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Star Wars: The Card Game – Balance of the Force» Forums » General

Subject: Challenge Decks Indeed rss

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Jason Blakeney
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Originally, I posted this to Cardgamedb, but I wanted to see what other communities thought of it, so here is the repost:

So we had a chance to try out both Challenge decks released this week last night. I played the LS one and my bud played the DS. Since there was only two of us, when we were playing the challengers, we simply played 2 decks at the same time.

Initial thoughts are that the Challenge Decks (CDs) offer quite the... erhhm.. challenge. We have read posts on cardgamedb and other sites that say the LS deck is more brutal than the DS, but we found both to be pretty rough. Some further observations:

SEARCH FOR SKYWALKER:

When playing against 2 opponents, it seemed almost as though I was able to ignore my opponents attacks with minimal strategic decisions and, on my turn, present varying degrees of beatings in the form of Red Five and The Force is Strong. Two back-to-back turns resulted in 22 cards from EACH opponent being discarded. The first time that happened, it was pretty much enough to damage any type of strategy that the DS might have offered, as all manner of important cards went to the discard. The 2nd time it happened, it was basically over.

By the time my opponent lost, he had destroyed ONE objective, and had managed to uncover Luke.

In fact, he uncovered Luke fairly early on with an educated guess and some direct objective damage (although I have been recently corrected that only VULNERABLE objectives can be affected by direct damage). I don't know if that was a good thing or not, as it enabled Luke to begin throwing his tactics around with no fear of being dealt damage. My opponent made some very good tactical decisions, but by the time the 3rd objective had been turned over, I had not 1, but 2, Old Ben's Spirit enhancement cards sitting under objectives that would NEVER be touched, and all it would take for me to completely crush his spirits would be to place one on Luke. Or two. 40 damage or 60 damage still spells LOSS in my book.

I kinda hoped that we were playing it wrong, because it just seemed SO easy to murder both DS opponents. The reinforcement cards were so easy to protect and use whenever I wanted. I feel like those cards really should be more vulnerable to enemy attacks. The rules state that when an objective is turned faceup, I can put a reinforcement card under ANY objective I want, facedown. The only way that card would be destroyed would be if the objective would be destroyed. Which pretty much means NEVER. Even if the DS got close to that objective, you would just use the card on your next Action window or Deploy phase. I really think that it would be better if such reinforcement cards could ONLY be placed under the objective just flipped faceup. It would then give the DS a fighting chance of getting rid of cards like Old Ben's Spirit, before they are played and pretty much end the game.

I also have reservations about Luke's fantastically robust immune system. His card states that he cannot be affected by enemy card effects. Now, I understand why that is the case... I guess. Since there are enemy card effects that, if played properly, can basically kill Luke outright and win the game for the DS. I could see how many would not want that to happen. But I almost feel like that restriction is too restrictive. This basically means that if I want to do ANY damage to Luke, it must be done EITHER by damage that would destroy Return to Tatooine (a rather huge accomplishment in itself), or damage done specially as a result of UNIT damage icons. 20 UNIT damage over time. Or 40, or 60, if you put Old Ben's Spirit on him. You can't even hit him with Heat of Battles!

It would seem like the limitation should have been a bit less... global, and more refined. Perhaps even just stating that he cannot be the target of enemy card effects, or maybe that he is immune while shielded and give him shielding, or immune while he has the edge, or while the Force is with the LS, or SOMETHING that doesn't make Luke the most unbeatable unit in the game.

Now I know what you are thinking, just build a deck that specifically combats enhancements and has lots of dudes in it that have targeted strike. And yeah, you could tech a deck for this. But I guess I kind of wished that a non-tech-super-deck had a chance to beat this CD. And maybe I will find with more experience that it is possible. But for now, I am a bit... challenged.

Just as a last bit of detail, my DS opponent ran a Trooper style deck (with characters) on one side and a Capital Ship deck on the other. The other point that I think is important here is that he was running a Dark Time for the Rebellion on one side, allowing me to essentially turn on any objective I wanted each turn.

Any thoughts?

JERJERROD'S TASK:

OK, for the DS CD, I was the LS. I constructed a basic HAN CHEWIE FALCON LANDO Smuggler deck with only a single copy of the deluxe expansion as my source. So I didn't have 2 Chewies, 2 Hans, etc. For the other LS deck, I used my very effective Speeder deck. Blue squadron is fantastic in it and really maximized the number of low cost speeders that I could field.

And field speeders I did. At one point I had, I think 5 or 6 speeder/vehicle units in play, along with 2 Hoth Operations, pretty much nailing edge battles that I was involved in. On the Smuggler side, I did not manage to get anything amazing into play, but basically used it to run a couple of Sleuths and the Blockade runner for a couple tactical hits on objectives. Of course, I say the word "objectives" but basically all damage went to Heightened Security. Heightened Security is pretty much the key objective in this deck since it absorbs SO much damage and continually heals itself AND shields itself.

The DS player had a Jerjerrod's Task objective out each turn and a couple of great enhancement. He also had ALL 3 LAMBDAs out by turn 3 which allowed him to use an obscene amount of resources and I think he was able to field Vader on turn 4 and the DSII on turn 5, pretty much sealing up the game. His final turn involved him striking with the DSII and destroying an objective that I could not defend (removing one affiliation card) and then following that up with attacking another undefendable objective with Vader. And that was it.

The fact that the CD player can engage EITHER LS opponent at will makes attacking a player with no ready units to defend VERY easy.

I don't have a lot of... "complaints" against this deck. It is definitely tough, but not "Luke"-tough. I feel like the best way to run this deck into the ground is to strike hard and fast with a combination of speeders and other rebel high-blast units and ships. It was definitely very frustrating that every single damage was constantly absorbed by Heightened Security, but I guess if that wasn't there, the big bonus objectives would fall too quickly and you would have a quick downhill spiral to losing after that.

Maybe I was playing Protect Objective wrong, but I don't think so. Any source of damage that would be dealt to another objective, whether blast damage, direct, or unopposed, was simply transferred to Heightened Security (which usually had a shield on it and would be promptly healing itself for at least 1 damage on the next DS refresh phase).

Probably the most annoying unit in the game is the Emperor, since he already has great combat icons. To bring back Heightened Security after all that mess would just stink. But I am looking forward to playing against it against. I didn't even have Attack Pattern Delta out for my speeders and still managed to get quite the fleet into the air.

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

Overall, I would say that the CDs offer a unique way to play SWLCG. I am not sure that I like them as much as multiplayer just yet, but we shall see.

I also feel like both CDs have an inevitability factor to them. What I mean by that is that when you are running a CD, there comes a point when you pretty much know that you are going to win and that no amount of tricks on the part of the opponents is going to change that. My only regret yesterday is that after I drew TWO Old Ben's Spirit cards, I should have just announced the end of the game and started over. Or better, not use them in the first place. It's the same with the DS CD. Once that DSII comes out, it is pretty much over. You would have to have a completely amazing board presence and a fistful of tricks up your sleeve to stand even one turn after it arrives.

And I guess that is thematic.

--------------

Followup to the original post:

As a followup to my initial post, I had started thinking about the concept of scaling the CDs. Jarrett's comment on the non-casual nature of the CDs also lends itself towards customizing things a bit to bring the CD down to a level where decent decks (not SUPER decks) have a chance.

For the Hunt for Skywalker:

I was thinking of nerfing Luke a bit, limiting his immunity somehow, as mentioned in the first post. His immunity could be dependent on his health capacity, perhaps he gets full immunity when his health goes below 8 or 7. It could also be specified as immune to targetable card effects. Or I could go the other route and just adjust his card to say: He cannot be affected by ANY card effects, including friendly effects. This would prevent Old Ben's Spirit from ever being an issue at all, since he would not be a valid candidate for it. Anyone have any other suggestions?

The other thing I was thinking might make sense is to reduce the damage threshold for Return to Tattooine. Bringing it down a few points will give the DS players a bigger shot at transferring damage to Luke.

For Jerjerrod's Task:

I was thinking that I would either remove Heightened Security's shielding OR its ability to heal and objective. I feel like the shield should be left, and the healing should be cut, since there are other enhancements that can do plenty of healing.

Other than that, I am not really sure this CD would need to be scaled down any more. Because once Heightened Security is gone, and the Emperor cannot replace it, the DS is in trouble. Any more thoughts on scaling back the DS deck?
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Brandon Holmes
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Thanks for doing this. I just got my copy yesterday but haven't had a chance to look at it. I had a feeling the challenge decks would be a bit of a balancing mess but hopefully you will get some useful replies.

I bought it more for the 2 vs. 2 multiplayer rules anyway.
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David C.
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On New Years Eve we played 1 game of Light Side vs the Dark Side Challenge Deck.

I was really disappointed. The Dark Side lost in turn 5 without a chance to do much at all. And we only played two light side decks to make it not to easy...

*edit* I threw the decks together an evening before that. I hadn't any knowledge about the Challenge Decks since I wanted to construced some decks first. I had experience with the Raid Decks from the WoW TCG and just tried to have one player deal insane damage and 1-2 to control the Challenge Decks board with bounce, counters and other tricks.

Player 1 played a Speeder Deck doing insane amounts of damage:
2x 8 The Defense of Yavin 4
2x 38 Hoth Operations
2x 49 Prepare for Evacuation
2x 59 Attack Pattern Delta
1x 74 Across the Anoat Sector
1x 92 Blue Squadron Support


Player 2 played a Smuggler Control Deck taking almost all options from the dark side player:
2x 15 Questionable Contacts
2x 44 Renegade Squadron
2x 70 Raise the Stakes
2x 71 Trust Me
2x 72 Asteroid Sanctuary

This was enough to return almost any unit to the Dark Side players hand, switch around focus token to take his big guys out of the running, win all the edge battles or cancel his event cards.

If we had a 4th player he would have played a Jedi control, completly wrecking the dark side I guess...
2x 1 A Hero's Journey
2x 2 In You Must Go
2x 5 The Secret of Yavin 4
2x 69 Wookie Life Debt
1x 91 Watchers in the Wasteland
1x 93 Rendar's Wrath

----

This was only one game, but I dont see how even the Emperor (who didnt get drawn) could have won me the game at all. Vader was dead the turn after he was played without any chance to stop the light side. And what else is there really?

I really hope that the Light Side Challenge Deck will be way more challenging.
 
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TJ van der Molen
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having tried both yesterday (i was playing the CD decks)
i think the key to both strategy is resource denial more than unit denial.

The CD, start with a lot of resources and they can build their resources really fast with board enhancements. For the Dark Side deck i think its more important to take out the objective that allows the dark side to take two focus counters off when refreshing.

Then its key to take the objective out that increases the reserve value. Only then start working towards the other objectives.

the same goes for Luke. half his objectives are 2 resource cards. He starts the game with 9 resources. Killing an objective quickly will deny him the resources to play his cards. So flip an objective and kill it the same turn if possible. This will mostly deny the other benefits the new objective gives the LS player.

i think both CD'd have the tendancy to run away with the game if you let them. For example if you cant destroy any objectives and a few new ones come out. Playing against Darth Vader will be an almost auto lose. But if you manged to keep the objectives in check he will be a lot less painful to deal with.
 
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Matt Lernout
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Ebolahond wrote:
For the Dark Side deck i think its more important to take out the objective that allows the dark side to take two focus counters off when refreshing.

Then its key to take the objective out that increases the reserve value. Only then start working towards the other objectives.


...Except the "Protect Objective" on Heightened Security means you can't touch the above two objectives without taking it down first. That makes it more of an upward struggle than the LS challenge deck. That objective and the sheer amount of resources was definitely my opponent's headache that game. Combined with an early Vader on the field, which required him devoting everything he could just to lock him out with tactics or else lose his best unit each turn, I could see the repressed look on his face. We ended the game with none of my objectives destroyed and a single damage remaining on Heightened Security.

I have yet to try assaulting it myself, but I can say my opponent didn't exploit the weakness the DS as I observed playing it has - it is really difficult to win multiple edge battles on the defense, just by comparing available hand sizes. As the LS, I think the key is making many, many strikes. Force the DS to pick and choose what damage makes it through and keep the pressure up and spread. My opponent became too focused on trying to drop Heightened Security rather than spreading out.

The more you tighten your grip, the more systems will slip through your fingers.

Quote:
So flip an objective and kill it the same turn if possible. This will mostly deny the other benefits the new objective gives the LS player.


That was my own inclination when playing against the LS challenge deck. The opponent starts with 9 resources which gives them a great base to start with, so the sooner you slam at them to deny resources, the better.

I managed to slam Palpatine first turn with my Sith deck and my Navy flipped up two Deploy the Fleet to start (which I quickly damaged to power out Star Destroyers without any loss condition attached to their demise). I made quick work of poking objectives with a weak unit to flip and then hammering them out of existence with my heavy hitters. However, we did run into the same thing hundreds did - the LS player basically just let me do whatever on my turn and then assaulted back with Red Five and Rogue Squadron with Wedge support and 3(!) The Force is Strong choosing the discard route. Even quickly dispatching Red Five twice with Force Lightning and Palpatine recursion, the damage was done only after a single strike for each copy. We both agreed that it might even be preferable to build larger decks just to be able to survive a longer game, since even going at a hefty click and an objective or two eliminated a turn, I was down to my last 10-15 cards by the time I even found Luke.

Other than upping my objective count and deck size, I'm not sure I've developed tactics against this one yet. Heavy blaster seem key, so Navy is a star, but with the amount of nasty units on the other side of the table, I'm almost thinking the level of control available with Scum may be another key.
 
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Jason Blakeney
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BakaMattSu wrote:

However, we did run into the same thing hundreds did - the LS player basically just let me do whatever on my turn and then assaulted back with Red Five and Rogue Squadron with Wedge support and 3(!) The Force is Strong choosing the discard route. Even quickly dispatching Red Five twice with Force Lightning and Palpatine recursion, the damage was done only after a single strike for each copy. We both agreed that it might even be preferable to build larger decks just to be able to survive a longer game, since even going at a hefty click and an objective or two eliminated a turn, I was down to my last 10-15 cards by the time I even found Luke.


I have also found that the Bothan Facilitator is one of the most aggravating cards to go up against in the LS Challenge deck. He discards AND gets to see EVERYTHING that is coming up. This deck is seriously insane.

And I hate to break it to you, but the rules state that the DS decks cannot be more than or less than 10 objectives.

For my group, we had to nerf things a bit to make things enjoyable against the LS. The DS deck can definitely be beaten and we have done it a couple times. I posted the nerfing variant on cardgamedb, but I will post it in the variants section here in a moment or two.

Here it is:

http://boardgamegeek.com/article/14476244#14476244
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TJ van der Molen
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Isn't the point of a Challenge deck to be, well.... Challenging?

I think the replayability is the deck building aspect and the cooperation efforts when entering the game. You sit down with your 2 other team mates. Plan and device the strategies and decks before you start the game is great.

I think its important to go into all games knowing you are playing the board with a Human Intelligence replacing the AI. So you have to expect to lose going into the game.
 
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Matt Lernout
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hundreds wrote:
And I hate to break it to you, but the rules state that the DS decks cannot be more than or less than 10 objectives.


Well, poo.
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