Note: This article focuses on the damage version of Jabba/Dooku, not the mill version.
View an example decklist here.
- 2 focus sides.
- His control sides have values of 2, making them quite strong.
- Ability can really help with consistency.
- 11 hp is strong for 14.
- No damage on his dice.
- Damage is all non-modified and free to resolve.
- Solid utility from focus and discard sides.
- His ability gives him anywhere from 13-20 effective hp.
- You mill yourself with his ability.
Overall Character evaluation:
- Lots of focus leads to more consistent results.
- A good amount of hand control, with 2 different 2.
- Deceptively high effective hp (24-31).
- The highest amount of damage you can deal with the character dice is 4.
The biggest strength of JD is its consistency. It has more starting focus than any other top deck, and this allows it to almost always resolves the sides it needs to. This is especially helpful in the following:
- Dealing max damage at the end of the turn with rerolls.
- Focusing to Sith Holocron specials.
JD also has extremely strong control. It can run the same control suite as VR, and it has similar hand control. The difference is that Vader’s ability is guaranteed, and is annoying for your opponent. JD’s discard won’t happen every turn, but when it does happen its effects are far more impactful, especially when the dream 4 happens. These devastating discards then lead to free rerolls when your opponent has no control left, and usually a similarly devastating amount of damage.
The deck naturally discourages you from going for its key character. No one wants to go for Dooku first, and if they go for Jabba you’re usually pretty happy. Jabba is there for his utility, and by the time he dies, he has usually done his job, and you have a fully stacked Dooku who can deal a ton of damage.
The deck ramps more consistently than any other top deck. It is extremely good at getting out turn 1 sabers (either through Enrage or focusing to / rolling a resource). It is also extremely good at utilizing Holocrons. In VR if you get a Holocron, you just have to hope you roll specials. With JD you can use your focus die to guarantee it. Note that you also run through your deck very quickly due to Dooku’s ability, so you usually draw into holocrons fast.
Mill can be an alternate win condition, although Dooku’s passive usually leads to you also being just as low on cards.
The biggest weakness of the deck is that it really does rely heavily on 2 things. First, it needs upgrades. This deck can deal a ton of damage, but it can’t do so until it has its upgrades out, as its character dice can deal a whopping… 4 damage. 2nd, it relies on Dooku’s ability being relevant (otherwise you’re looking at 12-13 hp on its only damage dealer). Now this is almost always the case, but there are a couple archetypes that laugh at it. Mainly Vader Raider with its high value damage sides, No Mercy, and Backup Muscle, and villain gun decks, which have a ton of modified damage, and also utilize Backup Muscle.
Jabba is simply not an ideal damage deck finisher. Don’t get me wrong, he can close games if he has 3 upgrades on him. But if your opponent controls even 1 die, then you’re looking at 2 dice dealing damage, while your opponent is likely dealing damage with 3-5 dice. Those just aren’t good trades.
Playing with Jabba/Dooku
How to play early-game:
Mulligan for Holocrons, Sabers, and Enrage. Hopefully you start all your games with either a Holocron or Saber being played on turn 1. You need to get the ramp going, and are extremely good at it, but you need the cards first.
Take their battlefield, you want the shields.
If you draw a Holocron, and have force powers: Play it on Jabba, roll Jabba, focus to special, use special (returning Holocron to your hand), play the Holocron on Dooku, roll Dooku, (if you have another power), focus to special, resolve special. This is incredibly easy to do, with even 1-2 rerolls you can play 2 blue ability upgrades on turn 1.
Go for discards on Jabba. You need Jabba do hit strong discards at least a couple times in early game to buy you time to ramp.
Make Jabba the target if at all possible. Dooku is a much better finisher, so if you can get your opponent to go for Jabba by, let’s say, playing a Holocron on him, it can pay huge dividends later on.
How to play mid-game:
Mid game begins at about turn 3-4, when you’ve reached 3-5 upgrades.
Now is when you’re hoping for a huge damage turn. This can come about through 2 ways:
- You play ‘All In”. The deck has a ton of focus, from both the character dice and upgrades such as Holocron and Force Training.
- You discard their hand with Jabba, allowing you a free turn of re-rolling a 5 dice Dooku into max damage.
Control your opponent as much as possible to keep both characters alive. Early game you don’t need to quite as much, because Dooku’s ability can mitigate enough of the early damage. Now you’re hoping to keep both your characters alive for as long as possible, as you are at the peak of your possible damage potential, and if you get off a turn like the one I described above, you probably win.
Don’t be in a rush to roll out Dooku. If you can resolve a discard from Jabba before rolling Dooku, you have a much better chance of avoiding having his dice removed. Note that if your opponent uses his control on your discard sides, it essentially accomplishes the same purpose.
Play your redeploy weapons on whomever your opponent is focusing, overwriting any force powers.
How to play late-game:
Late-game is once you’ve lost your first character.
If Dooku is left, then it’s a game of attrition. You’re less likely to have a blowout turn, as your opponent has an easier time using his removal now, and you only have 5 dice. You still have your blue character, so most of your removal is still available to you, and you also have Dooku’s ability, so the attrition war is something you can and should win.
If Jabba is left, then I’m not sure you’re comfortable playing the attrition game, although it depends on the game and the HP remaining for you and your opponent. You’ve lost your access to your blue removal, and you don’t have Dooku’s ability, so you will take more damage from your opponent. The one control option you do have is discard, but that isn’t as reliable. Your best hope is to just reroll and deal max damage from the 3 upgrades you have, utilizing Jabba’s dice for focus or discard. Potentially you could see a huge damage play if you roll focus on Jabba’s dice while you have an All in.
Limit your opponent’s hand size.
Control as much as you can, although this isn’t as important early if your opponent goes for Dooku.
Try to utilize All in. It’s a win condition for the deck, and should be pursued.
Roll Jabba first, if you hit the discard you will severely limit your opponent’s options.
How to play against Jabba/Dooku
How to play against early-game:
You need to have as much early aggression as you can. JD ramps hard, so if you don’t get out ahead of the damage curve, you’ll find yourself on turn 3 or 4 facing a 8-10 dice board. Now this isn’t that impressive, many gun decks can do that, but JD’s upgrades aren’t piddly guns, they are 3-4 cost Holocron abilities and sabers. Since JD can do this so easily, you need to take advantage of the early game damage advantage you have, and eliminate a character, or you’ll often lose on turn 4.
With almost all decks, I’d advise you go for Dooku first (please note that if they are running a mill deck, this can change). The reason is that it will not just deal damage to the deck’s key character, but it will also mitigate the damage they deal back to you. In games in which you go for Jabba first, they will typically saber on Dooku turn 1, and at the end of the turn they reroll into 4-6 damage very reliably. If you have removal, you can mitigate a die or two, so you’ll only take 2-4 damage. However, if you damage Dooku with 2 or so instances, he has to discard twice, and won’t have cards left for rerolls. This likely means he only rolls 1, maybe 2, natural damage, which means you take 0-2 damage after you control one of the dice. So, while Dooku mitigates your damage with his ability, he is also mitigating his own damage. For this reason I’d advise you go after him first. If you can make it to turn 3 or 4 relatively unscathed, and with Dooku in potential range of lethal, you’re looking at decent odds for winning. (Note also that a Dooku kill removes more ‘spot a blue’ cards than a Jabba kill would ‘spot a yellow’).
If you can, try to control their early Holocron dice. JD needs to get more dice on the board, so if you can remove the Holocron die the first two turns, it can really hurt.
How to play against mid-game:
Be wary, extremely wary, of the All In play. JD has a huge power spike at turn 4, when it has nearly fully upgraded both its characters. If it ever has all 10 dice on the board, All In will almost always deal upwards of 10 damage.
Kill someone. JD will make way more use of its dice than you can. With even a single reroll it will likely have enough focus to deal damage on all of its damage dice. You can’t survive this for more than 1 turn.
How to play against late:
Finish the game. If it’s just Jabba left, they don’t have nearly as much removal left. Deal max damage each turn, as you can’t be content with turns where nothing happens, or you may actually let Jabba mill you.
If they roll focus, be aware of how many All Ins are still in the game. While it won’t be as strong with only 5 dice on the board, it will still hit hard.
Be efficient with your cards. Jabba will mill you throughout the game. If on those turns you also choose to use cards inefficiently (I’m looking at you Rey decks), you’re going to allow him to reduce your hand size to 1 with a single 2 discard. While some of those inefficient plays can have good effects for you, they won’t make up for the devastating consequences of JD being able to reroll all their dice without having to worry about removal.
Play to your win condition, you can’t afford to play a passive game. JD is the ultimate passive winner. As the game progresses, it has more and more chances at the ‘discard your entire hand and then deal max damage with Dooku’ or All In turns. And as the game progresses, it will out dice you.
This card is the decks only truly threatening and unexpected damage play. JD tends to run too many non-blue cards to make use of No Mercy, and it wants those discards for Dooku’s ability anyway, so NM just doesn’t make sense for the deck.
This card is extremely good for JD. Shields on Dooku synergize well with his ability, as it allows you more effective hp, which means more chances to use the passive. Note that it also is great against gun decks, whose modified sides can be difficult for JD.
Kylo Ren’s Lightsaber
JD makes the best use of the KS of any deck out there. I can’t tell you how many games I’ve seen where the JD rolls 3 focus, and proceeds to focus KS to special and use it 3 times on special, then use it for natural damage.
Phasma Bala Trooper:
PBT is probably one of your harder matchups. It’s a gun deck, and can really put the hurt on to Dooku early in the game. It has a tendency to also ramp, and can control your dice extremely well, especially early game when your only damage dice are Dooku’s. On top of this, the deck isn’t hit as hard by discard as a lot of other top decks. However, you should still be able to ramp faster, and if you hit your early removal, you can probably pull out a win.
Be careful with your Holocrons, especially turn 1, as PBT will try to use Disarm on it if it can.
If you can, try to get your first Hunker Down in your starting hand. Wait for PBT to deal its initial damage, then play Hunker Down on that character. This will often force them to switch targets and wastes their initial damage.
Kill the Trooper first, you don’t really action cheat so there is no way you’re avoiding the guardian.
This matchup can swing either way, but unfortunately for you PBT is quite well equipped to kill Dooku early game. If you lose Dooku, I simply don’t see Jabba being enough to win. However, if you manage to draw early Hunker Downs and Holocrons, you have a good shot at winning. This is somewhere around a 45-55 for you.
This matchup is hard for you. While on paper it seems like you have a lot of answers for HR, much in the same way as a VR, unlike VR you simply don’t put out enough damage early on. The problem is that even if you discard lots of cards and then disrupt some of their resources, HR is able to keep both its characters alive for long enough to really abuse the action cheat. Both decks will ramp, but HR will get the first kill. Now theoretically your discards could hit a few key upgrades, but if HR gets its battlefield I think you’re pretty much done for. The best thing you have going for you is that if HR plays inefficiently, your discard can allow you to ensure Dooku’s dice won’t be removed.
If you can, mulligan into the Kylo’s Saber turn one. This is your best shot at dealing enough damage and putting enough pressure on HR to stop them from running away with the game early.
Never take their battlefield.
Kill Rey first, you don’t have enough early damage to kill Han.
Play Hunker Down on Dooku, or HR’s damage will just push through Dooku’s ability. HR has a lot of high value dice and modifiers.
Be wary of Riposte.
This matchup is the one matchup that almost makes you not want to take this deck to Worlds. JD is sooo good at the ramp game, but HR will simply win that game with all its resources and effective HP, and HR has high enough damage to just laugh at Dooku’s passive. If you get your battlefield, it’s a 45-55, if HR gets its battlefield, it’s a 30-70.
Jango Bala Trooper:
JBT is another gun deck, and thus is going to give you issues. Not only is it a gun deck that will get lots of modifiers from its weapons, but having a 2 dice Bala gives you modifiers from the get go. The biggest boon of facing JBT is that it won’t have quite as much control as a PBT does. In addition to this, the Bala only has 8 hp. This can mean that you are able to actually get an early kill on a key character, whereas normally you can struggle to get early damage in.
Watch out for the Disarm.
Try get the turn one Saber on Dooku to immediately begin putting damage on the Bala. If you leave him alive, his modifiers will kill Dooku much faster than you can afford.
Hunker Down is key.
Take their Battlefield.
Be wary of the possible late game Reversal.
JBT has a decent shot at killing Dooku early, and if that happens, you lose. However, JBT’s biggest threat to start only has 8 hp, which means you can actually deal killing damage much earlier than against some other decks. This should be somewhere around a 45-55, but it can swing depending on who gets starting shields, and whether you draw your Hunker Downs.
VR can theoretically be a good matchup for you, but it also can run you over. You have a lot of single die removal for the high value Vader dice, and you will ramp much faster. However, if you ever don’t have removal, Vader’s dice aren’t mitigated too much by Dooku’s passive, and an early No Mercy can mean a very dead Dooku. Not to mention that VR will control almost all of your early game damage, and if VR is lucky with a Holocron Tusken, there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it.
Keep removal in your starting hand. You can’t afford to let Dooku get into No Mercy range early on.
Kill Vader first.
If you can, try to get out an early Force Throw on Jabba. This can do 2 things. First, it encourages VR to focus Jabba first, allowing your main damage dealer to survive to the end of the game. Second, Vader’s dice are extremely good targets for Force Throw. If you roll out Jabba first and get a 2 discard and a Force Throw special, it really sets VR on the back foot. Note that if you don’t draw Holocron, it’s probably still worth it to play it on the Dooku.
Take their Battlefield.
This matchup really comes down to how much early game pressure VR can apply. If VR comes out of the gates swinging, there’s a really good chance Dooku dies too early for Jabba to win. If however, you manage to control VR’s early turns, you will ramp harder and can simply out dice VR. This is something like a 45-55 for you.
Poe Rey is an interesting match up. On one hand, PR is quite possibly the deck that is most hurt by discards, and is thus a good matchup for you. On the other hand, PR deals a lot of burst damage, which is good against Dooku. Not to mention that a stacked Rey is one of the best characters at killing Dooku. Rey’s Staff and 2 Sabers means a lot of modified damage, and the additional boon of unblockable damage. I think the matchup really comes down to how well Jabba controls PR’s hand. If Jabba doesn’t control enough early, then PR will win off of its insane burst damage plays, but if Jabba does roll discards, PR’s damage output will drop significantly.
Prioritize discarding. Dooku’s 2 discard for 1 resource is almost always going to be worth resolving.
Be wary of the action cheat plays that are going to happen.
Control Poe’s dice as much as possible.
Try to deal as much damage with rerolls as possible early game. Since PR uses a lot of its cards to deal damage and make use of Rey’s ability, if you ever hit discard they likely won’t have control left. Even if they do have control, PR really wants to play upgrades early. This means that turn 1 and 2 are usually open season for Dooku. Use this to deal 8+ damage in the first 2 turns. Turn 3 can then be an easy kill.
Be wary that some PRs play It’s A Trap, so rolling a special on that Holocron could mean 2 Poe specials to the face.
You probably don’t want to take their battlefield. As both Poe and Sabers on Rey can be abused.
Jabba is a decider in this matchup. If he rolls discard in the early rounds, PR will struggle to kill Dooku before you ramp into a huge turn 4. If Jabba decides he doesn’t want to show up, then PR can run right through Dooku in 3-4 turns no problem. The matchup is probably around a 55-45 for you.
JD is a good deck for anyone who wants a consistent playstyle. It has tons of focus, and extremely reliable ramp. Each game you go out there, control your opponent’s hand and dice, then at about turn 4 or 5 you have so many dice on the board that you just maul your opponent. However, the deck really suffers from an early Kill on Dooku, and while Dooku is really good at staying alive, there are a few top tier decks that are well equipped to only allow Dooku 3-5 extra hp, instead of 7-10. Some matchups will feel easy for you, while other decks like VR will consistently make you feel like you’re on your back foot the whole game. This is a solid deck to bring to Worlds, but you’re going to need to be exceptionally good at playing the early game in your harder matchups, or you will never reach your win condition.
Thanks for reading, we’ll be taking a look Han/Rey and Poe/Rey later this week!