Star Wars LCG: The Hoth Cycle

I am so obsessed with the Star Wars LCG, it’s untrue. It’s a real shame that I never had the people around me who were into it back in the day, as I think it’s one of those games where, given the right sort of playgroup, you could have so much fun, re-enacting so many key moments from across the entirety of the original trilogy.

Something that I’ve been thinking about a lot in the last few weeks is how much I miss having a card game – or specifically, a living card game, that I would play regularly and tinker with my decks when we had a new release. I did this a lot with Lord of the Rings during its early days, and I remember doing a fair bit with my Netrunner decks too. But in other games, I would say 85% of the time, I was starting with a big card pool. Of course, coming back to the Star Wars card game four years too late runs really counter to this, as well, given that I have pretty much everything there will ever be for the game. I find myself yearning for a new Star Wars game that I can get my teeth into, in the hope that I can once again have this experience of meta-shifts over time.

But in an effort to re-capture some of this element, I’ve been playing the game with some decks that are built somewhat restricted to the early sets available. Both the Rebel and Empire decks that Jemma and I have been using are made predominantly from the core set with some Hoth cycle cards thrown in, and just one set that came later in the game that is used mainly for flavour, or to support the deck. In this way, I’m enjoying playing the game and getting to experience some meta-shifts as I’m thinking of introducing newer cycles every few months. In all honesty, Jemma and I aren’t really playing very often, so it could almost run in real time, with deck changes on an annual basis! But I thought I’d come here today to talk about this cracking game, and it’s first cycle. In the future, I think I’ll be doing a similar style of blog for all of the cycles – hopefully I’ll still be playing it by the time it comes round to the last one!!

The Hoth Cycle is mainly focused around the struggle between the Rebels and the Imperials, following the events of the movie. Of course, everybody gets cards throughout the cycle. The Jedi have some interesting support stuff, and a very interesting new version of Luke which predates the Pilot keyword by a couple of cycles.

This pre-Pilot is a theme for the Rebels, who can attach characters like Wedge to speeder unit cards for additional effects. There are a lot of really interesting interactions among the speeders in these objective sets, and the objectives themselves have the theme of control that is mirrored in the Empire’s sets, as both sides fight for control of the “ice cube”.

The very next cycle then gave us an additional Hoth objective set, featuring none other than General Riekkan, along with an objective that increases the Rebels’ Force icons in the Force struggle. Very handy, and always nice to see it when some older themes are given further support.

We also had a new, Rebel version of Han Solo, who allows you to search your deck for a card when he leaves play. Nothing too earth shattering there, if I’m honest. I think there are some fairly exciting deck prospects that present themselves from looking through the Rebel and Smuggler cards in conjunction.

Renegade Squadron was founded by Col Serra on the orders of Han Solo, the idea being to recruit an elite team of smugglers to assist with the Alliance’s “dreamers”. Their first action was during the evacuation of Yavin, and they played a significant part in the defence of Echo Base.

It’s natural, then, that they’ll feature in the Hoth cycle. It makes things very interesting by giving us more Hoth objectives that can be mixed in to a Rebel/Smuggler deck, which can be quite a popular build.

There is some really lovely synergy between the three objective sets. Col Serra himself buffs you during the Edge battle, and he cannot be damaged or focused during an engagement where you have the Edge. The objective itself allows you to put the top card of your deck into your Edge stack as well. There are a number of ways to dictate the flow of the battle as well, such as forcing characters to defend, or preventing characters from taking part in the battle. It should make for some pretty exciting deck options, for sure.

The interesting thing, though, is the synergy between Col Serra buffing the edge battle, and the Rebel objective Hoth Operations, which gives each speeder unit an icon to use in the edge battle if you control more Hoth objectives. It does certainly make for some interesting deck-building ideas for a Rebel/Smuggler deck, maybe when we’re a bit further into playing the game and want to mix things up more!!

Renegade Squadron wasn’t entirely forgotten, as a fourth objective set featured them in Imperial Entanglements, which has a lot of shenanigans as far as altering the flow of battle when you defend.

In addition to these gems, we have five neutral Hoth objective sets, which contain some very useful support cards, including a set built around shielding and stuff.

As might be expected, there are many Imperial cards that stand out for me as being very tasty. There’s an Imperial version of Darth Vader, there are cards for the Death Squadron he commands, and General Veers gets his own objective set. A very exciting set is that one at the bottom there with Colonel Starck, the guy who commands Blizzard 4 in Empire. For those of you who don’t know, Blizzard 4 is the walked Luke throws the bomb into after his snowspeeder has been downed. He’s a wonderful example of the way characters come to be, first being mentioned in a reference book and later having his story fleshed out.

The Empire have the Death Squadron, but for some reason the flagship, Executor, is in the Sith side, who otherwise get some Sithspawn creatures, some stormtroopers, and a Prophet of the Dark Side objective set. While it’s a bit weird, I think it’s great to see that already this game is really delving into the background for stuff, and a lot of cards make reference to stuff from the 90s, giving me some real nostalgia-bumps!

Finally, the Scum faction gets some mercenaries and Dengar. I think FFG had said the “story”, such as it can be said to exist here, was that the scum were getting ready to collect on Jabba’s bounty on Han Solo. Given that I don’t think Edge of Darkness was out for the most part of this cycle, so Scum in particular seem to get a really raw deal here – at least Smugglers have some good synergy with the Rebels!!

There we have it, anyway. The first cycle for the Star Wars LCG still drips in theme, for me, nine years after its release. I’m planning to look through all of the expansion cycles in due course (hopefully I’ll have picked up those final two packs by the time it comes to the last cycle!) so stay tuned for more!!