Designing your own deck can be quite daunting; there are a lot of cards to choose from! Sometimes it’s hard enough deciding which characters to start with, let alone what to put in the deck itself.
With the recent preview wave in North America, along with the imminent official release (1st February), I thought that it would be a good opportunity to do a basic deckbuilding article.
These are the basic rules from the Rules Reference. The text in red is part of the latest update, incorporating rules for neutral characters and plots. Other than those two additions, this is information that you should all be aware of already, but it doesn’t help you make a decent deck, only a legal one.
While I may not be able to offer solid advice regarding high-level competitive play (having only some local tournament wins under my belt), I think that I can help set people on the right path to developing a competent deck. Here’s the process that I go through when making a deck.
1. What’s the idea for the deck?
This could be something as simple as “I want to make a Han and Chewie deck”, or “I want to build a competitive mill deck”. Have a clear idea of what you want to try and make.
2. Which characters should I use?
Obviously, you should use any characters which formed part of your idea. Using the Han and Chewie example above, you’d have the following options.
In this example, there are a few possible combinations, but you can make a 30pt team easily enough. But what about when the character(s) you want to use don’t add up to 30pts?
To use another example, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Master, is 19pts for the elite version, which leaves you 11pts to spend.
In general, you want to have more character dice if possible, so naturally the first characters you are going to look at are ones that are 11pts or less for the elite version.
Both of them bring different abilities, as well as different colours. Maz’s ability and die faces directly help Obi-Wan smash face, whereas Rose offers a different set of options with cards like Suppression Field and Bubble Shield (obviously, you can include these cards even without Rose, it’s just that her special synergises with those).
There are also a host of single-die characters you could go for, not just non-uniques, but you’d have to make your own mind up about whether or not it was worth sacrificing a character die for (and sometimes it is!).
3. What are the core cards?
This links directly to the idea for the deck; the core cards should be the ones that you want to build around. They should make up roughly 10-20 slots and support the strengths of your characters and the strategy of your deck.
To continue with the Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Master, example you might consider the following cards the core of that deck:
- Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Lightsaber – even if it weren’t his actual weapon, this would still be a great choice for his deck. Lots of damage and shields make this extremely potent.
- Shoto Lightsaber – once you have one or more of these attached to Obi-Wan he becomes a beast to kill.
- Luke’s Protection – this really helps with Obi-Wan’s resilience, and also helps build up his shield total ready for his lightsaber’s special and Riposte.
- Lightsaber Pull – along with the two lightsabers mentioned above, it’s quite likely that you will want to play some others. This card is a bit of a no-brainer with that in mind.
- Riposte – I have many characters killed out of nowhere with this card. Great way of turning your defence into attack.
- Synchronicity – a typical Obi-Wan deck rolls a lot of melee damage and shields. This card turns that into some nice free damage.
4. Add some dice mitigation!
This is the part where a lot of people misstep; they often don’t put enough cards in that mess with your opponent’s gameplan. Ideally, you want to have 6-10 cards that fill this role.
For my first draft of my Obi/Maz deck, I went for Heroism, High Ground, Loth-Cat and Mouse, Mislead, and Sound the Alarm. You’ll notice in this list that I didn’t include Electroshock, which while a great card, I decided against because of the ‘spot a yellow character’ requirement; it would be unusable once Maz is defeated and she’s often the first target.
You have to be careful when choosing which cards to include, because if you use too many that have play restrictions you may find yourself unable to use them.
5. Add cards to fill up the remaining slots
At this stage you need to have a look at the resource costs in the deck. If you have a lot of cards that cost two or more resources, then you may need to consider either swapping some of them for cheaper cards, or including extra ways of generating resources.
The cards pictured are all helpful ways of generating additional resources, but there are other more-specific options available, such as It Binds All Things for decks with lots of blue upgrades, or Tech Team for decks with lots of supports.
In general, I would try and make your first draft of a deck cheap where possible, then play some games and see if you’ve got room for some more expensive stuff. Fill up the remaining slots with whatever you think will suit the deck. These last few slots are a perfect place to try some gimmicky cards; playtesting will show you if they are worth using.
6. How many dice do you have?
Speaking in very broad terms, you want to make sure that in addition to your character dice you have 8-12 other dice. This is quite a generalisation, so don’t take it as set in stone.
For example, my current Battle Droid deck only has 2 additional dice, whereas my previous Hera vehicles deck had 14 dice.
7. Which battlefield will you use?
This depends a lot on how quickly your deck goes through a round, and how useful a battlefield is to your deck.
A quicker deck might like to go for a battlefield like Frozen Wastes or Carbon-freezing Chamber, as these both have potent abilities. The downside with battlefields like this are that they can be turned against you if your deck is generally slower than your opponent’s.
If you are making a mill deck, you are almost certainly going to want to go for something like Command Center.
If you don’t care what your battlefield is, then you should pick something that can’t hurt your deck. For example, if your deck doesn’t make use of shields, try something like Ewok Village.
8. Now play some games!
Sounds obvious, but get out there and play some games. Initially, it doesn’t matter too much what type of deck you are playing against; these early games are more for you to get a general feel for your deck.
I’d recommend playing at least ten games with the first draft of your deck before making any drastic changes. If possible, make a few notes about your games, such as cards that were useful or ones that didn’t work well. This will help you develop the deck going forwards.
- What’s the idea for the deck?
- Which characters should I use?
- What are the core cards?
- Add some dice mitigation!
- Add cards to fill up the remaining slots
- How many dice do you have?
- Which battlefield will you use?
- Now play some games!
Hopefully you’ve found this article useful. Building your own deck isn’t easy, but it can be quite rewarding when you put together something that ‘clicks’.
If you are a player that goes to competitive tournaments (regionals and above), you might want to look at existing ‘proven’ decks and use them as a starting point (I’m not going to go into the whole netdecking vs homebrewing debate this time).
Anyway, that’s all for now.