Author - People’s Champion
The life of Doctor Aphra has been an interesting one. And I’m not just talking about Darth Vader’s artifact hunting sidekick from the comics, but also the legendary card from Legacies. When she was first released she was mediocre at best. She has slight synergy with BT-1, Ark Angel, and a few cards like Dangerous Maneuvers. But anyone familiar with the comics knew she was missing her protocol droid sidekick, and more than that, she seemed to be missing the deck synergies she needed to make her shine. So she didn’t make much of a splash when she was released. It wasn’t until Way of the Force when 0-0-0 was released that she got that special something she needed. And every set since she has become more and more of a threat until recently, when she had a huge presence at GenCon.
How did this work? How did Doctor Aphra become more powerful as the game went on, while originally overpowered characters like Yoda have slowly disappeared? Let me show you by comparing two different characters: Palpatine-Unlimited Power and Captain Phasma-Stormtrooper Commander. Both of these characters made a huge splash on the Convergence meta, and are similar to each other in that they joined Darth Vader-Terror to Behold in making big characters viable in their own unique ways. But the difference between Palpatine and Phasma is how they will adapt to the meta long term. Phasma decks will change very little. New partners will come along, occasionally you’ll get some new tech to work with Troopers like the AT-RT does. But for the most part, a Phasma deck will look the same as the game develops. Palpatine, however, grows and changes exponentially as more sets come out.
Spark of Hope is a surprisingly bad example of this happening only because there were so few abilities in this set, and none of them being big damage that can apply pressure. But as more sets come out that can continue to change, and Palpatine can begin to look very different with each set. After all, ability subtype upgrades have been, and will continue to be, very common in Destiny. And so each of these ability upgrades, whether they were intended for Palpatine or not, will be considered for his kit. Take Mastermind for example. Mastermind was clearly designed for Thrawn. But if in Covert Missions we get a blue ability that is better when you have hand knowledge, suddenly Mastermind becomes a powerful tool on Palpatine.
This is exactly what has happened with Aphra. She, like Palpatine, has an ability that gets better the more the game matures. Every time a droid or droid tech or self-applied indirect damage gets released, the unique possibilities with Aphra change. That’s why the evolution over the meta has been so diverse, with Aphra finding new partners and new deck ideas all the time. It really started with SAD (Snoke, Aphra, Droid) which was able to consistently lay down damage, but has found many other iterations up to the most recent three dice Aphra, Wat, Sentinel Messenger with Grand Design that was all over GenCon. But more than the new pairings, Aphra changes as new tech comes her way, and at this point there is so much tech that the deck options are extremely varied.
While I could build a deck resembling many from GenCon and try and tell you why it’s good, I’m figuring there will be many articles soon doing that. Instead I felt like wandering off the beaten path to see what else there was, and I ran into an old idea I never really tried to make work from the Convergence meta: Doctor Aphra, General Grievous, and two Battle Droids. This team comes in at exactly 30 points with 31 health, and not great dice. But it’s not counting on its character dice, it’s counting on its synergy. The idea is to use Aphra’s ability to draw and play a lot of droid supports, and overwhelm your opponent with piles of indirect damage. Grievous is on this team so that first with his ability you can add two Battle Droids to your team at five points each, and second so that you can use his power action to reroll all character and support dice for free. With all of the droids in this deck it’s almost a free pitch to reroll. The Battle Droids are there to absorb tons of indirect damage and self damage, giving you the longevity to close out the game. So let’s dive into this deck.
0-0-0: The centerpiece of your deck, Triple Zero turns all of your self indirect into aggression, stacking the indirect on your opponent quickly. This deck really suffers until he comes along, and this is the reason you need all of Aphra’s card draw capabilities.
BT-1: The guaranteed damage off of activation is powerful, if you can pay the price to your own health pool. And with Triple Zero, that damage is doubled, making him an incredible threat.
Assassin Droid: Much better if you were running Wat or Energize, since you could get the extra ping damage in a round. But the same as with BT-1, automatic, unstoppable damage on activations is an incredibly powerful tool.
Coruscant Police: This is purely a value play. If it’s your first droid played in a round, it costs one, and has six resolvable sides with no modifiers and pay sides. And in the right match up you could even remove a dice. Hard to beat that.
STAP Droid: Another value play, being able to come in for free off of Aphra’s ability, and the 3 for 1 indirect side is incredible on a one cost support.
Climate Disruption Array: Another instance of automatic damage, and with 0-0-0 and Aphra you deal more damage to your opponent and you draw a card, giving you a significant advantage.
Act of Cruelty: Since almost all of your damage is indirect, odds are your opponent will have plenty of characters with damage on them. This card will push your win condition and can easily snipe a character out of nowhere, regardless of shields or defensive upgrades like Riot Shield and Armor Plating. And if you opponent's characters are dying, you can further hamper them by forcing discards.
Tech Team: All of the important damage cards in this deck are supports, so Tech Team is here to enable you to pay for them and your mitigation. It’s only good if you get it early, but it can make a huge difference. And always remember you can pay for your second with your first.
Reprogram: As many of your cards are droids, this should almost always be playable, and if it’s not, deal some indirect to yourself so you can draw your droids.
Modular Frame: Two of these can make a Battle Droid have eight health. Then they redeploy to give your other Battle Droid eight health. Then they redeploy to give Grievous eleven health. That’s six extra health, which could easily swing a game. And since you will be dealing loads of indirect damage, and having The Best Defense... you get to decide when these redeploy to ensure you get the most out of them.
Bubble Shield: Usually including Buble Shield in a deck is a risky move because it’s a dead card if your opponent doesn’t deal indirect damage. But you deal it to yourself, so you know these will enable your survivability, giving you six extra health to work with if you see both of them.
Automated Defense: A simple one card and one resource to remove one dice, but with the condition that you be able to spot a droid. What would be really impressive is if there were a time with this deck that you couldn’t spot a droid.
By Any Means: Again, one cost, one card, one dice. But the self-inflicted indirect can proc both Aphra’s draw and 0-0-0’s damage, which makes it advantageous in this deck.
Crash Landing: Essentially a one-off guardian, but since the damage is dealt as indirect, it triggers all of your abilities, and the damage can be applied to your Bubble Shields.
Dangerous Maneuvers: This is helpful when your opponent has direct damage, because it allows you to move that damage to a Battle Droid you’d prefer to kill, and it enables all of your self indirect abilities. One other spicy move with this is to deal the indirect onto shields, turning it into an effective heal.
Desperate Measures: A card that was made for Aphra, dealing indirect to yourself to remove your opponent’s greatest threat. Sure, using desperate measures on Vader’s Fist would almost kill a Battle Droid, but they’d kill that Droid if left on the field anyway, so it's best to remove the threat.
The Best Defense...: Given that you are in control of the flow of damage to your characters, you could use this and deal all of the damage to a Battle Droid with one health left and causing your Modular Frames to redeploy at exactly the right time.
The idea behind this deck is to create a game timer with health. You are forcing your opponent to kill or mill you out before your indirect timer maxes out and you ping them for enough damage to end the game. And because you have so much self indirect damage, you put yourself on that timer too, forcing you to slow your opponent’s damage to you until you can deal enough to them. That is why having such a large health pool for yourself is important, since it gives you more time to finish off your opponent. There are plenty of cards in your deck that let you snipe a character once they are getting close to being defeated, which can give you a significant breather, extending your timer. Essentially your goal is one of attrition, filling the board on both sides with so much damage that your opponent cannot keep up.
I have serious doubts this deck will do well. The rainbow version with Wat and the Sentinel Messenger has the advantage of being rainbow, giving you access to all of the powerful zero cost removal, and giving you Wat’s power action which can make a huge difference when you can roll in a dice twice in a round. The other reason this will suffer is that everyone is worried about the Ewok swarm, meaning that there is going to be lots of area of effect cards being played, which will hurt the four wide version of this deck more than a three wide. But in spite of it not being super strong right now, it is a very fun way to build and play with Aphra.
And remember, the goal of this deck is exactly what the flavor text on the Convergence version of The Best Defense… says, “When you have overwhelming numbers, collateral damage is perfectly acceptable.”
Thanks for Reading!
Author- People’s Champion