Last Thursday’s Entourage Gaming Weekly event (11 June) was won by a highly unusual lineup of characters: eJabba/eKrennic/Calling In Favors (yes, I know I’ve spelled Favors incorrectly here, but it’s how it’s spelt on the card). Not only was the lineup a bit unorthodox, but the decklist was something else entirely, featuring cards many players would have to consult the db to see what they do, and not even containing a single card from the restricted list:
When I shared this with Oli, his reply was “what does it do”, which were basically my thoughts. So we reached out to runningonion who kindly provided us with this excellent write-up.
Jabba’s Favor is an Admiral reset damage deck. There are a few criteria for perfect characters for Admiral plays: Leader is preferred, focus on the character dice to find the Admiral special, resource sides to pay for the Admiral, and an on activation effect that triggers on each reset. Jabba and Krennic both have all of those features.
The pairing has 2 problems: even with a 3 cost plot you are floating 1 point of value, and it has a low health pool. Calling In Favors solves the first problem, and the Gandorcron hitting droids and Trandos mitigates the second.
Jabba helps filter the deck each time he activates. With 10 yellow events, it is very likely to hit one each time you activate. One thing to do is keep track of any Admirals you put on the bottom, you don’t want to accidentally put it on the bottom again the second time it comes around.
Krennic’s ability isn’t quite as good. What he helps with most is dodging Easy Pickings, by turning to either the discard or the resource as required to play around it.
Key Cards and Mulligan
Admiral is the most important card in the deck. Always keep Admiral on the mulligan.
Mobilize is the other card you will always keep, if you use Calling in Favors to play Mobilize as your first action, you get to the magic number of 4 resources required to play one of your four cost upgrades.
Reap is a very good card, combined with Krennic’s ability to turn to a 1 resource side, you can Reap into Jabba’s +2 side, and get 3 resources, independent of what you naturally rolled. It isn’t necessary to keep Reap on the mulligan, since you can pull it from Jabba’s activation, and Admiral and Mobilize are more important.
The 3 cost events are in the deck to take advantage of Calling In Favors. I’ve been able to use the plot on the vast majority of rounds.
How does it do enough damage?
This is by far the most common question about the deck, and it makes sense, since it is a damage deck with characters that have no damage sides.
The simple answer is Admiral resets. Round 3 is where the action usually happens. Here’s a relatively common scenario:
This is a pretty normal round 3 setup, but you might find something like it round 2. So you activate Krennic. You might hit the double discard (~31%), or the double focus (~31%). Keep whichever you got, and flip to the other discard. Your opponent probably plays something. Discard 1 or 2 cards. Now he’s down to 3 or 2 cards left. Probe him. Now he has 1 card left at most that can be removal. Roll in Jabba. You’ll probably pick up a First Claim or a Reap, or you got them earlier and you’re already sitting on a ton of money.
Worst case scenario is that your opponent removes your Admiral die. This is where you were smart, and didn’t play the Jetpack before rolling in. Overwrite Admiral with Jetpack, getting an Admiral into the discard pile (this play is even better if you are overwriting with a Vibrocutlass). We are ignoring our opponent at this point because he is out of cards. YAICN the Admiral out of the discard pile to reset Jabba (I’m assuming if you only got 5 resources of upgrades out going into round 3, you’re sitting on a lot of money). Do the reset things, get cards with Jabba’s ability and Bartering on each reset (3 cards each, assuming the Admiral die was removed on the first reset, otherwise you can get 4 from each). If those cards you drew include an Admiral, you can get 2 more resets. With a single Jetpack that means you could do 2+3+4+5 =14 indirect. And your Jetpack is now primed to do 6 more immediately at the start of the next round.
With a single Vibrocutlass, you are always resolving the 4 side. 3 to 4 activations in a round results in 12-16 damage from 1 Cutlass.
If you are up against a single big (Bane, Palp, Valorous Tribe), you can play for the Crime Lord [echo7: oh, if only it were a Title].
All of this takes a lot of money, but with Mobilize/First Claim netting 2, Reap probably resulting in 3, and all the resource sides on characters, 7 total resources per round on rounds 1 and 2 is pretty normal. That means on round 3 you’ve got 7+7+2=16 resources worth of stuff to play with.
TL;DR: Krennic discards, Probe, Counterintelligence, and the nature of Admiral resets means that your opponent ends up helpless while you focus to huge damage sides and kill dudes.
Tips and Tricks
This is a combo deck. As long as you stay alive, activating the combo is the priority. Very often you will get into situations where you could remove their dice with Reversal or Conveyex Robbery, but you need that money for Admiral resets. In that case it is better to play for the reset, and save the removal for later (or re-rolls).
You will be tempted to hold cards between rounds. If you haven’t drawn an Admiral yet, you will want to play or discard all your cards to maximize your potential to draw it ASAP.
Jabba is the better target for Admiral, but he is also the character that is tied to most of your cards with restrictions (spot yellow, spot scoundrel, etc.). This means you may want to put your first upgrades on Krennic to draw fire away from Jabba.
Remember that you can overwrite your Admiral with something else to get it into your discard pile for YAICN plays. Remember to try and leave a die showing focus in the pool each time you reset. You are losing potential value by not getting that die back with the reset, but you never have to worry about rolling the sides you need. In the early game (round 1 and 2) the 2 shield side on the Vibrocutlass and the 3 shield side on Admiral might be the best sides on those dice.
It may be tempting to use YAICN for the discount, but this deck makes so much money that it often works better as a way to recur your Admirals. For instance, if you play Admiral naturally, you can get 2 resets in the round (1 when you play it, 1 time on the special). If you saved YAICN, you can overwrite the Admiral, then YAICN Admiral from the discard for 2 more potential resets (1 on the second play, 1 on the special). If you used it for the discount on the first play, you missed out on 2 activations, assuming you have the money to support it [echo7: I feel it’s also worth adding that you need to be careful not to fall foul of the one overwrite per round rule. However, remember you can always choose not to overwrite, and if you do so on a character with 3 upgrades already, you can ditch an Admiral to recur it later].
Matchups and Weaknesses
This deck would have been helpless to stop Chopper Droids or Trandos. It is still likely susceptible to decks that action cheat for kills or overwhelm with dice early on.
It is unknown how it fares vs mill decks. By drawing lots of cards, and relying on a specific combo, it may play into mill’s hands. On the other hand, mill can have trouble with decks that discard their removal, and if you get the Admiral into play, they may not be able to stop you [echo7: my experience from playing slow burn Admiral reset decks against mill is that this is likely to be an auto-loss, but I could be wrong].
Sepratist Embargo on Admiral will probably be an auto loss.
The deck has good matchups against decks that ramp slowly and give you time to get the combo going.
I’ve got to give this one a try, it looks fun. I’m also interested by the idea of trying to work a Grand Moff/Mean Streets combo into the deck, but maybe that’s asking too much.
In general, I think Admiral reset decks are going to be strong in the current meta. Resource generation potential is at an all time high, and being able to activate a character 3 times in a round can be absolutely devastating. While this style of strategy has not seen much play beyond Bail/Yoda, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see variations of it cropping up more in the coming months.
Have fun, and stay classy.
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