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Basic Deck Design (Updated)

Page history last edited by CRFR787 10 months, 2 weeks ago

 

Basic Deck Design by CRFR787 Part 1: Basic Melee Decks

 

This page updates ObiWanJohn’s (“OWJ’s”) excellent introduction to basic deck design (see Basic Deck Design by OWJ).  Since OWJ completed that page six years ago, there has been continued innovation and expansion of the types of Basic decks used by the custom design community.  This page (part I of a two-part post) aims to be a continuing reference showing examples of each melee Basic deck type, and suggestions on when to use them.  Part II of this summary, Basic Deck Design: Ranged Decks, addresses the original and custom ranged decks.

 

As a prelude, any good designer can make a deck work with any of these Basic card combinations – the key to a great design is to select a Basic deck type that complements your deck’s path to victory, and that gives you sufficient design space to include interesting mechanics and Talent cards.  In my opinion, there’s no reason to stick with the typical Red deck for Sith characters and Blue or Green for Jedi:  selecting a Basic deck that fits your deck’s overall strategy will make for a better design than simply choosing whatever Basic deck you think is thematically appropriate for the character.

 

Without further ado, here’s a listing of Basic Major Melee decks, in order of total attack value, and including a simple average attack (average of the attack value of the first 5 cards in the deck) and defense (average defense value of remainder) for a more realistic assessment of average power level than the total attack and defense values.

 

Major Melee Decks

Total Atk/Def 

38/18

38/19

36/20

35/21

33/21 

32/24

30/23 

30/28 

28/28 

28/31

Avg Atk 

4.8

4.8

4.8

4.6

4.4

4.4

4.2

4.0

3.8

3.8

Avg Def 

2.6

2.8

3.0

3.0

2.8

3.4

3.2

3.6

3.6

4.0

Name 

Red

Crimson

Maroon

Magenta

Black 

Blue

Brown 

Cyan 

Aqua 

Green

Cards 

5/1

5/1

5/1

5/1

5/1 

5/1

5/1 

5/1 

4/1 

4/2 

 

5/1

5/1

5/1

5/1

5/1 

5/1

4/1 

4/2 

4/2 

4/2 

 

5/1

5/1

5/1

5/1

4/1 

4/1

4/1 

4/2 

4/2 

4/2 

 

5/1

5/1

5/1

4/1

4/2 

4/2

4/2 

4/2 

4/2 

4/2 

 

4/1

4/1

4/1

4/2

4/2 

4/2

4/2 

3/3 

3/3 

3/3 

 

4/2

4/2

4/2

4/2

3/2 

3/3

3/2 

3/3

3/3 

3/3 

 

4/2

4/2

4/2

3/3

3/2 

3/3

2/3 

2/3 

2/3 

2/4 

 

3/2

3/3

2/3

2/3

2/3 

2/3

2/3 

2/4 

2/4 

2/4 

 

2/3

2/3

1/4

2/3

2/3 

1/4

1/4 

2/4 

1/4 

1/4 

 

1/4

1/4

1/4

1/4

1/4

1/4

1/4 

1/4 

1/4 

1/5

 

Official Hasbro Decks

Red

In the original game and in fan expansions, a Red deck is most often used for very aggressive, attack-focused melee fighters.  Hasbro’s Anakin, Luke, Vader and Maul used the Red deck; and it has also been used in custom decks for Ahsoka and Asajj (from the 10YA set) and Kylo Ren (from the 20YA set). 

 

A Red deck integrates best with Talent cards that promote an “aggro” strategy of winning the game quickly or overwhelming an opponent on a single turn (such as Hasbro’s Anakin and Maul).  The deck’s lack of defense typically doesn’t work well with “control” strategies that try to lengthen the game and win by slowly outmatching an opponent (which is one reason why Hasbro’s Vader is recognized as one of the least effective designs of the original set, and why Hasbro’s Luke has seen its share of criticism).  Because the lack of defense almost requires Power Combat defense cards to make a balanced deck, thus restricting design choices, some designers have abandoned the Red deck in favor of the custom alternatives Crimson, Maroon, or Magenta (though personally, I still also have fun trying to design around Red’s weakness).

 

Blue

The Blue deck provides a good balance of attack and defense, and can work well with almost any type of Talent cards or deck strategy, making it one of the most popular choices for custom deck designers.  Hasbro’s Obi-Wan, Mace and Dooku, and the 10YA’s Aayla, Ki-Adi Mundi, Luminara, Qui-Gon, and Grevious all use the Blue deck.  More recently, use of the Blue deck seems to have fallen out of favor, perhaps because of how ubiquitous it was in the past—but it remains a solid deck choice, especially for beginning designers.

 

Green

The Green deck is in some ways the polar opposite of the Red deck, prioritizing defense at the expense of consistent attacking.  In the original set, only Yoda and Palpatine used the Green deck, and as such the Green deck has been associated with “wizened master” types (though it can certainly have other thematic applications).  Because of its formidable defense and barely adequate offense, the Green deck generally works best with a “control” strategy that attempts to wear down an opponent slowly and win through attrition, and is generally paired with Talent cards that emphasize discarding and/or direct damage, to supplement the basic deck’s lack of offense. 

 

Fan-Created Melee Decks

Crimson

The “Crimson” deck (my terminology) was created by Tim Wutke as part of his Avatar expansion, as a way of addressing the Red deck’s lack of defense.  It is used in multiple decks in the Avatar set (Azula, Zhao, Prince Zuko) and replaces the Red deck’s 3/2 with a 3/3, giving it one additional point of defense.  This change opens up some additional deck strategies by slightly reducing the need for Power Combat defense that a balanced Red deck usually requires (see, e.g., Anakin’s 2x COUNTERATTACK, Maul’s MARTIAL DEFENSE, 10YA Ahsoka’s 2x SWITCH AND FEINT, and 10YA Asajj’s 2x PARRY AND STRIKE). 

 

Maroon

The “Maroon” deck (also my terminology) was created by Roman F/Geektopia as an alternate way of addressing the Red deck’s lack of defense.  It is used in Geektopia’s Sauron deck in the LOTR expansion, and replaces the Red deck’s 3/2 with an additional 1/4 (thus adding two additional points of defense to the Red deck).  As with the Crimson deck, this allows for more flexibility with Talent cards by reducing the need for Power Defense; but can also be used with Power defense to represent an aggressive but very powerful character.  Note that despite it having a lower total attack value than the Red and Crimson decks, the Maroon deck is more powerful than both because it has a better balance between attack and defense values (as seen in the average attack and defense calculations).

 

Magenta

The Magenta deck, created by OWJ, was meant for thematically 'balanced to aggressive' characters, and sits almost directly between the aggressive Red deck and the balanced Blue deck.  Like the Maroon deck, the Magenta deck keeps the attacking nature of the Red deck but supplements it with additional defense, allowing for more varied deck strategies and tactics than can be accomplished with the Red deck.  It has been recently used in the 20YA Grand Inquisitor deck, where it supports a control/discarding strategy by providing the necessary attack punch to supplement the Grand Inquisitor’s relatively low-valued Power Combat attack cards.

 

Black

The Black deck is an experimental deck of my own creation, meant as a substitute for the well-used Brown deck for characters who are aggressive but less skilled melee combatants than the typical Red deck type.  For example, it might be used thematically in the Star Wars setting for a non-Jedi assassin.  In comparison with the Brown deck, the Black deck substitutes a 5/1 for one of the Brown’s 4/1s, and a 3/2 for one of the Brown’s 1/4s.  In my opinion, this deck fills a thematic hole in deck design for non-Jedi/ less-skilled melee characters and provides a slightly more aggressive alternative to the Brown deck.

 

Brown

The Brown deck was created by fans early on to be a thematically weaker melee deck for non-Jedi melee fighters, and has been used to good effect in both the 10YA (Jabba) and the 20YA (Rey, Ezra) expansions.  Much like the Blue deck, a Brown deck has a very good balance between attack and defense values, and can support a wide variety of Talent cards and strategies.  However, it’s slightly lower level of offense relative to the Blue deck means that a balanced Brown deck will typically need to rely on higher-valued Power Combat attacks or more direct damage than the typical Blue deck.

 

Cyan

The Cyan deck was created by OWJ as something of a mid-point between the Blue and Green decks, with a bit more attack power than Green, and a bit more defense than Blue.  It generally works well for a “balanced-control” strategy, and has been used in some fan decks (such as CRFR787’s Jaro Tapal) as a replacement for the offense-lacking Green to make a more dynamic “Jedi Master” type-deck.  If you are creating a more defensive-oriented deck but want to avoid the game-slowing Green, the Cyan deck is often a decent substitute.

 

Aqua

Finally, the Aqua deck was created by Roman F/Geektopia as a weaker version, defensively, than a Green deck, but that would maintain the Green deck’s lack of offense.  Thematically, this deck would fit for passivist-type characters or defensive-focused non-Jedi, but much like Green will tend to require direct damage and/or discarding to be balanced and effective.  In my opinion, and unlike the other decks profiled here, the Aqua deck doesn’t really address a design need that can’t better be addressed by the Cyan deck, and should be used with caution.

  

Minor Melee Decks (Conventional Listing)

 

33/17 33/18  31/19  30/20 28/20  27/23

26/24 

25/22

25/24 

25/27 24/27 25/29 20/18  19/17 
Red Crimson Maroon Magenta Black  Blue

Strong+ 

Brown 

Strong 

Cyan  Aqua  Green Weak Weak GKT 
5/1 5/1 5/1 5/1 5/1 5/1

5/1

4/1 

4/1

4/2  4/2  4/2  3/1 3/1
5/1 5/1 5/1 5/1 4/1 4/1

4/2

4/1 

4/2

4/2  4/2  4/2  3/1 3/1
5/1 5/1 5/1 4/1 4/2 4/2

4/2

4/2 

4/2

4/2  4/2  4/2  3/2 3/1
4/1 4/1 4/1 4/2 4/2 4/2

3/2

4/2 

3/2

3/3  3/3  3/3  3/2 2/2
4/2 4/2 4/2 4/2 3/2 3/3

3/3

3/2 

3/3

3/3 3/3  3/3  2/2 2/2
4/2 4/2 4/2 3/3 3/2 3/3

3/3

2/3 

3/3

2/3  2/3  2/4  2/2 2/2
3/2 3/3 2/3 2/3 2/3 2/3

2/3

2/3 

2/3

2/4  2/4  2/4  2/2 2/2
2/3 2/3 1/4 2/3 2/3 1/4

1/4

1/4 

1/4

2/4  1/4  1/4  1/3 1/3
1/4 1/4 1/4 1/4 1/4 1/4

1/4

1/4 

1/4

1/4  1/4  1/5 1/3 1/3

 

The original game did not include any minor melee fighters, but custom designers have used numerous custom decks to represent the many melee fighters in the Star Wars universe.  The typical creation of these decks involves eliminating the first (i.e., highest attack card) from the major version of the deck to make a minor version (as the minor Basic deck has only 9 cards).  Each of the "color" decks above uses this convention.  However, a second group of decks, based more on the original "Strong" and "Weak" minor ranged decks, are also widely used in custom design:  these decks take a similar approach as the original melee shooter decks, but add more defense and a little more offense.

 

As an aside, I think the convention in the "color" decks of removing the highest attack card of the corresponding major deck is a mistake for any of the defense-focused deck types (i,e., Cyan, Aqua, and Green).  To make these decks more dynamic, I would recommend removing the highest defense card from the major deck rather than the highest attack card.  This is because a major and a minor in Epic Duels have very different strategic roles by nature of the game rules.  Under the rules, the game ends when all opponents’ major characters are destroyed, meaning that a “defense focused” minor does not necessarily need to be attacked.  As a result, and in my experience, decks with minor Green personalities usually are a negative play experience for both the deck wielder and the opponent(s).  These decks’ minors don’t have enough natural attack power to do much offensively, so having a Green minor strongly encourages “turtle” decks that sit back drawing cards hoping to draw their minors’ Power Combat attacks or Special direct damage cards.  And on the other side of the table, a Green minor creates big problems for any deck without direct damage, because many decks simply don’t have sufficient attack power to waste numerous good attack cards chewing through 3 D4s and a D5 (in addition to whatever cards the major may have).  Note that Mike Maloney uses a revised Green minor deck that removes the 1/4 card rather than a 4/2, which I think is a decent alternative. 

 

The above list is not exhaustive, and there are many minor melee decks that have been used over the years.  For this post, I will focus on the Red, Blue, Brown, Strong+, Strong, and Weak decks, since those have been the most used in the custom design community to date.  I would recommend sticking to these decks (and perhaps Mike Maloney's Green deck) for the vast majority of designs:

 

Minor Melee Decks (Recommended)

33/17

27/23

26/24

25/22

25/24

27/27

19/17 

Red

Blue

Strong+

Brown 

Strong

Green

MM

Weak GKT 

5/1

5/1

5/1

4/1 

4/1

4/2

3/1

5/1

4/1

4/2

4/1 

4/2

4/2

3/1

5/1

4/2

4/2

4/2 

4/2

4/2

3/1

4/1

4/2

3/2

4/2 

3/2

4/2

2/2

4/2

3/3

3/3

3/2 

3/3

3/3

2/2

4/2

3/3

3/3

2/3 

3/3

3/3

2/2

3/2

2/3

2/3

2/3 

2/3

2/4

2/2

2/3

1/4

1/4

1/4 

1/4

2/4

1/3

1/4

1/4

1/4

1/4 

1/4

1/5

1/3

 

Red Minor

The Red minor deck is deceptively powerful because it almost perfectly complements what a typical minor character needs to do:  deliver as much damage as possible, as quickly as possible, before being destroyed.  The Red deck’s lack of defense is far less important for a minor than for a major; and having 3x 5/1s, in addition to any Power Combat attacks, means that an opponent must either be well-stocked with defense cards or spend important actions focusing on the minor rather than the major.  I’d recommend using the Red minor over the Crimson or Maroon alternatives because it provides a better trade-off between attack and defense power.

 

Blue Minor

The Blue Minor deck is, like its major counterpart, a good all-around choice for a melee-focused minor.  It was used and popularized in both Geektopia’s 10YA Luminara and Bariss deck and 10YA General Grevious and Mangaguards, as well as in Darth Trumpetus’s 10YA Jabba and isutton’s 20YA Ezra and Kanan deck (albeit slightly modified in this last instance).  It is well-tested, and I would recommend starting with this deck if you are just starting to design melee-focused minor characters.

 

Strong+ Minor

The Strong+ Minor deck is very similar to the Blue Minor deck, except that a 3/2 replaces the Blue 4/1.  This makes the deck very slightly more versatile than the Blue Minor deck, but at the cost of an attack point.  In practice, this deck isn't all that much different than Blue, and is equally easy to use for powerful melee-focused minors.  

 

Brown Minor

The Brown Minor deck, like the Blue Minor deck, is a solid overall choice, especially for thematic reasons or if you want a slightly less-powerful minor character.  As with the Blue Minor deck, it can support a wide variety of strategies, though the lack of the 5/1 of the Blue Minor deck makes designing a Brown minor slightly more challenging.

 

Strong Minor

The Strong Minor deck is somewhat similar to the Brown deck, but has additional defense.  Compared to the Brown deck, the Strong Minor deck substitutes 2x 3/3s for Brown's 4/1 and 2/3.  This makes it both more defensive and more versatile, so in practice it will be somewhat stronger than Brown and much closer to the Blue and Strong+ decks.  Although I have generally tried to stick with Brown in my designs so as to better distinguish between power levels of minors, I think that in practice the Strong deck is usually a better option for (slightly) more engaging gameplay.

 

The Weak Melee Minor Decks

Generally, designers choose either the 20/18 weak minor or the 19/17 “Geektopia” weak minor for weak melee characters.  I strongly recommend Geektopia's 19/17 version, which has a card distribution more akin to Hasbro’s Weak ranged deck and doesn’t have the weird 3/2s that the 20/18 has.  The 19/17 version is used for both Geektopia’s 20YA Rey deck (for BB-8) and my 20YA Mandalorian deck (for Grogu).

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