At the Fargo Regional, I decided to run a 3-wide Lando deck, focused around getting out big vehicles and playing mods on them. Shadow Caster and N1-Starfighter are no-brainers in this archetype, but without Armored Reinforcement it became necessary to add some extra vehicles. The obvious decision would be to add the Legacies Falcon, which has proven itself to be a solid vehicle and a good tempo card. The ATG Falcon, at 6-cost, is widely regarded as too expensive to be worth playing. I decided to take it anyway, after a few play-throughs found me wanted a Falcon in my opening hand more than a Shadow Caster. In this article, I’m going to explain why the math checks out with the ATG Falcon – and why you should consider adding it in your Fat Vehicle decks.
Effective Cost vs Printed Cost
Expensive cards – especially those that cost 5 or more – have generally been unplayable in the absence of cards like Delve and Friends in High Places to cheat them out (Vader’s Fist being perhaps the only exception to this). So when I saw that big 6 on the Falcon, my first instinct was that it would only be playable in a Hera deck, the only hero archetype that can cheat out expensive vehicles. Most decks will just never be able to afford a 6 cost card. But when I brought out my Lando deck, part of the plan was that I would be rolling in the resources, and I thought I just might be able to afford it. So I gave it a try. And what I found is that the functional cost of the Falcon, as long as you can pay the up front price, is actually much lower than 6. The simplest way to think of this is to consider that tutoring the Escape Craft for free (a 2 cost vehicle) decreases the effective cost of the Falcon itself to 4. This puts it on more on par with something like Hailfire Droid Tank. A slightly better die (less damage sides, but higher sides overall), and slightly worse ability (Hailfire’s indirect vs the second use of the Escape Craft every round). The effective cost is even lower, if we consider the unique ability of the Falcon/Escape Craft combo to rake in the resources.
Rolling in the Dough
What we’ve established so far is that the effective cost of the Falcon puts in realm of other playable vehicles. But because of the exorbitant up front cost, it needs to do something uniquely powerful to warrant playing. What makes the ATG Falcon unique among vehicles (especially big ones) is that it accelerates your ramp rather than slowing it down. The Falcon itself has a 3 resource side, and the Escape Craft, which you get to use twice, has a 2 resource side (and a single resource side as well) – so you could net a whopping 7 resources from a round of Falcon/Escape Craft. And while 7 resources might be uncommon, gaining 2-3 resources a round from this combo is pretty standard (especially if you have focus sides in your deck). This means that the Falcon can pay for itself very quickly, decreasing the effective cost of playing it and allowing more big vehicles to follow. In games in which you play the Falcon round 1, a round 2 board state of Falcon and Shadow Caster + 1-2 mods is not uncommon at all (limited more by what cards you draw than by resources). And by round 3 you can start playing the fat vehicles reset game, with not just one loaded up vehicle but with two. (The Escape Craft is particularly valuable in a deck running R2-Astromech, because the Escape Craft can usually net the resources you need to use the Astromech’s ability). While the round 1 Shadow Caster play is also strong, it often makes it more difficult to get accelerate your board state in future rounds, especially if you don’t draw into the cheap mods. It didn’t take many play-throughs of my regional deck for me to decide that the Falcon was my top mulligan target, something I was not expecting when I put together the deck.
The unique strength of the ATG Falcon is that it actually speeds up your ramp rather than slowing it down. This makes it an extremely strong round 1 play (perhaps one of the best in the game), but it also means that it’s value decreases as the game goes on. Playing the Falcon in rounds 3-4 is not worth 6 resources – not by a long shot. This means that only decks that can afford to pay for the ATG Falcon early in the game should consider running it. This limits the kind of decks you can play this in – only decks built around ramping savants like Yoda or Lando will be able to consistently gather the resources needed to play the Falcon early in the game. Nonetheless, the unique impact it can have on the game should make it a serious consideration for decks that can afford it.