Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game review

There are few IPs that are as widespread as Star Wars. From movies to TV shows and from toys to books, it’s everywhere. We’ve seen several excellent board game adaptations as well, including Outer Rim and Legion. Fantasy Flight and Asmodee just released Stars Wars: The Deckbuilding Game to add to our selection of choices, so let’s dive in and see how it plays.

We imagine that Star Wars games generally attract a lot of fans that aren’t necessarily that into board/card games, so let’s clarify what a deckbuilding game is before diving into the specifics of this game. You might be familiar with collectible card games (like Magic: The Gathering), but while you’d spend a lot of time (and money) buying additional card packs for a game like that, a deckbuilding game is much more self-contained – giving you a full experience right out of the box that you don’t need to build on. The terminology is a bit confusing, but the actual building of your deck happens in-game, expanding gradually on the hand you’re dealt at the start – rather than by expanding the game itself.

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Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game features all of the resource-gathering and card purchasing that other deckbuilding games have, but has a few gameplay mechanics that make it more focused and easier to learn and master than some other games in the genre. For instance, it was designed as a two player game (you can scale towards four players with two copies of the game), and not surprisingly this is what sets the stage for a battle between the Empire and Rebellion, each player choosing a side in the conflict. Take out three enemy bases, and you win the game – and because each base has different abilities and strengths, there’s strategy involved in which base to go for as well.

Cards can have three types of effects in Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game. Attack speaks for itself and can be used to attack those bases, while Resources let you purchase additional cards in what is called Galaxy Row – a place on the table where cards are randomly drawn. The last, and most Star Wars-y, is Force – used to pull the power of the force to your (light or dark) side and reap extra rewards.

There are limitations to which cards you can purchase, because although neutral cards (like bounty hunters) are fair game you can’t buy cards that are associated with the opposite side. You can, however, use some of your attack points to remove those cards and keep the other player from getting them – just one of several choices you can make each turn. These choices also depend on the side you play as, because even though the two are well balanced the Empire plays differently from the Rebellion – one emphasizing strength in numbers and firepower while the other is better geared towards striking quickly.

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In that sense, it’s easy to connect a round of Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game the feel of the original movies, and what certainly helps is that the artwork on the cards taps into the first trilogy as well. Iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and Chewbacca are all featured in the game, and look like you’d hope – Mark Hamill’s likeness is used for Luke, for example. This is a game that provides great fan service, both in how it was visually designed and its gameplay mechanics – which tap into familiar story elements like the big struggle between the Empire and the Rebels and the use of the force.

What’s also nice in a deckbuilding game is when it encourages players to interact and really play against one another – rather than just focusing on their deck. Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game has this implemented quite well, with options to manipulate which cards are available to your opponent, creative use of the force and of course the ultimate goal of taking out their bases. It may not be ideally suited towards play in a larger group, but other than that this is a gem of a game that Star Wars fans will enjoy adding to their collection. It’s relatively compact too, so as an additional bonus it’ll travel well.

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