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Hidden Cost

Unless you've been stuck on a desert island for the last couple of years, you can't deny the growing popularity of poker (just look at this summer's Magic article). Texas Hold'em has largely proven the game of choice for many poker enthusiasts. At first, I fought the draw, preferring to stick with trading card games. Yet after being coerced to play a few times and winning some cash, the draw consumed me as well.

I think what draws many people to the game other than the chance to win money has to be the mind games involved -- namely "the Bluff".

Bluffing in the right person's hands is a valuable resource. It allows you to win games you normally wouldn't (or shouldn't), makes your opponents think you're doing something you are or are not, and can force opponents into bad decisions or misplays.

With that introduction, thanks to the Return of the Jedi expansion and Hidden Cost ability, SWTCG players can now "bluff" their way to victory. Gone are the days when partially built units in the build zone could be ignored. Hidden Cost lets you put at least the number of build counters on a unit equal to it's Hidden Cost, then pay the remaining build cost with Force.

The Flop:

Hidden Cost is the reason we play this deck. Not since Surprise Reinforcements have we seen an ability like this. This is where we can put our bluff tactics to work. Hidden Cost can be played at any time, which means even during the battle step. You can wait until all of your opponent's units have tapped, and then surprise them with a Hidden Cost unit. You can also bluff with the amount of build counters you put on a unit. Notice Boba Fett (H) has Hidden Cost 1. You could put 3 build counters on it instead, making you opponent think it could be an Endor Imperial Fleet. The greatest bluff is putting 3 build counters on a non-Hidden Cost card. This works especially well the turn after you've played one. However, this probably won’t be too effective unless Hidden Cost become more prevalent and cards like Error in Judgment and Blockade start to be played.

The Turn:

Obviously we need Force to pay for Hidden Cost. Dark Side doesn't have as many ways to gain Force as the Light Side, but Jedi Master's Meditation plays a big role in gaining the Force needed for this strategy. Jedi Master's Meditation isn't "Pay X build, gain X Force" -- the downside is that you do need to tap an untapped Jedi Character. On the upside, we get to play Darth Vader (K); at 10 build he will provide 10 Force. Add in Armor and "Pay X, Evade X," and you get arguably the best unit in the game.

Jedi Master's Meditation and Darth Vader (K) will net you 10 Force. With the 4 Force you start with, you'll now have 14. This is just enough to pay for the Hidden Cost of two Endor Imperial Fleets or one Fleet and one Boba Fett (C) (assuming you add more build counters than the 1 needed). Of course, it will cost 9 build points, but it can happen (build roll of 6 + bonus build point for a unit in each arena + San Hill (A) 2 build point bonus = 9 build points); so while it's not highly probable, it is possible.

The River:

Blockade {TPM} adds another twist to this deck. Blockade stops cards (including Hidden Cost units) from moving from the build zone to an arena, as well as stopping units from retreating and battles from being played. The trick is to deploy your units first, and then play Blockade. (Yes, you can play Hidden Cost during the build phase.) Blockade decks run into problems when trying to have build points to build reinforcements and for Blockade itself. Combined with the Hidden Cost ability to spend Force instead of build points, and using them together provides a powerful synergy.

No Limit!
2 Jabba the Hutt (C)
2 Boba Fett (H)
3 San Hill (A)
4 Darth Vader (K)
1 Darth Vader (I)
1 Darth Vader (D)
1 Darth Vader (E)
1 Darth Vader (A)
1 Darth Vader (M)
4 Royal Guards
4 Stormtrooper Assault Team
4 Trade Federation STAP
4 Jabba's Guards
4 TIE Interceptor
4 TIE Fighter DS-61-9
4 TIE Fighter DS-3-12
4 Endor Imperial Fleet
4 Jedi Master's Meditation
4 Blockade {TPM}
4 Splinter the Republic
16 Character
16 Ground
16 Space
0 Battle
12 Mission
0 Equipment
0 Location

The deck plays like a typical Swarm deck, with a few surprise reinforcements (pun intended). You want to come out the gates swinging. Get your opponent on the defensive and attempt to make him reinforce the wrong arena, or surprise him in an arena he or she thinks that they're safe in. The best thing about Hidden Cost is, in a way, that you are getting you units at a discount (assuming you don’t need Force). Being able to put out high cost units and still be able to Blockade {TPM} is a game-winner. So put on your best poker face and shout, I’m all in!

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