Continuing the guidelines on building a good Epic Duels deck. So you know why you’re doing a deck, and you know, typically in a combination of 4-6 cards, it’s path to victory. Now what?
3. Bread-and-butter offense: I used to call this the “signature card” but bread-and-butter is a better descriptor, and I’m intentionally adding the word “offense” to it, because it kind of needs to be. Every major character needs special cards that boost his offense, an offensive move s/he can rely on, his or her bread-and-butter. Everyone knows that they have to watch out for it. Some boxes need to be checked:
– There needs to be at least 3 copies of this card, 4 is also fine.
– It can’t be too heavily situational. You need to be able to use it early and often. It can’t be so precious that you’re afraid to use it. If it combos with another card, it can’t rely upon that combo to be effective.
– It should be something you can use against minors. If you can ONLY use it against minors, like Anakin’s WRATH, that actually works as long as your deck has enough major-damaging cards to win the game. If you can ONLY use this card against majors, that really doesn’t work as a bread-and-butter card because it’s a card you have to save for the right moment. A card that you had to wait to play just made that character do nothing early on. It was a big problem with an old Kit Fisto deck where you had to collect 3 or 4 of a card with 4 copies — it never worked for bread-and-butter.
– Offense can be in the form of direct damage or discarding, not just a power attack. Luke‘s bread-and-butter is I WILL NOT FIGHT YOU, more on that later. Yoda’s is FORCE LIFT, another forced discarding card. Emperor Palpatine’s bread-and-butter offense is FORCE LIGHTNING, a combination of direct damage and forced discarding, while Vader actually has 2 sets of bread-and-butter cards, all dealing entirely in direct damage in CHOKE and WRATH.
– FWIW, in the original SWED game, all of the shooters had a 3x A4 as their bread-and-butter in GAMBLER’S LUCK and ROCKET RETREAT. I tend to follow this rule, giving shooters 3x A4 as their bread-and-butter (though not always).
– For Dooku or Emperor Palpatine, the bread-and-butter offense can also be part of the path to victory. It doesn’t need to be, though. Han’s GAMBLER’S LUCK and Anakin’s WRATH are more complementary.
All of the original 12 characters have a bread-and-butter offense card:
Han: GAMBLER’S LUCK
Luke: I WILL NOT FIGHT YOU
Mace: BATTLE MIND (kind of)
Obi-Wan: JEDI ATTACK
Yoda: FORCE LIFT
Boba & Jango: ROCKET RETREAT
Maul: SITH SPEED, SUPER SITH SPEED, even ATHLETIC SURGE
Palpatine: FORCE LIGHTNING
Vader: CHOKE and WRATH
Attack-and-move cards are really good for these. Obi-Wan, Anakin, Maul and both Fetts have movement incorporated into their bread-and-butter. If I don’t know what else to do for a deck, I’ll go with attack+move as a starting point for a bread-and-butter offense card.
If your PtV cards are enough to win the game outright, make these B&B cards a little weaker. If the PtV cards aren’t enough, make these B&B cards a little stronger, and/or consider adding 1-2 more big offense cards to the deck, such as high attacks or direct damage. This can be especially true if you have a personality minor, who might be able to carry 1-2 big offense cards. Again, you don’t want the major to rely upon the minor to win on his/her own.
Dooku’s 4-card TAUNTING is really his entire path to victory and bread-and-butter attack all right there in just 4 cards. That alone wouldn’t be enough to kill off majors and minors, so he has some other offense cards, FORCE DRAIN in particular is quite powerful, and his strong minors play an important role in his deck.
One less obvious B&B offense card is Luke’s I WILL NOT FIGHT YOU. It’s definitely somewhat situational and sort of pushes the limit of how situational a bread and butter card can be, yet it is Luke’s bread and butter and part of what makes his a funky deck in some ways. I’d argue if you’re playing Luke correctly, you’re going to use IWNFY early and often, and not wait for the perfect situation. JUSTICE is far more situational — Luke has to save it for the right moment and it just takes up space in his hand (at least without our tweak to A6, which lets him at least use it on a Clone).
For a much more straight up example, let’s take a look at Anakin: His path to victory is ANGER-CALM. WRATH, though, is his bread-and-butter. It’s the card you can use while trying to set up your path to victory, allowing you to save your best cards for the important moments. Instead being part of the path to victory, WRATH complements it by dispensing with minors. ANGER-CALM alone probably isn’t enough to kill an opposing major, so Anakin does need another big attack or 2. In his deck, Padme carries those. Without her, Anakin typically has to cycle through his deck for more ANGER. Without Padme, Anakin can sometimes get by with his Red deck offense against weaker characters, but you don’t want to have to rely upon that.
Han and Chewie are obviously looking to play and recycle BOWCASTER, but GAMBLER’S LUCK is something Han can use early and often. Even when Chewie is out of the game, GAMBLER’S LUCK keeps Han in the game and lets him save his HEROIC RETREAT cards for key moments.
Other than Luke’s I WILL NOT FIGHT YOU, the other really wonky bread-and-butter offense card is actually Mace’s BATTLE MIND. It’s obviously a better and more flexible card than MASTERFUL FIGHTING, but I think Mace would really work better if he had a third or even fourth MASTERFUL FIGHTING as his bread-and-butter offense (in addition to BM, not in place of). BATTLE MIND is a card you will typically either save to use as defense, or save up for the right time to use on offense. I’d rather have 4 copies of the better card in BATTLE MIND than MASTERFUL FIGHTING, but it doesn’t really fit the definition of bread-and-butter offense since you can’t use it early and often. We think our Mace plays better with 4x MASTERFUL FIGHTING (though we boost ours to A6 because we think Mace should be really tough) and sacrificed 2 of his 4 WISDOM cards.
Anyways, there are different ways to do a bread and butter offense card, both as part of the path to victory, or as not. For your first deck, I’d probably give your character a combo of 4 cards that s/he uses to get a big advantage, plus a 3x bread-and-butter attack that can support that card, plus any other big offense cards you need to make sure this deck can get the job done in terms of killing another character. Speaking of which…
4. Damage check
Time to make sure: If the minor or minors are dispensed with fairly quickly, does your major character have enough offense to defeat another major? At least if he gets through his deck a second time and gets some of his best offense cards early?
Notice we’re not interested in defense just yet. One lesson I learned in creating the Saesee & Agen deck was that you really need to make sure your character can kill the other guy first, before worrying about defense or movement or anything else. At one point, Saesee had a couple of power D cards, but if Agen went down, he simply didn’t have enough to win the game on his own and as mentioned, this just doesn’t work for a deck for a major to not be able to win on his own. Out went the power D, in came his A5 CONVICTION cards, and while you might think that defense is more desirable and balances the deck better, the deck works much better with those A5s than it did with D5s. Defense is nice, in fact it’s very powerful, but the first order of business is making sure your deck can kill the other guy. Your character needs something s/he can do, not just something s/he can react with.
So as far as attack cards go, it’s hard to say for sure, but you have to figure your opponent will have 2.5 points of defense for every attack you play. So adding in any direct damage, you want to see how your character can do 18 or so points of damage. If you can force discarding, especially an INSIGHT and FORCE DRAIN, the defense played against you could potentially go down. If you do direct damage without forcing the opponent to discard or play any defense, then the defense played against you could potentially go up. If you’re not sure, go ahead and add 1-2 big offense cards to round out the deck’s offense. So your deck should be looking something like this:
2x Path to Victory Card
2x Path to Victory Card
3x Bread-and-Butter Offense
1x Big Offense Card
If you’ve grasped the why, the path to victory, and the bread-and-butter offense of your deck, plus any final offense, you should have a good deck going by now. You should have 7-9 cards in your deck by now, and a pretty good idea of why it’s there, what it does, and how it wins.
At this point, as you’ve probably figured out, it’s just a matter of filling the rest of the deck out with support cards, especially defense and movement. We’ll cover those in the next section.