Mark Papenfuss
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Escape From Hoth


Intro
Since the question of "what expansion pack to get" keeps coming up on the general section of Star Wars The Card Game, I thought I would post a review of this particular expansion pack. I found "Escape From Hoth" to be my favorite of the Hoth Cycle because it is studded with star power. Because this is a review of an expansion, I will have to deviate a bit from my other "Pappy's Pick's" reviews (namely, no 'stars' for ratings).

However, here is my personal rankings of the Hoth Cycle packs, based on my opinion about the artistry of the cards, the strength/usability in the new pods, and types (coolness) of the units involved:
1) Escape from Hoth
2) Battle of Hoth (AT-ATs, 501st, Speeders)
3) Assault on Echo Base (Veers, Lucrative Contract)
4) Desolation of Hoth (Hoth Operations)
5) Search for Skywalker (Renegade Squadron Mobilization)
6) A Dark Time (Dark Time for the Rebellion)

As I have it ranked #1 in this cycle, I figured I give some reasons in a brief review.


The 5 included pods (you get two of each)

For more close-up pics check out this thread:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1040378/escape-from-hoth-is-....

The Basics
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Players: 2-4 (generally 2)
Age: I would say 10+. My ten year old has not had any problems with this expansion, but introducing to younger players has proved a difficult task for me, though I have made few attempts. There is reading and multistep logic involved, just like the base game cards.

Gameplay
This pack, like all from the Hoth Cycle, expand on the SW: LCG, so I refer you to that game's rules and threads for discussion of general gameplay. I will touch lightly on this subject when discussing the individual pods below.

Bang for your Buck (aka Components)
I judge components in terms of aesthetics, price, and durability. Obviously, if I'm paying a heafty amount I expect really good components. Currently this expansion can be found on Amazon for about 13 US dollars. The cards are of the same quality as the base game and comes in the small box that is typical of the other packs in the Hoth Cycle. That's a total of 60 cards and they give great bang for your buck. If you enjoyed the core game and EoD, you will not be disappointed in this pack either.

Here is what you get (you get 2 copies of each objective set):
JEDI POD:
"A Hero's Resolve"
Includes: Another Jedi version of Luke, a generic snowspeeder, a tauntaun, and two fate cards (Battle of Hoth and Heat of Battle). This rendition of Skywalker is fun, and has made it into my speeder decks and Hoth deck frequently, though I usually exclude it from my other Jedi decks. His pilot ability puts him back into play if his fighter/speeder is destroyed, and that is nice. He lost 'Targeted strike' from his core rendition, however. The objective card helps with edge battles.

REBEL POD:
"Evacuation Procedure"
Includes three unique units: Rebel Han Solo, Toryn Farr, and Bright Hope (think "the first transport is away"). While these units aren't overly powerful, the art is fun and this does make it into some of my Hoth Rebel decks, as well as my 'Han Solo and his furry companions' deck. This pod also has Buried Outpost (resource) and Battle of Hoth.

SITH POD:
"The Executor Arrives":
Includes: The Executor, ISB liasons x 2, Aggression and Sith Holocron.
Ah yes. The reason this pack is my highest rated of the Hoth Cycle is because of this bad boy right here. The objective card gives you 2 resources and Sith Holocron provides 3 Sith resources (both to help pay for the monstrous super destroyer). The two ISB liaisons when sacrified give a little bonus AND trigger the Executors' action. When this pod is coupled with other sacrificial pods (Corporate Exploitation and the one with Ice Trompers), it makes for a powerful force indeed. You will need to have some controlling units (Palpy and his advisors got that) and some decent wienies in case of Sleuth encounters, but otherwise this pod is amongst the strongest in the game, IMO.

SCUM POD:
"Hunt Them Down"
Includes: Dengar, Kirhaxz fighters x 2, Remote outpost and Target of Opportunity. Dengar and the fighters are meant for use in capturing decks, and they do not disappoint in that area; Dengar can really get nasty (think multiple tactics icons) if you can capture cards to him. I could do without remote hideout, however, as the first new units come out exhausted.

DS NEUTRAL POD:
"Endless Reserves"
Included: 5 copies of Vast resources. Alright, with all the celebrity, power and fun the above mentioned pods give us, there had to be a dud in this expansion, right? While it's not completely useless, I tend to not include "Endless Reserves" unless I think I'm gonna be exhausting my resources all of the time. For the Navy, their officers generally make this pod useless; the Sith might have a need if the Executor is otherwise stuck in their hand. I have used it in Scum decks and it hasn't entirely sucked....but mainly if I'm using this pod(s) it's because I'm running a DS neutral deck and/or a bunch of Sandpeople and Jawas...

Other
-Accessibility: This expansion does not change much of the complexity of the core game, while still offering new and exciting choices. People will recognize the icons of Solo and Skywalker and fans of the movieres will be excited about seeing the Executor and Dengar for the Dark Side.
-Luck-factor: Same as the core game, as it's randomness is directly tied with how many copies you are running of each pod.
-Replayable: All games are replayable, but you will replay the ones that you think are most fun. I think there are plenty of reasons to include these pods in some of your decks.
Theme: This pods rocks the Star Wars theme, with cinematic choices for most unnits and gameplay that fits right into the movie story lines. No disappointment here.

SUMMARY:
You will like this expansion if:
-You have the core game and EoD (possibly twice over) and are enjoying the game and looking for some more 'spice'.
-You really like star power: comes with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Dengar and the Executor!
-You are a completest.
-The thought of not having all of the Bouty Hunters from Empire is just too much to bear (will IG-88's pack from Echoes of the Force come out already!!)

You should pass on this expansion if:
-You can't afford any more expansions than one: in that case, I would still recommend EoD first. Many players will also get two cores before they move into the Hoth Cycle; particularly if they plan to play in tournaments. If finances are not a concern, then there is absolutely NO reason not to get this expansion if you like/love the core game.
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