Here at echobase, we’ve never done a gauntlet (a list of the Top Tier “decks to beat”) before. We’ve been tracking the results of as many tournaments as we can on our results pages, and those have stood in as our contribution to knowledge of the metagame.
However, as no-one else seems to be doing gauntlets at the moment, we thought we’d quickly do a run down of the decks which we see as the current (December 2020) Top Tier decks in A Renewed Hope Standard.
Before we start though, a word of Caution:
Unlike regular competitive seasons, where people are playing hard and there’s a lot of data, it is tricky (with some obvious exceptions) to really work out what the best decks are right now. I don’t believe there’s many people out there who are purely playing to win, though the prize-wall at the recent echobase Extravaganza may have triggered an exception there.
From discussions I’ve had, people seem to be playing mostly for fun. There’s experimentation going on. Plus, not to belittle any successes, but Swiss-only events inevitably can be won with a little bit of luck on your side. I think the only people who truly know the best decks are those who play the game obsessively and competitively against a wide range of opponents. And I don’t personally know anyone who currently fits that description.
Caveat over, on with the decks:
No surprises that this is top of our list. This deck has been absolutely dominant since Faltering Allegiances dropped, winning virtually every event it appears in, as well as being every since deck in the top 4 of the echobase Christmas Extravaganza.
Blue villain were gifted a very generous upgrade and ramp suite when Convergence Palpatine was released, and this deck takes full advantage of it, as well as the above curve events Unending Hate and Force Affinity. I don’t think I need to say it again, since I’ve been saying it since the beginning of October, but can we please have a damage cap put on Unending Hate? Anyway, the banning of United had no effect on this deck’s dominance, suggesting that a more fundamental change is required before this deck drops from Top Dog to merely Top Tier.
It’s worth mentioning there are other mono blue villain lineups which can also take advantage of this faction’s powerful card pool, such as eDooku/Bane and ePong/eDooku.
Closing In decks come in a number of guises, and this mono-yellow version we think is the most powerful at the moment, edging eAsajj/eDengar off the top spot. Closing In can be incredibly frustrating to play against, and 4-LOM adds some tricks when combined with tech cards like Dangerous Escape and Bounty Averted.
At first Trandoshans felt completely broken, but it’s become apparent that while guaranteeing 10-12 damage round 1 on your dice is extremely good, if your opponent brings some mitigation and a high enough damage output to drop a Trandoshan round 1 or early round 2, you’ll still probably lose. Thus, this deck has become more of a gatekeeper deck, albeit a very good one that even the best decks will still lose to if they have a bad draw.
While you can play eTrandoshan/eTrandoshan/Trandoshan with Extremist Campaign, I prefer the red version as it lets you run The Best Defense…, Probe and the E-11D Blaster Rifle (I know a lot of people like Pulse Cannon in this deck too, but while it sometimes wins games, most of the time I find it ends up just costing a lot of resources for not much benefit). The unrestricting of Desperate Measures by ARH has made this deck even more formidable, but thankfully you still can’t play Face the Enemy with this lineup.
Luke was the big bad blue hero we had been waiting for, and works very well paired with red (K-2SO), blue (Obi-Wan Transformations) or yellow (Han Solo Transformations or eSatine). Prior to Faltering Allegiances he did lack some punch, but the addition of Apt Lesson to the card pool allows for some huge surprise damage hits when combined with Draw Closer or Fatal Blow.
The red version, here with K-2SO, allows the inclusion of Feat of Strength, which is a monster of a removal card when you’re sporting a 15 health character. This version, rockntroll‘s from an echobase event, also missed the inclusion of the very-underplayed-but-perfect-in-this-deck Happy Beeps.
When paired with yellow, Luke becomes a hero Palpatine, thanks to Custom Bandolier allowing him to carry as many equipments as you like, such as Republic Jedi Armour, BD-1 and Bounty Hunter Mask. This strategy was briefly popular with eMace/eSatine/Built to Last, but while Mace lacked the survivability to play the long game, Luke is the king of survivability.
It is relatively easy to load him up with 5+ upgrades, which makes Bacta Therapy and Apt Lesson/Fatal Blow extremely powerful. Echobase’s own echo3ofclubs took this to the Top 8 of the Christmas Extravaganza, but got knocked out in a close-run 2-1 defeat in the face of Vader/Taron.
We’ve got some Luke specific articles coming soon where we delve into a bit more detail on this character. Watch this space.
This deck has been doing the rounds on TTS and has won a couple of events. It is capable of an extremely high damage output, some of which is hard to mitigate thanks to Knighthood on Ahsoka and Pushing Slash, and has a decent mitigation suite. That Youngling is also not to be underestimated. A 1-cost Niman Mastery is absurdly good value, and in a pinch Anakin can deliberately (and highly thematically) kill them to flip to Vader, ideally after a Pushing Slash play.
eKrennic/Wat/Imperial Death Trooper
This deck hasn’t won anything yet as far as we know, but it’s a strong deck that’s fun to play, with decent mitigation and a massive health pool (28 plus whatever you clone). If Kamino Cloning Facility lands quickly enough, it can just last forever. Combine that with some huge supports and it can totally overwhelm the opponent, though it might take 4+ rounds to get there.
Another villain red Kamino deck is ePhasma/FOST/Advanced Training, which can clone a trooper even faster, has a higher initial damage output, but the much lower health pool makes it more vulnerable.
e(TR)Anakin / e(TR)Han Solo – Lightsaber Mastery
Gringostoso52 has proved this deck to be an aggro power house taking down a major Brazilian FA event with this pairing. The deck has play into most of the deck’s in the meta right now. Pushing slash on tap under LSM feels strong. The fact this deck can deal 16 damage on character dice and after abilities alone (If you’ve got the cash) says it all. The average starting damage from character dice is currently at 8, anything more is above curve.
Honourable Mentions – some other lineups which are worth mentioning are:
ReyLo: the deck of the Prime 2019-20 Season, this deck suffered some losses with rotation, but is still one to watch out for and should not be underestimated.
Valorous Tribe decks. Too many to count here, but eHan/eChewbacca, eTarrful/eChewbacca and eAnakin/eKashyyyk Warrior have all featured highly in events. They can suffer against decks which can burst down characters, but against slow-burn decks, all that healing and moving damage can be highly annoying.
eSaw/Chief Chirpa/Freewok/Ewok or Hoth Trooper: this deck or variations of it performed very well in the release party but have been barely seen since. Instigate into Saw, when combined with Fighting Pit, can sometimes feel broken, but when Saw rolls badly, you lose quickly.
ePalpatine/eWatto: not many people playing this one, but it’s still very strong into slower decks.
Bala/Bazine/Intelligence Operation: no-one else seems to be playing this deck much, but I love it. It’s got access to so much tech, and ramps insanely fast, meaning it can mitigate/Reversal a lot of decks off the table. But if it gets a bad start, Bala can die before your get a strong enough boardstate for Bazine to close it out.
eJyn/eCassian/Intelligence Operation: the flagship pairing from ARH haven’t seen much play. This deck can be really annoying to play against, and if Admiral lands on Jyn it might be game over if you get caught out. However, as Cass does very little on his own, it’s essentially a a 13 health deck.
Characters, plots and archetypes which are conspicuously absent from the meta
FN-2199 seems strong, with decent sides and a good Power Action for a support character, but his 9 health has probably kept him out of the meta.
Merrin is one of the most interesting characters from ARH, yet just can’t seem to find her feet.
I’d love to see a Rescue Han Solo deck re-emerge.
Kanan (and his spectre pals) seem to be missing, even though Kanan was in the final of the Faltering Allegiances release event paired with Sifo-Dyas and Ahsoka.
Mill. We wrote about this recently. I still can’t decide if I want this in the meta, but one way or the other, it’s currently dead.
Hero supports… where is this archetype? We’ve got some great hero pilots such as Han, Kazuda, Luke and Hera, and there’s a few decent hero supports such as A-Wing, Luke’s X-Wing, Ghost, plus tech cards like Eject, Flanked By Wingmen and Assail. Despite this, hero supports just can’t seem to get going. I’d love to see this archetype re-surface some day soon.
That’s all for now. We look forward to seeing how this meta evolves with the next ARH balance (whenever that may be) and with the release of Redemption on 29 January.
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