Orlando $5k Aftermath and May 4th Primer

Hello and welcome back!

On April 20th, I had the opportunity to play in the Orlando, FL $5,000 event run by PPG Games. Today, I'm going to discuss my preparation for the event, the overall expected meta for the event going into it, and talk about my top cut finish all before figuring out what the results mean for the May 4th events coming up this weekend. First, I want to shout out George Machado and PPG Games in general as their organization of the event, and the execution, while not being perfect was very, very good. Despite being a few dozen players short of meeting their minimum player count, the team generously honored the entire prize pool. Just wanted to point that out and recommend attending a PPG event in the future.

Choosing the Tournament Deck

That being said, for the event I ended up bringing Sabine Command. For preparation, the first thing I did was take a look at the most recent $1k event in Atlanta run by SCG. It was highly attended with over 60 players and pretty close to Florida. I felt that to be an accurate representation, for the most part, of what to expect. In analyzing that event, and just more events overall around the country, I noticed a large uptick in Vigilance control decks, darth-vader-commanding-the-first-legion-sor-87 and emperor-palpatine-master-of-the-dark-side-sor-135 in particular, and knew immediately that something like iden-versio-inferno-squad-commander-sor-2, director-krennic-aspiring-to-authority-sor-1, or similar midrange decks wouldn't be very viable. I felt like I could make top cut with any good deck, but I wanted to win the event.

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In narrowing down my choices I landed on bringing both Command Boba Fett and Command Sabine. In the meta I expected, Boba Fett would be weak into Vader/Palp but strong against the rest of the field. I felt like I could find angles in the mirror to gain an advantage over my opponent, and the list I had was largely inspired by the KTOD team so I knew it was well tested. After some discussion with BobbySapphire, we had the same conclusions and were considering the same decks. As you saw from the final standings, he and Andrew Cox both decided on Boba but I felt Sabine was the safer choice.

Tournament Matchups

Just a brief rundown of my matchups, rather than going into each one in-depth, I played against five Vigilance control/midrange decks, two Sabine mirror matches, and a single boba-fett-disintegrator-sor-179 (Andrew Cox). Of the five blue decks I played against, three of them were Vader, one was Iden, and the last was Krennic. In a nutshell, all the games play approximately the same way when you're against a blue deck. They spend the first three turns of the game trying to control your board in various ways, and then on deploy turn you go full send on the gas pedal and they can't keep up since all of their cards just 1 for 1. The times you can get tripped up are when:

  1. They have a 6/6 lieutenant-childsen-death-star-prison-warden-sor-35 and you don't have a way to deal, or
  2. They're playing an energy-conversion-lab-sor-22 (ECL) blue deck and have gideon-hask-ruthless-loyalist-sor-36 or steadfast-battalion-sor-116 followed up with Overwhelming Barrage.

Outside of those 2 play lines, you should never lose to a blue deck and even if they have that stuff it's not easy for them to outlive your reach with For a Cause I Believe In and k-2so-cassians-counterpart-sor-145.

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The Boba matchup against Cox was an especially good match and I'm actually really surprised (as he was) that it wasn't the feature match for the round. Shame too because it was really close and fun to play. The Boba matchup ultimately comes down to tight play and having a very specific sequence of cards, for either player. Winning initiative is really important here as you can get through some very important damage early on before they can react.

This means, almost always, if you win the roll you never want to use Sabine's leader ability to lose initiative. You want to play green-squadron-a-wing-sor-141 or alliance-x-wing-sor-237 into space, claim initiative, then attack first action, or Wing Leader so they can't ECL right away. This plays into Waylay but the important thing is that you keep a unit in play to continue to push damage in. You want to cut off any value play for them that involves superlaser-technician-sor-83 and ramping into Boba on your Sabine flip turn.

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If you don't have initiative, you're still looking to go to space early but we're also looking for a fighters-for-freedom-sor-143 to hard swap to the ground arena as soon as they ECL + ship to ambush you. You might think this is very bad for you but again, you completely cut off their SLT ramp and have a big advantage on the ground for your flip turn. Where you get punished, and I pointed this out as having the exact sequence of cards necessary, is when they ECL a ship, ready a resource with Boba, then use that to shoot-first-sor-217 with their 2-drop on the ground to clear your board. Those games are nearly unwinnable.

On the flip side, if they don't have an early ECL + ship, those games are almost unwinnable for the Boba player. There's a lot of give and take, back and forth posturing by both players and you're always just looking for a window of opportunity. One thing I'll say about the matchup is that if people start playing gamorrean-guards-sor-211 in their Boba decks, you're going to have to adapt and play a Zeb main, or several in the side. The 4 resource turn is where you want to punish them and it's especially difficult to do so if they can effectively use all of their resources on a Guard with Sentinel. For me, Guard out of Boba is more terrifying that a 6/6 Childsen out of Vader because at least with Vader you don't that's the best they can do.

My two Sabine mirrors (3 after top cut) were all very frustrating experiences because my deck wasn't exactly built for the mirror. Largely, but not entirely, the matchup comes down to who has more combat pumps and can maintain initiative. If a good Sabine player wins the die roll you will never have the initiative the entire game. They'll forego pings in order to be able to attack first on the following turn and they'll be able to leverage ECL much better as well as have the first opportunity to ECL a steadfast-battalion-sor-116.

The only way to "break serve" is by having Rebel Assault which is why it's the best card in the mirror. Medal Ceremony is also extremely good, albeit you have to forfeit initiative for it. Oftentimes that doesn't matter if you have Rebel Assault to combo with it on the following turn. Again, if both players are good players, there's no other efficient way to gain an edge in the mirror.

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In my top cut match against Michael Carlock, I had done the math a few turns in advance and saw that I could maintain initiative and set up lethal damage in exactly X number of actions. In the two games I lost, he had Rebel Assault to literally steal the win. That's just how it goes. It was especially frustrating to have lost game 1 when he only plays 1 Rebel Assault main deck, but Michael is a solid player who didn't make any game changing mistakes and just had the right cards at the right time. I wish I could give you more advice on how to play the mirror but that's just how it boils down. If you're a much better player than your opponent, you can do several other things to gain an edge like ECL an early FFF to take out their 2 or 3 drop and force them to also ECL which lets you steal initiative.

Meta After the Tournamnet

Fast forward to the aftermath of the event, I think the meta stays roughly the same, surprisingly. Some of the Boba players are going to swerve to Vader Blue or Sabine so there should, in theory, be fewer Boba decks for a little while, but there's also likely to be an uptick in Sabine decks which should still keep a healthy amount of players on Boba. There's a ton of events this weekend for the May 4th "holiday" and I expect a healthy amount of Sabine/Boba/Vader to take home victories. I personally think the meta is very healthy right now with a number of decks being solid choices for a large event.

The biggest event this weekend in terms of prizing is the Richmond $4k sponsored by Star City Games. I'll be in attendance for this and I fully expect the meta to look exactly as I described. Healthy amount of Vader and Palpatine control, solid number of Sabine and Leia Aggro decks, and Boba. I don't think Krennic/Iden is a good choice in the current landscape as it just has unwinnable matchups against the deck that just won the last event, which is not where you want to be. Han Solo is another interesting deck choice if someone can get it to have game against the control decks without sacrificing so much against the aggro matchups as well. I think it'll be fun to see if someone can pull that off.

Final Deck

I'll personally be playing Command Sabine. I've altered my list from the Orlando $5k a little bit and ended up on the below:

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I don't know if this is the best version of the deck or not but a lot is apparent to me.

One, we need to be good in the mirror so 3/3 spilt of rebel-assault-sor-103 and medal-ceremony-sor-245 is a must.

Two, guerilla-attack-pod-sor-148's time is done, for now. Without any real presence of the midrange blue decks, it's just not needed anymore. It's too slow in the mirror and it's unnecessary in the Vader/Palp matchups.

And, Zeb is pretty necessary at the moment. I've said on podcasts, interviews, and discord that I don't like zeb-orrelios-headstrong-warrior-sor-146 but with gamorrean-guards-sor-211 possibly being prevalent, it's a necessary evil. Also, it's not bad in the mirror, there's just usually better things to ECL. Nonetheless, I'll be playing it in Richmond.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I expect Sabine to win Richmond. Whether it's me or not is yet to be decided but it's just so well positioned with fewer Boba decks expected and the lack of Iden/Krennic. Vader blue having such a huge unveiling is the best thing that could have happened because not only is Sabine extremely favored into the deck, the presence of it pushes out a bunch of the decks that were rough for Sabine. If you take this list to an event with you this weekend, make sure to pack your Fang Fighters in the side, another copy of Zeb, and then build from there. Good luck and I'll see you soon!

TD_Tatta
TD_Tatta
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