Star Wars GEMP – Sealed Deck Construction Tips by Nate Louderback – Dorshe1
There is nothing like the smell of opening a new pack of Star Wars cards. Sealed events are one of the more interesting ways to play Star Wars CCG because it opens up creativity for deck-building and using cards that would never be used during a competitive open-constructed event format.
Star Wars GEMP is a new resource for playing Star Wars CCG online. It is different than other currently available programs because it is web-based and rules enforced (never forget to force drain again!). The downside to the program is that it is still in its infancy and the meta is extremely limited (Premiere, A New Hope, almost all of Hoth and the OTSD Box at the time this article is written). Fortunately, the flexibility of the system allows for the creation of leagues that allow for a limited card pool and it has the ability to randomize cards to simulate a sealed deck game. Please note that this guide is not needed for those people who are blessed by the sealed Gods and receive awesomely broken cards/combos. Those players do not need help. However, for new or returning players that get the average distribution of playable/crappy cards, this article should give you some basic sealed deck construction strategies including force generation, character selection, starship selection, and how to pick supporting cards.
*Please note – The recommendations in this article are for a 40-card deck selected from a number of ‘sealed’ packs and a small ‘fixed’ pool of cards. These recommendations also assume that you get to pull at least one battleground from the reserve.
The base of any deck in any format is its force generation. In a constructed format tournament you typically run 4-6 locations, all of which are pulled by interrupts, effects, or objectives. In that format you can expect to have your full activation by Turn 3, but that is not going to be the case in a sealed event. The first thing you need to determine is how much force your deck is going to need to operate.
Space Oriented Decks will typically require more activation than a deck that will spend most of its time on characters. Starships tend to have higher power and forfeit and cost more to deploy. For most space decks you are going to want to be activating at least 9 force a turn. Ground based decks can get by with 7 force a turn (although more is obviously better).
Being able to pull a battleground from the reserve is a HUGE bonus. Before that rule was put in you were almost required to either play a battleground as a starting location OR put in 10 locations to ensure that you had enough activation and somewhere to deploy your characters/starships to cause damage. With the battleground pull your best bet is to start a 2/0 or 1/0 location. I fully suggest that both sides include Corulag as a battleground. It is a 2/1, but only gives up 1 for drain in case you can’t hold it.
If you assume that you play a 2/0 and pull a 2/1 and your opponent plays a battle ground (1/2) then you will be generating 6 force on your 2nd turn. Since any deck wants 9 force as your target you need to supplement 3 force because you cannot assume your opponent will give the icons to you. So I would add another 4 locations.
Ground decks should run all sites (with the exception of Corulag). The sites picked should be in this order:
1) One 2/0 or 1/0 site (increase activation, but no damage)
2) Sites that you can pull (Docking Bays with Death Start Docking Bay Control Room)
3) Sites that give you a drain of 2 (DS Lars Moisture Farm)
4) Sites that increase the amount of ability required to draw destiny (LS Dune Sea)
5) Generic 2/1 sites
6) Generic 1/1 sites
Space Decks should run all systems and non-battleground sites that aren’t on a popularly played planet (ex: Tatooine). The systems should be picked in this order:
1) Two 2/0 or 1/0 sites that are not on a planet that is likely to have an opponent presence.
2) Systems that increase the amount of ability required to draw destiny (DS Kessel)
3) Systems that give you a drain of 2+ (LS Kessel)
4) Generic 2/1 Systems
5) Generic 1/1 Systems
Please note that there are not many systems in this meta that are 2/0 so a space deck will necessarily need to play sites. Since your deck is focused on space, those sites can become a liability so you want to ensure that they are on planets where your opponent won’t be able to move to easily. You may be asking ‘what if they have a spy’ the answer to that of course is that the God of sealed events can be fickle.
Now that you have a handle on your activation, it is time to pick characters. Character selection is the next most important thing when constructing your sealed deck. The single biggest thing to your character selection is if you are running a ground deck, balanced deck, or space deck.
If you are running a ground based deck or a balanced deck you should be running approximately 10-15 characters. Once you start looking at your characters, take a deep breath and remember that your opponent is selecting from equally poor choices. The first thing you need to remember is that in a sealed event, ability 1 characters are essentially useless and should be included only if they have an outstanding ability (see: Figrin D’an). Your ultimate goal with a ground or balanced deck is to control ground locations and to do that you need to be able to battle and draw battle destiny. You want to include every character you have that is ability 2 or more (except crappy Luke or crappy Vader, more on that later). If you have more than 10 the sealed deck Gods have smiled upon you. You can then narrow them down based on their abilities. If you have fewer than 10 then you need to start looking at your ability 1 characters. For ability 1 characters the best thing to do is look for high forfeit and low cost (example: Talz).
There are certain characters that you should always play such as LS Figrin D’an (retrieval) and M’iiyoom Onith (character removal, hand scanning ability) there are also high ability characters that you should not play. The crappy Luke and crappy Vader that is included in the fixed set are practically worthless. They have extremely limited in deploy conditions. You could probably survive with the ‘deploy only to Death Star/Tatooine, but you also can’t deploy if your opponent has two unique characters on the table. That means in at least half of your games you won’t be able to deploy them because it is likely that your opponent will get out unique characters out quickly.
Finally, you should include any character you have with the Spy ability. You have the chance to put your spy undercover to block a drain at a site you can’t shift your opponent on or you can wait until your opponent has committed their ground forces and invade their 2/0 site.
If you are running a space based deck you should be running approximately 5-10 characters. The first thing you need to do is check your effects and see if you have Undercover. If you do, you need to include all spies that you drew. This will allow you to stop a ground drain as you will generally not be competitive there. Next you will want to pull out all of your characters with the pilot icon and have an ability of 2. If you don’t have enough pilots then you can look into other characters. Try to make sure they have low deploy and high forfeit since you will mostly be using them as forfeit fodder.
Please note that for space decks, once you have established yourself in space you can use ability 2 pilots to hit your opponents on the ground when they spread out to drain.
Your starship selection will vary depending on whether you are playing a ground, balanced, or space deck.
Ground decks will probably only select the best 2-3 ships they have in their deck. The purpose of the fleet is mostly to either attempt to get a quick drop and drain for a few turns while your opponent is setting up their space, or to contest one system. Any ship with passenger slots is useful in this as you can use your ground characters as forfeit fodder.
Balanced decks should run between 5-7 ships. At least 3 of these ships should be matching pairs or capital starships to ensure that you have the ability to contest/hold two systems and draw battle destiny in each.
Space decks should run 7-10 ships. The objective with this type of deck is to contest all of the system locations on the board and once you run your opponent out of space to have enough to spread and drain at all of the systems.
As a general rule you should rank ships in this order:
1) Ships with pilots ability >1
2) Ships that can add pilots
3) Can draw battle destiny (matching ships)
For simplicity’s sake I am lumping in effects, interrupts, devices, and weapons into one category. The simple reason for that is that they are all supporting cards that you will need to synergize with the cards that you have already selected. Here are a few general tips and certain cards that are *must* haves.
Must Have Cards:
1) Traffic Control / Reactor Terminal – If you have a copy of this you need to put it in your deck. In a meta that doesn’t allow you to pull cards you need, this gives you the best approximation. If you know that you have this card in your deck, you can actually plan on having card combinations because you can draw until you get what you need and then the next turn put the extra cards back. Additionally, as the game draws down you will be able to set up high destiny cards and track.
2) Any high destiny card that has a used function that you can play at any time (A Few Maneuvers/Dark Maneuvers/Bith Shuffle/OmniBox etc.) High destiny and you can put them back once you draw them for tracking purposes.
3) It’s a Hit / Tarkin’s Orders – from the fixed set. They cancel a bunch of annoying cards and have alternative abilities that can be useful based on deck construction.
4) Grimtaash/Monnock – for the same reason Traffic Control/Reactor Terminal is useful. In a meta where you can’t pull cards the only way to get useful stuff is to draw. Grimtaash and Monnok control your opponent’s hand size.
5) It’s Worse – Destiny 6 and a potential game ender as many LS players in this format will use It Could Be Worse to cancel force drains where you will be sitting on a pile of force.
6) Rebel/Imperial Barrier – enough said
7) Set for Stun – set up your opponent for a beat down by removing a high forfeit or high ability character.
Conditional Must Haves:
1) Undercover – If you pulled any spies.
2) Any card that add battle destiny (DS I Have you Now)
3) Sense / Alter – if you got lucky and have a high ability character to use it reliably.
4) Matching Weapons with high destiny (Luke & Leia’s rifles)
5) Counter Assault / Surprise Assault – if you are running a high destiny deck
Generally speaking you want your support cards to be high destiny with some way to put them back into the deck if you can’t use them.
I am not going to say that this is the only way to make a sealed deck; however, I believe that if you follow the basic guidelines that have been laid out that you can have fun, competitive games in a sealed format no matter how unforgiving the sealed Gods may have been for a particular event.
Locations Characters Starships Supporting
Land Based 5-7 10-15 2-3 15-23
Balanced 5-7 7-14 5-7 12-23
Space Based 7-9 5-10 7-10 11-19
Remember, if you aren’t having fun at Star Wars CCG you aren’t doing it right.
Nate Louderback rediscovered Star Wars CCG about a year ago after a not playing in a tournament since 1999. It is his pleasure to attempt to conquer the game and achieve Mediocrity! Outside of Star Wars CCG he works a day job in the financial industry to pay the bills (to play more Star Wars CCG). He is married with two children and with his daughter at his side aims to take the My Little Pony CCG world by storm.