I want to write a bit of a different style of blog today, a gaming session report with one of my favourite card games: the Star Wars LCG. I know, I’ve talked about this a lot last spring, but was ultimately unsuccessful in bringing the game to the table more than a couple of times. However, it remains one of my all-time favourite games, and so I have decided to just play both sides of the table myself. I happen to be one of those people who thinks the game is beautifully designed, and I’m such a huge fan of both this game and also the Star Wars universe that I was treating this much more like an opportunity to just immerse myself in the GFFA, and not thinking about trying to win as one side or another. The artwork is also out of this world, and consistently amazing, so that helps, too! As such, it worked out fairly well, making the best plays that I could with each round.
After playing against my wife with Rebel and Imperial decks, I thought instead I would go for some Jedi and Sith decks for this little venture, and see where they get me. So let’s take a look at what is on the table!
The Jedi Deck
The Jedi are playing a fairly standard deck built from cards from the core set only, but which includes some really big names overall. The ten objective sets are:
A Hero’s Journey (2)
Forgotten Heroes (2)
In You Must Go (2)
Jedi Training (2)
The Secret of Yavin 4
Hit and Run
So we have two copies each of Luke, Ben and Yoda, with a whole bunch of Jedi in Hiding, and the like, which should give some utility during the game. Yoda in particular requires a few enhancement cards to give him some more power, although there aren’t as many within the deck to buff him too much. Could be an oversight, I guess we’ll see! But there is a part of me that thinks the main thrust of this deck is going to come from the number of bodies that can be fielded overall. I think this deck is going to see a lot of small-scale things that will add up over time, rather than having big flashy stuff going on all the time. Though I do like the fact there are four copies of Jedi Mind Trick here, which can help to drown the opponent in focus tokens as the game goes on!
The Sith Deck
This deck is a little more wide-ranging than the Jedi deck, as it includes cards from the deluxe expansion and the Hoth cycle. The ten objective sets are as follows:
Fall of the Jedi (2)
The Emperor’s Web (2)
Counsel of the Sith (2)
The Ghosts of the Dark Side (2)
Serve the Emperor
Shadows of Dathomir
There are some heavy-hitters in here, with Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine heading things up. Vader in particular is a great unit, albeit costing a hefty 5 resources. Every time the Dark Side player plays an event card, he deals one damage to a unit, and there are enough event cards in the deck that this should be getting quite a bit of value over the game. Palpatine in addition can return event cards from the discard pile to the hand, so even with a few events being played, it’s good to keep recycling things. I quite like the fact that there are four Force Choke events in here, which also deals one damage to a character or creature – so you can play the event for one damage, Vader deals one damage, when an objective is destroyed the Emperor can bring that event back into the hand, and we just do it all over again! There are also two copies of Heat of Battle, the fate card that deals one damage to a participating unit.
The game begins with the Dark Side playing a Sith Library for the additional resource, but options are limited this round so out comes a Force Wraith and it is committed to the Force.
The Light Side player plays Jedi in Hiding and Believer in the Old Ways, and focuses both to strike at the Counsel of the Sith objective. No defenders are declared, so two damage plus a bonus unopposed damage are dealt.
The Force is with the DS player, however.
DS player brings out Darth Vader and strikes, winning the edge battle and placing two damage on Hit and Run, plus a bonus damage for unopposed. Vader is then committed to the Force, as he has Elite so removes two tokens during the refresh phase regardless.
LS player brings out another Believer in the Old Ways, and a Guardian of Peace. The Jedi in Hiding is enhanced with Shi-Cho Training, which is reduced to 0 cost thanks to the effect on In You Must Go. Both the Believers are focused to strike, and the Force Wraith is declared as a defender. LS player wins the edge battle with two copies of Heat of Battle, destroying the Force Wraith. The LS player destroys Counsel of the Sith, winning their first objective card!
DS player comes back swinging. Plays a Force Shockwave to deal 1 damage to each enemy unit not currently committed to the Force, which is all of them; this destroys the Jedi in Hiding and each other unit is down to one hit point. Because he played a Sith event, Vader allows for an additional damage to be dealt to an enemy unit, destroying the Guardian of Peace. He then enhances the remaining Believers with Dark Memories, meaning they will die the next time they are focused.
Vader is then focused to strike, and destroys the Hit and Run objective. The DS dial moves up to 6.
LS player refreshes and plays Luke Skywalker, who is immediately focused to strike at The Ghosts of the Dark Side. With no defenders, the attack goes through unopposed, but the DS player did play Heat of Battle in the edge stack, so Luke suffers one point of damage.
The DS player remains in a very strong position, with another Sith Library allowing for six resources per phase. A Nightsister is brought out, and Vader is enhanced with his Lightsaber. He then plays a Force Choke to deal damage to Luke, dealing an additional damage thanks to Vader’s ability, which the LS player deflects to one of the Believers with Lightsaber Deflection. The Nightsister and Vader are then focused to strike at the Forgotten Heroes objective, dealing four damage thanks to the unopposed bonus. The Nightsister is committed to the Force to deal the final point of damage to the objective, claiming it for the DS.
Things aren’t looking that great for the LS!
The turn begins with a Dagobah training grounds, finally giving some much needed resources. Yoda comes out for the LS as well, and as a final shot, he plays a Jedi Mind Trick on Vader to add an additional focus token to the Dark Lord. Luke is focused to strike and does so unopposed, destroying the Ghosts of the Dark Side objective for the second card. Yoda and the remaining Believer are committed to the Force to bring the balance of the Force to the light side.
The DS player draws Palpatine, and actually has the resources to play him, but decides instead to bring out another Force Wraith and a Dark Side Apprentice, to apply further pressure. The DS Apprentice and Force Wraith are focused to strike, and two damage is dealt to the Jedi Training objective, plus a bonus one for unopposed. The DS player then plays another Force Choke to deal 1 damage to Yoda, and kills him off with Vader’s ability.
The Force Wraith is then committed to the Force and, thanks to clearing away Yoda, and the fact the Wraith counts his icons in the Force struggle even when exhausted, the balance of the Force swings back to the DS.
It all comes down to this!
The LS player plays another Believer, and another Guardian of Peace, and uses Our Most Desperate Hour to place a shield token on Luke. Luke and the Believer are then focused to strike, with the Nightsister coming in to defend. The LS wins the edge battle, and with Target of Opportunity deals one damage to the objective, Serve the Emperor, and Heat of Battle destroys the Nightsister. Luke and the Believer then deal three damage to the objective between them, and a fourth point comes from being unopposed, meaning the third objective is destroyed and the LS win!
I really enjoyed that, aside perhaps from the fact I was running back and forth between both sides of the table! As I said at the start, though, I had hoped merely to immerse myself in the game, and to enjoy it unfolding without really trying to outsmart myself, if that makes sense? I suppose it’s a bit like how I watch battle reports on youtube (when I have the time to do so, of course!) I wouldn’t necessarily root for one side or the other, I’m watching to see the cinematic moments of a game as it unfolds before me. As such, I think it worked quite well, anyway.
Something that I really enjoyed was seeing how things came together on both sides of the table. The Sith deck clearly had some idea of playing Vader then playing event cards to deal additional damage, and that worked out so well with Vader being able to clear off Yoda, and almost clearing off Luke. Indeed, the moment that Lightsaber Deflection was played to save Luke really was inspired! Some mistakes were definitely made – for example, why on earth did I feel the need to commit Vader to the Force? Even if he has Elite to remove both focus tokens he gets when striking, he doesn’t remove them until the start of the next round, when the Balance phase has already been and gone, so those Force icons have no meaning! Bah.
I really wasn’t expecting a Jedi win, though. I think I had worked it out in my head that the Force would stay with the Dark Side, and they’d just tick the Death Star dial up until the game ended. Being able to tip the balance back with Yoda was both entirely appropriate and a huge benefit, as it meant there was one turn when the dial only ticked up once. Being able to do this meant that the Jedi were somewhat able to stabilise and so the final round really did matter. That fate card dealing one point of damage to the objective was such an innocuous thing at the start of the fight though, because up until I realised I was unopposed and could place the fifth point of damage, I hadn’t actually realised the Jedi were able to win! So victory came entirely out of the blue and was a real surprise!
Interestingly, the game actually took an hour to play like this, as well. I know I still had to look up some of the interactions and stuff, and try to remember all of the rules, but it didn’t seem to add on too laboriously by playing both sides of the table. That said, though, games of Star Wars LCG notoriously go quickly, in part because of the Death Star Dial timer that is baked in to the game. I almost wish there was a way to make things go slower, because there are so often aspects of the game that never seem to come up because it’s over so aggressively, like units defending (and actually surviving). All too often, it feels like the game comes down to a rush of “who can deal the most damage first” rather than any sense of building a plan and executing it.
That said, the game remains so unique, and the Star Wars flavour is really there. I think the fact that the Dark Side player can basically sit back and see what happens, picking his fights but otherwise just waiting for that dial to tick up, is quite interesting, really. The Light Side has got such an uphill struggle from the off, and simply must play aggressively, that it leads to a very interesting dynamic that is extremely evocative of the source material.
Just goes to show, I guess, that playing this way can still be a lot of fun! I hope that I can play it “properly” in the future, of course, but at least I know, even if I end up only ever playing against myself like this, it’s going to make for some interesting times.
The Jedi deck seemed to be a little bit underpowered in comparison to the Sith deck, so I think it might be time to do some tinkering with it. Deckbuilding within Star Wars LCG is always a fascinating concept, of course, because of the objective set structure of the game.
Looking through the cards in the deck, I think there are possibly two sets that I could cut quite easily. The first one I looked at was The Secret of Yavin 4. The only card I actually want to keep out of this set is Lightsaber Deflection, which came in so useful during the game to keep Luke alive. However, with only one card out of the deck being “wanted”, I think it’s quite a straightforward thing to cut. I’ve replaced it with Self Preservation, which comes from the Hoth cycle (I’m still building decks up to this point, for the time being!) The objective itself grants units +1 Force icon for the Force struggle, which is very useful. The set has two units, who get better when the Force is with the Light side, but it’s really the other cards that I want from this set. Soresu Training is an enhancement that gives the target unit shielding and +1 damage capacity. Unwavering Resolve is an event that allows you to count a unit’s Force icons for the Force struggle without committing that unit to the Force, and even if the unit is exhausted. Finally, there’s another copy of Heat of Battle. So that should be a really impactful set.
Next, Hit and Run was pretty much only useful because of the Target of Opportunity fate card, but nothing else in the set really came into play. I’m therefore going to replace it with A Journey to Dagobah, which also has a copy of that fate card in there, but also has the Double Strike event which allows you to strike with a unit, then remove a focus token from it. That should allow for all types of shenanigans through the game. It also has Red Five, which has three blast damage icons on the card, so can deal a significant amount of damage to objectives when it comes out, especially as they’re not edge-dependent.
Now. My next dilemma is that I have four other objective sets in this deck, all in duplicate. The Luke objective set contains all sorts of useful cards, so I don’t want to get rid of that one any time soon. Jedi Training has got a lot of useful things as well, and the objective itself contributes one icon to the Force struggle, so I don’t really want to get rid of one of those either. That leaves the Yoda and the Obi-Wan sets. Yoda has some good bits, but the Obi-Wan set is mainly there for Heat of Battle and Jedi Mind Trick, which I’ve got from elsewhere in the deck as well, so I’m going to cut one of those sets for another copy of Self Preservation for the time being. It’s quite a difficult call of course, because I was very tempted by another copy of A Journey to Dagobah, but I also want to try Last Minute Rescue because there seems to be a lot of useful healing-type cards in that set, and I think they could have come in very useful during the game played today! However, I don’t want to go changing too much in this deck all at once.
The Sith deck seemed to function quite well, by comparison, so I don’t think it needs to have much in the way of tinkering just yet. Maybe in the fullness of time I’ll be swapping some bits and pieces in and out of there as well, but for now it can stay as it is.
So there we go, possibly my first “batrep” style of blog! I’m not sure if any of this was interesting, and certainly as the game has been dead for years, whether people still want to read this kind of thing! I think I might try it again soon with something like Marvel Champions, because that is a huge favourite for me at the moment!