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Deciphering past greatness


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#1 spalanzani

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 04:06 AM

Hello everyone

I've been reading for years and years about just how great Decipher's Star Wars CCG was, but no-one has ever said exactly why to any great degree. Certainly nothing anyone has said anything that has ever done more than made me mildly curious about this bit of nostalgia. Largely it seems to be used as a stick to beat WotC's TCG with. Wookieepedia seems to imply the rules are overly (and possibly unnecessarily) complex, but allows this makes it a rich gaming experience. Other than the fact they engaged people to pose as Mara Jade and Grand Admiral Thrawn, I have no other idea what there is that could make this so great.

Can anyone enlighten me, as we collectively while away the months until some news about the LCG?


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#2 herozeromes

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 04:30 AM

Well, honestly it was great UNTIL they brought in the Expanded Universe and Phantom Menace. That's when things got out of control. The game had a definite Order of Operations, but a very flexible rule set. It had a strong base of rules but individual cards (Interrupts and Effects) would bend or change the rules. Locations (sometimes Dark Side and Light Side had different versions of the same location with different benefits) dictated the resources (Force) you had to spend on each turn for Characters, Ships, Weapons, etc. The random chance (like dice rolls) were part of the card and no counters or dice were necessary, as your "hit points" were the cards left in your deck. Once one player's table deck was depleted, the game was over. I don't think of a card game as a "card" game when you have tokens and dice as part of it. Many "card" games feel more like a board/card game hybrid. While SW:CCG was complex, you needed nothing other than your cards to play.



#3 Hannibal_pjv

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 09:24 AM

It was a game that has multible "mini" games build in.

In one game you have

  • character fighting
  • vehicle figting
  • starship fighting
  • duel fighting
  • you can play sabbac
  • and so on

Yep it was complex as hell and very diverse and full of allternate rules and setting. You can fight in asteroids field (with own rules), you can fight in Death star (with own rules) and so on. Later you could play senate political battles, race with pod cars and so on... Each with its own spesific rules...

So it was ultimate Star wars simulator in good and bad.

 



#4 Budgernaut

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 04:40 PM

 For me it was all about the lore in the top of the cards. Lucasfilm broke ground by expanding on so many extras that can be seen in the movie. I loved learning all the tidbits about the characters, vehicles, weapons, and so on. I think I was too young at the time to really appreciate it beyond that. My friends and I would never customize decks, we'd just play with four 200-or-so card decks, 2 Imperials vs. 2 Rebels. Locations would extend for tables and we really just cared about battling. We never Force drained. Obviously we never finished such games.


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#5 MarthWMaster

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 02:44 AM

 I guess I could live with FFG bringing back SWCCG. But I can't see any way that game could be played cooperatively without significant modification.


"To play a wrong note is insignificant. To play without passion is inexcusable."
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#6 I. J. Thompson

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 02:55 AM

 It was the locations that made it great for me. It felt like your characters really were travelling around the galaxy and having battles. I appreciate games that feel like they have a narrative, and this one definitely did.



#7 spalanzani

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 10:45 AM

Well, thanks everyone :) I'm glad it's not some sort of nostalgia that has been driving a lot of the clamour for "buy the rights from Decipher!" of late, as it seems it genuinely may have been a good game. Certainly what Hannibal_pjv said about the different arenas you could play in. Locations are something that are as important as characters in this universe, I feel, so it would be really important to have them represented.

I suppose the fact that it was cards alone will put paid to FFG investing in its system though. I mean, is there any game they make that doesn't come laden with a multitude of bits?


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#8 AegonTargaryen

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 04:06 AM

Ah, SWCCG, I miss you ! No other game ever captured the feeling of a movie like this game did. There is nothing like deploying Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith with a lightsaber, choking to death an opponent`s wheenie character, force fielding away a desperate weapon attack made by your opponent and then initiating a duel vs. Luke Skywalker. Or making an "Attack Run" with Wedge Antilles in the Red Leader X-Wing and blowing away the Death Star and everthing on it after drawing sufficient "Destiny". Or deploying the Super Star Destroyer Executor with Admiral Ozzel aboard to the Hoth system and watching the panic in your opponent`s face as you overwhelm his lone X-Wing there and let him loose a bunch of cards. Unless, of course, he had something in his hand that would allow the X-Wing to make an escape or would allow the rebel fleet in the nearby Bespin system to make a reaction move to the Hoth system to support that lonely X-Wing …

You started the game either with a starting location, which could be either a Planet or a planetary or spaceship site, or an Objective, allowing you to deploy a bunch of cards, and a starting interrupt, which allowed for the deployment of an effect or adding certain cards to your hand.  Objectives  provided you with advantages if you managed to achieve certain goals in game (e.g. "Set your Course for Alderaan" started with the Death star in play and after you met certain criteria, it allowed you to actually move to and blow away Planets including conneced locations and everything on them), but also created special rules for you to observe ("You may not play XY…"). The starting cards provided your basic "income" of force. 

In your mandatory 60-card deck, you had more locations, spaceships, characters, weapons for both spaceships and characters, effects, interrupts and sometimes even creatures. At the same time, your deck was your life-force. Cards played to the table were paid for with this life-force (you could activate force in the amount of force icons provided by locations on table, the used cards were recycled to your deck at the end of your turn). But when no cards were left in your deck, you had lost. So, you needed to draw cards, of course, but with every card drawn, you life force would be depleted. You won or lost a game by the amount of life-force left in the winner`s deck at the end of the game.

In the game, you acutally battled for control of locations. If you were able to take control a location with force icons (either light or dark) on the opposite side , you could then let the opponent lose that amount of cards, which had to come either from his hand or his deck. You could also let the opponent lose force (cards) by winning battles, unless the opponent chose to instead lose starships or characters participating in the battle on his side, which of course made it harder to keep or gain control of the location and so on. 

If this game concept ever got a second chance, I would jump aboard immediately. With the cooperative game, I don`t think so. A card stack is not a real opponent. You lose to bad luck, not to skill in the kind of game FFG intends to create here.



#9 MarthWMaster

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 04:35 AM

Was there ever an incentive to split your deck evenly between ships and characters[question mark]


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#10 I. J. Thompson

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 05:39 AM

 Yes, because if you had no presence at a location (Systems for ships, Sites for characters), your opponent could occupy that location and force-drain you to death. I actually found force-draining to be a bit of a drag, but I have to admit it did keep people moving around.



#11 MarthWMaster

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 03:05 PM

I. J. Thompson said:

 

 Yes, because if you had no presence at a location (Systems for ships, Sites for characters), your opponent could occupy that location and force-drain you to death. I actually found force-draining to be a bit of a drag, but I have to admit it did keep people moving around.

 

 

Couldn''t you do the same to him► Let''s say one player has only ships, and the other player has only characters. Depending on how locations are deployed and the movement actions available to both sides, wouldn''t the entire game proceed without a single battle►

EDIT: Seriously, what is up with this forum. No question marks now?


"To play a wrong note is insignificant. To play without passion is inexcusable."
– Beethoven

#12 AegonTargaryen

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 02:47 AM

Yes, games like that did happen. Sometimes the game was just about "drain races". In this case, you wanted to get as many force drains going as possible. So, if you played a "space deck" and assumed your opponent did not run spaceships, you would just drop as many space locations as possible and spread your space forces among those planetary systems for maximum drains.

But to counter this strategy, most decks ran at least a small, efficient package in both space AND ground. For example, a ground focused Imperial deck would probably include one or two powerful Star destroyers, together with some pilot characters. Then, if the Rebel space player would spread his forces too thin (to achieve the maximum drain effect discribed above), the Imperial player could suddenly attack his weakest spot with his couple of Star Destroyers and make him pay for it, as the power difference after battle resolution resulted in a corresponding force loss (but you could forfeit participating Ships and characters to reduce the damage). 



#13 yodarth

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 12:56 PM

That would actually be something about the CCG game that I loved though - they didn't make you do anything.  The space vs. ground vs. character distinction that almost makes it feel like three mini-games is somewhat unappealing.  In that game you could certainly try to go without space or without ground and it could hurt you, but it was your choice.  

I haven't played a game of SWCCG in a decade, but among the things I fondly remember:

-Depth.  Every game actually was a unique "story", instead of counting numbers and determining a winner.

-No damage counters, no dice, no coins.  The destiny concept was exceptional.  As was the "life Force" idea - your deck was your life, run out of cards and lose the game.  No "first to X wins" or "win a battle, win the war".  You lost when you effectively did have nothing left.

-Balance between interaction and strategy.  So many games focus on some kind of storyline strategy, or ignore the storyline elements completely to ultimately be a game of war with picture cards.  This game managed to encourage a great blend of both.

-Number of strategies.  It took time to develop, but there were a ton of different decktypes that you could play, many centering around key storyline elements. 

-Competition.  People still play it today because of the competitive nature.  Tournaments were a treat.  Of the many, many types of decks you had to be aware of who was playing what kind of deck where to have an edge. 

Things that weren't so good:

-Constant rules additions/erratas to cards.  Basically blowing up the Death Star, the Rebels putting up a shield on Hoth, training to be a Jedi, podracing, a lightsaber duel, and debating in the Senate all had their own set of unique rules.  Each set had a couple pages of brand new rules just to accomodate a new storyline.  Teaching "all the rules" to a new person was a tall order.  Furthermore, abusive cards would have erratas which would revise the game text to something different than what the card said.  All in all, they created a large glossary, most of which was expected to be memorized by serious players.

-Too much depth.  Here's where the LCG format has a tremendous advantage over the CCG format, especially in today's environment.  The guy who bought four boxes of each set had a big advantage over the guy who only bought two boxes, and that guy had a big advantage over the guy who bought only one box.  To get up to speed and have all the tools necessary to play in tournaments and have any success you were looking at an investment in the thousands of dollars.  Decipher also made too many money ploys - it was laughable how they withheld good cards from starter decks, and to make up for printing about 30 times more stock than what their demand was they simply repackaged it in and called the product "Enhanced", "Anthology","Sealed Deck" or "Reflections" along with a handful of brand new cards with incremental power that would force the more serious customers to purchase the product. 

FFG would be making a serious mistake if their goal was to "re-print" the CCG.  If they took the basic game engine and made it workable in an LCG format, as well as kept things simpler by making sure each expansion set didn't come with a slew of brand new rules they would be on the right track.  If they somehow found a way to add a solitaire and/or cooperative mode to it they will have struck gold.



#14 imrahil327

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 06:38 PM

How did I miss this thread?!  The Decipher Star Wars CCG is still operating in the hands of the Players' Committee, so if you are feeling nostalgic for it and want to check it out, head on over to our site (starwarsccg.org).  That said, both the positives and the negatives that people have brought up above are the reasons why I highly doubt that FFG would try to utilize any of the mechanics from SWCCG.  They would not want to put themselves in a situation where they were compared to Decipher to see who got the game 'more right,' it's far more likely that they would like to make their own mark on the Star Wars universe, however that may come about.

 

Now, some responses:

@herozeromes: I think all of the stuff you mentioned is definitely what gives it its attraction, especially the utilization of one's deck as both tool and scorekeeping method. Some games certainly have rules that allow for a win or a loss based on decking, but with the 'flow of the Force' mechanic (Force pile->used pile->Reserve deck), it really allowed for unique situations and gameplay.  It also allows for you to see a much greater percentage of your deck than in most games, rather than only seeing half or 2/3, you will probably go through your deck at least a couple times through the course of a game.

 

@Budgernaut: I agree that Decipher's commitment to the universe and all of the detail they added to it is another aspect that people love about it. I mean, look around Wookieepedia some time and count all of the areas where SWCCG cards are used as a reference.  This is also shown by the failure of Wars, the Decipher game with the same (even improved!) mechanics that failed because the license it was based around was simply not interesting to people.

 

@spalanzani: I LOL'd (but you're not wrong- they do love their tokens!)

 

@MarthWMaster: As others have said, there are a variety of ways that the game incentivizes interaction rather than turtling, both through rules and card effects.



#15 qwertyuiop

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 03:43 PM

AegonTargaryen said:

Yes, games like that did happen. Sometimes the game was just about "drain races". In this case, you wanted to get as many force drains going as possible. So, if you played a "space deck" and assumed your opponent did not run spaceships, you would just drop as many space locations as possible and spread your space forces among those planetary systems for maximum drains.

But to counter this strategy, most decks ran at least a small, efficient package in both space AND ground. For example, a ground focused Imperial deck would probably include one or two powerful Star destroyers, together with some pilot characters. Then, if the Rebel space player would spread his forces too thin (to achieve the maximum drain effect discribed above), the Imperial player could suddenly attack his weakest spot with his couple of Star Destroyers and make him pay for it, as the power difference after battle resolution resulted in a corresponding force loss (but you could forfeit participating Ships and characters to reduce the damage). 

TIE Scouts. :D 



#16 yodarth

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 09:59 AM

 One thing to add that only one Decipher game has featured that very few TCGs have: locations, locations, locations, and movement between them.  You moved around Tatooine, from the Lars' farm to the cantina to docking bay 94 and maybe off the planet.  If the Rebels were at Bespin and the Imperial fleet was at Hoth, you'd fire up the hyperdrive and try to engage the Rebels.  If you were getting overpowered in the forests of Endor, you could put the Back Door into play and try to get a foothold.  It adds a vast level of excitement over the games that have a single "battle zone" or a couple different "arenas".  I really hope we can get the elements of a game of Risk where control over territory and movement between location is important versus a generic battle.



#17 I. J. Thompson

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 10:53 AM

yodarth said:

 It adds a vast level of excitement over the games that have a single "battle zone" or a couple different "arenas".

I agree with you (I think I posted something similar earlier in the thread). I confess I actually bought a couple starters of the WotC TCG back when it first came out, and this was what made me immediately hate it. Arenas? I need locations to get into a scene. Otherwise, it's all just a bunch of cards on a table.



#18 V for Vendetta

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 08:17 AM

I would love to see FFG purchase the Star Wars CCG engine from Decipher.  This was my favorite CCG / LCG of all time but it really did get bogged down with complexity.  I tried to play a game a couple years ago and between trying to learn all the rules again and remember all the cards from the other side I had to watch out for it didn't go so well.  I have two sons who are just the right age to get them in from the ground up on a new release.  If FFG does purchase the Star Wars CCG engine from Decipher they'll have three people from my household purchasing product and playng it.  BTW, I also prefer movie stills on the cards rather than art.



#19 Shub-Niggurath

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 06:43 AM

A reprint of SWCCG (with an overhaul of the sometimes overly complex and bloated rules and card text) as a LCG would be welcome.

I can't imagine a totally new Star Wars card game ever being as good as the Decipher version - it just had so much depth, allowing you to explore and recreate almost every aspect of the Star Wars universe.  

Not keen on all the Players Committe decisions and I have no interest in 'virtual' cards.

I also would prefer photos to art, although art is OK. It would be difficult to find many photo images that haven't already been used for SWCCG & SWTCG.

Whatever mechanics are used, it will be interesting to see what appears…..eventually.

 



#20 Budgernaut

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 07:06 AM

With so much support for the Decipher game, I just want to voice my opinion that a reprint of that game would not be my first choice in FFG's Star Wars LCG. I'm still undecided on if I could get into it or not. I have a bunch of Premier and A New Hope cards, but didn't collect beyond that, so it would be cool to get some Empire Strikes Back cards (like bounty hunters). The thing is, with an active community and things like HoloTable, I can play a game if I want without the need to go spend hundreds of dollars. Course, the same could be said for Net Runner and they brought that back. I'm really hoping for something new for the Star Wars LCG.


"There is a fine line between neutral and amoral. In fact, there may be no line there at all."

--Count Dooku





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