to improve, but my reading of the meta is certainly not perfect.
- The most frequently played deck at one tournament is not always heavily played at the next tournament. (The meta evolves!)
- Similarly, a deck that only a few people played at one tournament could be among the top decks at the next tournament once people learn the deck’s power. So, the Endor Grand Prix meta will almost certainly look different from the MPC meta.
Nearly a quarter of the field played Throne Room on Day 1 of the MPC. The quintessential Light Side mains platform, it wins by being fast and efficient, disrupting the Dark Side’s strategy.
Current builds are usually 12-card starts. It is a fairly flexible deck, with damage reduction, a Falcon that can go to either ground or space, and many destiny-adding characters. Combined Fleet Action helps find speeders and protect them by limiting Dark Side to one battle destiny on the ground.
Tom Haid is the current king of QMC, and several players tried to copy his World Championship deck, with mixed results. Others brought their own brews, featuring You’ve Got A Lot Of Guts Coming Here, Jedi Presence, or other tricks. The deck is a fairly wide-open platform that can use Keeping The Empire Out Forever to find the right card at the right time.
A solid meta call in an environment that wasn’t expected to feature a dominant Dark Side space deck like in major tournaments past (such as TTO). Some builds featured Kirdo III, Hutt Trade Route, Sandwhirl, and speeders; while others included lots of Quad Laser Cannons.
On the fringes of the meta for the last few major tournaments, Profit finally cracked the top 5 most played Light decks at the MPC. It’s a platform for mains and lightsabers that gets some nice direct damage once it flips.
Over the past year, WHAP has been one of the top Light decks at every major tournament. It took a hit at the MPC because the expected increase in both Invasion and Dark Side mains decks gave it some issues. (Hunt Down can now play Vader to the Theed Palace Throne Room on turn 1 thanks to I Am Your Father (V), which was previously prevented by We’ll Take The Long Way.) Overseeing It Personally (V) also makes things difficult. However, WHAP has proven to be a resilient platform, and new builds have adjusted to the new meta.
A popular choice for some West Coast players, current builds flip the objective and set up potent battle destinies by occupying multiple locations with Rebels of ability <3. Cards like Harvest give it a lot of staying power.
Watch Your Step wasn’t seen in the large numbers of tournaments past, probably because of the expected increase in Bring Him Before Me decks, which got multiple helpers in Set 5. Many frequent WYS players went with TRM, OA, or another deck instead. Jimmy Faelens’ powerful Rebel Strike Team deck, which took the 2016 European Championships by storm, didn’t see any action on Day 1 (although Jonny Chu played a variant of it with success on Day 2).
A powerful platform that can set up massive damage with Tatooine Occupation, IE saw a move away from vehicles and toward troopers. (There were still a few vehicle decks, but I’d expect troopers to take over fairly quickly.) The power of reacting Stormtrooper Patrols and Trooper Assault was on display, and Intensify The Forward Batteries gives the deck a big speed boost.
Court is one of the most versatile platforms the Dark Side has. The MPC saw mains builds, Scum builds, and First Order trooper builds. Its power comes from its solid activation, ability to start Jabba’s Haven, pullable ships, and ping damage.
After surprising players at European Championships and Texas Mini-Worlds, Invasion’s auspicious rise was inevitable. B2 Battle Droids make it much more efficient, as they draw battle destiny on their own and can potentially cause massive attrition with An Entire Legion Of My Best Troops. Droid Racks and Inconsequential Losses give it a ton of staying power.
This classic deck got a boost in Set 5, with I Am Your Father (V) and Overseeing It Personally (V) giving players a potent Vader option and shoring up one of the deck’s biggest weaknesses.
One of the top Dark decks for the past year or more, it took a bit of a backseat to other decks at the MPC, thanks to recent counters like Escape Pod & We’re Doomed and the Old Allies objective. However, it’s still a force to be reckoned with in the meta and can cause massive damage by occupying a single system.
New helpers like Emperor Palpatine, Foreseer and Luke Skywalker, The Emperor’s Prize were on display, putting the emphasis back on dueling (even against Luke-less decks). But the big surprise was the Sith Fury (non-v) deck, which causes huge damage without battling or Force draining.
Jonny Chu was the only player to use This Deal Is Getting Worse All The Time, but his deck performed admirably on Day 1 and could become a major meta force in the near future. Several “rogue” decktypes were seen—mostly different types of mains platforms.
Preparing for the Meta
So how does this influence your deck choices? Generally speaking, for a traditional Swiss-style tournament, your deck should have good matchups against a few of the top decks of the other side, decent (more-or-less even) matchups against a couple more, and bad matchups with a maximum of 1 or 2. To know which are the good ones and which are the bad, you have to test and come up with a game plan.
Once you know your deck’s weaker matchups, you can brainstorm “tech” cards to shore them up. Or, alternatively, you might decide to “punt” on a bad matchup if you figure that you won’t see it more than once in the tournament.
There are many directions to go, and I don’t have any easy answers. The current meta is the most wide-open in years, and the game keeps getting more diverse all the time. Good luck!
Card of the Fortnight
This fortnight, I’m going to cover a couple of cards that made a big splash at the MPC:
The big innovation with Chief Bast hinged on the realization that he can ‘evacuate’ a landed starship at a site, not just at a system. By landing a ship at a site with Bast and one other character, you can have the characters run away to a related site, where they can’t be battled again (because they already participated in one). In this way, Dark Side can block a Force drain and potentially satisfy Battle Order as well. It made such an impact that Demotion and Chewbacca, Protector are important considerations for Light Side right now.
The Sith Fury deck is a Bring Him Before Me deck that duels Luke. (Thanks to the new Luke Skywalker, The Emperor’s Prize, you can even do it against a Luke-less deck.) By tracking a few high destinies, you can win the Sith Fury draw and then the duel itself, causing 9 Force loss. If you pull this off a few times, you could potentially win the game without ever battling or Force draining.
That’s it for this fortnight. Until next time…
Peace, Love, and High Destinies,