As a Magic: The Gathering game player and Star Wars fan, I was very excited for Fantasy Flight
Games to release a new Star Wars Card game. I read all of the preview articles, the teasers,
watched videos and read write-ups from the gaming conventions. I followed it pretty closely
until I was finally able to get a copy for myself. After all the anticipation, though, would the
game be worth it?
I’m excited to report that the answer is a definite yes! I have been playing for about two weeks
now and am really enjoying every game I play. The card game player in me enjoys the strategy
involved and the high-speed gaming sessions. The Star Wars fan in me absolutely loves the way
the game captures the excitement of the Galaxy Far Far Away.
One thing to note before I even talk about the game itself is the model that Fantasy Flight games
uses for its card games, which they call Living Card Games. Unlike traditional Trading or
Collectable Card Games (like Magic: the Gathering) a Living Card Game doesn’t require you to
buy booster packs or individual cards to be able to play and compete. This game has launched
with a core set and will get periodic expansion sets, but for each of these products, you only have
to buy them one time and that’s all. So for those of you who shy away from card games due to
the pay-to-win nature that many have, rest assured that this will not be the case with Star Wars.
The game is too complex to explain in this article (but you can see a video tutorial here) but there
are a few things I would like to detail. First, is the asymmetric win conditions. In every game,
one player plays as a Light Side faction and the opponent plays as a Dark Side faction. The game
uses a Death Star timer that counts down to a Dark Side victory while the Light Side is on a race
against time to thwart dark side objectives. This flips the script on the usual “good vs. evil” fight
by forcing the Light Side to play more aggressively. It also fits in perfectly with the Star Wars
universe because every time the Death Star dial moves forward, it perfectly evokes the Battle of
Yavin as the Death Star was moving into position to destroy the rebel base. Just like the end of A
New Hope, the question is whether or not the Light Side can destroy the Dark Side plans before
the darker plans are accomplished.
Another great thing to note is that most of our OT heroes and villains make an appearance in
the game and they each have enough power to really take control of a game. Want a rematch
between Vader and Obi-Wan? It can happen! Mon Mothma leading the Rebel Alliance against
Grand Moff Tarkin’s Imperial Navy? That can happen, too! Capturing some of the greatest
characters, scenes, vehicles and lines from the movies really helps to draw the player into the
game, creating a much more immersive gaming experience than any other generic fantasy game.
Finally, the strategic aspect of the game comes primarily from its engagements (battles).
The battles in Star Wars: the Card Game are much more strategic than the simple number
comparisons found in other games. There’s no more “six beats five, so your guy dies”. In
Star Wars, battles have always been more complex than that and the game captures that spirit.
Engagements involve multiple characters, vehicles, droids and creatures, and each engagement
can play out in multiple different ways. There is a bidding system to gain advantages, three
different types of damage that a character can do, and each engagement breaks down into
multiple strikes. There are plenty of opportunities for an opponent to surprise you and, really, no
way for these engagements to become mindless, scripted attacks. The engagements hit the sweet
spot for me in terms of balancing my own plans and strategies with the need to be able to react
to what my opponent is doing. This rewards careful calculation even while keeping you on your
One complaint I have heard about this game is that some of the battles seem to be very one-
sided. In my experience, this was the case for my first few games, but once my opponent and I
both had a better grasp of the decks, games got much closer and more fierce. In any game, there
will always be a risk of one side gaining an early advantage that they can ride to the end, but
thanks to a rewarding draw mechanic that allows you to see more of your resources and allows a
higher likelihood of coming back and catching up.
Overall, I really enjoy this game and look forward to the upcoming releases. The more I play, the
more I enjoy it for both the deep strategy involved in the game and the near-perfect recreation of
the battles fought in the Star Wars universe!