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Dark Side Power Decks, Part 1

Part 1: What They Are

The buzz these days is all about Dark Side “Power" decks. Let me be the first to admit that the buzz is “buzzworthy.” Two decks stand out the most in my mind: Creature Swarm and Falcon’s Needs. In this article, I plan to explore the swamps and breakdown exactly how these decks work.

Let’s start with deck design. I hear from a lot of people how they have problems designing decks which play successfully. I think this stems from one of two problems: first, they don’t know how to play the deck, or second, they try to put too many ideas into one deck (the second being the most common error).

Here are 4 tips to better deck design:

  1. Pick a starting concept: This concept can be anything really, but you need to make the choice before you ever choose the first card. When I say concept, I mean any of the following examples: aggressive fast units, slow reactive units, a themed deck (i.e., Rebels), etc. Most of the time, you’ll want to select a concept which does not rely entirely upon utility cards (Battle and Mission cards).

  2. Carefully select your units: Units are the key to this game. You have so many choices on what to play, and a few bad selections could change your great deck to a bad deck. Monitoring the build curve of units is one of the most important aspects of unit selection. A mixture of small, medium, and large build units is a safe bet for a strong deck.

  3. Utility selection: I have always used utility cards (Mission and Battle) in a manner to enhance and not limit a deck. Because utility cards cannot be used during set up phase, I tend to have more units than utility. This is only a preference, however; decks with a utility concept such as Falcon’s Needs (profiled in this article) are very powerful if built and played correctly.

  4. Playtest: I cannot stress enough the importance of playtesting. Playtesting gives you insight into your deck, where you find its strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t have anyone to play against, then play alone—just run through the set up phase and see how your deck comes out. If you’re running a deck that must get Darth Vader (K) out during set up, for example, testing the deck will show you how many Vader (K)’s you’ll need to make that happen.
Now on to the best part: the profile and strategy behind the Creature Swarm and Falcon’s Needs decks we love to play and hate to play against.

Falcon's Needs
4 San Hill (A)
1 Darth Sidious (A)
1 Darth Sidious (B)
1 Darth Sidious (C)
1 Darth Vader (D)
1 Darth Vader (E)
1 Darth Vader (K)
1 Darth Vader (L)
1 Lando Calrissian (A)
4 Cloud City Wing Guard
4 Bespin Twin-Pod Cloud Car
3 Jawa Sandcrawler
1 AT-AT Assault Group
3 TIE Fighter DS-73-3
4 TIE Fighter DS-61-9
1 Tyranus's Solar Sailer (A)
3 Devastator (A)
1 Millennium Falcon (C)
1 Millennium Falcon (I)
1 IG-2000 (A)
4 Alter the Deal
4 Plan for the Future
4 Departure Time
4 Remember the Prophecy
4 Falcon's Needs
4 Holoprojection Chamber
12 Character
12 Ground
14 Space
0 Battle
20 Mission
0 Equipment
4 Location

With Rogues and Scoundrels, one term has become more widely used: Engine, defined as a card or combination of cards that triggers a deck to play very smoothly. With the Falcon's Needs deck, the engine is Holoprojection Chamber; the reason this deck carries 4 is to ensure you get one very early into the game.

Here is the “how to” on this deck. Your goal is to play all 4 Falcon's Needs on one unit, which gives that unit 4 instances of: “Upkeep: Pay 2 build points or tap this unit”. Which means if you tap this unit as one of the Upkeep costs, you still must pay the additional 6 build. This will probably leave the Light Side with no build points until that unit can be discarded. The only thing that can give the Light Side a build point is a roll of an odd number. This is where San Hill (A) comes in. If you have an even build roll, nothing else needs to happen. If the roll is odd, then tap San Hill to give your opponent an even build total.

The Falcon’s Needs deck must get a Holoprojection Chamber, or else it doesn’t work. Basically, you are going to go through your entire deck as quickly as possible, using Alter the Deal and Remember the Prophecy to ensure you draw all of your Mission cards. Departure Time small units to keep gaining build points. When all is said and done, 90% of the time at the end of the Dark Side build step, you'll have a Darth Vader (K) in the Character arena, an AT-AT Assault Group in Ground, and a large Space unit under construction.

Having played 4 Falcon’s Needs on your opponent, they will get no build points. And, you will have played all 4 Alter the Deals, so your opponent will have already thrown away better then 50% of his or her deck. This is a good position to be in! Here’s the trick. You’re now going to need to beat your opponent with what you have built. To help, you should try to get Lando Calrissian (A) in play or under construction as early as possible, as he will allow you to pull units out of your discard pile.

The Falcon’s Needs deck has only one weakness: If your opponent can find a way to discard the unit or units on which you have placed Falcon's Needs, it’s game over!

Creature Swarm
4 Massiff
2 Acklay
4 Scurrier
4 Kouhun
2 San Hill (A)
4 Bogwing
4 Orray
3 Geonosian Picadors
1 Krayt Dragon
4 Reek
4 TIE Fighter DS-61-9
1 Death Star (A)
4 Mynock
3 YV-664 Light Freighter
2 Lull in the Fighting
4 Departure Time
2 Plan for the Future
2 Imperial Blockade
1 Learning the Force
3 Probe the Galaxy
1 Wampa Cave
1 Kessel System
16 Character
16 Ground
12 Space
2 Battle
12 Mission
0 Equipment
2 Location

The Creature Swarm deck has a double engine. The first and most important is Orray. Every time you deploy a creature, Orray lets you draw a card. This means if you have 4 Orrays in play, then you draw 4 cards for every new creature you deploy—wow! Couple that with Wampa Cave, and that means for one build point you can deploy a Kouhun and draw 4 cards. Once you bring out Kessel System, you can do all this for one build point, then tap the Kouhun and get that one build back.

The goal of the Creature Swarm deck is to amass such a force that your opponent is simply too outgunned to make a comeback. Each round, you’re tapping all of your Characters in order to bring out a huge unit, such as Krayt Dragon or Death Star (A). And if you’re worried about losing your Locations, change Probe the Galaxy for a Search for the Rebels, and remove all of you opponent’s Locations.

It is my opinion that only two things are powerful enough to beat these decks—my next article: “Dark Side Power Decks: How to Beat Them,” and the Banned/Restricted list!

Until next time “May the Force be with you!"

—Michael “Skymiles” Kelly
Team Force Infinity

Today, Michael built two Dark Side Power decks. In the second part of his series tomorrow, he'll explain how to bring them down.

Thoughts or comments? Visit the message board thread for this article here.