I'm not a great player. I haven't won a major. My biggest claim to fame as far as competitive play comes from losing in the final confrontation of the first Corellia League event this year. I have played a lot of Star Wars CCG though, and seeing as I'm not a great player, have received a lot of advice from players of varying skill levels. Of all of the advice I've received, some was very helpful, especially when people were willing to meet me where I was at. If I asked for help with a Watch Your Step Palace Raiders build, it wasn't super helpful when people told me to play something else.
There are some pieces of fundamental
Star Wars CCG wisdom, however, that I think are just wrong. Please
take everything I say with a grain of salt, as better players than me
will likely disagree with everything I say from here on out. After
all, when I asked what you call someone who has been playing the game
for some time but still isn't very good, the response I got from a
notable member of the community was “We call him Corran.”
One of the first things you'll hear as a new/returning/improving player is “Don't be afraid to lose.” Back in something like 2011 or 2012, I read an article directed at NARPS with a heading saying “You're going to lose. A lot.” Essentially the message of the article was that there is no value in winning a game against a bad player and you learn a lot from losing. I took this as “fun has no value” and didn't get back into the game for another year after reading it.
You shouldn't be afraid, embarrassed, or frustrated if you have a bad run of games. There is some merit to this idea. However, there are also ways to become a better player from playing against people at or below your skill level. Personally, I prefer winning and am much more likely to get motivated to play every day if I've got a shot at winning. Win or lose, putting time into the game is how you get better. Beyond that, in a game against a great player, I'll often make a mistake turn 1 that either loses me the game right there or turns the game into an unwinnable grind. Will I make that mistake again? I probably will. Against a player at or around my level, grinding the game out and coming from behind is a possibility. This encourages me to actually play things out and look for an opening.
Next, people will tell you to copy an existing deck. Technically this isn't wrong, and you certainly don't want to just pick a theme and build your deck without considering things like the meta and cards that you haven't heard of. That said, I want to play my own decks. I wouldn't have chosen a customizable card game if I wanted to play a set list of sixty cards. I'm a weird guy, but I'm sure there are other players out there with my stubborn disposition.
There is a compromise on this. Instead of building a deck from scratch, especially if you're not up on the latest virtual cards and whatnot, do some research. Pick a platform and look at recent event deck lists. If the platform you want hasn't been played at a recent event, you can ask around on the forums, just in case the deck is just below the horizon, but if nobody's played the deck in a while, it may not be competitive. Once you have a few lists, use that as a starting point to building your own deck. If you don't know why a card is there, ask the person who built the deck. Feel free to play pet cards and to cut cards you don't like. I know Solo is a powerful card, but I also never know when to use his ability and would just rather have another character with a lightsaber most of the time, so I don't usually play him.
As a side note, an argument that people make for playing decks card for card is that new/returning/improving players need all the help they can get, and more powerful decks don't punish players for mistakes the way less powerful decks might. I hate this argument. The same people who think playing against players of your skill level has no value will make this argument. If you're playing a deck with five copies of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight and lose one to a battle you shouldn't have lost, then you can probably deploy your second copy next turn without sacrificing much. This isn't going to teach you not to deploy a lone character with no support any more than if you were playing against a player who didn't know to come after you. That said, I already talked about how it's fun to win, and playing the best deck card for card will certainly win some games.
The last thing I want to talk about is the idea that you should “cook less and season more.” This is good advice, once you've figured out what you want to cook. Some people will build a deck, lose twice, and then move on to another deck. You're never going to learn the ins and outs of a deck by doing this. Still, there's something to exposing yourself to a variety of decks before choosing one to go deep on. I know that when I pick up a deck, I can usually tell after a game or two whether I'm going to like the deck. Sometimes a deck will not want to battle or have too few characters. Often a deck will not have high enough destinies for my taste. When I most recently dove back into the game in 2019, I played a variety of horrible decks on GEMP before settling on a few decks that I really liked.
So now that I've ruined your chances of becoming a competitive player by giving about 1000 words of bad advice, here are a few nuggets of good advice that I got from good players.
Don't forget to force drain
Use your shield pulls, especially Battle Order/Battle Plan
Playing live is completely different than GEMP(I could probably write an article about how I disagree with this one, but keep it in mind anyway.)
Saving force during opponent's turns makes their decisions more difficult
Plan how you want to use your Force at the beginning of your turn. Late game, this includes deciding how much force to activate/leave in reserve
When receiving advice, be it on card choices, lines of play, or whatever else, always ask why.
Thanks for taking the time to read this little manifesto, and may the force be with you!
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