Geeking Out – Mid-Month Star Wars and MCP Hotness!
STAR WARS : THE DECKBUILDING GAME
OWill you embrace the Empire? Pr rise with the Rebellion? Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game lets you do just that in a fast-paced tug-of-war of Light vs Dark… and always with a dash of Scum and Villainy.
We’re very fond of Deckbuilders in our house, be they competitive or co-op, standalone or integrated into a wider game – from as light as Transformers to as weighty as Lost Ruins of Arnak, there’s a rarely a week goes by that some sort of Deckbuilding game doesn’t hit the big table. So as colossal nerds (why deny it?) we were VERY excited for the new 2-player, fast-play Star Wars deckbuilder from FFG.
Much like other deckbuilders, you start with a generic deck (troopers of your faction granting combat, transports of your faction granting resources, and a generic minor force user that acts like a wildcard) and try to improve your deck from the cards laid out in the middle of the table, whilst defending your base from attack. A really nice touch is the Balance of the Force tracker, and a number of cards depend on whether The Force is With you; when it’s fully at your end of the 3-step track, you also gain a bonus resource to spend each turn. A side note – I have been known to rant about FFG’s massive quantity of tokens, but here they’ve been replaced with handy generic cubes, which if nothing else saves on punching out time (though maybe raises some sustainability questions).
Fundamentally, in game you are aiming to destroy your opponent’s bases, of which they have 4. Bases can be defended with Capital Ships and (broadly speaking) get progressively harder to defeat as the game goes on. The Empire always goes first, which feels appropriate but does mean (rightly or wrongly) the Rebel player is always on the back foot. To compare with something as massive and heavy-weight as SW Rebellion might seem unreasonable, but in that the Rebel player always feels like a plucky underdog, with being asymmetrical not a disadvantage.
The game shares its DNA (or should that be midicholrians?) with other deckbuilders, and will feel familiar to fans of Cryptzoic’s DC Deckbuilding in particular: the Galaxy row is analagous to the line-up, the Outer Rim Pilots to Kicks, etc. However, this is in some ways the game’s main weakness: it’s both a little TOO familiar and yet not as well implemented in terms of the actual deckbuilding itself. Because you’re not really competing, mostly, for the same resources (outlaws notwithstanding) you’re always going after what’s available to your faction as a priority.
Not only that, but as a result you’re not focused on deckbuilding a set archetype: for instance, it’s all very well, as an Empire player, to pull Admiral Veers and intend to go after Troopers and Vehicles, but you’re still going to go after the TIE fighters when they appear. That doesn’t mean you can’t pull off some good combos: the Falcon, when it turns up, pulls a Unique card of your choice out of your discard pile (which is very potent), but you’re almost never going to be able to set up Falcon + Han as the deck is both too dilute and you’re too focused on just grabbing what you can – especially Capital ships.
The game’s art and iconography will be familiar to anyone who’s played an FFG SW game: resources are the familiar crate symbol, and there’s a lot of art from IA in the mix, for example. As a result, the art is generally great if unsurprising, although it annoys me SLIGHTLY that the Luke art is RotJ Luke when mechanically he’s more ANH Luke. With most of the game drawing on the early part of the classic trilogy and Rogue One, you can see clearly where there will be room for further expansion (Palpatine frying Ewoks, for example), which may iron out some kinks.
Don’t get me wrong: this is a really fun, fast, family-friendly game, so it does tick a lot of boxes. It’s not perhaps got quite the weight I was expecting, is all. Still, it’s already had a lot of table time in our house, and I’m sure there will be a whole lot more to come.
MARVEL CRISIS PROTOCOL
The Immortal Hulk
Oh, I have so many problems with this. I mean, not the model: it’s stunning. It leaps from the panel and off its base, ready to SMASH! It’s a big, beautiful beast of a misunderstood rage machine. His builder throws any smaller character S on a wild, whilst that Gamma Burst is a massive 10 dice of doom. Endless Rage means he’s generating 3 power a turn… oh, and he’s functionally unkillable. Now, yes, he costs 7 (like Malakith), but he’s similarly another meta-defining character: you have to be prepared to counter him with Ghost Rider or a similar negating character.
It reminds me a bit of when Doomsday first hit the table in DC, and suddenly everyone was running Ravager and Dr Fate as the only solid counters (some of us were using Ravager before she was cool…) Can I see the Immortal Hulk getting table play? I really worry that he’s just TOO good, and certainly not sure that’s he’s going to be much fun to play against whether casually or competitively. Mind you, I expect my kids will enjoy beating puny parent with him…
MODOK: Scientist Supreme
Blithering imbeciles! Bow down before the unparalled mind of MODOK!*ahem* Sorry about that. I do love a bit of MODOK so I was really interested to see what this new version has to offer. I’ll say out of the gate that whilst I love the sculpt, I’m not enirely sold on him as a Crime Syndicate Leader both conceptually and fluffily; I was really hoping for some AIM goons to put throw in front of bullets, at least. That being said his Genius Requires Sacrifice lets him throw allied characters within R2 in the way for 2 power (and for free on his damaged side!) which at least FEELS like MODOK.
I like that he’s only a 4 cost leader, but there’s stiff competition there from Kingpin. Granted, he has some serious firepower, Incinerating with his basic R4/S5 builder and able to choose whether it Physcial or Energy. I also think he’s likely to be a strong play against Convocation and other Mental Attack dependent lists, with his innate rerolls of blanks and immunity to Push/Advance, along with that big R3 throw. I suppose he’s quite situational, and I imagine he’ll sit as a sideboard stalwart (if not MVP) in Crime Syndicate lists.
So that’s our round-up for now. Next month we’re going to be at the slightly later time time of 10th April (2nd Monday) as we’re going all out for Star Wars Celebration with a host of reviews and giveaways galore!
And, for that matter, we’ll also be announcing the winner of our Aconyte Books contest for Everybody Wins!
And, if you’re looking for a bonus entry, tell us – what’s on your book pile at the moment? What are YOU reading?
The Writer of this piece was: Sam Graven
Article Archive: Geeking Out
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