Oh, Star Wars CCG, how you were loved. While you were taken away from us far too soon, we shall remember the good times with a thread.What is this?
It's a Customizable Card Game based on some relatively unknown movies made by some flannel-loving nerd.
It's Star Wars
! In card form!
While Wizards of the Coast (WotC) ruled the card scene with the juggernaut Magic, Decipher decided to challenge their rule. Star Wars gave Magic stiff competition, being pretty much just as frozen in the number two spot as Magic was stuck at number one. Some might chalk this up to Star Wars being based on a popular franchise compared to Magic's generic fantasy background (and not based on any established properties), but Star Wars (SW) was a damn fine game.
It wouldn't be until 1999 when WotC found a way to "deal' with the competition. Of coruse, it wasn't their own creation but their gain of the translation/printing/etc. rights for the Pokemon Trading Card game. Just like Star Wars, Pokemon was based on the insanely popular Nintenod franchise (though I say the card game is inferior to both Magic and SW). The video game and anime had recently the USA, and the Pokemon craze was just starting. The Pokemon TCG sold out everywhere, and SW would eventually fall to third. Even Magic would finally lose its throne to the critters.
But being third does not kill you off, and business continued as usual. Decipher responded to Pokemon with its own simpler CCG Young Jedi that was based on the prequel trilogy. A smart move, as the only thing that would beat Pokemon would be brand new Star Wars moviews. Too bad the Phantom Menance well, uh, sucked. But Young Jedi was still game, which is another thread for another time. A THIRD SW CCG would be created, Jedi Knights, but that also is not the topic of this thread.
Disaster struck in 2001. Decipher lost the Star Wars license, and to WotC of all people. I personally recall something being a bit shady about this...talk about Hasbro/WotC connections and more money to be made off Attack of the Clones merch (after all, we hated Phantom Menance, but we're still big enough saps to toss more money in the franchise). That's all hearsay, however, and the bottom line is that the SW CCG was dead.
...or was it?
Good games get dedicated players, and SW CCG fans proved their dedication with the creation of the Star Wars CCG Players Committee
. They are STILL active, six years after the Decipher stopped producing new cards. The Committee releases "Virtual Sets" that players print out and tape to existing cards. The Virtual Cards change are, in essence, super errata to keep the metagame fresh and ever-changing. They also make sure the game stays alive by promoting local tournaments in their respective regions. It's nothing short of amazing and shows what a dedicated community can do.
To end this history lesson, Decipher did try to release a game that was basically Star Wars with Decipher-made characters and stories. It didn't last long, however.What's good about Star Wars?
When it comes to flavor, Star Wars is king. While not everything is competitive, you can still put together decks with awesome goals. Want to reenact the Battle of Yavin? Want to freeze Han and deliver him to Jabba? Or do you want to use the characters in your own, horrible form of fan fiction? Have the Death Star blow up Hoth? Have Yoda train Chewbaca to be a Jedi Knight? What if Luke did join the Dark Side and decided to help Boba Fett bring in the bounties? They aren't all going to be killer decks, but the fact you CAN do them makes the game awesome for casual play.
Star Wars also advertised itself as being equipment free. Your "life" is counted via your deck. Your resources are determined by location cards and actually counted out from the top of your deck. You spend force and it cycles back into your deck when the turn ends. Even chance is self-contained. Each card has a "destiny" number on it (except locations, which are zero). Need to see if a gun hits its target? Look at the destiny value of the top card of your deck. This was an awesome system that added a wrinkle to gameplay and allowed players to control their luck if they could managed resources well (deck counting was not allowed, but you could keep track if you were good enough). Cards like Vader were badass, but had a measly 1 Destiny. Other cards might have a whopping 6 or 7 Destiny.
Star Wars drew from the extended universe a lot when it came to background characters. Sadly, once the game finally used up all of the original movies for card material (they even touched upon Shadows of the Empire), Lucas intervened and decided everything Star Wars must be plagued by the prequels and Decipher was forced to do Phantom Menace expansions rather than start going into expanded universe novels/comics/etc. This was such a shitty decision when it came to flavor. Darth Sidious, Senator Palapatine and the Emperor were separate personas. This means all three could be out at once
. I recall Palpatine being Light Side, so he could actually get into battles against the Dark Side Darth and Emp. Yes Virginia, the Emperor could fight himself. Not to say that it was poor mechanics wise...just really really messy combining OT and PT together like that.
The game also had a great sense of humor. Lots of easter eggs on the cards. Some subtle, some very obvious and awesome.What is not so great?
Star Wars has rules. Lots and lots of rules. If you think Magic is bad...stay far away from here. The game required little rules sheets to be collected for each expansion if you wanted to stay on top. Luckily, Special Edition say the first compiling of the rules into one book. While not a huge book (it came packaged in starter kits, so it's not normal BOOK book sized), you will have to play for a bit and sit down and read the thing for a while to memorized all the various rules.
Decipher was also very reluctant to ban cards. Errata was used, but normally sparingly. Decipher instead loved counter cards. I mean strict counter cards. Card X too powerful? Next expansion, Card Y specifically cancels card X. It might also cancel Cards A, B and C so it's not too narrow, but you get the idea.
Later sets also introduced Objective cards which had you reenact movie plot lines for bonuses. Some say this was over restrictive and lead to cookie cutter decks. Others loved getting rewards for playing out the movies.That's all, folks
A few years ago, you could find special sets of the CCG in boxes that had several booster packs of the various expansions along with some starers and stuff for maybe twenty bucks. Nowadays, however, the game is becoming a bit more rare. You can still probably get a lot of cards cheaply, but expect older sets and sets with fewer printings to be incredibly rare. Nonetheless, this is an awesome game that is a great way to kill an afternoon. I miss the days of using mynocks to defend the Death Star from would-be attackers.