Qui Kanan: An Exercise in Maximizing Value (And Fun!)

Trevor Holmes
October 13, 2017

This week I took a deck I’ve been tuning and tweaking for weeks online to my local store for a weekly tournament. Often I’ve found that I can lure myself into a ‘false sense of security’ of sorts when it comes to decks I’ve been playing exclusively on TableTop Simulator. Whether it’s the level of competition, the ‘unrealistic’ dice physics as my opponents often claim, or some other unknown variable, I’ve found that you don’t really know what you have until you break the digital barrier, sleeve up the cards yourself and stare your opponent in the eyes as you crush his/her soul. All in good fun, of course.

Qui Gon/ KananTrevor Holmes Qui-Gon Jinn Kanan Jarrus Obi-Wan's Hut Ancient Lightsaber Force Speed Luke's Protection Training Remote Yoda's Quarters Jedi RobesProtective Mentor Rey's Lightsaber Shoto's Lightsaber Bestow Caution Decisive Blow Destiny Do or Do Not Force Misdirection Trust Your Instincts Guard


So, today we’ll be going over the Qui Kanan deck I played, breaking down the matches and a ton of neat plays/interactions that came up over the course of the tournament. This article will focus more on the tournament report than my normal analytical pieces I’ve done in the past, so sit back, close your eyes (while still reading somehow) and visualize the scene. This is theater, and today, I’m Shakespeare.

Qui Kanan

The story behind why I’m playing Qui Kanan is answered best by one card: Training Remote. The short answer is that I like value whenever/wherever I can get it, and Kanan is better alongside Training Remote than Rey. The long answer is a little more complicated, and revolves around how the relative value of the cards in my deck (and the actual cards I choose) change depending on the character pairing I’m running. I’ve gone into this before on various platforms, so if you’re interested in reading more about this send me a message over Facebook or something and I can point you in the right direction. For now, I’ll try and explain briefly what I mean when I talk about card/character choice based on context.

Basically, character pairings influence deckbuilding decisions based around a loose concept of ‘identity’ that I’m still exploring. What this means for us is that whether we choose to play Qui/Rey, Qui/Kanan or Kanan/Ahsoka influences the other 30 cards we play in our deck, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of each. While its true that we will just about always play Caution and Guard in every Blue Hero list we run, other, more narrow options like Synchronicity and Trust Your Instincts and Journals of Ben Kenobi see their values rise and fall depending on context.

For Qui Kanan, our ‘identity’ is best defined by strong, consistent character dice and a more midrange/controlling bend compared to aggressive similar versions like Qui/Rey. Cards like Do or Do Not start to become better options for us, while things like Synchronicity, while powerful, lose value as we’re looking to play more for the long game rather than maximizing burst damage. We still play shields for Qui Gon, obviously, so the line becomes blurred, but once you have Yoda’s Quarters alongside Synchronicity in the same list you need to start investigating the decisions you are making with a critical eye. I’m not saying those two cards don’t belong in the same list, just that they are accomplishing slightly different goals.

As for the rest of the deck, I built it in such a way that I could set myself up for a variety of powerful reactive plays, while still presenting a quick, aggressive gameplan if necessary against control decks and things like Thrawnkar and the like. Looking around at the ‘local meta’, I knew ranged damage would be plentiful, and I wanted to have cheap mitigation for melee decks as well, so Force Misdirection became a centerpiece of what my eventual list would look like. Misdirection, more than any other single card, influenced me sleeving up Kanan alongside Qui Gon, which in turn led to decisions on Training Remote, Destiny, Do or Do Not, and Bestow.

The Matches!

In my first round I played against Thrawnkar, in the hands of one of the best players in the room. This matchup is difficult, because Thrawnkar is highly consistent, can present a quick clock, plays general ‘good cards’, and by definition negates a lot of the positioning we are trying to take advantage of with cards like Yoda’s Quarters and Protective Mentor. Our durdly value shield/damage split deck is forced into a highly aggressive role, which its capable of doing, but its much happier to face down traditional damage decks.

Early Ancient Lightsaber on Kanan allowed me to do a quick five damage to his Thrawn (he put shields on Unkar). Even though he had an early Inspection dropped, he missed the disrupt on his Unkar roll in which allowed me to jump out to an early lead. After the first round, the deck did what it is built to do, which is consistently cobble together ping damage through melee and shield dice resolves, Luke’s Protection, battlefield claims and Riposte.

What I learned from this matchup is the value of Kanan’s incidental disrupt potential when it comes up. My opponent got off a Buyout for seven, but after I took down Thrawn I was able to minimize his resources, which ended up being very relevant as he couldn’t resolve Hound’s Tooth’s ‘4 for 2’ resource side, which would have let him play out his hand. While it might seem clear to hold a ‘dead’ Protective Mentor in hand to minimize their mill, getting to that Riposte or extra weapon to push more damage might kill them ‘quicker’ than what that extra card might have given us. It’s difficult to make these types of decisions, as you have to think multiple turns ahead to imagine how much they are able to mill us. While I ended up winning with multiple cards left in deck, it was still an interesting scenario.

In my second round I faced a curious Krennic/Bazine deck, which didn’t put up too much of a fight, but again tried to Inspection away most of my upgrades. Surprisingly, I was fine with this, as most of my events cost zero, and I wasn’t getting an opportunity (or a desire) to Force Misdirection any dice away. He kept bouncing Jedi Robes, and I kept replaying it to get a damage. While a damage for two resources isn’t knocking anyone’s socks off, when you consider what he was trying to do with his Inspection, the three ‘free’ damage I was able to earn from repeated Robes plays was pretty good. This matchup taught me that Inspection isn’t as reliable a ‘defense’ as people normally think, and my deck is surprisingly resilient to it anyways.

In my third round I played against a very angry eKylo2/Grievous list with all the trimmings. Praetorian Guard, Crossguard Lightsaber, Boundless Ambition. My opponent was one of singular focus; activate, discard to reroll repeatedly until his dice show damage sides. At Peace was great here, Force Speed to make everything blank and then Misdirection to remove all his dice was insane, if only I actually got to do it. It didn’t matter, as Yoda’s Quarters healed 8 damage from Qui Gon over four turns, and Guard on Ancient Lightsaber’s +3 to remove three dice bought me basically a full free turn to extract all the value I possibly could.

This round taught me that Kylo is good against monocolor decks, yes, but if you keep your head on, stay calm, and progress your gameplan you can win against him. Obviously an early Yoda’s Quarters helped, but pushing damage while simultaneously mitigating opposing damage and healing what does get through is a recipe for success, one that more players should be focusing on. Grievous especially exists as a character to punish those skimping on mitigation, a lesson I’m glad I learned early in the format. Preparation is everything, so start with more mitigation than what you want to end up playing and trim, rather than skimping and being forced to add some later. You will learn quicker how much is too much, rather than whether what you have is enough or not.

In my final round I played Hero Vehicles, the Ezra/eHera/eMaz variety. Caution and Riposte in my opener pushed me into a very aggressive role, which is what I want against his speed anyways. He put shields on Maz, so I was able to pump six damage into Hera with a Luke’s Protection coming back in my next round. Field Medic and some shields from him let Hera stick around a while, but by that point I had Yoda’s Quarters and some strong upgrades out, so while he was able to land U-Wing and Millenium Falcon the hard way, he was too far behind to come back. Dice mitigation is excellent against this deck, and going after Maz first is definitely the right decision. This lets us wait to Force Misdirection on Kanan’s melee, and helps us avoid those Partnership combos.

My biggest takeaway from this round is realization that sometimes Qui Gon wants to keep shields, and sometimes he wants to do damage. You would think that I need to kill quickly before his supports start taking chunks out of my characters, but even with a U-Wing and Millenium Falcon out I knew I was favored in the long-game. Maz got to live basically an extra turn, but Qui Gon got to soak a few more ranged damage, which definitely was the difference between life and death. Getting an extra round to roll in a loaded Qui Gon more than makes up for any value I might have gained by depriving him of an extra Maz activation.

My favorite play on the day has to be the early Ancient Lightsaber on Kanan. If Kanan hits a focus, you can focus the Lightsaber to +3 and Guard away three dice, all in one action. This play is huge value, high impact and a complete blowout at any stage of the game, but especially on the first turn. If you can’t set this up, just Destiny that +3 and play a Yoda’s Quarters for free on the first turn. Heal six or more damage with that card over the course of the game and relish your opponent’s complaints.

Hopefully this report has enticed you to pick up Qui/Kanan yourself, because the deck is a ton of fun, full of interactions, neat plays, and unique moments. Remember that with Force Speed you can resolve both Kanan dice, as you are getting two ‘actions’. Figure out how to maximize your damage chains, I did 12 damage in my last round in one ‘action’, while only 3 damage was originally showing! Figure that one out and you get a cookie.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next week!

Trevor Holmes

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