Fantasy Flight Games and Asmodee launch Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game by Caleb Grace for fans of George Lucas' epic science-fantasy saga. The basic idea: two players duel with cards, bring iconic Star Wars characters to the table, destroy bases or annoy the other side by manipulating the card display and in the end the empire or the rebel alliance wins.
Fantasy Flight Games and its card games à la Arkham Horror: The Card Game, Marvel Champion or recently the new edition of the Living Card Game for The Lord of the Rings are known, appreciated and sometimes hated in the scene. However, this is not due to the lack of gameplay, but to the fact that such games constantly suck the money out of a fan's wallet over many weeks and months. On the other hand, titles of the LCG genre are a fair further development of the classic trading card game like Magic: The Gathering or Pokémon, where the monetization concept is even more clearly in focus.
Until shortly before its release, it was unclear exactly which way the creative minds would go with it Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game - it is now clear: it is an independent living card game for which players are not put under pressure to buy boosters, at least at the start. Instead, there is a box for two players who can jump into card battles with the included material without long preparations. This works pretty well - also thanks to the comparatively simple basic rules and the deck building approach known from other card games. And: It plays more tactically than expected.
The classic: good versus evil
Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game takes a different path than its FFG predecessors. This isn't about the big stories that something The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game offers with a sophisticated campaign. With the new card game, Caleb Grace and the publishers are only serving the basics of what you can do with the Star Warslicense could do like this: It's about the eternal battle between good and evil, between the Empire and the Alliance, between the light and the dark side of the Force, between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. In short: there is a lot of knock.
Of course, everything from the main characters to the cannon fodder looks Star Wars. It is precisely from this that the two-person game draws a great attraction. As a fan you will appreciate the illustrations, which are not inferior to those of other Asmodee card games. And if you can't do anything with Star Wars, but have accessed or want to access a tactical card game in the hope, you get exactly that. Criticism can first be expressed on a higher level, namely when asked why it is such a game of all things card game concept had to be? With Star Wars: The Card Game there was already a competitive title with a similar basic approach, albeit due to the LCG basis being much more extensive and overall playfully more complex. With a cooperative campaign card game, Fantasy Flight Games could really have brought something new to the market. Do you still need Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game if you already have the LCG? Yes, because the approach is completely different.
The more relevant question: Do you still need Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game if you already have the Star Realms standard? The answer to this is not quite so clear. The basic ideas of both games are very similar, Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game is, however, a further development in detail and not just a thematically modified new edition. The power levels, faction card purchases, and asymmetrical approach to faction bases are refreshing twists that add meaningful concepts to Star Realms. So a clear “yes”. In purely play terms, Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game is definitely worth it.
The basic approach is simple: players side with the Empire or the Rebels, are given a base loadout of ten cards, and then gradually work to improve their battle deck to ultimately destroy multiple enemy bases, including the Death Star and Yavin 4. The two base decks are playfully identical, just visually different. The changing display of cards, which contains faction-specific but also neutral cards, is made up of 90 additional cards. In rounds, it's about developing your own deck of cards as efficiently as possible through acquisitions and manipulating the display to the detriment of the opposing side. That means you can simply shoot out cards.
At the same time, however, there is a decision to refrain from attacking the enemy base. Only the latter bring the players closer to their goal. It's a simple race at the end: Destroy the enemy's bases faster than the opposing side can destroy yours.
Use the Force
The power bar provides a little trick, on which the presence of the light or dark side of the force shifts again and again during the course of the game. This is important in order to be able to use additional effects of some powerful cards.
Once you have set everything up and understood the basics, the duel begins. The actions per turn are repeated in a loop, changes result from the adjustments to the personal decks. That ultimately determines the tactics. Depending on the characters available, it is sometimes smarter to attack the card display in order to disrupt the opponent's deck construction and to gain additional bonuses for yourself. Other units are real breakers when it comes to direct attacks on the bases.
The order and number of actions is not limited: In the active turn, you can do everything that the previously cobbled together deck of options makes possible. This is clear at the beginning of the game, but becomes more complex and sometimes more difficult as the number of rounds increases. Because: You always only have your hand of cards available, which you have to draw on the deck beforehand. A larger deck also means more luck when drawing cards. You don't always get the cards that you would like to have in the currently active round. At the same time, this shows how important it is to use your resources for the purchase of cards wisely in order to generate synergies or to be able to pursue strategies in a more focused manner. Because used cards end up in the discard pile, it will take a few turns later in the game to get the units back.
Basically, Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game is an essence of those mechanisms that have recently been found frequently in board games with deckbuilding mechanics. Anyone who likes board games like this will also enjoy this Star Wars game. Especially since a nice tug of war unfolds on the edge of the field, especially due to the power bar. The bonuses that cards gain through the power advantage are sometimes powerful and can decide game situations or help to optimize your own strategy. It is therefore not advisable and basically also hardly possible to ignore this aspect of the game. In any case, I like the resulting dynamic. The Force Track trick is also a thematically particularly atmospheric factor.
The competitive shooting against enemy capital ships as the last bulwarks before the bases picks up speed with each round. And it's all about choices. Because at the end of the turn all cards end up in the garbage compactor, so you should have used them beforehand anyway and as sensibly and with foresight as possible. This back and forth continues until the goal of the game is reached. Due to the asymmetrical bases, a certain variability comes into play, which would not have been absolutely necessary, but which one would not want to do without at the same time. In particular, because you can still turn game situations through an effect. You should never give up on losing a game too early.
Rule options for more fun
Various rule tricks, which also include adjustments to the number of enemy targets, ensure some long-term fun. The length of the games also varies depending on the additional options selected, but a game rarely lasts longer than three quarters of an hour.
So Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game basically shows a high pace, but starts off quite leisurely. The initial phases lack "drive": At the start, the new Star Wars card game feels little dynamic, even uniform. This becomes all the more clear due to the initially identical starting decks on both sides. If the first base falls, things usually go faster. From then on, strategic considerations become mandatory and mistakes are sometimes even punished. With experience, it also becomes clear that the deck building mechanism is not just an accessory, but an influential tactical component. This includes, among other things, the cards with the exile effect, which can be permanently removed from the game and thus from the deck. In this way, players can gradually reduce the luck factor. The rule of thumb: Build a working deck, not a comprehensive one.
Probably the biggest playful weakness in Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game is to be found in the core mechanism of all things: the card display can prove to be a blocking element depending on the situation. With one end of the game, little or nothing works, but the other side can attack. Although Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game is extremely well balanced overall, unwelcome imbalances can arise in some game situations, which can then lead to frustration. The other side can therefore prevent the development of the deck comparatively efficiently by simply not buying any cards and thus preventing the draw for the display.
About Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game
| Number of players: 2 (4 with two copies)
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: 25 to 50 minutes
Long-term motivation: medium
Classification: KennerspielAuthor: Caleb Grace
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2023
Cost: 35 Euro
All in all, Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game is a good, sometimes very good deckbuilding card game that knows how to consistently use the strengths of the mechanics, but sometimes has to surrender to its weaknesses. The rules are simple and it's easy to get started. The self-contained card game concept is a great advantage, but also a disadvantage in terms of variability. Sometimes the card sequences feel too familiar, especially since the short playing time means that you usually tackle several games in a row.
The duels, which last almost 30 minutes, are still a lot of fun - and they are strategic enough to inspire even those who know the scene. As the number of games increases, you benefit from the experience you have gained and get a feel for when it is wise to buy certain cards or play them. In any case, Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game is "Star warsy" enough thanks to the successful illustrations and the large number of popular characters from the franchise.
Speaking of experience, it's not really surprising that Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game works so well. Author Caleb Grace had previously practiced designing The Lord of the Rings deck and had a go at Marvel Champions. This is also noticeable in the Star Wars title, because the basic mechanics are perfectly balanced and intertwine. The fact that the display of all things can become a tempo breaker is a small weakness, but it may also be part of the strategic idea, because this shortcoming is essentially too predictable.
|Fantasy Flight Games | Star Wars: The Deck Building Game |... *||33,99 EUR||Buy|
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