The NARP Fortnightly #4: Unboxing a New Set

Hello everyone,

If you’ve been on this site recently (and if you haven’t, how are you reading this article?), you’ve probably seen the spoiler list for Set 4, which should be coming to us in PDF form very soon. The Design & Development and Playtesting teams have been hard at work getting this set ready for the players, and it will bring The Force Awakens into the SWCCG universe!

Outside of major tournaments like World Championships, set releases like this one are probably the most important events on the SWCCG calendar, as players figure out three things:

  1. Are there any brand new deck types? Are they any good?
  2. Which decks got “helpers”? Does anything make the jump up to Tier 1?
  3. Which decks got “hate”? Does anything fall out of Tier 1?

Set 4 is particularly interesting because of where it falls on the calendar: We’re less than seven weeks away from Worlds, near the beginning of Regionals season, which means that we will all be playing a lot of SWCCG over the next two months. So, while we’re competing in State, National, and Regional events and preparing for Worlds, we’ll also be clamoring to figure out the “new normal.”

In this article, I’m not going to give a card-by-card analysis of Set 4. Rather, I’m going to try to give you the tools to do your own card-by-card analysis and hopefully predict the meta. (“Meta,” or “metagame,” is a fancy way of saying “the decks that are popular right now.”)

The Current Meta

We’ll start by looking at the current popular decks. (This is based on the most commonly played decks from the Match Play Championship and the Endor Grand Prix.) As you look at the Set 4 card list, think about how this list might change.

Dark Side:

Carbon Chamber Testing – Usually not flipped, starts Any Method Necessary for IG-88 (V) to pull cards from its Force Pile every turn. Most often a mains deck with Dark Jedi, it can very effectively manipulate its hand and Life Force.

Coruscant Combat Readiness (V) – Starts the Combat Readiness (V) interrupt to get Xizor’s Palace, then uses that site to get the Uplink Station. Usually starts Kuat Drive Yards (V) to pull systems as well. A balanced deck with mains on the ground and matching TIEs in space, its strength is fast activation that isn’t too reliant on “twix pullers” like We Must Accelerate Our Plans and Sonic Bombardment.

That Thing’s Operational – Combines the strong direct damage of That Thing’s Operational with the extra movement of Black Sun Fleet to dominate space and cause a lot of Force loss.

Imperial Entanglements – Built in a number of different ways, the most common version uses combat vehicles, while all versions try to do massive damage with Tatooine Occupation.

Agents Of Black Sun – The Xizor’s Palace sites make this deck much faster than it once was. Uses Hidden Weapons, Program Trap, and other “tricks” to remove the opponent’s characters (especially Luke) and establish board control. While flipped, the objective is great for manipulating your Life Force.

Light Side:

Quiet Mining Colony – Also built in a few different ways (matching starfighters vs. Home One), searches its Force Pile with Keeping The Empire Out Forever to find needed cards, while threatening large swings in Life Force with Pucumir Thryss and Cloud City Celebration.

We Have A Plan – Forces the opponent to commit characters to Naboo in order to stop it from flipping, or else just flips to enable its potent destiny-cancelling and direct damage. Bravo Squadron and the Azure Angel provide a surprisingly good space presence.

Watch Your Step – Usually uses Like My Father Before Me for a powerful Jedi Luke on the ground, while smugglers dominate space with multiple battle destinies. Plays interrupts from Lost Pile to keep everything alive and ensure that it has the right card at the right time.

Throne Room Mains – Its biggest strength is going first and getting a big jump in activation. Current versions use big, powerful characters with lightsabers to dominate the game, often before the opponent can gain a foothold.

A Word about “Theorycrafting”

Before we begin, I want to include a brief caveat: Because the community at large hasn’t played with these cards yet, almost everything we’re saying about these new cards is speculation. (It might be well-informed speculation, but it’s still speculation.) This is what many people call “theorycrafting,” and the term is often used pejoratively.

SWCCG is an immensely complicated game, and you can’t really understand a deck or a matchup until you play a game with it (often many games). So, although I may have opinions on what types of strategies might be good in the Set 4 environment, my opinions can’t really be backed up with game data (yet).

This is a lengthy way of saying that the best way to learn is to play games.

New Deck Types 

We’ll go through our list of three questions by first looking at brand new deck types.

For the Dark Side, most of the cards seem to be designed to fit into existing decks, without a whole lot of entirely new strategies, with one exception: the First Order characters. The big thing that sticks out to me here is Bow To The First Order. Pulling a beefy Star Destroyer is always nice, but don’t underestimate those Used Pile pulls. Especially if you deployed a lot during your turn, pulling any card from Used Pile can be very powerful. When you add the fact that Kylo Ren can be easily found with his (destiny 4) Command Shuttle, General Hux can be easily found with Imperial Command, and Captain Phasma can be pulled by General Hux, it starts to look like an interesting deck. Is it competitive? I have no idea.

There are also some ideas for trooper decks that people have already started discussing on the forums. Most of these involve the non-unique First Order Stormtroopers reducing defense values, combined with the new F-11D Blaster Rifle to easily hit the opponent’s characters. Again, I have no idea how competitive it is, but it’s worth trying out.

For the Light Side, the obvious new thing is the Old Allies objective. This objective gets to start what is maybe the coolest card in the new set: the double-sided Falcon! The deck comes with an important drawback (no Jedi or Luke), but some nice benefits too: You get to pull a 2/0 site, which in turn downloads the very powerful Rey, and you also get to reduce destinies and damage while flipped. This is a nice showcase for the new Resistance characters. Give it a try and see how good it is!

Old Allies and the Jakku locations also introduce a new characteristic: scavenger. Scavengers excel at retrieval, using cards like Graveyard Of Giants, Jakku: Ravager Crash Site, and Jakku: Starship Graveyard. With The Garbage Will Do, you can even steal your opponent’s Blizzard 4 or Zuckuss In Mist Hunter!

In addition to the scavengers in Set 4, the following “old” cards now have the scavenger characteristic:

Dark Side:

Jawa (Premiere)

Light Side:

Jawa (Premiere)

With these all-new deck types, there isn’t a whole lot of advice that I (or anyone) can give you. You just have to cut out the v-slips, put the deck together, and try it out. Pay attention to the natural strengths and weaknesses of the deck, then try to leverage the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses.

New “Helpers” and “Hate”

Beyond the new deck types, there are a lot of cards that help “old” decks. You should be able to spot these fairly easily, but try to think outside the box where appropriate.

For example, Captain Bewil (V), We’re Leaving (V), and You Assume Too Much are obvious helpers for Dark Deal, The Hyperdrive Generator’s Gone, and Light Side Senate decks, respectively, and don’t do much beyond that. But B-2 Battle Droid, while it is most obviously a modest boost to Invasion, is also a helper for any deck that likes to play droids, such as Agents Of Black Sun and Scum And Villainy. For each card, think about which decks you might use it in. One of those decks might be the new “next big thing” in the meta!

In addition to these “helpers,” there are also a handful of “utility” cards that are going to help almost any deck that can fit them in. The most notable examples from Set 4 are Escape Pod & We’re Doomed and You Do Have Your Moments (V). These babies will find their way into many Light Side decks, giving them additional damage mitigation and battling power.

We also have some important “hate” for Dark Side weapons like SFS L-s9.3 Laser Cannons and Superlaser Mark II, in the form of Masanya (V) and Theron Nett (V). These cards were released in May as part of the Set 4 Preview, and as a result, we didn’t see much of the Superlaser at the Endor Grand Prix.

Lastly, once you have a good sense of what is getting better and what is getting worse, take a look at the list of top decks that we discussed above. Is there anything that might earn a place on the list? What current “Tier 2” decks could earn a spot there? Is there anything on the list right now that will get significantly worse after the new cards are released? And then, in turn, what do you need to do to beat those decks?

We’ve just begun to scratch the surface of what’s coming in Set 4. Hopefully you’re as excited as I am to start building decks!

Card of the Fortnight

Today, I’m going to talk about two cards that new players often underrate, but are important utility cards in many competitive decks:

No Escape
Ounee Ta

These effects, from Jabba’s Palace Sealed Deck, each do three things:

  1. Discouraging the opponent from playing <> sites. When these cards came out in 2000, they singlehandedly eliminated Ralltiir Operations and “Throne Room Nudj” from the meta.
  2. Taking the top card of Lost Pile into hand. This is surprisingly good, as it lets you get back a key character that you lost in a battle during your opponent’s turn. Or you can get back the character’s lightsaber, which you can then redeploy with a second copy of the character in your hand. It can also help you recur some nasty Lost Interrupts: A few weeks ago, I played a Gravity Shadow on my opponent, then No Escaped it on my turn, and he was scared to move his ships for the rest of the game!
  3. A third thing. For Light Side, it’s None Shall Pass protection. This isn’t terribly good, because None Shall Pass is rarely played, even in Scum And Villainy decks. (When None Shall Pass was made in 1998, most good Light Side characters were Rebels, but that isn’t the case anymore.) For Dark Side, it’s Honor Of The Jedi protection, which usually earns it a spot in Dark Side decks that do direct damage (with cards like That Thing’s Operational, You May Start Your Landing, Visage Of The Emperor, and Vengeance Of The Dark Prince.)

Pay particular attention to #2 on the list, as it can be extremely powerful in the hands of a skilled player. Throw these into your decks; you won’t be disappointed!

That wraps things up for this fortnight. See you in two weeks!

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