One Player’s Opinion
This article serves as a run-down of my personal approach to deck building, and how I settled upon this iteration of Han/Rey, which I used to win Season 1 of the SWDESTINY.com TTS League. Just a brief bit of background – I have played Magic: The Gathering for over a decade, and while I’ve dabbled in other card games, it’s probably had the greatest effect on how I approach deck building. Whether that approach is correct for Destiny remains to be determined.
Coming from Magic, there are two major differences in Destiny that stick out. How the game handles resources (2 per turn), and card drawing (Draw up to 5 at the end of each turn).
The resource mechanic provides a reliable stream of resources each turn, but it also acts as a soft cap on how many resources you can use in a single turn (without carrying over resources from an earlier turn). This has been pointed out by many other players, but a 2 cost card in Destiny is your entire turn’s worth of resources (barring additional effects). 1 cost cards are half your turns resources, etc. In simplest terms it restricts you to playing one 2 cost card or two 1 cost cards in a turn.
This essentially makes three to four cards in your hand useless for anything other than re-rolls during any given turn.
Some of you may have gotten ahead of me and realized I’ve ignored 0 cost cards. 0 cost cards allow you to increase the number of cards you can play in a turn from one or two to potentially the full five. Each 0 cost card in your hand essentially increase your options by 1 (re-roll or play).
Now obviously these cards aren’t as powerful as a similar card with a 1, 2, or higher cost. However, the added flexibility combined with the draw up to five rule in Destiny makes them far more effective. In this case I’m running twelve cards that cost 0 in my Han/Rey deck, more than a third of my entire deck.
This brings us to the “draw up to five” rule which is by far the biggest consideration for me when deck building. Whether I use one card or four in a turn I still start the next turn with five. You can discard suboptimal cards at the end of turn, but that only helps your next turn, not your current one. The draw mechanic essentially rewards players who can make maximum use of all five cards each turn. Any cards left in hand at the end of turn are essentially wasted efficiency.
My final consideration which is something that applies across all games for me is consistency. If I’m running a card, it’s because I value the effect it will have on the game. In these cases I want to maximize the chance I draw it and the number of times I can use it. If I could run four Electroshocks rather than just two, it’s a virtual certainty I would. However, all effects have diminishing returns, and it would be daft to run a list with thirty Electroshocks in it, even if it were allowed. In the case of my current list, because I can’t run more than two Electroshocks, I run two copies each of Electroshock, Deflect, Unpredictable, and Heroism. Now while not exactly the same, they all allow me to manipulate my opponents dice to some extent.
As more cards become available, choosing the right combination and number of similar effects will become more important and harder to determine. As for running one-of a card effect in a deck, I don’t think there is currently a good enough argument to do so in Destiny. Typically, the best reason to run one-ofs in other games was to take advantage of card tutors (none in Destiny), or some form of inevitability while maintaining a diverse threat base, and preventing yourself from drawing redundant cards that were often useless. With the discard-to-reroll rule in Destiny, no card is truly useless.
So with that behind us, let’s dive further into the specific deck list. The first thing to note is the curve: twelve 0 cost, six 1 cost, six 2 cost, four 3 cost and two 4 cost cards. Please also note that all of the two or higher cost cards are upgrades, meaning their cost can be reduced by replacing an existing upgrade. This greatly increase the efficiency of the list. For example, the optimal turn one play in this list is to play Holdout Blaster on Rey and immediately upgrade it to Jedi Robes (Kudos to Team Covenant where I first saw this play). While less aggressive, the Jedi Robes die is far more useful early game than the more aggressive Holdout Blaster die, and having the Holdout Blaster in your discard pile means that if you have your battlefield, you can set up a double action next turn as well if you can claim.
I’ve seen numerous Han/Rey lists and everyone seems to have their own view on how best to build it. The range of cards played is fairly remarkable, so I’ve decided to breakdown my list into core cards and then those less common options.
Funnily enough these seem to be the only cards absolutely everybody agrees on.
(These do vary but tend to be seen most of the time).
x2 Jedi Robes – Given how big of a target Rey is, having this on turn one can make a massive difference.
x2 Infamous – The synergies with this list are amazing, but I do understand why some lists who lean more Blue have dropped it. However, it makes Han harder to kill, improves turn efficiency. Being able to give Hunker Down or Jetpack “Ambush” to play on Rey doubles the number of action-cheating upgrades in the list.
x2 Heroism – This card is amazing and provides another way to use excess Han shields when you don’t have Riposte.
Virtually Never Seen
x2 Street Informants – This was in my first version of Han Rey and I’ve never dropped it. A Take Cover for Han with an extra action was nice enough but having perfect information on your opponents hand gives you far more opportunities to optimize your plays. Warning: it can put you behind in actions if used incorrectly, but given you don’t have to use it, and the ability to essentially pass without passing, it’s hard to see a real downside. Side note: I’m not sure how the combination of not being able to take notes and the new rule where actions that don’t change the game state are considered a “pass” will effect a second copy of Street Informants. Personally I’d argue that given you can’t take notes it’s possible to not be 100% sure what was in the hand of your opponent. I’m not a fan of the no notes rule 😛
Obviously play style will effect how the list works. I tend to treat the list as more control orientated, and aim to survive early aggression with shields and dice mitigation, then develop the board with upgrades and do some chip damage when possible. Late game, use Rey’s ability to render opponents dice control ineffective, and start blowing up characters. Street Informants is incredibly valuable in this role, but if you prefer a different play style I’d recommend adjusting the build.
I haven’t had the opportunity to test all of them, so a lot of this will be simple card analysis. If you’ve found something particularly effective feel free to let me know.
Datapad – There are better upgrades to see early, and I never want to see it late. No real use for the special in this version of the deck.
Comlink – The ability to re-roll dice and then take an additional action with Rey is potentially nice. If it was yellow, or allowed you to choose any combination of dice, I’d probably be playing it. As of now, I need to get around to trying it.
Cunning – I have found that it doesn’t do enough in most matchups. Meta dependent.
Force Throw – Blue character only, and Rey almost always dies first.
Infiltrate – If the special wasn’t garbage, in fact, if there were just more resource sides, I’d run it.
Lightsaber– Allows you to do cute tricks with Rey before she dies. However, I don’t tend to load up Rey, so it’s not necessary in my version.
Rey’s Staff – Helps Rey’s dice a bit and is another 2-cost equipment. Same issue as Datapad though.
Awakening – I’ve heard some good things but it seems a bit slow. Haven’t tested it.
Millennium Falcon – Too expensive, you would need to run a different version of Han/Rey to make it work. At that point, it’s probably just better to run Hyperloop.
Play the Odds – Seems slow and awkward.
Daring Escape – I’ve seen this be quite devastating, and it has ambush, but a random effect for two resources is a bit steep. It also only really punishes bad rolls.
Defensive Stance – Potentially keeps Rey alive longer, however there’s nothing I’d want to swap it in for. Hunker down is at least 1 shield for 0 on Rey, which is far more cost effective.
Disarm – Paying 1 resource AND losing a die seems too high a cost for the effect. Potentially Meta Dependent
Dodge – It can blow out ranged decks but costs 2 and is useless against anything else. Meta Dependent
Hyperspace Jump – Liked the card but 3 is a bit too high of a cost for the effect and while your Battlefield is quite useful, it isn’t necessary.
Negotiate – I’ve been tempted to try it, but you don’t have enough control over how it effects the board situation – especially if your opponent knows you have it. Probably an amazing Meta call if Palpatine becomes popular.
Scavenge – Another interesting card, but I already rip through my list incredibly quickly and the extra mill worries me.
Scramble – Potentially good with Infamous, garbage without.
Shoot First – You really don’t want to give up your non modifier ranged dice. Deflect is strictly better.
Smuggling – I can generally use the cards in my hand during any turn. Most are better than discarding two cards for a resource.
Use The Force – Not yellow.
Willpower – Interesting but I’ve found it slow and unwieldy. Also not yellow.
Han/Rey has a large number of interactions and synergies which make it fun to play. The ability to chain multiple actions gives you an incredible flexibility in how your turn plays out, and allows you to break one of the core mechanics in the game.
- 4 character dice (Strong sides give you an above average chance of winning the initial roll in most match-ups.)
- Ability to take multiple actions in a row (Usually rolling and resolving dice.)
- Great synergy between the two characters abilities.
- Mixed damage. Ranged and Melee damage don’t mix well and it does reduce the reliability of damage in the early game. Thankfully Han has two non modifier sides as do Holdout Blaster and DL-44 Heavy Blaster Pistol.
Being able to resolve dice before an opponent can respond is incredibly powerful and currently only Jango, Hit and Run, Tactical Mastery and an ambush upgrade on Rey allow you to do this. Half of these are single use, and while not as reliable as Jango, you have significantly more control over when it happens. The ability to resolve dice before your opponent can interact with them allows you to render much of an opponent’s dice mitigation moot in the late game.
Your main focus should be a 2 drop upgrade – preferably Holdout Blaster or Jedi Robes, and if you can, both. After that, look for zero cost card effects such as Heroism, Unpredictable and Street Informants. Draw attention is better late game and should be thrown back if possible. If you don’t have a 2 drop upgrade, basically throw everything back. Three cost cards and higher should always be thrown back.
The main lesson for this list is: early to mid game, take whatever resources and damage you roll. Four resources turn 1 is perfectly fine and often preferable to the 3 damage for 1 side on Han. Re-rolling early to look for specific sides is generally a bad idea. Your goal is to build up to where when you do re-roll, the odds of doing massive damage are high.
Die sides you never re-roll: Rey’s Resource and Han’s 2 damage.
Die sides you don’t usually re-roll: Han’s 3 damage for 1, Rey’s 1 damage.
Situationally dependent dice: Han resource or 2 disrupt, Rey’s +1 resource or 1 Discard
Dice you always re-roll: Blanks, +2 melee with no 1 melee.
The list is incredibly resource hungry. You want to be playing upgrades, dice mitigation and resolving damage each turn, and while the cost curve helps, you’ll often be wishing for just 1 more resource. This isn’t unmanageable in most games, but it does require you replace upgrades on Rey more often than simply powering her up. After turn 1, leaving yourself with zero resources before rolling out Han is almost always a mistake. This is why taking resources early and often is perfectly fine. Inevitably, they will disappear turning into new upgrades to make later turns more effective, or paying for damage that you need to finish off a character. Resources in this list aren’t so much a loss of damage now, but insurance that you will be able to roll damage later and resolve it when you do.
The Early, Mid, and Late Game
While damage is nice, the best turn 1 play (probably in the game) is rolling and resolving 2 disrupt against your opponent before they have a chance to use their starting resources. This stunts their board development, reduces their ability to react to your dice, and forces them to roll out characters before they’re ready to. This is not a high probability play so I’d recommend against pushing for it. It’s a massive advantage if you get it, but blowing Unpredictable or additional Ambush upgrades to try for it is not recommended. An exception to this would be using Unpredictable if you roll a blank on Han, at which point, it depends on your hand.
Early game, use your dice mitigation to keep Rey alive. Her inability to use Second Chance and the fact that she doesn’t generate her own shields generally makes her the target. Dropping a One with the Force on her before she dies allows Han to be truly terrifying even alone, as the focus sides can result in ridiculous damage, and the the 3 damage side isn’t bad either. It also allows you to bypass Jango’s ability. If they target Rey this makes both Heroism and Riposte incredibly effective.
While it is possible for opponents to burn Han down first this should be incredibly difficult unless your draw is awful and they roll well. If they do attack Han first, this does make Riposte and Heroism worse. Generally I won’t play Riposte unless it kills a character (removing dice), or I have a Hunker down active on Rey against a ranged list. If you haven’t used Riposte by the end of a turn, discard it and dig for a Second Chance, as once you find one, it basically becomes a grind to kill Han.
Mid game you should have assembled a number of upgrades on your characters, and now each ambush upgrade provides an opportunity to kill a damaged character, or maim a healthy one. Street informants tends to be particularly valuable from here out, allowing you to scout your opponents hand before playing into tricks.
For example, against red heroes, knowing they have It’s a Trap or All In can drastically changes how you play. Blue has a variety of dice mitigation effects each of which you play around differently. If you catch an opponent without dice mitigation you have a free turn to make incredibly greedy plays that might otherwise get you blown out.
Late game tends to favor you against non mill lists. Recurring Second Chance is hard to break and if you have Rey, the threat of massive damage that can’t be mitigated becomes inevitable.
Your battlefield is incredibly powerful and has great synergy with the list. The ability to recur a good portion of your deck allows you to discard anything that isn’t immediately relevant with little to no consequence.
That said, the list is designed to work without it as well. Playing duplicates of strong late game cards such as Second Chance or OWTF makes it far easier to ditch them early if you do run across them which prevents them from clogging up your hand. Including Infamous also helps ensure double action upgrades even without recursion.
The main issue with any battlefield is the four point health swing you give your opponent when your battlefield is selected. Thankfully Han Rey is one of the lists that can make the trade-off worth it (Jedi Robes, Holdout Blaster into rolling Han’s 2 disrupt, etc), but it’s a lot to give up and depending on the strength of the hand you have and your opponent’s list, it’s worth considering opting into their battlefield.
Mos Eisley Spaceport is an example of a Battlefield that can give you the best of both worlds if your opponent is playing it. Bouncing Holdouts is almost as good as simply replacing an existing upgrade, but the combination of Infamous, Hunker Down, and Mos Eisley Spaceport can be fairly ridiculous as you generate resources while ensuring the double action for each turn.
Generally it’s safest to take your own Battlefield but this is one area of the game where I’d like to do more play testing, as I feel there are nuances to this interaction brought about by when you choose the Battlefield (After drawing your hand) that I haven’t fully explored.
This is an area where I don’t feel entirely comfortable discussing the list. While I’ve had plenty of games with the list and feel I have a good understanding of it and how to play it, the type of games I’ve had haven’t meet my threshold for proper testing.
There isn’t currently a local player base here due to the product shortage and while TTS has been invaluable for playing and learning the game it’s much harder to get in proper testing without dedicated playtest partners. By this, I mean most TTS games tend to be best of ones against pilots of unknown experience playing lists of unknown build quality. This isn’t meant to be disrespectful, but meant to highlight the issue of extrapolating correct conclusions from these kind of games.
I might beat every version of Hyperloop I come across not because it’s a good match-up, but because the players were tired or were experimenting with their list. I might beat the best version by the best player because they got unlucky in that game. Proper testing requires repeated testing with controlled variables.
I remember testing a list for a Magic tournament with a specific match-up, dozens of games and I couldn’t get the win rate above 30%. Swap four cards and the match-up flipped entirely in my favor. However, it took focused testing to figure out what the issue was and how best to address it.
Having said that, I feel the current list is at least a very strong starting point, and there are no current match-ups that I feel are insurmountable. If mill comes back it could be problematic as most of my mitigation is damage focused and the damage from Han/Rey can be lackluster in early turns which can give mill lists too much time. This would be a specific example that requires more testing, but there doesn’t seem to be a Tier 1 version of this strategy at the moment, so the issue may be moot.
Which brings us to Jango lists, the 80 Ton Gorilla of the format. Occasionally this list just kills things and there is nothing you can do about it, but thankfully I’ve found those instances to be few and far between. My current strategy against the list is to do as much damage to Jango as possible in the first few turns of the game before Jango becomes scary. At which point you need to wait for an Ambush upgrade so that if Jango does roll the nuts, you can mitigate it before he can resolve it. Generally the long game will favor you as you can wait until you have a board position and hand where you have good odds of just killing Jango before he can resolve his dice.
Han Rey has the tools to deal with most of the common meta threats, but given the nature of its dice, it does require a certain flexibility in play style. The path to victory tends to vary quite wildly from game to game and seemingly insignificant choices can have disproportionate effects on the late game. While I personally enjoy this kind of play style, I can easily see how it might not appeal to other players.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the TTS League and a special thanks to the tournament organizers who ran this awesome event.
Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think here in the comments.