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Star Wars The Card Game Review

Star Wars Review Kennon

Slightly more than a week ago now at the World Championship Weekend, FFG made one of the most amazing announcements that I’ve ever heard at a Thrones event- the announcement that all of the players who had pre-registered for the weekend’s events would receive a free copy of the Star Wars LCG. That’s right, FFG flew in advance copies of an LCG core set which won’t be released for quite some time. And, never fear, but the folks that hadn’t pre-registered could still win a copy of the game. FFG employees and volunteers (at least, I think a couple were volunteers) spent the rest of the weekend gunslinging Star Wars demos: if you won against them, you received a copy of the game.

Now that we’ve got a few games under our belts, let’s take a brief look at the newest addition to FFG’s amazing stable of Living Card Games.

The Good:

Let’s start at the top here, once you open the box, you’re treated to the usual rules booklet, cards and such, but there are a couple of advancements here that I think are worth noting. There’s an insert that I don’t remember seeing in LCG boxes before that actually recommends that you stop right now and before trying to read the rulebook, go watch the learn to play video on the FFG website. All of the learn to play videos that I’ve seen FFG put out have been really solid affairs with high production values that give a very solid fundamental grasp of what’s going on. The other recent change, is that all of the cards in the Core Set are actually in two small zip-lock style baggies rather than the sealed shrink wrap affair that we see in Thrones and others. To be fair, this isn’t the first LCG to do so, but it’s worth pointing out that they make a great way to keep the cards together more easily than before, as well as being perfect to store the many counters in once you’ve popped them out. As well, the art on the cards is really quite stellar overall, which is a huge boon for immersion into this universe far, far away. If you look closesly, there’s even some Ralph Mcquarrie art, which is a huge nostalgic boost.

On to the gameplay itself! It’s interesting that this game can seem like it plays so differently, but so obviously feels connected to the mechanics of the other LCGs. To start with, once you’re up to speed with the mechanics of the turn, this is a quick game. At most, you’re just going to be playing for eleven turns, barring a few card effects. This is because the Dark Side player has inevitability on their side. Once the Death Star counter ticks up to twelve, the rebels lose. This forces the Light Side player to be constantly looking for a way to put pressure on the opposing side. As the second of FFG’s assymetrical LCG’s, there are certain aspects that have been improved in Star Wars. While Netrunner excels at bluffing, the two sides are extremely locked in to their attack and defense roles. Star Wars manages to dodge this somewhat by two ways. First, the dark and light sides do all use the same card types and second, the Dark Side does have the opportunity to attack. This gives the Empire player the opportunity to outmaneuver a hesitant Light Side player by going on the offensive in the same manner. While destroying three objectives as the DS player won’t bring a victory the same way as it will for LS, it gives that side a greater flexibility of interaction than the Corporation has available in Netrunner.

The speed that the game can be played at though, is probably quite necessary in order to allow players in a competitive environment to flip and play both sides within the necessary time limit. This is also good for casual players that want that quick fix of another attempt to keep them going. I’d say this is probably the LCG with the closest feel to Magic: The Gathering terms of the length of the game.

Other aspects to note about gameplay are the objective system, which seems like a bit of a mashup of AGoT plots, CoC stories and CoC domains and combat. While the objectives also impact deckbuilding (which we’ll get to later) one of their most important features is that they provide the majority of the resources that you’ll have to work with during the game. You construct a side deck of 10 of these objectives, then draw 4 at random and keep 3 to start the game with. Often they have effects similar to plots or locations in AGoT. This is great because along with your faction card, you’ll be starting games out with a minimum of 4 resources. All of the LCGs have solid resource systems that manage to mitigate some of the random draw issues that MtG has, while allowing you to get into the thick of things more quickly.

Combat is interesting mainly due to the edge battle mechanic, which is a sort of side battle before the battle. At the start of each combat, players essentially bid cards from their hand in an effort to win the “edge battle.” The winner is determined by adding the force icons which are present, literally on the edge of the card, barring some card effects and modifiers. If you win this battle, you may strike first with one of your characters, which may entail some combination of damage to opposing characters, objectives, and/or extra focus tokens added to characters. Since this means you might kill or otherwise incapacitate opposing characters before they get to affect the outcome, winning the edge battle is quite important. Thankfully, the draw mechanic in this game consists of drawing back up to your starting hand size each turn, so the attrition on your hand size and available options on what to play is not as brutal as it might seem.

The Bad:

For all the good that there is in this new LCG, there are a few downsides as well because sadly, no product is perfect. First up is the resourcing system. Straight out of the single core set, it appears difficult to build a very powerful deck because, much like all of the LCG Core Sets, there isn’t actually a full playset of many of the cards available in a single box. So, in order to build more powerful decks, it’s pretty tempting to mix and match several objective sets from a couple different factions. Unfortunately, this can cause a problem when needing to resource match in order to play cards. Since the 4 objectives that you start the game choosing from are drawn randomly from the objective deck, we’ve already had several games where all of the 4 objectives are from one faction or the other and that player was effectively locked out of playing a large portion of their deck. This will almost certainly be addressed with future additions to the card pool, but right now, playing a dual faction deck is a very risky business.

Another aspect that’s not as good as it might be, is connected to combat. While Star Wars does offer some interesting distinction between the different icons and it is nice to have that difference between unit damage and objective damage, there is a bit of cognitive dissonance when combat is being conducted between characters and vehicles. This can make sense when it happens to be ewoks versus AT-ST’s, but it can be a bit disconcerting when it’s Luke Skywalker versus Devastator- and that’s without the use of his X-Wing!


The Ugly:

Thankfully, as I said, most of the art is rock solid for the Star Wars LCG, so the ugly items aren’t really that bad. Still, there is a bit of awkwardness to be had which the final jury is still out on. There are a lot of counters and tokens in the game. A lot. While there aren’t that many different types (damage, shield, focus) there is a very good chance that there will be a lot on the board. So far shields don’t come up all that often, but units and objectives generally have multiple hitpoints, which leads to multiple damage counters on each as the game goes on, but as well, Star Wars uses focus tokens to show which resources and units have been used rather than rotating the card like AGoT and others do. This leads to a board littered with tokens as the game goes on, and an awful lot of adding them during your turn and then clearing them all off during your next turn’s refresh phase.

Deckbuilding is also in a bit of a grey area right now. While selecting your 10 card objective deck (which then dictates the entire contents of your draw deck) does make deck construction fast, I can’t help but worry that in the long run, it’s going to mean less interest in the game from those of us that like to tweak, test and customize every inch of our decks. With so few points of articulation compared to something like AGoT, I’m not certain that this has the long standing range of deck construction that other games might have. Of course, it does mean that many players will be forced into including sub par cards (Trench Run, anyone?) in their deck in order to include stronger ones, which means cards that wouldn’t see play in a traditional constructed setting will be in many decklists in Star Wars.

One last item that I'm a little uncertain of is the Edge battle. Mechanically I think that it works just fine and it's an interesting addition to the combat in this game, but something feels a little odd about it. Sure, after a moment I can grok that it's representing which side has "the edge" in a certain battle with some combination of morale, intelligence, initiative and whatnot, but since the Force icons are shown down the physical edge of the card, I surely can't be the only one that looked at the mechanic at first glance and thought "Oh wow, I can't believe they couldn't come up with a more flavorful name than literally telling us that the icons are on the edge."

So there you have it, folks, my first impressions on the Star Wars LCG. For everyone else that has a copy, what do you think so far?
  • Archrono, bigfomlof, jgoyes and 1 other like this



If you aren't even willing to test the game, then why comment at all?

Whether you buy it, or like it, or hate it is immaterial. I just do not understand the mentality of the crowd that has already written the game off, but can't stop talking about it. Then to attack one of FFGs good marketing decisions, what exactly is the point?

I get the point of a review even negative ones, I work in the service industry that makes perfect sense for me. But this is akin to reading a review of a restaurant, not going, and then posting how much you don't like the restaurant based on a review. I get not going, not buying, not supporting; but the extra?
Maybe because some people were expecting to see a good game on a theme they love...

I've been looking through eBay for Limited Premiere stuff... and I've found plenty! ;)

I have to say Premiere isn't the best way to start with the SWCCG as the game has changed a lot over the years. If you can get them the Death Star 2 starters are probably the best way to introduce yourself to the game, besides someone giving you a deck and teaching you the game.

Or if you get familiar with the rules, you could try to play on Holotable (www.holotable.com). That way you don't need to buy anything.

Maybe because some people were expecting to see a good game on a theme they love...

Seeing as this (alongside Netrunner) is the first game to draw me away from Thrones since 2009 I have a hard time accepting that it isn't a good game. And (not to toot my own horn too much) seeing as I am a world champion at Thrones I have dedicated a respectable amount of my free time into the game I think it's a testament to how solid the Star Wars gameplay is. Especially considering the fact that I hate Star Wars and would have just as much fun playing with blank cards only bearing the text.

I'm not saying you have to buy it, and honestly couldn't care less if you did, but writing a game off without playing a single game (even a demo game) is ludacris.
    • WWDrakey and Scottie like this
Ludacris? Or ludicrous?
    • Zeiler likes this
I always mean what I type. :P
    • WWDrakey, Ratatoskr, samuellinde and 2 others like this

I don't think there's any ploy with this, I see it clearly as a way to generate noise about this title. So much noise that is generating negative reviews of it on BGG and other websites.

I would not use BGG as a legitimate source for a review of a game. That site is horrible and full of negative whiners and doomsayers.
    • EvilPie and Zeiler like this

I would not use BGG as a legitimate source for a review of a game. That site is horrible and full of negative whiners and doomsayers.

Hey! I actually like BGG, and am a proud member. Sure, the site is seriously tilted towards Eurogames, so OF COURSE it tends to attract sissies. I mean, have you read some of the threads on their forums? *shakeshead* Plus, many people there do not really "get" collectible games.

But I think it's still an awesome site and a terrific resource.
I find the site layout and setup horribly out of date and the amount of complaining is excessive even for the internet.

First of all, the way FFG is promoting this game seems like a desperate way to spread this game. If they have such marketing maneuvers is because they don't believe in the product itself.
You didn't need to see such tactics regarding Android: Netrunner, so why such 'giveaways' with this game? Why they want so desperately push this game unto our hands?

I don't want to be bashing people on this site, but this seems like a very dumb comment. It is advertisement! I'm assuming ffg doesn't have the money that video game companies have to advertiser there games, a'lot of what there advertisement is i believe comes from word of others and getting as much info about there games out there by word of mouth in a way.

I was at worlds and got a copy, and it I'm not blown away and i may not get into it to much, just because enjoy agot so much, but also am not die hard star wars fan, like am a song of ice and fire fan.

But to the point I don't get how you could argue giving out copies of a game to group of there most dedicated players (assuming) be a bad bussiness move. Also, look at it this way how many people got a free copy that wouldn't have gotten it and now will probably end up buying few packs, I will probably buy the expansions that are mentioned in the core book to have more cards of the other two factions, and 4 player version, and bet not only one that will end up spending more money on this game then would have without getting free copy.

Sorry this went longer then wanted ha, just thought seemed odd that saying advertising a game can be a bad thing, also if a game was so bad feel like wouldn't want to give there competitive players free copies because they know they would spread the world and would want the first reviews out to be positive ones not negative ones.
I asked before and I'll ask again:
-why didn't FFG gave away copies of their AGOT:LCG Lite version?

Anyways, time will tell...
I'll wait untill Summer '13 to see how this game will grow. I will not be "dumb" as people called me to run to the stores buying a crappy game just because it's the latest thing!

As for BGG, well, opinions are opinions. I like games, BGG is a place for games and gamers. I see more action in their section of Android: Netrunner than in this website. 'Nuff said.
@xJedix, don't get angry, you're entitled to have an opinion.

@Everyone else....lets steer this conversation on the right direction again....lets talk resources.

You guys have played a few games, are the resources enough to play the things you need? are the cards well costed??

What i found more interesting from the demo was that since the ds and ls recruit in different turns, it feels like waves where every side gets to counter in their turn and bring reinforcements....is it balanced that way or one side gets to many advantages (DS) since they don't HAVE to destroy resources and they could just defend?
Nov 23 2012 01:51 PM

How is the multiplayer support going to go (if any)? I believe GoT is the only LCG that supports more than 2 players in a game. Not sure why this, so far, has been exclusive to GoT.

I thought that too until former CoC World Champ Chris Long pointed out that not only does CoC have multiplayer, it works well.


It's from the CCG days, but I do not see how that matters :lol:
    • Kennon likes this
Last I'll be posting on this specific topic, but I had to answer

I asked before and I'll ask again:
-why didn't FFG gave away copies of their AGOT:LCG Lite version?

Because that would have been a joke. Why give out product without support (i.e. sales) in the future for a bastardized version of the main game. If they'd given that out I doubt it would have made it home with me (whether it got thrown away or given to someone else). I don't think anyone would have been happier getting that over an early copy of the next big game.
As zeiler said why would they release a non competitive knock off of one of their already played LCG's ? How does that help at all ?

Releasing Star Wars on the other hand was a great idea, made everyone happy (who doesn't like free stuff?), and is a great marketing idea. It is no different than McDonalds giving out free coffees periodically throughout a year to get people to try it out and spread word of mouth. Word of mouth is a huge force in sales and in this day and age of blogs and social media it is an even bigger factor.

@xJedix, don't get angry, you're entitled to have an opinion.

@Everyone else....lets steer this conversation on the right direction again....lets talk resources.

You guys have played a few games, are the resources enough to play the things you need? are the cards well costed??

What i found more interesting from the demo was that since the ds and ls recruit in different turns, it feels like waves where every side gets to counter in their turn and bring reinforcements....is it balanced that way or one side gets to many advantages (DS) since they don't HAVE to destroy resources and they could just defend?

i have found that the resources are at a good price, and to get the stronger guys usually have to lay down more resources just to pay for one character that turn. As far as the attacking and defending going, i believe that is the key part to the game. I have only played handful of times and most of the games both players got into a weird state where would attack with everyone and not be able to defend, it will take alot of playing to know the right balance of attack and def. And dark side wants to destroy objectives because destroying just 2 objectives already saved you 3 turns to winning, makes big difference.
Also, sometimes just waiting to defend isn't best option since alot of cards can exhaust or whatever that term is in this game so they can't defend anyways.
@xjedix : If the cards were legal for FFG use, that would have made it perhaps the best giveaway for a game in, well, ever. Sadly, the product isn't legal in LCG play, so no dice. That being said, I desperately want the power counters and gold out of the set.
The solution I've found to "Fix" resourcing in this game so far is to use the really mallable faction rules to swap your Faction card. I.E. If I"m playing a 6-4 Rebel Alliance/Jedi deck, and I'm not using the Rebel Alliance Only objective pack, I can freely swap my faction card to Jedi, to guarentee that resource.
Obviously, this limits me if I'm needing more and more Rebel Alliance resource because that's 30 of my 50, but it can pay off if I one-off an important Jedi like Obi Wan or Luke.
The main problem I see with the game is that Imperial Navy/Rebel Alliance hold near exclusively Vehicle units and the answers to said Vehicle units, while Jedi/Sith have almost all Characters and Character solutions. This creates some awkward moments, especially if a Sith centric deck runs up against a Rebel Alliance deck, and suddenly has zero solutions for the Rebel's "The Rebel Fleet". It's interesting because it forces you to include some Navy cards to solve these problems, but a little obnoxious, because outside of stuff like Vader's Tie Fighter, it gets very limited as far as events and such. I can understand why its' this way, its just a little awkward. I'm hoping for a jedi card called "Assault the Bridge" or a sith "Prepare to Board" event to let me deal with them in faction.
@ xJedix

Because AGoT Lite is a one shot, non collectible, re-branding that isn't targeted at competitive gamer...

Just think about it for a second. Why would you give out free product, to not your target audience, of a game that doesn't involve future expansions?
Also, to whomever noted the lack of a quote on Han Solo, check the ability: "After Han Solo is declared as an attacker, deal 1 damage to target enemy unit"

Han shoots first. Every. Time. What else do you need?
    • Darksbane, Deathjester26, Kennon and 4 others like this
I'm loving the game. 8/10 for me!

What else do you need?

A better game?! :rolleyes:
    • imrahil327 likes this
I watched my friends play once, and I played once over new years and I am totally hooked!
They got 2 core sets so they could have doubles of each objective set, and put together some interesting decks.
The game I played was very one sided at the start (I was LS and my opponent kept a Rancor out so I sort of let him have the board while I got my resources going.)
It looked like DS was going to take it, but I swung it around late game and won when he was at 11!
I found the game was much easier to pick up then A Game of Thrones, and has almost as much potential. Resource management is elegantly designed (I think the tokens aren't bad at all!) and the fact that EVERY card has 2 functions (play and edge battle bluffs) makes it so there are very few truly dead cards. The modular deck construction doesn't seem like a "dumbed down" or simplified deck construction, but another interesting puzzle for deck builders to work with.
It almost feels even more like a board game then A Game of Thrones lcg does. (In the simplicity to pick up, but depth of play.)
My friends insist that DS seems to have the advantage (read:OP), but both times LS won when I was playing/watching.

What I am most excited for is the addition of 3-4 player rules in an upcoming expansion! This puts it over the top for me vs Android:Netrunner (which I've also been interested in picking up.)

I'm definitely going to pick myself up a copy and maybe collect the chapter packs too! (I might even slow down on agot a bit so I can afford it. The new Smugglers for Baratheon look sweet though. Ah well, I'll just be poor.)