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|eRey2/eAayla - YOUR Destiny Podcast WORLDS 2018 runner-up
|Ataru Strikers - Elite Cup
PREFACE: Regarding the author and the inspiration for the deck –
I have been playing Destiny since a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. Like many, a friend introduced me to the game shortly after it launched; I was immediately hooked. I ran out, bought my starter boxes, and hunted down every last Awakenings booster pack I could find during “The Great Shortage” (seriously, trying to get Destiny product back in the day felt akin to Solo running scams on the streets of Corellia since he was 10!). Since that time, I have played a lot of different character combinations and decks ranging in popularity from Sabine/Ezra to eAhsoka/Ezra/Jawa (you read that right), but I have enjoyed none more than the very first pairing I ever played that originally sparked my love for the game; Qui-Gon/Rey. The straightforward aggro style of the deck, trick combinations that played off of shield shenanigans, turning defense into offense with a “Riposte” for surprising bursts of damage; it was exhilarating. But perhaps my favorite part of all was that I could have fun without sacrificing competitiveness with one of my favorite characters in the Star Wars franchise, Qui-Gon Jinn.
Sadly, as tends to happen in a living and growing game like Destiny, the creation of new and exciting content also means the inevitable weakening of older characters. New game mechanics have been added, cheaper characters are rising in power as the game designers seek to strike the right balance between characters and their relative point cost, and older pairings are falling out of competitive tiers. While Qui-Gon/Rey benefited from several cards released in SoR, and Qui-Gon/Kanan dominated during the EaW meta, Qui-Gon has all but been forgotten about in the era of Legacies. Many have tried pairing the Ataru Master with Yoda (including myself). To be sure, in the right matchup, Qui-Gon/Yoda is terrifying…in the right matchup. Overall though, the deck just doesn’t have enough versatility or drive to make it competitive; Yoda not having native damage sides on his dice means it takes forever for the deck to ramp, and the lack of damage on his dice also means he can struggle to close-out games as opponents can easily pinpoint their removal cards on whatever few upgrades the Wizened Master has at his disposal.
However, after seeing the immense success that Rey/Aayla has enjoyed (in the hands of more talented pilots than myself), the thought struck me; could Aayla be the partner Qui-Gon has been looking for to be relevant again? After a lot of theory crafting, tinkering, and play testing, I believe the answer to that question is a resilient yes. Qui-Gon/Aayla takes the best parts from Qui-Gon/Rey and Rey/Aayla, merging them together into an extremely fun and competitive deck that, in my humble opinion, rivals “Stairs” in terms of its competitive quality (although granted, I have yet to make it to Finals at Worlds or win a European Championship with my build). In my playtesting, the decklist I created below is undefeated against burst decks like Obi/Maz and Mace/Maz, ramp decks like Luke/Lobot and Maul/Ketsu, and mill decks like the new Yoda/Lando deck that has been making waves of late. It did have trouble against the Hero Vehicles build that won the San Diego regional tournament, although that was before I included Close Quarters Assault which would have helped immensely.
Overall, while I’m sure the deck could be tinkered with to best fit different playstyles, I think this list is a great starting point. I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback! Enjoy!
THE CHARACTER PAIRING:
First, “why Aayla?” It’s no news that Aayla is a powerful character. In comparison to Qui-Gon’s original partner, Rey 1, Aayla is just better. Rey 1’s 2+ melee side is upgraded to a non-modified 2 melee side, her +1 resource side is swapped out for a 2 indirect damage side (which becomes very powerful late game when your opponent only has one character remaining), and Rey’s occasionally-clutch discard side is replaced by one of the best special’s in the game.
Second, “why Qui-Gon?” This is the real question. Specifically, why choose Qui-Gon over Rey 2? Since it would be impossible for someone with only a few store tournament wins to say with any authority that Qui-Gon/Aayla is better than Rey/Aayla, I will merely compare the two lead characters and let you decide.
Both characters come with 11 health. Both characters have base melee damage sides of 1x and 2x. Both characters have a 1 resource side. Both characters have a 1 shield side. The only symbol that differs between their dice is Qui-Gon’s 2 shield side vs Rey’s 1 discard side. In most instances, in a meta that is predominantly aggro, the 2 shield side is objectively better.
With regards to the character abilities, they both share some similarities. In order for Rey to get usage out of her ability, she must have at least 1 shield on her before activating in order to deal 1 damage. Similarly, Qui-Gon must have at least 1 shield on him before gaining more shields in order to deal damage. The difference is that Qui-Gon’s ability makes his dice much more powerful and versatile. If Rey 2 has 1 or more shields on her, you do 1 damage; not bad! But if Qui-Gon has 1 or more shields on him, his die suddenly has four base damages sides that effectively resolve as either 2 melee, 1 melee, 1 melee + 1 shield, or 1 melee. Additionally, Qui-Gon’s dice allow you the flexibility of playing defensively if need be, allowing you to just take the shields for either of your characters. Finally, while Rey’s ability is steady at 1 damage per activation if she has a shield, Qui-Gon’s ability can ramp in power with a pair of Shoto lightsabers that allow you to deal 1 damage without any shields, or 2 damage upon activation if he has one or more shields.
The one thing you get with Rey 2 that you don’t with Qui-Gon is Profitable Connections, and having that extra resource on your opening turn can certainly open up some nice plays. However, given that this decklist is extremely inexpensive at 16 0-cost cards, the extra resource, while nice, is not necessary, and also has diminishing returns as the game progresses and resources become more abundant.
Ultimately, it’s a close call, but I prefer the playstyle and flexibility that Qui-Gon brings to the table. At the very least, Qui-Gon is of comparable value and quality to Rey 2, if not superior.
Together, Qui-Gon/Aayla also provide you with a great end-game strategy, regardless of who your opponent targets first. If your opponent targets Qui-Gon, Aayla will increase in power in the late game when your opponent is down to one remaining character and her 2 indirect damage side effectively becomes another 2 direct damage symbol. Conversely, if Aayla is the initial target of your opponents, that gives Qui-Gon more time to ramp into his Shoto lightsabers combined with either an Heirloom or an Ancient for devastating shield generation and damage output.
BATTLEFIELD – No surprise here, Obi-Wan’s Hut again provides flexibility with Qui-Gon’s ability. If you’re ahead in the game, you can use it to crank out an extra damage per turn, or if you need the defense, you can add another shield to your team.
UPGRADES – Overall, the regular suite of upgrades with all the usual suspects. The goal is to get the Shoto’s on Qui-Gon as quickly as possible. The only upgrade I usually play on Aayla early game is Force Speed so she can special-chain.
While only 6 weapons might be considered a light weapon suite, the 2 “Lightsaber Pull” events help you to grab the right weapon and put dice out on the board consistently. Additionally, since the deck is running 16 0-cost cards (which is even more than the 14 0-cost cards in the YOUR Destiny Podcast WORLDS 2018 runner-up Rey/Aayla deck), you will be able to burn through quite a few cards every turn, allowing you to draw into a high number of cards to consistently find your upgrades.
Alter – This is the MVP card of the deck. Like Qui-Gon himself, this card gives you a lot of flexibility to adapt to the situation and either play offensively of defensively. A great way to play this card defensively is to change your opponent’s highest damage die to a blank and then change one of Aayla’s dice to a special. This not only immediately removes your opponent’s most threatening die, but it also sets you up for future mitigation if they choose to reroll, allowing you to special chain with Aayla to change up to two more of their dice while simultaneously focusing your own dice. Alter also combines extremely well with Force Speed for some devastating combos. One such combo is to Force Speed for two actions, play Alter to turn two more of your dice to melee sides, and then play Close Quarters Assault to disrupt your opponents hand (and if you remove all of their cards, they won’t be able to play mitigation against your newly focused damage dice that you can resolve on your following turn). Also, Alter combines really well with Force Speed to focus your Ancient Lightsaber’s to the +3 melee sides for maximum damage. It can also be tricky when combined with Force Misdirection; Force Speed, Alter to change two of your opponent’s dice (and hopefully some of their dice are already showing the desired symbol), followed by a Force Misdirection for maximum removal.
Caution – Nothing to add here; this card is amazing and is an auto-include in nearly all Blue hero decks, especially one that is built around shield shenanigans.
Close Quarters Assault – As mentioned already, this card is very powerful, and can get even better when combined with Alter. I initially was not a huge fan of this card, but after getting trounced by Hero Vehicles, I saw the value of being able to get cards out of my opponent’s hand for free.
Destiny – I went back and forth between this card and “It Binds All Things” (“Reaping The Crystal” is not in the running since this deck only runs 2 3-cost cards). The reason I chose Destiny is because it ramps much faster, and Aayla’s 2 indirect side is the perfect target for this card early game. With “It Binds All Things”, you have to wait 3 turns before you can save 2 resources which is just too slow for a deck that wants to ramp as quickly as possible.
Force Misdirection – Again, a staple mitigation card that provides great value by removing multiple dice for just 1 resource.
Guard – See “Force Misdirection” except this card is 0-cost so even cheaper!
Heightened Awareness – Again, shields are the name of the game for this deck. If you want to the make the deck even cheaper, you could replace this card with “Defensive Stance.” However, I prefer Heightened Awareness because of the extra shield and the Ambush which combines great with “Riposte” or for claiming Obi-Wan’s Hut to ping another damage. And since the deck is so incredibly inexpensive and efficient with resources, you will be regularly in a position to afford this card.
Hidden Motive – Another great 0-cost mitigation card. “Hidden Motive” is especially valuable in your opening turn as it frees up your resources to play a 2-cost weapon, your opponent is unlikely to have a lot of dice in the pool round one, and your opponent is unlikely going to want to pitch valuable cards from their opening hand to reroll.
Lightsaber Pull – As mentioned in the Upgrades section, this card makes up for the fact that the deck is only running 6 weapons. Pull for the Shoto’s asap.
Overconfidence – Another hallmark card of Blue decks that effects multiple dice at a cheap price.
Riposte – A fantastic card that can finish off an opponent’s character with a burst of 3 damage. I only include one copy because, although the deck generates a ton of shields, the shields are actually very useful for blocking damage and for dealing damage with Qui-Gon’s ability and Shotos. It’s very rare that I ever want to do a shield-wipe twice in a game, and space is tight in this deck, thus I only choose to run one copy.
Synchronicity – 2 unblockable damage for free! A fantastic card that I honestly wish I could include a second copy of because Qui-Gon’s dice are made for this card. I’m more than willing to admit upfront that I might be making a mistake by only running one copy of this, but looking over all the other cards, I cannot personally justify removing anything else to make room for a second copy. I was considering only running 1 copy of Alter and putting in a second copy of Synchronicity, but Alter does so much work that I wanted to have 2 copies of it at all times. sigh
HONORABLE MENTIONS – I think there are at least two cards worth discussing that did not make it into this list.
Force Illusion – I did not include this card for two reasons. First, I don’t like the playstyle of this card and how it interacts with the deck. As I mentioned before, you can burn through cards very quickly given that you have 16 0-cost Upgrades and Events, so milling yourself isn’t a great idea. Second, and more importantly, is the fact that this deck only has 6 weapons (plus 2 Lightsaber Pulls), and you cannot afford to lose one of your dice cards to a Force Illusion. Additionally, although the 2nd place Worlds Rey/Aayla runs 2 copies of Force Illusion, it also only runs 1 copy each of Force Misdirection and Hidden Motive. I prefer the tradeoff in my set-up by having 2 copies of each of those cards because it is both cheaper (1 overall resource for both of them vs 2 resources for a pair of Force Illusions) and I don’t risk losing valuable cards.
Ataru Strike – Again, a card I wish I had room for. This doesn’t make the cut as I view “Riposte” and “Synchronicity” as both superior cards for this deck. First, they are both free whereas “Ataru Strike” costs 1 resource. Second, “Ataru Strike” requires that I use it on a character die, but since you are going to be playing Shoto’s with Qui-Gon, you frequently need his base damage sides to resolve the Shoto modifiers, and therefore you often do not have the flexibility of playing a card like “Ataru Strike” that forces you to resolve your dice one at a time.
That’s a wrap! Thanks again for reading, would love to hear your thoughts, comments, and experience with this deck if you choose to give it a try.