The Force on Tabletop: A Star Wars Card Game

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With Episode VIII – The Last Jedi scheduled to be released 15 December 2017 and additional spin-offs expected the following years, including the Han Solo film in 2018, there is much to look forward to, the media and speculation frenzy being the least of it. The future of Star Wars remains remarkably bright. 

The big screen is not the only area of Star Wars fun these days. A wide range of merchandise is available and assuredly restocked, from collectable figurines to socks and toasters with prices reaching hundreds of dollars. The gaming industry has naturally followed in the movies’ steps, producing a virtually endless supply of titles, such as Star Wars Battlefront (2015), but it is the non-electronic games that have created their own surprising success story. Star Wars: The Card Game is a prime example.Nominated for the Golden Geek Best Card Game and Best 2-player Board Game in 2013, it consists of a complex card-playing system intended for two players, defenders of either the Rebels or the Empire, each side split into three factions to choose from. For starters, one deck of objectives and one of corresponding units, otherwise known as pod deck-building, are compiled by either player in order to form a strategy that might beat the opponent’s selection of cards. As a live card game (LCG) there are many more components that are still growing with every expansion brought forth by its developers, Fantasy Flight Games. There is a time limit too. The Rebels have until the Empire’s Death Star dial reaches 12, at which point the dark side wins!

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Victory has as much to do with luck as it does skill, particularly in terms of strategy and reading your opponent. It is almost an intricate, geeky variant of poker. Apart from the different rules and slightly less random distribution of cards, careful planning of how these should be used, discerning those of most or least value and making hard, risky decisions are vital gameplay elements, not only to winning but also to immersing yourself in a Star Wars made of cardboard and imagination. In fact, joining a couple of games of online poker might be beneficial – some providers even offer tickets to weekly tournaments brandishing big cash prizes, where your abilities of observing other gamers’ playing patterns can be honed further alongside your own style. However, any poker player of worth would also advise not getting comfortable with a particular playing style as adaptability is key to unpredictability. How does all this relate to Star Wars: The Card Game? Say you’re playing for the Empire. Like in poker, an aggressive playing style is important to completing your objectives and thwarting the pesky Rebels, but whether you apply your cards loosely, appreciating all opportunities in your hand, or tighly, working with a focus on the best cards, is up to you. Then will you be a tricky or straightfoward rival? As a faction of the Rebels you could adhere to their talent for guile and misdirection tactics, one of the hardest yet most entertaining and rewarding poker skills to master. In the card game, you could, for example, mislead the opponent into wasting efforts on your own minor cards before you reveal the aces up your sleeve.          

Intrigues like these and other features – gathering resources, Edge and Force battles, artwork worthy of the franchise – have impressed LCG fans, earning the game predominantly positive reviews, only faltering on issues of cost and exhaustible strategies, regardless of how many add-ons Fantasy Flight Games provides. The fact remains, however, that it is a game widely appreciated. With the latest instalment, Allies of Necessity, only just released in July 2017 before two more up-and-comers expected the same year it is clear that the market is far from done with this gem of a card game.   

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