Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few decades, you’ll know what Star Wars is. With the release of the new film, Episode VII, its popularity has reached new heights and has won over an entirely new generation of fans.
The basic concept of the Star Wars universe is that there is a long-standing war between those of opposing forces. An evil Emperor channels the Dark Side of the Force, commanding his servants to do his evil bidding. Opposing him are those of the Jedi Order, the Rebel Alliance and others who sympathize with the Light Side of the Force. Rebels, smugglers, and even a princess try to bring justice and order to a fraught and oppressed galaxy.
Star Wars: The Card Game is a two-player Living Card Game (LCG) set within the original three episodes of the film franchise (Episodes IV, V, and VI). One player takes control of a Light Side faction deck such as the Jedi or Rebel Alliance while the other player will control a Dark Side faction deck in the Sith Order or Imperial Navy. Players can also mix factions for more varied gameplay.
Is Star Wars: The Card Game worth a look even if you’re not a fan of the SW universe? Read on to find out…
Star Wars: The Card Game is going to appeal to fans of the franchise no matter its content. The likelihood that fans have already purchased this game is quite high! So this review is more for those who love the experiences that LCGs can offer, but aren’t too sure about the theme.
The core set comes with four complete decks and a preview of two more, which are split equally between the Light and Dark side and reasonably balanced. There is slightly asymmetrical play, however, as there are two different victory conditions for both factions. Some of them are often incredibly thematic to the franchise.
Setting up a game is very quick as the decks are almost entirely pre-made right out of the box. The construction of a deck is especially unique in this game in that the Objective cards are pivotal. These cards will come paired with 5 more cards that must be in the main deck if that Objective is included in your Objective deck. This rule applies to all modes of deckbuilding and gameplay.
The cleverness of having two entirely separate ways of winning for both sides breaks the monotony experienced with some other LCGs where the win condition is the same for both players. The Dark Side needs to have its Deathstar counter reach 12 and this is achieved in a number of ways. It also will, without fail, tick down by at least one per turn, so there’s a clock on the entire time.
The Light Side will need to destroy and capture three Dark Side objectives to win. However, one of the Dark Side objectives can cause an instant win for the Light Side if destroyed, or if a unique card is played making the Deathstar the target directly and destroying that instead (the incredibly fun to play ‘Trench Run’ card). The cards that cause these win conditions are incredibly thematic and a joy to accomplish when you do.
The resources required to play cards come from your faction card and current Objectives in play. You can choose the three you start with from a selection of four at the beginning of the game, so there is some flexibility. Turns are then taken to bring out units and make Objective runs against one another using those units and other cards, such as Event or Fate cards.
The balance of the Force is something that hangs on every conflict, and when a player defends an objective another one of the game’s excellent mechanics comes into play. The Edge Battle that takes place right before a conflict between two or more opposing units adds to the whole theme of a Force struggle.
Players can commit cards from their hand to the Edge Battle and any Fate cards among them have their effects resolved before the Force icons are counted. There are many ways to bluff or double-bluff your opponent in these battles — and that’s only half the fun!
The action is fast-paced with both players having access to a full hand of cards on each of their respective turns. Decision-making is often quick, with little downtime. This keeps players interacting with one another almost all of the time.
The artwork is just as thematic as the mechanics of the game; however, the mechanics do occasionally feel very unrelated to what’s going on thematically with your characters. It feels like the mechanics themselves could fit into any theme, really, but that could be said for a great number of card games anyway.
DECKBUILDING AND STRATEGY
The somewhat pre-constructed decks of Star Wars: The Card Game are very well balanced. Most games will go down to the wire — or a win can come from almost nowhere because you just happened to draw the perfect card, despite staring defeat in the face the turn before!
You are free to build your own decks using the contained Objective cards from any of the factions available. The only two rules you must obey are that you need to include the Objectives’ support cards and that you cannot mix Light and Dark Side cards together. Partly because the backing of the cards is different, but more importantly, because they would never work together, thematically!
Many of the game’s strategies revolve around your win conditions and resource management. Players that commit units to an Objective run will have to focus their attack if successful. This will make them unable to commit their Force icons to a Force Struggle at the end of the round.
Likewise, the Objectives and supports that generate resources will remain exhausted until all focus tokens are removed. This makes placement of these tokens crucial to the gameplay. Some Objectives can supply you with three resources, but if you use all three from that one card and fail to spread it among all the cards you own, that card will not be ready for three whole turns. Those turns could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
Star Wars: The Card Game was first published in 2012 so it has had plenty of expansions released to date. These continue the saga and delve deeper into the original story. The game is a dream come true for fans of the franchise, but they also add some new gameplay mechanics and card types of their own.
These have more content than the smaller Force Packs and are your first port of call for going deeper into the game.
The first is the Edge of Darkness expansion that builds upon the two preview decks in the core set. These decks (Scum & Villainy and Smugglers & Spies) add new iconic characters and twenty-two new Objective cards, for a complete 132-card expansion.
Balance of the Force brings in a new two-versus-two multiplayer format along with new challenge decks. 154 brand new cards and a new multi-player Deathstar dial are among the contents, along with new characters. The challenge decks are powerful, narrative-driven, story-based decks where one player can challenge up to three opponents. If you want a new and different Star Wars LCG experience, this is the deluxe set for you!
The third expansion, Between the Shadows, adds new cards for two of the games factions: Jedi and Scum & Villainy. Both decks get new Objective cards and new versions of some of their more iconic characters such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, and Boba Fett.
The fourth deluxe expansion is Imperial Entanglements. Just like the previous deluxe expansion, it offers two factions a significant boost. The Imperial Navy and Smugglers & Spies decks get a broad mix of new cards, but not all factions are forgotten. Twenty-six new Objective cards and two new Fate cards bring you new ways to decide the fate of the galaxy.
These are smaller expansion packs that bring new Objective, Fate, Unit, and Event cards for you to enjoy. There are currently 21 packs already developed with another two in development.
The Force Packs run in cycles that are synonymous with the Star Wars universe and its story. Each cycle consists of six Force Packs that will take your gameplay experience to new heights. Since there are so many packs to go through, it’s best if you check these out on the official product page courtesy of Fantasy Flight Games.
If packs and expansions aren’t enough to complete your Star Wars LCG experience, then you’ll want to get your hands on some of the excellent accessories available for the game. Dice bags, play mats, and card sleeves of various designs are all available to purchase.
You would usually assume that games that are built around a TV or film franchise will only appeal to fans of said series. However, this is one LCG that transcends its theme and is a solid piece of gaming ingenuity.
The different paths to victory in Star Wars: The Card Game give you an entirely different perspective and different priorities to that of your opponent. This shapes many of the decisions you’ll make during a game. You’re both against the clock in a manner of speaking, but more so for the Light Side that needs to complete their objective before the Deathstar is complete – much like the films.
The expected Fantasy Flight Games premium components are seen throughout the cards, contents, and presentation. You don’t even have to read the rule book to learn how to play as a high quality video has been produced to teach you all you need to know to play right out of the box. Some rule clarifications may be required later, but that’s why you should always have the rule book on standby anyway — as you would with any game of this nature.
Star Wars: The Card Game is a perfect game for any lover of LCGs. It is an especially good fit for people who like something a little different. Because of the different play styles, it may sit well with fans of Android: Netrunner as well.
Where will the balance of the Force land? “Go forth young padawan, and save the galaxy! Strong one with the Force, this one is!” Plus every other Star Wars cliché ever. OK, I’ll stop now. Go and get the game. You won’t regret it!
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