|Drawn to the Dark Side
A Look at the STAR WARS: The Card Game (TM) Core Set Dark Side Factions
|Star Wars: The Card Game | Published 12 December 2012|
“Anger…fear…aggression. The dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will.”
–Yoda, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
In our earlier previews of Star Wars™: The Card Game, we’ve explored the game’s dramatic edge battles, its far-reaching Force struggles, and its innovative model for deck-building. We’ve also posted a video tutorial to guide you through three sample turns and teach the rules. Today, we turn our attention to the game’s affiliations.
In Star Wars: The Card Game, two players engage in fast, tactical battles between some of the most iconic heroes, villains, and starships ever created. One commands the forces of the dark side, seeking to destroy the Rebellion and those Jedi who have gone into hiding, thereby extinguishing all remaining fires of freedom. The other player commands the forces of the light side and must destroy three dark side objectives to shatter the Empire’s iron grip on the galaxy.
The light and dark sides of the Force™ are each represented by three unique affiliations. These affiliations each bring their own distinct approaches to the table, adding variety to the game. We’ll look at how the different affiliations promote deck diversity and open new possibilities for card design, but first Senior LCG Designer Nate French is going to introduce us to the three dark side affiliations, with a focus on the two starter affiliations from the Core Set.
Nate French on the Dark Side Affiliations
Each of the affiliations in the Star Wars Core Set were designed with powerful hooks to pull the game in different directions. Though the dark side player always seeks to win the game by advancing the Death Star dial to “12,” the three dark side affiliations pursue this goal through very different methods.
The Imperial Navy provides the dark side player with a hyper-aggressive approach that takes the fight directly to his opponent. They are all about attacking and destroying light side objectives. Cards like Trooper Assault and Orbital Bombardment support a powerful swarm approach, and the Imperial Navy can field massive amounts of Stormtroopers and TIE fighters due to its resource superiority. Their Star Destroyers are powerful, aggressive vehicles that can singlehandedly change the course of a game. And the impressive event card, Superlaser Blast, is one of the biggest “bombs” in the game. It’s something that a light side player will always have to consider when facing off against this faction.
The Sith affiliation provides a much more cerebral, mind-over-matter and control-based approach for dark side players to explore. They can punish an opponent’s units with events that draw power from the Force, like Force Lightning, and they can use devious Interrogation tricks to limit an opponent’s card selection. The strength of the Sith event cards is driven home with frightening units like Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, each of whom can quickly take over a game when he hits the table. Strong in the Force, the Sith are well equipped to wrest the balance of the Force to the dark side. Then, they can make life difficult for the light side player with a plethora of character removal effects throughout the game.
Scum and Villainy
There’s only one Scum and Villainy objective set in the Core Set, but it’s likely to make a splash anyway since it features Boba Fett! This is the affiliation that does the dirty work of the dark side…for a price. Their strengths are capturing and holding light side cards at their objectives for additional benefit.
Dark Side Affiliations and Deck Diversity
Nate’s introduction illustrates how the introduction of separate affiliations to Star Wars: The Card Game helps to promote deck diversity; because each affiliation has its core personality, players will find the experience of playing as the Imperial Navy considerably different than playing as the Sith. Though they’re working toward the same ultimate goal, the Imperial Navy player can’t expect to use the same tactics as a Sith player and meet the same success. Likewise, the Sith player must play to his strengths and manage his cards differently than an Imperial Navy player.
Of course, players who want to explore their deck-building options can combine objective sets from more than one affiliation. Mixing objective sets from different affiliations permits you to tweak your deck’s personality, but it also forces you to think carefully about how you generate and spend your resources. In order to play a card, such as a unit or event, that has a resource cost greater than zero, you must spend at least one resource generated from a card of the matching affiliation.
While resource matching remains a concern, a good balance of objective sets and your affiliation card can mitigate most of the risk, and veteran card players and deck-builders are likely to explore the possibilities of combining affiliations so that Darth Vader and Boba Fett can battle side-by-side or so that, as in the sample deck provided below, they can have Emperor Palpatine mislead Rebel commanders before the Devastator destroys their hidden base.
Affiliations and Game Design
The fact that each side of the Force is divided into three affiliations makes an impact not only upon game play but upon the possibilities that it opens for design. In Star Wars, cards don’t exist in a vacuum; they all exist within the context of the objective set to which they’re bound. This is a new model for deck-building that also establishes another layer of context for design, complete with all the associated elements of personality, mechanics, and philosophy.
In his design article, Eric Lang wrote:
“In design and development, we put a lot of thought into how the objective sets are built. Objective sets are organic entities, and they’re designed as a whole. This means they don’t just open new avenues for players; they create new possibilities for game design. In fact, one of my design mandates for future sets is ‘design sets; the cards will follow.’”
Nate French offers further insight into the comment, discussing how the presence of both objective sets and affiliations makes it possible to weave elements together in a way that other games can’t:
“In Star Wars, designers can create synergies that we know players will discover while playing the game, whereas in a completely granular game they may not put the synergistic cards together in the same deck. These synergies exist within single objective sets and also within the themes of entire affiliations. More than in any other game I’ve worked on, Star Wars design occurs on a contextual level – a card may be better in one objective set than it would be in another, based on both what that objective set and affiliation are trying to do. As a simple example, the Vehicle trait is far more valuable in an Imperial Navy objective set than it is in a Sith set.”
Likewise, the Star Destroyers and AT-STs of the Imperial Navy are seen in a different context within the Sith order. The Sith affiliation draws more of its power from the Force than from technology, and while Vehicles may still aid them, they don’t play as central a role and, therefore, won’t find as many synergies with other Sith cards.
The additional layers of context each card receives from its inclusion within both an affiliation and an objective set help establish expectations for how each card might fit into different strategies. This means players without much familiarity in deck-building will be able to adapt readily to the possibilities of customization in Star Wars: The Card Game. Meanwhile, veteran deck-builders will find themselves weighing each card not just on its own merit but based upon its affiliation and how well its objective set fits into their strategies.
Sample Deck – Their Fire Has Gone Out
“The Jedi are extinct, their fire has gone out of the universe. You, my friend, are all that’s left of their religion.”
–Grand Moff Tarkin, Star Wars: A New Hope
Players who explore their deck-building options will soon find combinations of objective sets that reinforce exciting synergies. They’ll be able to shore up an affiliation’s weaknesses within a specific area by building a deck that uses objective sets from affiliations stronger in that area. Also, when you explore your deck-building options in Star Wars: The Card Game, you can tighten your focus on a specific aspect of the game.
Rather than play a larger number of cheaper units to overwhelm the light side, this sample deck focuses on playing large and dominating units, winning the edge battle, and gaining control of the galaxy over multiple combats. It uses objective sets from the Imperial Navy and Sith affiliations, as well as one neutral objective set.
Affiliation: Imperial Navy
2x Fall of the Jedi
1x Counsel of the Sith
Imperial Navy Objective Sets (4):
2x The Ultimate Power
Neutral Objective Sets (1):
1x Reconnaissance Mission
This is an aggressive deck that can accelerate its control of the galaxy by destroying light side objectives, but when the need arises, it can revert to a more defensive mode and lure your opponent into any number of traps. Combining the Sith and Imperial Navy affiliations allows you to field both powerful Sith Lords and Star Destroyers. As a result, the deck doesn’t need to play many units on the table to establish an intimidating presence. This allows you to hold more cards in your hand to win edge battles and seize full benefit from the deck’s many fate cards.
To what strategies will you gravitate when the Star Wars: The Card Game Core Set is released? Your answers are coming soon. Star Wars: The Card Game arrives at retailers everywhere next week!
Next: We’ll take a look at the light side affiliations and some of their signature cards from the Star Wars Core Set!
The characters, starships, and situations of the original Star Wars trilogy come to life in Star Wars: The Card Game, a head-to-head Living Card Game® of tactical combat and strategic planning that allows two players to wage cinematic combats between the light and dark sides of the Force.