Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Every 100 Games Series - Star Wars: The Card Game

My 3,600th game played (okay, it was more like 3,603rd game, because Invasion was played a lot in there) was Star Wars: The Card Game. Being a huge Warhammer: Invasion fan, which is how I got the Star Wars game by attending the World Championships for Invasion, I'm glad this was the next game destined to be reviewed by me.

Like all FFG games, the components of the game are top notch. There are focused counters, shield counters, damage counters, and the cards themselves of course. Personally, at least compared to Netrunner and Invasion, I think the card design is sorta lack-luster and boring. The art is okay, but nothing amazing and the cards functionally do the job. I do wish they'd included some kind of force marker, rather than just have Vader and Luke cards for this, to indicate when a unit has the force. Nothing really to complain about here and with the FFG Star Wars sleeves, they'll look really cool.

Game Play
This is a Living Card Game, so each player will eventually have customized decks of cards that they use to compete against each other. The cards are made up of objectives, which have some text on them, a damage amount, and resources players can spend each turn to play cards from their hand. Cards also include the usual types of cards in these games of units (the fighters), support cards (I think you know what they do), and action cards (one time play cards).

On a players turn, they focus a resource such as on an objective, support card, maybe on a unit and use that resource to pay for a card to play from their hand. The focused card gets a token on it to show it can't be used again until that token is removed. Once all the cards are played that they want to play, the player can choose to attack one of their opponent's objectives, the opponent chooses who'd they like to defend with, then the edge battle happens. In this players play cards face down, add up their edge value, and see who wins the edge. According to who wins the edge, different card abilities trigger. Finally, one at a time, players focus their units, do some battling and try to destroy the objective they are attacking.

The Light side wins the game if they can destroy 3 objectives. The Dark side wins by getting their Death Star counter to 12, which is done by destroying objectives (the more you destroy the faster it moves to 12) and by having the game last longer since it advances by 1 every turn no matter what. I've of course, left quite a bit out, but that should give you a good overview of the game.

There is plenty of strategy in this. First, of course, from the deck building portion before you ever play. With the Core Set, you don't really have a lot of options but there will be plenty of expansions on the way. The neat part about the deck building rules is that you don't choose individual cards. Rather you choose an objective and 5 cards come with that objective. You are allowed to have 2 of the same objective in your deck and at least 10 total objectives.

Then in the game play itself there is plenty of strategy on when to defend, when not to, who to focus, how much of your resources to spend this turn, and general good decision making. That being said, if you get a good big card out early, it can be devastating to your opponent such as Yoda or a Destroyer. There is also quite a bit of strategy and bluffing when it comes to the edge battles, because those can really devastate your hand and make it difficult to defend if you lose.

My Thoughts
Okay, this is where I may get in a little trouble. I wasn't happy with the game. That being said, I don't think it is a bad game, it just isn't want I wanted out of a Star Wars LCG. Star Wars is a great theme and with card games like this, though theme isn't everything, I think it is more important than say in a Euro game. They really mess the theme up in my mind in two ways.

First, characters such as a rancor, or Ewok, or Luke can fight against ships. So I have a ship, flying around in space, and your rancor is going to destroy it? Umm....okay. In that case, I better watch out for those Ewoks, because we all know how good they are at throwing rocks into space! Second, the Force is given to up to three units that you control. I'm okay with that. The problem is, that you can give the Force to Luke (that makes sense), but you can also give it to an X-Wing (now that doesn't make sense). If X-Wings have the force, why didn't Luke's just pull itself out of that swamp anyways? Both of these things really disappointed me this game.

Also, I'm not so sure what I feel about the 3 different factions on each side. I think it would've been better served by just having the Empire and Alliance or just the Dark/Light side and leaving it at that. In the end, Star Wars feels shoved on to this card game, rather than a card game designed around Star Wars.

A say all that though, obviously not extremely keen on the game, knowing full well that this game will do really well because of the Star Wars license. That is and has been the biggest temptation for me to get into the game, because when it comes down to it, what makes these LCGs fun for me is the competition and Star Wars is going to draw way more players than Invasion, Netrunner, Cthulhu, and probably A Game of Thrones.

My Recommendations
Potential Living Card Game Player - I'd recommend any LCG before a CCG, so there is that. This is coming from a Warhammer: Invasion fan, so I'm of course going to recommend it first, because I think it's mechanics are the easiest to pick up. After that, I'd probably recommend Netrunner, because of the way the theme integrates with the game play and also because of the uniqueness of it. Finally, I'd recommend Star Wars. If you are a huge Star Wars fan, then perhaps it'd be above Netrunner. I'm not even considering Lord of the Rings Card game here, because it is co-op and it has been so long since I've played my 1 game of A Game of Thrones that I can't say where it would be.

Star Wars Fans - It doesn't matter what I recommend here, because lets be honest, you are Star Wars fans and will buy it anyways. I hope when you do, you aren't disappointed and enjoy it, perhaps just having a Star Wars card game that is absolutely trash will be good enough for you all. I'm wondering though, if the above theme disconnect bothered me, who isn't a very huge Star Wars fan (it's LotR for me all the way!), then will it bother those uber-fans of the movies?

Dads with Boys 12+ Years Old - You might want to look into at least the base set for them. The game itself is more difficult than say Dominion, but it isn't completely out of this world difficult either. So if you boys (or girls) are all about the Star Wars legos, movies, and books, this might be a good option for you to connect with them in a way that you get some gaming and they get some of that Star Wars fix.

Myself: Keep this on your radar, because you know Invasion will likely not last forever, but be glad you sold your copy on eBay for now. If Invasion ever goes away, then consider this and the probable player base before getting into another LCG. These aren't the cards you are looking for...(I'm sorry, I couldn't resist).

*Every 100 Games Series - Back in March of 2006 I began tracking each session of the various board and card games I play. I soon got the idea to write a review on every 100th game I played, one because I like writing reviews, and two because it is interesting to see what game I review next. You can find a list of all of them here: http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/66896/every-100-games-series-reviews

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