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Subject: Star Wars Pocketmodel Trading Card Game, First Impressions rss

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Fen Yan
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Like many Wizkids games, Star Wars Pocketmodel Trading Card Game is a slick design with interesting mechanics. Designed to appeal to the masses, the game is aimed at young and old. This was witnessed in full force at Star Wars Celebration IV in Los Angeles. Children demoed the combat portion of the game with jumbo dice and oversized foam core X-Wings & TIEs whilst at the traditional demo tables a Wizkids staffer introduced the game to a Jedi master and his apprentices.

The game will come in Game Packs containing two ship sheets (one common and one uncommon or rare) with four to eight ships, and six trading cards (three commons, two uncommons, and one rare). There will also be a Power-Up Pack available with a playable 30-card deck. The standard set has 120 cards (40 common, 40 uncommon, 40 rare) and 81 different ship models on plastic sheets of black, silver and gold (12 of each).

After opening 15 boosters I got 15 black ship sheets, 13 silver ship sheets, and two gold ship sheets. No X-Wings but lots of A-Wings. No TIE Fighters but lots of Advanced TIEs. The distribution reminded me of the old CCG, Middle Earth: the Wizards--lots of cards and hard to collect.

The ships are easily punched out of the die-cut plastic cards. The assembly diagrams provided in the rules are very helpful, but it does take a little while to put your ships together before playing. Like their Pirates of the Spanish Main Constructible Strategy Game, I broke a few parts during assembly. However, once assembled, the ships stay that way, so you can glue any broken parts permanently into place.

The minis look very good, and their stats are displayed on the base in a logical color-coded system.

The game can be played with just one pack per player (a cost of around $5 each) but the rules recommend a 30-card deck which means five packs per player. I was able to play a few games this way, and a fun game can be had if you stop here. However, you'll likely want more packs for balance or variety.

In the two-player game, players start the game by laying out three face-down cards representing objectives in their home zone, then each draws a hand of three cards. The cards are of two types, combat cards with combat bonuses and objective cards with special abilities (like allowing you to move one extra build point (star) of units each turn).

Next, ships are deployed. Ship cost is from one to five build stars. You place 20 points worth into your home zone and 10 into reserve. Reserve units are later called into play by objective abilities, loss of an objective, or via the carrier ability if one of your large ships is in the opponent's home zone.

Players alternate turns until one of them has lost all of their ships or objectives. Play time has been 30 minutes or less in the games I've played.

Your first action of the turn can be to play an objective card, face up, to replace one of your three already placed objectives. You'll want to do this as soon as possible, because the face-down objectives at game start are weak proxies that only exist as targets. Playing an objective face up will provide you with a special game ability and in most cases, an objective with a higher defense.

Next, you can 1) move five build stars worth of units, 2) attack enemy ships in the same zone with five build stars of ships, or 3) strike one objective with five stars of your units that are in the opponent's home zone. No, you can't move some and attack with the rest, you either move or attack or strike.

Movement is into or out of one of three zones: your home zone, the contested zone, and your opponent's home zone. The classic movement of miniatures by ruler or hexgrid is not used here. Area movement was an excellent design decision, as the game does feel like a masses of spaceships duking it out. It also speeds up the game considerably.

In an attack, both attacker and defender roll to hit each other. Before dice are rolled, each side can play a combat card which adds to attack, damage, or defense. There's also a bonus effect if the card and ship icons match. The attacker has the edge because he is allowed to wait until the defender plays. However, at least one card I've seen will allow your opponent to react only with cards bearing the "force" icon, so the attacker may want to play first if he's got a really good card.

If the dice roll + attack value + any card bonus equals or exceeds the defense, a hit has been made for the amount of damage indicated on the attacking ship's base. If damage equals or exceeds the shields, the ship is destroyed. Otherwise, a damage token is attached to the ship, much like the damage markers in Nascar RaceDay. (By the way, these damage tokens work well for the 1/144 aircraft in Fantasy Flight's Wings of War--they fit onto the wings and rudders perfectly!)

When attacking an objective, you just roll and add the ship's attack bonus. If you match or exceed the objective's defense, it's destroyed. Of course, defending ships in the opposing home zone will be attacking you before you have a chance to strike.

In actual play, some of our games were relatively close while a couple others were blowouts due to poor rolls or a rampaging Darth Vader Advanced TIE. In the latter games we were glad the game was quick.

The game is extremely dicey, and also dependent on card draws. With a small random set of cards to build from, these effects will be magnified. Of course, the luck factor of dice and card draws can be ameliorated by deck-building and tuning. But you'll need more cards (if I haven't already mentioned...). There is a limit of three of each single card in a standard game.

So does the result of all this make for a fun game? I think it certainly does if you enjoy the narrative of an epic space battle. Star Wars Pocketmodel, on a casual play level, is a light "filler" game. Nothing really meaty here. There are additional depths to be explored in force- and deck-building, in maximizing icon matches and card effects. Tournament play, no doubt, will depend not just on skill and luck but also upon the power units and cards.

You can check out the flash demo on the official site https://secure.wizkidsgames.com/StarWars/ The game is due out in mass market retail and hobby stores in the middle of June 2007.
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G Purcell
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fenyan wrote:
After opening 15 boosters I got 15 black ship sheets, 13 silver ship sheets, and two gold ship sheets. No X-Wings but lots of A-Wings. No TIE Fighters but lots of Advanced TIEs. The distribution reminded me of the old CCG, Middle Earth: the Wizards--lots of cards and hard to collect.


Great summary of the rules. Thanks!

But as for your pulls, am I understanding that you didn't get a single Tie Fighter or X-Wing in 15 packs? Those are the only two ships that I *really* care about. After that, I'll take A/B/Y Wings and some Tie Interceptors. (maybe a Falcon or Slave I for variety). Have they really made the iconic original trilogy fighters *that* rare?
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Sure they did, because they know all us Star Wars geeks will want them. Therefore in theory, we'll buy more packs to get them. Or worse yet, they'll be in the first expansion set.

This game looks like a lot of fun. But the collectible aspect of it ruins it for me. Still, thanks for writing a great review.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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Has this wandered into stores yet?
 
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Paul DeStefano
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Oh, and another thing. Do you need one of those base type packs, or is booster only cool?

I wonder if the base packs are all the Xs and TIEs...
 
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RJD
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If Wizards of the Coast hadn't already just come out with their Star Wars Starship Battles game, I'd probably be interested in this. As it is though, I've already gotten most of the starfighters that I might ever need - Tie-Fighters, X-Wings, the Falcon, Slave I, etc. - and all in 3-dimensional plastic.

The only thing this game might have over Wizard's game is better rules, since the rules for Starship Battles outright suck. But then, I'm not using Wizard's stinky rules anyway.
 
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Nick
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Re: Star Wars Pocketmodel Trading Card Game, First Impressio
I'm on the fence with this one.

I was completely dissapointed with the WOTC version and luckily passed completely on it.

However, I also got stung on WizKids' Pirates game; it was fun in the begining but then the market got flooded with too much of the crap and the shallow rules began to hurt; still though the ships themselves are great pieces to use for alternate rules.

Once I see a set list for this and read the rules a few times, I'll make my mind up.

At the very least, if it seems the distributions don't suck as bad as the reviewer hints at, I may plunk $50 or so just for the ships to use with alternate rule sets.
 
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Fen Yan
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Thanks for the comments, now to address a few questions:

"But as for your pulls, am I understanding that you didn't get a single Tie Fighter or X-Wing in 15 packs? Those are the only two ships that I *really* care about. After that, I'll take A/B/Y Wings and some Tie Interceptors."

Yes, I did not pull a single TIE or X-Wing in 15 packs.

However, according to checklists people have come up with, there are two common X-Wings, one rare X-Wing (Luke's), four common TIEs, and two rare TIEs. So the random booster distribution for me was very streaky. I did get TIEs and X-Wings from the free promo handout at the Con, which were from common ship sheet #001 which can be found in the main set.

I did get a lot of A-Wings, only two Y-Wings (same rarity levels as the X-Wings), and the B-Wing is not in this set.

Since a lot of the X-Wings, TIES, and Y-Wings are commons, singles in the secondary market should be reasonably priced.

"Has this wandered into stores yet?"

A ticker has just appeared on the WizKids mainpage. Wednesday June 13th is the street date.

"Do you need one of those base type packs, or is booster only cool?"

Game Pack only is cool, as the rules are included. However, the Power-Up Pack has an Imperial-Class Star Destroyer which is not in the main set.
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Nima Nikzad
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Re: Star Wars Pocketmodel Trading Card Game, First Impressio
Great post! I have really been looking forward to this for a while and can't wait to get my hands on some!
 
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Ronald Estes
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Re: Star Wars Pocketmodel Trading Card Game, First Impressio
UnluckyNumber wrote:
The only thing this game might have over Wizard's game is better rules, since the rules for Starship Battles outright suck.


I find the look of the ships more appealing, too.
 
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Andrew Adey
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Use Wizards ships with Wizkids rules? BOTH ship types with Wizkids rules? Just a thunk.
 
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Matthew Vanek
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For what it's worth, there are some free demo packs availible at your FLGS that have 2 tie fighters and an x-wing in each (as well as a couple of cards), so those are easy to get if you are after them. I've purchased 2 boosters and the star destroyer pack and ended up with a nice distribution:

1x star destroyer
1x Providence Class Carrier
1x Obiwan's interceptor
1x anakin's interceptor
2x Geonocian fighter (different)
2x A-wings (different)
4x x-Wings (2 different flavors)
4x Tie interceptors (all different flavors)
8x Tie Fighters (4x different flavors)
 
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Paul DeStefano
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That seems like a really nice assortment for $25.
 
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Re: Star Wars Pocketmodel Trading Card Game, First Impressio
Just picked up 3 packs plus the FREE (enter you ZIP at WizKids, print the coupon, redeem at listed store) sample. I pulled a few uncommons and one rare Republic Destroyer. I have doubles of Han Solo card. (Are all Rare's foil?) Pulled only 2 objectives. There seem to be only 4 current factions. Rebel Alliance (red triad), Empire (blue circle), Old Republic (red circle), and Separatists (blue hexagon)

Anyway, just finished a small test game. First thing I realized is that I need more cards. Should have purchased 6 boosters, minimum. So I fudged the rules and divided the cards I had and had only 2 objectives per side. I'd recommend 6-10 booster packs to start. That should give you 60 cards and a modest fleet.

Second thing I noticed is that going first is a big advantage. It pretty much means you get to attack first and pick your match-ups. However, after that it is all about the cards and rolling well. Still, you gang up on one and it's pretty much toast.

Third, is that Carriers rock! 2 Turns in and I had a carrier in my opponent's home zone. Turn 3, and I'm dropping off a 2 star fighter in their home zone. Get lucky, and drop off another next turn. However, after 3 turns of attacks, the carrier is all but destroyed. Lasting to turn 4 is a long-shot. Still, the extra fighters helped negate the fact that they didn't go first and made it an even fight. If you can go first and have a carrier, just fly it right in and start unloading....the game is all but over.

Fourth, get real Objective cards in play ASAP. If you can get a few out, your opponent may as well forget Strikes and go for the ship elimination victory. You almost need to roll 5's or better to score hits against them.

Fifth, Get your large units in your starting lineup. Put smaller units in when you clear objectives or unload a carrier.

Lastly, is that X-wings are cool. They seem well rounded. A single, wounded X-Wing won the game by taking out every Tie that attacked it and the remaining objectives. It was a Red Squadron fighter, perhaps it was Wedge?
 
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Nima Nikzad
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Re: Star Wars Pocketmodel Trading Card Game, First Impressio
Is going first that huge of an advantage? I know you get to pick who you target, but defenders do get to hit back, do they not? I have not picked up any boosters yet, but skimmed the online rules.
 
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Clinton Rice
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I just wanted to add a few things.

First off, there's 36 different pocketmodel cards in the set. 12 common, 12 uncommon, and 12 rare. Each booster comes with 1 common and 1 uncommon or rare.

2 of the common cards have X-wings (Red squadron and Rogue squadron) and 1 of the rare cards (Luke's x-wing)

Each of those 3 cards also has 2 TIE fighters on it. The poster just got unlucky. But for every X-Wing you receive, you WILL receive 2 TIE fighters, and vice versa.

TIE Interceptors are paired with Y-Wings, and TIE Advanced are paired with A-Wings.

You can also get an X-Wing and 2 TIEs as a free demo card as mentioned. These are not available in the base set. They're extra X-Wings and TIEs. Though you can also get them in the Imperial power-up pack (You'll receive 2 X-Wings and 4 TIEs as well as two other larger exclusive ships)

This means that in any pack, your chances are slightly better than 1 in 6 of getting an X-wing and 2 TIE fighters.

As far as needing a base pack to play or just the boosters, the answer is just the boosters. There is no base pack. Each booster comes with rules, 4-8 models (in my experience, 5 is most likely), 6 game cards, and 2 tiny dice. A booster pack for each player will get you started with an abbreviated game. Estimate needing about 7 packs ($35) per player to be able to play with the full rules and fleet strength.

So far there is no Slave-I, B-Wing or Mon Calamari Cruisers. Expansions are of course planned.

Defenders do get to fight back. Both sides fire and deal damage. It's possible for two units to destroy each other in a dogfight.

The attacking player does not have to play their card first. They have the option of playing a card first or letting the defender play their card first. If the defending player plays a battle card, the attacking player then gets a second chance to do so. If both players waive their first option to play a battle card, no battle cards are played.
 
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Re: Star Wars Pocketmodel Trading Card Game, First Impressio
NNikzad wrote:
Is going first that huge of an advantage? I know you get to pick who you target, but defenders do get to hit back, do they not? I have not picked up any boosters yet, but skimmed the online rules.


Now that I have some more play testing under my belt; not to mention a larger fleet and more cards I can say that going first is not quite as big of an advantage as I first thought. It is clearly a good advantage for low point games, but as the points increase the luck of battle and your strategic decisions begin to minimize the "going first" factor.

Also, it is closer to chess where White moves first which "suggests" Black to play more defensive. But the flip side of that coin is that by moving first it reveals the White strategy and allows for Black to counter. Anyway, that's what it reminds me of.
 
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Charles Donnell
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Really enjoying this game so far, but have some concerns on the pack distribution in the boosters. My first grab, I got three identical packs from one box - all exactly the same (even the cards...). Second time around I got two identical boosters. I'm not complaining about the ship assortment since I'm primarily interested in the stuff from the older trilogy of movies (rebels got three corellian corvettes, a y-wing and several x-wings while the empire got two nebulon-b frigates, a couple of TIE interceptors and whoe slew of TIE fighters...). My concern is that I'll keep hitting duplicate boosters or that I'll hit a run where I get no ships I want at all. Oh well, I guess that's always the risk with TCGs...
 
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Mike Holyoak
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Re: Star Wars Pocketmodel Trading Card Game, First Impressio
There does seem to be some messed up box distribution, as
some boxes don't appear to be very random.

I bought seven packs at the local Target and only got one duplicate model sheet (common) and three rare sheets.

Then I went to my FLGS, bought 4 more packs and got 3 complete duplicate packs and no rares.
 
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