Adam Daulton
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My 3,600th game played (okay, it was more like 3,603rd game, because Invasion was played a lot in there) was Star Wars: The Card Game. Being a huge Warhammer: Invasion fan, which is how I got the Star Wars game by attending the World Championships for Invasion, I'm glad this was the next game destined to be reviewed by me.

Components
Like all FFG games, the components of the game are top notch. There are focused counters, shield counters, damage counters, and the cards themselves of course. Personally, at least compared to Netrunner and Invasion, I think the card design is sorta lack-luster and boring. The art is okay, but nothing amazing and the cards functionally do the job. I do wish they'd included some kind of force marker, rather than just have Vader and Luke cards for this, to indicate when a unit has the force. Nothing really to complain about here and with the FFG Star Wars sleeves, they'll look really cool.

Game Play
This is a Living Card Game, so each player will eventually have customized decks of cards that they use to compete against each other. The cards are made up of objectives, which have some text on them, a damage amount, and resources players can spend each turn to play cards from their hand. Cards also include the usual types of cards in these games of units (the fighters), support cards (I think you know what they do), and action cards (one time play cards).

On a players turn, they focus a resource such as on an objective, support card, maybe on a unit and use that resource to pay for a card to play from their hand. The focused card gets a token on it to show it can't be used again until that token is removed. Once all the cards are played that they want to play, the player can choose to attack one of their opponent's objectives, the opponent chooses who'd they like to defend with, then the edge battle happens. In this players play cards face down, add up their edge value, and see who wins the edge. According to who wins the edge, different card abilities trigger. Finally, one at a time, players focus their units, do some battling and try to destroy the objective they are attacking.

The Light side wins the game if they can destroy 3 objectives. The Dark side wins by getting their Death Star counter to 12, which is done by destroying objectives (the more you destroy the faster it moves to 12) and by having the game last longer since it advances by 1 every turn no matter what. I've of course, left quite a bit out, but that should give you a good overview of the game.

Strategy
There is plenty of strategy in this. First, of course, from the deck building portion before you ever play. With the Core Set, you don't really have a lot of options but there will be plenty of expansions on the way. The neat part about the deck building rules is that you don't choose individual cards. Rather you choose an objective and 5 cards come with that objective. You are allowed to have 2 of the same objective in your deck and at least 10 total objectives.

Then in the game play itself there is plenty of strategy on when to defend, when not to, who to focus, how much of your resources to spend this turn, and general good decision making. That being said, if you get a good big card out early, it can be devastating to your opponent such as Yoda or a Destroyer. There is also quite a bit of strategy and bluffing when it comes to the edge battles, because those can really devastate your hand and make it difficult to defend if you lose.

My Thoughts
Okay, this is where I may get in a little trouble. I wasn't happy with the game. That being said, I don't think it is a bad game, it just isn't want I wanted out of a Star Wars LCG. Star Wars is a great theme and with card games like this, though theme isn't everything, I think it is more important than say in a Euro game. They really mess the theme up in my mind in two ways.

First, characters such as a rancor, or Ewok, or Luke can fight against ships. So I have a ship, flying around in space, and your rancor is going to destroy it? Umm....okay. In that case, I better watch out for those Ewoks, because we all know how good they are at throwing rocks into space! Second, the Force is given to up to three units that you control. I'm okay with that. The problem is, that you can give the Force to Luke (that makes sense), but you can also give it to an X-Wing (now that doesn't make sense). If X-Wings have the force, why didn't Luke's just pull itself out of that swamp anyways? Both of these things really disappointed me this game.

Also, I'm not so sure what I feel about the 3 different factions on each side. I think it would've been better served by just having the Empire and Alliance or just the Dark/Light side and leaving it at that. In the end, Star Wars feels shoved on to this card game, rather than a card game designed around Star Wars.

A say all that though, obviously not extremely keen on the game, knowing full well that this game will do really well because of the Star Wars license. That is and has been the biggest temptation for me to get into the game, because when it comes down to it, what makes these LCGs fun for me is the competition and Star Wars is going to draw way more players than Invasion, Netrunner, Cthulhu, and probably A Game of Thrones.

My Recommendations
Potential Living Card Game Player - I'd recommend any LCG before a CCG, so there is that. This is coming from a Warhammer: Invasion fan, so I'm of course going to recommend it first, because I think it's mechanics are the easiest to pick up. After that, I'd probably recommend Netrunner, because of the way the theme integrates with the game play and also because of the uniqueness of it. Finally, I'd recommend Star Wars. If you are a huge Star Wars fan, then perhaps it'd be above Netrunner. I'm not even considering Lord of the Rings Card game here, because it is co-op and it has been so long since I've played my 1 game of A Game of Thrones that I can't say where it would be.

Star Wars Fans - It doesn't matter what I recommend here, because lets be honest, you are Star Wars fans and will buy it anyways. I hope when you do, you aren't disappointed and enjoy it, perhaps just having a Star Wars card game that is absolutely trash will be good enough for you all. I'm wondering though, if the above theme disconnect bothered me, who isn't a very huge Star Wars fan (it's LotR for me all the way!), then will it bother those uber-fans of the movies?

Dads with Boys 12+ Years Old - You might want to look into at least the base set for them. The game itself is more difficult than say Dominion, but it isn't completely out of this world difficult either. So if you boys (or girls) are all about the Star Wars legos, movies, and books, this might be a good option for you to connect with them in a way that you get some gaming and they get some of that Star Wars fix.

Myself: Keep this on your radar, because you know Invasion will likely not last forever, but be glad you sold your copy on eBay for now. If Invasion ever goes away, then consider this and the probable player base before getting into another LCG. These aren't the cards you are looking for...(I'm sorry, I couldn't resist).

*Every 100 Games Series - Back in March of 2006 I began tracking each session of the various board and card games I play. I soon got the idea to write a review on every 100th game I played, one because I like writing reviews, and two because it is interesting to see what game I review next. You can find a list of all of them here: Every 100 Games Series Reviews

**Originally posted on my blog, where I discuss Theology, Board Games, and Life: http://theologyboardgameslife.blogspot.com/2012/11/every-100...
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I'm thinking of canceling my pre-order. I'm already hooked into Lord of the Rings, Call of Cthulhu, Warhammer Invasion and Netrunner.

Big original trilogy fan, but it sounds like they messed this game up.

Jorune
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ooogene wrote:
First, characters such as a rancor, or Ewok, or Luke can fight against ships. So I have a ship, flying around in space, and your rancor is going to destroy it? Umm....okay. In that case, I better watch out for those Ewoks, because we all know how good they are at throwing rocks into space!


It's just focusing on a particular unit in a grand battle, doesn't actually mean a tie fighter is fighting a rancor.

ooogene wrote:
Second, the Force is given to up to three units that you control. I'm okay with that. The problem is, that you can give the Force to Luke (that makes sense), but you can also give it to an X-Wing (now that doesn't make sense).


Again, doesn't mean they are learning the force, this is even explained in the rulebook.
"A committed unit is acting
or being used by its side away from the front lines in
order to further the cause of the light or dark side of
the Force. Meditation, study, training, recruitment, and
transportation of key figures are some examples of the
functions a committed unit may be serving."
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Yeah, but ... come on -- it's hard to imagine a rancor in the same battle as an X-Wing, let alone being competitive, without a huge stretch. That stretch would be made simply to justify the way the game was built.

It would be akin to throwing a gladiatorial lion against an A-10 -- would you find that ok in another card game if the lion won? Of course not.

The game may be fun, and people may be accepting of the reaches just because it's Star Wars -- but, that is the ONLY reason they're accepting it.
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Matt Shinners
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SeerMagic wrote:
Again, doesn't mean they are learning the force, this is even explained in the rulebook.
"A committed unit is acting
or being used by its side away from the front lines in
order to further the cause of the light or dark side of
the Force. Meditation, study, training, recruitment, and
transportation of key figures are some examples of the
functions a committed unit may be serving."


In other words, "We couldn't find a way to get this theme into the game, so we created a mechanic that in no way relates to any of these (cool-sounding) actions and will tell you to pretend you're doing this stuff."
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Adam Daulton
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Horrid Beast wrote:
Thanks for the review. I thought it was a pretty balanced one and at least you have an LCG background like myself, so your thoughts are worth being put into a review. I don't think you are going to be 'flamed' this time round as there have been a fair few negative reviews already. I just hope this game will introduce people to other LCGs like AGoT or Netrunner so that these games get the sales they deserve (I left out Invasion as I will not purchase anything remotely linked to GW as they are a bunch of extortionists).


Thanks for the kind words. Before Star Wars came out, another Invasion player and I were seriously considering switching to it, simply because we know it'll draw players in. However, as you can see, it just isn't going to be the case for me when I have other options. I still think it is a better option than any CCG though.
 
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jayntampa wrote:
The game may be fun, and people may be accepting of the reaches just because it's Star Wars -- but, that is the ONLY reason they're accepting it.


no, that's not the only reason. I accept it because splitting them up is a mess. I've never played a game that splits them up, that was balanced and fun. heck just look at the TCG star wars game. each player would just neglect 1 of the 3 areas, so it just came down to 1. this is what happens in all games that split that stuff up. with deck building games, it just gets worse.
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SeerMagic wrote:
jayntampa wrote:
The game may be fun, and people may be accepting of the reaches just because it's Star Wars -- but, that is the ONLY reason they're accepting it.


no, that's not the only reason. I accept it because splitting them up is a mess. I've never played a game that splits them up, that was balanced and fun. heck just look at the TCG star wars game. each player would just neglect 1 of the 3 areas, so it just came down to 1. this is what happens in all games that split that stuff up. with deck building games, it just gets worse.


Ever played Magic? A ground creature can't hit a flying creature without an ability. It just makes sense and isn't hard to incorporate -- unless, I dunno - just for example - you had a co-op game that worked one way then decided to make it PvP and rushed to get a game out -- a game where rancors can attack spaceships.
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jayntampa wrote:
SeerMagic wrote:
jayntampa wrote:
The game may be fun, and people may be accepting of the reaches just because it's Star Wars -- but, that is the ONLY reason they're accepting it.


no, that's not the only reason. I accept it because splitting them up is a mess. I've never played a game that splits them up, that was balanced and fun. heck just look at the TCG star wars game. each player would just neglect 1 of the 3 areas, so it just came down to 1. this is what happens in all games that split that stuff up. with deck building games, it just gets worse.


Ever played Magic? A ground creature can't hit a flying creature without an ability. It just makes sense and isn't hard to incorporate -- unless, I dunno - just for example - you had a co-op game that worked one way then decided to make it PvP and rushed to get a game out -- a game where rancors can attack spaceships.


Actually a ground creature can hit a flying creature, what it can't do is *block* a flying creature. There is no equivalent in this game, since creatures directly attack one another. If you simply declared ground units unable to harm flying units, no one would put ground units in their deck.

Edit: also there are a million similar 'illogical' things than can happen in Magic. Both are just card games with a theme veneer, they aren't simulation games.
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Something like cards with a Space trait can only block Space cards and Ground equivalent is enough to make it more thematic. And tighten up the Focus rule.

I guess this can be good with these couple of house rules, but I wouldn't know since I haven't gotten the game to try it out yet. Just a guess.
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ooogene wrote:


Star Wars Fans - It doesn't matter what I recommend here, because lets be honest, you are Star Wars fans and will buy it anyways. I hope when you do, you aren't disappointed and enjoy it, perhaps just having a Star Wars card game that is absolutely trash will be good enough for you all. I'm wondering though, if the above theme disconnect bothered me, who isn't a very huge Star Wars fan (it's LotR for me all the way!), then will it bother those uber-fans of the movies?


I am a huge Star Wars fan, and the theme disconnect is what absolutely kills this game for me. I know this is a common complaint and there is no reason for me to re-say what has already been said. I think that mechanically that I find the game interesting, and I especially like the unique take on deck building. However, the fact that this is a Star Wars game in name only is an absolute heart breaker. I had looked forward to getting this game all year, but playing it at Gen Con dissuaded me. Playing it again after that convinced me that I will not be playing the LCG of my favorite movies/universe and that disappoints me greatly.
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cfmcdonald wrote:
jayntampa wrote:
SeerMagic wrote:
jayntampa wrote:
The game may be fun, and people may be accepting of the reaches just because it's Star Wars -- but, that is the ONLY reason they're accepting it.


no, that's not the only reason. I accept it because splitting them up is a mess. I've never played a game that splits them up, that was balanced and fun. heck just look at the TCG star wars game. each player would just neglect 1 of the 3 areas, so it just came down to 1. this is what happens in all games that split that stuff up. with deck building games, it just gets worse.


Ever played Magic? A ground creature can't hit a flying creature without an ability. It just makes sense and isn't hard to incorporate -- unless, I dunno - just for example - you had a co-op game that worked one way then decided to make it PvP and rushed to get a game out -- a game where rancors can attack spaceships.


Actually a ground creature can hit a flying creature, what it can't do is *block* a flying creature. There is no equivalent in this game, since creatures directly attack one another. If you simply declared ground units unable to harm flying units, no one would put ground units in their deck.

Edit: also there are a million similar 'illogical' things than can happen in Magic. Both are just card games with a theme veneer, they aren't simulation games.


You knew exactly what I meant. And, if you created a game where ground units are useless unless they can hit spaceships, you failed at your design. There are plenty of ways to design a game where ships provide cover to ground units doing infiltration or a thousand other objectives. Let's be honest. It was lazy --- and, it kills it for a lot of people.
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jayntampa wrote:
cfmcdonald wrote:
jayntampa wrote:
SeerMagic wrote:
jayntampa wrote:
The game may be fun, and people may be accepting of the reaches just because it's Star Wars -- but, that is the ONLY reason they're accepting it.


no, that's not the only reason. I accept it because splitting them up is a mess. I've never played a game that splits them up, that was balanced and fun. heck just look at the TCG star wars game. each player would just neglect 1 of the 3 areas, so it just came down to 1. this is what happens in all games that split that stuff up. with deck building games, it just gets worse.


Ever played Magic? A ground creature can't hit a flying creature without an ability. It just makes sense and isn't hard to incorporate -- unless, I dunno - just for example - you had a co-op game that worked one way then decided to make it PvP and rushed to get a game out -- a game where rancors can attack spaceships.


Actually a ground creature can hit a flying creature, what it can't do is *block* a flying creature. There is no equivalent in this game, since creatures directly attack one another. If you simply declared ground units unable to harm flying units, no one would put ground units in their deck.

Edit: also there are a million similar 'illogical' things than can happen in Magic. Both are just card games with a theme veneer, they aren't simulation games.


You knew exactly what I meant. And, if you created a game where ground units are useless unless they can hit spaceships, you failed at your design. There are plenty of ways to design a game where ships provide cover to ground units doing infiltration or a thousand other objectives. Let's be honest. It was lazy --- and, it kills it for a lot of people.


I was pointing out that in Magic, flying and ground creatures don't operate in independent spheres. So Magic doesn't offer a rebuttal to SeerMagic's point - that card games that split up units into separate domains of operation don't work well, and lead to non-interactive game play. So maybe it's possible to design a game like that, but no one has successfully done it yet.
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I feel like people are reading too deep into this game. It is a card game, so it's going to be pretty abstract. No, it's not likely that an rail will take on a star destroyer directly, but I think the idea of the designer was to use the unit cards as a representation of the forces and talents of different parts of the light Side vs the forces and talents of the dark side.

The abstract card game is going to be abstract and not totally literal

If it was a more literal game, it might be a battle card game where units would be directly pit against other units. This is an overall Star Wars game, not Pokemon, guys...
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I think that if combat were more similar to Game of Thrones, such that each side adds up it's strength and compares, the abstract nature of combat would come across ok.

e.g.

An X-wing gives 3 strength and Luke gives 3 strength vs a Rancor which gives 3 strength + Star Destroyer which gives 4 strength.
Then each unit can "strike", The Rancor and Luke can only strike ground units, and the X-Wing and Star Destroyer can only "strike" ship units.
Assuming no unit dies, then the dark side player has a higher total and wins the combat and deals damage to the objective.

Still pretty abstract but with Rancors no longer swatting down X-wing it is less of a stretch.


As it is though, I do feel like the rule book goes out of it's way to explain how your actions represent various activities that your units might be doing.

I also agree that Jedi and Sith factions are unneeded in a game based on the movies. Rebel versus Empire would have been sufficient. Definitely a sign of trying to plan too far ahead to fit the prequels into it.
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Kamakaze wrote:
I think that if combat were more similar to Game of Thrones, such that each side adds up it's strength and compares, the abstract nature of combat would come across ok.


strongly disagree. please leave that in game of thrones. one of my main problems with game of thrones is it is mathy, takes way to long. and by the end of a game there is 153 units on the board (that's an exaggeration) and trying to keep up with who does what is annoying.

Much rather have this, were decisions about who commits where is big. and games shouldn't take more than 20 minutes once you know what you are doing.
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Nathan Bredfeldt
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SeerMagic wrote:
Much rather have this, were decisions about who commits where is big. and games shouldn't take more than 20 minutes once you know what you are doing.


That's the main draw of the game for me so far as well (besides being able to make a deck with Yoda, R2D2 and Ackbar). There are a number of things to do with units and the strategy of who gets assigned to do what (force, edge, or direct battle) may not be so clear as the game progresses.
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What I was suggesting was simply letting units "strike" only things they could thematically actually hit, and put the abstraction into a "strength" value which determines who won the conflict.

From watching games so far, it seems like there are tons of units on the board, as much as I have seen in games of Game of Thrones. There are going to be loads of units which do all sorts of things as the game goes on, so if you don't like that then you will very much dislike LCGs in general

It also has cards like this:
http://www.cardgamedb.com/index.php/starwars/star-wars-card-...

Which is identical to "Wildfire Assault". A card from Game of Thrones Designed to reduce the number of units on the board if one player gets too far ahead.

The decision of who to commit where is just as big in Game of Thrones, and I imagine it would be just as "mathy" in Star Wars once you get better at it, and start calculating based on the icons you and your opponents have.

 
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This lack of theme implementation kills this game for me as well. Granted, incorporating the different action venues of the Star Wars franchise into a single game is difficult. It's why most games don't make the attempt. Decipher's CCG version managed to incorporate space combat and character combat by creating a board with different areas where each unit type could be deployed. FFG's game skips that completely, so you get Rancors fighting X-Wings. It's a thematic disconnect, and for many players, it throws them right out of the game.

FFG's X-Wing has more of the right focus. Imagine you're playing X-Wing, and suddenly your opponent plops down Yoda with a light saber. In space. And Yoda then chops up three TIE fighters. In space. That would be pretty silly. And no amount of sidebars in the rule book saying "Yoda isn't ACTUALLY attacking the TIEs IN SPACE. He's actually infiltrating the TIE hangar base and killing the pilots, or maybe destroying the launching mechanism, so the TIEs never actually get to launch in the first place. And if he's defeated, then it means that the hangar security was able to thwart his attempts at sabotage.

Except that's asking the player to inject an awful lot of interpretation into the action of the game. And there's better ways to do that...such as an Infiltrate Hangar action or mission card. Forcing the player to create the scenario so it makes sense is lazy game design. And it really suggests that, despite taking nearly a year to redesign the game, that FFG scrambled to fit the theme over a somewhat pre-existing system in an effort to not delay the game any longer than it already had.

This game does have some interesting things going for it, but it fails to capture the theme, which in a licensed product, is pretty critical.
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kingbobb wrote:
And no amount of sidebars in the rule book saying...


This is really the smoking gun for me. If you think your game can stand on its own, you don't need to put these things in. While reading the rulebook, it seemed every other page went into a long description of what the abstraction represented. If they had gotten the things represented into the game, I'd be super stoked for it. As is, I'm expected to imagine a crazy espionage scenario while in reality I'm playing some cards face down and then comparing their value.
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LeximusMaximus wrote:
I feel like people are reading too deep into this game. It is a card game, so it's going to be pretty abstract. No, it's not likely that an rail will take on a star destroyer directly, but I think the idea of the designer was to use the unit cards as a representation of the forces and talents of different parts of the light Side vs the forces and talents of the dark side.

The abstract card game is going to be abstract and not totally literal

If it was a more literal game, it might be a battle card game where units would be directly pit against other units. This is an overall Star Wars game, not Pokemon, guys...


The issue is that it is veering into too abstract territory. Like Knizia abstract. If I'm playing a Star Wars game, I want to feel like it's Star Wars. I don't need another Star Wars stratego. I have high hopes that it will, but I must say early reports have me doubting.

Jorune
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jayntampa wrote:
You knew exactly what I meant. And, if you created a game where ground units are useless unless they can hit spaceships, you failed at your design. There are plenty of ways to design a game where ships provide cover to ground units doing infiltration or a thousand other objectives. Let's be honest. It was lazy --- and, it kills it for a lot of people.


I am not sure how SW:TCG plays, but this game may have been able to take cues used in a 2008 GMT card game, Pacific Typhoon. This is a rebuild of an older AH game but you will see that they were creatively using air, surface, and sub levels of combat in 3 different times (day, night, or both) - If the units didn't perform well in the air, per se the values on them were 0. Attachments to these units also needed to be paired with one that could accept them and also had 3 types. In PT, they also considered if a unit was around in WWII by the time the battle was occurring in the game. All that...was it complicated to follow? not at all.




Some elaboration of a system or even considerations like this would have helped your concerns a bit...but I know nothing about SW:TCG -- just stumbled upon the review and am always interested in learning more a bout a game I do not own.

The only LCG I own is Netrunner - I have a friend who owns call of Chuthulu and enjoys it quite a bit.

cheers!
 
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IMO,it would have been a cooler game if it focuses more on the ground.
Players are Jedi/Sith knight and you play force/dueling/storm troopers reinforcement etc...
The space aspect can go into event cards that do non-combat effect.
 
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Kamakaze wrote:
From watching games so far, it seems like there are tons of units on the board, as much as I have seen in games of Game of Thrones.


I haven't seen any gameplay but I want to believe you. I just have a hard time imagining being able to draw my hand, and then I have use just those six cards to put whatever cards I actually want to put into play, and then have two edge battles BEFORE I get to draw a new hand at the start of my next turn. If only I could see some gameplay videos

(I know, I already have full spoilers from cardgamedb and the rulebook on FFG's own website. Call me spoiled)
 
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DrNate wrote:
Kamakaze wrote:
From watching games so far, it seems like there are tons of units on the board, as much as I have seen in games of Game of Thrones.


I haven't seen any gameplay but I want to believe you. I just have a hard time imagining being able to draw my hand, and then I have use just those six cards to put whatever cards I actually want to put into play, and then have two edge battles BEFORE I get to draw a new hand at the start of my next turn. If only I could see some gameplay videos

(I know, I already have full spoilers from cardgamedb and the rulebook on FFG's own website. Call me spoiled)


Chiming in here, I haven't seen a ton of units in the games I've played. Usually one or two per side. This could be just from lack of experience on the best way to play. Didn't really detract or add for me on that part I guess.
 
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