Updated: Jul 1, 2019
Author - People’s Champion
I got into Destiny the week there was a shortage of Awakenings. I got five packs, which meant I could build really jank decks, but there was no way I would be able to play anything that was meta, like Veers/Jango, which was all the rage back in the day. And the top deck, with Darth Vader, was way beyond reach. Then Spirit of Rebellion dropped, as did the whiny apprentice Vader. He was interesting, but simply didn’t have the power level of the Sith Lord, probably because he didn’t have the High Ground. Then we went three sets, a Two-Player Game, and a Draft Kit without another Vader (there was a hint in the draft kit, but conflicted Anakin never amounted to much). So when Across the Galaxy was released it was high time for another Vader, and the Terror to Behold lived up to his name, and I knew I wanted to make him work. And since there hasn’t been a shortage of packs, I knew I had a shot of actually playing this version of Darth Vader.
Regionals hit, and Vader/Greedo was the deck to play, taking over half of the regionals post Snoke nerf. But with Convergence and rotation, Vader lost a lot of yellow toys, like Delve and Friends in High Places, so he all but disappeared. But my love for the dark lord of the Sith did not. So in preparation for the Phoenix Force Championship, our local replacement for the absentee Store Championships, I decided to bring Darth Vader-Terror to Behold back into play. My first thought was to bring Vader/Greedo back and give my best shot at replacing the missing cards with worthwhile new stuff. But after facing a mill deck where my opponent intentionally was removing Vader’s dice so I would have to pitch to get them back, and advance his win condition for him, I realized I needed some retribution for that. So I finally settled on:
Darth Vader/Battle Droid/Retribution
Since I was playing Retribution with Vader, I had three options: Battle Droid, Jawa Scavenger, and Clawdite Shapeshifter. While I did consider bringing the Clawdite, and make her a Sith so I could play A Tale of Tragedy on Vader’s dice, villain red is in a really good spot right now, and so bringing the Battle Droid gives me access to a whole grouping of incredible cards. And the Battle Droid seemed like the perfect sidekick, not to deal damage, but to absorb it, and be there for cards like Respite. Anyway, on to the list. Most list breakdowns I have seen divide things up into Upgrades, Supports, and Events (cause who has time for Downgrades?). But as I was building my deck, I had my own categories that did not run along those lines, and so I will break the list down according to how I divided the cards.
Damage Dealers: These cards deal damage in their own right, and are to be added to Vader’s dice to put your opponents’characters in an early grave.
Darth Vader’s Lightsaber/Maul’s Lightsaber-This really should be two Vader’s Lightsabers, but since I only own one, Maul’s was a reasonable substitute. Darth Vader’s Lightsaber on the Sith Lord himself is insanely powerful, giving you the potential, between three dice and four resources, to deal 17 damage in one round. While that is highly unlikely, dealing 10 is not at all unreasonable.
Vader’s Fist-If you can actually make the resources to play it, it’s one of the, if not the, most powerful card in the game. And it’s thematic. Bring them both.
Resource Generation: These cards give you money to pay for your other fun cards.
Respite-Your Battle Droid is there to give you red and absorb damage. And if you get the chance ping damage is nice. What’s even better is using it to gain a resource and card, which is helpful on so many levels. Using this card on your Battle Droid as your first action is important. It gives you more knowledge on how to play your turn, such as if you drew a Fist and need to save, or what your mitigation options will be.
Aggression: These cards assist you in maximizing the output of your damage dealing dice.
Senate Chamber-This support is surprisingly strong in a Vader deck. You have very few dice in your pool with high damage output, so a 2 focus can result in an 8+ damage swing, depending on what’s in your pool. And don’t forget its power action, which can be used either offensively or defensively. You often have a useless Battle Droid dice that you can remove to blank an opponent’s dice or flip one of your dice to any side. My favorite is to remove my Battle Droid dice to turn the Senate Chamber to its two focus for big damage after my opponent has burned all of their mitigation.
Inferno Squad ID10 Seeker Droid-This little guy has not been very popular for its power level. While you can only play one because it is unique, it far exceeds any of its counterparts that would fill the same spot, namely Dark Counsel and Crystal Ball. All three have two one focus sides and a resource. But the Seeker Droid has no blanks, a melee damage, and a special that gives you hand knowledge so you can play around mitigation, and targeted card removal. It does it all, and it is never unresolvable.
Fear and Dead Men-Three wide decks cry when this card hits the table. A potential 12 damage is an enormous damage swing and will significantly advance your win condition. And it is even powerful early against a two wide, giving you essentially the opportunity to resolve Vader’s 4 for 1 twice.
Reach the Stars-This is another card like the Seeker Droid, it needed the right deck, and it sure found it with Vader. And it can do everything. The re-roll combined with ambush can turn bad rolls/opponents blanking your dice into big damage with no mitigation. And with Vader having such a good battlefield roll off, you have a good chance of getting the second roll. As a side note, the second roll can re-roll a dice you re-rolled with the first. So if your Vader dice rolls the two shield side you can re-roll for damage.
Defense: These cards hinder your opponent for achieving their game plan or from hindering yours.
Vigilance-Everybody and their uncle has a two focus side these days. Vigilance turns those powerful sides into blanks. I used this card once to kill five dice for six damage when my opponent rolled a two focus, one focus, and three blanks with their last card. That move won me that game. With Retribution there is the extra benefit that your opponent wants to turn your dice rather than remove, but now they can’t, protecting your high value dice even more.
Probe-One of the biggest threats to Vader’s dice are lots of events. Probe makes lots of events only a couple.
Flames of the Past-This was included to take out some of the bigger supports in the game, with the added fun of being able to discard an opponent’s Vader’s Fist if you have one in your own discard pile.
Mitigation: These cards directly affect your opponent’s ability to resolve their dice, either through removal, turning, or re-rolling their dice.
A Sinister Peace-Really good for those big dice you need removed, for the cost of an extra card.
Beguile-Panic mitigation. Can affect three dice, but only truly removes one of them. It isn’t the best mitigation outside of mill, but it is the best mass mitigation available to red/blue villain.
Doubt-Risky, but can pay off big if they can hit the blankor a modifier.
Forsaken-This can be very useful, and the Battle Droid will put one dice in your pool, so rather easy to meet the play condition.
Hidden Motive-The thing to remember is that even if this doesn’t remove a dice, it can still reroll it into something worse.
Lack of Faith-This card is not so common, but you will always meet your spot condition in games that are still winnable. It is great against decks that actually use their characters, either big/little pairings or middle/middle pairings, but suffers against support oriented decks and three wides.
The Best Defense...-Great Mitigation, especially since your Battle Droid doesn’t do much. It’s always fun to remove two high damage dice with this while having your Battle Droid at five damage. One effective damage for two dice is a deal that can’t be beat.
Fighting Pit-The only potential downside to Fighting Pit is when you’re facing Phasma3 or Megablaster Troopers and they can used it on a First Order Stormtrooper dice that doesn’t have a character associated with it. Other than that Vader will almost always win these trade-offs.
How this deck plays:
This deck focuses on getting a few powerful dice in play and maximizing their damage while minimizing your opponent’s ability to mitigate them. Even if your opponent does remove Vader’s dice, they have taken at least two damage for their efforts, and spent a lot of cards and resources to do so. All that while, you are building your board state and sneaking some damage through. Always resolve Vader’s three damage and four if you have the resource. You almost always want to resolve Vader’s two resource, unless you already have a stockpile of cash or are hunting for a kill. The shields and two melee sides you can take if you can’t afford to re-roll anymore, and they’re decent, but you want a lot more value out of your 5 point dice.
This deck’s primary weakness is going to be three wide decks that ramp quickly. If Vader cannot reduce the difference in health pools quickly, he will be playing from behind. That being said, an early Fear and Dead Men will give you a significant lead since the large health pool they sacrificed dice value for is actually working against them.
I won’t go into the details of my tournament except to say that the two losses in my 3-2 record were first to an Aphra ramp deck, with no Fear and Dead Men, and to an elite Padmé/Saw/Armored Reinforcement deck that won because he played two Seize the Days and an Instigate in one turn, so the hand chock full of mitigation I had was dead weight. Other than those two games this deck crushed the opposition. And there was one other Vader/Droid/Retribution deck at the tournament which took second place. So don’t let my middling result confuse you, this deck has power.
The changes I would make to this deck today are to take out the Flames of the Past and add in a Mind Extraction. Vader’s Fist was not a common enough threat during the tournament, and if anyone was relying on a fat vehicle in any way, they only ran one just to be safe. Mind Extraction, on the other hand, can stop many characters in their tracks. The other change I might consider is trying to find room for a pair of Seize the Days. The ability to gain initiative and surprise damage is powerful. Tactical Mastery could do the same thing, but it feels like a liability given that you plan to kill your Battle Droid with The Best Defense... and indirect damage.
Darth Vader is still a Terror to Behold. His power level and ability to maintain his dice makes him a real threat from his initial action, being able to get a turn one kill on many characters. He has a lot of potential to do very well in tournament settings, even if his best partner Greedo had the highest value toys rotate out. And at the end of the day, even if you don’t win anything, it is a lot of fun and very thematic to have Darth Vader cut through your opponents like they are a hallway full of rebel troopers between you and the stolen Death Star plans.
Thanks for reading!