I am a life long Star Wars addict. There, I said it. Admittance is the first step, right? I own Star Wars: Armada, The Queen’s Gambit, and even Epic Duels just to name a few. I’ll jump at the chance to play just about any Star Wars game that comes to the market, tabletop or digital.
So obviously I’m pretty excited about the new Star Wars: Destiny game. From veteran publisher Fantasy Flight Games, Star Wars: Destiny mashes up the familiar mechanics of a dueling game (Magic: The Gathering) with some good ole fashioned dice rolling. Is this a match made in heaven for Star Wars fans? Let’s find out!
In Star Wars: Destiny, each player constructs (or uses a pre-made starter deck) of 30 cards. The goal of the game is to reduce the life of your opponent’s heroes to zero. This is accomplished by playing cards from your hand and rolling dice to gain attack power, resources or other special abilities. Turns will be played back and forth between players until one player is out of life.
The Star Wars: Destiny starter packs come in two flavors. You can embrace the power of the Dark Side with Kylo Ren, or you can be the hero with the Rey starter pack. Each box contains a pre-made, 20 card starter deck, 2 Character Cards, an Objective Card and 6 premium dice.
I say premium with the dice, not as a marketing term, but because they really are. The dice are big, hefty, and custom printed. Each die will sport a Star Wars picture and a symbol on each side. They are smooth and have a really nice feel to them.
The cards themselves are printed with the usual exceptional quality we’ve come to expect from Fantasy Flight Games. There are a few different types of cards, and of course, different rarities for each.
To expand the game, you’ll need to buy booster packs. Each booster pack comes with 5 cards and a die. I am happy to report that the dice and cards are packed in such a way that the die won’t damage the included cards (I’m looking at you Dice Masters).
How to Play:
There are rules in the game for creating your own deck of 30 cards (of which you will need to buy at least a few booster packs to do so), but most players should just start with the included starter deck. Each player will also need their own copy of the game to play.
Each game of Star Wars: Destiny is divided into a series of rounds, with each round having an Action Phase and an Upkeep Phase.
In the action phase, players alternate taking turns, each taking one action at a time. Different actions include:
Play a card from your hand: Each card has a resource cost that must be paid to play it. Types of cards include: events, upgrades or support. The first being one time use, with the latter two being cards that stay in play.
- Activate a character or support: Exhaust a card to roll the character’s dice and add the results to your dice pool.
- Resolve your dice: Dice rolled in a previous activate action can now be used. Players may activate as many dice as they want, as long as they are all the same symbol. Among other things, dice results will let players attack their opponent, gain resources, force their opponent to lose cards/resources, or activate special abilities.
- Discard a card to reroll any dice
- Use a card’s special ability
- Claim the battlefield: This ends the round for a player and gives them a bonus for going out first.
During the upkeep phase, each player unexhausts their cards, gains two resources and draws back up to 5 cards in their hand.
A player loses when all their characters have been defeated or they have no cards left in their hand and draw deck.
Star Wars: Destiny isn’t the first game to combine dueling mechanics with dice. We’ve seen this before with Ashes: Rise of the Pheonixborn and Marvel: Dice Masters. However, while Ashes has the dice act as mana, and Dice Masters has the dice act as the characters themselves, Star Wars: Destiny takes a unique approach and has the dice results be actions that the player can take.
This was an interesting design decision that I think works well for the game. Instead of dice being either a secondary component, or even the focus, there is a nice synergy between the cards and the dice. They not only work off each other, players will need to strategize for when to use each to gain maximum effect.
However, even with this balance, dice rolls are still going to be the linchpin of the game, with a well-timed roll able to turn the tide of the battle. A lucky roll of all attacks could theoretically kill an opponent’s character in a round or two. Although that’s been a rare occurrence in our games.
Star Wars: Destiny also features a healthy amount of player interaction. Sure, there is the “pound your enemy into dust” aspect of the game, but there are other ways as well. Players can force their opponents to discard cards and resources, and there are even cards that will manipulate your opponent’s dice results. There have been times when my opponent would cackle with excitement as they prepared to dish out the punishment, only for me to swoop in and destroy their well laid plans by removing a crucial die.
One other thing I really liked about Star Wars: Destiny was how the game will end when someone is out of cards. This puts a bit of a timer on the game, and also gives players a secondary mode of attack. There is definitely a solid strategy to be had with forcing your opponent to discard as much as possible. Not only does it deny them cards, but it can force them to think twice about drawing extra cards at the end of the round.
While I’ve been having a good amount of fun with Star Wars: Destiny, we do have to talk about the elephant in the room. Those three little letters that can cause gamers to run for the hills. Yes, Star Wars: Destiny is a CCG (Collectible Card Game). For years, Fantasy Flight Games has been using its Living Card Game (LCG) model instead of the CCG one, much to every gamer’s delight.
With Star Wars: Destiny, they decided to go the CCG route and, to be honest, I wasn’t exactly excited to hear that. While I enjoy playing CCGs, and love the excitement of the booster pack, there is the down side. Money. It can cost a lot of money to keep up with being a CCG player, especially if you plan to participate in organized play. Each booster clocks in at about $3 MSRP. If a player wants to build their own deck, as they should, I’d expect to spend another $50-$80 on booster packs.
But I’m not going to turn this review into a rant on the CCG model, that’s an article for another day. But I will lament a bit on the randomness. I got 4 booster packs with my copy of Star Wars: Destiny. Each booster has 1 rare/legendary card, 1 uncommon card and 3 commons. Of my 4 rare/legendary cards, 3 were duplicates of cards found in my starter set. It’s these kinds of random pulls that make me want to swear off CCGs forever. This especially hurts when you have decks you want to try out, but lack the cards to do so. Your options are to either throw more money at the packs or head to the secondary, sometimes pricey, market.
Overall Star Wars: Destiny is a pretty successful game that I think will carve out a fine niche in the CCG market. The mechanics are easy to pick up, the game feels unique, and it’s also a lot of fun to play. And, of course, a Star Wars fan is going to be drooling over the awesome license for this game. Many cards seem to tie very well to the source material and the artwork is fantastic as usual.
To be honest, the only thing holding back my excitement for Star Wars: Destiny is the CCG nature of it. I know about my lack of impulse control with CCGs, so I more or less have a self-imposed ban on them. I love deck building and tinkering too much to enjoy a CCG without spending gobs of money on it.
If you are OK with the CCG model, then you can definitely have a lot of fun with Star Wars: Destiny, especially if you are a Star Wars fan. If you hate everything about the CCG model, then it’s probably best to steer clear of this one.
If you’d like to get a copy of a Star Wars: Destiny starter pack, you can pick it up for about $15.
Final Score: 4 Stars – A great dice/dueling hybrid game that’s a lot of fun to play. The CCG model will probably make it a non-starter for many though.
• Uses the Collectible Card Game model