In media we have a triangle we use to determine how a project will play out. Cost/Time/Quality: the rule is you only get to pick 2 of the 3. Although this is not a hard rule, this guideline is fairly accurate for most projects. A project can be high quality and be finished in a short time, but it will cost a lot more than a normal project. As I have been playing Destiny and talking to players from around the world, I believe Destiny has a similar triangle for deck and card design. Efficiency/Cost/Speed. I do want to clarify this is an opinion, but I believe each card and deck falls into 2 of the 3 categories. The best decks are built by players trying to find ways to incorporate all 3 parts of the triangle into their strategy.
While recording the Knights of Ren (Episode 310) we discussed this Training Remote. I realized that this card is really powerful, but the support aspect of the card made it very fair. It was at that point I began to see that each card/deck follows a unique structure of being cost effective, fast in accomplishing its main strategy, or is efficient at doing what you need when you need it. The more I look at Destiny, I am beginning to see that (just like the media example) you usually get to pick 2. So let’s take a look at some of the cards and decks that follow this triangle.
Point 1: Efficiency
Efficient is defined as: “achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.” And translated to Destiny that means taking the 30 points and/or cards you have available, and getting the most out of them without wasting actions or ending up with poor team construction.
The first thing that stood out to me from the new spoiled cards was a comparison of the Grand Inquisitor and Darth Vader. Right off the bat, lets look at their dice. Both have 2 and 3 damage, however the Grand Inquisitor must pay 1 resource to deal the 3 damage while Vader does not. This means with Vader your resources are more flexible & available, allowing you to spend them on events and upgrades that give you the edge in combat. However, the counterpoint is that the Inquisitor is 14/19 points toward building a team, while Vader is 16/21. So while Vader has a more secure economy, the Inquisitor has better flexibility to work with a wider variety of teams.
This is where efficiency exists, players will figure out different ways to play these characters, but which is more efficient? Well that answer often depends on what you are trying to do with your deck. If you want to deal more damage and spend your resources on tricks and upgrades, then Vader is your better bet. If you want a wider variety of character pairings and combinations of colors, Inquisitor might be a better option.
However, that is not the end of the discussion. Taking into account the total package – the character’s HP, die faces and card effect – will give you a very strong overall understanding of how efficient the character really is. On first glance both appear powerful and could be major threats in the meta. If you take a closer look you will see how Vader edges out Inquisitor.
First off Darth Vader has an ability that is always “on” regardless of what your die faces look like. The Inquisitor has a 1/6th chance of being able to actually use his effect. Vader may remove 1 card from the opponent’s hand which means 1 less card they could play, 1 less re-roll, and 1 step closer to removing the cards in your opponent’s deck. The Inquisitor has an effect that requires a character die on the field AND that die to be showing a blank before you can do anything at all with it. Vader clearly has the edge over the Inquisitor in terms of his card effect.
Next, let’s look at the die faces. Both have 2 & 3 melee sides but Vader’s dice are free to resolve while the Inquisitor needs 1 resource to resolve the 3 damage. Vader has 2 disrupt and Inquisitor has 2 focus. Both have 1 resource, and Vader has 1 shield while Inquisitor has 1 special. The 2 focus is scary for Villain decks while 2 disrupt is not nearly as impactful in comparison. The resource generation is equivalent and 1 shield vs 1 special depends on what the special actually does. So looking overall at the dice, both have damage but Vader doesn’t need money to deal it while Inquisitor does, however the Inqusitor has the ability to control his die faces more reliably while Vader takes what he gets. This is where you as the player have to determine which character is more efficient for you and your deck. Using pure math Vader has a stronger die because damage is your primary road to victory and resources are scarce in this game. BUT math is not the only factor in building a team and determining which characters are most efficient.
If you have played Destiny in the last few months you will most likely have seen some if not all of these characters on the table. So imagine the discussion above about Vader vs Grand Inquisitor. Math would say Vader is superior but that should never be the end of your decision making process. Efficiency doesn’t always come down to what one character can do individually, characters who aren’t strikingly efficient on their own can be combined to create teams that are powerful and incredibly efficient. Poe has great dice and an amazing effect, but he is often unreliable at dealing consistent damage, PLUS he’s strategy is very susceptible to die removal when rolling at regular speed. When you add Maz into the mix, he now has a massive boost in consistency AND damage output. Looking at each character alone, you don’t see an amazing card that just does stuff anytime you activate the character, but together they form a very powerful team that we have seen dominate locals and store champs.
FN-2199 and Unkar are similar in how each of them has a powerful effect, but alone they aren’t able to do nearly as much. Unkar has fantastic dice and my favorite effect in the game. However, he can’t deal damage and that’s rather important for winning most games. FN-2199 has average dice and an incredibly powerful effect, but if the weapon you play rolls out a modified side or a die face he can’t use, you don’t really want to pitch 1 card to re-roll that single die. When you pair these two together, you see a monster of a team! Unkar can help generate the resources 9s needs to play weapons and if 9s rolls a die face he can’t use, you can use Unkar’s ability to discard a cards from your opponent’s hand and gain resources. This is pushing both characters to their maximum efficiency within the game. These types of parings are what make characters strong, finding synergy and filling in gaps. Efficiency gives players the ability to have a well rounded team that can take almost any die roll and make it advantageous at any point in the game.
As more cards and sets are released, look for interactions and combinations that allow your deck to be efficient. This will allow you to take your cards and dice and use them in multiple ways that will in turn give you the opportunity to outplay bad rolls, bad situations, and tough opponents.
Point 2: Speed
Action cheating is most commonly the term players use when addressing the speed of Destiny. At its core, Destiny is a “You go, I go” game. Each player takes 1 action and then the next player takes their action, so on, and so on. However, fast decks in Destiny are able to do 2 or more actions during a single turn. This is the second aspect of Destiny I believe players approach when using cards and building decks.
However, speed is more than just action cheating, its doing multiple things within one action, or the difference between rolling out upgrade dice with your characters vs dice on a support. Using card effects like Force Strike allow you to turn a die to melee damage AND resolve it. This is not the same speed as Force Speed’s +2 action special, but that reliable damage is often what wins you the game. Speed inside a deck needs to be speed that actually provides you means to win matches, not just burn out quickly with little return on investment.
During the Awakenings meta, Rey was the fastest character in the game because she could stack actions on actions with cards using the Ambush keyword. In the SoR meta, Poe/Maz is faster. Utilizng Hit and Run to roll Poe, and then using your ambush action to roll Maz and use her ability to focus a Poe die, allows you to deal massive damage before the opponent can react.
So what happened to Rey? Well Poe deals more damage faster. So while Rey is still fast and can cheat MANY actions in 1 turn, Poe can actually deal significant damage in a turn before the opponent can actually react in any way. At this point in the meta, Poe/Maz is fast and efficient, giving them the edge. Speed is important and can give you an edge but it is just 1 of the 3 pieces needed to build powerful teams and win games. One of the most important things to consider when building fast decks is how to use that extra speed. Too many players give themselves more actions than they need, or they have plenty of actions but not enough cards/resources to create massive bursts of damage or strategic value for that turn. Use your speed to resolve your dice before the enemy can potentially use them against you, use supports and effects that capitalize on claiming the battlefield first, and setup combos that can defeat characters while helping you gain ground in battle.
Some cards like the ones above have fast effects built into their effect, others need teamwork and synergy to create combinations of things to happen in the moments where your opponent can’t react. Although Destiny is a back and forth game, the ability to speed up your turn is very important. Without cheats of any kind, control and removal would dominate the meta and the game would likely be slow and rather boring. Finding the right mix of speed and output is what will make your deck fast and deadly. Just because you can do something fast doesn’t mean you should. Our definition of “speed” takes into account using your dice and resources as effectively as possible. This usually requires a bit of setup in both deck construction and die rolls, but I believe speed is most reliant on the player to use it at the right places in each game. With the right cards, you can dominate games without letting the opponent slow you down.
Point 3: Cost
Efficient or even fast decks all have to pay resources of some kind to utilize their dice and cards. Cost involves not just resource tokens, but character HP, cards in your deck, cards in your hand, and cards in your discard pile. Everything in Destiny has a cost and figuring out which cost is the right one to pay makes the difference between good players and great players.
In this Destiny triangle you can have 2 of the 3 points. Many decks, such as FN are fast and efficient so where does that leave them weak? Cost. FN decks use a lot of cards from the hand and those cards are not cheap. Regular decks play an upgrade and keep that die in play for a while. FN overwrites over, and over, and over all game. This forces you to quickly cycle through the cards out of your hand, reducing your chances of re-rolls, and banks on getting good die faces from the overwriting upgrade. Cards and resources in FN decks are often very thin (without Unkar) and that leads me to the cost curve of your Destiny deck.
When Ahsoka Tano was spoiled, people were really interested in fitting her into a deck, as was I. I began to look at her card and cost, and after playing out some games with her proxy, I realized her cost is rather brutal. Lets say we play eAhsoka/Mon Mothma. Turn 1 roll out Ahsoka and say you get 2 melee and 1 shield, you now have to choose to pay 2 resource tokens to ready her card or not. This creates a place where you feel that you’re only spending resource tokens on her effect, but the truth is that you will probably also discard cards to re-roll her dice in the hopes of 4 melee damage for both activations. This inflates her cost WAY past those 2 resources you spent to ready her card, and that is the true cost within Destiny I want to approach. Cards and their effects are not as clear cut as one might think. When playing a deck you have to account for all your resources in the game, regardless of where they are located.
Team Covenant’s Zach Bunn said that your best dice in the game are most likely coming from your characters. This is the first place I like to look when taking into account the cost of a deck. What die faces am I getting out of my 30 points of characters? How much HP does my team have? Do I have a high enough starting roll to take the battlefield or am I fairly bad at rolling high early game? The printed cost of upgrades and events are important to consider, but looking past that into the reliability of a die or the ability to disrupt an opponent’s die are also very important. All of these factors can add or subtract from your total cost or your opponent’s cost of playing the deck.
Let’s look at these two cards and take into account their cost. First off, the printed values of 2 and 3 resources. Without dice you can play Vibroknife turn 1 – action 1, and you have to wait for Kylo’s Saber. Vibroknife has 50% damage faces while Kylo’s Saber has 66%. Vibroknife has ambush while Kylo has the ability to reroll itself if you deal damage to shields. So where does the cost lie in these cards? Vibroknife offers a fast upgrade with an “always on” effect that can punch through shields but doesn’t offer high damage output. Kylo’s Saber gives you reliable and high damage output but relies on other dice to help proc that damage. Which is the better card? Well that depends on your deck and your cost curve. Building your decks to use a particular card within your economy is how you can gain an advantage and not overextend yourself economically.
I feel that cost is the most underrated and overlooked aspect of the Destiny triangle because players just take into account the printed variables on a card to measure value. But when you dive into Destiny, a lot of really neat things happen as you play games. You begin to see that cards have many layers, and the economy of the game is incredibly tight. Using cards like Boundless Ambition to draw a full hand of 5 cards, Field Medic or Rise Again to gain character health, or Logistics to gain resource tokens are all ways to boost the economy of your deck.
So what do these 3 points have to do with Destiny? Well the best decks out there find ways to take advantage of all these points and combat their weaknesses to be monsters in battle. Like I said previously, FN is a very expensive character to play, so Nightsister helps reduce the re-roll cost of 1 card for 1 damage. The trade of 1 card for 1 damage is totally unfair in how the exchange is valued. Poe/Maz is a very inconsistent deck without Maz’s effect. By adding her ability, you have a fast, efficient, and very low cost deck with reliable damage. Building decks using 2 of the 3 points is a good start, but if you can find ways to play around your deck’s weakness or trade on value for another (Nightsister) you will find that deck to perform well and offer strong game results.
This is an opinion of mine, but I truly believe in it. Destiny is an amazing game and I love playing with so many amazing people. But when someone asks “why can’t this deck win”, or “what can I do to improve?”. I talk to them about these points in Destiny and how to use them to your advantage. Everything in Destiny has a point and exists for some reason, I thing the challenge is ours to figure out what each card is meant to do. Some are bad some are good and some are unbalanced, but in this game, a skilled player can use a powerful deck to overcome those obstacles.
Good luck and may the force be with you!