Don't mess with the "peaceful" Naboo
by Len "RedneckJedi" Fowler
Now that the Return of the Jedi (RotJ) set has been released, I'd like to share a Naboo deck I took to a pre-RotJ tournament. The Phantom Menace set gave players the savior of the Naboo (no, not Jar Jar): Captain Panaka (A). Though small and relatively cheap, most Naboo units just didn't cut it after the Original Trilogy expansions started coming out. While they could swarm quite well, they had a tendency to start dropping quickly to some of the more powerful cards and units. With fairly simple (or no) additional abilities, the Naboo have been particularly shunned.
I have to hand it to the guys I met in Chicago. They schooled me well, and I owe this deck's creation and success to them making me realize the inherent power of little old Panaka. His ability gives all your Naboo units (including himself) Stun 2 and "Pay 0 Force ? Retaliate 2." This may not seem like much, but consider all of the units the Dark Side must throw against you. Interceptors in the Space arena, your Retaliate will eat their lunch if these speedy units choose to attack. On average, for each attack they make on you, you'll do one damage to their attacking unit. So, in essence, there's a lot of damage thrown around by a lot of relatively small units. On to the deck!
I'll start with the Character arena, the cornerstone of the deck. Panaka is simply what makes the deck work. Without him, the deck is a fairly weak swarm deck. That's why there are 4 of him to help guarantee he's drawn. Sio Bibble aids your relatively weak Characters by granting them +20 speed and an additional +1 power. Cord? is your Character damage prevention. There's nothing like Retaliating and just losing a little 2 build unit. Ric Oli? pulls double duty in the Character arena, or as a Pilot. He can pilot any of the Space units I've selected, and works particularly well on Padm?'s Yacht.
Padm? herself provides a number of convenient tricks in the deck. Though her (A) version's abilities are less than helpful, an unchallenged Character arena boosts the Jedi Starfighters with +10 speed, and can even give little Anakin +2 power if he's pressed into service in the Character arena. Padm? (B) is also a good "unchallenged Character arena" version, denying the Dark Side a build point each turn. Her (E) version allows you to deploy your Light Side Characters for a build point less... nice for the Character arena requiring a showing. Her (F) version is in simply for the speed and power, although it can help boost Anakin again, should he be forced into the Character arena. Why "little Annie?" I added him in for a couple of reasons. I first added his youthful version for the Phantom Menace Naboo theme. But he came with added bonuses by giving any of the Starfighters or Speeders he's Piloting Lucky 2, and heading off an Emperor's Bidding that might be lurking. If Force allowed, he could also pull off a (costly) contesting of Darth Vader.
Finally, there's the out-of-theme Character, Chewbacca. I originally had the relatively powerful Captain Typho (A) filling out the Naboo theme in Character, but then I thought a little bit about the nature of what the deck itself was doing... it was focusing on Retaliating. So, for a slight trade-off in build, I replaced him with the Intercepting Chewbacca, with his own built-in Retaliate. The ability to have a Naboo unit Retaliate, and then have Chewbacca Intercept and Retaliate himself is priceless!
The Ground arena features the deceptively lowly Flash and Gian Speeders. Although Critical Hit and Armor between them are somewhat negligible due to their low power and health, their other shared ability will be highlighted shortly. The Kaadu Scout is here to help boost the weaker Speeders' hit potential, as well as make the awesome Gungan Kaadu Squad, the powerhouse of this deck's Ground arena, that much more deadly.
For the Space arena, I chose what I felt were the best Naboo units to benefit from the Retaliation and what the Dark Side was typically running. The Bravos have a nice Critical Hit, and the Squadrons have some good base stats (not to mention the Starfighter subtype). Padm?'s Yacht's Shields are great against a potential Asteroid-themed Dark Side Space arena, but the (B) version, as I learned, can come in quite handy. There were some games where Panaka just DID NOT get drawn in setup, or the first draw. That is NOT good. Fortunately, Padme's Yacht (B) lets you hunt the top 3 cards in your draw pile for a Character and put a build counter on it? hopefully, this time, it'll be Panaka. Finally, the Delta Six Jedi Starfighter is included for its awesome stats, and the previously mentioned possibility of Emperor's Bidding.
Skipping the Battle cards for a moment, the Surprise Attack Missions are strictly to keep particularly nasty Dark Side Battle cards from being played against this deck. I'm sure you can think of a few.
For your Battle card pleasure, I chose a LOT of damage prevention, especially for the Character arena. Yoda's Intervention is a favorite standby, especially if Homing Missile or Darth Tyranus (D) come calling. The imminently popular Vendetta makes those weak Naboo Characters MUCH stronger when they're attacked. This is especially handy when the Dark Side Character attacks first, of course.
This brings me to the other facet of this deck... a secondary strategy, if you will: Speed. Retaliate and Stun pay off best when your units with these abilities have already attacked. To that end, that's why a few copies of Anakin's Inspiration have been thrown in. This is also the basis of the Location selection.
Streets of Theed gets the ball rolling by slowing down all non-Naboo units by 10 speed. Suddenly, the Dark Side just lost its speed ties for units of equal speed (with the exception of this deck's few non-Naboo units). Did I mention "ties for speed?" Rebel Command Center takes that away, too! That's a net loss of 20 speed for the Dark Side, generally speaking, and hey, when it's deployed you get to draw a card into your hand, which is always a bonus for a mostly-swarm deck. So, let's go back to the "lowly" Flash and Gian Speeders. Hmmm... with Streets of Theed in play, they get a +10 speed boost over all the non-Naboo Ground units... oh, and another +20 speed to boot with their own built-in ability! With that Location alone, the Flash Speeder gets a net gain of 30 speed over other non-Naboo units, pushing it to, essentially, 70 speed, and the Gian Speeder shoots right up to 50 speed. Is the Dark Side running the "Bespin Trio?" with either of these Locations in play, many of the Ground units in this deck suddenly outpace them all! The only drawback to all this speed is the loss of effectiveness of Vendetta. However, the "prevent all damage" effect is still quite worth it.
This deck pulled off quite a surprise at the last pre- RotJ tournament I was in. There had to be some snide and incredulous remarks about "the guy running a Naboo deck." But those remarks were turned on their ear as the deck won all but perhaps one of its games in the first 3 preliminary rounds. Unfortunately, the deck met one of its banes in the first single-elimination round: a Dark Side Imperial swarm deck. Although I was able to do damage with the Retaliate effects, I couldn't manage enough Characters while the deck took it on the chin versus a plethora of freely-deployed Imperial Pilots boosted by Executor (A). Another counter to this deck is, of course, Disturbance in the Force, and any other effects that might increase the cost of Force-activated abilities, such as Darth Sidious (D) and Nexu.
There are certainly more cards that could be used in place of some of the ones I chose. To really cash in on the cheap swarm you could swap out (or even add) the inexpensive "fodder" Naboo units such as Naboo Security Guard and Naboo Senatorial Escort, both just 2 build each. Return of the Jedi supplied some nifty Battle cards (Close Quarters comes to mind) that help out swarm decks, and I quickly identified Jabba the Hutt (C) and Malakili (A) (think "Naboo Creatures") as interesting replacements for some of the Character slots in the Retaliate mix. And with that, "the Retaliator" will sign off!
11 January 2005