The inaugural Solidarity tournament at Zulu’s Board Game Cafe in Bothell took place this past Thursday, at which I went 4-0 with the galaxy’s best pilots: eCienna/eMauler/TIE Pilot. That’s five freaking dice!!!!
My two favorite characters (DJ and Leia2) are rather difficult to build with in a singleton/highlander type deck, so I felt I had to look elsewhere. Let me be perfectly honest; I was unsure how much I was going to enjoy playing the pilots deck prior to actually testing it. I have to say that I ended up loving it.
For me, the best part of the Solidarity tournament was that no two decks were the same out of everything brought by the 17 participants. This was especially refreshing as I was coming off of the previous weekend’s Portland Regional Championship, in which five of my eight opponents were running Vader/Greedo.
The hardest part for me with a format like this was getting into the spirit, but it started with the characters—I literally spent more than two hours going over various combinations on swdestinydb.com. My first knee-jerk character combo find was eFifth Brother/eSeventh Sister, but alas, I was a big dummy (they add up to 30 points together already), so that got scrapped. Next up was eHondo/eJabba2, because who doesn’t like playing a thousand specials. I even punched up an entire list on swdestinydb and sent it to a friend to see what his response was.
“You are a sick f**k, you know that?”
Usually hearing something like this warms my heart, since if my friend doesn’t want me to play it then I must be on the right track, but this time it felt a little different. I went back to the drawing board, and after an hour or so of messing with Yellow and Blue characters I swerved to Red. I don’t really play Red as a main color and I NEVER play vehicles—I never really got the swing of them. I play more of a reactionary game; with both DJ and Leia I respond to what my opponent is doing and play accordingly. With vehicles, on the other hand, you just push your own agenda.
As I was clicking through Red characters, trying to do math and find something fun, I stumbled on Veers. Part of the goal of the Solidarity tournament was to play cards we don’t see every day, and he was one that I assumed most players wouldn’t have seen since his heyday was during the early Awakenings meta. Veers has lots of ranged sides. Who likes guns? TIE Pilot. As I was trying to find characters that fit, I caught the thematic bug and fell face-first into pilots. Everyone loves pilots, and pilots plus vehicles was a match made for Star Wars.
The next hour was pretty straight forward; I needed vehicles for Cienna resets and as many base ranged sides as possible to go with them. All the pilots’ dice have solid damage, but since they’re heavy on modifier sides I needed base sides to allow their damage to go off.
The final result:
These shenanigans didn’t seem inherently powerful to me, so I was very skeptical about taking the deck. Despite this, I sleeved it up and shuffled it together for four rounds of fun. In retrospect, if you can’t action-cheat a bunch, then you can do the next best thing in preventing your opponent from mitigating almost all of your dice.
Round 1 – Ethan – Rebel Traitor/Rebel Traitor/Rebel Traitor/Bazine Netal
I must admit that I thought I’d see a lot more two character pairings than I actually did. This surprise was driven home especially hard when my first opponent smacked down four characters in front of my face.
This game was a lesson in sequencing, in which I felt a lot like A-A-ron. I won the roll-off and windmill slammed a Umbaran Hover Tank (because who doesn’t want to do between 8 and 12 damage with that special). Ethan activated a Rebel Traitor and used his “may” ability to make me activate a character on my next action. Without even thinking about it, I chose to activate Cienna since I wanted money, but she rolled a one ranged damage side and a plus-two ranged modifier. Ethan activated the second Traitor and again made me activate next, so I mindlessly went with Mauler and hit two plus-two modifier sides (making it now seven damage in the pool). Ethan then took a resource from a die, and I, still in la-la land, rolled in my Umbaran. Because I was stupid and didn’t activate my freaking TIE Pilot, Ethan casually In the Crosshairsed all my damage. That turn ended with me still doing six damage to a Traitor. In the next round I sequenced correctly, added a mod to the Umbaran Hover Tank, pulled off a special, and cleaned up from there.
All the games I have ever played with Ethan are fun, and this might have been one of the only ones that wasn’t also super close.
Round 2 – Reuben – eHera Syndulla/eBiggs Darklighter/Rookie Pilot
A five die villain deck versus a five die hero deck… I’ll let you decide who was who in the match-up, but I’ll have you know that I see my pilots as heroes of the Empire.
This was an interesting match; I had Black Two in my opening hand, but I was scared of U-Wings and the Ghost. Reuben won the roll off and took Landing Dock over my Weapons Factory Alpha. My first few actions consisted of rolling in Cienna, using logistics for resources, and playing Black Two. Reuben Hera’d out a Fang Fighter so I activated Black Two, which hit a three-for-one (which was actually a four-for-one because I could spot Mauler). I next used Mauler’s ace piloting skills to activate and destroy the Fang. I still had enough resources to do a Cienna reset and roll Black Two back in with enough damage to kill Biggs. I killed Hera in the next round and finished the Rookie Pilot after that.
I love Mauler’s ability to take down supports; I ended up blowing up Reuben’s Fang and ARC-170 twice because the damn thing goes back to hand.
Round 3 – Mark – Baby Ani/Padmé Amidala/eCassian Andor
This match was pretty close (mill is always tough for vehicles) but I won the roll-off and slammed Black Two as my first action. The real key to this game was that early vehicle and the fact that the TIE Pilot protects dice. Mark made me reroll a few times, but I was eventually able to push damage through and take down Anakin—the easiest target to pull off the table. I would have gone after Cassian first, but his shield prevented me from one-shotting him. Mark played Decoy on Padmé after Anakin died, so I made her the next target (since with Decoy, anything I did to Cassian was going to end up on her anyways).
The game was very close, ending with me having two cards in hand and zero in deck. The early vehicle and the dice protection were super key to pushing through to the win.
Round 4 – AJ – eYoda/eQui-Gon Jinn2
I was legit worried about playing this guy, since Qui-Gon Jinn with shields is a terrifying monster. Plus, combined with his and Yoda’s shield generation, Qui-Gon’s 12 health could be a real problem against my 9, 9, and 7 health characters.
I won the roll off again… a big shocker, since I had five dice versus AJ’s four (two of his being Yoda’s low rolling dice). I pulled the same move I had in the previous three games and slapped down Black Two. AJ played Treasured Lightsaber on Yoda for the special chain, which he used for three unblockable damage to Cienna. The round ended with a DH-17 on Mauler, three damage on Cienna, and six damage on Qui-Gon after AJ Claimed. Round 2 started with an Ancient Lightsaber on Qui-Gon. I Partnership rolled out Mauler and Black Two. I hit the three-for-one on Black Two, the two-for-one on the DH-17, and a plus-two modifier and a blank on Mauler’s dice. I paid the two resources to resolve the Black Two die, the two-for-one, and the modifier for seven damage to finish off Qui-Gon. AJ then managed to load up Yoda and finish off Cienna.
Mr. Dalhberg questioned me afterwards about my sequencing at the end of the game. I activated Black Two with a Triple Laser Turret before my TIE Pilot; I did this intentionally, because if AJ could remove a die, I preferred to have him remove the Triple Laser Turret since it only protected the Black Two die. If I rolled in the TIE Pilot and AJ was able to remove it, the protection over my dice showing ranged sides would be stripped away. AJ ended up using Mind Trick on a Triple Laser Turret showing two ranged damage, Black Two showing two ranged, and a blank Dorsal Turret die. I put the blank in one group and the two dice showing ranged in another; the goal with this was to have AJ remove the ranged group even though he would only be able to remove the Triple Laser Turret die due to the protection it was giving to Black Two’s die. If AJ had used the Mind Trick on the TIE Pilot’s dice and then had had more removal, I might not have been able to end it that round.
The tournament was a blast. I went 4-0, the deck was pretty fun, and a friend said that of course I would play something like it; between the Triple Laser Turret and the TIE Pilot, the dice protection said ‘NO’ the way all my decks tend to (just in a different way).
Black Two is the MVP; the spot Mauler for plus one to ranged damage sides is really good. The only downside is the pay sides; having Logistics and Testing Procedure for resource generation helped a lot, but Imperial HQ might also be a card to consider.
The deck is pretty light on removal, but the only changes I think I would consider right now are:
When putting the deck together, I thought I would have more supports in play then I actually did. I usually only had one support out, and while Deploy Squadron costs zero and allows you to activate as many supports as you want, Deployment costs one resource and lets you activate a support and a character. Deployment now seems like the better option, since it could allow you to activate a vehicle of your choice and the TIE Pilot at the same time.
Another card that I didn’t play and instead always pitched because it was only good in theory was We Have Them Now. Turning four dice is legit, and with TIE Pilot and Triple Laser Turret it’s pretty safe, but controlling the battlefield was a toughy. Theoretically, if you could manage to set up with an early Claim just to to pull off We Have Them Now you could just straight-up win, but Aim ended up being more useful for good die turns.
I chose the First Order TIE Fighter over the Fang Fighter purely because I wanted to play the Aurebesh promo version that I’d never played with. In reality, the Fang is just better.
Again, I had a blast, and I think that most other people did, too. If you want to rock a five die deck full of HEROES, give it a go at the next Solidarity tournament.