After posting this article, Jonathan Magnusson of the Destiny Council shared some of his thoughts. I think it’s fair to credit Jonathan as this deck’s creator, and he took it to an impressive 5-3 finish at World’s. I have paraphrased some of his insights in italics to this article, and I have reproduced his deck list at the bottom of the page, along with a link to his excellent review.
With Desperate Measures in virtually every yellow villain deck, you’d think Shadow Caster reset decks would be dead.
However, Chopper/Engineer/Engineer/Armored Reinforcement recently made Top8 at the Las Vegas Open, took the top spot in Angers, France, and finished Top4 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It even managed a win in Clive, Iowa, pre-RRG. An impressive performance given this deck has only cropped up in 4 Top Cuts.
Were these successes a fluke, or can this deck cut it in a DM heavy meta?
This is the deck that Jeff James took to the Top8 at the Las Vegas Open, and shares 18 cards with Jonathan Magnusson‘s original version.
This deck does seem to expect the Shadow Caster to pull a lot of weight, but don’t underestimate the power of Rebel Engineers with Chopper. The Engineers have five targets in this deck for their ability, and can help turn Chopper into a force to be reckoned with from Round 1.
The Engineers’ ability, combined with Chopper’s Power Action playing mods from your discard, gives you an effective 7-8 card hand. Combine that with AR and you’re starting the game with a huge amount of value.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the Shadow Caster, when loaded up with a Triple Laser Turret (TLT) and an R2 Astromech, is probably the most broken combination in the game. It can consistently do 12 damage per round and the Caster die is protected by the TLT. If you can prevent it getting trashed by the opponent, you can pump out huge volumes of unstoppable damage.
As Desperate Measures is spot yellow, if you manage to kill off the opponent’s only yellow character, Shadow Caster is free to fly without fear.
While it is just about possible to spike the opponent’s yellow character before playing the Caster, this deck facilitates a more devious strategy.
In the first round of a game against yellow villain, you should be aiming to build up a cache of resources. Round two, once Chopper is loaded up with a Salvaged Arm or two, you can pump his discard side (with the help of Motivate) to clear your opponent’s hand of Desperate Measures. You also have Scruffy Looking Nerf-Herder to help here. You can then play your Shadow Caster, load it up, and fire off that 6 ranged side once or twice to spike the yellow character.
“My only complaint is I still die inside every time people say villain yellow counters the deck. I spent 3 months making a build that could beat DM. Sure, the card’s annoying af but it’s really not that hard to deal with if you know what you’re doing”Jonathan Magnusson
In Jonathan’s version there were two Targeting Astromechs. This mod guarantees the 6 ranged side, making this way of dealing with DM much more consistent, so I would seriously consider this switch. He also included an extra BB-8 as he can used twice the round he is played (once you convert him to a mod) and will probably give you either a focus or resource per roll.
The removal package is pretty light. You’ve got Easy Pickings, which is only online while Chopper is on the board. Aerial Advantage has a very high ceiling (and don’t forget you can target mods on Chopper to remove a die), but this requires a bit of set up and control of the battlefield. You’ve got Field Medic as pseudo-mitigation, plus you can overwrite a mod on Chopper with a Riot Shield and use his ability to recycle it.
For other tech you’ve got Motivate and Logistics, which can play a similar role in resource generation, On The Mark to turn those Engineer and Caster indirect sides to ranged, and Senate Chamber to improve dice consistency.
I’d be inclined to add in a Targeting Astromech or two (maybe instead of the Dorsal Turret). I also would consider Into The Garbage Chute and/or Automated Defense (which will be online for most of the game thanks to your droid mods as well as Chopper) or Near Miss, and if I had to cut something to make room it would probably be On The Mark.
While this deck suffers from having to play around DM, it is absolutely not broken by the card. It provides a viable and effective strategy for dealing with the problem, and when faced with non-villain yellow decks, it can play the Caster with impunity. It does however suffer against decks which are able to repeatedly disrupt such as Chopper Droids.
This deck is a lot of fun to play, and packs some serious power. I wouldn’t be surprised if it starts cropping up more regularly in the near future.
Since posting this article, I have received responses from Jeff (LVO Top8) and Chris (Angers winner). Here’s what they had to say:
“I lost to the tourney winner, who beat this deck by preventing me from getting to 3 resources until about turn 4. It was very impressive. He played old-school droids with the disrupt plan and removal of all dice showing a resource. In retrospect, I’d swap the motivates and logistics for resource generating cards that do not require a resource die such as truce and well-connected”Jeff, LVO Top8
“I cut the two crait speeders and put more mitigation (into the garbage chute) and sudden impact”Chris, Angers winner
Here’s Jonathan Magnusson’s version in full:
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