Monkey picked up the new two player starter box for Star Wars Destiny (“SWD”) and we got it to the table recently to see what the game was like. For the record, we played three games (swapping decks each time) and Monkey got a clean sweep, beating me all three times.
For those of you who aren’t aware of it, SWD is a collectable card and dice game from Fantasy Flight Games in which each player chooses a team of characters and a battlefield and then builds a deck of support, events and upgrades for those characters. The characters and upgrades each have a dice which you roll and use to resolve combat and other actions. There are two win conditions, incapacitating your opponent’s characters, or your opponent running out of cards in their deck and hand.
On the face of it, this game has a lot to offer me, Star Wars themed, dice AND cards, and a relatively fast expected playtime. But wait, it’s a collectable card game (“CCG”)?!
COLLECTABLE Card Game
I need to start here. I played Magic the Gathering many years ago and got quite a lot of enjoyment from the challenge of deck building. The problem I had and have with collectible anything is a strong completionist streak and a tendency towards addiction. So when I play something collectible it can be challenging to keep my purchases in check. This is one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed FFG’s living card games so much. Both Netrunner and Conquest were good because I knew I had a fixed buy-in to get the full set and have access to every possible card, although I’ve stopped playing both for various reasons. Also, I play a lot of Hearthstone and feel it really scratches the CCG itch for me. So this game would need to be pretty special to rope me in.
Gameplay & Mechanics
My first reaction after our first three games (played in quick succession) was that the game plays very fast. There’s effectively no downtime, as you alternate actions with your opponent, and the actions are rarely anything longer than exhausting a card and rolling dice. The rules and gameplay was fairly intuitive and easily picked up, with Monkey and I fluent enough after the first two turns. I think we checked the rules reference twice over the three game and they were fairly outside situations.
That being said, whilst the decks felt fairly balanced, I often found myself being stuck for things to do and being in situations where I had to activate a character in a sub-optimal time because I had nothing else to do. Perhaps I needed to more aggressively use passes at times to try and get slightly more efficient plays.
Another cool aspect is being able to mitigate your luck by discarding a card to reroll your dice. However, if your luck is as bad as mine with dice, you’ll end up grinding through your deck incredibly quickly which will see you lose the game.
Lastly, it seemed that across the starter decks the villain deck seemed to have much fewer actions each turn, making it much easier for them to claim the battlefield each turn. Certainly imagine it’s a legitimate strategy when constructing decks to have fewer, high-impact actions but felt like the heroes were always on the back foot.
As I said at the outset, I really wanted to like this game with it’s Star Wars, dice and cards, as well as fast playtime. But when actually playing, I didn’t feel the game really grab me at any point. Further, I felt that the resource management aspects were often punitive, with few dice, few resources and relatively high priced cards in the deck. Couple this with the collectable aspect of the game and I can’t justify delving deeper into the game. Disappointing given how excited I was initially, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.