Fantasy Flight Introduces Multiplayer to Star Wars: The Card Game

BalanceForceCoverBy Firestone In their continuing effort to get me to deposit my paychecks directly into their bank accounts, Fantasy Flight announced yesterday that the new Star Wars: The Card Game expansion, Balance of the Force, includes two new multiplayer options, and new objective sets.

Expansion designer Nate French says, "[This] was a project that grew in the making. The original vision was to allow two to three light side players to join forces against a single powerful dark side player. It was an exciting vision for the product, but as we started developing it, we began to realize that the game’s multiplayer format also held the potential to bring even more to the game.

“Instead of only allowing the light side to play as a team,” we asked in early development talks, “why not enable team play for both light side and dark side?” Once that question was on the table, everything else fell quickly into place.

BalanceForceCardsTo enable a single player to take on a two or three player team of opponents, Balance of the Force introduces the concept of the challenge deck scenario to the Star Wars: The Card Game experience. A challenge deck scenario is a powerful, self-contained, narrative-based deck that is piloted by one player against two or three challengers. Balance of the Force contains two challenge decks, Jerjerrod’s Task and The Hunt for Skywalker.

Each challenge deck presents a story-based scenario, in which light and dark side players work against each other to accomplish specific goals.

As we developed the challenge decks, we also implemented a number of new rules that enable teammates to work together. We invented a “common reserve” that enables players to pass one card to a teammate each round, and we introduced support attack and support defense mechanics that enable a player to assist his teammates in combat, as well as a number of other innovations to promote teamwork and camaraderie.

Working together with other players and trying to figure out the best common strategy for the team proved to be quite engaging, and we really wanted to capture this experience for the broader card pool. The result was the new two-versus-two format. Balance of the Force introduces a new rules set for both playing and deck-building in this format. Playing two-versus-two is an excellent way to rediscover the card pool, as a number of existing cards take on an entirely new meaning in a multiplayer environment.

Is this exciting to you? Is it enough to make you interested in the game if you weren't before? Fantasy Flight is saying 4th quarter of this year. Stay tuned...

And make sure you sign up to follow the blog.-------->  We're giving away a copy of Boss Monster on Saturday!

What You Missed...

Smallworld2News! Reviews! Poohs! We had a cram-packed week here on the blog. First we brought you news that Z-Man Games is reprinting an old Alan Moon trick-taking game: Black Spy. And Z-Man also revealed that the anticipated game Terra Mystica will come out May 1.

We had two interviews: first was Jason Tagmire of Pixel Lincoln fame, sharing about upcoming projects. And then we interviewed Shane Steely and Jared Tinney, designers of Walk The Plank.

We also discussed some of the odd choices of the Origins Awards. And Tom Vasel gave us some behind-the-scenes info on the nomination process (in the comments).

We had a Double-Take Review of I'm The Boss: The Card Game—and we had wildly different experiences with it.

THEN, we talked about the newly announced deluxe expansion for Star Wars The Card Game—with wookies!

And finally (whew!) we talked about a bunch of new Kickstarter projects—including the new Gryphon Game Francis Drake.

Thanks for reading! We'll have more for you next week; have a great weekend!

Oh, What a Wookie!

SWC08-box-rightChewbacca is on the scene in Star Wars The Card Game. Fantasy flight has announced the first deluxe expansion of the game "Edge of Darkness" adds 22 new objective sets, which is a total of 132 cards, adding two new affiliations: DS Scum and Villainy and the LS Smugglers and Spies. It's within this deluxe expansion that Fantasy Flight revealed today (4/10/13) that the objective set "Wookiee Life Debt" will in fact feature Chewbacca himself. And at a quick glance he will be ready to tear into the Empire and deal some serious damage, even if he takes damage during an encounter! It's not wise to upset this wookiee.

chewbaccaWe're still waiting on the multiplayer expansion for this game, to really see the full potential of the title, but from looking at the new wookie objective set, LS players have been given some much-needed fire power to stand up to the Empire.

You can find the full review of the new objective set here.

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to tell your friends about us, and do those social Facebook and Twitter things too!

What You Missed...

planklogoA fun week here at TOG. Thanks for joining us; here's what you might have missed. AEG announced they're bringing the surprise Essen hit Trains to the US.

We reviewed the classic card game filler Coloretto.

Then we had the opportunity to bother the gracious Eric Lang for another interview. Now with 100% more Monty Python!

And finally, we brought you Walk The Plank!, a new Kickstarter project from a couple of Firestone's pals.

Next week, we'll be reviewing The Great Heartland Hauling Co., and bringing you more news, reviews, interviews, and shampoos nevermind...we're both bald. Thanks for reading!

Another Interview With Designer Eric Lang

cropped-Eric-Head-ShotWe’re glad to welcome back to TOG Eric Lang, game designer extraordinaire, to chat about some of his upcoming projects, the latest Star Wars The Card Game news, and much more!

Eric, so glad we didn’t scare you away the first time; thanks for coming back!

WHAT?! Oh, sorry. You frightened me there.

So, from the looks of your twitter account @eric_lang you've been doing some serious game design work away from home. Tell us a little bit about where you were and the project(s) you've been working on?

I’ve been in my comfort zone for the year, at all times juggling 2-4 games in various stages of completion. Two of them are currently in post-design, and ready for announcement within the month.

So, in total, how many projects have you had your hands on since we last talked?

Seven, I think? Maybe? It’s hard to keep track. Some games are ongoing developments, others are near-completion, and yet other ongoing games are in publishers’ capable hands but still need attention (like Star Wars LCG and Quarriors).

Via Twitter you’ve given each of your projects their own code name. You said several weeks ago that “Project Phoenix” is heading to production; can you tell us more about the game, who is publishing the game, and when we can expect to see it hit the shelves?

It will be published by Cool Mini or Not, and my producer is the extraordinarily talented David Preti (from Dust Games). They will be announcing it soon. I wish I could tell you more, because this is a game (and original IP) I’ve been working on for a long time.

How often do you leave town to get work done? Do you make the same pilgrimage every year, or do you travel to other places around the world? If so, what's been your favorite place to work so far?

I generally get work done at home, actually, and travel for inspiration or to crunch on administrative or production deadlines, which are easier on-site with publishers.

I love Brazil for the climate, the gamers, and the food. Singapore for the space-age lifestyle, the gamers, and the food. Malaysia for the gamers, the amazing islands, and the food. Minnesota for all my longtime friends, and the food. There’s a general food theme.

kaosballYou said that “Project Phoenix” is something you've wanted to do for a long time; where did the idea first come from, and how did you get it to production?

Project Phoenix is a game I’ve wanted to do for about five years. It is a hybrid of two genres I really enjoy in gaming (which I sadly can’t talk about until the announcement). The nucleus of the game coalesced while I worked on other games, but crystallized when I met with David Preti in Brazil and pitched the basic concept. He said, “We’re making this game,” immediately, and then asked me for an IP to go with the game. I built the foundation of this world over a weekend, and we worked together to flesh it out (me on world details, he on visual direction).

We’ve also heard that your funding a project through Kickstarter, what can you tell us about that, and when will we see it over on KS?

I actually have four projects, with various publishers, slated for Kickstarter this year. Unfortunately I can’t talk about any of them :(

Since we last spoke with you, Star Wars The Card Game was released; we've enjoyed the base set and are looking forward to the multiplayer expansion. What can you tell us about the multiplayer experience?

Sadly, nothing of substance (NDA, as you’d guess). I can say that multiplayer completes the core vision I had for the game.

The idea of having multiple players team up against a single dark side player is really making me kind of giddy! And it seems that you had this in mind all along. Is there a reason the multiplayer expansion is delayed, or wasn't a part of the base set?

It was part of the game’s DNA from the start, but we realized during development that it would take a significant chunk of the core set’s card pool to execute as fully as we wanted. And we wanted to maximize variety in objective sets for regular play, both because variety is good and this game was experimenting with a new deck-building philosophy, so we wanted to give it breathing room.

It didn’t take long to realize we could easily take the multiplayer component and expand it even further if we made it a deluxe expansion box. Expect some surprises!

QuartifactsWe're both pretty big fans of Quarriors, is there any news of what's coming down the line for that title?

The Quartifacts expansion is coming soon, which adds quests—an entirely new play pattern—to the game. Beyond that, they announced the exciting “Light and Dark” expansion that Mike and I finished a few months ago, so it won’t be coming for awhile.

We got the press release from Wizkids about Train Stations. There’s scant information so far, but the description reads like a standard pickup-and-deliver-type train game—but then we noticed it comes with 50 custom dice... Is this some sort of Quarriors/Age Of Steam mashup, or what?!

There are lots of dice, but the game is nothing like Quarriors. It’s more of a risk management game with a ton of player interaction (with mild cooperative elements, even though there is only one winner). I designed this game as an homage to Sid Sackson, one of my favorite designers, and even though it shares no mechanics with his games, my guiding process during design would often be to ask myself, “What would Sid do?”

Are there any other new and exciting projects that you can tell us about?

Absolutely! I am working on two games with my good friend and awesome designer Kevin Wilson, codenamed Tweedledee and Tweedledum. The games are not related; the codenames symbolize something else (shhh). One is a really fun little strategy game that “scratches your OCD itch” and the other is an intense psychological social game dripping with warped theme. Both are based on really cool existing IPs, and will be out later this year.

Last year I finished design on a risky but really compelling game that adds a new twist to a classic genre. I call it Project ZOMG, and have described it as a “youthful power fantasy come to life.” This one will be announced by a major publisher shortly. I can’t wait to talk more about it.

Finally, I started work on another big game for FFG. This one won’t be out for awhile, but the initial design is already mostly done, and I’ve scoped out some crazy ambition. One thing I can say is that I love how FFG is a big game company and still likes to take risks and try new ideas.

Here’s another round of 1-word questions!

2861869-monty_footFavorite Monty Python member?

The Foot

Kirk or Picard?


Favorite Star Wars film?

Empire (obviously!)

Bill S. Preston esq. or Ted Theodore Logan?


Favorite comic book hero?


Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us!

Thank you! Fun questions as always.

Update: Shortly after we finished this interview with Eric, Cool Mini or Not leaked some info on the Project Phoenix game, which is Kaosball. From Eric's Web site:

"Kaosball is a fantasy sports game based on modern world pop culture. It has a different approach than most sports games, using card play rather than standard miniatures style simulationist rules for resolving conflict. There’s luck and variance, to be sure, but key skills like bluffing and reading your opponent enhance the drama and can turn the tide.

The sport (a 2-4 player cross between rugby and domination-style e-sports) is designed from the ground up to play well as a team management board game focused on special powers and their interactions. It’s bloody and lethal; in fact, kills help your overall score! Four teams come in the core set, but I have already designed over a dozen more.

More details and blog updates to follow over the next few weeks. I have been waiting a very long time to talk about this game!"

We can't wait to hear more about all of the games Eric is juggling right now. Thanks, Eric, for the interview, and thanks to you for reading—and please check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

The Best Board Games of 2012!

Thanks for joining us for Post #200 here at Theology Of Games. In the Better Late Than Never category: Here they are—our picks for the best games of 2012! Now, realize that even though we both have a board game group that meets weekly, there are some games we just didn't get a chance to play. So games such as Mage Wars and Snowdonia and Myrmes just didn't get played. They might have made the list, and I'm sure we'll play those at some point. You'll just have to wait for the review. :) We also went off of the release dates as seen on each game's page on Boardgamegeek. There are a number of games I was sure came out this year, but I was surprised to see they were actually released earlier (Mage Knight, King of Tokyo, Kaispeicher). So without further ado... Mice & Mystics10. Mice & Mystics—It's essentially a dungeon crawler. You go through rooms, you fight swarms of baddies, you have weapons and armor and special powers, you roll dice, and you're following a loose sort of plot. My group is eight missions into the campaign and we're having great fun. One big reason it doesn't rate higher is that once I've played through the campaign, I'll likely never play the base game again. (Or at least until the expansion comes out.)

Lords9. Lords Of Waterdeep—This is a worker placement game with a thick veneer of fantasy to it. There's a fair bit of mess-with-your-neighbor-ness to it, but I was okay with it.

smashcover8. Smash Up—A card-battling, shuffle-building game, featuring different factions that you can combine to smash up one of several bases on the table. Light rules, cool cards, and fun faction combos. Check out our review here.

PlatoCover7. Plato 3000—This was a surprisingly fun little filler! It's basically rummy with special powers—if you can snag a copy, you should do so! You can read the review here.

gauntlet6. Gauntlet Of Fools—This is another filler that grabbed our attention. You grab your hapless hero and head into the dungeon, where you'll almost certainly die. Sounds fun, right?! Well it really, really is. Read our detailed thoughts on it here.

cover5. Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game—The minis are way cool. The gameplay is fast and fun. AND IT'S STAR WARS! This is the kind of game I expect to sink a ton of cash into, but the looks on my kids' faces when we play makes it worth it. Here's our review of this terrific game.

cover4. Android: Netrunner—The first of two LCGs on the list is a remake of the classic CCG from the 90s. This reboot is excellent. The key is the asymmetrical play—with one playing the powerful corporation and the other playing the plucky, tricky hacker. This has so much potential for interesting expansions...I can hear my wallet screaming now... Here's our review.

box-SWLCG-left3. Star Wars Card Game—This is the start of something really great; the base set is already climbing to the top of our lists, and they haven't yet expanded it for 4 players. With the unique Edge Battle mechanic, paired up with some pretty awesome card artwork, the sky is the limit for this LCG. We're really looking forward to what Fantasy Flight has in store. In the meantime, check out Jeremiah's review.

Mayancover2. Tzolk'in—I can't remember the last time I was this enamored with a game. Rather than gush over it here, I'll just point you to my review.

Avalon1. The Resistance: Avalon—What can we say about this game that we haven't already? The Resistance is one of our favorite titles of all time, and Avalon adds just enough variance and depth to keep us coming back for more back-stabbing, lying, skulduggery and intrigue. The new/optional roles have increased re-playability even more. Read our review here; then go get the game. Now. What are you waiting for?!

So what did you think were the best games of last year? Let us know in the comments, and make sure you "Like" us on Facebook. And over on Twitter too!

More Star Wars and More Netrunner!

netrunnerstarwarsFantasy Flight is working overtime! They've announced A Dark Time—the third Force pack for Star Wars The Card Game. As if that weren't enough, they also announced Humanity's Shadow—the fifth Data pack for Netrunner. "With a new Criminal identity, a daring new resource, and unique sysops for the Corporations, Humanity’s Shadow profiles some of the most talented individuals pulling the strings behind the game’s cyberstruggles. New events for the Runners allow you to customize your strategies while the game’s Corporations look to increase their security with a more hands-on approach based upon new operations, talented sysops, traces, and traps."

The Star Wars pack includes assassins from Anzat: SWC04-card-fan

"Long-lived and ruthless, the Anzati are tentacled predators, nearly indistinguishable from humans when their tentacles are withdrawn into their cheeks. Anzati have telepathic powers that grow in strength as they age, and they are frequently sought as highly paid assassins and mercenaries. In standard practice, they stun their prey with a telepathic blast and then feed on their victim’s life essence.

Anzati aren’t naturally evil, but their need to feed on the life essence of other, often sentient, races makes them susceptible to the lures of the dark side, as does the hunger that grows as they age. In Star Wars: The Card Game, the Anzati Elite (A Dark Time, 239) appears as a sleek and stealthy four-cost dark side Character. The Sith excel at manipulating their opponents by making tactical strikes, and the Anzati Elite fits right in with her two [Target] icons and Force Sensitive trait.

Part of the Sith affiliation’s Serve the Emperor objective set, Anzati Elite costs just as much as such iconic light side units as Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, though it has considerably less damage capacity. Nonetheless, the [Target] icon is an incredibly versatile combat icon, both on attack and defense, and the fact that the Anzati Elite has two, neither of which is edge-dependent, means she’ll likely feature prominently in future Sith decks."

Sounds fun to us! Thanks for reading, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter, and Like us on Facebook!

We Interview Jeremiah Isley!

Jeremiah2Jeremiah is one half of the team here at Theology Of Games, and since Reiner Knizia won't return our emails, we thought it would be fun to interview each other! (We haven't actually tried to contact Reiner. I'm sure he's a nice guy who replies to every email he receives. Seriously, us.) Thanks for agreeing to answer some questions, Jeremiah. So tell us a little about yourself.

Sure thing! My interests in life are about as varied and polarizing at times as you could think of. I love live theatre, and professional dance; I studied dance for over 13 years and still appear as a guest artist annually in the Nutcracker for a local professional company. I also worked for many years as a stagehand both in the local stagehand’s union, and as a freelancer. I’m also a trained audio engineer and have mixed for a few pretty big names over the years. I’m a huge football fan, and a glutton for the punishment of being a Cleveland sports fan. I've been married very happily for over 10 years, and have two sons, ages 4 and 6, who are the craziest, most awesome, and caring boys ever! We enjoy the outdoors, and like to canoe, hike, raft, and camp whenever the opportunity presents itself. We love to geocache too—nothing like using billion-dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods! I also play guitar, drums, bass, and a smidgen of keys. My current day job is in the AV department at a satellite campus for a local state university, and for the last three years I was the youth director at my church until I recently stepped down. Oh, and I co-write this blog.

How did you first get mixed up in these type of board games?

My path to board gaming really came through the collectible card game craze of the nineties, when everything was turned into a collectible card game. My brother and I played Marvel Overpower (which in hindsight is a terrible game!) and then we got into Middle Earth (which is an awesome game!). I loved the depth of strategy it took to do well at games like that. Middle Earth was also a great multiplayer game so we could have a few friends over, put the animated version of LotR on TV and play all night. (No, we weren’t the cool kids in town.) I then went through a long period of time of playing only video games, specifically Socom Navy Seals (shout out to my old clan SV!). I enjoyed video games, but the draw of Socom for me was the social side of being in a clan and working together as a team; it was more of a social activity than a gaming habit. I think that’s what I really enjoy about board games: The games themselves are great fun and all, but sitting down and having face-to-face interaction with good folks is better than any game I’ve played. For me the world of board games, like so many others, came through Catan; once that gateway opened up, all bets were off... I pretty much exclusively play board and card games now; the ps3 is basically a Netflix machine.

How has your faith affected you as a gamer?

I'd say pretty heavily. A lot of times it gets easy as a Christian to try and make your faith or your beliefs fit the mold of your interests, or political or social practices, when we should really be holding those things we enjoy up to the light of scripture and see them for what they are. The gaming world is full of thematic elements that dabble in the fantastic or supernatural—that's part of its allure. It's for this reason I tread lightly when checking out games, and especially before buying them. Many times a game is pretty benign, but other times I'll have to pass on a particular title. I try not to get hung up on those titles I won't play. There are literally hundreds of great games being published each year, so there are plenty of games to choose from that don't give me pause.

You have two boys. What are some of your favorite games to play with them?

Well, we got them Loopin' Louie for Christmas, or "Woopy Wooin" as my 4-year-old calls it, and they haven't stopped playing it. They also really enjoy Forbidden Island a lot! My oldest is six and has a pretty good handle on playing Carcassonne and Castle Panic, too.

Does your wife enjoy board games?

Yes, she gets incredibly frustrated when I teach them to her, but once we get through that she usually enjoys playing them. However, she does have her limits; she told our sons the other day that she doesn't play "Star Wars games," but she enjoys Carcassonne, Kingdom Builder, The Resistance, and a good deal more. As long as it doesn’t have a terribly nerdy theme, or a billion rules, she’s a gamer. She won’t sit and play an LCG, but Catan, yes.

Is it true you shaved your head so you’d look more like me?

There's not a shred of truth to that rumor. Although I did convince my sons that it would be cool because I would look like the Silver Surfer. My poor wife had gone to the grocery store one evening and left us home alone; when she returned I was completely clean shaven. I’m enjoying the new look, although the first winter has been a little rough.—even if there's not much there, insulates your head more than you think...

What are your Top 5 games…and tell us a about why you like them so much.

This is in no particular order, because I don’t think I could actually pick a favorite.

  1. Lord of the Rings the Card Game—When I picked this up, I thought, “I don’t know about this whole co-op thing...” But one play through it and I was hooked! We played through the whole first cycle of expansions and are part way through the Khazad-Dum quests. It’s great, really deep game play, scales great for 1-4 players, and has a continuous story line. It’s almost like playing a role playing game without having to put in all the work to set it up. The down side to this game is the money to keep up with the quest packs, and they don’t feel that replayable after you’ve defeated a quest.
  2. The Resistance—I love this game because it is everything that LOTR is not. Really simple game mechanics and tons of backstabbing and chicanery! I’ve never played this game and not had people ask me to play it again—and ask where they can get their own copy. I love that you can play up to 10 people at once, although it’s hard to find 10 people that play it well all at the same time. I’m REALLY hoping they retheme the plot cards for Avalon because using the original ones really kills the mood.
  3. Carcassonne—Although recently this game is getting a little overplayed for me right now. I still love the game, and it took about 784 game plays to feel overplayed. There’s a solid base of expansions to keep it fresh, mix it up, and throw you for a loop. It’s a very good game to act as a next step for my friends who are ready to move on from Catan, and it plays up to 6 very well.
  4. Pirates of the Spanish Main—I know, this is kind of an oddball title, and no they don’t still make the game. But building those little pirate ship and sailing them around the dinner table looking for treasure is just a lot of fun. I have a HUGE fleet of literally thousands of ships. My gaming friends and I haven’t played in a while (which is very unfortunate), but it’s a really fun game with very high replayability!
  5. Fluxx—It’s an old standby with lots of different versions that add to the craziness of it. I’m probably most partial to Zombie Fluxx. We’ve had a lot of good times and good laughs over this game, as well as some frustrating defeats. Just a good time all around.

What are some games you’re looking forward to playing in 2013?

One of the titles I’m really looking forward to is Boss Monster; it kind of crept under our radar last year, as we didn’t find out about it until their Kickstarter was almost finished, but playing the bad guy is always fun. I’m also really looking forward to the multiplayer expansion for the new Star Wars The Card Game. I like the game as it is, but I think it will really come into its own when it supports 2-3 light side players teaming up against a very powerful dark side player. I’m also REALLY hoping that Wizkids gets the Lord of the Rings dice building game to market soon! Quarriors just barely slipped out of my top 5, and I’m of course a fanboy when it comes to Tolkien. And my boys will be very excited to hear that Forbidden Desert is on its way! One-Word Answers:

Favorite Doctor? Tom Baker

Grail game you’d like to find a copy of? My old 1st edition of Fluxx.

Favorite superhero? Spider-Man

Favorite major Star Wars character? Han Solo

Favorite minor Star Wars character? Dengar, the fiercest of the bounty hunters!!

On a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being how you feel while watching Bambi, and 10 being blind, seething, murderous rage), how did you feel toward George Lucas immediately after watching The Phantom Menace for the 1st time? The 1st time? 4.5 (I was blinded by the shiny new toy.)

Favorite LEGO line? Star Wars

Last good book you read? Shrewd by Rick Lawrence

Thanks, Jeremiah! No no, thank you.

We hope you enjoyed this. Stay tuned for Jeremiah's questions for me! (Unless Reiner emails us back. We'd totally bump that for you, Reiner...)

What You Missed...

Star Wars the Card GameWe're getting back in the swing of things after Christmas break—and households full of sick people! But we were able to share some cool things. Check 'em out! First we told you about a slew of new games released all at once from Rio Grande—though still no Race For the Galaxy...?

Then Jeremiah gave us his take on the super-hot new Star Wars The Card Game.

And finally, we shared a Kickstarter project about cooperative fairy tales and mice and nutcrackers. Did I just type that?

Anyway, have an awesome weekend. Thanks for reading!

We Review Star Wars The Card Game

By Jeremiah box-SWLCG-leftA long time ago, but not so far away, the folks at Fantasy Flight promised us all a new title in their Living Card Game (LCG) catalog—this time coming from the Star Wars universe. Well about a year ago they scrapped the original concept, and completely overhauled the game. It took some time, and many folks were frustrated with the lengthy wait (including myself at times!). But Fantasy Flight Games wanted to make the game the best gaming experience possible.

The final version of the game made its way to stores this week, so I grabbed up a copy and gave it a test drive!



The game is a head-to-head battle between the two sides of the Force (Light side and Dark side). The way a player wins the game depends on which side they are on. The Light side wins if they destroy three of the Dark side's Objective cards (each player has a 10-card objective deck, which gives them resources and other game enhancements). The Dark side achieves victory by reaching 12 on the "Death Star Counter," which always increases by at least one at the start of the Dark side player's turn. This seems a bit unfair at first, but simulates the the vast availability of resources and troops that the Empire has at the ready; without the tenacity of the Rebels and/or Jedi, the Empire will simply win out by outlasting their opponent.

Player turns are about what you would expect from an LCG: a refresh phase, a drawing phase, deployment, conflict, and finally a force phase.

Players put cards into play—units (characters, creatures, droids, or vehicles), and enhancements—by paying with resources from their objective cards. Once they have their units in play, they can choose to attack their opponent's objective (both Light and Dark side players always attack the objectives of their opponents). When they attack, the other player chooses to defend or not, and then chooses a defending unit. Once a defending unit is chosen there is an Edge Battle—one of the more unique areas of the game. Edge battles work like this: Each card in the game has a number of Force icons on it. Players take turns adding cards face down from their hands to the Edge Battle until they both pass. Once players are done adding cards, they're turned face up and the icons are tallied; whoever wins the Edge Battle gets first strike in the conflict, and there are also certain attacks/powers that are only activated on units if they have won the Edge Battle. After the Edge Battle is resolved, the units deal out damage either to an opposing unit or to the targeted objective.

objectivesetOnce conflicts are settled, the player moves on to the Force Phase. Players can commit units to the Force by placing one of three available Force cards; once a unit is committed to the Force they add Force icons to the Force struggle. This is good. The bad thing is that if you use them in a conflict when you "focus" them, you have to place two focus tokens on them. This is bad, because on each turn during your refresh phase, you can only remove 1 token at a time. The balance of the Force is an important facet of the game; if the balance is in favor of the Light side, the Light side player gets to place a damage token on one of the Dark side's objectives at the beginning of their turn. If the balance is in favor of the Dark side, that player gets to increase the Death Star counter by +1 (for a total of two) at the beginning of their turn. So keeping the balance in your favor becomes a big deal!

My thoughts—

Edge Battles—To be honest, when I first heard about the Edge Battles I thought they sounded a little like the battles in the old Young Jedi CCG from the late 90's, and, well, the prospect of playing that game again sounded about as fun as a root canal. That's not the case, though. The key is to play slowly your first turn or two, so you can get some units on the table and still have some cards in your hand to win the Edge Battles. The advantage to winning an Edge Battle is typically worth the sacrifice to get the win.

vader-card-fanThe Artwork—I'm really glad we didn't get another rehash of screen shots from the films, and designers trying to be clever with some obscure character or item in the background that is only seen for three frames. The artwork is beautiful, and also gives a means to incorporate some of the more popular characters from the novels, and other stories in the Star Wars universe. They really outdid themselves in this department—the cards look great!

Deck-Building—This is another innovative approach to an LCG. Instead of hand-picking each card and building your deck in that manner, you create decks by selecting your 10 objective cards, and each objective card has a five-card set that corresponds to it. By selecting an objective card, you're also selecting the other five cards to go in your "command" deck. This offers a quicker solution to deck-building for beginners, and a challenge for veteran gamers. It's a unique twist on the concept that I like; instead of spending hours tweaking your deck, you can easily swap a couple objective cards/sets and wham!—you've got a new gaming experience!

Overall— I'm sold on the game! The mechanics and card abilities are deep, making the learning curve somewhat slow. And finding card synergy seems a little more difficult than in other games. The upside is that because there's so much attention to detail, not just in the game components, but in how the different characters, items, and locations interact with one another in the Star Wars universe, that it makes for a very deep and nuanced experience for gamers and Star Wars fans. It's a real collision of two worlds. The only real downside is that the multiplayer support is (at this time) not the greatest. I see a great potential for running almost a campaign style of game with multiple players controlling different factions, but for now there isn't much there for gamers who want to bring more than one other player along for the ride.

It took a long time for this game to get to market, but it feels like Fantasy Flight got it right in the end, and that makes it worth the wait.

Thanks for reading! And if you missed it, we interviewed Eric Lang, designer of Star Wars The Card Game—you can read that interview here!