The NARP Fortnightly #5: Deckbuilding and Playtesting Tips

 

Hi everyone,

This fortnight, I want to touch on some good, general habits to get into as you build decks, improve at SWCCG, and pursue your goal of playing competitively at a high level. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

You Don’t Have to Play Competitively

This should go without saying, but SWCCG is a game! There’s no “right way” to play it, as long as you’re having fun. That means that if you want to play games with your friends at the kitchen table, without any Episode I cards, that’s allowed. If you don’t want to play with defensive shields, that’s allowed. If you don’t want to use virtual cards, that’s allowed. Whatever way is fun for you is the way you should play.

That said, this article series is geared toward new and returning players who do want to use all of those things. If part of what makes SWCCG fun for you is:

  • playing well at tournaments,
  • delving into the full strategic depth of the game
  • using all the new cards the PC is releasing today (and not just cards from 1999),
  • hanging out with the best players in the world (and me) for a few weekends a year,

and hopefully…

  • bringing home some neat glass trophies,

…then this article is for you.

Your First Decks

If you’re anything like me, when you decided to come back to SWCCG, you took a look at the card list and got approximately 245 deck ideas. I don’t blame you! The creative potential of this game is nearly limitless, and that’s part of what makes hundreds of players keep coming back.

However, the strategic complexity of the game is also nearly limitless. That means that it can be very difficult (or impossible) to “theorycraft” a decklist and have it perform well right away. This is especially true when you are still learning (or relearning) the game.

With that in mind, I strongly recommend that you don’t create your own decks right away. Instead, take a look at some veteran players’ decklists. You can find lists from recent major tournaments here. You can pick a deck type that you’ve always been fond of, or you can find a player whose forum posts you enjoy. It’s up to you!

I’ll add a few caveats:

That isn’t to say those decks are bad. They’re not. As of this writing, they’re all very good. But all four of those decks involve some extremely complex, multilayered decision-making, and you have to make those decisions on nearly every turn. They aren’t for beginners.

Don’t get me wrong; every deck is complex is its own way. But many other decks, like Hunt Down And Destroy The Jedi and Throne Room Mains, have a more “scalable” complexity and an easier learning curve: You will start out by just deploying characters and battling, and then you will eventually learn about all the other nuances of the deck as you play games. Speaking of which…

Play Games

No, seriously, play games. Get off the forums (for now) and go play. Play on Holotable. Play in person. Play against veteran players who will beat you by 30. You will learn more about SWCCG (and about your decks) from a few hours’ worth of games than you will from a month’s worth of forum posts.

Your goal is to learn how your decks work, and what the purpose of every card is. Resist the temptation to switch out cards between games. Stick with it, and try to see why the deckbuilder chose those specific cards.

When testing out a deck, don’t be afraid to break the rules a bit. “Let’s see what happens if I get this card in my starting hand.” “Let’s see what would’ve happened if I hadn’t battled there.” At a certain point, of course, you’ll need to stop doing all of that, but in a playtesting game, it’s an excellent way to learn about your deck and see how it performs in different situations.

Branch Out 

Once you have a thorough understanding of your copied deck, you can start to experiment with your own concepts. When you design your own decks, go through the same process as before. Every card should have a purpose; pay attention to whether a given card is fulfilling its purpose. Also, ask yourself questions as you test out your new deck.

  • Does the “core concept” of the deck work as intended?
  • Does it set up quickly enough?
  • Does it do enough damage to your opponent?
  • Are you trying to do too much?
  • What are the deck’s strengths? Is there a better way to leverage those strengths?
  • What are the deck’s weaknesses? What can you do to reduce their impact?

Another common technique used by many players is to take an existing deck and try to make it better by changing just a handful of cards. The important thing is to always be improving; your first original deck is likely to be terrible. (My first was Hidden Base X-wing Podracing, and it was a train wreck!) But, if you try to learn something from every game, use that knowledge in your next game (and next deck), and keep experimenting, you’ll be shuffling up at the top tables before you know it. Good luck!

Card of the Fortnight 

This fortnight, I’m going to highlight two more virtual cards that frequently show up in tournament decklists:

I Can’t Shake Him! (V)
Antilles Maneuver (V)

Like most of the other cards we’ve covered, these do several different things:

  1. Make starship weapon destinies -1. This is very handy, but by itself, it’s not a good reason to play the card. (There are several interrupts in Premiere alone that are more effective for this.)
  2. Make your opponent use 1 Force to use a weapon. This is particularly good in combination with things like Draw Their Fire, First Strike, R’tic H’weei, Broken Concentration, or anything else that “chokes” your opponent—limits their activation and makes them use extra Force. It’s also nice for catching them off guard when they don’t save enough Force on your turn. For example, if your opponent only saved 1 Force, you can play I Can’t Shake Him! (V), then deploy First Strike and battle. Now your opponent has to choose whether to use that 1 Force to swing their lightsaber or play an interrupt—which could be an important one like Houjix.
  3. Deploy characters on your opponent’s turn. These cards really shine by finding the right support characters (especially pilots) when you need them. Anything from Theron Nett (V) and Major Haash’n to Captain Godherdt and Colonel Wullf Yularen (V).

See you in two weeks!

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