“You’ll find I’m full of surprises.”
–Luke Skywalker, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
In Star Wars™: The Card Game, iconic heroes and villains of the light and dark sides of the Force battle for the fate of the galaxy.
In our last preview, designer Eric Lang revealed how every aspect of the game grew out of a desire to relive the thrills and chills that he first experienced while watching the classic Star Wars trilogy. One of the steps he took to bring the magic to life was to create the edge battle, a step in the combat sequence that forces players to make crucial decisions rife with cinematic tension.
Stay on Target
Before we say more about the game’s edge battles, it’s worth our time to establish some context by looking at the broader picture of combat in Star Wars: The Card Game.
The dark side player wins by advancing the Death Star dial to “12” and can accelerate the dial’s advancement by launching attacks that destroy light side objectives. The light side is racing against time and desperate to destroy the dark side’s objectives. The light side player can only win by destroying three dark side objectives.
Thus, the light side player is constantly looking for opportunities to attack his opponent’s objectives. Every time an attack is declared against an objective, whether it’s initiated by the light side or the dark side, it’s the beginning of a combat.
In combat, ready units (units without focus tokens placed upon them) can “strike” to trigger the effects of their combat icons:
- Unit damage: Units with icons deal one point of damage per icon to an opposing unit in the same combat. If a unit takes an amount of damage equal to its damage capacity, it is destroyed.
- Blast damage: When it strikes, an attacking unit may deal one point of damage per icon to the attacked objective.
- Tactics: Each icon allows you to place one focus token on an enemy unit. This cunning ploy may prevent an enemy unit from striking in combat, or it can disrupt your opponent’s plans by exhausting a unit your opponent had intended to utilize later in the turn.
Though it may seem as though all you want to do is strike at your opponent’s objectives with a mass of icons, it’s not quite that simple. During combat, players take turns striking with their participating units, and the sequence in which players strike can greatly alter the number and type of icons either player may be able to trigger. After all, if Darth Vader manages to hunt down and destroy the light side’s Secret Informant before she strikes, she’ll never be able to strike back and trigger the effects of her icon. Conversely, if Obi-Wan managed to strike before Darth Vader, he can trigger the effects of his icon to place a focus token upon the Sith Lord, preventing Vader from striking at all during that combat!
Thus, the order in which players strike with their units greatly impacts the shape of combat and the overall shape of the game… And this order is heavily influenced by the outcome of the edge battle.
Maneuvering for Position
In his introduction to the game, Eric Lang offered a nice summary of the edge battle:
“Edge battles are blind bids for initiative that capture those moments when forces maneuver into position or circle about each other in tense lightsaber duels. Each card in the game has a number of Force icons, and the player who bids the most Force icons wins the edge, the initiative, and the chance to strike first in the ongoing combat.”
The edge battle begins with the attacker. He has the first chance to bid a card by placing it facedown on the table. Then, the defender can choose to bid or pass, and players continue to alternate their opportunities to bid. Once both players pass, they reveal their cards and determine the battle’s victor.
Eric noted that because all cards used as bids are discarded, players have to think not only about how much they’re willing to bid to win the current edge battle, but they have to consider the value of the cards in their hands for future edge battles and for future turns. Do you want to bid your Darth Vader to win a crucial edge battle, or do you want to hold him in your hand and play him on a later turn? The choices are not always so easy as you might initially believe.
In fact, these choices are made even more dramatic by the presence of fate cards like Twist of Fate and Heat of Battle. When these cards are revealed at the end of an edge battle, players resolve their effects even before units strike. The introduction of fate cards into an edge battle adds an extra dimension of uncertainty that leads us further toward the cinematic tension that Eric designed into the heart of each combat.
Success Breeds Success
If winning the initiative in combat and resolving your fate cards weren’t enough reason to focus closely on the game’s edge battles, they impact the game in yet one final manner.
Many units, like “Backstabber,” feature edge-enabled combat icons. Standard combat icons are printed white on black backgrounds and are always “on,” meaning they’ll function anytime the unit they’re on strikes. On the other hand, edge-enabled combat icons are printed black on white backgrounds and can be triggered only when their unit’s controller wins the edge.
”Backstabber” gains one and one icon when its controller wins the edge.
These “bonus” icons can greatly change the course of a combat. For example, when the dark side wins the edge, “Backstabber” can do more than apply a single point of damage to the light side’s defending X-Wing; it can completely destroy the X-wing and trigger its icon to deal one point of damage to the attacked objective. And, of course, if “Backstabber” destroys the X-wing, that means the X-wing can’t strike and trigger its icon to destroy “Backstabber.”
Tactics, Strategies, and Edge Battles
Ultimately, the goal of combat in Star Wars: The Card Game is to destroy your opponent’s objectives, but cunning players will use combat to lure their opponent’s units into traps or to gain key tactical advantages. Thus, the game’s edge battles have far-reaching consequence. Accordingly, players may consider their bids to be far more than the number of Force icons they bid. Edge battles are a means of creating vulnerabilities in your opponent’s troops, manipulating the cards in his hand, and controlling the overall flow of the game.
The Star Wars movies are filled with duels and battles, and each of them begins with a single key moment that shapes its eventual outcome. Sometimes, it’s a show of strength. Sometimes, it’s a tricky ploy that signals a reversal of fortune. The best of them fill us with hope for the outcome of the battle, even as we’re kept rapt in uncertainty. Always, these moments spark our imaginations. They often thrill us or give us chills. These are the moments that inspire the edge battles of Star Wars: The Card Game, and these are the moments the edge battles seek to recreate.
You can discover the excitement of the game’s edge battles yourself when Star Wars: The Card Game releases later in the year. Until then, keep checking back for additional updates and previews, including a look at how light and dark side players seek to tilt the balance of the Force in their favor.