Subversive Influence – Star Wars Destiny Review

Subversive_Influence

Normally, I do not indulge in gaijin items, especially on this channel, but this one is quite near to my heart.  George Lucas and his love for Akira Kurosawa films and the influences that Kurosawa films had on Star Wars, I think that is reason enough for cross promotion here.

A Disturbance in the Force

I’ve been playing CCG’s since a trip to KMart in 1995 where I purchased the Star Wars CCG Premiere Introductory Two-Player Box Set.

Who remembers this?

Who remembers this?

It took forever to learn the game but it was still breathtaking.  Getting to field Han, Leia, Luke, Yoda, Obi-Wan, Chewie, Lando, Wedge, etc vs. Vader, Emperor, Boba Fett, Jabba, Prince Xizor, and Grand Admiral Thrawn was a whirlwind of emotions.  Between the setting and the game design, it was a complete win.  I’ve even tried to make my own game with some of the base mechanics.

Now most people know that I don’t usually like to mix my cards and my dice.  I’ve played CCG’s that used dice but most that I played (Warlord, Battletech, MLB) just really didn’t hold my interest.

Then there is the dumpster fire that happened at Wizards of the Coast with the Star Wars game post-Decipher:

Sorry Wizards

Star Wars Yahtzee? Move Along

So when I heard that Fantasy Flight Games was going to make a Star Wars card game that used dice, I was just a little bit apprehensive.

Why?  The problem that I personally dealt with was the mindset of a deeper randomness to the game.  Most ‘Spike’ players (as the design calls them) despise randomness and do everything in their power to remove that from a game.  Usually that is very difficult when a card game also involves ‘chance cubes’.

The Force Awakens

I’ve playing about 20 games of Star Wars Destiny (thanks to Steam, Tabletop Simulator, and to the people involved in bring the game to that environment).

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Tabletop Simulator on Steam

I was enthralled.  In other CCG’s that combined cards and dice, the dice just served as the random element.  Very little thought was put into the cohesiveness between the game, the cards and the dice.  Star Wars Destiny properly integrates dice and cards into a deep, thought provoking game.  While the dice are a random element in the game (most dice have a blank side), the game is designed in a way that allows to mitigate that randomness of those dice or you can even just change a die result to any you choice:

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One thing that players can do is discard a card as an action to reroll any or all unspent dice they have.

Dice Symbols

Dice Symbols

Each player starts with a 30 card deck of Upgrade, Support, and Events.  You get to start the game with no more than 30 points worth of characters (which are separate from your deck) and a battlefield that you fight over.  Some characters even give you an option.  Count Dooku, Devious Strategist has 2 point values: 11 points and 15 points.  The 11 point value gives you 1 of his dice but if you choice to use him as 15 points, you get his Elite version which gives you 2 of his dice.  In most games, each player will start with 2 character and their corresponding dice.

There are two ways to win a game:

  1. Destroy all characters on your opponent side.
  2. When a player attempts to draw a card and he has no cards left in his deck, that player loses the game.

swd01_character-card_diagram

Each player draws 5 cards from their deck and takes a simultaneous turn where they go back and forth taking actions, one at a time.  This action style is something many L5R players are used to. Actions players can take are on a card in the starter decks.

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Action Reminder Card from Starter deck

Since in most cases you have to spend an action activating your character (rotating him/her and all upgrades on it 90 degrees to roll all corresponding dice) before you can actually resolve them, your opponent will get an opportunity to disrupt your plans, like with Rey’s Staff.

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Some cards don’t have dice at all, like Scavenge:

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The battlefield can be claimed by either player once per turn, but once a battlefield is claimed, that player cannot take actions for the rest of the turn.  The upside is that you get initiative on your next turn.

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I am truly convinced that this is the best merger of dice and cards in CCG form that I’ve ever played.  The ebb and flow of the game was truly great and tensions mounted on every action.

Collectible Card and Dice Game?

Now this is where things get problematic for some.  As you know, Fantasy Flight Games got out of the collectible games several years ago when they went to Living Card Games.  When FFG announced this, many players were put off by this idea.

According to this article, the game will have 3 sets per year along with 2 starters released once a year.  Considering that packs have 5 cards (3 C, 1 U, 1 R/L) and you only can run 2 copies of a single card, the game is more affordable than you might imagine.  There has been no mention yet of any rotation.  The Awakenings set is the set scheduled to be released in November and has 174 cards in the set.  We have no information about the other sets currently.

It is Your Destiny

The game was so compelling for me, I spoke to my local merchant caravan to pick me up a box and both starter decks via their normal gaijin trade routes.  So in other words:

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tiger-chop

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Yoritomo Arashi

A member of the Mantis Clan, Yoritomo Arashi has been masterful at gathering information for the Silken Sect. The master of information founded The Kolat Informant blog in March of 2011 and The Oni's Eye Podcast in October 2013.