We’re continuing our series in preparation for Worlds with Thrawn Talzin. While the deck is not widely played, it definitely is worth considering as you pick what you’ll be playing. I myself was able to top 4 a regional, and in our internal testing it has proven strong. As usual, we’ll be addressing both how to play with the deck, and what to do should you find yourself up against it.
- 2 resource side is insane (1 res ~= 2 damage)
- Gives you a FILP against your opponent each round, this is great for planning out how best to play a round
- 12 HP is good
- Resource is only good side, 2 focus is solid, everything else is not worth 17 points
- No damage sides, but not mill heavy either
- Free psuedo cheat focus each round means she is essentially a 3 die character and also that she is incredibly deadly with action cheats
- Good die for the cost, every side is useful
- 9 HP is low
- She severely limits deck building options with her passive
- Extremely consistent rolls, with having Thrawn’s focus sides and Talzin’s built in focus
- Great at ramping
- Great at protecting important dice while also resolving the desired sides on those dice
- Low HP, only 21
- Low early damage
The greatest strength of Thrawn Talzin is its ability to methodically plan out and maximize the results of each round. An early Thrawn activation will give you knowledge of your opponent’s hand while also reducing their control options. From there you can plan out exactly how you are going to resolve your dice. You know which (if any) removal your opponent has access to and how to avoid it entirely in some cases (i.e. Easy Pickings, Force Misdirection). You know that Talzin will guarantee at least one side of your choice, and if you’re concerned you can always choose the 2 focus on Thrawn to give you 2 sides of your choice, 3 if you choose to use one focus to the other Thrawn 2 focus. All this means that in the hands of a skilled player, Thrawn Talzin will be incredibly consistent and effective.
Additionally, Thrawn Talzin has access to some incredibly busted healing. If you Rise Again a 3 drop weapon, you are essentially paying 3 for that weapon and 2 for healing 5. With Witch Magick you can heal 3 for 1. These cost benefit ratios are nuts, and with Thrawn’s resources it is simple enough to afford Rise Again.
The final aspect I’ll highlight is that Thrawn Talzin is incredibly deadly with action cheats. Talzin’s focus gives cheats guaranteed value, which allows for effective use of the actions. With a card like Tactical Mastery, this will usually mean you get 4-6 damage every time. All you need is one of 5 dice to hit damage, and you can flip to another of the same type and resolve. If a character is within 3 damage, this is an auto kill with any of the 3 drop weapons in the deck. However, the most deadly cheat is Three Steps Ahead, especially when Thrawn is still alive. Your first action can be to activate Thrawn. Next you play Three Steps Ahead, Talzin focus to Thrawn 2 focus, resolve focuses with your second action, and with your third action you can resolve up to 3 guaranteed sides of your choice.
The biggest weakness of Thrawn Talzin is that it completely flops if Talzin is killed early. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t happen often, as the deck is extremely good at keeping her alive, but it’s a definite weakness. The first skill you need to learn when playing the deck is how to keep Talzin alive in any and every situation.
Another weakness is that even if your first death comes later in the game, you lose a ton of value. Many cards in the deck are Spot Blue/Red or in the case of Best Defense, essentially spot red. Thus losing a character restricts your options severely.
Perhaps the biggest weakness of the deck is that if it has it’s best possible round 1, you don’t crush your opponent. Many decks, such as Boba Seventh, will secure a win if they have a great round one, as they can quite possibly kill one of their opponents character. At other times they’ll put the character at 2 hp left, and it still probably secures the win. Thrawn Talzin’s best round 1s usually result in at most 7 damage dealt, but more often 4 damage with 4 resources gained from Thrawn dice. Those resource will help immensely in securing the win, but they don’t turn off an opponent’s game plan in the same way that killing their character would. While maxed out round ones aren’t that common for any deck, having free wins is a huge help in surviving a swiss cut, and are even more helpful in top cut matches against opponents who are skilled. It’s hard to beat a skilled player in a best two of three, but if you get an auto win on round one due to a maxed out roll, you’ll only have to beat them once more. The saving grace for Thrawn Talzin in this category is that they max out there dice on round one more than ANY other deck out there.
The mulligan in Thrawn Talzin is pretty straightforward. You want a one drop, and usually want a 3 drop (this is because if you fail to draw a 3 drop by round 2, you won’t have the damage to win most games). Additionally you want your most efficient 1 cost control: The Best Defense, Overconfidence, Witch Magick, and Force Illusion.
If you draw a one drop other than DH-17, you should take your first action to play it on Thrawn. You then activate him and against a vast majority of decks, you should be calling 0 on round 1. 0 cost control cards are mulliganed for, and typically decks will spend all their resources on a 2 drop round 1, so calling 1 is most likely pointless. If you can, resolve a Thrawn 2 resource and drop a 3 drop or DH-17 before rolling out Talzin. Typically, your Talzin focus should be used to secure a Thrawn 2 resource. With your other dice, try to get as much damage as you can, but if your damage dice roll resources, taking them on round one is usually best.
Mid game for you is essentially round 2 until one of your characters dies. In these rounds you’re going to want to activate Thrawn as early as possible unless a Tactical play would kill a character or if you draw Imperial Discipline it’s probably worth it to take the time and play it. In any case, the call for Thrawn is more difficult at this time, and I don’t have the time to explain when it’s best to call 0/1, the best advice I can give is to make sure you’re aware of what is in your opponent’s discard and thus what they could still have available. It is important to make yourself actually MEMORIZE everything in their hand, as too often people only make the choice of what to discard and immediately forget what else they have. Use this knowledge to avoid their removal options as best you can, and to plan for keeping your characters alive. Typically you’ll be spending the middle of the round protecting your characters. After playing a few removal cards max out your dice, go to the next round, rinse and repeat.
Once you’ve lost a character, you need to attempt to close out the game as fast as possible. Action cheats are key and can help you to secure a win. Many of your cards will no longer be playable after your first death, so the longer the game lasts the more value your opponent will gain on you as you’ll get so little value from your hand. Continue to max your damage and hopefully you’re far enough ahead that you’ll still close out the game.
Do not try to hit upgrades with Thrawn. Some may disagree with me on this, but I have what I believe are solid arguments for my stance. First, many blue decks are hard to hit upgrades from, as if you call 2, they could simply have lightsaber pull or a 3 drop lightsaber and a resource gen card, and your call was pointless. Additionally, since 2 drops are mulliganed for, if you call 2, often they’ll have 2 options, and you’ve essentially gained nothing, as they could have only played one anyways. On the other hand, when an opponent has multiple removal options, hitting one of them is still useful. It’s much more common for 2 removal cards to be played, and removal cards are situational, thus you can often avoid the remaining card’s legal targets. Trying to hit upgrades is a remnant of Thrawnkar with its upgrade denial strategy, you need to abandon this preconception that Thrawn should be targeting upgrades.
Knowing which action cheat options are left in your deck is important. If you get an opponent’s character close to death, consider whether you should be tossing cards in the hope that you can draw into a cheat. If you are able to, this can be a huge swing as Talzin’s focus will most likely guarantee your first turn will kill the character.
Study each character pairing’s current popular deck lists. Be aware of what control cards are being run, and use this information to help your Thrawn calls be effective.
Don’t worry so much about removal options turn 1 – Thrawn will probably just take it away, and removing their dice turn 1 is not as important as other turns. Focus on trying to get your best offensive/ramp cards, so that you can get your own gameplan off and running. Keep in mind that Thrawn is likely to target a 0 cost card turn 1, and mulligan according. If I draw cards like Bait and Switch or CQA, I’ll often keep a 0 cost removal, just to make his turn 1 choice more difficult. If you have Force Throw in your deck, mulligan for it – it may be the single worst card for Thrawn-Talzin to see early in the game.
Again, since Thrawn will limit your capacity to affect their gamplan, try to get your gameplan off the ground as much as possible, whether this is ramping or pushing early damage. If you can, the most effective way to hurt them early game is to prevent their resource ramp. They need to play their 3 cost upgrades in order to have enough damage potential to really hurt you. If you roll discard sides on your dice, consider resolving them, especially if they have yet to play an upgrade (if you hit the only upgrade they have, it could really hurt them). Keep in mind that first turn they are likely to call 0, and they are likely to choose a removal card if you have one. If you do have removal early, use it on Thrawn resource sides if you can.
At this point, you need to really be aware of your opponent’s action cheats (Three Steps Ahead and Tactical Mastery), and the damage potential out of them. Know whether or not your opponent can kill you with those cards. Use cards like Force Illusion preemptively to prevent those surprise kills, and try to put redeploy weapons on your targeted character. Keep in mind at this point in the game that Thawn-Talzin does not function as well in 1 vs 1 matchups as some other decks (Thrawn because of a lack of damage sides, Talzin because of low health), so if you can kill their character first, or shortly after they kill one of yours, you are in good shape (as long as your remaining character isn’t empty of upgrades). But if they get the first kill and survive the turn alive, you are in deep trouble. You also need to be aware of how many resources they have at this point, so that you are prepared for an incoming Rise Again, Snare, or Three Steps Ahead.
If Thrawn is their final character, be aware of his max damage, which is often low. If you can keep out of range with things like Ancient heals, there isn’t much he can do to hit higher damage amounts. Tactical Mastery will still be online, which can be lethal if he has a focus side showing, so be ready for it. At this point in the game, you will have more resources, making it difficult for the Thrawn player to call the right number, so you may actually be able to use removal at this point. Because Thrawn is relying on those upgrade dice to do damage, 1 removal card is all you really need to kill their damage for the turn.
If Talzin is still alive, it becomes important to stay ahead – as with most aggro vs aggro finishes, getting your damage in first is super important. Tactical Mastery is offline at this point, but Three Steps Ahead is not – if your opponent has 3 resources be ready for it. You will now be able to remove your opponents dice (finally!), so be ready to use them at this point in the game. Try not to let your opponent get to 5 resources, as a late game Rise Again can be killer.
The reason Thrawn-Talzin is good is because of its ability to ramp hard and protect its own dice. However, it cannot push early damage as well as other decks. Focus on pushing your own gameplan and trying to kill one of their characters as early as possible. The longer both are alive, the more difficult the game is for you. Because Thrawn is taking out your removal options, the best way to disrupt their gameplan is with your dice. Disrupt and discard sides can be valuable tools in this matchup, and keep in mind that if you can ever push them down to 0 resources you know that they cannot remove your dice – take advantage of this if they are ever at 0. Some niche cards that are really good against the deck include Abandon All Hope and Occupation (haven’t seen that card in awhile!), again because the deck does not function well at 0 resources. In addition, dice that manipulate your opponents dice (such as Force Throw) can make life difficult for Thrawn-Talzin; if you have a card like this, try to get it on the table early if you can.
One of the most difficult calls against this deck is deciding who to go for. Talzin is the obvious choice, since the deck relies on her to produce damage. However, this can be a trap. Cards like Force Illusion, Witch Magic, Best Defense, and Rise Again can turn what looks like an early kill into a black hole that sucks up all your damage and leaves you wondering how in the world Mother Talzin is still full health. Going after Thrawn, on the other hand, turns off Best Defense and Rise Again, making it easier to get the first kill. So who should you go for? My advice is this: if you think you can kill Talzin turn 1 or early turn 2, you should go for Talzin. Decks like Sabine or Boba/Phasma that can action cheat into the kill turn 2 can be really problematic for the deck. If you can FILP their only removal turn one with a deck like Boba/Sister you should definitely go for that early Talzin kill. If your deck cannot do this, or you have trouble rolling much damage turn 1, you should go for Thrawn. Talzin can stay alive forever if you give your opponent enough time to Rise Again, and it can be very difficult to win the matchup if the opponent gets off that early Rise Again into a big upgrade.
Snare is an interesting card that can be quite devastating at times. However, it is much more effective when people are not expecting it, and thus it was incredibly useful at the Fargo regional. However, people can play around it by simply activating before you could play it. That being said, Tactical into Snare can be a huge play, especially against decks that load up a character with 5 dice, and it will essentially time walk an opponent (I don’t want to explain what this means so go read this by “they who shall not be named”). This card is definitely open for replacement if you find it unsatisfactory.
Force Wave is the first card that people are like “can I replace x with y” whenever they see the list. However, I would caution you against replacing it. The vehicle match-up (and other 3 wides) can be difficult to win, as they have so much health for you to go through. Force Wave can turn this match-up around single-handedly with its ability to deal 6 damage. Even against 2 character lists, the 5 damage it provides is often too much for them to handle, and can win the game for you (tossing one damage on the character they aren’t targeting has 0 effect on the game).
On the flipside of Force Wave, Chance Cube is often the first card that people want to add to the deck. The card can be nuts, giving you huge chunks of resources. However, I find that Chance Cube loses as many games as it wins. The games where you draw it early are great, the games where you don’t are often lost when a key Talzin focus is missed. It essentially flattens the bell curve of the deck. However, I believe that the middle of the bell curve is good enough to win a majority of games, so I find that I don’t like the added inconsistency of the card.
Big dice decks (i.e. Obi Maz):
This should be easy to understand, but as a control deck, decks that rely on a couple big dice are going to have a hard time dealing damage to you, especially early on in the game. This means there is little pressure on Talzin early, and thus Thrawn Talzin can usually crush such decks with ease.
Utility heavy decks:
Let me explain what I mean by this. Destiny has several basic card type counts you pay attention to. They are Upgrades, Control, and Utility. Upgrades and control are self-explanatory, and captured within the utility suite is everything else: resource generation, direct damage, action cheats, ready effects, etc. The more cards in this category the easier it is for Thrawn Talzin to beat (usually). This is because Thrawn Talzin is good at disrupting these utility pieces, but more importantly they’ll have less slots remaining for control cards which will lead to more rounds where Thrawn will hit the only removal option, and max damage will be easy to achieve.
Action cheat heavy decks (i.e. Sabine):
Decks that can action cheat often give you issues as you try to protect Talzin. Often you’ll take 5 damage round one and go into the next round with enough resources to Rise Again, or at the very least you can Witch Magick/Force Illusion. However, decks like Boba Phasma or Sabine can easily cheat out and, through luck or die fixing effects, kill Talzin before you can do anything about it. Round 2 is the biggest fear, as that is typically when Thrawn Talzin spikes and gets ahead in the game, but you usually enter it with damage on Talzin. If Talzin dies from a cheat before she can deal damage, there is absolutely no way Thrawn can do enough damage to turn the game around.
Control heavy decks:
These decks can give Thrawn Talzin issues simply because Thrawn isn’t enough to protect your dice. If they can have multiple 0 cost removal options on round 1, and prevent you from resolving a Thrawn 2 resource, you can struggle to ramp enough to win. Later on during rounds you would normally be dealing crushing damage, you can find yourself failing. However, most decks that run too many control options will struggle against other decks in the meta, either lacking the damage or ramp to win games. Oddly enough Hero mill is still an easy match-up, due to several reasons. A couple being that the removal options the deck runs are not as good at targeting Thrawn’s resource side, and Thrawn Talzin hardly ever has to reroll.
Whether or not you should play Thrawn Talzin is an interesting question. It struggles against few decks, and has a few great match-ups, but against a vast majority of decks it is pretty close to 50-50. It always feels like you’re playing from behind because of how little damage you deal round one, but at the same time you often will be able to close that gap and win. Perhaps the biggest reason to play Thrawn Talzin is its crazy consistency. I’d say the middle of its performance bell curve is higher than any other deck. If a Boba Seventh god rolls you round 1, you’re going to lose. However, in the average game, Thrawn Talzin simply performs better. It’s also worth considering that in theory Thrawn’s ability to see your opponent’s hand each round is a massive benefit for a skilled player. You are able to know all possible actions, and can make the best plays accordingly.
Ultimately, I’d say you should play Thrawn Talzin if you don’t want to be subject to the luck of the dice. A Boba Seventh could simply find themselves rolling no damage on round one and lose the game because of it. Thrawn Talzin simply doesn’t miss like other decks do, and it’s this consistency that is so appealing. Thrawn Talzin gives you the feeling that you’re in control of your fate more than any other deck out there, and that’s why I love playing it.
Please consider supporting us on patreon. It is through patreon that we hope to be able to continue providing great content and to improve. Feel free to check out the “Support us” link in the menu. Thanks!