We’ll admit it, we weren’t sure about this “Star Wars Living Card Game” – after all, we’ve been burned before. Jar-Jar Binks anyone? But it’s a card game, and after one of our friends told us it was a bit like Legend of the Five Rings, we were in!
First off, this game is extremely well balanced. Hero units like Darth Vader appear to be unbeatable at first, but their strength is offset by the Edge Battle mechanic that determines not just who goes first, but sometimes who lives and dies.
The Edge Battles are fought like duels in L5R. Cards are played face down from hand, and the highest force value gets to go first and trigger some crazy effects. Needless to say, we loved this part of the game! It makes every battle count, and it’s hard to say “it’s over, I scoop” when the next edge battle could decimate your opponent’s forces!
We were also really excited about the impact of Edge Battles on resource management – much like a dueling deck in L5R, virtually every card has two uses. Cards can be played for their effects, or “focused” during an edge battle to win initiative. This really creates a balanced play experience, where having more units doesn’t necessarily ensure victory, but where managing your resources carefully is critically important.
Speaking of resources, the mechanics here aren’t terribly complex, but they fit the game well. Resources are produced primarily by Objective cards kept in a separate deck (which your opponent also attacks to win the game). Objectives like “Take them Prisoner” both create resources and draw fixing, which in turn makes “bad draws” matter less. In addition to your Objective deck (similar to A Game of Thrones “Plot” deck), you can also play some resources from your main deck like Lands in Magic: the Gathering, or Holdings in Legend of the Five Rings. Unlike Magic and L5R though, playing fewer of these resources from your hand may actually benefit you, as you will then have a stronger hand for Edge Battles.
A point worth mentioning, as it may be a big deal for some players, is the deck building. The Objective cards you select dictate the cards in your Command deck. This mechanic forces you to play cards that you might not want, or are less than ideal, in order to get the cards you really dig (Luke Skywalker, anyone?). Little buggers like Rebel Troopers aren’t your favorite draw, to be sure, but you’ve got to put them in there if you want to play the Rebel Alliance. Not only does this compliment the theme of the game, but it makes this a very beginner-friendly deck builder. No memorizing 14,000 cards to build a deck, just grab Objectives in a faction you like, pick the Command deck cards associated with those Objectives, and boom! You’re ready to shuffle and go.
So despite our deep skepticism, we’re deeply in love with this game. It’s skill-intensive, the theme is fun (there is no Jar-Jar card), and crushing those rebel scum is crazy-satisfying. If you’re into Star Wars, or you want to dip your feet into the deck-building arena, this is the game to try.
Reviews by Matthew Vercant, copyright SomeGuysCards.com