“Enhanced” Target the Main Generator

First off, a big thank you to Jacob Klein for his feedback on our original Hoth deck.  We’ve adjusted the base deck a bit based on his thoughts (updated deck list is here).  Even better was his idea for an upgrade pack and his suggestions on what to include.  So without further ado we present the Enhanced Hoth Pack.

The Target The Main Generator Deck slightly favors the dark side (as we discussed in the deck post).  The cards in the Enhanced set slightly favor the Rebels to bring more balance to the overall deck.  Plus, if your budget allows, it’s just more fun to play with additional Mains.

The Enhanced Hoth pack includes six cards for each side (PDF: Enhanced Hoth List).

The set is available here: Enhanced Hoth Pack

Enhanced Hoth

The Light Side additions add some firepower with Commander Wedge, Rogue 3, Princess Leia, and Anakin’s Lightsaber to go with Commander Luke in the original deck.  In addition, Mechanical Failure can slowdown the Imperial assault, and 2-1B allows for some valuable recycling of characters (particularly given the amount of Echo Base Trooper carnage the Rebels sustain).  With these additions the Light side is much better equipped to handle the Imperial onslaught.

The Dark Side doesn’t add as much armor, but You May Start Your Landing and Walker Garrison allow the Imperials to be more nimble and force the Rebels to engage.  A slightly riskier option given the more balanced armies, but speed and aggressiveness was a cornerstone of the Imperial strategy in The Empire Strikes Back, so why not?  The additions of Ozzel and Blizzard Scout 1 add some power and mobility (but not enough to offset the Light Side additions).  The Electro-Rangefinder is helpful for targeting the generators and the Wampa (which would be the second in the deck) is a fun harassment to the Rebel troopers (who lack the ability to hide in AT-AT’s when the creature is on the loose).

The “Enhanced” cards could be swapped for cards originally included…but we’d recommend simply adding the cards to each deck and starting with 66.  For traditionalists we’d recommend the following swaps (but let us know if people have better ideas):

Light Side:

  • Commander Wedge Antilles: remove Cal Alder
  • Princess Leia: remove a Tauntaun Handler
  • 2-1B: remove Artillery Remote
  • Rogue 3: remove a Tauntaun
  • Anakin’s Lightsaber: remove one of the Laser Cannon weapons
  • Mechanical Failure: remove Echo Base Operations (or if you have the new version of the Hoth deck remove a Walker Sighting)

Dark Side:

  • Ozzel: remove an AT-AT Driver
  • Blizzard Scout 1: remove an E-Web Blaster
  • Electro-Rangefinder: remove Portable Fusion generator
  • You May Start Your Landing: remove A Dark Time for the Rebellion (or a Blaster Rifle from the new deck)
  • Walker Garrison: remove Breached Defenses
  • Wampa: remove an Imperial Gunner

Let us know if you have additional feedback!

 

 

 

 

Star Wars CCG: The Next Generation

For the most part, all of us started playing Star Wars CCG as kids.  Playing the game today brings back wonderful memories of friends, the local hobby shop, opening new packs, etc.  Now we’re all old…and Star Wars CCG is entering its third decade of existence…and it can be hard to find others to play with.  Except in Minnesota, where guest Mark Walseth runs a school program introducing his students to the game.

“Paying it forward” and introducing others to the game is a great way to support the Star Wars CCG community.  With the continued release of Star Wars movies everyone is aware of the franchise, whether or not people have ever heard of Decipher.  We’re going to get to know more about Walseth today and in the future will come back with some of the tools and strategies he used to introduce others to the game and grow the community.

Notes:

Interview:

Clone1: Walseth, it’s great to be able to chat with you.  Before we chat about your program let’s start with you.  When did you first start playing Star Wars CCG and what brought you to the game?

Walseth: I started playing the game right after the release back in 1995.  Four of us made a big day of it – we got a hotel room at the local casino, opened a bunch of packs, built some decks, and attempted to read the directions that came in the 60 card Starter Decks from Premiere.  For those who didn’t have to learn how to play SWCCG this way it may be tough to understand, but that thing (the instruction manual) was IMPOSSIBLE to figure out.  We still make jokes about it to this day.  We would deploy, pay 1 to battle, then say “I have 7 power, you have none, lose 7 cards.”  At the time, according to the directions, or so we thought, you could initiate battles even when there was no one there…

When A New Hope, the first expansion, was released it caught us all by surprise.  At the time a friend and I were living away from home for the summer and a bunch of guys came to visit us.  For fun we stopped by the local card store to see what they had.  All of a sudden, one of us noticed that A New Hope was released.  The first guy says, “I’ll take 4.” Guy #2, “I’ll take 6!” Guy #3, “I’ll take 7!”  You get the point.  Eventually the first guy who started the waterfall double dipped and bought even more. This went on until the 6 of us bought the store out of their supply – not an exaggeration!

Clone1: Haha incredible.  I always ran out of funds prior to the store running out of supply.  So, after you got the rules down, how competitive were you when you started?  Were you participating in any tournaments at a local/regional/national level? 

Walseth: I was very competitive.  I played all the time.  I was actually the official Decipher representative for the Duluth (MN) area.  I still have, use, and treasure  my “Gold Squadron” tote bag.  I was running tournaments all the time and a former World Champion, “Matt Potter,” actually came through my area.

Clone1: And did you ever take any time off as most of us did?  If so, what brought you back?

Walseth:  I did. I can’t remember when, maybe around Cloud City…I actually sold my entire collection to a store.  MISTAKE!  I think what brought me back was I eventually ended up working in the same store I sold my collection to.

Clone1: Brutal!  It’s always painful to hear when people sold their collections prematurely.  Hopefully the store cut you a deal on building a new collection!  Anyway, you remember all the fun times you had, get back into the game, then what was the inspiration to get your students involved?

Walseth:  My first year teaching I knew I would be a bad sports coach because I was too competitive (in sports).  I would want to win, even if that meant not everyone would get playing time.  That’s not the right attitude to have for middle school.  So I instead thought about teaching SWCCG – that way my students could be competitive and I wouldn’t have to worry about equal time. This was back in 2000.

Clone1:  Brilliant strategy.  Also, no crazy parents screaming at you from the sidelines (hopefully).  What was the process to get the program off the ground?  Did you need approvals, sign-ups, etc. to offer this at your school?

Walseth:  So, at the time our school had funding for what was known as “Extended Day.” It was only used for students who needed extra help/time to get caught up on school work.  I prepared a short presentation for my administration and presented my idea as a way to have students practice reading and algebra skills.  And yes, during the presentation I did “puff my chest out” and used Brainiac and Attack Run (Epic Event) as examples in my presentation so they could see what I was referring to.  It worked, they approved and I had my after school program.

Clone1: I’ve never thought about the game in this way before, but the reading and math make sense.  The game is incredibly complex though, I’m assuming it went beyond this basic level pretty quickly? 

Walseth:  At first it was about reading and math, but over the course of time it developed into so much more.  Over the next couple years I started to think about what exactly the program was trying to accomplish.  Sure, it had math and reading skills, but it was also about giving students who may not be interested in sports a chance to participate in a competitive arena.  Then I added a 3rd goal which was to improve social skills.  I noticed many of students struggled with their social skills.  We focused on learning how to make friends, expressing frustration (when losing), being a gracious winner, cheering on or helping their fellow classmates while balancing their own desire to excel, etc.  Finally, I started promoting a “Growth Mindset.”  This is about having kids understand that the only way to improve is to learn from your mistakes.  We show them they won’t be “masters” right away at any craft and that it takes time and effort over an extended period of time to achieve and reach a truly competitive standing.  That winning…is not the most important thing. 

Clone1:  It’s very intuitive that there is a lot to be gained from learning and playing the game.  It sounds more like a club focused on life lessons as opposed to simply improving math or reading.

Walseth: 20 years later, without a doubt, this after school activity has become just an extension of what I want them to take out of my Social Studies class. Mainly that kindness, empathy, hard work, and self-reflection should be what we all strive for.

Clone1: So what was the first meetup like?  Any growing pains after getting approval from the school?

Walseth:  The first year, I was terrible. It was like throwing kids into the deep end of the pool and saying “Swim!”  I’ve got it down to an art form now, where kids all start with basically the same cards and we slowly progress over the whole year.

Clone1: So, describe the art form.  Anyone who has tried to explain the rules to a friend understands that it’s not easy…

Walseth:  My process is very slow and deliberate.  Students have to first memorize the 7 phases, which means simply know what to do in each phase.  Which is NOT the same as how to use each phase.  For example, in the Draw phase they need to know this is the phase where you draw cards from the Force Pile to your Hand.  Teaching them how many to draw or when to stop is a whole other set of skills.  For about 15 school days they learn and practice the 7 Phases, using 20 card decks that only have Locations, Characters, and Starships.  Also, the Battle Phase does NOT implement Attrition.  After this time period I let them know if they’re interested in continuing their training they can sign up for my after school program.  Roughly half of the students typically sign up, then over the course of the school year they learn more rules, card types, and strategies as time allows.

Clone1: I’m assuming it wasn’t easy to refine the teaching process!  When I think back to playing with my brother, I’m not sure we ever completed a game and also followed all the rules.  In fact, we probably fought about the rules during every game.  Anyway, were there any bumps in the road along the way?

Walseth:  There was a moment about 10 years ago when the school could no longer pay me for my time and it became 100% volunteer.  For a fleeting moment I considered whether or not the program should continue, but that thought went away in a blink of an eye.  The amount of positive feedback from parents has been priceless.  They often thank me for giving their kids this opportunity.  Or, whether it’s things like Mitch Nieland from my first group back in 2000 eventually inviting me to his wedding, or Justine (a current 8th grader) saying to me last October, “This is the first after school activity I’ve ever been a part of” I know this activity is accomplishing exactly what I want it to.

Clone1:  That’s amazing, and thank you for continuing the program.  We certainly need more people like you in the world, willing to volunteer simply because it improves the world.  Were there other issues you experienced early on, prior to when you realized the program would be a success?  

Walseth:  Initially finding enough cards was hard, but over time word started to spread and countless people from around the world have donated their collections to our program.  Whether or not students stick with the program is not considered a challenge because whether it’s 5 or 15 kids, or whether they quit after a month or stick with it their whole life, I’m just glad they had the opportunity to be part of something that isn’t usually offered.

Clone1: And what surprised you most when you were starting the program?  

Walseth:  Hmmm… what surprised me the most… I guess it would be how much support my administration here at Rosemount Middle School provided the program and what I was trying to accomplish. 

Clone1: Finally, tell us about where the program is at today.

Walseth:  Well, here we are in our 20th year, and I’ve taught this game to roughly 250 students.  I’m always trying new things to see what works the best.  This year I’ve implemented a new strategy where I’m teaching them by the set release dates just like how Decipher released the cards instead of starting with all the Tier 1 decks.  I’m also taking a larger role in the Minnesota Community and bringing new / returning players back to the fold. Check out my latest tournament post (https://www.starwarsccg.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=494&t=71626)

Clone1: That is excellent.  250 students is pretty incredible.  It’s such a great story to hear that people are still being introduced to Star Wars CCG and that there will be a new generation interested in the game!  

 

“Target The Main Generator”

Target

[Update (April 2019): deck has been slightly adjusted based on feedback we’ve received from people playing the decks]

Everyone loves the Empire Strikes Back.  But when trying to explain to others why it’s the best Star Wars movie you inevitably sound like you love soap operas.  Luke learns who his father is, but he doesn’t know who his sister is, and the man his sister loves is frozen in carbonite.  Basically every Telemundo story line.

My favorite Star Wars scene, and potentially favorite scene from any movie, is the opening battle on Hoth.  Replaying this battle via SWCCG is basically a dream come true and highlights both the incredible gameplay of SWCCG and the drama of Empire’s introductory sequence.

Hoth is a planet where I would like to live.  I love the winter – on Hoth no one questions why you’ve been playing SWCCG for six hours straight on a Tuesday.  You’re playing because if you go outside you’ll die of frostbite and exhaustion.  What an amazing life.

As a quick recap, the Imperials find the secret Hoth base, AT-AT walkers arrive (what a vehicle!), an epic battle ensures with the full might of the Imperial navy trying to eradicate a secret rebel base, and the rebels are lucky to escape at all.  This battle is a true representation of the rebellion – outgunned, outmanned, under supplied, relying on courage and ingenuity to persevere.  [Don’t get me started on any recent films where the Dark Side appears to be the underdog and sustains incredible amounts of damage from lone star fighters or untrained peasants]

“Target the Main Generator” – a terrifying order from a supremely confident General preparing to complete his mission.  As he should, given his supreme firepower, Veers succeeds in destroying the generators.  The rebel cause is lost, aside from the hasty escape of a few Medium Transport vessels.

At SWCCGStore.com We’ve put together a deck to specifically recreate this battle.  The primary difference between the deck and the movie is that the rebels have no Medium Transports.  There is no escape, which only adds drama to the battle!

Here is the decklist in PDF form: Target The Main Generator Hoth Deck List (April 2019)

The deck can be purchased here: Hoth “Target The Main Generator” Deck

And an image:

Hoth Image (April 2019)

Unlike the “Attack Run / Commence Primary Ignition” deck, the rebels don’t have an Epic Event to pursue.  The Imperials bring the battle to the Rebels, and the Rebel strategy is to survive.  I’d recommend playing both sides with your opponent, and if both people lose as the Rebels the true winner is the person who lost the least amount of life force.

Make sure to review the “Blown Away” rules.  Specifically, the Light Side loses 8 force if the Imperials succeeds in destroying the Main Generators.

Blown Away Rules (PDF): Blown Away Rules – Hoth

Blown Away Rules - Hoth Image

Given the significant impact of losing 8 life force, the Rebel strategy should be to attempt to engage the Imperials, knock out as many AT-ATs as possible (specifically Blizzard 1), and just limit battle damage sustained.  With 6 AT-AT Walkers in the deck the Imperials will keep coming, but the Rebels have a bit of an advantage with Commander Luke.  He’s the most powerful character in both decks and can be used to wreak havoc on the AT-ATs.  Luke with a Lightsaber can use Under Attack to target AT-ATs during the Control phase.  In addition, Luke in Rogue 1 with a power harpoon (as well as Lucky Shot) is generally good for an AT-AT per battle as well.

On the Imperial side, focusing on Target the Main Generators is the most fun way to go.  Veers in Blizzard 1 is the obvious choice for taking the shot.  The tricky part about the deck is that the Imperials will also want to control a couple Hoth sites to add to the destiny.  This creates a problem of spreading out the AT-ATs at risk of Luke eliminating Blizzard 1 or picking off AT-ATs one at a time (particularly with Under Attack as losing an AT-AT in the Control phase can then lead to an ugly battle).  A plethora of Snowtroopers helps to control different sites though, and the sheer number of AT-ATs and Snowtroopers can also be enough to overwhelm the Rebels even if “Target” isn’t successful.  Oh, and don’t forget to unlease your Wampa if the Rebels start force draining at the outer perimeter.

We’re early on in testing this deck so let us know if you have any suggestions or different strategies!

Last Place Finisher Interview: Dagobah Regionals

Clone1: Dagobah Regionals were on Saturday, September 26th, and Georgia States were on Sunday, September 27th.  Today we’re catching up with the organizer of the events.  Not only did he organize the tournament…he also finished in last place!  Brandon – welcome to the blog!

Brandon: I guess…thanks for that introduction.  Yes, I helped organize the Dagobah Regionals and Georgia State tournament this year, with help from Phillip Gladney and Jonathon Murray.  And yes, I finished in last place in Regionals – thanks for reminding me.

Clone1: Both the Dagobah Regionals and Georgia State tournaments consisted of 8 players. So how competitive are these tournaments?

Brandon: The tournament was competitive yet laid back at the same time.  Everyone wanted to win, but all players were patient and helped explain rules or consequences of actions (or non-actions) that weren’t optimal.

Clone1: That’s great to hear.  In general, how do people sign up for these tournaments?  Now that I know I don’t have to be super competitive this sounds more interesting.

Brandon: We have a regional Star Wars CCG Facebook Group that messages each other about upcoming events and tournaments.  I would urge any new or ex-player considering jumping into the game again to search for a regional Star Wars CCG group as there are a lot of them out there.

In fact, our regional Facebook group is the reason why I actually got back into the game 6 months ago after being out of it for 15+ years.  Big shout out to Phillip Gladney, he’s the key organizer for our group, and if it wasn’t for his work, and the encouragement of some folks in our group, I wouldn’t be playing Star Wars CCG right now and would be missing out on some amazing people and events.

Clone1: That’s great to hear.  I’ve seen the general SWCCG Facebook group but didn’t know about all the regional sub-groups.  Back to the tournament, what do the prizes consist of for a Regional/State level tournament?

Brandon: For Dagobah Regionals, 1st and 2nd place received tournament foils as well as travel vouchers to Worlds.  We all also each opened one pack of Dagobah Limited packs and received a few random rares and foils!  For States, 1st place received a travel voucher to World’s and we each opened up a pack of Jabba’s Palace.

Clone1: Anybody pull a good rare from the packs?

Brandon: Haha, unfortunately not.  Still, it feels great opening packs of Star Wars cards again!

Clone1: Okay, and last thing about the tournament – what’s the scoring system?  Is it just whoever has the most game wins that wins the tournament?

Brandon: These two tournaments were set up were based on differentials between you and your opponent’s life force at the end of the game or end of the time limit. So not only do you need to win, you want to win big.  Jonathon Murray and Mike Kessling took the 1st and 2nd spot in the Regionals, Brad Kippel won Georgia States (for the 6th year in a row!!!).  Congrats to them!

Clone1:  Six years in a row, what a streak!  So what deck did you bring when you lost every game at Regionals?

Brandon: I’m a sucker for main characters and lightsabers, so I tried to customize Hunt Down and Throne Room decks but learned how difficult it is for a new player to build a deck that stands up to a wide range of tournament decks.

Clone 1: What sort of customizing did you do?  Was this a complete rework of the decks or were you just tweaking cards here and there?

Brandon: I started with a pretty standard decklist for both, and playtested (or playfailed?) them on GEMP over the past few weeks.  It started with a few minor tweaks here or there, but before long those minor tweaks ended up changing a good portion of the deck strategy… which in retrospect wasn’t a great idea.  When you make big changes to decks you need a lot of time to test them to see if you’ve thrown off some of the balance accidentally.  This caught up with me on Saturday at Regionals.

Clone1: Even though you didn’t fare well it’s still fun to know that you can still get creative on deck construction, even at these tournaments.  Give us an example from Regionals about a game that didn’t go so well – you have all of them to choose from.

Brandon: Yeah, lots to choose from, that’s for sure.  I didn’t have any particularly large loss, but I was constantly wishing that I hadn’t made so many customizations.  For example, while Maul with Stick is customary in a Hunt Down deck, my deck design ended up being almost an equal split of cards dedicated to empowering Maul versus cards dedicated to beefing up Vader.  This was a great learning lesson

Clone1: Well, lessons, since you lost 4 straight…

Brandon: Haha.  For me, I came away with a new appreciation for sticking with a single goal or focus for the deck and working to truly dominate that goal.  Playing against competitive decks combined with great players (which there are many of in Georgia and the surrounding area) made me come away with a newfound appreciation of the current meta, and made me realize how arrogant (or ignorant) I was to think that I could build my own decks after being away from the game for the past 15 years.

Clone1: It’s probably a great exercise to change the decks up and then see how they perform – you now have better insight into the original deck construction.  In terms of the current meta, what decks did you see the most of at the tournament?  Any that stand out as good tournament decks to start analyzing for a beginner? Any advice for beginners in general?

Brandon:  I saw a lot of YBO (Yavin 4 Base Operations) which seemed to be quite effective.  The Dark side decks were a little bit of everything.  After getting crushed at Regionals I changed away from my custom decks to a standard AOBS (Agents of the Black Sun) and YBO deck for States on Day 2.  I ended up performing much better on the second day.  My advice to beginners would be to utilize standard meta decks first, get an understanding of the strategy as well as what to look out for from your opponent, and make small tweaks that match your play style.

Clone1: Was there a pivotal moment in any of the games that stands out to you?

Brandon: Yeah.  So, on Sunday at States I had a particularly devastating battle.  I had Green Leader in Green 1 on his own at a system.  I knew this was a risk but thought I had myself protected.  I was holding both Hyper Escape and Houjix, so I was double covered, and I had one force in my force pile at the end of my turn.

My opponent dropped the Finalizer with essentially every character that adds a destiny on board.  Again, I thought I was okay…until my opponent played First Strike and initiated battle. First Strike makes you pay 1 force to play an interrupt during battle – so Hyper Escape cost me my force, but I had planned for this.  Then, he Sensed my Hyper Escape.  I still had my Houjix though, but it turns out Houjix is also an interrupt and my opponent politely reminded me that I didn’t have any force to pay for it.

Clone1: Brutal.  These are the types of plays I would expect at a tournament level – you thought you were twice protected, but you opponent still managed to negotiate around your Hyper Escape and Houjix to destroy you.  Out of curiosity, what was the damage differential?

Brandon: 27….

Clone1: Wow.  Half of your life force in one battle.  That is a tough game.  So how did you end up on Sunday even with that devastating loss?

Brandon: I finished 4th out of 8 on the second day.  I was much happier with my results!

Clone1: Happy with 4th place? I guess compared to Regionals this was a much better finish for you.  If you hadn’t lost 27 life force on a single battle you may have even done better!

Brandon: Thanks…I’ve noted that.

Clone1: Excellent.  Well, if you can, try to put us in touch with one of the winners.  You gave us plenty of stories on losses, so maybe we can get the other side next time!