The NARP Fortnightly #3: Destiny Tracking

Of all the strategy tips and advice that new players seek on the forums, there’s one skill that people ask about more than any other: tracking destinies.

I don’t blame them. Nothing’s quite as fun as drawing a 7 to make Darth Vader, Dark Lord Of The Sith choke Obi-Wan, with a calm, cool look on your face that says “I meant to do that.”

I debated between a few different topics for this fortnight’s article, and while I’ll get to all of them eventually, I couldn’t go on ignoring the elephant in the room. It’s time for me to give the people what they want.

What Is Tracking Anyway?

Simply put, tracking destinies is counting cards. It’s a tactic that will get you kicked out of a Las Vegas casino, but it’s completely legal in SWCCG. According to the rules, you’re allowed to count any deck or pile (or request a count of your opponent’s deck or pile) at any time.

To get an idea of what we’re talking about and where we’re headed, take a look at this video and keep your eye on Jonny Chu, the player at the top of your screen.

At the beginning of his turn, Jonny knows that the third card from the top of his Reserve Deck is a location, so he activates two Force and plays Elis Helrot, drawing the zero. He succeeds, relocates his U-3PO to block Ross Littauer’s drain, and then continues activating.

Tracking is all about knowing where certain cards are in your Life Force.

How Do I Know Where a Card Is in My Life Force?

A few different ways:

  1. Previous destiny draws

The most basic way is to keep track of a lucky destiny draw you make. For example, say I have 15 cards in my Reserve Deck, 3 in my Force Pile, and 6 in my Used Pile from deploying something earlier this turn. I use 1 Force to initiate a battle somewhere (now there are 7 in Used Pile) and draw a 6 for battle destiny. Lucky me! Now my Reserve Deck looks like this:

14 cards

And my Used Pile looks like this:

Destiny 6
7 more cards

I count my Reserve Deck now, verifying that there are 14 cards. Looking at my Force icons on the table, I know that I can activate 12 next turn. I also have Count Dooku at Docking Bay 94, my opponent has Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight next door at the Cantina, and I have a Force Lightning in my hand. Can you see the right play to make?

I end my turn and recirculate my Used Pile. My Reserve Deck now looks like this:

14 cards
Destiny 6
7 more cards

My opponent Force drains for 2 at the Cantina. I choose to lose 2 from the top of my Reserve Deck.

12 cards
Destiny 6
7 more cards

On my turn, I activate 12.

Destiny 6
7 more cards

And then, during my move phase, I can move Dooku over to the Cantina and play Force Lightning to zap Luke!

  1. Used Interrupts

Another way to set up a good destiny draw is to play a high-destiny Used Interrupt, like Dark Maneuvers or Escape Pod (V), and track it around to the top of your Reserve Deck. The same principle applies, but it requires less luck than waiting for a destiny draw.

  1. Retrieval

Again, pretty much the same thing. Cards you retrieve go on top of your Used Pile, so it’s pretty easy to track them to the top of your Reserve Deck. For example, take a look at the Objective card ISB Operations/Empire’s Sinister Agents. While you’re on the 7 side, you can retrieve an ISB agent during your draw phase.

So, let’s say I’ve used a bunch of Force and drawn some destinies during my turn. Now it’s my draw phase and there’s only 1 card in my Reserve Deck. I have an Overload in hand, and my opponent has Jedi Luke at the Cantina again—this time with his lightsaber.

During my draw phase, I can retrieve an ISB agent, so I look through my Lost Pile and choose good old Admiral Ozzel. Then I end my turn and recirculate. My Reserve Deck is:

1 card
Ozzel (destiny 0)
More cards

Let’s say my opponent Force drains for 3 at Kessel on his turn. I choose to lose two cards from hand and one from the top of Reserve Deck. (Ozzel is now on top.) Then I play the Overload, drawing Ozzel, and Luke bites the dust yet again, saving me from another Force drain!

Also, I now know where Ozzel is in my Life Force, so I can keep tracking him for an Elis Helrot or even another Overload next turn.

  1. Cards That Put Other Cards Back in Life Force

In 1996, when I first saw the Traffic Control and Reactor Terminal cards, I thought “Huh? Why would I want to put cards from my hand in my Used Pile where I can’t play them?” But I quickly realized that those cards were very powerful. You could use them to put cards back into your Life Force and track them around to draw them for destiny.

Today, those cards are never played anymore and have been outclassed by others, but the same principle still applies. Always be on the lookout for ways to put cards back in your Life Force; they’re some of the best cards in the game.

What Do I Do with a Card Once I Know Where It Is in My Life Force?

The possibilities are endless! The most common is to draw the card for weapon or battle destiny, but there are dozens of other possibilities. We’ve already talked about Elis Helrot, Force Lightning, and Overload, but there’s also Trample, On The Edge, Gravity Shadow, and the dreaded Program Trap. Any time you see a card that calls for a destiny draw, think “How good would this card be if I could set up the draw I wanted?”

Contrary to what some people may think, tracking isn’t hard; it just requires some foresight. The best trackers in the game are like chess masters, looking 5 moves ahead and setting themselves up for success. With some practice, you’ll be counting cards with the best of them. (Just don’t try it in Vegas!)

For some advanced tracking techniques, check out this article by Steve Marshall. It’s an older article (copied to the PC forums from an old DeckTech post), but the advice is still good.

Card of the Fortnight

I started four weeks ago by giving you two cards, and last fortnight I gave you three. So now it’s only appropriate that I feature four cards!

We’re going to continue on our tracking theme by discussing four similar cards:

Threepio With His Parts Showing
Mirax Terrik
4-LOM With Concussion Rifle (V)
Janus Greejatus

These four are all a little different—top of Used Pile, bottom of Used Pile, use 1 Force, don’t use 1 Force—but the idea is the same: Put a card from hand back in your Life Force in order to draw the top card of your Reserve Deck.

These cards are so powerful because they make it easier to track (by putting cards from hand back in your Life Force) while also giving you a benefit for tracking (by drawing a key card when you track it to the top of your Reserve Deck).

For example, take a look at the video from the top of this article. Jonny has 4-LOM With Concussion Rifle (V) on table, and he played an Elis Helrot, drawing his tracked zero. That means, at the end of his turn, his Used Pile will be:

A bunch of cards he used during his turn
Elis
Dungeon (destiny 0)
1 more card that he put on the bottom of Used Pile using 4-LOM

And at the beginning of his next turn, his Reserve Deck will be:

A bunch of cards (for this example, let’s say it’s 10)
Elis
Dungeon
1 card

So, if Jonny wanted to Elis again, all he’d have to do is activate 10 (getting Elis to the top), then use 4-LOM (drawing the Elis), and finally play the Elis, drawing the Dungeon for destiny. At that point he’ll also know what the 1 card left in his Reserve Deck is, because it’s the card he put back with 4-LOM last turn.

Another tactic to use with these “cycling” characters is the “We’re Doomed loop.” It works best with Threepio because of his obvious synergy with We’re Doomed.

Late in the game, when Life Forces are getting low, play We’re Doomed during your opponent’s control phase to shut off some damage. Then, on your turn, simply activate until We’re Doomed is on top, and use Threepio to get it back into your hand so you can play it again next turn.

We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible with tracking and cycling. These aspects of the game are full of possibilities, and I encourage you to try them out for yourself.

Until next fortnight…

Peace, Love, and TRACKED Destinies,
Lenny (lsrubin)