When Redemption dropped, there was a lot of chatter (and still is) about Pirates, Ackbar, Leia and a few others. But one character who seemed to go underservedly overlooked was the 19 point big blue hero Qui-Gon Jinn.
He sports massive dice sides, without that pesky 1 melee side that has plagued other ‘big blues’ like Yoda and Covert Missions Anakin. He also carries an impressive 14 health and essentially 1 free resource per round courtesy of his Power Action. Plus he has a a 4 shield and 4 upgrade limit. If this were early Destiny, this character would rule, if not the game, at least blue hero decks.
But he doesn’t. He’s been overshadowed by the super-high value pairing of eAnakin(Tr)/eLeia(RM) who each are a bit worse than Qui-Gon, but together are incomparably more powerful. Plus, blue hero already have a big blue in the form of Luke Skywalker from Transformations, who may cost one more point and have a significantly worse die, but who is much harder to kill thanks to his Power Action.
Nevertheless, I love this iteration of the character, and was very pleased when Royzston, a fellow UK player, took down the weekly echobase event last week with a pairing featuring the equally underplayed Arc Trooper Echo:
Not only does this deck run the Venerable Maverick himself, but it’s also a Jar’Kai deck, which has to be one of the most interesting cards out of Redemption. This upgrade facilitates a variation on one of my favourite ever deck types: the Custom Bandolier deck. The strategy of these decks typically revolves around loading up a character with as many upgrades as possible for maximum roll-out potential, and for big Fatal Blow and Bacta plays, a game plan overwise reserved for Convergence Palpatine.
We reached out to Royzston, and he kindly agreed to do a deck review. Here he is:
I started playing Destiny just last year during the first lockdown here in the UK, after a few failed attempts to find a solid two player game my wife and I could enjoy during these “Stay-at-home” evenings. Been playing casually ever since just the two of us and building nothin’ but themed hero and villain decks based on the last Star Wars movie we just watched. Redemption spoilers is what got me here though, from casual to a more competitive setting. Those incredible character reveals, I just had to be a part of this. I made the leap and got involved.
Taking part in organised play, I initially had many shoddy attempts to piece together a mono Blue Hero deck deliberately using character pairings that were seldom used together and as you expect they never quite fit. It was like putting Lego and Duplo pieces together a lot of the time. But most would agree that the meta was and IS still today very diverse with a certainty that there are some sweet character pairings out there that have not seen as much spotlight. I wanted to find one. Maybe I did this time.
I eventually made my way through the blue heroes to find myself looking for a partner for Redemption Qui-Gon and after I decided to include Command and Rogue in the search this time. My eyes immediately fell on Transformations Arc Echo Trooper for its clean 30 point match.
Now, before playing against Zannah and Bane recently, I would have immediately dismissed this two dice start and moved on. Now however, I wondered if this would be some hero equivalent of that pairing. The search ended as soon as it began. This looked too good to be true and as I got started building the deck, it felt like I was playing with just Lego for once and it practically built itself.
Anyway, on to the deck!
If you excuse the pun, Echo is essentially Qui-Gon’s echo, having his dice reverberate out onto the table twice in relatively quick succession. This is the immediate selling point of this character pairing. A potential four Qui-Gon dice on the table per round IF you control the battlefield (echo7: though 3 dice if you don’t isn’t terrible). It’s also relatively easy to play which suits me as I still regard myself as an amateur player.
The battlefield choice of Cyber Centre I felt to be a comfortable fit. Qui-Gon gets a heal at the end of every round to keep him alive for longer and the extra card has many benefits, especially to pitch in case Qui-Gon rolls poorly (echo7: especially important when you need to roll out and resolve both dice before rolling them out again, which decreases reroll efficiency). The deck is built around speed and it is important that I am first to claim each round to get two dice out of Echo instead of just the one.
Qui-Gon is a monster and that is before Jar’Kai hits the table. Upgrades are primarily focused on 1 cost blue weapons with some 2 and 3 cost. I used to turn my nose up at the Lightsaber Tonfas but I believe they made a significant difference in getting Jar’Kai activated as soon as possible which is a priority. It increases pressure on the opponent as you’d expect and maximises the potential of some of the events that rely on a high upgrade quantity. I never even bothered to put an optional resource on a Tonfa as once Jar’Kai was active it was pretty good as is, although it would sometimes get replaced by a 2 or 3 cost depending on the flow of battle.
Jedi Republic Armor, although not affected by Jar’Kai, was an essential add, not only to increase survivability but also mainly to make Qui-Gon a 15 health character and meet the requirements of removing 2 dice instead of 1 when using the event Feat of Strength. All 3 cost weapons have redeploy as by late game Qui-Gon may kick the bucket and otherwise leave poor Echo with nothing. The times i played this deck, it had thankfully never reached that point. Both characters were still standing after every game.
I initially didn’t feel good about having just two Binds and a single Merchant Freighter. I couldn’t have two Freighters in play all the time as they would slow me down and risk not being able to claim the battlefield without some sacrifice. Resources ended up being in good supply I found with this arrangement though. I power actioned Qui-Gon a lot more than I was expecting. The two Binds were essential but also limited me being able to put some great Neutral and Command weapons in the arsenal. Mando Vibro-Ax and Security Baton would have been great to have but were ultimately omitted for this reason (echo7: I see the logic, but I would have been hard pressed to drop the Mando Ax. That weapon is so good).
Removal cards some could argue are somewhat limited with only 6 in the deck. I’m personally used to there being a lot more. However when the dice are not rolling melee and resources there are a high number of shield sides with most increased as a result of Jar’Kai so these were my mitigation mainly: a shield wall. A lot of removal to choose from but in the end I settled with Feat of Strength for its two die removal for one cost, once the Jedi Republic Armor is in place. Fury as it is a simply elegant, non-situational one for one removal and lastly Nullify as shields are plentiful and having a zero cost removal is always ideal.
While Echo is playing second fiddle the whole time he does have his moments to shine in the form of Seizing Territory and Unfetter. Seizing Territory is in place for when the opponent manages to snap up the battlefield before I do. It is perfect for this deck. Unfetter has a very relevant and practical use in this deck but to be honest I initially kept one in the deck for a laugh as the round it is played in will see six Qui-Gon dice. Two Qui-Gon dice for two resources is great. Imagine two Unfetters in hand for a late game eight Qui-Gon dice: bonkers (echo7: though the chance of rolling enough resolvable sides with that many rollouts, it must be said, would be pretty slim).
Fatal Blow for when you’ve got the full 6 upgrades on Qui-Gon. 8 to 10 damage. Not pleasant.
Will of the Force is there to shield Qui-Gon up to his max of four in a pinch. A lot of one shield sides increased by Jar’Kai are on the table most of the time making this highly accessible. Well worth the one resource in my opinion.
Bacta Therapy for an easy five health heal. This is great but however can promote a negative play experience for the opponent which is something I try to avoid where possible. Or maybe that’s just my confused morality doing the talking (echo7: personally, I think you’re playing very fair with this deck so I wouldn’t worry about it. Plus, I love that this card is easily worth 4 health with Qui-Gon even without Jar’Kai).
How the games went
With just two dice I managed to win the roll off 2 out of 4 games surprisingly, an unexpected bonus.
So the game plan for me at the start of each game was to shuffle any mitigation, Fatal Blows, Bacta and 3 cost weapons back into my deck and save them for mid to late game. Jar’Kai with two weapons as soon as possible and steadily build from there. Nothing particularly to hard mulligan for. Very simple to pilot and the success of the first round will be mostly down to luck of the draw and dice rolls.
Each game would often start with Echo activating with one or two Qui-Gon dice being rolled out, dependent on battlefield ownership. These needed to be resolved ideally asap (or removed by the opponent, this is fine) so that Qui-Gon can then activate and both those dice can go out again along with any upgrades I managed to apply on Qui-Gon in between the action.
The first round I needed to hit hard, make a statement and put one of the opponent’s characters in trouble. With three heavy damage sides on each of his dice and a little bit of luck I could put my opponent on the back foot in the first couple of turns.
As expected, I lost a lot of Qui-Gon’s dice to mitigation which is fine as it means my opponents are often putting their resources toward their die removal cards rather than setting up their supports and upgrades as they were often baited to immediately address the incoming damage.
Game 1 – Dexter – Transformations eAnakin/eLeia
I didn’t anticipate Echo becoming the target at any point in the games but it seems obvious now as his death will achieve an early flip for Ani. I would have done the same. I cautiously ran my game plan anyway and narrowly avoided an Ani flip by Echo having a single health left but an abundance of shields kept Echo protected. Once Ani was dispatched, Leia was overwhelmed by a fresh, geared up Qui-Gon.
Game 2 – Rockntroll – Wullffwarro/eKashyyyk Warrior/Valorous Tribe/+eTarfful
A tough game with a huge, shared health pool to contend with. Qui-Gon took an absolute pummeling throughout, but the sheer number of shields soaked up a huge percentage of the damage. In mid-game, Bacta brought him back to almost full health. Then Admiral landed on Tarfful, the reset came but Qui-Gon still survived the reset to win the game. At this point I knew this deck had some potential.
Game 3 – Makvag – eDak/eLeia
Dak let the side down with constantly bad rolls start to finish. So we never got to see the duo at full potential. Leia did all the work and put up one hell of a fight. I seem to recall activating Jar’Kai with two Tonfas in round one before I even activated Qui-Gon. Dak was the first to go down. When my opponent Makvag started playing the sacred, traditional music of his Greek people through the mic, I knew my victory was secured.
Game 4 – Echo3ofclubs (Oli) – eDengar/eHondo
This was another close one. Qui-Gon was down to half health in the first round thanks to some Pirate Loyalists before I could get some solid shield output in place. Then in came the Headstrong and then my Binds which got DM‘d then a Den of Thieves entered play. I felt in over my head. I’m used to a very consistent 1-3 during these events! The details are fuzzy as to how i managed to turn this around but it happened. Probably thanks to shield production, again. Qui-Gon managed to get the full 6 upgrades on him for the first time, it was quite a sight. I had a Fatal Blow in hand ready to finish the game and my opponent must have sensed it as my character dice were consistently being removed (echo7: you were playing against Oli – he definitely would have been expecting the Fatal Blow play). Then Qui-Gon Bacta‘d, the volume of Jar’Kai‘d dice on the table was overwhelming, down went Hondo and it was soon all over.
Cards that didn’t make the deck
Admiral and You Are in Command Now – if this deck isn’t already NPE territory, these would guarantee it. It’s very doable but something i would only consider adding in a tournament setting. Again with the morality, is this an English thing? (echo7: honestly, I think leaving these out is a good call. Relying on YAICN to be able to play Admiral is a risky strategy. Obviously if you pulled it off it could be blowout, but with the deck built around Jar’Kai I think it’d be difficult to effectively do both. It might be a decent backup strategy though if Jar’Kai is buried.)
Most notable upgrade omissions were the incredible Force Valor and all these great weapons: Cal Kestis’ Lightsaber, Leia’s Lightsaber, Mandalorian Vibro-Ax and the Security Baton (echo7: I’d add Kanan Jarrus’ Lightsaber to that list thanks to its ability to auto-focus when the opponent turns any die. Having this in the pool really puts the opponent off focusing their own dice). All worthy of being part of the deck but for the smallest of reasons didn’t quite make it.
Pushing Slash was removed at the last minute and in my mind its sole purpose was always as a means of avoiding guardian and/or Heroic Protector in a dreaded Chewie/Lumpy matchup.
Chewie and Lumpy is a significant bad matchup as there is almost no ping damage in the deck. It would be a quick and brutal game (echo7: a Heroic Protector on a 4 side deals 7 damage to Qui-Gon!). Perhaps I should add Pushing Slash to the deck again?
What would I change?
The deck was untested prior to the event but I found it very comfortable and balanced for me as is. I would need more games played with it to have a better understanding. Perhaps replacing one Fatal Blow for a second Unfetter? Maybe even losing the Merchant Freighter for a Leia’s Lightsaber or a Security Baton (echo7: or maybe a better ramp card for this deck might be Fresh Supplies?).
Bad deck piloting on my part, many missed opportunities and cards played in the wrong sequence landed me in hot water a few times. I had the strength of Qui-Gon, his sidekick and a bit of luck to thank for the victory. I could have done a whole lot better there, however I am pleasantly surprised with the win and also Qui-Gon finally got to see some spotlight.
To summarise the deck, it is a very simple deck with a ham-fisted start, ending with death by a thousand Tonfa cuts. However, I do believe there is great scope for improvement that goes beyond my own deck building abilities. I would love to see what others can produce out of this great pairing to push them even further.
I’m definitely going to be giving this one a go. I would consider including Prescient Leap as a way of dealing with powerful upgrades like Admiral, Veteran of War, or the opponent’s weapons, as you are resolving multiple dice in the same action frequently (it even gets triggered when you play Will of the Force, which I think is a neat interaction). I’d also consider On Guard, mostly to trigger Qui-Gon‘s Power Action if I’m sitting on 2 shields.
One card I would especially like to try out is Apt Lesson. This event is a great way to set up a huge Fatal Blow play off a blank, making it much harder to mitigate as you can roll what you like and the opponent has to remove both dice in one action to play around it. It also means you can discard an early Fatal Blow draw as you know you can recycle it later.
You can also play Apt Lesson into Will of the Force to put 4 shields on Qui-Gon, set up the Power Action, and get an early Echo blank out of your pool. I’d also probably include Fluid Riposte, as this is a useful 1 for 1 piece of mitigation that can also be recycled with Apt Lesson as it too is a move event.
Thanks again to Royzston for his excellent write-up. And don’t forget that if you want to see Echo in action, the Bad Batch premieres on May the Fourth.
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