How to play in a Star Wars CCG Tournament...
By: Carl 'Mike' Hardy, Red 32

Step 2- Building the Winning Deck.

Building a deck isn't as easy as it sounds.
For many of the best players, deck building (some like to call it 'deck-tech') is an actual science!  There are tons of variables involved with building a sound deck:  Which cards go well with which cards?  How many of what type of card should I have in my deck?  How can I squeeze all of this into only 60 card slots!?!

I this section, I'll explain how the best deck are constructed and show you where the traps and mistakes that can befall typical deck building.    Maybe even dispell some of the common myths about the way decks are made.

A) Developing the 'Theme':

Most decks are based around a singular 'Theme'.  A theme is a general term used to describe how the works in tournament play.  Often-times you can tell a decks theme almost immediately...  Other times you won't be able to figure them out at all!

There are two main theme catagories that a deck will fall into:  Space or Ground.

A Space deck is geared to do most of it's interaction at Systems or Sector locations.  It will have only a token ground force, if at all, consisting of a few very powerful cards.  Many players prefer this type of deck because its safer, in general than it's Ground Based cousin.  You see many character weapon that are available (that work on the ground) can cause sever damage to your deck, through reducing forfiet values (Forfiet =0 type weapons, like Vader's Lightsaber).  There are no starship or space-borne weapons that can do that kind of damage.  Thus, if you incorporate ways to reduce a ground deck's Force drain advantage, you'll have a stronger chance of surviving to win the game.

Here are the more popular decks that are based on this theme:

Opposite the Space deck, is the ground deck.  It's interaction is mainly at Site locations.  It will only have a few of the more powerful starships and maybe a nice Force drainable system locaiton.  Players favor this deck as it gives a lot of card economy.  Many of the main charcters in the game (Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke, ect) work best on the ground (the only exception to this would be Capt. Han Solo (as he was seemingly made for the Millenium Falcon)).

Additionally, many of these characters' powerful weapons also have benefits on the ground (a Lightsaber's Force drain +1 for example).  Another attractive aspect of ground decks is the plethora of heavy Force drain locations (Tatooine: Cantina, Endor: Back Door or Hoth: Defensive Perimeter for instance).

Here are a few ground decks that you'll likely see in today's tournament scene:

B) Developing Card Interraction:

It's not enough to grab 60 of your favorite cards and hope that they work together in a tournament.  I see this all of the time, too.  Inexperienced players are romantisized with the fact that they've got really cool looking rare cards and they simply want to show them off.  However, I'm here to tell you, a deck whose cards work well together, even if their common or uncommon cards, will be competitive and can even win.

Cards work together by developing combos.  You see these combos all of the time in card reviews on this website, the Decipher webiste and other prominent websites.  This card, plus that card, does this.  You know.

When building a deck, watch for really great combos that mesh well with your deck's theme.  Often, the key is to understand how many cards are required to successfully pull of a desired combo.  Just because you have 60 cards doesn't mean that you'll see each and every one of those 60 cards during a touranment game.  In fact, there've been times where Vader didn't appear at all during a game I had... And, I had 3 in the deck!

This is where learning the nuance of the deck comes in.  Figuring out which combos can be pulled of early and easily and which ones simply don't have the cards required to be very effective.

A rule of thumb for tournament play is to avoid the monster combos.  Although, they may be devestating and really cool when they work, but, getting them to work before your opponent Force drains you right out of the game, can be difficult.  Generally, three card combos (Like Han Solo, Chewbacca and Life Debt or Darth Vader, his Lightsaber and You Are Beaten) are about as far as you'd want to go.

Many times, a player will devise a theme based solely on a desired combos.  The Corporal Drazin/ Special Delivery combo, by it's nature, will beget a Carbon Freezing Objective based Ground deck.  Boba Fett and Hidden Weapons could spawn a Jabba's Palace style Ground deck.  You see the picture.

Whether you choose to make a theme then pick the combos or make the theme around the combos, just remember to keep your combos simple and not so card intensive.

C) The fabulous foursome- Monnock/ Grimtaash and Houjix/ Ghhhk:

Hot decks come and go...  But, one thing pretty much stays the same:  The decks have multiples of cards and they do battle damage.  There are many occasions where I'll either be saved or hurt by one of these little jewels.  One thing is clear:  These babies are important.

I simply can't stress enough how usefull and vasitile these cards are.  Games have been won by a well played Monnock.  Games have been lost because the player didn't have a Houjix in hand.

When building a deck always keep these cards in mind.  Try to keep the multiple card count down so you don't become Monnock or Grimtaash bait.  If you live in an area that thrives on the use of these regulatory cards, and you've abolutely got to play a Trooper deck, then think about limiting cards like Well Guarded, Yoda's Stew or Cybernetic Implant.

D) Deck Building FAQ's:

Normally, between 7 to 10 cards should be devoted to locations.  These locaitons should fit your overall theme as well (Systems and Sectors for Space decks, Site for ground decks).  The exceptions to this would be if you play with Objectives or card that allow you to search for locations.  If you have the luxury of getting the locatiosn you need, then you won't need to stock so many of them.
If you're playing an Objective, be sure to remember to stock the required locations as depicted on the italicized deploy instructions on the Objective card.
  Not at all!  Weapons are not required to battle nor are they required for characters to deploy.  They are merely activators which provide you with more advantages in a battle.  Many deck have no weapons at all.
  There are many common cards out there that can be used to protect your mains during the course of the game.  Talz, the Septoid Droid, It Could Be Worse, Stormtrooper Cadet all prevent your main character from taking a beating in a battle.  Back cards (Luke's Back, The Enpire's Back, Double Back) help you get these characters quickly.
  I find that 3 of a card is sufficient.  Any more than that and you're succeptible to the Monnock/ Grimtaash.  Any less and you'll likely not see that card all day!
Presently, there is no limit to the amount of any one card you can have in your deck.  Monnock and Grimtaash have pretty much set the limit.  So, how many of a particular card is up to you.  Give you decks a couple of dry runs (shuffle the deck and pull sample opening hands), see how often you get the cards you need.  Adjust as you see fit.
  The first thing you'll want to do is check the Glossary 2.0 or the current rulings document for any particular rulings on the cards that are a part of your combo.  If you're still in doubt email your local Sqaudron Member or Tournament Director.  As a last resort email Decipher's Juz with SWQ in the subject box.

D) One Last Word:

When you're buidling your deck, remember that you've only got 60 card to deal with.  However, understand that your opponent is also limited to 60 cards!  So, don't be so intimidated if you haven't got all that you wanted into your deck...  The key to winning is doing the best with what you have.

Keep your decks simple and straight forward.  Avoid the fancy delicate stuff.  Select cards that are veristile and can help you in multiple situations.  You only get 60 cards...  Make the best of them.

Practice with your new decks some...  Learn the nuances.  Adjust the deck if it doesn't act the way you like.

Above all, have fun with it!  The coolest part about Star Wars CCG is the fact you get to make your own decks.  Make one that all your own!  One that you'll really enjoy playing.  You'll be surprised at how well it does!

Next up...  Playing in the touranment!