The following is a collection of excerpts that I’ve posted on a Yahoo group for Epic
Duels. I’ve made a few modifications and tried to blend the posts into one continuous
article. Key word there is TRY. :)
First off, as if you guys didn't already know, I absolutely love the game. It's a nice blend of
skill and luck, can be taught to someone in less than 5 minutes, plays quickly, has great
miniatures, and has the Star Wars theme. What more can you ask for?
Hats off to Rob and Craig at Hasbro for creating such a great "mass market" type game
that has gamer appeal --- these types of games are hard to come by, and are a bit of a risk
for the larger game companies --- the more they stray towards the gamer end of the
spectrum, the more likely they are to alienate the masses. Let's just hope these games fly
off the shelves so that maybe we can look forward to an expansion in the near future.
We can also thank Rob, Craig, and the other guys at Hasbro for doing some extensive
playtesting. Despite all my tinkering with the rules, I always find myself coming back to
the rules as written. I've tossed around tons of ideas regarding minors and character
healing -- none of them, however, quite seem to work. I should have realized that Rob and
the gang probably already tried most of the variants we tested.
It's a very solid game, and most of the decks in the game have a reasonable chance of
succeeding against any other deck. I love the fact that some characters have advantages
over other characters, and that certain decks match up better or worse against others.
That's what makes this such a great game --- the variety, especially with team play, gives
this game tremendous replayability. I also like the fact that the Fetts and Han decks are
slightly weaker than the jedi decks --- that makes sense to me. They can still win, but it
would be considered a mild upset.
But, despite the extensive playtesting, I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that the
game could not have been made better. Not wanting to get into a debate about the
definition of better, let's just say that there are only a couple of card changes
that could be made that would make the decks more in line with the Star Wars universe.
And, as if you couldn't already guess it, I'm referring to Vader, and possibly Luke.
Vader is a relatively simple deck to play I believe. There's not much you can really do with
him. He has a very straightforward direct damage type of deck. I don't believe there's
much in the way of strategy that you could do that would seriously help him defeat the
other jedi decks. Luke, on the other hand, has a greater variety of options. First off, he has
Lea, which is a nice bonus. How long do you let her live? Do you have the Justice cards in
your hand? Do you use Lea as a shield for Luke? And Luke always has the option of
healing. And then there's the Children of the Force card that lets both characters move and
draw cards. This card opens the door for attacking quickly and then retreating. And let's
not forget the I Will Not Fight You card --- this card can be a game winner when played
at the right time. Luke, unlike Vader, has options. I believe he is a more difficult deck to
play, and will undoubtedly struggle somewhat against the other decks, but at least he has
options, and a reasonble chance of beating the other jedi decks. Vader can't do this --- he
is hopelessly outmatched in singles play, and there's simply not much you can do to
improve his chances, except to change a few cards. :)
Both characters can perform solidly in team play. Luke can absolutely devastate Maul in
team play with the I Will Not Fight You card --- it's definately a game winner. But both
characters suffer somewhat because of a lack of blocking ability. I think if Vader had
a couple of more decent blocks, and maybe a slight card change or two, he would
certainly be more respectable in a singles play. And he would be by no means unbeatable
--- just more competitive, as I think he should be. I mean, after all, as I've said before, he
was supposed to be the strongest of all the jedi. Vader DOES NOT have a realistic chance
of defeating Obi in singles play --- against an experienced player, Vader should lose 9
times out of 10. And it's not just Obi that Vader is weak against --- he should lose to
Dooku, Windu, and Anakin at least 8 out of 10 times. I don't like those odds, and I don't
think it's unreasonable to think that maybe Rob and Craig overlooked this, or that this
issue somehow got lost when the design process was changed after they learned they
could make decks for each character. I also don't think it's a stretch for me to say that
either of them, or both of them, would consider a couple of card improvements out of the
question. Game designers have been known to post their own variants and rule changes to
a game AFTER it has already hit the market. Bruno Faidutti is one such designer. He has
posted several "official" variants to some of his games after getting extensive feedback
from other gamers.
So, am I being presumptuous in assuming that Hasbro (Rob and Craig) would post an
official variant to the game, or advocate the use of new cards? Maybe. Ultimately though,
you can make whatever changes to any game you want --- you have to make it work for
you, and if you have fun with it, then fine -- enjoy yourself. That's what gaming is all about
anyway. But Vader doesn't quite work for me.
Vader has a somewhat counterproductive deck. Unlike other decks with great card
combinations, Vader's cards don't compliment each other very well. For instance, the very
existence of the All Too Easy card almost forces an opponent to block any attack thrown
by Vader. Consequently, this weakens Vader's life drain cards. How much life are you
gonna get if you attack the main character? Not much --- you'll probably never get 3
because he's going to throw up some kind of block. So why don't you just attack the
trooper or droid? You could, and maybe kill it, but then your chokes become useless. You
could get lucky and get 2 wraths at the beginning of the game and kill a couple of guards
and do 4 damage to the main guy. Good move, but now your chokes are again worthless.
What if you choke off 2 troopers and then draw another choke? Useless. And how about
your wraths? They're not quite as strong as before because you choked off
the 2 guards. You could only do 2 damage to the main guy. Granted, it's direct damage
that can't be stopped, but it is nonetheless weakened by the fact that the troopers are dead.
See what I'm saying here? Anakin has Wrath and Calm and Anger. Other decks have nice
card combinations --- cards that work well together. Vader's deck doesn't have this. His
cards don't work well off each other --- they effectively weaken each other. Throw in
Vader's weak blocking ability, and you have a weak singles deck. As we've all noted
before, team play is a little different. Vader has more targets, and his cards gain a little bit
There's not really much you can do. Think about this. You are playing against Obi. How
are you going to win? You can do 14 points of direct damage to him, assuming you live
long enough to go through your entire deck --- that's not enough to kill him. You need to
somehow wound him with your guards or a few attacks from Vader. But there is the
problem. Obi has great blocking cards. It's going to be very difficult for you to wound him
enough so that your direct damage can finish him off. And Obi has those 6 and 7 attacks,
and Jedi Mind trick, and quickness....you can't escape him. You can't go toe to toe against
him with Vader --- it's a no-win situation. So you try and run, but you have no quickness
cards with Vader, and no force pushes with Vader. You can't make Obi discard his
cards...he can block everything you throw at him. You are fighting an uphill battle the
whole way --- an almost impossible scenerio for Vader to win. I would like for Vader to
be able to have a reasonably good chance at beating Obi ---- maybe even a 50/50 chance
of winning. That would be nice, and I think that would make sense in the context of the
game and the Star Wars universe.
Darth Vader should have a very low winning percentage against Anakin, Mace, Dooku,
and Yoda --- maybe he can win 2 out of 10 games --- maybe. His odds are SLIGHTLY
better against the Emperor and Luke -- maybe 3 out of 10. He can beat the Fetts and Han
pretty regularly, probably 65% of the time. He CAN NOT beat Obi....period. He just
doesn't have the cards to do it. Only under very rare circumstances should Obi lose to
Vader in a singles match --- it's just a flat out impossible situation, a situation that I don't
even think is debatable. :)
End of excerpts.
By the way, there have been many variants and new card ideas (for Vader as well as new
characters), posted at the Epic Duels group on Yahoo. Search the Yahoo groups for Epic
Duels and you should find it. Lots of interesting ideas. Come join in on the fun. :)
Liked your article. I have played ED a bunch of times, but, surprisingly haven't played Vader all that much. The consensus between myself and my friend was that Vader was pretty potent.
I still think he is, but his lack of defense and his numerous chokes make his deck weaker (I think Dooku has the same problem-Give Orders is not helpful when your droids are dead, and Force Push is not terribly useful, but I digress).
Given all that weakness, Vader can still put 17 points of automatic damage on a player if he gets through his deck (if apparently! I'll have to play him more to see). Considering his numerous 5 and 4 attack cards, one or two more points is not alot to ask. And his 20 hit points give him some good stamina.
Though I'll have to play him more, I think your right that Vader's only really strong in a multiplayer game. There is nothing worse than useless cards in your hand.
I think with a few more playings you'll see Vader's weaknesses. His lack of blocking ability, coupled with his lack of mobility, really make him an easy target.
Dooku's Give Orders is actually not that bad of a card, even with the droids dead. It still allows Dooku to move 4 spaces, which can be very helpful if he's trying to avoid his opponent, or if he is trying to run down a shooter -- it has its uses.
Vader can use Throw Debris twice, and all 3 wraths to inflict 14 points of damage on a main character -- not enough to kill most of them, but its still significant damage. The problem, however, is that Vader rarely lives long enough to maximize his direct damage capabilities.
Come check us out at the Yahoo group --- there's a lot of stuff over there, plus you'll find lots of debating over characters' strengths and weaknesses.
I think there's a difference between "defending" and "blocking" attacks. One thing I noticed in the rulebook is that they never refer to an attack as blocked unless the defense card is equal to or higher than the attack value. For instance, the "All Too Easy" is only "blocked" by a defense card of 3 or higher. You can "defend" against the card with a 1 or 2 value defense card, but only 3 or higher defense cards keep Vader's card from doing 20 damage.
While never expressly stated this way, this is the way we have interprted the rules.
The new Transformers "Epic Duels" game's rulebook does the same thing.
While you are free to interpret this however you want, your interpretation is incorrect. Any defending card prevents the 20 from hitting.
Yeah, I just read the official FAQ. Bummer. Personally I like it the way I was playing, so we'll keep doing it that way. I reccomend it to anyone who thinks Vader is underpowered.
Vader is one of the worst characters in the set. Ugh...he's only good in multiplayer...choking off the likes of Padme and Leia.