The Amazing Spider Tank

The Amazing Spider Tank
Spider-Tank, Spider-Tank. Does whatever a Spider-Tank does. Can he swing from a web? No he can't, he's a tank. Look out! He is a Spider-Tank!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Star Wars Destiny Review

Fantasy Flight Games has just released their new game, Star Wars Destiny this week. It has been highly anticipated and very high in demand if prices on ebay are any indication. I got the chance to demo the game at Gencon earlier this year and I was very impressed. I am not a big fan of the distribution model but the game is entertaining enough to warrant a purchase/play in my opinion. Feel free to scroll down to the Pros/Cons list at the bottom of the article if you are pressed for time. :)

Starring Finn and the guy you really hope you get in a lucky pack

Star Wars Destiny is a collectible dice/card game. Sort of Dicemasters meets Epic Duels meets Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn. You can relive your favorite what-if scenarios (does anybody do that?) using characters from the Star Wars Universe spanning all the movies and at least references to other TV shows like Rebels. You use a combination of dice and cards to defeat your opponent's characters or force them to draw their last card.

Each player brings to the table their characters, which all have a point value and can't exceed 30 pts, and the accompanying character dice. You can take an elite version of a character which costs more pts, but allows you to take a second die for that character. You also bring 30 cards exactly from your collection, with no more than 2 of each card. These cards must belong to the same color as one of your characters (Red - Military, Blue - The Force, and Yellow - Rogue, Gray- Neutral and can be included anywhere), and either have to match their faction (Hero or Villain) or be neutral. For example, Admiral Ackbar is considered a Red Hero, and so if you wanted a deck using just him you could only include red hero cards or red or grey neutral cards. Cards can either be events, upgrades, or supports. Some cards come with a die that can be used on your turn so you must bring those accompanying dice as well. Lastly, you need to bring a battlefield card and we'll get back to that. There are also a number of tokens that both players need access to that include damage, resource, and shield tokens.

Insert "It's a trap!" joke here
On your turn you will take a single action, then your opponent will go.

Your actions are, using the easy-to-remember acronym PARDUC:

Play a card from your hand
Activate a character or support
Resolve your dice
Discard a card to reroll your dice
Use a card action
Claim the battlefield.

Cards in play start with their dice on them. If you play a support or upgrade that includes dice, they come in with the dice on them. When you activate a character you turn the character card sideways (exhaust) take all of their dice and any upgrade dice they have, and roll them all. That is one action. On future turns you may do something like resolve your dice, which will allow you to use any number of the same dice that share a symbol. Meaning if Captain Phasma and a First Order Stormtrooper both have ranged symbol dice in play, you may resolve all of them and deal damage to your opponent's characters.

Most disappointing character in TFA
Dice have a variety of faces, which make up the even more easy-to-remember acronym MRSRDDFSB:

Melee or Range Damage - Deals that much damage to a character. Melee and Range count as different symbols so you can only resolve one type in a resolve action

Shield - Give a character that many shield tokens (max of 3 per character), which allow you to prevent 1 damage each

Resource - Gain that many resource tokens which are used to pay for stuff

Disrupt - Cause your opponent to lose that many resources

Discard - Cause an opponent to discard cards randomly from their hand

Focus - Allow you to turn that many dice in your pool to the side(s) of your choice

Special - This triggers a special ability on the dice card

Blank - Does nothing and is the bane of your existence

So you and your opponent take turns taking actions, exhausting characters, using and manipulating dice, and generally try to kill each other's characters. During your turn, you may also claim the battlefield, which prevents you from taking any further actions during the round, but allow you to use the battlefield's ability, AND give you the first turn next round. There is a push your luck element to this and it can be a huge deal to get ahead on turns because most likely that will mean you can resolve them first as well. Either way a round ends when both players pass.

And that's basically it. You play until one player's characters are all defeated, or someone runs out of cards in their deck and hand. The gameplay is very fast and there is hardly any downtime which is awesome. Games last around 30 minutes, although it may take longer for your first couple of games. The game is advertised as being 2 player, but I think one could adapt the rules to allow for team play, which sounds like a lot of fun. You get to customize your starting characters and a 30 card deck, which seems to offer a ton of options and strategies and synergies. And obviously FFG will expand the game so it should have a nice long life.

I really hope they expand for at least a couple expansions as right now the character choices are quite odd. No C3PO, Chewbacca or R2D2 but we have Bala Tik and a padawan that's not even in the movies?

Apart from gameplay, there are a couple of things that concern players most:

The Dice

The dice are plastic injected and polished, and the symbols are heat-pressed onto the dice. Then the dice have scratch-resistant coating put on them. So the dice are fairly big yet light, with rounded corners, and seem to be high in quality. They roll very nicely, the symbols are easy to see, the artwork makes it fairly easy to see what card they go with, and most importantly it feels like they will stand the test of time. There are no stickers to worry about. That being said there have been plenty of reports of people getting the wrong dice in packs, the wrong faces on the dice, and some sloppiness when it comes to the imprinting.

I haven't examined all my dice but I know that one of my starter dice for Kylo Ren has an incorrect side, which makes it useless unless I mark it. My Darth Vader die has the art on one of the sides slightly askew, which doesn't affect gameplay it just looks off. I did not get the wrong dice with the wrong card which sounds like a nightmare to try and resolve, considering the random nature and cost of the game.

So those are pretty huge issues. Luckily for me I got a 2nd starter set which did not have any errors, but for some people they won't even really be able to play fully until they request and hopefully get a replacement from customer service. And those people who have claimed they got the wrong die will probably have to somehow show proof to FFG because I can't imagine they will just send a Legendary Darth Vader die in the mail for free, considering the die is what you need to use the elite version of that character. This brings me to my next point:

The Random Collectible nature of the game

I thought I kicked this habit...
This game has random booster packs. That alone will turn a lot of people away, and for good reason. I personally think random purchases are the bane of games. They turn what should be fun games into little gambling addictions. It preys on people and I've never appreciated it.

This game is also quite insidious in that it really seems to punish you for not having at least 2 copies of any given card. Say you got really lucky and got a Darth Vader in a pack. Yay, the iconic villain of Star Wars is now yours to command! But wait, you only get to use 1 die with him. No worries, that means he is cheaper and you can fit more characters into your squad, right? Oh wait, he's still too expensive and you cannot get more than 1 other character to go with him, so you are stuck.

I don't know the odds, but getting another Legendary Darth Vader in a pack sounds unlikely unless you are putting a lot of money down.

That's not to say you can't have fun with 1 character die, just know that your deck will not be as efficient as it can be. For those of you that just want to play to have fun, that's probably not an issue. For those of you that want to play in FFG tournaments and such, you are in for a money pit.

When it comes to deckbuilding the 2 copies of cards are going to hurt your wallet as well. Take for example the Thermal Detonator, which is a legendary upgrade that you can have up to 2 copies in your deck. Right now it is considered to be a very good card, and an almost must-have for any yellow character deck. Now the market hasn't completely stabilized yet, and early costs for individual cards were absolutely insane prior to release, but the card is still selling for around $30. You can try and pull one randomly from packs, but legendaries are said to be in 1 out of every 6 packs, and there are 17 legendaries in the game I believe. So good luck with that.

Leia's only move
I am looking forward with cryptic fascination at how this game will eventually sell, and I hope that the market will settle down once a ton of the product gets out there and the craze dies down a bit, but boy is it ridiculous right now. Oh, and for those of you interested, in my booster box that I purchased, I got exactly 6 legendaries (which is the average), and honestly a very good spread of cards. After I stacked the various colors and factions, I found that they were all pretty even in size, and I got very few duplicates, which is a good and bad thing. For casual play or trying out new stuff, it is awesome, for specific deck building, I will have to do a lot of trading, lol.

Another thing that really irks me are the contents of the starter. Now the cards in the 2 starters (Kylo Ren and Rey), are both very decent. You get some good cards in both sets, and the decks play pretty evenly, which is nice. However, there are both cards that only exist in starter packs, and cards that can also be found in random boosters. This is an awful choice by FFG and goes into the big-evil-company territory that FFG is guilty of from time to time. Say you want to use an elite version of Finn, our plucky adventurer from the Force Awakens. Well the starter only gives you 1 copy of his die, so you will have to grab 2 copies to use him fully. The starter also gives you a copy of the rare card, BB-8, which is also a beloved and decent card. So getting 2 copies means yay, now you can put the full compliment of BB-8s in a deck as well! What a bargain! How do you think you will feel if you then buy a booster pack and find another BB-8? Yeah, that same BB-8 that you can guarantee to get in a starter can show up in booster packs. There are several other "rare" cards in the starters that do this.

That's 4 BB-8s in a row...

The camera flash makes it seem like it's real
How do you think I felt when I got a booster box which contains 36 packs, only to have 5 of those packs give me rares that can be found in the starter decks? How do you think a kid is going to feel on Christmas when the only pack they open doesn't give them a cool Darth Vader, but rather another Immobilize? I think FFG could have (read should have) put starter only cards in their starters, and probably only singletons as well (with the exception of maybe Rey and Kylo so players get a chance to see a character with 2 dice). Players that want a full set or more deck customization could buy more if they wanted to, but nobody would get screwed over. They aren't even alternate art rares which at least Magic (the biggest baddie of all), sometimes does when they put "rares" in starter sets. I know why a business would choose this model but I will never agree to it.

All of that being said I did get suckered in and haven't regretted my purchase yet, lol. So don't get me wrong, all the doom and gloom of the previous paragraphs shouldn't automatically turn people off to the game. It really is rather good. And in typical FFG fashion I am looking forward to seeing what prize support they offer for organized events, and of course what new stuff they will bring in an expansion, which is rumored to include stuff from the new Rogue One movie which looks amazing.

I will leave a short Pros/Cons list for those of you that scrolled down and didn't bother to read my novella, and thanks for reading and happy gaming!


- Quick and fun gameplay
- Dice that should never fade
- Star Wars theme!
- Deckbuilding


- Cases of severe packaging/printing errors
- Random Boosters
- Almost requirement to have multiple copies of certain cards further compounds the random thing
- Starter sets that contain rare cards that you may get in random packs

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