The Queen: 8-0 44p Store Champs Winner

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Derived from
None. Self-made deck here.
Inspiration for
None yet.

AstroLad 327

Background

After winning a Store Champs with Poe/Maz a few months ago (thanks largely to the addition of Cunning -- hat-tip to the The Hyperloops on that one) -- I immediately ditched it for Phasma (mostly because I wanted to make use of the Phasma promo, but also because I like beefy play-fair decks that can hold their own). There were several lists floating around, but Phasma decks seemed to be having a hard time being considered above Tier 2, or at best 'Worse FN,' and the decks I was testing were pretty good but really nothing to expect to do particularly well in a serious tournament ('Worse FN' indeed!). Thankfully the Hyperloops to the rescue came to the rescue again (last shout-out, I swear). With three great changes to most of the standard archetypes: (1) swapping in Secret Facility for Mos Eisley, (2) putting in Z6 Riot Control Baton over other 3-cost upgrades (like Rocket Launcher), and (3) adding in 2x Hunker Down. I took a slight tweak of the build to an SC where it completely exceeded my expectations by going 4-0 before losing in the last round of Swiss and then the first round of the Top 4 to the same Poe/Maz deck. I hadn't teched at all for Poe/Maz because I really didn't expect to make the cut. So I then retooled the deck to at least make its worst matchup survivable, took it to our big 44p SC here at Outflank (shouts to them for running such a big tournament so well) and managed to 8-0 with a little luck and a lot of guns and Discipline. I actually played a nice diversity of decks on this day: Luke/Rey, Baze/Rey, Rainbow FN, Poe/Maz, Emo Kids, Emo Kids (Top 8), Poe/Maz (Top 4), and Rainbow FN (Top 2) -- so the deck definitely got put through its paces.

Overall Strategy

This deck comes from the semi-derided "play-fair" family. It has effectively no real tricks outside of Bait and Switch (which is an amazing trick, to be fair), but what it lacks in shock plays it makes up fair with painfully consistent damage. Between Imperial Discipline and Phasma's 1, by Turn 2 you can easily be putting out 5+ damage, incrementing by ~2-3 every turn after that with new upgrades to use all of your focus-like ability and rerolls on.

If I get shields early, I usually like to plop them down on Trooper to start using his shields to soak damage immediately (or Best Defense early in a Poe or Palp matchup). Hunker Down also goes one of Phasma's buddies -- ideally one you think can potentially duck Hunker-popping melee damage either via Guardian from his partner, or just not being an attractive target). But I will usually pick my battlefield and decline the shields if the battlefield is of any power to my opponent (e.g., Throne Room or even Otoh Gunga).

In most games, you're trying to survive Turn 1 and even sometimes 2 in decent shape, and then lather on the damage in Turn 3+. The only time I change this approach drastically is in the Poe/Maz matchup where you need to do everything you can to knock out a character by early Turn 2 at the latest. The deck has six redeploy weapons, so you can fairly consistently pull out turns where you get a couple shots from good weapons like Z6 and Holdout. Look out for this play instead of exclusively playing weapons on Phasma, who's usually the last survivor and who you thus won't benefit from playing redeploy weapons on.

Card Choices

I won't go over the core of about 20 or so cards in the deck, but here are the fringe cards and why they've worked for me:

  • Secret Facility: Facility is the most milquetoast battlefield out there. With nearly zero chance of being used to any special effect against you, and on rare occasion a great way to sneak in a claim and/or kill by resolving Z6 Riot Control Baton and guns. Even though I run Hunker Down, I still prefer Facility to Mos Eisley or other vanilla battlefields because Facility truly has a near-zero chance of coming back to bite you, which is exactly what such a slow deck wants. General tip is never expect to claim, but keep in mind those rare occasions when you can with Facility, especially against control-dependent decks like Poe/Maz, even if it means leaving a few dice on the table. This play was actually critical in one of my Poe/Maz matchups to turn off Dug in and Defensive Position.

  • Hunker Down: Another painfully unsexy card that just does work. Hunker's biggest downsides are (1) its slowness and (2) vulnerability to melee (especially Vibroknife), but for (1), again, the deck is built with the expectation of never claiming, and for (2) you can often keep Hunker around against even melee decks for a couple turns just by tactical use of Guardian to protect the Hunker (remember that Guardian damage doesn't count as melee damage). In most games where I draw them though (and obviously against ranged decks), I'm usually getting +4-5 health from Hunker, which is Second Chance level at the mere cost of burning actions that you don't care about because the deck is already so slow.

  • Jetpack: I really like Jetpack, but don't run 2 because it lacks both redeploy and the resource faces to help trigger Salvage Stand or Bait and Switch, so 1x is really where I feel comfortable.

  • Z6 Riot Control Baton: Such good tech! Natural reroll, redeploy, and a great shot at hitting Salvage Stand when you really need it. Phasma decks tend to run Rocket Launcher over this, but in testing I found Rockets to be just too expensive (and again lacking that all-important resource side). In the early and mid-game you almost never have even a single extra resource, and are usually having to choose which pay-damage sides to resolve, or between pay damage and Backup Muscle. I just found that the money wasn't there, and the Redeploy really puts Z6 over the top as the 3-drop.

  • Sabotage: You rarely see this in Phasma and yet after a lot of testing, I started to think it was 2x auto-include. The deck is just dead in the water against Planetary otherwise (remember that thing I mentioned about almost never being able to claim?), and Sabotage also lets you play those wonderful 1- and 2-cost weapons without worry, and without having to put in a clunky Rocket Launcher as a play-around card for Imperial Inspection.

  • The Best Defense: Just for the Poe and Palp matchups, I think this is 2x auto-include. Might be a no-brainer to some, but the original list I ran only had one, which was perfectly fine until running into Moe. Best Defense to blank a Moe turn is just an instant play every time. Gives you the life you need to sneak in a kill before they can Thermal you twice.

  • Guavian Enforcer: Remember his action! "Remove this die to remove 1 shield from a character." Hopefully as a Phasma player you will, but opponents will often forget or just not know, allowing you to sneak in kills when they thought they had one health left.

Conclusion

So where does The Queen stand in the current meta? It's really matchup-dependent because the Poe/Maz matchup is truly godawful (I won both of mine, but really had to grit them out with either opponent bad draws or bad rolls, as well as all the Sabotage and Best Defense tricks). Another tip against Poe/Maz is to try to keep your characters out of Thermal/U-Wing/Rocket range as long as possible. You hate to lose a Phasma Buddy with 3 health remaining to a Thermal. And mind the Defensive Position by just slowly resolving your damage die by die if you need to.

Against everything else though, I'd put this list at even or better odds. Especially if you're comfortable quickly calculating (all day) which permutation of Imperial Discipline + will net you the most damage (it gets tiring after awhile, at least for me :P). Guardian and the control might not feel particularly impactful against FN, but FN does need to roll out at some point, and plucking off that damage can usually be the difference between winning and losing. Good FN decks are a coin-flip matchup, which I'll take given how great FN is generally.

Everything else the deck is insanely consistent against. It's not especially vulnerable to mill, and it usually has a fairly straightforward time with regular-damage decks. Even the mirror is in your favor if you're packing Hunker Down and they're not. So it's a great choice if you're looking for something slightly outside of the absolute top decks that can still compete.

18 comments

Lerysh 9

As the Rainbow FN player who lost to you in the finals, let me just say the deck is good. For a no dirty tricks deck it does pretty well. That said, having only the one 3 cost upgrade I feel like eUnkar/FN/Trooper or even 3x Deathtrooper with Imperial Inspections would be this decks Achilles heel (outside Poe/Maz).

runningonion 7

My experience with an almost identical list (-1 Z6 Riot Control Baton +1 Jetpack at multiple store championships indicates that it is at least favored vs Poe/Maz (and possibly heavily favored after the eratta), but is awful vs FNUnkar (even with the sabotage tech, which i included), and even to slightly favored vs Rainbow9.

Congratulations on your win, i could only pilot the deck to 2nd.

I'd like to add a shoutout to Hunker Down, which does more work than just about any other card in the deck. If you play it at the end of a round, then exhaust it at the beginning of the next round it is at least 2 shields for 0. And you can always force an opponent to hit the shields even in a Vibroknife situation, as long as you always play it on the guardian characters.

AstroLad 327

On the Funkar side the matchups have been really tight but I've felt in decent control and been able to win (2x in last SC). This was with a build that had 3x 3-drops and no Sabotage, and I do feel the current list with Sabotage is much better against Funkar than that one. Granted, you may not draw it at the right time, but there's at least the possibility for play-around until you do. Again, good FN players with good decks -- which is what I've been running into as you know :) -- the game is ridiculously close in most cases but still feel like that's a pretty good place for deck to be.

As to favored vs. Poe/Maz, I'd be happy to say that's the case but I'm just not seeing it in testing at least. If they win the BF, you're already in big trouble, and even in the best-case scenario of a Best Defense, you're still getting blasted if they have a Cunning. But maybe the matchup is closer than I thought since most of my testing is with my old Phasma list, which is truly dire in the matchup.

Hoffburger 1

Have to watch out for Funkar players teching in Jakku to counter Disarm and Sabotage too.

AstroLad 327

Yes that's a good point, and actually why I never played disarm in Han/Rey back in the day. But yeah I probably would still spend the buck against Inspection even with Jakki out if it was protecting an upgrade but it's not nearly as much of a problem solver.

Dave Sharona 350

So I've been playing Phasma for a little bit...and I struggle with Salvage Stand.

I want to keep it in there, I really do. But I seem to get more utility out of having one "Fair" Trade for the big swing and additional mitigation.

I recently pulled it again to add Doubt which brings my mitigation suite to an absurd 10 cards plus guardian. But with the consistency of the damage in this deck, I feel like the dice control is the key to victory. As long as I can roll and re-roll, I can get dish it out pretty handily even with zero upgrades out.

My reasoning has been this: I mulligan hard for Probe which I feel is criminally underplayed. In a deck this slow, your opponent has usually played two cards (or possibly more) by the time you're ready to roll in your first character. ESPECIALLY in turn 1, that almost guarantees they have very important events in their hand and with either a 2/3 chance or a 1/1 chance to grab both of them via probe...it has payed off amazingly for me lately.

At that point, I'm not afraid of their resources...and building up to a turn 2 "Fair" Trade 3-for-1 swing has been awesome. Is this too risky of a play? Do I dump my turn two swing strategy in favor of resource mitigation consistency? I can't decide.

AstroLad 327

@Dave Sharona Salvage Stand is definitely one of the most interesting cards in the deck in terms of assessing its true value and even playing with it properly. I've had similar thoughts to yours, mostly based on how slow the deck can be to roll out and how rarely you have the initiative. Most notably vs. Stand in Funkar, you'll often want to play an upgrade on Phasma before rolling her out, and there's also that pesky single face on her dice. So many turns your opponent will have at least two actions before you even roll out at all, which means they can easily go to 0 to "avoid" the Stand. But I don't count these as outright losses, since that means that most good mitigation is lost, especially truly frightening mitigation like Defensive Position and Feel Your Anger. I also like that even after an opponent goes to 0, say by dumping a weapon onto FN, you can keep them off of even resolving resources to go back to 1 because they fear the Salvage Stand (even after you've rolled in Phasma if say you have a Guavian with redeploy on). The ability to keep people off of the aforementioned removal (and even the less punchy removal) and away from later-turn plays like Boundless Ambition or even No Mercy is something I don't think any card can provide as consistently as Stand, even if Stand fires less in here than it does in Unkar.

I love "Fair" Trade in the abstract, and miss the eMaz/Snap/Rey deck I was playing around with before that utilized it so well, but at least in my playstyle I just don't find that the deck lends itself to Trade at all (ymmv). Similar to the point above, before I've even had the chance to roll out, my opponent has usually taken 2-3 actions, many of which involve paying money. Trade's most powerful plays, like swapping a huge Palpatine or even Unk money pile are much more rarely available because of how slowly the deck goes. An opponent might certainly stumble into a bad Trade (and certainly won't be looking out for the card in this matchup, so that's an advantage), but I don't find it very consistent here. Maybe as a 1x?

I like Doubt just because of the cost, though I don't think I would add more removal to the deck as I think the number is just right. But if you replaced Electroshock or some other control, I think that would be very reasonable. Money is very tight in early turns and this would be a good way to clean that up. Funny enough, I find this to be one of the worst decks for He Doesn't Like You because of how slow it rolls out, and how once you get Imperial Discipline you actually need almost all of your dice to max out damage. But the card remains too powerful at the cost to cut.

Probe is very nice I agree. You do tend to give up (or leave open to chance) powerful plays like sniping a Hit and Run, Defensive Position, or It's a Trap! as well as hand knowledge, but I agree that you can have some really impactful plays with it, and actually remove Rise Again and No Mercy. I still prefer Friends in Low Places, but it's an interesting choice based on the meta and what cards you fear (also let's remember a weakness I think many forget -- Friends in Low Places is Spot Yellow, so once Guavian goes down, it's no good).

Dave Sharona 350

I think I might try the stand in again...no reason not to! And the spot yellow combined with big plays is exactly why I dropped Friends in Low Places for Probe in this specific deck.

I tend to save He Doesn't Like You for those turns where I don't have a new non-redeploy upgrade to put on Phasma and I don't have Flank or The Best Defense... where I can roll her out immediately, still have both of my potential Guardians, and a generally unexpected He Doesn't Like You because Captain Phasma - Elite Trooper's dice are my most valuable. Still worth it when removing the big dice from Vader, Palp, Poe, et al when you just need to plug in your 4+ damage and take 0 for the turn

AstroLad 327

I've legitimately considered Datapad to try to trigger Stand more often. This is how powerful I think Stand can be but how it can be finicky to get off with the base dice. Then I realized that was crazy, but still. It's the thought process that counts.

Dave Sharona 350

@AstroLad I'm glad you realized on your own. That's the ticket

AstroLad 327

Hahah. I will say though that Salvage Stand is part of the benefit of Z6 over Rocket Launcher and also part of the reason for 1x Jetpack and no On The Hunt. Salvage Stand is no joke and sometimes the difference between winning and losing, especially when an FN or even Moe opponent grabs that one resource.

Dave Sharona 350

Well, I will begin play testing tonight with it back in. Let's see how this shakes out

m4lk4v00 1

Hi @AstroLad. Deck really is cool, but why are you not using Tactical Mastery?! for me it's a must have in this deck, haha.

AstroLad 327

@m4lk4v00 Tactical Mastery is definitely one of the cards I considered when playing around the fringes of the deck. Ultimately I decided against it because of the cost (often have several really good uses for a bunch) and the fact that Bait and Switch and occasionally Secret Facility fill a somewhat similar role. Try it out for yourself, but I often find that the issue is not the need for more surprise damage necessarily, but just money to pay for all your damage. ymmv especially if you do something like add another Jetpack maybe.

Dave Sharona 350

I'm a little bummed how much traction Phasma lists are getting right now because I love her so much :D

AstroLad 327

@Dave Sharona I assume that means testing has gone well? (Or maybe that's just an existing feeling.) I definitely love Phas as a bottom-of-tier-1 choice, though I don't think in SoR at least she'll attain the heights of FN/Moe in terms of tournament representation, especially if you see more Moe or people start teching more ranged removal. Deck is in a nice place right now because people rightly aren't too focused on it though.

Dave Sharona 350

@AstroLad Yes that's what I mean. I'm not sure if it's just smart play but I've done terribly well in the mirror match with this deck (although my list is different), crushes every mono blue list I've come up against with a bit more difficulty against ePalp, does very well against rainbow nines and had an awesome couple fUnkar rounds last night...the only struggle I have really had has been Moe when they can do back-to-back hit&run turns + Thermal/U-Wing. Such garbage. So game-breaking.

Local to me, FN builds and mono blue are much more popular than PoeMaz at the moment, which is good because it lets the game actually be fun :D

AstroLad 327

Yeah that's a dream meta for this build. Palp especially I find very easy. FN definitely not easy, but the games are mostly incredible and tight, and it does very much feel like "playing Destiny" where you're making tough decisions and ultimately living and dying by the die rolls. I had no huge beef with Poe/Maz until I started playing this deck. :P