Star Wars Destiny Review - Seduced By The Dark Side Of Gaming

I thought we were past this. I know there are some very popular CCG's (Collectible Card Game) around like Magic the Gathering and Pokemon, but I was hoping that LCG's (Living Card Game) would now take over as the norm. 

For the unitiated, a CCG is one where after you have the initial starter box full of fixed cards, you have to purchase additional booster packs to obtain more cards and each pack will be different in accordance with whether a card is common, uncommon or rare (and beyond). In contrast an LCG starts off the same, but instead you purchase expansion packs which contain the same fixed cards in each one so that every regular player is on the same level. There are no common, uncommon or rare cards. Both can be expensive to maintain, but it is no surprise that a CCG will always end up more expensive especially if you're desperate to collect every single card or obtain the rarest, most powerful cards for tournament play.

I personally am done with CCG's and only maintain two (originally three) LCG's now. But Fantasy Flight have brought out Star Wars Destiny, a dice/card game to rival Marvel Dice Masters that both use the CCG model. Assuming Destiny is good enough in the first place, is there enough value in the original starter box or is this going to be a huge money-sink for anyone wanting to take it up competitively?  

Designer: Corey Konieczka, Lukas Litzsinger
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games Age: 10+ Players: 2 Time: 15-30 Minutes RRP: £14.99 / £3 per booster From Fantasy Flight Games Captain Phasma and Count Dooku battle Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Jango Fett and Jabba the Hutt attack Rey and Finn as they pass through the frozen wastes of Starkiller Base. Play out your own epic, saga-spanning, “what if” battles in Star Wars™: Destiny, a collectible dice and card game for two players! In every game of Star Wars: Destiny, you’ll gather your small team of iconic characters and battle to defeat your foes, using your dice and the cards in your deck. The last player with characters left standing wins the game, but to successfully outmaneuver your opponent, you’ll need to carefully consider your options and enhance your deck with new dice and cards. If you ever wondered who would win a duel between two teams of heroes and villains from the Star Wars universe, there’s no better way to find out than with Star Wars: Destiny. Each character in Star Wars: Destiny comes with a corresponding premium die. These large, full-color dice are different for each character, and by rolling the dice and spending their symbols, you’ll strengthen your forces and deal damage to your opponent’s characters. Each character’s health is shown in the card’s upper right-hand corner, and once you’ve dealt that much damage to a character, it’s defeated! Of course, the dice aren’t the only tool you have as you duel your opponent—you also have a thirty-card deck of cards that you’ll draw throughout the game. On your turn, you can take an action to play a card, paying the resources in the card’s upper left-hand corner as you can see below.


The cards in your deck are divided into three major types: events, upgrades, and supports. Events offer an immediate effect when they’re played, and are then discarded. For instance, you may use an event to stage a Daring Escape from an enemy attack or remove your opponent’s dice with The Best Defense. Upgrades like Force Choke, on the other hand, attach to one of your characters, giving them dangerous new tools and skills. Support cards such as the Millennium Falcon remain in play, independent of your characters but still contributing to your overall plan. 

Many upgrade and support cards have their own dice associated with them. When you play these cards, you can bring the corresponding dice into play, giving you more dice and thus more options for outwitting your opponent! Finally, it’s important to know that the cards in your hand all have more than one use—as an action, you can discard a card from your hand to reroll any number of dice in your dice pool, giving you a better chance of getting the results you want.

Star Wars: Destiny invites you to command a team of iconic heroes and villains from throughout the Star Wars saga and face your foes in a massive duel. Whether you join the heroes or villains of the galaxy, the only limit to your battles is your imagination. Tell your own Star Wars story with this collectible dice and card game!



I LIKE THIS GUN!


You've got two starter decks to pick from depending on your Force preference. Kylo Ren for Dark and Rey for Light, naturally based on the recent Star Wars Episode 7 movie (which I still defend as being better than Rogue One). Each of the boxes contain a pre-made twenty card deck with two character cards, a battlefield and six dice and of course all the various rule sheets and tokens. As with all pre-packed starters you'll forget how to repackage it afterwards to make it all fit snugly again! 

Each dice has some great imagery to depict the card it relates to and thankfully they're not just stickers - could you imagine how bad a reception that would get if it was? They are larger than your average D6, and have a very nice weight to them, solid and chunky. Not quite the level of "Seasons" awesomeness, but still pretty decent. The cards are of equally impressive quality, but it's Fantasy Flight, so what's new?

So the production quality is higher than your typical CCG and certainly higher than Dice Masters, but then each booster pack is 3 times the cost of its competitor and you only get one die in each. But at least these ones don't require ironing the minute you take them out of the booster (seriously WizKids what was up with that, how did you ever expect that to fly?)


NOW THAT'S ONE HELL OF A PILOT!


With Dice Masters, the dice were really the main driver of the game. The cards themselves had abilities, but I felt that the synergy wasn't that strong. In Star Wars: Destiny it's a different story with the dice and cards synergizing very well together. There's also a decent amount of player interaction durin gameplay. Players can force their opponents to discard cards and resources, manipulate their dice results and of course lay the smackdown on their characters. 

Knowing the best times to pull these tactics off will aid you considerably. Now we're not talking deep levels of strategy here, overall Destiny is a fairly light game, but you can't simply auto pilot yourself to victory.

Blowing away your opponents characters isn't the only way to win though. The game also ends if you run out of cards in your deck. I like alternate victory conditions and this is something you don't get in Dice Masters. It's perfectly feasible to simply let their characters live, but force them to discard cards constantly. Not only does it deny them useful cards, but suddenly the option of drawing cards becomes a liability.

Even with the balance of different tactics to employ, you are playing a dice game at the end of the day, so from time to time, luck is going to be the crux here and sometimes a flukey or unlucky set of die rolls will swing the game, however you knew this going in and Dice Masters wasn't exactly short of luck with the bag aspect on top. Destiny games are also nice and short so if luck was a factor, just play again, we don't mind too much luck when it's for a short period.




IT WAS SAID YOU WOULD DESTROY THE SITH, NOT JOIN THEM!


Now I've enjoyed the game and if I could end it right there, happy days. But I'm sorry and I know I'll get flack for this, but hey, a review is a review, but here comes a rant. Those 3 letters that are stapled onto the end of the title "C-C-G". They alone single handedly destroy any intention of me wanting to continue playing this game and may be an automatic turn off for some of you as well. Why Fantasy Flight have taken this route after having so much success with the LCG model I don't know. 

You have to know that going in, this will be an expensive game to continue. The whole tension and excitement of opening a booster and seeing what you earned is all well and good, but that feeling died in the 90's for me. And more often than not you're met with disappointment instead of cheer. And at £2-£3 per booster it's too much to spend just to get the deck you want. I know of people who have paid £20+ just to get a specific legendary card in their deck from the secondary market. Really? There's disposable income and then there's being too young to appreciate what a mortgage payment is. 


I got a few booster packs with my copy of Star Wars: Destiny to see how deck building would fair. Each booster has 1 rare/legendary card, 1 uncommon card and 3 commons. I had a duplicate of something in my starter set and the other cards weren't really that cool either. Certainly I didn't see no Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader in my packs, hell I'd have settled for C-3PO. They added to my array of cards, but I didn't feel any would make any significant impact on my starter decks. And as fun as the game was, it will not last long enough with just a starter deck to entertain you. If you're keen on this game, you've got to go in properly. 




VERDICT ON STAR WARS DESTINY


If we were to simply take Star Wars Destiny by itself without outside considerations, it would be a cool game that's good fun to play. Games are quick, so it won't take long for the rules to absorb, there's a good amount of tactical depth and the component quality is solid. The luck aspect is going to be a big factor for some though as in other similar dice games I feel there is more you can do to mitigate it whereas here you may simply get hosed because you can't roll well.

But we can't simply take it by itself, let's face it. This is based on a CCG model, one which I consider to be outdated and basically a source of generating money for a publisher. You have to unload a ton of funds into this game to reach the level of variety required to make it last. Simply grabbing a starter and a few boosters isn't enough, it's good as a test drive, but you'll quickly get frustrated that you don't have access to your favourite characters.

If you don't mind the CCG model and have the cash to spare, it's a good game to sink your teeth into and you'll have fun, certainly I know I would if I owned every card and had the choice available. But if money is tight or you have other CCG's and LCG's on the go, I'd think very carefully before heading to the store to grab this one.  


     

BROKEN RATING - 5 Chasers for Unpaid Debts (7 Lightsabers if you're happy with the CCG model)




YOU WILL LIKE STAR WARS DESTINY IF:



You enjoyed Dice Masters, but prefer a Star Wars theme.


You like the synergy aspect with the cards and dice and having an alt win condition.


You like the quality of the dice themselves.




YOU WILL NOT LIKE STAR WARS DESTINY IF:



You hate the CCG model - this will be an expensive game to collect, period.


You feel the luck aspect is too high.


You wanted something a bit more involved and strategic.


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Season 2 Episode 6 - Negativity

A recent misunderstanding occurred on a gaming Facebook group which has now been resolved. However one of the big parts of the situation leading to it was a harsh response to a review I gave which downplayed a highly hyped title of 2016: Great Western Trail.

All has thankfully been resolved, however it does raise the issue of how we as gamers respond to negative reviews or feedback on opinions when it comes to the internet. How should we respond and shouldn't be better than flame wars and personal attacks? Here's my two cents on the matter.



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Great Western Trail Review - Teleporting Ninja Cattle Sold Separately

If you'll excuse me a second, I'm just going to build a wall. No, not that kind of wall, this is purely for self defense. Enough to repel siege weaponry, the use of flight and any sneaky suicidal bomber orc's. That's because I'm looking at a game, which is currently going around the social media pages like it's 2016's holy grail. Whenever hype surrounds a game, it's one I have to check out to see if it's justified or not. It worked well with Scythe (though even as much as I love that game, nothing justifies that level of hype) so who knows this could be another good example. But if it's not, I'm going to need that wall because anything less than perfection in a review is seen as blasphemy.

A lot of the hype is generated because of the Austrian designer, Alexander Pfister whose notable games include some very popular titles as well as some award winners. I'm looking at a list of 7 here from BoardGameGeek and it's a mixed bag for me. I didn't like Zavandor or Port Royal. I was OK with Oh My Goods. I would like to try Broom Service. I have zero intention of setting foot near Mombasa (sorry, but I'm a lover of theme and when the box cover doesn't even tell you what you're doing in the game, that's a red flag I can see from over the Atlantic Ocean). But I really liked Isle of Skye, which I believe to be his best work. Simple, gateway level, streamlined Euro with a Carcassonne-esque map building feel. I've already done a review of that and it sits in my Top 100. Yes it has no theme, but I can deal with that in short, simple games.

And that's probably a factor that will play a part here. I like theme, that's no surprise to many. My favourite Euro's all generally encompass a high degree of theme or immersion. Viticulture, Pursuit of Happiness, Le Havre, Scythe, Founding Fathers, anything by Vital Lacerda to name a few examples. The less theme present, the more the game has to work to win me over especially if it's a long 3 hour plus game. Anyway I think the Dwarfs are signalling that the wall is finished. . . . let's do this.



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Arkham Horror: The Card Game Review - Lord Of The Cthulhu Rings

At the rate we're pumping out games with this license I honestly expect the dimensional portals to open up and literally have Cthulhu spawn on the planet and wreak havoc. But I still love them, it's a horror franchise I wish I had the time to delve into more for background information. Typically they tend to be co-operative games, which of course speaks volumes for me being my favourite genre, but this one is special for other reasons.

Firstly it's a Living Card Game (LCG) and so uses the semi-collectable format of games like Netrunner where you start with a core set and then expansions get released with the same cards in each one, so none of that outdated Collectible Card Game (CCG) nonsense which I'm so done with at this point. Secondly it's borrowing a lot of mechanisms from one of my Top 10 games of all time, Lord of the Rings: The Card Game (honestly can we get better titles than "The Card Game please)?

Lord of the Rings blew my mind with taking the LCG format and making it co-operative. I'm no longer forced to buy expansions just to keep up with a tournament meta. I can simply build a deck for a friend and teach them how to use and benefit us both. But I also loved how the game was for the most part incredibly thematic and story driven with each quest being different and telling a tale over a number of packs. So now Arkham Horror is doing what looks like the same thing - is this a direct copy or are there enough differences to distinguish them?





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XCOM: Evolution Review - Hello Again Commander!

UFO'S DETECTED! DEFEND THE BASE! LEARN TO COUNT COMMANDER! X-COM: The Board Game has provided me with a lot of great times mostly shouting to my team-mates as the Central Officer, but also taking the brunt of abuse as well. Not content with being one of the few games currently able to earn my coveted (in my mind) 10/10 rating and hit #5 in my Top 100, it has also being my poster child for preaching how important it is that apps be allowed to support a good board game. Mansions of Madness has done exactly that with its brilliant inclusive app, but the market is still dry on the matter for now.

X-COM recreates the same theme and tension that you got from the classic PC game franchise with an app that brilliantly controls the game, provides an ever-changing AI and dishes out authentic picture and sounds. In fact it's only flaw is that it's not optimised for landscape mode on a tablet, which is a pain when you want to cast your screen to your bigger TV on the wall! Fantasy Flight, can you do something about that? #firstworldproblems

I almost thought we would never get an expansion though given that Fantasy Flight usually can't wait to dish expansions out every waking moment. But last year I was estatic to find out about this upcoming Evolution expansion and it's been a long, long wait for its release. Was it worth it?




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Vinhos Deluxe (2016) Review - I Need To Get Me Some Porto!

Always excited to try a game that's on my wishlist! I have a keen interest in wines and feel it's a great theme for a board game. Stonemaier has already blown me away with how good Viticulture was with its Tuscany expansion (it took a game I ranked in my 40's to my #2 game of all time) so others using this theme have a huge hill to climb to match it. However if there is one designer I know who has a chance of doing that, it's Vital Lacerda.

I'm not making this a fanboy squeal post, but when it comes to Euro games as you know, I gravitate towards those with a strong thematic connection. The mechanics need to be tied in to what you do, not just thrown in for the sake of it and bolted on. Uwe Rosenberg has designed many games I enjoy for that reason, but my recent venture into Lacerda's designs such as Kanban and The Gallerist have already shown great promise for a string of games that feel designed with my needs in mind! I'm already keen to see what the 2nd Edition of CO2 can bring later this year, but I was so keen to try Vinhos out on account of theme and designer alone.

Finding anyone with a copy of the original was hard going though so the recent release of Vinhos Deluxe with a new graphical overhaul, improved production quality and an entire new set of rules was my perfect entry point. Now I'm going to stress that I've only played the new 2016 ruleset known as "Special Vintage" and so my review is based solely on that. The 2010 version I would like to try at some stage and do a separate review for it, but currently it looks insanely complex so that will have to wait. I'll just grab one of my Sauvignon Blanc's from the rack and get started on this beast of a box!



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DOOM: The Board Game (2016) Review - Nightmare Mode!

DOOM!!!! DOOM!!!! DOOM!!!! Such a cool word, and of course one of the most iconic first person shooters in video game history. No discernible plot worth mentioning, just you, a ton of cool guns and the demons of Hell rushing at you for you to obliterate into as many chunky pieces as possible. It's the very definition of mindless fun and the reboot in 2016 on the PC I've just actually completed last night - again, it's mindless, adrenaline filled, fun, though you have to get used to listening to heavy metal music! Although here's a tip, play on the hardest difficulty you can when you first load it up, it doesn't lend itself well to repeat plays.

Fantasy Flight Games released a tabletop version of the franchise a long time ago, but I never really saw much of it and I don't recall a lot of buzz either. Now they've rebooted (the word of the year it seems) it for a new board game release, very much in the same vein as every other 1 vs all style tactical miniatures game out there. Personally I'm starting to get a little bored of these springing up everywhere, but certainly it looks like they are being faithful to the franchise from the cover alone. . . . . . which you have to admit looks AMAZING!! Does the rest of the game follow suit?



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Mystic Vale: Vale of Magic Guest Review - Too Little For Too Much?

Mystic Vale may have been the most innovative game to be released in 2016. However despite this it still had some small issues, the key one being a lack of variety in the cards. It was evident immediately though that more cards would be released in expansion form, but to have one released so quickly afterwards it makes you wonder why it wasn’t just in the base game to begin with. I kid you not, this got released in the summer and the expansion came less than 2-3 months later.
It’s not like this is the only time that’s ever happened though, publishers have to make money at the end of the day like the rest of us. And to be fair we still buy them anyway so who’s the bigger fool? But whenever you want more variety, it’s good to receive expansions that help with that. But does Vale of Magic change anything else?

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Cottage Garden Review - Cats Love Wheelbarrows!

Whether you prefer to call it the Patchwork mechanic or the Odin mechanic, Uwe Rosenberg hit it big with the simple, yet engaging system of essentially putting "Tetris" into a board game. Patchwork is one of the most popular two player games out there, combining simplicity and elegance into a small package and creating one of the best gateway game designs in existence.

A Feast for Odin, released in 2016 uses the same tile system, but as part of this gigantic, complicated Euro monstrosity, which despite being an enjoyable affair, suffers from a massive thematic disconnect from using this mechanic. Seriously I'm placing food, weapons and cloth on a Tetris grid to gain points, what the hell? I miss Caverna and Le Havre.

Cottage Garden is the 3rd in the line using this Patchwork mechanic (it's what I call it, run with it) and at first I expected this to sit nicely in the middle in terms of complexity. But an inspection of the box let me to believe that actually I'm looking at something closer to Patchwork, but allowing more players to join in and even a solo mode. If this meets the gateway game criteria, does that mean it kills Patchwork?



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Aeon's End Review - By The Power Of Gravehold!

Say that title in the style of the old He-Man cartoon while holding a sword aloft, sounds very similar right? No? I thought it did. God I miss the 80's, back then we had proper cartoons to watch!

Anyway back to Aeons End. . . . WHAT?!?! Sentinels of the Multiverse for fantasy players? EXPLAIN! That was pretty much my reaction when I first heard about this game. Whether that's an accurate representation remains to be seen, but this was the description I got. So given that it's no secret that Sentinels is my #1 game, let's just say I reached the peak of my curiosity, to hell with the cat!

Putting that aside, there's a lot of potential here. A co-operative deck builder against one big boss with randomised turn order and a variety of characters and spells/items to use. Sounds like it's borrowing from a few games in this genre, certainly Thunderstone springs to mind with a hint of Sentinels thrown in. But I feel like there's a shortage on good co-ops lately and am very keen to see more released. And I don't mean yet another 1 vs all, gigantic miniatures game that costs an arm and a leg and has a ton of rules, we're getting a little overrun with those at the moment for my liking.

Certainly a big box anyway, let's see what Aeon's End brings to the market of which there is some very stiff competition.



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