Friday, 21 December 2012

Star Wars - The Card Game update from Citizen Williams

After my review of Star Wars: The Card Game I decided to pass the game on to seasoned card players and Star Wars fans to gauge their opinion of the product. Below is the opinion Citizen Williams, a regular at Titan Games. Over to you, CW - 

So today I got my grubby hands (well I washed them first) on a copy of the Star Wars Living card game (SWLCG) from Fantasy Flight Games. As a huge fan of Star Wars, card games in general and especially fantasy flights living card games (LCGs) I have been excited to play it since the first “coming soon” banner appeared on the FF site.

For those unfamiliar with the LCG system it works a little something like this; unlike TCG’s like Magic: The Gathering or Pokemon (others are available), there are no random blisters to expand the core sets, each set has a set card list allowing for more complex deck building and strategic play. I play a lot of the “A Game of Thrones” LCG so was hoping to find something familiar when I opened the box.

The first thing that stuck me about the box when I opened it was the simplicity, two decks of cards and two sheets of counters. Before flicking through the rule book I leafed through the cards. Each one is simply stunning, colourful, atmospheric a true delight to look at. Looking at the cards however I felt a little out of my comfort zone, Very little of the card layout matches LCG’s  I’ve played before, the closest system I can think of would be FF’s Invasion system for Warhammer: Fantasy Battle.

Thoroughly confused but exhilarated I opened the rules manual; as a side point I should mention now, there is a video tutorial for the rules  I foolishly watched this after playing the game. Do not do this, watch the tutorial it’s a little hammy but I think a great explanation.  Similar to how Invasion is divided up into six coreraces and AGOT is divided into six core houses SWLCG also has 6 races:

- Jedi (Light Side) – Full deck included

- Rebel Alliance(Light Side) – Full deck included
- Smugglers and Spies (Light Side) – Faction card and core elements included
- Sith (Dark Side) – Full deck included
- Imperial Navy (Dark Side) – Full deck included
- Scum and Villainy (Dark Side) – Faction card and core elements included

At first glance the thing that impressed me most was the overall structure of the game. Players defend objectives from their opponent(s) each objective has 5 cards affiliated with it. For instance if you choose the “Imperial Throne Room” as an objective to include in your Sith objective deck you get “Emperor Palpatine”,“Force Lightning”, “Imperial Guard”, “The Emperor’s Hand” and a related event card.  This means from the outset decks are forced into theme and synergy making deck creation simple for casual players and giving layers of depth for experienced gamer.

My opponent and I constructed the “Sith” deck (my faction) and the “Rebel Alliance” deck, we both commented on the amount of extra cards included that fit into neither of the four factions you get full decksfor and that you get a good base for the remaining two factions. We started the game really smoothly set up and playing cards is really simple your objective cards grant you resources which can buy units.

Difficulty arose however once we hit the combat system. Combat breaks down into two main phases the “Edge” phase determines priority and feels a little clunky at first especially as it uses the same hand as your in play units and usually require you discarding some of those units or upgrades to win initiative. Once initiative is determined combat then goes on a card by card basis starting with the player who won initiative, BOTH players are able to attack in each other’s turn which made for a really dynamic combat system especiallyin later games.

Overall combat does feel a little clunky but practice irons out the kinks and it’s the only complaint I have about how the mechanics of the game work. The victory conditions are also a little in favour of the light side who have to destroy Dark Side objectives whereas the Dark Side has to outlast the good slowly clocking up points on the “Death Star” meter.

I have to say the game is great, I can’t wait to play some more and have a look at the expansions. My main interest in further play though is the deck building options, to see how that affects the mechanics and alters play. We found some builds focussed on a speedy strike in our games which seemed to win out but possible power house builds seem possible where a little luck will allow you to win with one crushing blow.

I hope to update you all soon with how continued play is going and any flaws or new positives we find.

- Citizen Williams

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