Mos Eisley Gazette: Slowing Down to Win with StrongBrad

This week, the Gazette is thrilled to welcome a guest columnist! StrongBrad (from Colorado, USA) played competitively in the FFG era and recently discovered ARH Destiny. He’s been on a quest to learn the card pool ever since and has cracked the League Top Cut for each of the last two months. Read on to learn how his recent quarterfinal match against LiquidSnake brought back some important reminders from 2019.

Getting to Know StrongBrad

What Is Your Destiny Origin Story?

Six years ago, my then-8 year old and I enjoyed playing Pokémon together and randomly came across some “how to play” videos for Destiny. We got the starter set and fell in love with the game. My fondest memory was taking him to regionals and he went 4-2 with Poe/Han as a 9 year old! 

What Brought You to ARH Destiny?

Honestly the itch just never went away. The options in ARH are many when it comes to deck building and I love that challenge. And now that I’m here, I’ve learned that the community is incredible. Players are welcoming and active, and the monthly free ARH League is perfect for learning the card pool in a competitive-but-fun setting. Each of us can play our 6+ games whenever it is convenient and we are rewarded for testing new things with the “unique deck” bonus. 

Echoes of (StrongBrad’s) Destiny

Slow down. Think about the next state. Think about his next move.  

In poker, in chess, in every other game I play, I feel I’m quite good about thinking about my opponent more than my own cards/pieces/etc. A winning player in poker is one that is able to lay down hands that seem good because they are more adept at seeing the monster that his or her opponent has. 

In Destiny, one gaffe is enough to swing a game from a clutch victory to a heartbreaking loss. 

That first statement above was what I told myself after a brutal loss at the Galactic Qualifier in Denver in 2019. To my detriment, my favorite thing to do in Magic, Destiny, whatever is to try and win with MY deck. Something that no one else had done or no one else was playing. The gratification of winning with something that I found myself is something that always drives me forward.  

In this GQ, I took Phasma/eWatto into a meta that was absolutely dominated by Snoke/FOST/Watto/Vader’s Fist nonsense. “How do I beat the Fist” was more or less how I started theory-crafting, and built a deck around Vandalize… and realized that a turn 1 Megablaster Troopers + Vandalize could take out the Fist on turn 1 or 2. That exact scenario happened with my second match against the meta deck that I prepared for (except I vandalized his Megablaster Troopers instead of a Fist). I was pretty pumped it worked and was feeling great about how I was playing.  

I got to 4-0 and got matched up against eSaw/ePadme against a really great well-known player whose name I’m now forgetting; much like going against a world-class player like LiquidSnake in this month’s ARH League Top Cut. Here’s the situation: I’m down to Phasma and I have a Conscript Squad out. Phasma has 7 health left, his Saw has only 5 health left. He has a Pirate Speeder Tank as well. Literally just three dice for him to potentially roll. I have four resources and a Megablaster Troopers in my hand, as well as Riot. I solely am thinking about how to do five damage. He rolls out Saw, 3i and a blank. I…. play my Megablaster Troopers. He rolls out the Pirate Speeder Tank….. blank. Sweet. I roll out the Megatroopers, I get 3r from the two Trooper dice and a blank from the Megatroopers. He discards to reroll. 4i from the Pirate Speeder Tank. I look at my hand, look at his dice, and realize that I just lost.  

I needed to step back, slow down. Rolling in Phasma and doing her power action gives me four dice, and potentially lethal damage. It also would’ve given me enough dice to play Riot. Which, if I think about it, if I use Riot to ensure I can remove the Pirate Speeder Tank die, it’s extremely unlikely that Saw’s dice can kill me alone. Sure he could’ve still rolled super hot and won by his third action, but that was unlikely. By my third action I should’ve been prepared to remove a die. Instead I was focused on the wrong thing and lost.  

January Top Cut: AoN Villain Leia Mill vs. Vader/Maul/Ro2

For the January top cut, I was really proud of my deck creation. I honestly feel like I’m just not as good as the top players right now when it comes to generating damage and I don’t feel like playing blue shield craziness, 6 Annihilator Droids or the different Rule of Two decks. I instead went super anti-meta and used the “Allies of Necessity January” legality to make a VILLAIN LEIA MILL deck with Leia – The Princess, IG-11, and Bix Caleen. How cool is that?? Being able to use all the villain + hero goodness to mill felt like a way to combat the aggro and/or big stuff decks that I kept going against.

Playing against NuteShunsRey’s Rey/Luminara deck from the December top cut was brutal, as I felt like agent Smith trying to damage Neo at the end of the Matrix. No matter how many times I tried to get damage through he’d have six shields again and would be rolling out extra dice every round until he put a fist into my head, exploding it. With mill I wouldn’t have to worry about shields; it’s just me against his deck size. 

The first two games were super close; LiquidSnake took out IG-11 and Bix first in game one, probably to play around my First Aid (which I did have in my hand, ha). I did get down to him having no cards in his deck but it was a solid win for him as Vader was just too much. I honestly figured I’d get swept.

But in game 2 I actually got my Loose Ends through once and had a good hit or two with Leia’s power action. In our last round, I played a great combo with Rewritten History to get him down to two cards and then activated the Scout Trooper to get him to zero cards in his deck. IG-11 had 9 health left as LiquidSnake rolled in with no cards in hand. His rollout was worth 7 damage and I won by two health, ha.  

Then game three. I won’t go through all of the details, but I felt like I was in the lead most of the game. Everything was working, with Leia finally rolling that 2 discard side a couple times after hitting it zero times in the first two games. I made two ridiculous mistakes however as I clenched up down the stretch.

First, I had a Trick in my hand and Leia had 4 health remaining. LiquidSnake’s Dark Devastation (my least favorite card in Destiny currently, btw), was showing a special and my brain thought “That’s just two damage” so I didn’t remove it. And then his next turn he resolved that to flip-and-resolve the Ataru Mastery special: dead Leia.

Then with Snake having no cards in his hand and 3 dice not showing damage, I decided to activate my Scout Trooper, giving him a card that he used to reroll, which created 2 additional damage into Bix.  

It ended up coming down to the last roll of the game the next round, where Snake needed to get 3 damage into Bix and I had Oola. He rolled out four different dice with damage and it was game over.  

These types of mistakes are both amazing and awful. Amazing? I’m able to play a competitive game with cool people who are great competitors and the fact that I care this much about this mistake means that I care tons about improving and winning. Awful? IT HAPPENED AGAIN. I was playing very well, much like in that GQ, and just made the worst gaffe at the worst time.  

So again, Brad…. Slow down. Think about the next state. Think about what your opponent is going to do next. And keep trying because eventually you will win a top cut (AND BEYOND), damnit.  

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