Before Star Wars: Unlimited is released on March 8, 2024, fans may have questions about building their own deck. Starter decks will be available, but many players want to build a custom deck tailored to their play style, which can be daunting for anyone new to trading card games (TCGs). WDWNT Play is happy to share exclusive details from Fantasy Flight Games about deckbuilding for the constructed format, including tips from lead game designers Danny Schaefer, Tyler Parrot, and Jeremy Zwirn.
Star Wars: Unlimited Deckbuilding
A deck needs one leader, one base, and at least 50 cards for your draw deck, which consists of units, events, and upgrades. You can’t include more than three copies of any card in your deck, but there are no further restrictions.
When building a deck for a tournament, players can also include a “sideboard” of up to 10 cards. These are extra cards that can be added to or swapped with cards in your draw deck in between the games of a tournament round. You can sideboard any card except a leader or base.
The aspects of a card can help you focus your deck. Your leader provides two aspect icons, while your base provides one, giving you three total aspects to work with. For example, if your leader is Leia Organa (Spark of Rebellion, 9) and your base is the Administrator’s Tower (Spark of Rebellion, 29), then your deck has access to the Command (green), Heroism (white), and Cunning (yellow) aspect icons. If you play a card that has different aspect icons that aren’t provided by your leader or base, you must pay two extra resources for each missing icon (a.k.a. the aspect penalty). So in the Leia deck, if you wanted to play Sabine Wren (Spark of Rebellion, 142), it would cost you two extra resources since your deck has access to the Heroism (white) aspect but not Aggression (red). That said, some leaders — such as Hera Syndulla (Spark of Rebellion, 8) — have abilities that let you ignore aspect penalties on certain cards. Read more about aspects and gameplay.
That brings us to deckbuilding questions and answers with Danny Schaefer, Tyler Parrot, and Jeremy Zwirn.
Where do we start?
Schaefer: “Start by choosing your deck’s game plan. Sometimes this means building to maximize a powerful leader ability, other times it can be a more general goal, such as ‘be aggressive and attack as fast as possible’ or ‘accelerate my resources to get to my leader and expensive units quickly.’ Once you’ve decided on a direction, pick the aspects and leader that best suit that gameplan.”
Parrot: “The obvious starting place is to pick a character I like as a leader and build around them. Alternatively, when you find two cards whose abilities complement each other, they can form the foundation of your deck — find other cards that work with them and choose a leader that maximizes their combined strengths. Finally, if you have a playstyle that you enjoy, whether it’s ‘win fast’ or ‘survive for a long time,’ look for cards that help you accomplish that playstyle’s goals.”
Zwirn: “Leaders are an integral part of Star Wars: Unlimited, so choosing a leader is a good starting point. They often give you a direction on how to build your deck; for example, Leia Organa works best with lots of Rebel units in your deck.”
How do you pick the best leader for your deck?
Parrot: “This is Star Wars — play your favorite character! Otherwise, if you’re building around a particular playstyle or card combination, I’d suggest looking for a leader that synergizes with the cards you’ve already selected. Leaders with low-deploy costs are meant to join the fight early, either to apply pressure right away or to clean up the opponent’s cheap ground units. But beware: those leaders also tend to have a much smaller impact on the game than the leaders you have to wait for!”
Zwirn: “Sometimes you have a favorite character that you want to play, and sometimes you want to build a deck around a leader’s ability. For example, Director Krennic (Spark of Rebellion, 1) has an interesting ability: each friendly damaged unit gets +1 power. This ability may inspire you to build a deck with many units that have the Sentinel keyword to make your opponent damage them, and units that have the Grit keyword to give additional power to your damaged units.”
When it comes to the draw deck, how do we strike a balance between units, events, and upgrades?
Schaefer: “Unit count depends hugely on the deck archetype, but you should generally skew toward having more units to be successful. I’ve personally built aggressive decks with 45+ units, but I have also built more control-heavy decks with around 20 units or so.”
Parrot: “I’d also say that most decks want to be made up of mostly units. I usually try to have roughly 35 units and 15 non-unit cards as a general guideline, but I’ve gone as low as 25 units in a grindy control deck and as high as 44 units in a proactive, ‘bodies on the board’ deck. It also can depend on your chosen aspects — Command decks will generally want to include more units, while Cunning decks will generally want more events, for example. Just remember, if you have fewer units, you want to make sure the events and upgrades you include are capable of defeating or disabling your opponent’s units, since leaving an arena unguarded is an easy way to lose!”
A healthy average for a deck is about 35 unit cards, and 15 events and upgrades cards. You may want to make adjustments based on your play style, though.
What are some common deckbuilding “traps” to avoid?
Schaefer: “Prioritize early plays. Having nothing to do on round one can sometimes put you very far behind, so I like to include at least 12-15 cards that cost one or two resources in my deck. In aggressive decks, I go much higher than that, since starting the game with two 1-cost units can help you get ahead and stay ahead.”
Parrot: “Don’t ignore space! A lot of aggressive decks can steal games by taking advantage of an undefended space arena. I generally don’t leave home without at least 10 spaceships in my deck. Also, while events and upgrades can be exciting, this is a game that revolves around units. Treat your non-unit cards as the “spice” that you’ll use to capitalize on unique game situations, not the foundation of your deck’s strategy.”
Zwirn: “Overall, don’t include too many high-cost cards in your deck. Make sure you have enough 2- and 3-cost units, typically at least 12 and eight, respectively.”
What are your favorite types of decks to play?
Schaefer: “I like a variety of decks. While it’s easiest to play decks that always take the same role (i.e. an aggressive deck that always wants to attack the base or a control-heavy deck that always wants to hit enemy units), I often prefer more flexible builds. I like being able to assess a matchup and take on different roles depending on the opponent’s deck and draw. Even in my more linear decks, I want a good mix of ground and space units and interactive events so I have options of how to play.”
Parrot: “One of my favorite decks in Spark of Rebellion is an aggressive Trooper deck that closes out the game with Darth Vader (Spark of Rebellion, 10). At first, it looks like it’s trying to win the game quickly with cheap units — and it often does — but it still resources to seven so it can deploy Darth Vader. If the opponent manages to survive the rush of early Stormtroopers, Vader can usually finish them off.
“Beyond that, I tend to gravitate towards ‘midrange’ decks in every game I play. This means I like early threats with plenty of ways to disrupt my opponent’s plans, which means Jyn Erso (Spark of Rebellion, 18) is exactly the kind of leader I like to pilot. The more I can catch my opponent off guard with Spark of Rebellion (Spark of Rebellion, 200) and control the board with Jyn’s protective debuff, the more I can get my opponent just off-balance enough to find a weakness and exploit it.
“Also, I think a lot of people are going to underestimate how strong Chewbacca (Spark of Rebellion, 3) can be as the leader of a control deck. I’ve had huge success with him, as he turns all my cheap units into roadblocks and all but guarantees I reach the late game where my expensive powerhouses like Luke Skywalker (Spark of Rebellion, 51) can take over a game.”
Zwirn: “I’ll build and play anything, though I prefer decks that can play the long game. You could say I’m more of a control-focused player.”
Any other considerations to share?
Schaefer: “Your game plan will greatly inform your cost curve. Some decks want to stop at 5 resources and play nothing that costs more than that. Others can go up to eight or nine resources or more, and will want a selection of powerful, high-cost cards that can win the game on their own. On that note, don’t be afraid to include some narrower-focused but powerful cards in your deck. If a card is game-winning in its best matchups, it may be worth including a couple [of] copies even if it’s weak in other matchups, since you always have the option to resource it when it isn’t useful.”
Parrot: “Star Wars: Unlimited is a game of experimentation. If you have an idea that doesn’t work out the first time, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea! Pay attention to how you lose and think of ways to adjust your deck to improve its odds. One of the reasons we designed this game to play quickly was so that players could get through several games in an afternoon, giving them time to adjust their decks along the way.”
And that’s everything about deck building. Looking to learn more about Star Wars: Unlimited cards to brew your first deck? Visit “Swoo Deebee,” a Star Wars Unlimited database. Here you’ll be able to breakdown stats, filter out your favorite artist, see what decks others in the community are testing out, and more! Prepare for Star Wars: Unlimited by building your own deck from scratch or alter a deck that looks interesting to you!
If your new to Star Wars: Unlimited, TCGs, or need a brush up on the rules, you can check out the quickstart rules for the game here. Also, watch our learn-to-play video form Get Con 2023 with Community Engagement Specialist Xander Tabler of Fantasy Flight Games: