Rescue Han Solo has got to be one of the most interesting new cards in the Transformations set.
For now, let’s ignore how under-costed Han Solo is for 13 points elite, and have a go at building a deck that actually can take on the challenge of rescuing him.
To achieve this, you have to play a 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 cost card, in that order. That sounds really hard, but if you manage it, you get a new character who brings 12 health, good dice sides and a free resource every round, which is a pretty major windfall.
What do we need in or deck to make this a reality?
I believe that to pull this off consistently, you need: a falling cost curve, with at least 8 zero cost and 6 one cost cards, to practically guarantee playing both in round 1; and access to red. Why access to red? Because of these two cards:
We published an article a while ago about how amazing Covert Mission is. The ability to search your deck (aka tutor) for any card you like and add it to your hand is amazing, and provides a deck with consistency, which Rescue Han Solo sorely needs. Having all your 3 drops at the bottom of your deck could make for an annoying game; and that’s where our universal tutor Covert Mission comes in.
Mobilize is my second reason for going red. To play all the cards you need, you have to spend 10 resources (0+1+2+3+4), which is a lot. That’s why in our initial quick hit analysis we said you’d probably need Lando to pull it off. However, I’d completely forgotten about this card. If you play Mobilize, you actually only have to spend 6 resources, or even fewer if your 0 or 1 cost card is a ramp card. This could make rescuing Han a very real possibility round 2, or maybe round 3. Given that aggro decks can finish a lot of decks off in 3/4 rounds, this is what we need.
Next, let’s look at character pairings. First off, we need yellow for the plot, and I’ve decided I need red for Covert Mission and Mobilize. The plot brings a 1 point discount for the heroes who assisted in his escape (except for R2-D2, but I understand the omission, and C-3PO, who, if anything just got in the way anyway), so let’s see what options are available in Standard:
First off, if I actually want to rescue Han, I’m going to want to play the plot elite. One extra point for another Han die is a bargain.
My heart says I want to play Leia – Boushh, but then, even non-elite Boushh with and elite plot leaves only 16 points, which isn’t looking great, especially if you want to squeeze red in.
Note: If I wasn’t trying to squeeze red in, eLuke – Red 5 and eLando with an elite plot looks like a good pairing for some vehicle piloting synergy, setting up a nice board state before Han gets released. However, I wouldn’t be able to utilise Lando‘s vehicle discount when trying to work on the plot, plus the lack of red I think would make freeing Han a really tall order. Maybe it would work, but for now, I’m sticking to my guns and saying I need red.
After quite a bit of thinking, I decided on either:
eLando(14)/Hoth Trooper(5)/newLuke(8)/ePlot(3) – 25 health, 3 dice OR
eChewieBeast(12)/Hoth Trooper(5)/eLukeRed5(10)/ePlot(3) – 28 health, 3 dice
C-3PO/R2-D2/eSatine – 25 health, 4 dice
Note: that last one doesn’t use any of the discounted characters, but it’s just such a strong pairing it would be remiss not to include it here. I’m going to ignore it for now, as building a non-droids deck is just more fun
I just can’t see flipping Transformations Luke and Rescuing Han being a realistic possibility in one game (though I have seen it done, damn you Oli and your tricks). Therefore, I’m going to ignore that ability and just focus on what these lineups bring to the table.
There is absolutely no doubt that Lando has better dice than Chewbacca, especially for early ramp. However, I’ve decided to go with my heart (on this occasion) and give The Beast a chance. I like the extra health with that lineup, I like that late game Chewie is swinging for more damage, has guardian and wants you to play his Blaster Rifle on him, and I like that Luke has piloting.
Anyway, enough talk, here’s the deck:
As I approached the deckbuilding a bit differently, with a stronger focus than usual on the cost curve, I’m going to explain my card choices in the same way:
0 cost cards:
I’ve got eight 0 cost cards in the deck to make sure I play one of them round 1, and they’re pretty much all playable right off the bat. Hidden Motive can be played on any die, Suppressive Fire can be dropped right away even if you don’t intend to use it, and I’ve got 4 ramp cards (Well-Connected and Respite), because the deck needs ramp.
The only situational card is Dismantle. It’s a bit of a meta call, but I think a fair one given the Viper Probe Droids and a number of tech supports floating around. If this is the only 0 cost card in your hand, you can just play it to no effect to get the ball rolling on the plot.
1 cost cards
Fickle Mercenaries may be tricky to hang on to, but it’s upside is pretty huge. Not only is it a bargain for 1, but it turns Chewbacca into a guardian. Even if you do happen to lose control of it early game, your late game resource engine is normally big enough to take it back.
Merchant Freighter felt like an auto-include when you’re looking to play a 1 drop early game to meet the requirements of your plot. It pays for itself the round you play it, can be activated with Luke, and next round sets you up to play a 3 cost card almost right away.
We’ve already talked about Covert Mission.
Easy Pickings feels too good not to include, but perhaps there is an argument for Feat of Strength instead. Improvised Defense is strong against most decks, and can just be put on the table whenever you like for later use, helping you work towards freeing Han.
2 cost cards
I like Luke’s Lightning Rod (which can be resolved as shields on Luke) and Niman Mastery (mostly for it’s on play ability) as solid 2 drops. Luke’s X-Wing is amazing with pilot Luke: auto-include here.
Entangle is mostly handy removal late game, but can be played as your 2 cost card for the plot in round 1 if need-be.
3 cost cards
Chewbacca’s Blaster Rifle is one of the best upgrades in the game, and if you’re running Chewbacca and you need some 3 cost cards in your deck, it seems like an obvious include. Han’s Blaster fit a similar remit, and can, if you get it at the right time, be literally game winning.
Mobilize is 100% your go-to 3 cost card to flip your plot. If you draw this, amazing. If you don’t, tutor it with Covert Mission.
4 cost cards
Was there ever any doubt that Millennium Falcon was going to be a 2-of? This Han was made to answer the call of the Falcon. As one action: activate Han, gain 1 resource, pilot the Falcon, activate your other character, and if it’s Luke, pilot another vehicle, if it’s Chewie, guardian away an opponent’s die.
I’ve also got a Starviper in there. I didn’t want to put all my eggs in the Falcon basket, and this vehicle is a solid card in its own right – it’s sides are actually probably better than those of the Falcon.
Does it work?
It does. I’ve rescued Han in most games I’ve played. It does require quite a lot of early game energy and sequencing to pull it off, plus the character lineup I’ve settled on is hardly the Destiny dream team. But when it gains some momentum, it can be very effective.
I took it to the UK TTS tournament this weekend, and got a 3-3 run with it, which I’ll agree sounds underwhelming. However, each of my defeats was after the game went to time; it’s hard to say who would have won in each match as when you know you’re short on time you play quite differently. In two matches I deliberately didn’t try to rescue Han (and these were the only matches I didn’t manage to save him) as I knew we were going to time; tie breakers are settled on damage dealt rather than health remaining, and Han enters play exhausted.
And this highlights a major weakness of this deck: in timed matches on TTS, you are unlikely to finish in 35 minutes, especially if your internet is a temperamental as mine. It is probably the slowest deck I have ever played, but it is surprisingly powerful when you’re not against the clock, and I’d love to take something similar to a real tournament.
When you Rescue Han, and build a formidable boardstate in the process, it can become unstoppable. But if you take too long or don’t get the cards when you need them, the deck can fizzle out. As I said in the title, with the Rescue Han Solo plot, you can either profit by this… or be destroyed.
Post-Script: The Dark Side of the Carbonite Chamber: Mill
The perceptive/jaded of you may have noticed that there is a pairing available with this plot, which is a deck archetype in its own right: eLando/eLeia… a mill deck.
For those not familiar with this pairing: it abuses Lando‘s 4 resource side with Leia‘s Power Action, which combined with Stealthy can rip through your deck in no time (and hand thanks to Leia‘s discard sides). This deck was strong before Covert Missions (the set), and is only stronger now thanks in part to Reap.
I believe Rescue Han Solo is an improvement for this deck, as it has the potential of giving the mill player an additional 12 health and gives access to Covert Mission. It does however require the deck to fit the resource curve required to stand a chance of rescuing Han, and that is problematic.
The deck does struggle to close the game sometimes if Leia dies, so the inclusion of some 3-cost Sonic Detonators in addition to Mobilize might not be so bad. A couple of 4-cost Starvipers or a Darksaber, both of which have double discard sides (the latter only on Lando or Leia), might be handy also.
Another gift to fast mill decks is Mortis. The Transformations battlefield is a bit of a double edged sword, but for a fast deck represents an extra 2 health in most rounds.
I’m not going to spend any longer on this deck idea, but if you want some inspiration, the Hyperloops Leia/Lando deck is probably a good place to start. This deck used Coaxium Heist in order to get access to Covert Mission.
Have fun, and go save Han.
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