Now You Can be the Proud Owner of Your Very Own Death Star!
By Matt Hyra
SW Rules Guru - WotC Game Support
Star Wars TCG players everywhere have been looking forward to this day. The big kahuna of evil machines in all of moviedom is finally here. The Death Star has arrived in the new Battle of Yavin set. It's big. Really big. Once you get over the sticker-shock, have a look at the Death Star deck I've built.
The biggest, nastiest version of the Imperial Battle Station is Death Star (C). For just 18 build, you get a 10 Speed, 20 Power, 20 Health technological terror to be proud of. Two copies of the (C) version, two copies of the Bombard 8 (A) version, and one copy of the (B) version gives the deck a decent shot at drawing a Death Star during setup. As we all know, the Death Star has a slight weakness against snub fighters (granting them all Critical Hit 3), so it'll need a horde of TIE Fighters to run Intercept for it. The TIE Fighter DS-61-9 and TIE Fighter DS-73-3 fit that bill. I've also included the greatest of the weenies, the 1 build TIE Fighter DS-73-5. Hey, it really brings down my average unit cost.
The Ground arena is a bit of a sticky wicket. Since the Death Star is so expensive, this deck can't afford to spread itself into all three arenas. The Ground arena seems like the one to abandon from the start. However, once the Light Side sees the Death Star, they will likely abandon the Ground arena as well, which makes it that much easier for the Dark Side to take it without a fight. You see the dilemma.
The units I've chosen support Space almost exclusively. The Imperial Control Station will beef up the TIEs enough so they can take out a couple of X-wings before they make their trench run. The Death Star Cannon Tower is a very cost effective Ion Cannon 3 unit and can finish off any damaged X-wings. For a bit of extra hitting power, just in case, a single Commerce Guild Droid Platoon can punch hard in Space and Ground. Finally, the Jawa Sandcrawler is a great way to hold out in the Ground and to get rid of excess Death Star copies in hand.
When building a Death Star deck, you've got to go whole hog. So even my Character arena picks are there to support the Death Star. Extra build points are necessary in case the Death Star doesn't materialize during setup. Nute Gunray (B), San Hill (A), and R2-Q5 (A) will all help the deck out-produce the Light Side. However, since they aren't so good at fighting, they'll need someone to Intercept for them. Darth Vader (A) and Darth Vader (C) can keep them alive and give the Light Side characters some headaches. Causing severe migraines for the Light Side is the IT-O Interrogator Droid. There are several Battle cards in the Light Side arsenal that can put a big hurt on the Death Star, so it's necessary to get rid of Blow This Thing, Death Star Plans, or anything that could help the rebels for that matter.
The best support unit for the big Battle Station is Grand Moff Tarkin (B). Removing five damage from the Death Star is incredible and it can even be repaired while retreated. Tarkin (C) is good for stacking, while Grand Moff Tarkin (A) is great when Vader is present to do a little Intercept-Retaliate combo.
The Battle cards are key to the deck's success. I tested the deck first with Unfriendly Fire to take care of swarms of X-wings, but it doesn't kill the 3 Health units, so I quickly found a replacement: Blaster Barrage. When you roll 15 to 20 dice with the Death Star, you're going to get a lot of hits, so the Barrage is much safer to use and has a cheaper Force cost. Killing two units is better than damaging four. To combat a truly swarming Light Side Space fleet, the Death Star's best friend is Blast It! If they dare attack the Death Star, the three dice of Retaliate will make short work of any units damaged by the TIEs.
The Death Star's weakness can become severe when a Starfighter attacks that already has some Critical Hit of its own. You'll panic when you see Luke Skywalker (E) piloting Luke's X-wing (B) for a grand total of Critical Hit 11! Han's Evasion is the only way the Death Star can survive that. Sometimes, running away may be a better option. Retreat Underground is a good way to see what the Light Side is up to, while surviving to fight another day. Four Retreats found their way into this deck as they also allow for a tricky maneuver in Character. The special ability of Grand Moff Tarkin (B) only works if he's in the arena at the start of the Character battle step. Once he's removed five damage from the Death Star, play the Retreat to keep him out of harm's way. Or take it to the extreme. When the Character arena is full of tapped support units, there's no better defense than Lull in the Fighting.
The only Mission card this deck has room for is Departure Time. Since the deck is going to have very few units out, you'll need to make sure you have those units where you need them. Also, if you have the Death Star (B) in play and want to upgrade to the (A) or (C) version, you'll need a quick shot of build points to do so. The 1 Build cost DS-73-5 is the perfect unit to sacrifice for the cause.
Here's what the deck looks like all put together…
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The Ultimate Power in the Universe
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After seeing your initial draw, mulligan all Battle and Mission cards unless you have a Death Star in hand. A great opening setup would be Death Star (A) with the (C) version understacked, two TIE Fighter DS-61-9, Grand Moff Tarkin (B), and Darth Vader (C). Either build the Death Star as your first play to get a good idea of what the Light Side plans to do about it or keep a very close eye on your remaining build and deploy it after seeing a few Light Side plays. It's a bad idea to partially build it during setup, as you'll be left with little else in play.
If you don't get the Death Star out during setup, see if you have a chance of winning without it, as it's a pain to build up during the game. If you decide to build it, move into the Ground arena to draw the Light Side there. Build up the Death Star slowly, but don't build it up past 8 build or they'll know what it is immediately. Wait until you get a Departure Time or two at the ready (discarding some Ground units), then finish building it in one turn.
If you plan on blowing up the Ground arena, you'll be tempted to move your Ground units out of there first, but that'll just tip off the Light Side and they'll retreat as well. Be sure that you have a Ground unit partially built, or at least in hand, before you go destroying the planet. Or use Retreat Underground to save a Ground unit right before you blow everything else away. Remember that you must have sole control of two of the three arenas to win. If neither player has a unit in Ground, no one controls it.