The NARP Fortnightly #9: Deck Primer – We Have A Plan

Hi everyone,

This fortnight, I’m going to talk about one of the most popular and powerful Light Side decks in the meta: We Have A Plan, or WHAP. By my count, fourteen people played WHAP on Day 2 of Worlds 2016 (over 20% of the field). It’s a deck that you may want to consider building and playing, and when you play Dark Side, it’s a deck that you’re very likely to see at a local or major tournament. It also happens to be one of my personal favorite decks.

The Basics

Here is the text of the objective:

We Have A Plan

Deploy Theed Palace Throne Room, Theed Palace Hallway, and Theed Palace Courtyard.
For remainder of game, you may not deploy cards with ability except [Episode I] Jedi, aliens, [Episode I] vehicles, Republic characters, and [Republic] starships. Your Destiny is suspended. You lose no Force to Vengeance Of The Dark Prince.
While this side up, you may not deploy characters to interior Naboo sites. Once per turn, may activate 1 Force.
Flip this card if you control Theed Palace Throne Room (with Amidala there).

They Will Be Lost And Confused

While this side up, you lose no more than 2 Force to any Force drain. Your [Republic] starships are power +2 and immunity to attrition of [Trade Federation] starships is canceled. If opponent just drew a battle destiny greater than three, you may use 1 Force to cancel that battle destiny. During your control phase, opponent loses 2 Force for each battleground site you control with Amidala or Panaka.
Flip this card if opponent controls Theed Palace Throne Room.

Recent History

When the WHAP objective was first made, it saw little play because it was very hard to flip. You had to find Amidala, deploy her with some backup to the Courtyard, use a card like Ascension Guns or Nabrun Leids to move into the Throne Room, and battle whatever characters the Dark Side had put there in the meantime. But you weren’t allowed to deploy more characters there until you cleared all the Dark Side characters to flip your objective.

In the PC era, a virtual card called We’ll Take The Long Way removed the objective deployment restrictions, which made WHAP much easier to flip; you could deploy your characters directly to the Throne Room. But many saw this as too easy; an objective with such a powerful 7 side should be harder to flip. The card didn’t survive the 2014 reset.

In 2015, the PC gave us a redesigned We’ll Take The Long Way, as well as a new Ascension Guns (V) and Theed Palace Hallway (V). Now the objective deployment restrictions were only removed while you occupied the Throne Room, meaning you still had to deploy to the Courtyard initially. But you could pull Amidala, Ascension Gun-ning was much more reliable, and it was harder for the Dark Side to ambush you at the Hallway during the intervening turn.

The deck was an immediate hit at the 2015 Match Play Championship, as both Kevin Shannon and Joe Olson used it to make Day 2—but they also unveiled a powerful Dark Side deck that could beat it easily. That Dark Side deck, a Combat Readiness (V) platform on Naboo, dominated Worlds 2015 and resulted in errata to Imperial Decree (V).

With that change made, WHAP popped up again at the 2015 European Championships, where Jimmy Faelens surprised the field by playing the deck with Squadron Assignments and Bravo starfighters. Before this, most players agreed that it wasn’t worthwhile to play any space in WHAP, as the damage from the objective and the drain bonuses from several lightsabers could do plenty of damage, while the objective’s destiny-canceling mechanic helped completely dominate the ground. But Jimmy figured out an important strategy that has affected the meta for nearly a year: WHAP doesn’t have to flip.

By using Projection Of A Skywalker to reduce the Dark Side drain at the Throne Room, WHAP could simply stack the Courtyard and the Naboo system for 3 to 4 damage per turn. The Dark Side characters at the Throne Room were far removed from the action and had a hard time fighting at the Courtyard. Against space-focused (or vehicle-focused) decks, WHAP could safely move into the Throne Room, flip its objective, and dominate space with its destiny canceling, multiple battle destinies from Ric Olie, Bravo Leader, and powerful Admiral’s Order, I’ll Try Spinning.

At the 2016 Endor Grand Prix, Jonny Chu debuted his improvements to the deck: Harc Seff (V) and Sio Bibble were used for additional activation and drain reduction, eliminating the need for Boss Nass’ Chambers. He also played a second Projection to reduce drains even more. Jonny’s build was extremely nimble and flexible, with many cheap (but deceptively strong) Republic characters and relatively few expensive Jedi. Jonny’s stack of “scrubs” would run away from would-be beatdowns (mitigating the resulting Force drains) and pounce on the locations where the Dark Side was weakest.

Variations of Jonny’s build were the most popular decks at Worlds 2016, and Set 4 only made the deck stronger. The new Solo and Chewie With Bowcaster are legal (and powerful) options in the deck, and Keep Your Eyes Open (V) fits very well also.

Let’s break down what might go into a WHAP deck.

Starting Interrupt and Effects

There isn’t much variance in WHAP’s start (the space version anyway). Heading For The Medical Frigate is always started. We’ll Take The Long Way is a necessity to make the deck playable, and Squadron Assignments is needed to get your matching ships and pilots out. Wokling (V) is always the third effect; it does three things, all of which are good: Force generation +1, pulls a Projection for you, and can retrieve a key card (like Amidala or a starship) once per game.

Locations and Force Generation

A good rule of thumb that I’ve heard is the “12/4” rule: an “average” deck can generate 12 Force while giving up 4 Force icons to your opponent, and it’s a good idea to aim for something in that ballpark. A lot depends on the deploy costs of the things you want to put on the table, and on how “Force-hungry” your deck is (whether you need to spend a lot of Force to drain or retrieve).

WHAP starts out with an excellent 5/2 ratio. (Remember, the Theed Palace Hallway (V) doesn’t have a Dark Side icon until you flip). The objective also activates an extra Force every turn (both your turn and opponent’s) for a very nice 7/2 ratio per “turn cycle.” Add the extra Force from Wokling and your own personal activation, and we’re at 9/2 before we even deploy anything! Once the Naboo system comes out, it’ll be 11/4. We’re almost there!

Previous versions of WHAP used Boss Nass’ Chambers (pulled by Wesa Gotta Grand Army) to up the ratio to 13/4, but the latest builds use Sio Bibble for the same effect. To that total, we add whatever generation Harc Seff (V) gives us (usually anywhere from 1 to 5), and the bonus from any Jedi Masters we have on the table, and it’s pretty clear that we’re just fine on Force generation. With both Sio and Harc, we can expect a ratio of 14/4 to 19/4 on the 0 side, or 12/5 to 17/5 on the 7 side, depending on how many non-battlegrounds our opponent deploys and whether we get a Jedi Master. Almost all of our characters and starships deploy for 4 Force or less, so that’s plenty.

Characters and Starships

To begin with, we need Amidala. We’ll Take The Long Way can pull her out of your deck, but she does die sometimes, so two copies are usually played, along with two copies of Panaka, Protector Of The Queen. Recently, though, many players have started playing three Amidalas and only one Panaka. This is for a few reasons: First, Panaka isn’t that important to the deck. Protecting Amidala from weapons is something that Jerus Jannick does better, and the direct damage from the objective will usually be reduced by Imperial Decree (V) in matchups where Dark Side is letting you flip. Panaka’s use is mostly as a character who deploys for free and has power 4 and forfeit 6. Second, Amidala is very important. Having a third copy of her means you’ll be able to find her more quickly if your opponent is able to clear her off the table. Third, in matchups where you expect to fight in space a lot, Ric Olie, Bravo Leader is very important. If you get an Amidala in your opening hand, you could potentially use your We’ll Take The Long Way pull to get Ric instead. Having a third Amidala increases the odds of this happening, and it can really jumpstart your development in space.

The aforementioned Jerus Jannick is another important character in the deck. I always play at least two copies in WHAP, and I’d go up to three before I considered going down to one; he’s that good. In a battle with Amidala, Jerus ensures (well…almost) that you’ll only have to forfeit Jerus from that battle, no matter how lopsided it may be. He’s an essential tool for protecting the queen. Deploy 1 for power 4 ain’t bad either.

Captain Rex, 501st Legion is always in the deck as well, sometimes one copy, sometimes two. He adds a battle destiny at an Episode I site and has a decent gun too. In a deck that can’t play Lando Calrissian, Scoundrel or Captain Hera Syndulla, he’s a rock star. His counterpart, Commander Cody, sometimes shows up too.

Sio Bibble is often included as well, especially in the deck’s more recent iterations. Extra Force and reducing drains fits perfectly with the deck’s goals.

From there, several Jedi are always included. Not only do they keep Hunt Down on the 0 side and prevent you from auto-losing to I Will Find Them Quickly, Master, they also swing lightsabers and have great stats. Previous versions of WHAP played lots of powerful Jedi with Sai’torr Kal Fas (V) and matching lightsabers, but the most recent space versions get away with three copies of Qui-Gon Jinn With Lightsaber. If you’re using a lot of Sense, Alter, and Control in your deck, Yoda, Master Of The Force is worth considering too.

We also need our pilots and ships. Ric Olie, Bravo Leader and Bravo 1 are a must, and Anakin Skywalker, Padawan Learner and Azure Angel are always included as well. (Anakin is also a nice character on the ground if you don’t expect much of a fight in space.) Harc Seff (V) can potentially activate a ton of Force, so he goes in along with his ship, the Overseer. Bravo Fighter (V) is always included; it draws a battle destiny on its own and activates Ric’s game text to add battle destinies. Obi-Wan In Radiant VII is sometimes in the deck; you have other ways of dealing with Maul in his Sith Infiltrator, but it’s nice to have, and it’s also an ability 6 ship for blowing up the Death Star II.

The final ship is always a Bravo starfighter, for use with Ric and I’ll Try Spinning. Both Bravo 2 and Bravo 4 (with their respective pilots) are good options, but be forewarned that Bravo 2 makes the 7 side of your objective a bit less effective.

Finally, some good utility characters round things out. Threepio With His Parts Showing (with his puller, Were You Looking For Me?) is one of those “play this unless you have a compelling reason not to” cards. Without access to Corran Horn, the deck needs a different plan to deal with Undercover spies. If Sorry About The Mess (or combo) isn’t used, Ellorrs Madak, Pilot Instructor is a good option. From Set 4, Solo is very powerful in the deck, as it plays lots of interrupts that you can abuse from your Lost Pile. Chewie With Bowcaster is worth considering as well.

Effects and Admiral’s Orders

Two copies of Projection Of A Skywalker are key to this strategy, as are two I’ll Try Spinning. Aside from those, I like K’lor’slug (V) for protecting your characters and ships from Darth Vader, Dark Lord Of The Sith, Dr. Evazan (and combo), and SFS L-s9.3 Laser Cannons. Ounee Ta is a nice utility effect as well, especially when it can get Jerus Jannick back to deploy a second time. I’ve seen builds with Civil Disorder (V), but I don’t think I’m a fan; Rebel Barrier is very good combined with I’ll Try Spinning, and that’s probably not worth passing up.

Interrupts

Must play: Ascension Guns (V), Were You Looking For Me?, and at least 2 All Wings Report In & Darklighter Spin (but probably more like 3-4). Hear Me Baby, Hold Together (V) is also essential, to stop the very annoying Hidden Weapons, among other things.

Most builds today play two copies of Rebel Barrier and at least one Nabrun Leids. More damage mitigation is usually included as well, such as It Could Be Worse, Free Ride & Endor Celebration, We’re Doomed (and combo), and It’s A Hit!

A Jedi’s Concentration and Keep Your Eyes Open (V) accomplish similar goals in slightly different ways, while It’s A Trap! fits in very well here—Remember, you have lots of ways to reduce and mitigate Force drains on Naboo, so it’s often to your advantage to cancel a battle and run away. Jedi Levitation (V) is another great card. (My favorite use of it is to get Jerus Jannick back. You can also forfeit a ship + pilot combo during opponent’s turn, retrieve the ship with Wokling, retrieve the pilot with Jedi Lev, then recirculate your Used Pile so you know the ship is in Reserve, then Squadron Assignments them back onto the table on your turn. Very handy!)

Put That Down (V) is sometimes included, especially if K’lor’slug (V) is not. There are pros and cons to both: Put That Down doesn’t always reduce forfeit to zero and works against capturing, while K’lor’slug stays on the table permanently and is more easily found via Escape Pod (V).

Sense, Alter (V), and Control & Tunnel Vision are often, but not always, seen in WHAP. Sense is obviously useful in a wide variety of situations, while Alter cancels Program Traps and Dark Side Senses. Control & Tunnel Vision is useful for finding needed cards, especially when you activate so much, but its low destiny number can be a bit of a liability.

If you play Solo in your deck, think about some different ways you could use his once per game ability. Many of the interrupts in the deck can be very powerful if you know you can play one at will from your Lost Pile.

How to Play the Deck

The basic premise is: If they ignore Naboo to try to out-damage you elsewhere, you flip your objective, get the extra direct damage, and use your interrupts and Projections to reduce their damage. If they come to Naboo with their own characters, go to where the Dark Side isn’t, and use Projection and Sio to reduce the drains: If they stack the Throne Room, you stack the Courtyard, and vice versa. Try to get Sio Bibble to the Hallway so he can reduce the drain even more (ideally with a Barrier and/or It’s A Trap! for backup).

Resist the urge to spend too many resources trying to flip your objective. You probably can’t win an extended war of attrition in the Throne Room, and you have plenty of ways to shut down Dark Side Force drains on Naboo. You want to flip only when you can do so with few or no casualties.

In space, set up a few ships and I’ll Try Spinning (again, ideally with a Barrier) set up. If they are committing serious resources to space, there’s a chance that they’re letting you flip, which is good for you.

How to Beat the Deck

  1. Cancel their key interrupts. Playing They’re Still Coming Through! to cancel It’s A Trap! or Barrier can be a game winner. Playing Tarkin’s Orders to cancel Nabrun Leids can be huge as well.
  2. Fight at multiple locations. Being able to drop a beat squad to the Throne Room, then another beat squad to the Courtyard can establish board control, but it can be hard to pull off for many Dark decks.
  3. Remove their important characters. Various decks have tricks like Hidden Weapons, Force Lightning, Dr. Evazan, or even 4-LOM With Concussion Rifle. (Canceling Jerus Jannick’s game text can be great in the right situation.) Using Imperial Justice (V) or A Dark Time For The Rebellion (V) to stop the objective’s destiny canceling is another common tactic. WHAP has different ways to deal with all of these, but getting one or two to go through can make a big difference.
  4. Do more damage and neutralize their damage-reducing interrupts. Some decks like That Thing’s Operational and Imperial Entanglements can do a lot of damage—more than WHAP can do, in many circumstances. Imperial Decree (V) is key if you’re not planning to fight on Naboo very much. Recent builds of Entanglements are playing three(!) grabbers, to stop WHAP from cycling Free Ride combo, It Could Be Worse, and We’re Doomed—any one of which can win the game for WHAP if allowed to cycle back into Life Force.

Final Thoughts

WHAP is a powerful deck that figures to be an important part of the meta for the foreseeable future. It isn’t too hard to play, but it can be hard to play well. Give it some practice, and you’ll be making Dark Side players lost and confused at a tournament near you!

For more WHAP resources, check out these decklists:

2016 Worlds Day 2, Emil Wallin
2016 Worlds Day 2, Jonny Chu
2016 Endor Grand Prix Day 1, Jonny Chu

And these videos:

2016 Worlds Day 2, Emil Wallin (WHAP) vs Scott Lingrell (Bespin CRv)
2016 Worlds Day 2, Jonny Chu (WHAP) vs Ryan Freeman (CCT)
2016 Worlds Day 2, Emil Wallin (WHAP) vs Jonny Chu (TTO)
2016 Worlds Day 2, Chris Terwilliger (WHAP) vs Bill Kafer (Coruscant CRv)
2016 Worlds Day 3, Jonny Chu (WHAP) vs Justin Desai (TTO)
2016 Worlds Day 3, Emil Wallin (WHAP) vs Tom Haid (BHBM)
2016 Endor Grand Prix Day 1, Jonny Chu (WHAP) vs Kyle Krueger (CCT)
2016 Endor Grand Prix Day 1, John Anderson (WHAP) vs Barry Alperstein (BHBM)
2016 Endor Grand Prix Day 2, Jonny Chu (WHAP) vs Joe Olson (Coruscant CRv)
2016 Endor Grand Prix Day 2, Jonny Chu (WHAP) vs Brian Fred (Watto)

Card of the Fortnight

This fortnight, I’m going to cover an oldie but a goodie:

Quite A Mercenary

This card has started showing up more often recently, and with good reason. It’s a destiny 5 used interrupt that not only cancels Elis Helrot, but also makes the transported characters lost and is immune to Sense. In fact, it has no canceler at all!

It’s a narrow card, but it can potentially swing the game in your favor. (I have firsthand experience on the receiving end!) If you see a lot of Elis Helrot in your local meta, slip this in your Light Side deck and watch your opponent stutter in disbelief as their entire beatdown crew is wiped off the table.

However, the Dark Side counterpart, Oo-ta Goo-ta, Solo?, is not a very good card; it only affects Rebels, and it captures those Rebels instead of sending them to the Lost Pile (meaning they either go to the Used Pile or can potentially be freed). It was a better card when most good Light Side characters were Rebels, but that isn’t the case anymore.

That’s it for this fortnight. Until next time…

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