Author - People’s Champion
I love the lengths the design team went to in order to make Grand Admiral Mitth’raw’nuruodo, commonly known by his core name of Thrawn, a very thematic character. Sorry for being pretentious, I just finished Timothy Zahn’s recent Thrawn trilogy--which is a really fun read--and I feel like the character design captures the Thrawn of the books. There are many times that Thrawn is doing something that seems completely insane until the other characters finally catch up with his thinking, and suddenly discover that he was doing exactly what needed to be done. He was thinking ahead, fighting his opponent based not only on what his opponent was doing, but on what they would be doing. There is even an instance where he wins a naval battle against three times the forces while aboard the opposing ship. I don't want to spoil it for you, read the books. But this sort of planning works exceedingly well with the character design where while you are playing Thrawn you are able to know not only what your opponent is going to do next, but also to use that knowledge against them. Unfortunately, what I love about the design of Thrawn is what intimidates me about playing him: namely that I feel like I need to be as brilliant as the Grand Admiral to be able to use him efficiently. That being said, if you can keep up with all of the brain power required to make him work, he can be absolutely devastating to your opponent. And so with that in mind, I present you with the following deck.
One thing I had a lot of fun with on this list is the theme. While some cards in here are there specifically to make the deck better (Umbaran Hover Tank is definitely not thematic), a good number of cards actually work thematically even up to the partner character and chosen plot. To my knowledge Palpatine has never used one of his Sentinel Messengers to communicate with Thrawn, but it is entirely believable that he would. And so having one assisting Thrawn makes sense. And it gives you a second advantage of having up to nine cards you can play. Five in your hand, one from the top of your opponent’s deck with Thrawn’s power action, and two more I’ll mention later in the article.
Armored Reinforcement is also not only thematic but strong in this deck. It’s thematic in that Thrawn is known for going into battle with the military might of the Empire at his back. It’s strong in this deck because it allows you to pull one of your three cost vehicles and play it on round one. But what’s great about that is you get to see what your opponent is playing before you make the decision, allowing you to gain the advantage of having the right card on the table from the beginning of the game.
Now let’s get into the deck itself.
These are for your Armored Reinforcement pull and your fourth dice. You decide which advantage helps you more at the beginning of the game and you pull that vehicle.
Count Dooku’s Solar Sailer-This gives you resource advantage over your opponent, with either actual resources, focuses, or additional health. And every time you activate it you get to draw a card, giving you the potential of using nine cards in one round, with the right set up. This is going to be your standard pull unless you find yourself sitting across from a wide team.
Umbaran Hover Tank-This is going to be your pull against every four or greater wide team. It’s pretty strong against three wides, but whether to get the special or take the resource advantage of the Solar Sailer is a judgment call.
This is your ramp plan, to use the powerful titles to give you a lot of resources and resets over the game so that you can load your opponent with more damage.
Admiral-By now you should know about the power of resets. Given that Admiral will allow you three activations on the round it’s played, if you can pay for it, it's incredible, especially when you consider that Thrawn has two three damage sides. Always try and get the reset when it’s played, and try and keep your opponent from removing the special, or else they aren’t just removing one dice, but all of the dice you could get from the reset. And remember that you can get even more resets in a round by overwriting an exhausted Admiral with a ready one.
Grand Moff-This is all about resources and place holding for Admiral. It’s another title you can play with You Are In Command Now, and its power action can let you switch to the Outer Rim Outpost and/or give you another card (the final of our nine per round) and resource, putting you in position for an Admiral play.
You Are In Command Now-Both of our titles cost four resources. Playing one for three makes it much more manageable to get out. Especially when you need to pay two for the reset on Admiral also. But the really sneaky play is to get unexpected resets. When you have an exhausted Admiral and one in your discard pile, your opponent will expect you to end your round. Instead you can use this card to pull and Admiral from your discard pile, overwriting the exhausted one on Thrawn, paying two for the reset, and hopefully getting two more activations out of him in a round.
These are here to make Thrawn’s reset threat credible, giving him a higher damage output. None of these lightsabers has a blue character only play restriction—as does Maul’s, which is why it didn’t make the list—and so can be played on Thrawn.
Dagger of Mortis-The redeploy on Dagger makes it a very solid play. And in the current meta where shields are gaining some viability, being able to snatch one of them is powerful. It feels like it misses more than it hits, but when it hits it’s really good. Especially if you can steal multiple shields per round.
Darth Vader’s Lightsaber-This deck relies on resets, and with the ability on Vader’s Lightsaber you can get a mini reset for the cost of one resource, getting Thrawn’s dice in your pool for a second time. And, since it’s an after ability and not a power action, you can do this on every reset.
Fifth Brother’s Lightsaber-This one is tricky. If you can get the base sides necessary, then you can get the ping damage, giving it five damage sides, capping at 4 damage. But you need the base sides to make it work.
These are here for when Thrawn is defeated so that you can still close out a game.
Megablaster Troopers-This is a fun thematic choice, bringing a host of stormtroopers to help Thrawn out. Unfortunately it falls off when Thrawn is defeated. But up until that point it is very strong.
Vader’s Fist-Another fun theme card, having Vader’s elite forces supporting Thrawn, just as they did in Thrawn: Alliances. And unlike the Megablaster Troopers, this definitely is a closer.
Mastermind-With your knowledge of what your opponent will have in their hand, this will let you snipe those cards that can really hurt your game plan. Getting rid of a key support or piece of mitigation can be huge.
Cultural Records-Again, getting rid of those key cards can be powerful. And the ability to get a resource or remove a dice off its ability is pretty strong.
Counterintelligence-Again, pulling their key event is generally good. In this deck, though, you can actually pull that event so you can play it later in your turn, which is even better.
Probe-Given how much pressure you are already applying to your opponent’s hand, particularly their events, pulling two more can be crazy good.
Logistics-This is solid resource generation for a red deck. Most dice have a resource side, and that two resource swing can be really big.
Riot Shield-Proactive defense for the damage you can’t remove with events.
A Sinister Peace-Free mitigation that can take care of a big scary dice. Super solid.
Automated Defense-The only mitigation we are running that costs money. But it gives you targeted removal of any dice, so it’s a good last ditch play.
Forsaken-Requires a little playing around, but with your vehicle and your Messenger, it shouldn’t be difficult to get a single dice in your pool.
Hidden Motive-Soft mitigation that actually removes the dice if it hits the side you don’t want.
You may have noticed that we’re running very light on mitigation. That’s because we’re depending on our opponent bringing the mitigation for us. Playing your opponent’s Easy Pickings or Forsaken gives us two big advantages: saving the room in our deck while still being able to play defensively, and keeping our opponent from mitigating our dice. Hence all the other control options in the deck. While you’re stealing one piece of mitigation every round, you can use your control to remove the other mitigation, giving you all of the resets you were looking for. Essentially the goal is to be in control of what can and can’t happen the entire game. And as you methodically shut down your opponent’s options, you also methodically defeat their characters.
One other thing of note is how much focus this deck runs. Thrawn, the Sentinel, Solar Sailer, Admiral, Grand Moff, Mastermind, and Cultural Records all have at least one 1 focus side, if not multiples and 2 focus sides. This means that for the most part you should be able to resolve whatever side of the dice you want. So while Thrawn is taking up an upgrade slot with Admiral, you should be able to get 6-10 damage per activation out of him still, if not more depending on what weapons he is bringing.
It takes a lot of mental capacity to be able to play Grand Admiral Mitth’raw’nuruodo, but he would expect nothing less. And, if you are able to keep track of your opponent’s hand and what they do and don’t have, as well as what is coming up in their deck, you can comfortably sit in control the entire game. And that is what it means to walk a mile in Thrawn’s shoes.
Thanks for reading!
Author - People’s Champion