Star Wars Destiny Pre-Release
After what seems like a very long wait (like fooooorever!) I finally got the chance to play some Star Wars Destiny at the Pre-Release Event at Dark Sphere south of the river in London. I didn’t have the best of luck on the day but I am excited to play more Destiny and to really get stuck into the game when it releases at the end of the month.
The event itself was great and there was a sense of excitement amongst the players are we got stuck in. The first hour was limited to just playing with the Starter Sets which worked well at providing a level playing field before everyone started tearing into their booster packs and constructing full 30 card decks for more experimental games.
In my Starter Set limited games I lost one and then won the second but I didn’t have much luck in the following games with a more constructed deck. This is in part down to my typical playing without thinking approach to learning a game. Also it is because despite getting a total of seven Booster Packs by the end of the event the Force wasn’t with me and I didn’t pull what I needed to remain competitive with the rest of the players. It felt like everyone around me was opening packs and finding Captain Phasma, Qui-Gon Jinn, Poe Dameron and Darth Vader and I was just like “Woo, I’ve got another Rey’s Staff which I can’t use because it is a Unique Card and I already got one in the Starter Set! Go me!”
It’s the way of things when it comes to CCGs but it is a bit disappointing to open so many Boosters and not get any new characters for either the Heroes or Villains. I did get some really good cards but I couldn’t include them in my deck because of needing a character card of a matching colour in my team or because I am limited to Hero and Neutral cards at the moment with the Rey set. My deck was so poor that I had to borrow a second Finn dice for my Starter Set from another player to stand a chance of standing my ground. On the bright side though I do have a tonne of Support and Upgrade cards/dice waiting for a viable deck or two when I get some more god damn characters!
Anyway enough of my whinging about my poor luck. On to the game itself!
In the spectrum of CCGs with Pokémon The Card Game being on one end and Magic the Gathering on the other with Hearthstone slapped in the middle. Star Wars Destiny sits comfortably between Hearthstone and Magic. It has the fun RNG and IP-usage aspects of Hearthstone with the tactical play and tight card typing of Magic. There are also hints of A Game of the Thrones: The Card Game 2nd Edition in there too in the form of Destiny’s Battlefields mechanic and some light keyword play.
The game has a brilliant back and forth pacing to it with players alternating actions. It keeps both parties on their toes and it does a good job of feeling like the push and pull of combat. On your turn you have wide array of actions you can perform from activating characters and resolving dice to playing event cards or biding your time by passing an action. The core of the game is about seizing opportunities as they arise while simultaneously looking for ways to disrupt your opponent’s plans. Character abilities, Dice effects and Event cards all push you to want to do more. You always feel like having one more Resource or one more of certain card in your hand could swing the game. There is an excitement to playing the game that never really lets up.
Star Wars Destiny is a fast game that builds a great sense of momentum over multiple rounds. At the start of the game you are rolling one or two dice at most at a time. By round five you are having to use two hands to shake and roll small mounds of dice for your most geared up character. You have to keep balancing resource cost with playing cards, attaching upgrades and activating some of the game’s most powerful dice. All with the aim of pulling off big hits that cripple your opponent’s characters to turn the game in your favour.
The game is also really easy to pick up. You can both teach and learn the basics of the game fairly quickly with the rest being taught through the cards and actions of the game itself. As someone who plays Game of Thrones The Card Game withs its myriad of terms, abilities and niggly rules of play. Star Wars Destiny is a nice change of pace that still manages to hold that tactical edge that draws me to Thrones.
The centrepiece of the game however is the dice themselves, which are great! At first they feel a bit on the big side but their chunkiness has its charms. They have a good weight to them with their size making their imagery and numbers clear to see for both players. Also having the imagery/numbers printed directly onto the dice instead of resorting to stickers or moulding gives them a surprisingly smooth finish. They hit the table with satisfactory thud to declare their intention with their bright colours and iconography drawing your eye to them. In short they feel like dice that will survive some wear and tear unlike the cheap sort you get in a game like Dice Masters.
Speaking of Dice Masters, the Booster Packs for Destiny solve the packed in dice bending the cards problem of that game. By just using a simple cardboard holder for both the dice and cards the problems of warping the cards is done away with. It is a little thing but it goes a long way because not only are the cards in a pack always in pristine condition there is also an added level of ceremony to opening a Booster. Which for a collectable game carries some weight. Opening card packs is an surprisingly an under-appreciated part of many collectable games so it is great to see Destiny doing it so well.
Cards and Characters wise, everything in Star Wars Destiny fits into three factions: Heroes, Villains and Neutral. Hero/Villain aligned cards can only be played with respective decks and Neutral cards can be used in either.
Then you have the card typings within these factions:
- Blue = Force Users
- Red = Military
- Yellow = Rogues
- Grey = Everything Else
It seems there is a good thematic spread between Hero and Villain cards in these typings. There is also plenty of room for growth and expansion within these types with new card sets of which I am sure there will be many.
The whole throwing caution to the wind thing when it comes to the Star Wars canon is also a healthy approach. Not only for the longevity for the game but also for just sheer fun factor. Do you want to give Jabba the Hutt a jetpack? How about seeing how Luke and Han would fair against General Grievous and Kylo Ren? This game gives you the freedom to do that, provided you have the cards of course. It is a celebration of all things Star Wars from across the length and breadth of the franchise.
At its most simple Star Wars Destiny is a fun game. There is a joy to seeing things play out and working out how to mitigate the random nature of the dice and card draw. It balances luck with smart tactical play without making new or advanced players feeling left out. It feels like Destiny has a bright future ahead of it and I cannot wait to get the Kylo Start Set and a few more boosters and really get stuck in.
It is good you guys. Seriously.