Author - People’s Champion
If you have been following my articles recently, you probably can tell that my favorite character in Destiny is Darth Vader-Terror to Behold. He is designed to carry a team all by himself, dealing massive damage off of his difficult to remove dice, and all of that giving him a very thematic feel. He has done that, being a present threat throughout the game since his inception. But every new set changes and shapes how he is played. New tech is released and pushes out old ideas. And so since Spark of Hope released, I have been looking at certain cards and wondering how they would fit with Vader, and how he will find a place in the new meta. So I wanted to write up an article looking at how Vader has changed, and what some of the more interesting options are on him right now.
I want to start with some thoughts about the current state of the meta, which will identify some of the choices in this deck. First of all is the presence of swarm decks. Area of effect cards and abilities have been getting stronger as the meta has shifted to three wides, but now that swarm decks are a thing, a Fear and Dead Men on Vader’s 4 melee can hit for up to twenty four damage. And so more than Fear and Dead Men, which was already a Vader staple, we will be looking for some more area of effect damage options. The second change in the meta is that mill is somewhat absent. Very little mill tech was added with Spark of Hope, and tech was added that would hurt mill decks, like Inflict Pain and Canto Bight Security. These changes mean that we don’t have to worry too much about mill. The main difference this makes in this deck is that I am including a First Order Stormtrooper over the Battle Droid since we don’t need the point difference for Retribution.
There are plenty of advantages the Stormtrooper brings over the Battle Droid. One extra health is always nice. But a bigger advantage is the dice, that trades two 1 indirect and a modified 2 indirect for two 2 range sides—one of them being a pay side—and a resource side. The Stormtrooper dice is actually a threat, and more importantly, can actually make you money, where the Battle Droid’s dice never did more than ping damage. The final advantage is that the Stormtrooper has the trooper subtype, meaning that Measure for Measure is live, and Riot Shield can block an extra damage. So while the Retribution procs are nice, and especially good against mill with its tons of mitigation, without the mill threat, the First Order Stormtrooper seems like a better call.
Darth Vader’s Lightsaber-Maul’s Lightsaber is better on every character except Darth Vader. With Vader’s lightsaber’s ability, not only do you get to roll back in the most powerful character dice in the game, but you also get to deal a ping damage, which increases your damage output.
Maul’s Lightsaber-Incredibly high damage sides, and is capable of rolling itself back into the pool. This is potentially one of the strongest upgrades in the game for its cost.
Vader’s Fist-With Darth Vader’s two resource side, it is not impossible that you would be able to play this. And the power action lets you spot Vader to turn the dice to whatever side is best for you. It is both a value and a theme play in this deck.
ID10 Inferno Squad Seeker Droid-This is a seriously underplayed card, since it can give you focus, resources, damage, or control, and all of its sides are resolvable, with no blanks, modifiers, or pay sides. And on Vader it’s really solid since it gives you the focus you need to push your damage even more.
Niman Mastery-There are definitely decks that this is stronger in, given that you aren’t looking to special chain. But the special on it can focus your other dice that may have missed into big damage. Or it can be played defensively to keep you in the game longer. And it also turns on Pushing Slash for the extra focus.
Pushing Slash-Darth Vader’s dice are frightening to sit down across from. Being able to resolve one of those dice without the chance for mitigation can close out games. And then, with Niman Mastery you can turn another dice to any side. And I want to point out that it’s not one of your dice, but any dice. So this can be used defensively too to blank an opponent’s big damage.
Area of Effect
Fear and Dead Men-This card goes in just about every Vader deck. It is just too powerful not to. Being able to resolve your 4 for 1 melee into two characters for two resources is incredibly powerful. Essentially you get to resolve the dice twice, which is awesome. But against a three plus wide deck, the value is insane.
Sudden Impact-This is another undervalued underplayed card, especially in the swarm meta that is developing. Unlike Fear and Dead Men, it reduces the value of the dice you’re using it on. But the advantages are that it costs one less, it can be used in any damage type, and it doesn’t resolve the dice, but removes it, which means pay sides and modifiers aren’t an issue. It's best to use this on a 3 damage side, since it will deal two damage across your opponent’s board, chunking half the health from all their Ewoks.
Respite-This one is tricky. You can look at it as guaranteeing that your Stormtrooper rolls in a resource, and resolves it in one action, and draws a card. Which is pretty good value. But if you were to use other resource generation cards, you could actually roll a resource, and then be gaining two resources rather than just a resource and a card. The thing is that you have to meet the conditions of the card. If I were to replace this with another I would go with Fresh Supplies since your roll off potential is very strong, it gives you the highest odds of meeting the play condition. Respite, however, is a guaranteed resource.
Separatist Embargo-Some decks completely rely upon one or two key cards. Embargoing those will significantly hurt the deck. Taking 0-0-0, Strength in Numbers, Entourage, or Droids Day Out off the table will give you an automatic advantage over your opponent. Playing this requires you to understand the meta and your opponent's deck however, which can be tricky.
Breaking Bonds-Downgrades are becoming more prevalent, and with them, the threat to Vader. Having Vader with Target Acquired, or Possessed, or even a Hex can be very hindering to him (not to mention Hindered). Being able to remove those downgrades is extremely important. Unshackled is also an option, but since Vader is a Sith, the ability to blank a dice is better than the ambush that comes with Unshackle.
Hull Breach-When I first saw this card I immediately thought of the potential with Vader. He can eliminate many of the dangerous supports with his character dice alone, sending a modded out Shadowcaster crashing to the ground, or an Entourage hurtling into space. The other advantage is that in a pinch against multiple characters with little health—think Ewoks hit by Fear and Dead Men for three damage—you can kill multiple characters with a direct damage dice. Definitely would have won me a game where R2-D2 and C-3PO had one life left each and my Fist would only roll ranged damage.
Probe-The classic, but still incredibly useful. Your opponent already needs two mitigation cards to keep Vader’s dice out of the pool. But if you hit one of those, your protect your dice for the round, keeping the terror terrorizing.
Riot Shield-If you are facing a deck that is dealing indirect, you can put this on the Stormtrooper to absorb three of it. If not, you can give it to Vader for the two extra effective health.
Forsaken-This is a card you may have to work around a bit, keeping your Stormtrooper dice in the pool and waiting to roll out Vader. But it’s free removal that is hard to beat.
Measure for Measure-Removing one of your worst sides for one of their best is a hard trade to beat. With two blanks there are many instances where removing this dice won’t feel bad at all. Also remember, if you’re in a pinch, that Vader’s Fist is also a trooper dice, which can be removed with this card.
The Best Defense...-Removing two dice for three damage is a pretty solid play when that damage is going on a secondary character like the Stormtrooper. And if it gives Vader more time for some kills, that’s a really good play. Also remember that you can take the damage from this on the Riot Shield, meaning you wouldn’t take any damage.
Fighting Pit-This is the go-to Vader battlefield since he has such high value sides, and rerolls on him are pretty valuable.
This deck tends more toward control than pure agro, with many defensive options like Embargo and Hull Breach that are designed to keep your opponent from doing too much. There are a lot of aggressive options for damage plays like Pushing Slash and Sudden Impact. There is very little actual hard mitigation in this deck, because it relies on the idea that the best mitigation is killing a character. That being said, there is a lot of tech in this deck, between the defensive package and the offensive one, and that could be cut down to make room for more mitigation.
There are some important cards like Hidden Motive, Doubt, A Sinister Peace, Isolation, Beguile, and Lack of Faith that could be included to make a splash on your removal. There are also lots of other tech options you could replace some of this with. There are speed options like Tactical Mastery, Seize the Day, and Reach the Stars which are all solid plays in this deck. There are also more area of effect plays you could do like including Sonic Detonators. (An aside on this card, I originally thought it was dumb, because the special runs out. But then I realized that unlike the Thermal Detonators or V1s, once the special is used up, the card can be overwritten. Imagine using the special on this against a wall of Ewoks, then overwriting it with Maul's Lightsaber and being able to play that for free. Definitely worth consideration).
This deck is more about the theory of what certain cards can do with Vader than making the most streamlined deck. There are plenty of options out there, and what you want really depends on your meta and your play style. But that's the beauty of Destiny: Even though I'm not a fan of playing Tactical Mastery and Seize the Day, you can include those cards in your deck and have something entirely different, but that is entirely suited to your tastes. So have fun, and enjoy the possibilities!
Thanks for reading!
Author - People’s Champion