Star Wars: The Card Game
From:Fantasy Flight Games
Reviewed by: CJ Taylor
After watching the online tutorial, I found myself compelled to visit the local game and buy a copy of the Core Set. I have fond memories of hanging out on Saturdays with a buddy, popping A New Hope into the VCR, continuing to play the Star Wars CCG (Decipher) with the periodic switching of tapes until the credits rolled on Return of the Jedi. Could the Star Wars LCG possibly rival those old glorious days of game play? Plus I’ve been curious about this new LCG format. With more bills to pay in my current life, I found it appealing I could buy a card game that doesn’t require a second mortgage to “keep up.”
There’s little reason for me to get into the basics of how to play. FFG has already provided a good beginner’s tutorial.
The overall strategy decently reflects the action found in the Star Wars Universe. The Dark Side (DS) plays very aggressive, drawing more cards, burning resources and damaging everything in sight as frequently as possible. Meanwhile the Light Side (LS) plays defensively while patiently waiting for pinpoint opportunities to strike against the Dark Side typically only a few times in a single game. But if played well with timing, such strikes are powerful and devastating – to one side or the other.
Sitting down with a buddy, it took about 2 hours to thoroughly rake over the rules and go through a phase or two to learn the game. Once you know the phases, it takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes for a full rotation between two players; with two seasoned players it’s closer to 5 minutes. The bulk of complexity is found in the battle phase. There’s nothing really abnormal about it other than it being broken up into two segments: Edge Battles and Striking. The bulk of absorbed time initially poured into getting some specific rules clarity on card abilities and special conditions, less the actual mechanics of the game. I did find myself referencing FAQ/addendums/forums on two occassions so far and not just on rules clarifications. For instance, can the Rancor “eat” himself? (Answer: surprisingly, yes!)
Deck building is interesting. First, you build your deck not by selecting individual cards, but what’s called “objective sets.” Each set consists of one objective card along with 5 other cards that come with that set. They can be units, events, etc.. Objective sets are numbered at the bottom along with “x of 6” (the actual objective card is always #1). The other interesting aspect is the Affiliation card. When you choose LS or DS, you also choose a primary affiliation. For DS there is Imperial Navy, Sith, or Scum and Villainy. For Light Side you have Rebel Alliance, Jedi, or Smugglers and Spies. There are also neutral sets for each side. Choosing a certain affiliation doesn’t restrict you to affiliation sets only. However, most affiliation cards do require at least one resource token of it’s “type” to be used to play (called a resource match). So if you split across three different affiliations, you may find some challenge getting some of your cards into play. This isn’t totally a downside. I’ll explain why in a later article when covering strategy. Lastly, an official deck must consist of at least ten objective sets.
- The strategy is fantastic. I discovered the Edge Battle to be a lot of fun. It’s rather intense and not to be underestimated. The same goes for Balance of the Force. Either of these can quickly lead you to victory or defeat.
- LCG means this doesn’t make you a cardboard crack addict constantly needing another “hit.” The way it works is you buy expansions, but it’s not random collectables like you find with booster packs. However, you still get the benefit of customizing your decks. If you have a buddy to play with, you only need one purchase to get started, not one core set each. However, there is a caveat (see my “cons”).
- The game gives a great portrayal of the struggle in the force. Both sides play like you would imagine they would and they typically win or lose also accordingly. Being a Star Wars fan, I greatly appreciated this. Star Wars fans will definitely “get it” on this point.
- Original Artwork. They trumped the Decipher SWCCG here. Not just photos from the movies. Though some of the artwork may be based on a still frame, you don’t feel it was just “copy and paste” to make a card. You’ll get the fantastic artwork FFG has developed in reputation.
- Unique. Good strategy but not a rehash of its predecessors. If I were to try to relate this I would tag it closer to the original by Decipher. But honestly, it’s not the same game. I personally found the fresh approach a plus.
- Prepare to buy two sets of everything. An official deck consists of 10+ objective sets. You can have up to 2 of any single objective set in your deck, some (specified on objective card) are restricted to one. With the exception of doubles on a neutral set, one for LS and DS, the Core Box has a single set of each. So the price to “get serious” is more than one box. Prepare to spend $80 in retail to get two Cores! When I discovered this I felt a bit duped in the sense I didn’t feel I owned a complete game. But then I have also considered past investments in any other CCG I’ve ever played which far overshadows this. Still, the initial price is indeed deceptive.
- As I said before, I’ve had to visit the site for two separate clarifications, not on rules but cards. So it’s not a terrible “con,” but anytime I find I have to search a forum for an answer, it’s an inconvenience. And to be fair, both times the search resulted in basically what the card says it does. Yet the Rancor having the ability to pull off a forced suicide still seems questionable.
- The Light Side has a higher learning curve. So initially the decks don’t appear equal. After getting beaten without mercy three times in a row, I was about to declare that the DS deck was just massively overpowering the LS. But then I won one, then a few more with the LS to finally discover what I was doing wrong. In the famous words of Yoda: “Control. Control. You must learn control!” That’s what it’s all about. But it’s definitely easier for a noob to pick up a Dark Side deck and beat someone with less strategy. Keep this in mind when teaching friends so you don’t beat the crap out of them in their “introduction.” Keep more friends by letting them play Dark Side their first time. If “they” are not your friend(s) or some troll then by all means this is an effective way to humiliate and destroy them.
- Smugglars and Spies and Scum and Villainy are sales points in the Core Set. Yes, you can theoretically place these in your deck strictly from the Core Set and there is a particular neutral set on DS and LS each to make integration of them “less painful” to achieve resource matching. But for the most part they’re just there to wet your wistle to buy expansions. And yes, as always Han Solo is awesome.
I personally give two lightsabres up. My personal gripes are in the game’s favor: a) not enough people are playing it (yet) and b) because of work, I can’t make it out to the tournaments at my local game store.
Here’s the official page: Star Wars: The Card Game
Rating: 16 – Great
Summary: In Star Wars: The Card Game, light side and dark side players duel for the fate of the galaxy. While the light side player races to make tactical strikes against dark side objectives, the dark side player works to reinforce his position of command.
Star Wars: The Card Game
From:Fantasy Flight Games
Type of Game: LCG
Developed by: Eric M. Lang
Game Components Included (Core Set): Rulebook, 1 Death Star Dial, Plastic Dial Connectors, 48 Card Rebel Alliance Deck, 48 Card Jedi Deck, 48 Card Sith Deck, 48 Card Imperial Navy Deck, 6 Force Cards, 6 Affiliation Cards, 36 Additional Cards, 1 Balance of the Force Token, 44 Focus Tokens, 42 Damage Tokens, 10 Shield Tokens
Retail Price: $39.95 (US)
Number of Players: 2 (later expansions allow up to 4 players)
Player Ages: 10+
Play Time: 30-60 minutes
Item Number: SWC01
Reviewed by: CJ Taylor
May the Force be with You