It is your Destiny

Tomorrow, December 1st, Fantasy Flight Games officially releases Star Wars: Destiny. This is their new dice and card collectible card game for two players. My friend Antonio and I attended a pre-release event a few weeks ago, in which we obtained both Starter boxes and six boosters each. Even with our tiny meta and narrow card pool, we've already played the game 28 times.

To be blunt, I think it's a phenomenal game, a sharp design, and really worthy of your attention. 

You can call this a review, but I'm going to mix a few things in to make a pitch for why you want to check this game out.

Firstly, the game has beautiful pacing. On your turn you take a single action, which might be spending a character to roll their dice, using rolled dice, or playing a card. Play is lightning quick and back and forth, with options quickly limiting as your few credits are spent and your dice are expended. The game is played in rounds, and everything has a single use per round, which means the possibility space is only so wide. 

Secondly, the game has a beautiful juxtoposition of short-term plans and hiccups. I might want to play an expensive Upgrade, but then my opponent rolls in Kylo Ren and will deal me five damage if I don't do something about it. I spend credits to play a card to do something different. The use of luck in the game, which is rolling custom dice that add variance within calculation, keeps the game tense, exciting, and removes the frustration. Back and forth you will go, trying to gain the upper hand and choosing where to spend your precious few chips to gain a two inch lead over your opponent.

Thirdly, the deckbuilding is quite simple and is a beautiful evolution for the genre. You have two axes of limitations. Characters can be Good or Evil. If you have Good characters, you can build with Good and Neutral cards. If you have Evil characters, you can build with Evil and Neutral cards. Secondly, cards are Red (military), Blue (force), and Yellow (scoundrel). There are also Grey (Neutral). When deckbuilding, you can only have cards of the colors of your characters, plus Grey. The final twist is that a deck is exactly 30 cards -- no more, no less -- and you can only have a maximum of two of each card. This will have a subtle, but meaningful impact on the frustration of blind packs.

All told, you have strategic planning in your deck, with tactical decision making in how you spend your few credits, resolve and mitigate your dice, and how to get ahead of your opponent. The game is simple, but full of meaningful decisions, and every round feels tense and thrilling, starting at round one.

To round this out, I want to tell a quick story about a game I played versus Antonio yesterday. I've only won about six (out of 28) games. Some of these are due to skill, but many are due to my deck just not being as competitive as Antonio's. The game isn't out yet, so we cannot buy additional cards. When opening our boosters, I drew a lot of cards I cannot use yet (due to deckbuilding limitations) and only one Legendary. Antonio pulled three Legendaries, plus he uses the one I pulled. Antonio's deck has a lot of really nasty Events, Support cards that greatly increase his dice mitigation/damage output, and several other methods of precisely augmenting dice. Essentially, my deck lacks the tools to be consistently competitive. Now, as I've played against his deck about 20 times with only minor changes, I've memorized his card pool, his tricks, and I've really tried to optimize how I play against it.

Basically, understand wins for me are very rare.

We're playing a game where Antonio knocked out my Rebel Trooper (glass cannon) very quickly. I managed to whittle away one of his Stormtroopers, but then he killed Rey. At this point, I'm left with a very upgraded Finn, a TIE Fighter, and BB-8. I knock out his second Stormtrooper, so it's effectively an undamaged Kylo versus a lightly damaged Finn. It's going to be a very tight race.

We play back and forth, trading damage, and enter the last round. With our dice rolled, we stop to examine the situation.

Finn is at 7 out of 10 hits. I have 3 Range damage showing, with the TIE Fighter showing its special die, which clears ALL enemy shields.

Kylo is at 8 of 11 Hits, but also has 3 Shields. He has a 3 Range damage showing that requires 1 Credit, but also the die showing to provide the 1 Credit.

It is Antonio's turn, which means that he has the win with what's on the board. Effectively:

1. Antonio gets 1 Credit

2. I use the TIE to clear his Shields

3. Antonio spends 1 Credit to resolve the 3 Damage die to kill me

BUT. I had a card in my hand. I made a big show of it all: "Well," I said. "It looks like you have me. Let's play it out." He laughs, and says sure. He takes the 1 Credit. I play Jedi Robes, which gives my character one shield. He gives me a death stare. He spends the Credit to deal me 3 damage. This kills my shield, deals 2 more damage...but I have 1 Hit left. He now has no credits and no dice. I resolve the TIE to clear his shields, and deal the remaining damage.

Just glorious.

We really love Star Wars: Destiny and highly recommend you give it a look.