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Star Wars: Epic Duels» Forums » Reviews

Subject: We all have a game like this in our lives. rss

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Clint Walker
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Mattoon
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Sometimes our games mean more to us than just what they are, how fun they are to play, what they are worth in monetary figures, or the cache value of the little pieces.

Sometimes the games we play become part of our lives; Mostly we hang onto those games we love so closely that we naturally want to share them with our friends and our family. These are the games that we see staring at us from the shelf just before we leave to visit that new friend again, or before we head to a party, screaming, "take me! You're friends will love me!".

And then there are other games that are like that, but are more attached to our past, games that we love to play once in a while, but mostly because they remind us of another time in our lives. Now, sometimes this can be a time that we want to forget, but mostly these games make us think of the fun times we had around people that have passed from our lives somehow, be it through the stupid things we did or just though the way that lives change naturally.

Star Wars Epic Duels is that game for me. It's not perfect for sure, but to me, the value of it will always been more than just the whopping resale value it could fetch on ebay; It's about what it makes me remember.

Long story short, back in the late spring of 2002, my girlfriend was graduating college and had decided to move far away to be with her mother. And folks, I mean FARRR away. It wasn't a decision I was happy with, but I always knew it was a possiblity. Sure, In the few years we were together, I tried, in my own way, to get her to change her mind, but like I said, I could sense it coming.

And once the decision had been made, it was only a matter of time. All though her last sememster I tried to put on a happy face, but by the time late April had arrived, it was all starting to end, and it was sure hard to keep the act going that it didn't hurt. Her mom, who was no big fan of me, had flown in to help her pack up all her stuff from her apartment. Being the standup guy I thought i was supposed to be, when I really wanted to sulk around and be a jerk, I kept quiet while they acted like giddy sisters (ugh) who were about to move in with each other, while I turned into the old fashioned, college-era, "invisible boyfriend." I packed up her boxes quietly, shredded her old phone records (calls made to me), hauled her broken vacumn cleaner to the dumpster, etc.

And at the end of the night, her mom wanted to turn in, which meant I had to make myself scarce. My girlfrind showed me to the door, and after giving me the perfunctory goodnight kiss on the cheek, the kind that you can get only get when the mother is around, the door was shut, and I was alone, with a 20 minute late night drive back home ahead of me.

On the way home, I passed the gleaming center of midwestern commerce, the Wal-Mart supercenter. I dont know why folks, but I pulled in. I didnt really have the money to buy anything, but for some reason, I just didnt want to head home. I went to the star wars asile and looked around. This was only three weeks or so before the release or Episode II, and the shelves were stocked with new figures and stuff. Now while I've always been a big fan of Star Wars, I'm not much of a figure collector. I just wouldnt know what to do with them, although some of the ships and vehicles are tempting. But, I was a bit intrested in the boardgames, and while scanning the shelves to find Jedi Unleashed, I saw Epic Duels. I picked it up and read the underside of the box.

I had to have it. I reached inside of my pocket and pulled out a lone 20 dollar bill. I really couldn't afford to spend it, but...well, do you remember that part from Field of Dreams where James Earl Jones mentions that someday people from all around would come to see the field and would just simply hand their money over without even thinking about it? Well, that's what I did. I carried Epic Duels through the near empty walmart at midnight, and just handed my money over.

I took it home, broke open the shrink wrapping and all the cards and figures. I took in the rules page by page, relishing the sneak preview of Episode II characters like Dooku, Jango Fett, Zam Wessell, and the new battle droids. At that moment, an unnnounced one hour block of MASH came on a local station, and a sudden springtime thunderstorm broke out outside. For such a crappy day it had been, that night, all didnt seem so bad, for some reason.

The game? Well, you did listen to my story, so I suppose I should get to it.

Epic Duels lets players pick a popular character from the star wars universe to to battle with. Each character comes equipped with one, sometimes two, minor characters to help. When you choose your character you get a personalized deck of cards which control their specefic actions in the game. You also get a stat card which features a track to keep track of hit points.

There are two, heavy cardboard battle fields, each one double sided. The four battlefields included are the Geonosis Arena (openfield with one barrier to hide behind); The Kamino landing platform (Penned in, with one barrier); The Emperors Throne Room (Penned in, with no cover); and the Carbon Freezing Chamber (wide open with no cover).

There are plently of little plastic mini's, one for each character in the game. They are all painted, although not nearly in the quality of later games like BattleBall or Heroscape. Basiclly, someone went over these with a brush for coloring, but there isin't a lot of detail (except with Darth Maul's face).

Once you pick your team, and place them on the board, the game starts.

On their turn, a player rolls the die, which will either let them roll one, or all of the figures on their team. After doing so, if you wish, get to preform any two of three possible actions.

You may,

1. Draw a card, which you add to your hand (10 max).
2. Play a card, which could be an attack card, or a special card.
3. Heal a Major character, which you can do by discarding cards from slain minor characters.

To attack you have to have a clear line of spaces (for ranged characters), or adjacent (for Jedi). Mostly you choose a card with an attack value from your hand and place it face down on the table, naming your target. The defender may, if they wish, play a card with a defense number face up to the table at this time. Attacker reveals their card, you subtract the defense from the attack value, and any extra is subtracted from the hit points of the defender. In addition there are special attack cards that grant special abilities when played to attack, and their are special cards that dont have an attack value, but that perform other various actions when played.

One thing I love about the game was how you can tell the designers really do know their star wars, and kept in mind the characters when they made up the decks. Each deck is cleverly tailored to fit the characters, some in ways you might not expect.

Here are the characters:

1. Darth Vader/2 Stormstroopers: Darth can take a lot of damage before dying, but surprisingly, he relies more on "insta-damage" force power cards instead of straightforward hack and slash damage.

2. Emperor Palpatine/2 Royal Guards: Weak in the hit point department, but like Vader he's real tricky, and his deck is loaded with cards that screw with other player's decks.

3. Darth Maul/2 battle droids: An offensive juggernaut, go toe to toe with him at your own risk. But he has almost no defense, so if he's low on cards, he's a sitting duck.

4. Boba Fett/Greedo: Lots of special doo dads and devices for this one, from wrist cables to the rocket pack. Greedo helps some too.

5. Jango Fett/Zam Wessell: Slighty tougher than Boba, with a better minor character, these two work well in tandem.

6. Count Dooku/two battle droids: A very well balenced Sith, a good mix of straight attacking power and force tricks.

7. Mace Windu/2 Clonetroopers: The jedi version of Darth Maul, but more balenced.

8. Yoda/2 Clonetroopers: More defensive than you'd think. Best played in the back rank if you can.

9. Obi-Wan/2 Clonetroopers: Like Dooku, a good mix of power and defense.

10. Luke/Leia: Almost complelty divided between the two, Leia is almost more powerful than her brother, who works more in the "i will not fight you" mode of defense.

11. Han/Chewie: Lots of trickery here, all in a ranged form, with Chewie being the most powerful minor character in the game. Great for firefights.

12. Anakin/Padme: Like the Luke/Leia combo, but vice versa in terms of usage. Anakin's the heavy hitter here, although that tiny Padme figure sure is hot!

If you are expecting a supreme technical challenge, you'll be dissapointed. Epic Duels is, in my opinion best viewed as a supercharged upgrade of Star Wars: Clash of the LIghtsabers. In other words, a deck based dueling game with some figures used for light visual representions.

Since the boards are only so big, and dice numbers are so low, there really isn't a lot of chances in this game for tactical movement. Most of the time, if you are low on cards you pull back and wait while you draw, and if you have a lot cards, vice versa. And since Jedi can attack even if diagonal from an defender, it's almost impossible to keep them from attacking you.

And yet, it's still a lot of fun. In terms of mainstream, over the counter board games, it's a stroke of genius, and probably one of the best. There are neat rules in the book for "master play" where a player a player controls two sets of characters, which spices things up, and those Heroscape fans will find themselves wanting to port over some of the rules from that game such as engagement or line of sight.

Is it worth the markup price?

Hmmm, I dont know, my head says no. But my heart knows that a star wars fan, or a boardgamegeek, just won't be able to do without it.

Don Henely sang, "those days are gone forever, I should just let them go but...". I know just what he means. As long as I have a closet to put it in, and new friends to play it with, Epic Duels with always have a place in my life.

Thanks for reading, all.

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Li'l Ronnie Post
United States
Seattle
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Being the standup guy I thought i was supposed to be, when I really wanted to sulk around and be a jerk, I kept quiet while they acted like giddy sisters (ugh) who were about to move in with each other, while I turned into the old fashioned, college-era, "invisible boyfriend." I packed up her boxes quietly, shredded her old phone records (calls made to me), hauled her broken vacumn cleaner to the dumpster, etc.

And at the end of the night, her mom wanted to turn in, which meant I had to make myself scarce. My girlfrind showed me to the door, and after giving me the perfunctory goodnight kiss on the cheek, the kind that you can get only get when the mother is around, the door was shut, and I was alone, with a 20 minute late night drive back home ahead of me.

*sniff* (danged dustmites!)
Cold, man.. that's cold.. soblue (but at least you didn't inherit the wrong Mother-in-law!)

It's a good thing you drove past someplace that stocked games though... liquor stores are somewhat more abundant - and while a good drunk can be a highly satisfying thing of beauty, I think you made the right choice.

Hell, good review too - pull that puppy out of the closet - I need to kick some Jedi butt'!
 
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Carla Harper
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Thank you for such a touching account. May the Force forever be with you.
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