A Peek At FFG's Fast-Paced Game Of Star Wars Duels
Star Wars: Destiny
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Format: Card Game
Number of Players: Two
MSRP: $14.95 for a starter box, $2.99 per booster pack
Copy Purchased By Sprites And Dice

Sometimes Wyatt is a terrible person. It began on a Thursday night, game night. As I was unpacking my games for the evening, I heard his voice behind me. “Never let it be said I don’t get you anything.” He’d come back from PAX Unplugged with something. For me! He handed me two starter boxes for Star Wars Destiny, one light side, one dark side. Freakin’ Star Wars Destiny, Fantasy Flight’s new CCG. Random packs were the reason I swore myself to Netrunner’s living card game model, never to purchase ever again into the dollar-hungry model inherent to collectible card games.

But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t casting furtive glances at it since its release. There’s a certain level of trust I’ve come to have in the polish of FFG’s board games and card games.

A review for a couple of free starters. That was the deal Wyatt made me. So what the heck, let’s do this!

Those chunky dice don't have stickers on them. The faces are actually lamenated into the die, giving them a nicer feel than they initially look.

Let The Wookie Win

A game of Star Wars Destiny is easy enough to learn. In fact, the rules are printed front and back on a single sheet of paper enclosed in the starter sets. You bring two characters to the table, both from the hero or villain side, and battle to be the last team standing. This is done by playing cards from your hand and rolling special dice that come with certain cards. Actions such as rolling your dice into your “dice pool,” or then spending them, pass back and forth. Barring some special card effects that let you take a second consecutive action, play continues until both players pass in succession. Then a brief cleanup phase occurs, characters are re-readied, dice are reset, and a new round starts. It’s as snappy as you’d expect a lightsaber fight to be.

There are all kinds of fun things you can do with your dice including, but not limited to: smacking your opponent with a force mind probe, making them discard precious cards; slapping a lightsaber on your Sith and rolling literal tons of melee damage to dump on an unwary enemy; playing other characters from the franchise like the spherical, lovable droid BB8, gaining support to obtain extra resources (the game’s currency) or even rerolling your dice. Of course, this being a CCG, there are all kinds of one-shot “instant” effects in the cards you can also surprise your opponent with from dodging their blaster fire to heroically diving in front of enemy attacks to redistribute damage.

Oh, and you’ll probably want to claim the battlefield that you’re fighting on at some point. You’re locked into passing for the rest of the round, but you get a powerful boost linked to the location and first action on the next turn.

Among the reknown heroes and villians you can get, the game also lets you play with this jerk!

The Force Is Strong With This One

Speaking of that theme, for what comes off at first like an Ameritrash extraordinaire, dripping with Star Wars but containing an embarrassingly fluffy amount of rules, the game has a surprising level of depth. I made the early mistake of trying to roll all my dice into my dice pool at once, since you can spend similar symbols all in one go, thinking this was the most efficient way to play. I realized the error of my ways almost immediately as that push and pull of actions passing between players took the form of well placed cards or spent dice to counter my massive build-ups. Shields went up, people dove for cover, and I realized that there was just never quite enough time to do everything I wanted to do. Planning in Star Wars Destiny is important, but reactions are equally as deadly.

All in all, this ebb and flow makes the game feel very much like the duel it’s supposed to be. I ready up my melee hero, but you play a well placed block that stops those dice; you bring your blasters to bear, and my supports provide extra shields to suck up the hits. Or maybe your Jedi uses the force to nudge one of my dice to a side of your choosing, like the “blank” side. I’ll have to pay you back for that. The theme and the mechanics of the game really shine in their simple yet effective link like—well like a Jedi and the force!

Also, you can totally mess with the timeline when you build your dream team!

Never Tell Me The Odds

No discussion of Star Wars Destiny would be complete without addressing the Rancor in the room, though. This game is collectible; that is, it has random booster packs. There is no guarantee you’ll get what you need for that perfect Merc deck without either shopping on a secondary market or dropping tons of your hard earned credits on boxes of boosters. Does that make Star Wars Destiny a no-go for me? Is it a bad game?

Well, no.

Being completely frank here, I’m a completionist with Netrunner. That means I buy the six datapacks and one deluxe expansion per “cycle” (that is, a release of a new set) so that I can get everything. A deluxe runs around $40 and datapacks are $15 apiece. Not even comparing the fact that starter sets in Star Wars Destiny are far cheaper than Netrunner core sets (though you still have to buy multiples if you want full playsets, thanks FFG), I have to think about how much money I actually spend on Netrunner in a cycle. For the same price, I could buy about 43 booster packs (sold at roughly $3 each) of Star Wars Destiny. Now granted, there’s the potential to spend way more than just 43 boosters worth of cards, but it really puts things in perspective on just how much I already spend on a card game. 

And let’s also not forget that plenty of people have spent way more on random packs in the granddaddy of CCGs: Magic: The Gathering. Star Wars Destiny is certainly less commitment hungry when compared on that scale.

Return Of The Jedi

In the end, I can see this game being both for the hardcore collector as well as the casual Star Wars fan. Much like FFG’s also excellent X-Wing Miniatures Game, you can buy a little or you can buy a lot. You can get as serious or as casual as whatever you’re willing to spend. Eric and I have already agreed to limit ourselves to the $30 mark, give or take a couple packs, to build casual decks with which we can enjoy fun, quick games together on game night, while waiting for the main action to start. If you’ve been curious about this title, I highly recommend you get a friend to take a ride with you on your next outing to your local game store and go in on some packs together.

And may the force be with you!