This past weekend I took a relatively unknown deck to the US National tournament – eAphra/Executioner/Executioner, AKA “Curtain Call” (since those Executioners love coming back on stage). I went 7-1 in the swiss rounds, claiming the top spot from my day and proceeding to the round of 32. Unfortunately, I lost a close match in the round of 32, ending my tournament there. Below is the story of the deck and the story of my tournament. Hope you enjoy!
Choosing a Deck
In the leadup to NOVA, I was having difficulty deciding on a deck. I hadn’t felt excited/comfortable with anything I had yet tested from Way of the Force. I was considering going back to the old faithful Obi/Maz or playing Yoda/Cassian damage, both Blue/Yellow Hero Hyperspace Jump decks, a deck archetype I feel fairly comfortable playing. Both decks are also pretty good into the current meta, the opportunity to consistently Hyperspace Jump helping to keep these two wide decks playable amidst all the 3-wide vehicle decks we’ve been seeing. But I didn’t really want to play these decks – I wanted to play something new and unexpected. This is where I was when we decided to finally try out a deck that Jon was convinced could be very good – eAphra/Executioner/Executioner. Aided in our testing by Elrathion of the Artificery crew, we started to test the deck and quickly realized that there was something there. The Executioners complement Aphra nicely, by improving the 3-wide matchups (where indirect damage is more easily soaked), in which their roll backs can be game changing. And Aphra’s economy complements the Executioners nicely, by making it easier to resolve the pay sides on their dice. Add to this that the deck was easily the most fun I had had playing in a while, and I started to lock in on it about two weeks out from NOVA, getting as many reps as I could. Still, I almost audibled out of it at the last second; though I felt the deck was good across a variety of different matchups, its worst matchups seemed to be Talzin/Mandos and 3-wide mill, both decks I expected to see in force at NOVA (and indeed, there were many of both). Neither of those matchups are terrible, but both are unfavorable, which made me nervous. A late switch to Docking Bay helped me feel a little more comfortable into mill, and in the end I thought I could win the Mandos matchup if it came down to that. I decided to roll with it. The rest of our team decided to follow suit, meaning there were 4 of us running the deck on Friday at NOVA (2 out of 4 making the cut).
The Final List
The deck went through many iterations, and I vacillated back and forth between more or less vehicle heavy lists. In the end, the switch to Docking Bay (from Weapons Factory) for the mill matchup convinced me to go with less vehicles. Switching one of the Climate Disruption Arrays for a Modified HWK was a late modification, and one I felt was worth it because of the higher upside of the HWK (both fulfilling a similar roll). First Strike was a late add to help with the Snoke vehicles matchups, as we thought a few AT-STs and Planetary Bombardments might hit the table. Jon’s version added Fair Trades as well, another piece of tech to help with the Snoke matchups. In the end, I thought Reprogram provided a little more consistency than Fair Trade, and more explosive turn 1 plays then Tech Team (which I was running in that slot for awhile). I feel pretty good about this list, and the only change I would make at this point is to switch out the Slave I for an Interrogation Droid. (As good as Slave I can be, it hit the table much less frequently after the switch off of Weapons Factory – and the Interrogation Droid is another target for Reprogram). First Strike is essentially a meta call slot, and can be swapped for whatever might be most valuable in the current meta.
Friday – Day 1B
Round 1 – Bye (1-0)
Round 2 – eYoda/Anakin/Cassian
I won the roll off and took my battlefield. Docking Bay makes a huge difference in this matchup, as it makes it much easier to get my indirect engine on the table, and more difficult for them to get rid of critical pieces through mill/discard. Round well went about as well as it could, and I ended with BT, 000, and a Climate Disruption Array on the Table. The rest of the game went pretty smoothly (though a big Clandenstine milled most of my deck). I got the first kill with plenty of rerolls available, and my Executioners snowballed into a triple kill that turn. (2-0)
Round 3 – eSnoke/Aphra/Battle Droid
My first of two consecutive rounds against the Arrowbrook Gaming guys. This one was against Kyle, who made a great play round 1 by killing his own Battle Droid off of a Dangerous Maneuver after I had claimed, negating the Executioner ability. This ended up being a very close game, but going into the final round I was a BT activation away from victory, while he was just short of the same. I won off of the BT activation when he failed to draw a Bubble Shield in upkeep (3-0).
Round 4 – eSnoke/Aphra/Battle Droid
This game was against Drew, the eventual champion. Another close one, this game came down to me drawing a Bubble Shield in the final round, which was just enough protection to allow me to finish him off first. Coincidentally, this victory means I was the only swiss loss for the eventual Worlds and US Nationals champions this year. Considering I proceeded to lose first round of top cut each time, I guess this makes me the Tony Romo of Destiny? ;). (4-0)
Round 5 – eObi/eMaz
Everything went my way in this game. He had terrible hands the first few turns, and an Aphra draw into an Emulate allowed me to kill Maz turn 2, after which my Executioners rolled 2 melee 2 melee. Tough for him to come back from that (5-0).
Round 6 – eLuke3/eRey2
This matchup can be tricky if they can manage to get out double shotos and start the shield engine. Luckily, he didn’t drop any shotos in this game until it was too late. A round 2 kill of Aphra made me nervous, but the subsequent execution of Luke swung the match back in my favor. (Note: I made a pretty big misplay at the end of that turn, which some of you may have seen on stream – I should not have played the Dangerous Maneuver, allowing him to kill his Luke when I had no rerolls for the Executioner dice, considering I had an auto kill with Backup Muscle next turn. Lesson learned, although thankfully it did not make a difference in the outcome of the match). (6-0)
Round 7 – eAphra/Execution/Executioner
A mirror match against one of my teammates (Rami). I considered scooping this match, since I was already guaranteed a spot in the top cut at this point and he was not, but I don’t love scooping and in the end felt he was pretty safe to make the cut either way, since he had a strong strength of schedule (which did turn out to be the correct assumption). I won a close one, in which the starting shields turned out to be the difference. (7-0)
Round 8 – eSnoke/eThrawn
An interesting match. I was in total control after 2 rounds, having taken very little damage. I was only 4 damage away from ending the match on round 3, but ultimately I was unable to kill Grand Moff Thrawn (Grand Moff on Jedi Temple is a really great tech in the deck), and his ability to discard all my removal and build up a large fleet meant he was able to do almost 20 damage at the end of round 3 and drop down a Battle Droid to boot. He was able to finish me off shortly into round 4, and the extra health provided by the BD prevented me from killing him first. (7-1)
Thus ended the rounds of swiss. It was a great day for me, and I finished with the top seed for that day. Rami also made day 2, putting us at 2 out of 4 for the tournament. Fun fact, we were the only two decks to make the cut not running Blue. I knew based on my seed that I would be facing the 3-wide mill (16th seed from day 1) the next day. This is one of the matchups I was worried about going into the tournament, so I was bummed to see this as my round 1 matchup, but not surprised. I got a few practice games in that night, and was able to win them both, so though I knew it would be tough I felt more confident it was a matchup I could win.
Saturday – Top Cut
Round of 32 – eYoda/Anakin/Cassian
Unfortunately, I lost the battlefield roll off (though the odds were heavily in my favor), which may have cost me the match, considering we only got to play one game on Docking Bay because of this. He took his battlefield and proceeded to Scruffy my BT, and most of my droids were milled over the course of the game. Even when I did finally get a 0-0-0 on the board, it was immediately destroyed by Flames of the Past. This game was not particularly close. (0-1)
Got to play on Docking Bay in this game, and took full advantage of it. I was able to play BT and 0-0-0 round one and claim for Backup Muscle. Round 2 I claimed for a Hailfire, and Round 3 I claimed for an HWK. If I can get the engine going like this, the matchup swings heavily in my favor. He did manage to mill my deck, but once I got the first kill the game snowballed (as will happen with the Executioners), and I was able to win with a full turn still available to me. (1-1)
Again playing on his battlefield, I knew it would be an uphill climb. This game, however, started off much better than the first. No Scruffy this time, and I was able to get both BT and 0-0-0 on the table by the end of round 1. I slowly built up the indirect damage, and added both Hailfires to the board by the end of the game (a critical Scruffy midgame prevented a HWK from hitting the board, which could have been a game changer). Going into what I knew would be the second to last round, I felt I had a good chance of getting my first kill and snowballing with the Executioners. Unfortunately, he was able to FILP my Relentless Pursuit, and I came up 2 damage short of killing a character that round. A kill that round would have given me an opportunity to get my Executioner procs with rerolls available and may have allowed me to get multiple kills that round. Instead, I went into the final round with just 3 cards, knowing I needed to kill all 3 characters. All of them were low health at this point (after my BT activation, there was 8 damage on Yoda, 5 on Anakin, and 6 on Cassian), and one Second Chance had been discarded early in the game, so I felt I had a shot if things went well. Midway through the turn I had to use my last card to discard to reroll (since discard was showing on the table) and did hit a decent roll. 3 for 1 range and 3 indirect on the Hailfires, 2 for 1 melee on 0-0-0, 1 indirect on BT, and a 2 for 1 range on Aphra (2 resources available). He played a second Force Illusion (1 each on Yoda and Cassian at this point), putting me in a tough spot – but not impossible, considering I had yet to activate Executioners and could potentially get 3 procs of them this round. I proceeded to kill Anakin with the 0-0-0 die, hoping to roll into melee off the Exec procs that I could immediately resolve to kill Yoda. Instead, I rolled double blanks on my Execs, and with no rerolls available had no opportunity to activate them later in the turn (which is why a kill on the previous turn would have been much better). This sealed the deal. Turns out my opponent did have a Beguile in hand, which means I may not have won even if I rolled well on the Execs, but it would have been close (probably coming down to the Beguile reroll). I’m still bummed I didn’t roll something better on that last turn, but alas, it is a dice game we are playing ;). A great game overall and congrats to my opponent, Noah Wade, who played a tight match throughout all 3 games and was a deserving winner! (1-2)
Thus ended my run with the Executioners, sooner than I would have liked. Still, it was a successful tournament, and I’m glad that people enjoyed seeing the deck in action! It’s a great deck and a really fun one to play. Hopefully you all enjoy putting it on the table in the coming weeks!
Want to see the deck in action? The Chance Cube did some excellent work streaming the tournament, and you can catch a couple of my games here: https://m.twitch.tv/videos/304221623 (not sure how long this will remain up, but it’s there for the time being).