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Subject: The Last Word? rss

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Clint Walker
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Well, it's all said and done with now. Episode III has come and gone, and aside from possibly having a spin off TV series, which may or may not ever come to fruition, the days of Star Wars hype are done with.

Which means to a certian degree, so are the days of Star Wars games. This is probably overstating things a bit. Star Wars will always have product of some kind on the shelves. But in those days where new Episodes were in the pipeline, new toys and games arrived right on schedule every few months or so.

Star Wars: The Trading Card Game was launched midway through 2002, a collectable card game meant to replace the previous one that held the liscense (Decipher's Star Wars: CCG, which ran from 1995 or so to 2002). Those long timers who kept up with Decipher's game were pretty peeved when production stopped on their game, and were apopleptic with rage when they tried this new version, which was battle based...and involved DICE!

It's a scant three and a half years later as I write this, and since then the Star Wars TCG has passed through about ten or so different card sets, each roughly covering one of the episodes, with a subset covering leftover stuff from around the same time.

And, if you want to belive the scuttlebutt floating around the net, Wizards of the Coast has scuttled any further plans for new sets. You had to see it coming, I suppose. Cards were hard to find in a lot of places, and hype on the game was virtually nonexistant. One got the feeling that WOTC was just biding their time until Episode III had passed, so they could shut off the lights and lock the doors quietly.

And yet, I think it's a fun game.

Objective:

Cards are played to the table in three arenas (Space, Ground, Character). Each round, the two players (one Light Side, one Dark Side) do battle. If at the end of a round, one player has at least one card in two of three arenas while their enemy does not, than that player wins.

How do you play?

The SWTCG starts with a setup phase where each player draws a hand of seven cards and takes turns playing cards from their hand to the arenas, adding up the build costs on each card as they do. Once each player has 30 build points of cards on the table, the game proper begins.

Each turn is in two steps, a build phase, and a battle phase. The build phase involves each player spending a random number of build points (determimed by die roll plus or minus various card effects) to play cards from their hand to the table, be they face up in their proper arena, or face down in a "Build Zone" if a player cant afford to build the card all in once shot.

Once each player does this, the battle phase starts. Each card has three main stats, Speed, Power and Health. Starting with the Space arena, you find which card has the highest speed (it could be either Light or Dark, there are no "turns" in the battle phase) with the dark side breaking ties. That card may attack first by tapping and naming a target (which can be tapped or untapped, it doesn't matter). You then roll the number of dice as your power and add up your hits; Fours, fives, and sixes are hits, anything else are misses. You then place counters on your target in accordance with how many times you hit it. If it has counters equal to or greater than it's health, then it's discarded.

This process goes all the way down through the speeds until everyone has attacked. Then you go to the ground arena and do the same thing, then to the character arena and do the same again. If at the end of that phase, no one has control of two of three arenas, then you untap everyone, both sides draw a card, and you start over with the build phase.

There's also Force, which each player gets four points worth at the start of each turn. Players can spend this force during the battle phase for "battle cards" which are like instants in Magic The Gathering or for individule card powers.

Compared to the Decipher game, the TCG is far lighter but it's also a game that's eaiser to get into. You don't need that many cards to get a working deck together, and since card flow is so slow compared to the relitive shortness of a game, you'll get the maximum usuage out of a small amount of cards in the long run. One 60 card deck will surprise you every time you play.

Unlike the Decipher game, you'll also have a chance to actually play with your favorite characters, since there are multiple versions of most popular characters (rare, uncommon, and common). So, you won't have to just play with a bunch of Rebel Guards and droids while you hope in vain to pull a Han Solo from a booster pack. Here, you can even combine (or "stack") your multiples together for extra powers.

Each set of the game added a new card power, which means that eariler sets of the game aren't as rich as the newer ones.

Shields: reduce the number of attacking dice;
Accuracy: adds one to each number rolled;
Piloting: lets you take a character and place him on a vehicle for bonuses;
Overkill: gives you extra power if you take some damage;
Evade: dodges damage;
Deflect: deflects damage back;
Critical Hit: does X more damage if you can roll ONE six.
Bounty: pays a reward if you can kill a certian card type;
Bombard: lets space units attack the ground;
Ion cannon: vice versa;
Armor: limits hits to rolled fives and sixes only.
Reserves: lets cards use abilities from a place of saftey.
Overload: increases power but causes damage to the attacker.
Lucky: allows rerolls.
Stun: subtracts from defender's power when hit.
Enhance: increases the effect of a card after paying a cost.
Intercept: lets a unit "step in the way" of an attack.
Upkeep: forces a player to pay a cost to keep powerful cards active.
Hidden Cost: Allows a player to "half build" a card and then pay the remaining cost in force to deploy the card at ANY TIME during the battle phase.

Plus, some later sets added new types of cards, such as Locations, which stayed in an arena and added a permanant effect until another player played another location to replace the previous one; Or Equipment cards: which were built, and then players could pay a cost to "equip" it to a unit. The equipment would stay in the game if the unit was destroyed, but the player would have to pay the cost again to reequip it to another unit.

And unlike the Decipher game, which only made cards covering Episodes I, IV, V, and VI, the TCG successfully managed to make it all the way through the ENTIRE saga (plus a fair ammount of Expanded Universe stuff), although some stuff from episode III didnt quite make it to the game (it was cancelled just as one more subset was in the works), so those cool red-striped star destroyers, the wookies, or (sad to say) General Grevious DID NOT make it to print.

The cards also look great, with large pictures, easy to read stats, and the usual amount of flavor text and what not. Booster packs mostly came in packs of 11, (sometimes 5) with one Rare in every pack.

The sets, and what they featured, in order, were

Attack of the Clones: EP II, and misc from Ep I.

Sith Rising: Ep. II, and more Ep I. (added Darth Maul, Mace Windu, "Stun" and "Overload"

A New Hope: Ep IV. (added "piloting," accuracy" and "intercept")

Battle of Yavin: Ep IV. (added Han Solo, Chewie, Death Star, and "Intercept")

Jedi Guardians: Ep. II and I. (added "reserves" and "overkill")

Empire Strikes Back: Ep V. (added "armor, "enhance" and Locations)

Rouges and Scoundrels: Ep V. (added bounty hunters, "bounty" and "upkeep")

Return of the Jedi Ep VI. (added "hidden cost")

The Phantom Menace: Ep I. (added "lucky")

Revenge of the Sith: Ep III. (added Equipment)

My experience with CCG's are limited, so it's up to you if you feel like you need to persue this one as it shuffles itself to the great sale bin in the sky, but if you are Star Wars fan who's always willing to swoop in and pick up something new for your collection or gaming table, you'll have more fun than you'd think with this one.

Thanks for reading.
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TELBET
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I heartily agree! I snatched up some starter decks and boosters on sale, and threw together two fat decks concentrating on mainly the newer films. My son and I have enjoyed pitting Yoda against Darth Maul, and sending out waves of droid ships against Jedi Starfighters.

The whims of the dice can quickly turn a losing situation into a possible victory (or vice versa), but most of the time, the outcomes feel right when adjusted for previously mentioned abilities like accuracy and armor.

Managing your force is a vital part of the game. Should you squander your force right away to avoid some damage, or save up your powers to activate a game-altering effect?

Planning long term strategies in this game is not very possible. The random resources generated by a die roll in the Build Phase, makes it difficult to count on launching a ship or sending in a Jedi Master at exactly the right time you desire. It's best to plan for both feast or famine, building both cheap and expensive units to do battle, so you're prepared for whatever resources the die sends you.

Unfortunately, this game is for only two players, or possibly two teams. A real multi-player Star Wars experience won't be had here.

It's a fun, light game that captures the feel of the climactic Star Wars battles pretty well. It's not our favorite CCG (We prefer L5R and VS.), but it's the best Star Wars game we have!
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Michael Sosa
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Nice perspective on the game, although I could have sworn the game came out beginning 2002. And Decipher's version of Star Wars goes down as a masterpiece of game design, simply one of the best CCGs ever. Wizard's is a much lighter fair, really comparable to playing Decipher's Lord of the Rings v. ICE's Middle Earth CCG! I don't mind the dice adding a chaotic element to an already light game. I will agree that the game is fun and I have two decks which I enjoy playing against each other.
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Clint Walker
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while i wasnt a huge fan of the Decipher game, you are right..its was one of the first post Magic CCG's to really think outside the box.
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Ken B.
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Star Wars CCG was a masterpiece of CCG design. Star Wars TCG isn't even a 1/10th of the game that SWCCG was.

Over ten years out, people are still collecting it, and playing it (check Ebay and http://www.swccgpc.com/ for proof).

In 2012, few will remember "Star Wars Yahtzee", except as a punchline to a joke.

When the game debuted, they had a strategy article contest to win a box of boosters. I had not tried it yet but the strategies (such as they were) were so transparent that I wrote an article that actually won the contest!

(The article was archived online at http://www.decktech.net/magic/articles/articles.php?id=3750&.... Please note that I was really sucking up to win the prize.)

We took the booster box and a starter and made several decks, and after a few plays we just sort of moved on. It was okay, but if I'd paid money for it I'd have been pretty pissed.


A great review, though, and I'm glad that someone enjoyed the game. I think that possibly without Decipher's offering overshadowing the TCG, people might could've taken it for what it was--an uberlight, essentially random dicefest.

You're right, though--there was a LOT of bad blood about WotC getting the license, and that doomed the TCG from the start. I remember that WotC flew several of the top Star Wars CCG players of the time (including Hayes Hunter, who was at one time the #1 player in the world) and giving them demos, free cards, and the like...but it didn't work too well.

Without WotC's deep pockets, it would've never survived as long as it did on such an anemic fanbase.
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Chris Holm
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franklincobb wrote:
A great review, though, and I'm glad that someone enjoyed the game. I think that possibly without Decipher's offering overshadowing the TCG, people might could've taken it for what it was--an uberlight, essentially random dicefest.

Different strokes for different folks! I dropped out of the Star Wars CCG pretty early, and not because of some game flaw. I didn't suffer through the pain of the Decipher to WotC license transition. Later, I latched onto the TCG and I got a ton of enjoyment out of it. In my book, both games are pretty worthy.
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Rick Martinez
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Quote:
Star Wars CCG was a masterpiece of CCG design. Star Wars TCG isn't even a 1/10th of the game that SWCCG was.

Over ten years out, people are still collecting it, and playing it (check Ebay and http://www.swccgpc.com/ for proof).

In 2012, few will remember "Star Wars Yahtzee", except as a punchline to a joke.

When the game debuted, they had a strategy article contest to win a box of boosters. I had not tried it yet but the strategies (such as they were) were so transparent that I wrote an article that actually won the contest!

(The article was archived online at http://www.decktech.net/magic/articles/articles.php?id=3750&.... Please note that I was really sucking up to win the prize.)

We took the booster box and a starter and made several decks, and after a few plays we just sort of moved on. It was okay, but if I'd paid money for it I'd have been pretty pissed.


A great review, though, and I'm glad that someone enjoyed the game. I think that possibly without Decipher's offering overshadowing the TCG, people might could've taken it for what it was--an uberlight, essentially random dicefest.

You're right, though--there was a LOT of bad blood about WotC getting the license, and that doomed the TCG from the start. I remember that WotC flew several of the top Star Wars CCG players of the time (including Hayes Hunter, who was at one time the #1 player in the world) and giving them demos, free cards, and the like...but it didn't work too well.

Without WotC's deep pockets, it would've never survived as long as it did on such an anemic fanbase.


... And many years on, while Decipher's version is holding up pretty well, Star Wars: The Card Game prices on eBay (booster boxes) are through the roof and arguably as valuable or more. Also there are many many single card listings for Star Wars: The Card Game, which also surprised me. Haven't played either version, but found it ironic that the Decipher version would currently be easier to afford in general... You never can tell, and prophecy is risky work.
 
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