Making Epic Decks: Part 3 of 3

So at this point, you should have a path to victory and a bread-and-butter offense card, plus any additional offense needed to finish off an opponent.  Therefore, you’ve probably got 7-9 cards of your deck already filled out.  Now it’s just about supporting those cards.

5.  Support cards: What a deck needs now is support for the path to victory, help to pull it off.  The most common of these are movement, defense, healing and card draws.  They don’t directly contribute towards winning the game, but make the path to victory more likely to go off.  They can also be cards that just represent other aspects of a character’s personality, but do something different, such as forced discarding (Dooku’s FORCE DRAIN) or action denial (Boba and Jango with WRIST CABLE).

5A. Movement.  If you don’t have movement in your deck by now, you probably want to include it.  Or, you might consider seeing if you can work it into the cards you’ve already created.  The only characters who don’t need it are the ones who can do damage from any distance, like a Vader or Palpatine, but even Palpy has movement in ROYAL COMMAND.  Yoda lacks it, and it hurts him to the point where I wouldn’t make another deck without movement, but at least he can take movement away from others.  Most characters generally have 2-3 movement cards, but if you can’t for some reason include 2-3, I advise making sure each major character has at least one.  For my Finn & Poe deck, Poe is intended to drive the movement, but in case Poe gets killed early by CHOKE or something, I made sure Finn had at least one movement card.  You don’t want to be forced to rely upon the dice roll.

I tend to think 2 is the right number of movement-only cards, unless you really want to emphasize movement in a deck, or to just water it down a bit in terms of offense and defense.  With Dooku, I think they just sort of needed to fill the deck out, and having a 3x movement card called “Give Orders” supports his commander persona, but I don’t think it helps his deck much.  You look at Mace, and it’s nice to always have some movement with WISDOM, but having 2-3 in your hand really just bogs it down, so we play with only two and it works well.

So now your deck might look like:

3x Bread-and-Butter offense
2x Path to Victory card
2x Path to Victory card
1x Big Offense finisher
2x Movement

Probably just 2-3 spots left!

5B. Increased staying power.  It comes in 2 forms: Defense and healing.  For the most part, defense is better because it doesn’t cost an action to use, and it prevents the damage from occurring instead of recovering it.  Power defense is actually a little too popular in my opinion, but at the same time, I admit it’s fun to play the game when you’re trying to match each other’s big attacks with big defense cards.

Notes on power defense:  I wouldn’t give anyone more than 2, unless it’s an intentionally super-defensive type, like Yoda or Obi-Wan level of defense.  Unless you want such a deck to be overpowered, it’s going to have to be weak offensively and in my experience, those types of decks just aren’t very fun to play.  Even 2 with a Blue deck is a LOT of defense — that plus strong minors is a tank type of deck like Shaak Ti.  She is fun to play as a defensive type, but in part because she’s really strong.

Oh, and because this comes up a lot:  Defense + movement is really powerful.  If you want to include, include only one, or make it have a low defense value to where you’re taking damage to use it.

5C.  Sponge card(s).  This is a concept that Sultan identified.  As demonstrated, your deck might be completed filled out already, and if so, great!  If not, you probably have just 1-2 slots left.  See what kind of deck you have.  See if it’s missing anything.  See what, if anything, would round out it’s game, or further develop it’s theme.

If the deck is really strong, make this card weak, almost a throw-away.  ROYAL COMMAND is a classic example.

If the deck is too weak, throw in one more big offensive move here.  Dooku’s sponge card is FORCE DRAIN.  It not only adds offense, but adds a dimension, giving the opponent one more thing to worry about.  It also adds theme with a little bit more dark sided feeling.  Jango’s sponge is, I suppose, FLAMETHROWER, and while it’s very thematic for him, it probably isn’t powerful enough.

This is also a good place for what I call a “card trick” card that lets you manipulate your draw pile or discard pile.

I think when Obi-Wan was designed, they sort of finished the deck but there was still room for 2 sponge cards, so they gave him 2:  FORCE BALANCE and JEDI MIND TRICK.  JEDI MIND TRICK is nice, but I don’t think it’s a great card, and therefore, it’s a fine little sponge for Obi-Wan.  FORCE BALANCE, on the other hand, I’ve seen it win games.  It’s one more big trick for a deck that is already dominant.  I like it a lot better in powered down versions of Obi-Wan, like the one we use, or the one in the 10YA Tournament Set.

However you’re going to do it, go ahead and finish out your 12 special cards.

Notes on personality minors:

  • Minor cards are often as powerful or more powerful than major cards.  They need to be threatening and give the opponent a reason to kill them.
  • Along with the above, minors typically need at least one big offense card, like an A7 at least, probably with other offense too.
  • Being a threat is what’s important, so minors don’t often have power defense.  There are exceptions but it just decreases the incentive for the opponent to attack the minor, and you need the opponent to attack the minor.
  • That stated, minors do not need to be able to win the game on their own if the major gets destroyed early.
  • Minors typically like to have their own added movement as well.
  • Finally, you can add some increased staying power to give the minor an all-around game.

6.  Select a basic deck.  If you haven’t done this already, do it now.  It will help determine the rest of the deck from here.

6A.  Major basic decks

All the decks you need are laid out here.  The Blue deck is generally the way to go for Jedi types.  It’s actually quite strong, and a Blue deck alone is adequate defense for many characters.  It is Dooku’s sole source of defense, plays more of an offensive role for Obi-Wan, and plays a balanced role for Mace.  For non-Jedi melee types like Rey or Jabba, use the Brown deck, which is weaker but decent.

The Red deck is weaker than the Blue, but it does provide better offense.  You can sort of get away with a Red deck’s 4x A5 as bread-and-butter offense, which both Luke and Vader do, to some degree, though neither are very good melee fighters.  Therefore, I would definitely supplement a Red deck with offensive help, plus it needs more defensive help to be on par, combat wise, with a Blue deck character.  Relying upon a Red deck to do damage isn’t the way to go, because you might need all of your basic cards as defense.  If you have a lot of power defense, like Mace though, the Red deck starts to become pretty good, as it is for Eowyn.  That A3D2 card, though, yikes.

I generally reserve the Green deck for master types like Yoda and Plagueis, but I don’t actually think it’s any stronger than Blue, so go ahead and use it for a defensive type if you want to.  I once tinkered with an Aqua, weaker defensive deck, but Green is all you really need.

The Yellow Deck is weak, so some like to use the Orange as the base deck for shooters.  Personally, I think if the Yellow is good enough for Boba Fett, it’s good enough for anyone else with a gun.  I save the Orange for shooters who can also use lightsabers, like a Bespin Luke or Aurra Sing.  (Beckett didn’t kill her, he just gave her a push.  The fall killed her).

6B.  Minor basic decks

For personality minors:  Use either the strong ranged deck, or the Minor Blue (strong) melee deck, 9 times out of 10.  You can tweak either deck, or use a Minor Red or Minor Green, but I don’t see any of that too often – though giving a ranged minor an A5D1 to replace an A4D1 is a fairly typical tweak.  We do give Minor Anakin and Minor Sidious Red decks, and we give our Padawan Obi-Wan an A1D5.

For non-personality minors:  Use the Strong Ranged or Weak Ranged deck.  For melee minors, you can use the Minor Blue for strong minors, or the melee minor deck for weak ones.

As mentioned in Part 1, the strong deck is MUCH stronger than the weak deck!  A pair of strong minors with 5 HP each is WAY better than weak ones with 4 HP each.  If you want a balanced deck with strong minors, the major will have to be weaker.  Dooku and Mace are about even in strength, but if you really compare Dooku’s cards to Mace’s, Mace’s are better.  What makes the decks about even is Dooku’s strong minors.

7.  Hit points

7A.  Major hit points

This shouldn’t be too hard, just assign 13-20 HP to your major character.  I typically start with 16 for most Jedi types, 14 or 15 for shooters.  Some other considerations:

– The original Hasbro set had a floor of 13 HP for majors (Han, Palpatine) and a ceiling of 20 (Vader).
– In my experience, I’ve seen 12 HP work for majors (Nute, Greedo) and as many as 24 work for majors (AT-ST, Cave Troll, Smaug) but I believe Deck Designer will only support 23 in print.
– A deck’s TOTAL hit points does not exceed 28 in the Hasbro set (Dooku, Anakin).  I think the 30 HP total for the Cave Troll works just fine (in 2v2 anyways.  He’s a beast — pun intended — in 1v1).

7B.  Minor hit points

For personality minors:  Just go with 10, unless there’s an exception being made, like there is for the original Chewbacca or Greedo.

Sometimes we give more than 10 HP to Jedi minors like Padawan Obi-Wan (13 in his case), especially if the minor is a full-on Jedi, like Agen Kolar or Adi Gallia.  At the same time, I use 10 HP for Padawan Barriss Offee, and she works just fine (they were a really tough deck back when she had 13).  So again, I’d start at 10 and go from there.

For non-personality minors:  Pretty simple, most weak ones have 4 HP, and most strong ones have 5 HP.

Some super-weak ones, like Battle Droids or maybe Geonosians, would get as few as 3 HP.  For some super-strong ones, like Droidekas, or Ponda Baba and Dr. Evazan, I’ve gone as high as 7 HP and believe that it works pretty well, but note that those majors are the ones with only 12 HP.

Now you’re ready to lay out your deck!

I generally test decks out myself using Vassal.  I’ll put it in a 2v2 match with decks that are balanced against each other and see how it performs.  Remember that it has to be fun to not only play your deck, but play against it.  A deck that has an answer for everything isn’t fun to oppose.

In the future, you can totally break a lot of the rules I’ve laid out, but we tend to do it carefully, and one at a time, or the entire deck can get off track.


  1. JAG18 says:

    This is really cool and well done. In lieu of spending hours reading all the material at the forums on this subject this is a pretty good substitute and hopefully becomes the starting point for future deck makers.

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