If you haven’t read the intro article to this series, check it out here.
Also, here’s an example decklist.
- Free action cheating every turn means that you will consistently be pushing damage through your opponent’s removal.
- If your opponent chooses to kill Bala first, and you are able to get three upgrades on Jango, his ability becomes devastating.
- 2 black ranged damage sides.
- 10 hp for 12 cost is not as good as most other similarly costed single die characters.
- +1 resource is sometimes a blank, and rolling the 1 when you have ranged modifiers feels bad.
- Insane trigger effect.
- 2 dice for really cheap.
- He’s half your starting dice but only 8 hp.
- Only 1 black side with a modified side.
- Needs other dice to actually deal damage.
- 3 Black ranged sides.
- 7 hp for 7 cost.
- 2 blanks.
Overall character evaluation:
- 25 hp.
- 2 characters that have strong trigger effects.
- The unmodified sides on trooper and Jango round off Bala Tik’s die.
- If you run ‘Spot a red’ cards, you only have a 7 hp before those cards are blank.
- 2 dice on an 8 hp character.
Perhaps the greatest strength of the deck is the number of ways it can hit you with unseen and unpreventable damage. Having not just 3 or 4, but 5,6,7,8,9 etc. ways it can get through control cards allows it to push through lethal damage where other decks can’t. This is obviously important against most top decks which tend to run lots of control cards. The less obvious strength is that it makes it harder for your opponent to plan ahead, and make correct choices, when there are so many cards that could hit them. What are these? Fight Dirty, Armed to the Teeth, Tactical Mastery, Reversal, Jango’s trigger, Backup Muscle, etc. (one final option I will note is that Bala Tik’s triggers are often ‘Unpreventable damage’ as they occur near the end of the turn, and your opponent often doesn’t have control cards left for the 2-5 dice that Bala rolls in).
Arguably, just as much of a strength, is the deck’s ability to shrug off character deaths. Both Jango and Bala are HUGE threats. If Bala dies first, then weapons will redeploy onto Jango and you have a 4 dice free action cheat every single turn. This is especially deadly, as by this point you’ve probably put one of your opponent’s characters to low hp, and you will often just roll 3-6 damage and kill them with your first roll post-Bala’s death. Similarly, if your opponent kills Jango, your redeploys go onto Bala, and once again, your opponent has a low hp character, and he’s looking at a 5 dice Bala trigger. If your opponent is running a 3 character deck, it’s not unlikely for you to finish off one, kill another, and deal significant damage to the third all in a single turn. Finally, if your opponent does finish off your second character, your redeploys go onto trooper, and you still have a significant threat on the board. 4 dice Troopers have won many games for the deck.
One final strength worth mentioning is that the deck has enough options, and they are varied significantly, such that when your opponent sits down across from you, he won’t know exactly what he’s facing. Do I have to play around Reversal? Does my opponent play ‘Spot a red character’ cards, or does he use Cannon Fodder and The Best Defense? Is he running Armed to the Teeth? There are roughly 24 or so cards that are auto-includes, but there are a lot of significant differences in those last 6.
The biggest weakness of the deck is that it has half of its character dice sitting on an 8 hp character. Almost every tier 1 deck can kill Bala-Tik in 2 turns with relative ease, depending on how many shields and control cards are used. If you don’t control your opponent in the first few turns, your looking at a significant power dip on turn 2, which can be hard to recover from.
Another huge problem with the deck is how weak the character dice are. Bala’s dice on their own are quite weak, with only 1 black side (however the shield and focus side do offer some nice utility). Jango also has incredibly underwhelming dice (for a 12 cost single die, compare him to Leia’s), with 2 ranged sides, a random 1 melee, and a +1 resource. If you look at Jango & Bala-Tik, each of them only have a single 2 value side on their dice. Yes, both character’s value come from their triggers, but it’s worth acknowledging that most decks will have much better starting dice. The only redeeming die is the Trooper’s with the 3 black ranged sides, but even his die has 2 blanks.
How to play early-game:
In general, you are going to want to take your opponent’s battlefield and put two shields on Bala-Tik. As far as mulligans go, you’re looking for any 1 cost upgrades, any redeploys, and logistics. Redeploys are your most important upgrades by far, as they allow you to limit the effect of your early deaths. Your one cost upgrades will allow you to both use an upgrade and a removal card on the first turn, which is a big deal. If your opponent knows you have no resources, he will often reroll and deal a ton of damage to Bala, setting him up for a turn 2 death. For this reason you are also looking for at least 1 early control card, and perhaps the best is He Doesn’t Like You, due to the fact that it costs 0.
Early on, you have a rather interesting choice in where you put your first upgrade, and I don’t know that there’s only one correct choice. I personally prefer to load up Bala first, which leads into my first playstyle advice:
Look to set up a Bala trigger as early as you can. In most games, Bala is going to be your first character to die. Your early game goal is to keep him alive for as long as possible, in the hope that you get a 4-5 die Bala re-activation. If this happens, you win more often then not, which is why I prefer to load up Bala as opposed to Jango. Win conditions are important to pursue, it’s not enough to just go through a game hoping that you kill your opponent first.
My second piece of early game advice is that you really need to find a way to play upgrades, and as many as you can. Your character dice are not good enough to win a game, so you need to get more dice onto the board or you will just lose. (Note that both character’s trigger effects are infinitely more valuable with 3 upgrades than with none).
How to play mid-game:
You enter mid game essentially whenever you’re first death occurs. At this point, hopefully, your redeploys will move to your Jango/Bala. There are two possible paths here:
- Your opponent killed your character before you killed any of his. At this point, you are behind, so you really need to be looking to make as many offensive plays as possible to kill 1 of your opponent’s characters and even it out as quickly as possible. Playing defensive, and prioritizing removal, will only lead to a loss at this point, as your opponent can choose to just ramp upgrades and get even further ahead of you in die count. Instead, now is when you need to be setting up that Fight Dirty/Tactical Mastery/etc. play to finish off whoever was low. If you have Bala, this will lead to a 4-5 die trigger which will be huge, and will often lead to a win.
- You killed your opponent’s character first, and have dealt a little bit of damage to the next. Now, you are at least even with (but likely ahead of) your opponent, and you don’t need to be in as much of a rush to deal damage. Use your removal when you can. Think about what outs your opponent has to come back into the game, and play around them. Don’t be greedy. You likely have Jango left, and his trigger is going to pay dividends in getting damage through your opponent’s removal, so if you play a control game, you will likely kill your opponent first.
How to play late-game:
If you haven’t defeated your opponent in the mid-game, late game typically begins when you lose your second character (Bala/Jango are both dead). At this point you have a Trooper with 3 redeploy weapons and you’ve lost almost all of your removal options (Electroshock, Reversal, Flank, etc.). At this point, it’s really just a race to deal enough damage. Trooper only has 7 hp, and your opponent will likely have several strong enough plays to just one shot him. Because of this, you really, really need to reroll everything and just kill your opponent. Don’t let the game progress to any more turns, or you will just die. The exception to this is if you know you have a Tactical Mastery to use to kill him first next turn. There are also times where claiming early to roll out first next turn is worth it. However, the reality is you only have 1-2 turns left, and trooper is way too killable to play passively. Reroll, and deal as much damage as possible, or you will likely lose. (Note that having three shields on Trooper can really make a difference to how end game will play out).
Gun decks must, must, must, make use of rerolls. Ranged damage decks tend to get out many small dice, all of which deal ranged damage, and most decks tend to run much more single die removal than universal removals like Dodge. Because of this, your rerolls at the end of a turn are quite effective. Your opponent has run out of removal for the turn, and you still have 5 pidley dice left? Those 5 dice don’t do a lot of damage, unless of course they all deal 1-2 (because you rerolled), then you’re looking at 5-10 damage. This is easier to do in a ranged weapon deck than it is in decks that have big characters, where those 1-2 removal cards used actually remove a majority of the potential damage.
In general, your first actions should be to either play an upgrade on Jango (so that when he triggers he rolls more dice), or to roll out another character, such that when Jango triggers, you can resolve more damage (for example, start by rolling out Bala, get a +2 side, when your opponent rolls you now have a 33% chance to deal 3-4 damage off of Jango’s trigger).
How to play against early-game:
Kill Bala Tik first, in most games.
Make a lot of use of your early game die advantage. JBT relies on upgrade dice to make use of its triggers, while you likely don’t. This is when you have the biggest advantage and can really set your opponent behind. Don’t be okay with turns on which nothing happens, deal damage now while you can.
How to play against mid-game:
Be aware of the many cards your opponent has to finish off a character unexpectedly, and play around them. Sometimes you will have to play defensively and put out shields on your characters in anticipation of that Tactical Mastery, Fight Dirty, or Armed to the Teeth.
How to play against late:
Usually they have few enough dice by now that your single die removal cards are strong. Save them for those black sides, and hopefully that Trooper won’t be able to do anything. However, usually if they just have Trooper left, they have almost no removal options (besides dug in if they control the battlefield and flank if he hasn’t rolled in) so you can afford to reroll a bunch and just kill him. If you don’t think you can kill them in your current turn, try to prioritize the claim, so they can’t make use of a late game Dug in, and so that you can get your die out first.
Remove modified ranged dice before you trigger their Jango, unless you are certain the risk isn’t substantial and you are okay with taking it. In fact, with how many quick damage cards that rely on dice (Jango trigger, Fight Dirty, Tactical Mastery) you should really be making use of your removal on any chance you get. If you save it, your opponent may never actually roll something you are waiting for, and instead Fight Dirty or Tactical Mastery to use his dice before you get the chance.
Holdout Blaster and F11-D
These are the upgrades that are by far the most important to draw and use in the deck. These are what enable the deck to excel, even after a character dies. If you don’t draw and use them, you are likely going to lose the game.
Generally you have 2 sets of cards that will change how the deck plays, depending on which you pick.
2.) Best Defense and Cannon Fodder
If you go with option 1, then you’re using the trooper as a late game finisher, who can win after receiving the 3 redeploys. Because you aren’t drawing damage onto him, you can more reliably use Tactical Mastery.
If you go with option 2, then you are trying to keep Jango and Bala alive for as long as possible, by drawing damage onto the trooper. This can be great, but it often means that trooper won’t be a viable late game finisher
This card is sooo strong early game that I think it’s crazy to not run it. It often allows the play of 2 upgrades turn one, which is a big deal in a deck which relies so heavily on damage from its upgrades.
With how many top decks that have 3 damage sides on their characters, Reversal is incredibly valuable. If you pull it off, this card will be a 6 damage point swing, which is absolutely huge. I only point this out because it’s often a card that gets removed from the list, due to its big cost. I’d argue that it’s likely going to be worth playing, so I try to fit it in.
This may seem like an auto include in 3 character decks, but if you’re trying to decide which removal card to cut as you’re trying to hit that 30 card mark, consider Flank. The reason for this is that, due to Jango’s ability, your number of ready characters actually resembles a 2 character deck. You can make the choice to wait and not role in the Trooper, but you really do want to get his black damage onto the board to enable his modifiers. So, while flank seems like it should work, in this 3 character deck you will have more issues playing flank.
This card is incredibly strong against a mirror match or PBT, for getting an early die advantage, hopefully removing one of their key redeploy weapons. It is also very strong against blue villain, as it can hit Holocron, which is so huge.
This is one of the tougher matchups, as Bala’s trigger is much weaker against it. Typically, you just focus the lowest HP character and get Bala’s trigger and win from there. However, against Vader/Raider, it’s a huge risk to go for Raider first. Why? Because VR is good at killing Bala before you kill Raider. If this happens, then you have effectively given Vader 8 extra health, while not benefiting at all from the Bala trigger. If on the other hand, you go for Vader first, he has so much HP that you almost never kill him before Bala dies, so once again Bala’s trigger is nullified.
My general advice is as follows:
- Remove Vader’s dice if you can, always. Even if he’s showing a blank, don’t forget that he can Force Strike you. Even if you can handle 2-3 damage, remember that a No Mercy makes that 4-7.
- If you draw Disarm, keep it in your first hand, and try to use it on the Holocron.
- Don’t prioritize shields as much as you would in other matchups. VR can use Intimidate, and Kylo’s Saber wrecks shields hard if it can roll special.
- VR has lots of single die removal, so try to ramp into more dice than he can handle. Unless he draws Holocron, you can out-ramp him hard, as long as you control his first few turns.
- Go for Vader first, unless you see a turn one Holocron on Tusken, then you can consider going for him first.
With Bala, you never like seeing a 2 character deck, but VR is the hardest deck to make use of Bala’s trigger against, so it’s a matchup you don’t want to see. You probably lose around 60% of your games against it, given equal play.
Han Rey is another interesting matchup that you probably don’t want to see. It’s two characters, which means Bala is less deadly. It is also quite good at ramping, so you really do need to get ahead in the early game. If you ever let them get in front, you have a long road ahead of you if you’re going to get through multiple second chances and not die to Han’s damage. The one good thing is that HR typically doesn’t deal quite as much damage in the first 2 turns (unless Riposte comes into play), so Bala is a little bit safer than in other matchups.
My general advice:
- Never ever choose their battlefield.
- I haven’t played the matchup enough to know, but you should probably go for Rey first to remove the action cheat, deflects, and to get a Bala trigger.
- Prioritize getting out an On the Hunt for shield removal.
- Prioritize your own shields to deal with action cheating.
- Always be aware of how many Ripostes are remaining, and play around its potential use.
- Han Rey is a deck that once it’s set up, is incredibly hard to beat. You have to deal as much early game damage as you can, get that Bala trigger, and put Han in a Position where he has to play Second Chance. If instead Rey survives long enough for the deck to build up resources, you’re probably going to lose to action cheats and an incredibly tanky and damage dealing Han.
This matchup relies on the early game. If you get out there and start putting pressure on, HR can struggle to get the train moving. If instead HR deals 5 early game damage and then Ripostes Bala for a turn 2 kill, you’re probably looking at a loss. Note also that the matchup is a million times harder if you’re playing on HR’s battlefield. I’m guess you’re looking at losing a majority of games on HR’s battlefield, while winning somewhere around 50% on your own. Yeah, it’s just not a great matchup for you.
Phasma Bala Trooper:
This matchup can be extremely volatile. Both decks have 3 characters including Bala-Tik. Many games will be decided by who gets the first kill, and the Bala trigger runs away with the game. You have more ways to cheat damage, but PBT has better removal and has better starting dice. PBT does an excellent job of removing black dice with Guardian, so you can really struggle with dealing damage early. Ultimately the match can swing either way, depending on player skill, but I think PBT does a slightly better job of keeping Bala alive, and thus getting that first Bala trigger.
- If you try to go for Bala-Tik first, he’s going to split your damage with the guardian, and he’s going to kill your Bala first, probably leading to a loss. Instead, kill trooper first to try and get as much value out of a Bala trigger before you lose him.
- Be wary of the All In or Tactical Mastery plays whenever your opponent is showing focus. If he has a +3 showing on a Jetpack and a focus, he can use either card to hit you with five damage unexpectedly.
- Try to get a dice advantage if you can, either by simply playing more upgrades, or by disarming one of his redeploys.
If you don’t roll well with your Jango activations early, you’re probably not going to get the first kill in, as PBT has so much control with its removal and guardian. Because of this, I think PBT has an advantage, as it’s going to wreck you with the Bala trigger more often than you will. I’d say it’s about a 40-60 matchup for you, but that can swing depending on who gets the turn one shields.
Once again, here’s another 2 character deck that can give you issues. However, I think that you have a decent shot at coming out on top in this matchup. While discard hurts, I think that you can make up for it in your amount of modified damage you can deal early on. Couple that with Backup Muscle, and Dooku is actually killable in 3-4 turns. If however, you don’t put on pressure, and they’ve been making use of Holocron/Enrage + sabers, the momentum will definitely shift in favor of JD around turn 3 or 4.
- Kill Dooku first. Late game Jabba is so much less scary than a loaded up Dooku. And while Dooku can seem like a hard target to kill, you need to realize that this is a form of damage mitigation. If you go for Jabba first, and Dooku gets a turn one saber, at the end of the first 2 turns he is re-rolling those dice into 4-7 damage. If instead you go for Dooku first, he has to use those cards to place shields, thus reducing his rerolls and how much damage he deals back to you. And as I said above, your modifiers really help in finishing off Dooku, especially if you get that early Backup Muscle to seal the deal.
- Note also that Bala’s +2’s are actually a good thing in this matchup, so just another reason to focus Dooku early while Bala’s dice are still in play.
- Be wary of No Mercy. Don’t forget that the 1 or 2 damage die sitting out there could actually be 5-6.
- Be wary of All In. Especially on turn 3 or 4, when he’s gotten several upgrades out and he’s just rolled some focus, you need to keep it in the back of your mind that he can All In you for 5-10 damage.
- Use modifiers whenever you can, and getting an early Jetpack out can really help in killing Dooku.
- Do NOT place shields on your characters if Kylo’s Saber is in play. With the number of focus available to him, it is not uncommon for JD to focus a saber twice into special (hitting your shields and re-rolling) using Jabba’s or Holocron’s dice, only to have him then resolve it again with Dooku’s dice for a whopping 10 damage turn 2. Most decks it’s okay to place shields into Kylo’s Saber, but JD will too easily be able to focus and make good use out of its special.
Gun decks tend to actually be semi-decent at killing Dooku early, as most of the time when they resolve 4-6 damage, half of it is modified. This in my mind makes the matchup very winnable for you. However, when your dice get controlled early, you’re really going to struggle to win. JD has a habit of ramping hard and quickly, as with all the focus available they can guarantee Holocron usage and/or resources for turn 1 sabers. Start out swinging hard at Dooku, while you still have the +2’s from Bala, and you should come out on top, hopefully. I’d say it’s somewhere around a 60-40 for you, but once again that varies depending on if you get the shields, and how much control they draw into.
This is another rough-ish matchup for you due to HP pools on the character you want to kill first. 12 HP on Poe means there are great odds that Bala dies before you kill him. There’s also the issue that even if you deal max damage turns 1 and 2, Poe’s early damage will sometimes just melt the Bala anyway. There is however, a decent chance that you kill Poe right as he kills Bala. If weapons Redeploy onto Jango, it can be hard for Rey to win the game vs the 2 you have left. This depends on how stacked Rey is, but if you’re even on dice, you’re probably looking at a win.
- Claim as often as you can, there are sooo many cards for Poe Rey that really need the battlefield.
- Be wary of Defensive Position. If he has control of the battlefield, resolve your damage in bursts as you roll it, risking the 5 die removal is probably the wrong choice.
- Be wary of It’s a Trap. While not all versions run this, if you aren’t cautious, you could see a very, very early kill on Bala from a 5 damage It’s A Trap.
- Remove Poe’s dice, even if they are showing nothing (if on Emperor’s Throne Room).
This matchup seems like a very winnable game. That is.. until Poe deletes Bala turn two with Mind Probe or It’s A Trap, or some other randomness. The problem is that you can quite easily lose half of your character dice terrifyingly quick. That being said, you have more hp to start, and if you get out enough weapons early, claim smartly, and play a game of attrition, you can probably win. Win-rate will vary a ton depending on the skill of the Poe Rey player (it’s very easy to play the deck wrong), but I’d say, given even skill, you’re looking at a 45-55 matchup, but that can change drastically if you play on PR’s battlefield. (Note that I’m an extremely biased Poe Rey player who never struggles with this matchup :P)
While this deck was once right at the top, I feel like the number of top decks that run only 2 characters has weakened the deck considerably. Now instead of being able to wreck games with Bala triggers, you have to win off of Jango rolls, which is inherently more luck based, and just isn’t as strong as rolling a 5 die Bala twice in a single early game turn. If you’ve mastered the deck, then you may find success at worlds. But if you’re considering switching to this, I’d caution against it.
Thanks for reading! If you haven’t already, take a look at Phasma/Bala/Trooper, which was the first article in this series.