Friday, May 1, 2020

General Kenobi Leads the Charge

You probably didn't need advice on how to run Rex, you've probably mastered your Phase I and II Clones before I even wrote my articles, and you're probably stomping some people with your Republic lists; however, if you're anything like me, Obi-Wan on the other hand is a bit of an enigma. You're really struggling to find a good role for Obi as well as a slot in your lists, what exactly is he supposed to do and how are you supposed to use him? He doesn't really mesh well enough with your Clones like Rex, he isn't a straight forward beat stick like the Saber tank or other Force-users, and the only real synergy that's self-evident is his ability to tank hits for others. What are you supposed to do with that?

Obi Wan Says Hello - Imgflip
Make sure you at least say this iconic line once when you use Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Trust me, you aren't alone and that's the point of today's article! Getting the most out of Obi-Wan, because, honestly, he really is a kind of odd piece in the grand scheme of the Republic right now (hopefully future releases give him a bit more obvious role), but don't worry! We're going to dive deep to find out what Obi-Wan can do for your Republic lists and how you can get a whole lot of utility and fun out of him.

General Tactics

You've probably noticed by now, but Obi-Wan is a dual purpose character. He's a really great defender and protector for the rest of your army while also being an absolute beat stick. Six health is pretty decent for a Commander, even a Force-user, and with Courage 3, he can create a bubble around him where almost no friendly Troopers will be running away, unlike with Rex! Guardian 3 allows Obi to protect any of your weaker and arguably more vital pieces (like Rex or a fully upgraded squad of Clones). Tack on Soresu Mastery and not only is he protecting your other pieces, but he's dishing some damage back too when he uses Dodge token. Plus, his lightsaber, Jump 1, Force Mastery 1, and Charge means he'll really ruin some peoples' days in melee. All of this combines to make Obi favor the frontlines, close to his allies, and in the middle of the board where he can easily have the most control over the table. He doesn't want to go on the flanks or be by himself, as he likes company and he likes being able to quickly access the entire board. They don't call him General Kenobi for no reason! Once the game goes on a bit longer, he'll want to split off from the rest of your force and start eliminating key targets to secure objectives and clear the way for your weaker pieces. To put it in simpler terms, Obi-Wan is like your stereotypical Paladin trope; he likes being close to his allies, tanking hits (only when properly buffed), and dealing damage to foes that get too close or hamper his team's success.

The Jedi general of legend himself
Credit to Tabletop Admiral

While we're talking about Obi tanking hits, currently the big downfall of this is the Republic has absolutely zero sources of healing, so you're risking the same chance to take a wound on Obi as you would with pretty much any other unit in your army (except Obi does get Defensive Surges when he uses a Dodge). It pretty much boils down to spreading the damage around and personally I would say it's a bit of a trap, unless buffed by his Command Cards. Like I said though, if you wanted to protect your more vital pieces, like Rex, then it's fine to spread the damage around a bit. However, you're bringing a 175+ unit closer to elimination to keep a cheaper piece alive or at full effectiveness. Obi also likes being at full health too so he can run around and beat some face, so honestly the Guardian skill on Obi is something you can probably ignore for now, unless you REALLY want to protect Rex, R2, or keep those heavy weapons alive. It'll become a far more useful skill when the Republic gets access to some healing powers (fingers crossed for light side only force healing powers) and more units with White defense who would love someone to tank hits for them (Padme).

Lastly, like any Force-user, Obi is superb at dealing damage. While his saber isn't exactly the best out there, 2R, 2B, and 2W with Critical 2, Impact 2, and Pierce 2 is still nothing to scoff at! Toss on Charge, Jump 1 to get where he needs to be, and Master of the Force 1 to Ready any one Force Power, he'll be an absolute wrecking ball! Not only that, but anytime he spends a Dodge token he gets the chance to wound the attacker, so even while on the defense or protecting his allies he can still dish out some damage! Sure, Obi has a fair amount of buffs built in as well as defensive abilities, but also don't forget to utilize his offensive abilities because he's scarily competent against any target.

Equipment

Like most Jedi and other Force-users, Kenobi doesn't really have many slots for upgrades. However, he has room for arguably some of the most powerful upgrades in the game: Force Powers and two at that. Plus, he gets access to the ever helpful Training slot and a Command slot if you ever want to use him as a Commander and make use of his delicious Command Cards.

Force Powers

There are quite a few good options in here for Obi-Wan and it really boils down to the kind of role you have in mind for him. You can easily make him into a fully support machine, pumping out tokens and buffing your Clones. You could also easily go the offense route and have Obi really wreck some face, or a mixture of the two to truly capitalize on the mixed bag of tricks Kenobi brings to the table.

For support, you have Battle MediationForce Guidance, Hope, and Force Reflexes. Force Reflexes is probably an obvious choice, allowing Obi to gain a Dodge token as a Free Action and simply exhaust the card (which can then be readied with Master of the Force). This helps Obi really become the damage tanking paladin that he appears to want to be. It's a really strong choice, for sure, but I want to bring up the point that Obi's Command Cards help him get Dodges fairly easily as is (except the 3-Pip), so he'd only need Dodges, to consistently have them, for four other turns. While this sounds like a lot, you can easily ignore turn one as you're not really going to get shot much then (or if you do, it'll be snipers that have High Velocity and don't care about your Dodges), which leaves only three turns. It's also worth noting that since Obi-Wan needs to stay with the rest of the army for a bit (and most of them will either Aim and Shoot or Move and Shoot) you won't be moving twice with Obi much. This means he'll be doing a lot of Move and ____. If Obi can't attack except for melee, that second action isn't going to be an attack, so what else will it be? Dodge or Standby, that's all you've got. Plus, if you play Obi like you should, he shouldn't be out in the open every single turn to get shot anyway, he should be hiding as he approaches and supports the rest of your army, so in all honesty. You don't really NEED a reliable source of Dodge tokens for every turn as Obi should already have them on the turns where it matters thanks to his Command Cards. However, as I said, it's still a really great power and can synergize really well with Obi (especially if you wanted more than one Dodge on the turns you don't play Command Cards), I just wanted to point out the fact that it's not an auto-include or mandatory.

Next up is Hope which I think is a criminally underrated ability for a Clone army. Right now a Republic army has no way to reliably deal with Suppression tokens and since Obi-Wan already wants to stay close to his friends, allowing him to help remove Suppression and keep your action economy up can be a huge boon. If you plan on using a lot of Phase I's and don't want to take Captains, then tagging Hope onto Obi is a good way to keep your Clones at full efficiency. This is especially true as even if Obi Guardians all of the hits away from a target, they still get a Suppression, so Obi can completely mitigate the basic effects of an attack. However, taking up a Force slot with an ability that just gives you Inspire 1 can be a bit rough, but if you really wanted to keep the support theme up and keep Obi cheap, don't skip on Hope!


You can always use more Surges in a Republic army
Credit to Tabletop Admiral

Force Guidance is a very interesting option to take. Providing Surges to Clones is always an excellent force multiplier to increase their efficiency and with their token sharing ability, you can get a lot of mileage out of them. Plus, it being a Free action and only needing to exhaust is really strong, allowing you (with Mastery of the Force or spending an action to Ready) to pump out 12 Surges over the course of an entire game! Use this with the 3-Pip, toss in some Phase II's and you've got a lot of Surge tokens. Plus, it has Obi-Wan's picture on the card, so flavor win! Honestly, I love this ability on Obi, especially when I can ready it using Mastery of the Force, but it can be a bit hard to not take Force Reflexes as my dedicated Mastery of the Force upgrade. It really comes down to what you want out of your Obi and if you're fine with not using both abilities every single turn.

For the last support option and the one I'm mostly adding for the sake of being comprehensive, Battle Meditation is an alright option. Allowing Obi to issue an Order to any single unit anywhere on the table regardless of restrictions for only 5 points is pretty neat. Is it going to win you games? Nah. Is it really a huge force multiplier? Nah. But what it's there for is if you plan on trying to flank your opponent with a BARC or the upcoming AT-RT and you REALLY want to make sure you can keep giving them Orders and reliably activate them. However, Obi's Command Cards don't really do anything for any unit by simply issuing them Orders (unless you take Aggressive Tactics), so it's just there to help Obi reliably issue an Order to a unit and, honestly, that's handy, but the other Force Powers will be far more useful. This is more or less an ability to help you out if you don't really have a good grasp on issuing orders and trying to keep your army within Command Range of your Commanders.

Side note: Any upgrade that merely exists as a quality of life improvement is never bad and you should never feel bad for taking them. Legion isn't always the easiest game to play, so taking upgrades like Battle Meditation, Command Presence, Long-Range Comlink, etc. isn't bad and you're not a bad player for taking them. They exist to help ease you into the game and getting you used to the flow of it. When I first started playing Legion, I had to use these kind of upgrades a lot until I felt comfortable with the core mechanics and could start using the crazier, more combo-centric upgrades. So don't feel bad for taking upgrades that aren't always optimized because you like the ease and comfort of not having to constantly worry about Command Range and whatnot. Don't let anyone tell you that you should feel bad for it either. You should play and enjoy the game how you want to play it and enjoy it.

Alright, now it's time for the real meaty parts! The offensive powers! This is where the real fun begins, like with Saber Throw, Jedi Mind Trick, and Force Push. Saber Throw is by far a classic and a lot of run (especially since it's been FAQ'ed that when you have to halve anything, it's done by numbers and not numbers and colors, so you can throw Obi's saber with 2R and 1B). Pretty straight forward and helps give Obi some much needed range for someone who wants to be patient and stick with the bulk of your army. You can never go wrong with Saber Throw at 5 points, seriously, unless you wanted to go full support. Force Push is a bit trickier as it requires Obi to be in range 1 of the target and has to exhaust. You're more than likely not going to use Mastery of the Force to ready this ability (as you should probably use it for Reflexes or Guidance), so you're going to get a limited number of uses out of it. It's more or less a one-trick pony to push a melee monster away from your weaker targets (like shoving Vader away from Rex or a fully upgraded Phase II) or pushing a target into melee with Obi (which it'll probably be more advantageous to Charge unless you REALLY wanted to keep your position and not risk running forward into the open to be left there after you annihilate the target or they Disengage). This is more of an ability you'd take if you wanted to focus entirely on offensive (while also taking Saber Throw) and not worry about having Obi's Force Powers be used for support. And lastly, we have Jedi Mind Trick. By far the least exciting offensive power, and needing to exhaust to use, it can really be a nice little trick to use though. If you really wanted to go for a Suppression Bomb, then this is a nice addition, especially when coupled with Saber Throw. Deal a Suppression with Saber Throw, hit them with Jedi Mind Trick for an additional two, and then pile on a Phase II mortar. In two activations, you've piled on 5 Suppression on a single target! Seriously, it's not a terrible idea, especially when coupled with Mortars and if your plan is to cripple your opponent's action economy or make them lose units to fleeing, but it can be a bit hard to argue for it when Obi is a semi-support piece who likes Dodges. Using Obi to lay down 3 Suppression a turn is oddly satisfying, but also feels kind of gimmicky too.

Training

Obi-Wan is one of those rare cases where all of the Training options can be really strong on him. Duck and Cover can be used to help Obi stay alive, cancelling out some hits thanks to Suppression and not be hindered by it until he hits 3 (hooray Courage 3!). Overwatch is a nice addition as you can pile up the Standbys with his 1-Pip and allow him to react to just about anything that would try to shoot him. While probably not ideal, it can help keep Obi out of trouble by being able to Standby Move away out of LoS after someone moves forward or Aims. Tenacity is an obviously great upgrade for him as he'll more than likely get wounded at some point (especially using Guardian 3 when he isn't properly buffed) and he'll more than likely get into melee at some point (unless you're trying out the Suppression Bomb), so him throwing 3R, 2B, 2W with Criticial 2, Impact 2, and Pierce 2 is meeeeeean. Tactical Push is probably one of the more 'meh' options as Obi doesn't really need aims too badly, being Critical 2, Pierce 2, and tossing at least 2R and 1B with any attack he'd do. Having a couple of re-rolls is never bad though especially since Obi will be doing a lot of Moving, but requiring you to Ready to use it again will be a bit gimmicky. It'll definitely be a one-trick pony as Obi won't really be Readying that much, unless you took two exhaustible Force Powers that you REALLY want to use every turn. 

Living Legend - Fantasy Flight Games
The face of a man who's ready to toss a 'saber

This brings us to Hunter which, again, isn't too important since Obi really won't need the Aims too badly and this upgrade only works when he attacks a wounded trooper unit (so characters only). Lastly is Endurance which is another "meh" upgrade for Obi, but it still has its merits. Once your opponent realizes how mean Obi can really be, especially if you keep negating their attacks with Guardian and Dodging all of the hits, they're going to start to focus Kenobi...hardcore. They're more than likely going to want him dead and start piling on obscene amounts of Suppression (I once had my Obi reach 9 Suppression and it was kind of sad and funny to watch him flee). Being able to mitigate that is exceptionally handy, especially if you want to have your Obi front and center, never hiding (which you shouldn't do, but it does make for a really cool cinematic moment. It's a more niche option and is primarily there for when you're expecting a problem which may or may not happen, especially when you consider how useful the other Training upgrades can be.

Command

You're probably not really taking Obi to be your primary commander so these are probably going to be the upgrades you skip. However, as mentioned right below, Obi does have quite a few great Command cards to help buff the rest of your army, so it's not like he's never going to be issuing Orders. To be honest, really the only upgrade you're likely to take is going to be Aggressive Tactics, so the question becomes, is it worth 10 points to give you the ability to gain 7 additional Surge tokens (two of which will only be on Obi) with Obi, if you're even using all three of his cards? If Obi is your only Commander, then I would obviously say go for it, then you'd get more mileage out of it by having him use the generic Command cards too, but if you're using him alongside Rex (who has his own three cards you'll definitely be taking and who should almost always take Aggressive Tactics), it's a bit harder to swallow that pill. If you didn't take Force Guidance, then I could see where paying the 10 points to have 5 additional Surges for your Clones (ignore the Surges for Obi as he should be Dodging most of the time so won't need it for defense and has Crit 2 on the offense, so kind of irrelevant there too) to use is handy, but is it 2 points a Surge handy? At least Force Guidance gives you 12 (if Obi lives for 6 rounds and you use Mastery of the Force to continuously ready it) for the same price. It's by far down to how valuable you find Surge tokens to be and that's a call you'll have to make for yourself as I know sometimes I really want more Surge tokens (like when I'm not running Phase II's) and there are times when I don't feel like I need them and would rather spend the points on more bodies, heavy weapons, or upgrades.

Command Cards

This is where Obi-Wan really shines as the support powerhouse that he can really be. Sure, Rex synergizes exceptionally well with Clone units and provides a myriad of buffs to them, Kenobi synergizes with any Republic units and troopers. His cards are also the true epitome of who Kenobi is on the table allowing him to be the beat face, support, and tank his unit card eludes to. I would also argue that unlike with Rex, Kenobi's cards are far easier to understand when you should play them. His cards get stronger when certain conditions are met, so optimizing them and getting the most bang for your buck is the real key.

Hello There! (1-Pip)

Ah, the classic saying and the classic "1-Pip turning the character it belongs to into a freaking powerhouse". This is the card you want to play after you spent a turn running Obi up and shoving him up into your opponent's army. It allows Obi to gain the Nimble keyword (so he gains one Dodge back anytime he uses any amount of Dodge tokens...great with Soresu Mastery) and he gains one green token of your choice for each enemy within 1-2. The problem is this card is highly telegraphed on your part if you're aiming to get the most use out of it and is that really a problem? I'd say no, unless you really wanted to go first and you're playing against a Krennic or Dooku who haven't used their 1-Pip yet. Because, in theory, you can easily turn Obi into an absolute tank in both offensive and defensive capabilities. Now's the time to use that Guardian 3 with those Dodges, get that Standy if you're worried your opponent will still beat your 1-Pip, and get those Aims if you plan on doing any attacks.

You can VERY easily get 3-5 tokens off of this card if you position yourself the turn before. I won't tell you the optimal combination of tokens to get, as I don't really know and it depends on the situation you threw your Obi in, but I will say that at least one Dodge is mandatory, if not more. An Aim is very useful if you plan on doing any offense the the turn you play this card, and then round the rest out with Surges. Of course, as I said, if you're worried about a Krennic or Dooku beating you and going first while you left Obi completely open, a Standy is a great idea too, so you can move into a better position or hit someone in melee.

Knowledge and Defense (2-Pip)

On the surface, this card seems pretty straightforward and kind of eh, but if you think about it, this can be one of Obi's stronger cards. Again, if played correctly, you could easily get 3-6 Dodge tokens out of this card and have Obi tank a ridiculous amount of hits. Honestly, once you play this card, Guardian 3 isn't a trap anymore and a super ability to use to protect your units or other characters, especially those looking Darth Vader in the face. This also means that Obi is capable of deflecting even more fire back at whoever's bold enough to shoot any allies that are close to Obi. Not only do you get to make Obi a blocking and Guardian fiend for a turn, you also get to issue Orders to any two Trooper units.


For those times when you REALLY need to Guardian
Credit to Tabletop Admiral

This card wants to be played more as a way to protect your units and get them into position while at full strength.  Ideally either your second or third turn, once you can get some more troopers within range of Obi and start getting in range of your opponent. This will allow Kenobi to get as Dodges as you feel necessary so he can help your troops advance unhindered and get those Clones on the objectives and those guns pointed at the enemy. While it might be tempting to use the second part of this card, the whole "can use Guardian during a melee attack", it'll be incredibly hard to pull off correctly. More than likely, if your opponent is in combat with something they really want eliminated and it's something you really want to keep alive, they're going to be playing their 1-Pip to get priority, so you're playing a 2-Pip in hopes of protecting a unit won't do much. That melee beat stick is going to steam roll your unit (more than likely) after being the first activation for the round and Obi will probably be too far away to Guardian. Of course, if you planned accordingly and position Kenobi where he needs to be and your opponent decides to ignore the Bulwark Jedi himself is at range 1 of whatever they charged, then go for it! It can be a great play to help keep your units protected in melee by having Obi adsorb some hits. Just don't always count on it working out the way you expect it to and you might want to consider using it to help your units get into position the first couple of turns without taking much damage.

Sidenote: A really strong play with this card is if your opponent is playing Taun-Tauns (or upcoming Clan Wren) and charging your front lines within the first two turns. You'll still have plenty of units close to Obi unlike the typical Turn 3, 4, or 5 engagements. This will allow Obi to tank some hits for your units and try to keep them alive, maintaining your action economy, and then allowing the units to Disengage.

General Kenobi (3-Pip)

This is the card that can really make your Clones into a ridiculous fighting machine. You issue Orders to Obi and then two other Units. Those two units and Obi get a Surge token for each friendly unit withing Range 1 of them. It might be a bit harder to pull off than the other two cards, but you could easily just feed a fistful of Surge tokens into your Clone token sharing machine and get an incredible turn of efficiency out of them. But hey, you don't HAVE to use it on Clones either, you could use it on the Saber, BARCs or whatever else comes out in the future (won't do much for the AT-RT since it already has offensive and defensive Surges). However, it obviously has the biggest impact on Clone units, but it is worth pointing out it doesn't have to be them (unlike Rex's 3-Pip) in case you find yourself in a pinch and need to buff a particular non-Clone unit. Honestly, this is probably one of Obi's most versatile cards and doesn't really have a particular point when it should be played. It mostly boils down to three conditions:
  1. Is Obi within range 1 of at least one other unit and/or is it important that I issue an Order to him?
  2. Are there two other units I would really like to activate this turn, but don't mind losing Priority?
  3. Are those two other units in range 1 of at least one other unit?
If these three conditions are met (I realize condition 1 is technically two conditions, but if you answer 'yes' to at least one of them, then count condition 1 as a yes, you don't need to answer 'yes' to both), then this Command Card is ideal. It can easily be used in the earlier turns of the game or later on when the going gets rough. It will, ideally, be more of a mid-game play where you've got a good chunk of your army in range of the enemy and they also have a good chunk of their army in range with you, so you can get some extra offensive and defensive efficiency. This means it'll be, more or less, the card you play in between "Knowledge and Defense" and "Hello There!"

The Clone Wars Have Begun - Fantasy Flight Games
Mmmmm. The iconic "General Kenobi"

Also, while not ideal, the extra Surges on Obi help him become 1/6th per Surge token better at defense (unless you're using a Dodge to get Soresu Mastery, then it has no benefit). While the 1-Pip and 2-Pip are pretty much the only times you should be utilizing Guardian 3 with Obi, this card isn't too bad if you REALLY want to make sure you protect a vital piece in your list.

Conclusion

With of this in mind, your main focus will be on positioning Obi to obtain the utmost effectiveness of his range dependent Command Cards, Force Powers, and Guardian. Planning ahead on what you want Obi to do the next turn and who you want him to buff is crucial to his success, especially before he tapers off and starts wrecking face. You can't just place Obi somewhere on the table and hope for the best like you somewhat can with Rex. He requires planning. That's why it's extremely important to make sure you check your ranges a lot with Kenobi and understand the conditions of what to play when. His abilities are pretty flexible, but you still should understand when each card is best played, how to optimize those plays, and learn to get him into position. Really get familiar with his Command Cards, the Force Powers you decide to take, and understand his relational relationship with other pieces.

Sure, Obi-Wan might be one of the weirdest pieces currently in the Republic army, but he can be one of the strongest pieces once you really tap into that potential. He's a superb all-rounder with the ability to protect your other units, being able to buff them, and still deal out a lot of damage. The main problem with him is the fact that he does so many things so well, he doesn't really have a clear role and, honestly, that's the beauty of him. He can fill whatever role you need him to and on the fly even. He's the epitome of the Republic's Swiss Army knife, being able to meet whatever needs you have, answering the call of the Republic in its darkest times.

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