2013 Star Wars™: The Card Game North American Champion
"The numbers don't lie."
Who is Matt Kohls?
Since Star Wars™: The Card Game was released in December 2012, Matt has been a devoted fan. Taking a unique and highly analytical approach to building decks, Matt did very well in several competitions before heading to Gen Con Indy 2013 and fighting his way to the front of the galactic civil war, becoming the first North American Champion for Star Wars: The Card Game!
In His Own Words:
Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first. I am a certified public accountant and auditor for a large accounting firm and I live and work near Cincinnati, Ohio. In my free time, I like to play games of all kinds (board games, video games, card games, etc) with my girlfriend and friends, but my primary gaming passion is competitive card games. I’ve been playing various card games for over ten years and love competing at tournaments. I have had a good deal of success in tournaments, including winning the first World Championship for the UFS collectible card game and various team championships along the way. Nowadays, I really enjoy the LCG model and gameplay of the Star Wars card game.
On the 2013 North American Championship:
For the Star Wars: The Card Game North American Championship, I decided to run what our play group calls the “Targeted Sith” deck for the dark side and a Vehicle-heavy deck for the light side. The dark side deck has strong board control with cards like Darth Vader, Force Choke, Force Lightning, Defense Protocol, and TIE Attack Squadron.
My light side deck was built with the goal of hitting my opponent with as many black blast damage icons as possible. I used Renegade Squadron Escort to protect my other ships and allow them to strike even if I lost the edge battle. Home One, Blockade Runner, and Red Two provided a lot of damage output, while Renegade Squadron and Echo Caverns provided me with some other tricks. By running Vehicles I hoped to counter Sith Character control decks. Going into the tournament, I knew both of my decks would play well.
During the five Swiss rounds my decks performed great, with each side going 4-1 in individual games. My light side deck was winning even faster than anticipated, with victories at dial numbers four, five, seven, and four. A mono-Imperial Navy deck gave me the most problems but I was able to beat the Sith decks which I had expected to be the majority of the dark side decks at the tournament. The only real surprise for my dark side deck was the mono-Rebel deck, but I was able to beat it in the end. I finished with 33 total points which was good enough for third place after the Swiss rounds, ensuring me a place in the Top 16!
The Elimination Rounds:
During the Top 16 match I faced my first mono-Scum and Villainy deck of the day. My opponent played Jabba the Hutt on his first turn, which scared me a bit, but I was able to drop enough units to work around him. After damaging each of my opponent’s objectives over a few turns, I was able to have Red Two with an Astromech Droid Upgrade finish off all three of his objectives in one turn with the dial at five. In the second game, my dark side deck was able to hold off Han Solo long enough to get the Death Star dial past five and ensure my victory.
After advancing to the Top 8, I took the first game with my dark side against a Jedi/Smuggler deck. I was able to destroy three objectives, so I knew I was in good shape going into the second game. In the second game I quickly destroyed two objectives with Red Two and finished off the third with Rebel Assault.
The first game of the Top 4 was particularly close. I was eventually able to take one objective down, so with the dial at 11 I needed one more objective to win. The only units on the table were Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker and my opponent had the Secret of Yavin 4 in play with no damage on it. I ended up drawing Human Replica Droid as my only unit in hand but also got my only copy of Target of Opportunity. I was able to barely win the edge battle, finish off Luke with Vader and Heat of Battle, and deal exactly the six damage I needed to win. Our second game went quickly, and I was headed to the finals!
The championship match of the tournament was very intense and probably my most enjoyable match all day. I need to give major props to Grant Huddleston for having great decks and being an amazing player. I ended up losing the first game by a count of three objectives to two, so the pressure was certainly mounting for our next game.
During the second game Grant was able to take an early objective, but I took control of the board with Darth Vader and a TIE Attack Squadron. The turning point came when I shot down his Millennium Falcon with my TIE Attack Squadron. Shortly afterwards, I destroyed all three of his objectives and won the championship, five to four! I was finally able to sit back and relax.
Why Play Sith?
My favorite faction is Sith. I have played some form of Sith in all three regionals that I attended and the North American Championship. I like the board control that the Sith provide as well as the ability to cycle cards to see more useful cards during a game. I never feel like I am out of a game with the Sith. It also helps that Darth Vader happens to be a complete badass. My Sith decks have a combined record of 20 wins with only 3 losses between the three regionals and the North American Championship.
On Preparing for Tournaments:
To prepare for major events, my playgroup and I perform a significant amount of deck testing. Typically the four of us will each build a number of decks, which are then entered into a grid – light side on one axis, dark side on the other. We then play all of the matches and record the results on the grid. After the initial grid is completed, we remove the decks that did not perform well and then prepare a new grid with just the better decks.
We tweak the decks and continue collecting data in this fashion until we are left with only the top performing decks. After analyzing the win/loss ratio of each of the top decks, we take the decks’ performance against certain matchups into consideration, and gauge what we think the majority of competitive players will run at the tournament to decide on our final deck. We play a few more games with the final decks to ensure we know them inside and out. Though I am a numbers guy and prefer to rely on the results of the data, I also have ten years of experience playing card games competitively to assist in the final decision.
Matt Kohls’s 2013 Star Wars: The Card Game North American Championship Decks