Much to learn you still have
One trope I love in literature and movies is the fallible mentor. Unless you’re a Prequels Denier (in which case you can focus on Obi-Wan’s failure to train Anakin Skywalker), you know that Yoda was a complete failure. He failed to sense the rise of the Sith, he failed to defeat Darth Sidious, and he failed to properly train Luke and Leia like he was supposed to. Instead of doing his job he hid on a remote planet and sulked for twenty-five to thirty years until some kid begged for some training, which he then obliged before giving his body up to the force (sounds awfully like a movie you hate, doesn’t it, scrub?).
One of the adages given by Yoda to Luke on Dagobah is something men of every generation had longed to hear and have since grasped onto so tightly that the truth has slipped through their fingers like an outer rim system kept in line by fear: Size Matters Not.
Sorry, Yoda. You wrong.
Size matters like whoa in Star Wars Destiny.
NES Ice Hockey and Balance
If you’re super old like me, or love the retro gaming of the 8-bit NES, you may have played one of the most perfect sports games ever programmed; an elegant game for a more civilized age. One of the weirder elements of the game is that it was 4 v 4 hockey (plus goalies), but you could create your own roster makeup choosing from average, skinny, and fat dudes.
The skinny dudes were super fast, but if they got checked by one of the fat dudes, it took them a couple periods to get back up. The fat dudes were super slow, but you couldn’t knock them down and they had sick-nasty slap shots. The average dudes were just average, they didn’t do anything well or poorly, and you’d probably be fine if you fielded three of them and a skinny guy; but, if you fielded four, and your opponent fielded four, it would be a pretty boring game of everyone bouncing off each other, just like a good, old-fashioned R2P2 mirror.
Destiny composition is a lot like Ice Hockey team composition in that our team composition can vary based on Squad Points. Of course, Squad Points are relative to Health Points and Dice Strength, and in that vein they dictate the kind of squad we can bring to the table. Finding the right balance for Star Wars Destiny teams is difficult; so many of the strong characters we want to bring to a tournament cost a lot, and finding strong support characters who can stand on their own is difficult. Then, there are the three and four character lists who can really mess with what’s possible in a team dynamic.
Because of the draw of the big, strong characters the game has to offer, many of us (myself included) often fall into building and playing decks of the Big-Little variety. It is my contention, and the impetus for writing this article, that going Big-Little right now is a major liability in Star Wars Destiny.
Have you heard the Tragedy of Big-Little the Decks?
I thought not. It’s not a story Sabine pilots would tell you. Big-Little decks have been around since the inception of the game; most famously in the terribly named Vader/Raider decks of the Awakenings meta. Darth Raider featured a 21-point elite Darth Vader with a 9-point Tusken Raider. This was a perfect pairing – all base Melee sides, the two best colors in the game and a Holocron Package to build up the Raider while the opponent tried to kill the 13 health Darth Vader. But, the deck faltered if the Darth Raider player couldn’t find their holocrons. And, it was kept in check by removing the potent Darth Vader dice much like most three character decks. Back in Awakenings, there weren’t a lot of big-little character pairings that synergized at four dice. Han/Rey was probably the most successful of the bunch, but had the drawback of mixed damage sides and the fact that the Big character only had 10 health. Grievous/Bala-Tik was a little-explored concept because of the mixed damage sides and Grievous’ low health total. But, when Spirit of Rebellion dropped, everything changed.
With the release of Maz Kanata, the true Big-Little deck was born. While you could almost give Tusken Raider “medium” status with his 3X/1 base melee side and his busted game-text circumventing mitigation, Maz was the first truly support character both cheap enough and featuring a broken ability enough to facilitate a Big-Little strategy, and Poe/Maz dominated the early parts of the SOR meta. Since Maz, we’ve seen an influx of strong support characters at 13-points or less (Yoda, Kanan, Mother Talzin), as well as several strong Big characters between 17 and 20 points (Zeb, Obi-Wan2, Sabine, Saw) to pair with them to create the Big-Little meta decks.
Right now, the meta is filled with decks featuring Raw, Untamed Power. brOTK is capable of dealing enough damage on the first round of the game to kill a 13 health main character. Characters like Yoda and Kanan can’t carry an entire game by themselves from the onset of round 2, when brOTK or Sabine can easily pick off your highest HP character, so bringing such a deck has suddenly become the wrong choice to take to your regional. Even brOTK falls into the same category as these Big-Little decks as it is almost impossible for Ciena and Nightsister to close a game out on their own, especially if they’ve paid the Price of Failure by the time Seventh Sister goes down.
“In the Middle of difficulty lies opportunity” ~ some guy
I saw the writing on the wall just after Reflex and I made our victory lap with Sabine Ezra and immediately got cracking on figuring out the best way to Middle-Middle, but in the most broken way possible. Thus, I have been messing around with Sabine/ePoe and eFN/eTalzin. While I normally despise three-dice decks, once I get one gun on Sabine I can continually overwrite it to keep her essentially at elite status (especially if I’m recurring DL44s), while ePoe is probably the strongest 15-point character in the game. I can continually build out Poe if they go after Sabine, or go crazy with Sabine shenanigans if they target Poe. This best of both worlds scenario is exactly what I’m looking for. FN/Talzin is along the same lines – First off, I start with three resources thanks to Profitable Connection, and I try to play two weapons on FN each round, making sure I leave overwrite weapons on him. That way if they go for FN, Talzin gets his redeploys, and if they go after Talzin, FN just gets to do his shenanigans even longer. I don’t know if either of these decks are good enough to hang with brOTK, but my goal is to get them to a point where I can try and start battling it – there’s no sense in building a brOTK counter if it loses to the rest of the meta, so I’m figuring the meta out first.
However, I’m not the only one who saw this change coming, this past weekend we saw the meta react to quick surge in Big-Little decks over the previous two weeks where Sabine and Obi-Wan2 seemed to be in the finals of every regional. While we had seen plenty of non Big-Little decks in the first regionals following the holiday break (Poe/Hondo, Vehicles, and Rieekan mill come to mind), these decks didn’t have to deal with The Phantom Menace of brOTK and Sabine crippling them before they could set up. To respond to brOTK and Sabine, Middle-Middle and Middle-Small-Small decks totally stepped up this past weekend.
The new, hot Middle-Middle deck is Boba Fett/Seventh Sister. This broke out onto the scene two weeks ago when it came in top 4 in both Chicago and Scottland after a Top 8 Finish in Miami the week before when the entire Tampa contingent brought the deck to that regional. The Chicago event especially put the deck on the map as a young teenager piloted the deck to an undefeated record before getting bounced in the top 4. This weekend The Destiny Council took the deck and finished both 1st and 2nd with Boba/7th in Fargo, ND. I’m sure The Destiny Council will be covering the deck in depth on their excellent website, and even though The Destiny Council is one of those podcasts that refuses to say the words “thehyperloops,” even though they are blatantly talking about us and our decks, I still highly recommend their work. Those guys have proven themselves to be excellent players and their articles are second only to the work we do here at TheHyperloops (some bias applies).
The Destiny Council has already posted their version of the deck, which I’ll include here, but check out this link for each of the Boba/7th decks posted on swdestinydb so far, and you’ll be able to see how this deck has been creeping up over the course of the last couple weeks by the decklist titles.
Boba/7th isn’t the only way to go Middle-Middle right now, as Poe/Hondo has had some success as well putting two in the top 8 of Madrid this weekend. Further, Middle-Middle isn’t the only way to go. Eric Wainwright won his SECOND regional going Middle-Little-Little with eAayla/Padawan/Padawan (I would even go as far as to say Aayla is also a little, but compared to Padawans she’s definitely a middle).
E-Dubs shows us that knowing your deck inside and out can overcome any obstacle, like having two 7-hp characters in your list. Heirloom Lightsaber obviously boosts the deck quite a bit, as having redeploy for -1 cost is a premium few other decks can boast. Still, I always question how those pesky Padawans survive. Either way, the deck can survive when it loses a character which is exactly what you need in this meta.
I don’t want this to turn into a regional roundup, as you can go to I Rebel for all of that info. I just want to highlight the fact that Big-Little decks are a huge liability going into the last couple weeks of regional season. We will of course see people with Sabine decks and brOTK decks place highly and maybe even win Regionals, but the gross damage output featured by many of the decks in the format is making them a huge liability right now. I think it’s better to look to Vehicles decks, Boba/7th, or any other combination of characters who, when you lose one of them, won’t lose you your entire match. That isn’t an easy feat to accomplish, but maybe there’s one last great hope for the Resistance.
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