As someone who can be quite impulsive in their board game purchases, I've tried to stay away from CCGs (collectable card games) and the 'blind bag' model. I had a brief stint with Dice Masters as the marvel theme appealed, but otherwise I've been a good boy. So when Star Wars Destiny arrived, I tried not to look. It was easy at first, the small starter sets not really providing enough content for a proper two player game.
But then came the two player starter set...
Let me be your Destiny...
In the two player set you get enough cards and dice for an almost full two player game. That is two characters per side, a 20 card deck of support, upgrade, battlefield and event cards for each side. Also the relevant dice and a punch board of wound, shield and resource tokens. Cards and dice come in a range of rarities, with some in this set having been released before albeit with different art work.
In a full game each players deck would have 30 cards, and for me, it's a real shame they didn't put enough cards in for the full experience. More on that later.
Setting up a game with this starter pack is easy. Your character cards are the main focus here, coming in blue, red and yellow colours. This affects what colour cards and dice you can put in the rest of your deck. To win a game of Star Wars Destiny you must defeat both your opponent's characters or make them burn through their deck. Characters always come with an attached die which is placed on their card.
When building your own deck you can choose to equip a character with two identical dice from the get go, but then this character will cost more of the 30 character points allowed for choosing character cards. The nice thing about this starter pack is all these decisions are taken out of your hands with pre-build decks and assigned characters.
Upgrade cards can be attached to characters and may come with a die. If they do you also place that die on the character it is attached to. Support cards are played to the side of the characters and again may come with their own die, it is placed on that support card though. Event cards are one off powers played from your hand and discarded. Battleground cards are a bit different. Each player brings one to the game and one player chooses one of them. When a player claims this card they gain the benefit on it immediately and it's not available again until the next round.
It's my Destiny
Gameplay in Star Wars Destiny is very simple, you have a number of actions available to you and take turns performing one until both players pass. Firstly both players take two resources. Resources are used to play the cards from you hand to the table. Next, the player in control of the battlefield plays their first action. Actions are:
- Activate a card (use it's power or roll the dice on it) then rotate it to show it has been used (sometimes called tapping).
- Play a card from your hand paying it's resource cost, if any.
- Resolve your dice. You may resolve any dice with the same symbol in a turn, but you still resolve dice separately. For example two melee rolls don't have to target the same character.
- Discard a card to reroll your dice.
- Use a card action.
- Claim the battlefield - but if you do, you pass every consequent turn.
Once a both players have consecutively passed, the round ends and you perform upkeep; righting any used characters or supports, returning dice, gaining resources and drawing back up to five cards. The player in control of the battlefield starts the next round. Play continues until all of a players are defeated or a player comes to draw a card and can't.
Gameplay is smooth, with depth and luck. As you upgrade your character and add support cards you can choose to risk it all for extra attack power, or a more considered strategy of controlling your dice and changing them to what you want. The resources are simple to manage but stop a player hammering powerful cards and yet there are plenty of good cards you can play for free. The pre-build decks offer a glimpse of the customisation available and feel very different to each other.
I think Star Wars Destiny is a great game, and if it were a LCG (Living Card Game) where content is released regularly and not in blind bags I think I could commend it even more highly...
Star Wars Destiny is not the worse example of the CCG model, in fact in my experience it has been quite generous. But there are some annoyances with the system. Firstly neither the starter sets, nor this two player pack come with enough cards and dice for a full game. This might seem fine on paper as a cheaper way of giving people a taste, but it just feels cheap.
This is exasperated by blind bags containing dice you may not be able to use. Star Wars Destiny has a colour coding system for it's deck building. Grey cards are neutral and can be included in any deck, but blue, red and yellow cards and dice must have a character of the same colour as the cards you wish to include.
In this two player set you get villains and heroes in red and blue but no yellow. My first three blind bags all had yellow dice. The Rey Starter set has a yellow Finn, but so far none of the existing fixed content sets include a yellow villain. Although the upcoming Boba Fett set seems to fix this. Another quirk of the system is that some characters can have two dice from the off, yet to get a second dice you'll need a second copy of that card and you can't play two characters of the same name.
Give in to the Power of the Dark Side
Ultimately anyone who has collected CCGs in the past will be aware of these quirks. Unlike Dice Masters, Star Wars Destiny packs it's blind bag cards with cardboard so your cards will be nice and flat, and feels more 'premium' than the Wiz Kids effort.
The gameplay won me over from the start with the amount of options available almost overwhelming. One of the biggest problems I have in Dice Masters, was the slog it was to set up. Destiny feels much quicker. The game is also less complex in terms of how it operates (take a look at one of Dice Masters player mats to see what I mean). I really like the battlefield mechanic. The choice to take it and its bonus early or try and trick your opponent into taking it when you still have some power moves in your pocket.
Star Wars Destiny
Personally I can just about overlook Star Wars Destiny's monetisation for a few reasons. The dice are chunky and satisfying, the game plays well and feels as 'Star Warsy' as it can. The game is full of options and I'm a big kid who loves opening blind bags! It will not be for everyone, and the model may price you out.
If you want to dip your toes I suggest purchases in this order: The Two Player Starter Game, Rey Starter Set (To get a yellow hero) and then the Boba Fett Starter Set (Yellow Villain). Only buy the second and third sets if you don't find enough in the Two Player Set. If you don't you will find plenty of folks who want a second set to double up some of their dice and cards.
Ultimately I am happy with it but I wish they would release a starter set that included full 30 card decks and heroes and villains in each colour.
Nick can also be found at Board, Deck & Dice