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Evolution: Obi-Wan Kenobi

The Star Wars saga is packed with vivid characters, from loveable rogues and despised emperors to wise masters and fallen heroes. Just as they've impacted the movies, the most powerful of these personalities can make waves in the Star Wars Trading Card Game, shifting the balance of power as soon as they're deployed.

In this article, we're going to look at one such character and chart how the unit has evolved during the course of the game so far. This person is arguably the most influential of all Star Wars characters but often gets overlooked in today's environment. However, this unit has made its presence known right from the very first expansion. Yes, I'm talking about Obi-Wan Kenobi.

A Checkered Past

The Padwan became a Knight for the premier expansion set, Attack of the Clones, and his caution and relative inexperience were well reflected in a range of units that were dependable if not overly exciting. Obi-Wan Kenobi (B) was the best of the lot, with decent health and power coupled with two excellent abilities. Given the fact that Darth Vader had yet to hit the scene, Anakin Skywalker almost always made an appearance in light side decks, making Obi-Wan's third ability pretty darn useful. Anakin was the power of the duo, while Obi-Wan provided decent support and often dealt the killing blow with his Critical Hit 2.

These first cards introduced both the saving grace and the Achilles heel of this unit. Obi-Wan Kenobi consistently features the ability to pay 2 Force to avoid 2 damage. That may not be anything to shout home about compared to the Yodas, Maces, and certain versions of Luke Skywalker out there, but it's cost effective and low enough to be used twice in your opening turn.

Maybe it was the robes, but this unit's flaw, introduced in Attack of the Clones and continued in future sets, was his speed of 40 -- woefully slow. He needs a good evade ability, because everyone can take a hit at him before he gets a chance to strike back!

He must have checked into boot camp after the first set, though, because the Sith Rising expansion saw a vastly improved (if underpowered) bearded one. Obi-Wan returned to the limelight with 60 speed, 6 health, and a cost-effective evade, allowing him to stick around long enough to make his Stun 3 very annoying! However, he still wasn't strong enough to offer light side players a winning character option. His stack was just too weak, especially when faced with the dastardly trio of Darths -- Darth Tyranus, Darth Sidious, and Darth Maul.

The next expansion set, A New Hope, brought traditionalists what they had been waiting for: Sir Alec Guinness and what would prove to be staple additions to light side decks for a long while. At this stage in the evolution of the Star Wars Trading Card Game, Geonosian decks, droid decks, and creature decks were everywhere, and Obi-Wan Kenobi (E) was gold! 6 build gave you a fast unit with decent stats, an effective evade, and a static ability that brought almost everyone down to size.

While the prestige of Obi-Wan Kenobi (E) has diminished with the introduction of more Dark Jedi in later sets, the shine of Obi-Wan Kenobi (G) has not. The value of this 4 build unit with intercept for a single Force can't be underestimated -- especially since his staple 2 evade for 2 Force means the old guy will be leaping in front of your other units for a fair while!

The introduction of some seriously powerful Luke Skywalker units in recent expansions has increased the playability of Obi-Wan Kenobi (G) from Battle of Yavin, but it was Jedi Guardians that brought us an Obi-Wan still played regularly today. Obi-Wan Kenobi (I) -- affectionately called "Mad Obi" by players down under -- has had enough with annoying Geonosians, monotonous robots, and dastardly Sith. He's angry!

Yes, he's expensive for 9 build, but Han's Promise easily takes care of this. Plus, recent expansions have provided many ways to secure enough Force to make his evade playable, making Obi-Wan Kenobi (I) almost untouchable. Deflect a point of damage to a particularly nasty opponent, and Obi-Wan Kenobi (I) also comes in with 9 dice of damage! Now players truly had a character worthy to stack, and Anakin's teacher regularly strode in to deal 12+ damage!

The Empire Strikes Back and The Phantom Menace brought us the oldest and youngest versions of Obi-Wan. Although each has its uses, neither are versatile enough to warrant a consistent place in tournament-level decks. This was the barren period for our friend as Darth Vader (K) became a dark side staple.

That brings us to the latest and most anticipated version yet: Obi-Wan Kenobi (N) from the Revenge of the Sith expansion. A vastly souped-up version of Obi-Wan Kenobi (K), Obi-Wan (N) gives you speed, decent stats and -- most importantly -- a game-winning evade. 1 Force to evade 2 damage means that Obi-Wan can evade four times in the opening turn, swinging back with at least 5 power each time! The environment has changed with the recent expansions, and the number of Dark Jedi you're likely to encounter makes this version of our favorite bearded hero incredibly effective. Start staking this guy, and you have a very powerful unit indeed.

So, if you're including old Ben in your deck, what should you be playing right now?

The Obi stack is looking pretty good. Top-of-stack units should be Obi-Wan Kenobi (N) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (I), so include two of your favorite and one of the other. Throw in a Han's Promise or two to help with cheap deployment. Obi-Wan Kenobi (G) is a great stand-alone support unit. Lastly, I'd include Obi-Wan Kenobi (E). Depending on the situation, you then have options for dealing with Dark Jedi and non-Jedi decks!

What does the future hold for Obi-Wan? Well, the next expansion, Rise of the Empire, promises power on the same level as Revenge of the Sith, together with an exciting new ability. Stay tuned for more Obi madness!

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