Star Wars: The Card Game…May the Fourth be with You!

Base Game Review

Player/s: 2

Play Time (Box): 60mins

Play Time (Goof) 60-90mins

Producer/s: Fantasy Flight Games

Designer/s: Eric M. Lang

 

 

A long time ago (14 years) in a Galaxy far far away (a town called Gympie)…

Duh dah dun dun da daa da. Duh dun dun daa da. Da da da da.

It is a period of civil war. Sister strikes with her secret skills of complaining and whinging for control of the T.V.

During the battle, Brother has managed to steal the secret plans to control the T.V. (called: The Remote). Sister cries enough to destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Sister’s constant whinging, Dad races to the T.V. to save his children and restore peace to the galaxy…

By introducing his children to Star Wars.

This movie franchise has been a huge part of my life and development. I grew up seeing the prequels in cinema, defending each instalment as they came out until I was old enough to admit Episode I was boring. I read and reread as many books as I could get my hands on – currently my collection has 66 books and I’m struggling to buy even another one or it’ll ruin the irony. I played the video games (KotOR for the win!), I have the T-shirts and I even dressed up as Kylo Ren for Episode VII.

I know where the ‘Rule of Two’ comes from, I know about the Old Republic, the Republic and the Empire. I spent days and nights debating the fact the Dark Side is using evolutionary theory to become stronger, whether Darth Sidious doomed the Sith when he killed Darth Plagueis in his sleep, and that Jar Jar Binks was actually a Sith Lord. I spent days and nights crying when Disney cut all of the extended universe from the cannon. My girlfriend and I don’t know what we’ll call our children yet, or where we’ll get married – but we know the order we’ll be showing our children the Star Wars franchise (IV, V, II, III, VI, VII, etc.). It’s called the Machete order. Fixes so many problems.

I recently bought ‘Star Wars: The Card Game’ with the intention of releasing this review in time for Star Wars day (May the Fourth be with you readers). And I was being mindful of my future, hoping this game would be great so that we could have a positive review on Star Wars day to celebrate. But I wasn’t letting my hopes cloud my judgement. So was the game everything I hoped?

Let’s meditate on the force and seek the answers (…or you know. Read the review).

Jedi vs Sith. Light vs Dark.

Jedi vs Sith. Light vs Dark.

 

Gameplay (4/10)

Star Wars: The Card Game has some really unique ideas in it. There’s the asymmetrical gameplay, the edge battles (to decide who has the “edge” in the conflict) and the balance of the force to subtly but significantly affect the game.

The problem is… it’s really boring. The interesting ideas the game brings to the table really are quite fascinating. The choices you have to make in an edge battle are whether or not to play a card from your hand (losing the ability to play it as a Unit or Enhancement later), whether to strike with a unit or to have them commit to the force, which makes them less useful on the frontlines. I like that you have to balance those choices…I just feel like the limited amount of powerful cards makes you less likely to take risks. I often felt I had to basically throw a card away instead of making a careful decision.

Playing "Return of the Jedi"

Playing “Return of the Jedi”

And as for the asymmetrical gameplay…it’s not really. The Dark Side has to wait for the Death Star to reach 12, which goes up extra when they destroy an enemy objective or if the balance of the Force is in favour of the Dark Side. The Light Side has to destroy three objectives of the Dark Side. But…the gameplay often deteriorates into just attacking each other’s objectives. Sure, the Dark Side could play a little more defensively but why bother? The battle system is so clunky you can often do damage to objectives regardless of enemy units.

We all know the Death Star was actually just a clock.

We all know the Death Star was actually just a clock.

In all fairness, I haven’t attempted the deckbuilding aspect of the game. The matches I’ve played have only used the core decks that the game comes with. But surely the core decks should still be fun to play with? Surely you shouldn’t have to buy another copy of the game just to be able to have more than a 1/48 chance of drawing Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader or Yoda? They’re some of the most powerful cards in the game, but they often can’t fight because they’re being used in edge battles or committed to the Force.

Goof Review Star Wars-13 copy

Luke and Vader are actually the “committed to the Force” cards. Pretty cool.

The ideas behind this game really are interesting. I really wanted to like it. And with a few tweaks I think it could be alright. As it stands, the gameplay is a little like C3PO walking through the desert without R2D2.

Pros: ++Unique concepts, +Interesting choices

Cons: –Boring, -Symmetrical asymmetrical gameplay, -clunky battle system

 

Theme (5/10)

The theme is pretty thick in the concepts of Star Wars: TCG. The force being a subtle but powerful tool, the Jedi vs the Sith, the Empire and the Rebels, and Smugglers & Spies vs Scum & Villainy or any mix-matching of the Light vs Dark factions. But the theme doesn’t naturally lend itself to the mechanics. I often find this game exhausting to teach new players because I have to keep an eye on making sure they don’t miss steps or ensure they full understand the concepts as we play.

How dare you play that card?!

How dare you play that card?!

I also don’t understand why the players are attacking each other’s “objectives”. Thematically it doesn’t make much sense. Surely attacking each other’s bases would have been just as good mechanically and make far more sense thematically. Instead of “I strike at your ‘Hit and Run’ objective” it could be “I strike at Dagobah/Hoth/Coruscant/Tatooine/Kashyyk” or any other number of planets that are well established in Star Wars lore. I have had two new players (and I did the same when I started) try to work out what it was they needed to accomplish in order to complete their objectives, which is not a part of the gameplay. It’s too confusing.

Pros: +Force balance mechanism, +Cool factions

Cons: -Theme/Game Synergy, -“Objectives” confusing

 

Production (6/10)

The artwork and colours in Star Wars: TCG is where it really shines. It’s quite beautiful. And I’ve had so many people comment on how stunning it is.

My girlfriend thinks 'this' is a beautiful sight.

My girlfriend thinks ‘this’ is a beautiful sight.

The quality of the components is definitely living up to the Fantasy Flight expectation.

Fantasy Flight components are always pretty.

Fantasy Flight components are always pretty.

I do have one issue with it however: why are the back of the objective cards identical to the others? It makes it very confusing functionally when you play. You essentially have two decks which look identical (on the right and left sure but if you’re not paying attention for half a second…), three if you put your hand down for a moment. New players find this confusing. Even a different orientation would have fixed the issue. Or adding the word ‘objective’ to the back of the card.

In the background...Sith Battle Meditation.

In the background…Sith Battle Meditation.

I mentioned earlier about having to watch new players’ turns to make sure they’re playing correctly, and this normally lasts for one or two matches instead of one or two turns. I feel like they could have easily added a reference sheet here, rather than just a list of single words and players are supposed to remember a bunch of complex steps from memory recollection.

Pros: ++Exceptional art, +Quality components

Cons: -Confusing card backs, -Needs reference sheets

 

Conclusion

All in all, it’s not necessarily a bad game (my girlfriend disagrees with this statement. So much so she wanted me to inform you) it just suffers from some really glaring mistakes. Like George Lucas’ use of Jar Jar Binks.

I give ‘Star Wars: The Card Game’:

5/10

It’s a very average, boring game. And it disappoints me to hell that I can’t be more excited to play it on Star Wars day. Oh well. Guess I’ll go play SWtOR while watching Episode VII again.

HAPPY STAR WARS DAY!

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