This past weekend (19th November) a few of the Friendly Local Game Stores had the opportunity to drum up some hype for the latest offering from the Fantasy Flight / Star Wars collaboration, Star Wars: Destiny.
In its simplest form, Star Wars: Destiny in a collectable dice and card game. A player spends most of their time setting up and tweaking their personal “build” of cards with their accompanying dice, sourced from starter sets, blind boosters and soon probably boxed expansions. Where DiceMasters was a dice game with some reference cards, this is a card game with some dice.
The meta is loosely broken into two factions, Heroes and Villains. In reality, this basically means into the Light side and Dark side, but nowhere is this explicitly stated. Across these factions are four “colours”. Blue is generally Rebellion-side good guys. Red is mostly Empire side bad guys. Yellow are mercenaries, oddball characters that don’t fit anywhere else or supporting units. Lastly is Grey which is neutral. There are restrictions to how the colours can mix within a deck but, generally speaking, if you’re playing Heroes you can trade away all your Villain cards.
Each player brings a deck of 30 cards, a set of characters and a battlefield card. Characters are the only things in the game with a health value. Knock out all your opponent’s characters or force them to mill through their deck and you win the game.
To determine who starts, players roll all their characters’ dice. The highest number is the first player. The first player can then choose which battlefield the game will take place on. Control of this battlefield can be crucial, explained later. Players take 2 resource tokens, draw their opening hand of 5 cards and play begins.
BASICS OF PLAY:
A game is broken into rounds. During each round players take turns until they consecutively pass their turn. Then upkeep takes place, players take 2 resources and draw back up to five cards. Play continues starting with the player controlling the battlefield.
But what do you do during your turn? Your basic actions include:
-Play a card from your hand (usually paying for it using resources).
-Activate a character or support, exhausting it and rolling the dice associated with it. These dice are now available to be resolved.
-Resolve one or more dice with the same symbol, which can create some amazing comos.
-Discard a card from your hand to reroll any or all of your available dice.
-Claim the battlefield if it’s under the other player’s control, making you first player, usually allowing you to do something epic, but forcing you to pass all your turns until the end of the round.
The dice allow a player to perform the following actions:
-Deal damage (either ranged or melee)
-Focus, turning a die to the face you want
-Disrupt the other player’s resources
-Place shield tokens on your characters to soak damage on future turns
-Discard random cards from your opponent’s hand
-Perform the special action printed on the card
There’s also a miss indicator on some dice (Stormtroopers do this a lot, you know, miss…)
I’m not going into too much detail on the turn-by-turn, but suffice to say the game is much easier to grasp than something like Magic the Gathering. This doesn’t limit the emergent complexity of the system. It took me three games to truly grasp how the mechanisms interact.
When you play your first game of Star Wars: Destiny it feels almost impossible to do damage to the other player. During my second game, I started spotting good plays, usually a turn too late. That feeling is what makes games like this so compelling. You need to get to know the balance of a specific build, even if it’s only the starter set. When you open a new booster, you want your first thought to be the implications of including that card in your build.
I can hear the haters commenting down below “But there’s dice! The game is too random!”. Not at all. Only characters and support cards have dice. The decision to add specific cards is partly the probability of rolling a specific side, but if it doesn’t come up the first time there are ways of changing them to what you need. Similar to drawing the right card on the right turn, a little randomness is what keeps a game like this exciting.
Speaking of randomness, between the Cape Town-based FLGS’s we’ve been comparing the drop rate of rare and legendary cards in boosters. We’ve been quite impressed with the distribution. Probably the first wave is slightly more saturated on rares to get new players hooked on the game early, so these odds might deteriorate with future releases, but it’s good to know that the blind part of the system is rewarding.
Star Wars: Destiny has potential. Of course, many players will flock to it because it says Star Wars on it, but it doesn’t feel like a blatant cash-in. The system obviously takes inspiration from Magic the Gathering and DiceMasters, finding a nice middle ground of low barrier to entry with a good amount of depth. I’d like to see how the system develops in the coming months, but that can only happen if we have a strong community supporting the game.
If you’re at all interested you can ask your Friendly Local Game Store. Most pre-launch boosters have sold out nationwide, though starters are still available. International release is slated for end November and we expect South Africa’s stock to arrive early December.
For more information, have a read here.