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An Unfortunately Critical Review of My Core Set Experience


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#1 conykchameleon

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 07:17 AM

Introduction

Who am I?: Where I'm coming from is very heavy TCG and LCG background (played a LOT of VS System competitively and I'm a big fan of Thrones and especially LOTR). Also a very avid tabletop gamer of all types. Lastly I am a HUGE Star Wars fan. Like to the point where Star Wars influenced my choice of career huge. I have played the game five times, and started with a very good understanding of the rules, so none of the games were wasted on learning.

 

Why am I putting this here?: Again, this is a very critical review of the game, which are not often welcome on forums ABOUT the game (I've responded harshly to posts just like this in my day). But I wanted to post this, because I am genuinely looking for you all to explain to me why the following points are not true, because after two years of anticipation…I REALLY REALLY want to like this game.

 

Lastly: There are things that I did like about this game, but those points have been made elsewhere. However, the things I did NOT like about the game overshadowed the ones that I did, hence the tone of this review.

 

 

 

Star Wars the Card Game: My Top Three Problems

 

 

1) A Very Weak Link Between Theme and Mechanics – In short, I simply don't feel like the basic mechanics of the game support the idea that I am a part of the Star Wars Universe. The first level of this which is actually LEAST offensive to me is when Storm Trooper Squads shoot down X-Wings and Imperial Guards stab Y-Wings in the Death Star Trench.

And I know what you're thinking “But Leia gets captured, just like in the movie!!!”. And I do I agree that the individual cards are thematic, what I'm saying is that the fundamentals of the game aren't. This is in contrast to LOTR or Netrunner for example where the very basics of the game have a strong tie to the universe on which the game is based.

Additionally though, I don't feel like the 'hero' or 'villain' characters have a proportionate role to the foot soldiers and minions. Some of our favorite characters from Star Wars have the same chance of being killed as Imperial Cannon fodder and therefore have the same chance of staying on the board which leads me to….

 

 

2) The Scale of Combat – The scale of the skirmishing in the game seems off. To me, the game is communicating a scale of battle more like a Warhammer 40k universe where everyone lives for about 10 minutes in battle, instead of a Star Wars Universe where Heroes and Villains go on epic adventures that span the course of trilogies of films. This didn't bother me as much for the Storm Troopers and the like, but when Yoda gets gunned down by a TIE Fighter 1 turn after he entered play….something seems a little off.

 

 

3) The Discouragement of Interaction – Now admittedly, this point is probably my weakest and MAY change with intense playing against a variety of opponents…but I have a strong suspicion that it won't. The strategic bias of the game seems to encourage players to NOT actually interact with each other. What I mean by this is by game four or so, the cost-benefit rundown of attacking and defending usually yielded an unopposed engagement. It simply was more effective to not have your units die trying to defend your objectives, especially when your about to get a chance to attack back while your opponents units are now focused. The result of this is basically just 'who can do more damage the fastest' instead of an actual interaction between the two players' units. And for me, this is the biggest flaw of the game. I understand that a lot of people like this sort of thing (see MTG, Yu-gi-oh, etc.) but for me if I'm playing a game with another human, I'd rather actually be interacting with that person instead of us both just doing our own thing.

 

Again, the reason I put this here is because I WANT to be convinced that I'm wrong and I WANT to be convinced to buy Force Packs and to fall head over heels for the Star Wars game I've been waiting for…but based on my Core Set experience I'm just not. Please help!



#2 StarDuster

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 07:50 AM

Although I have really enjoyed the Star Wars LCG game so far, I will say that the only negative thing I have to say about the game is main character deaths. I mean, it seems like my AGoT characters live longer on average than my SWLCG characters.

 

As for the "Storm Troopers shooting down X-Wings" and such I can look past that easily. Maybe the X-Wings are flying low and the Troopers have rockets. Maybe the Storm Troopers are using the mounted turrents on the Death Star. Yes, there are some instances where the thematic approach can be a very longs stretch… but it is not out of the realm of possibility. Is Yoda someone who is likely to be taken out by a single trooper? No. However, Yoda is still living being that a blaster shot can kill. Maybe Yoda was preoccupied saving trapped younglings at a damanged objective… desconfiado



#3 LMKComaBlack

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 08:01 AM

 

So a few random observations… Yoda, across all 6 movies, has what?  two fights?  Yoda needs to be held back for that prime moment.  He got killed by a tie fighter because he stood in front of one.  But to that whole idea of theme (a Rancor killing a capitol ship is the common complaint), I've seen crows wielding swords in AGOT, and I've put Cthulhu in handcuffs.  This is a card game, and there will always be a bit of abstraction.  But you could make a convincing argument that Han Solo brought down the Death Star II.  But how could a single character bring down a space station?  Right place, right time, right support.  I personally love the Rancor vs Redemption fight.  A cargo ship uses old access codes, but is granted entry.  It lands, opens, and out lurches a Rancor, bent on destruction, ripping appart the deep interior of the Alliance's flagship.  

 

But how could a single character bring down a space station?  Right place, right time, right support.  I've won a game with nothing but Yoda, Luke, and enhancements on the board.  Being careful about how you pick your battles, being smart about the Edge, and always having a few tricks up your sleeve will end with lots of player interaction, because all the choices are tough, they all have serious consequences, and they all come with some degree of risk.  That makes for a good game.  I don't like playing Magic anymore, because all the choices come durring deck construction, but I felt like there were few serious delemas to be teased out mid game.  Given the same board position, 9 out of 10 magic players will play the same hand the same way.  I feel like this game is very far from that situation.  Deck construction can go quickly, or it can be teased over for hours.  But in game, I can't go a single turn cycle without 3 or 4 really tough choices.

 

Good games have lots of choices, all of which have risks big enough to be a threat, and rewards big enough to tempt you past those risks.  I feel like this game has that.

 

Now let me ask if you are only playing with a single box, or have you started building decks yet?  The core set is prone to lucky/unlucky draws and lots of inconsistancy.  The first few games are awkward for most new players (and it seems to be weighted towrds the Dark Side).  But after a few games, you'll start finding out that Vader may be more use to you as a Edge card than a character, and the zero cost Event just saved Yoda's life.  I'm not sure what play style you and your friends use, but I've not had that "no interation" experience at all.



#4 divinityofnumber

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 08:48 AM

Characters that played central or important roles in the Star Wars stories sometimes leave play shortly after being played. However, they go into your discard pile (there is no "dead" pile), and can be played again later on in the game. In AGoT LCG, if a unique character ends up in your dead pile, you may not play another copy of them for the remainder of the game (so long as some effect doesn't move the copy out of your dead pile, which can happen). 

So, if Yoda leaves play, consider him temporarily set back, not killed forever. The main heroes show up to aid the fight, and can cycle in and out of the play area; They don't technically die.

To address one of the OP's other points, this is a competitive card game set in the Star Wars universe, not the Star Wars universe literally translated into a card game. Call of Duty is a great FPS computer game, and real soldiers cannot jump from second story windows without hurting their ankles…but that doesn't make Call of Duty: Black Ops II somehow a bad game. Games are games…they vary from the realities of which they are themed by their very nature. Take the AGoT LCG for example. How can character X, who wasn't even born until after Rygar died, deal damage to Rygar? That doesn't matter; it misses the point of the game. The card is not Rygar himself, but a sort of Rygar-ness, representing a part of the AGoT fantasy world. 


Star Wars LCG: FFG Event Center Store Championship 2014 - Top 4; FFG Event Center Season One 2014 - Minneapolis Regional Game Night - Top 4; May the 4th Be With You 2013 - Second Chance Tournament Champion

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#5 D.Knight Sevus

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 09:10 AM

Well, hopefully I can try to address some of your concerns.

1) This is going to be mostly a difference of opinion. Personally, I feel the victory conditions for the factions are very thematic, and the flavor of the cards combined with the game just being fun to play overcome any flaws that the game mechanics themselves have.

2) Unique units are significantly stronger than their generic counterparts. Yes, Yoda only has 2 Damage Capacity, so a single strike from a generic unit can potentially take him out, but he also has 5 Force icons, Elite, and the ability to become very powerful very quickly. The fact that he's an old…whatever he is…and thus rather frail is not only an important balancing consideration, but can be interpreted as a flavor choice as well. And once you move away from Yoda…most of the other unique units with only 2 Damage Capacity (Mon Motha, Grand Moff Tarkin, Admiral Motti) aren't meant to be on the front lines. Those that are supposed to be fighting tend to have 3 Damage Capacity or more, as well as their abilities. They're already plenty strong.

3) A game where the players don't interact tends to be really one-sided in favor of the Light. Defending and winning the edge battles is critical as the dark side player, as a lot of Blast Damage icons are edge-dependant. Even if you only offer up a sacrificial unit, denying the Light Side player the edge is huge.



#6 conykchameleon

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 10:37 AM

First off, thank you for your responses!

 

RE: Theme

I absolutely agree with D.Knight Sevus that ultimately the theme stuff is a preference. However, I completely disagree with divinityofnumber that it's an unfair expectation that the Star Wars Card Game should in some way represent the Star Wars universe. The best example of this is Netrunner. All of the mechanics of the game are based around the game's thematic content. One player is playing a hacker, so he hacks his opponents servers to try to uncover the secret (and usually illicit) agendas of the Corporation player. While there is ALWAYS a level of abstraction in any game, it seems pretty glaring that the system the Star Wars Card Game runs on could apply to any theme/universe…which is a really troubling sign.

 

RE: Unique Units

While there's no point in arguing particulars, I will point out in response to LMK Coma Black, in the particular case I was referencing Yoda was shot down not as part of an engagement he was involved in, but as part of a Targeted Strike…which also makes little sense to me. Generally though, I think I'm becoming more convinced that this point was probably more a result of the specific games I played, and I will play further before I accept it as an across the board problem.

 

RE: Non-Interaction

D.Knight Sevus my experience thus far has been that either player can benefit from non-interaction, as I won two games of this type as the Dark Side player…so the jury's still out on that for me.



#7 StarDuster

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 10:40 AM

divinityofnumber said:

Characters that played central or important roles in the Star Wars stories sometimes leave play shortly after being played. However, they go into your discard pile (there is no "dead" pile), and can be played again later on in the game. In AGoT LCG, if a unique character ends up in your dead pile, you may not play another copy of them for the remainder of the game (so long as some effect doesn't move the copy out of your dead pile, which can happen). 

So, if Yoda leaves play, consider him temporarily set back, not killed forever. The main heroes show up to aid the fight, and can cycle in and out of the play area; They don't technically die.

 

While what you said is perfect to thematicize the SW:LCG "deaths", I think you mistook my meaning. I was simply stating that heroes don't stay on the field very long in this game (in my experience thus far). AGoT:LCG is a very death-filled environment, and I was simply saying that I'm able to keep a single character on the field longer in that game than this one so far. Although, I did get Boba and Mandalorian armor on turn 2 in my last game and kept him on the field the entire game, to my surprise. [Note: It involved sacrificing Vader and Palpatine for the Edge though.]



#8 Ulairi

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 01:10 PM

Anytime "adherance to the setting" or "realism" gets in the way of fun, fun wins. These games are not a literal rerpesentation of the fiction. They are a card game that uses the fiction for flavour. It's a competitive card game, first and foremost. It's Star Wars somewhere down the list. 



#9 Ulairi

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 02:26 PM

I think another way to view  the "it doesn't work with how I see the setting" complaint is that the people are looking at it wrong. It isn't a literal storm trooper defeating a starship, it's about in the universe the LS and DS are trying to achieve their objectives and these individual cards/units are doing their part to carry out the overall picture. It's not Han Solo fighting the Devistator, it's Han doing his thing to take down the Empire while the Devistator does its thing taking down the rebellion. They aren't actually doing battle with one and other. 



#10 carnage4u

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 04:46 PM

Not everyone has to like the game, so its fine when someone doesnt. I'm all about rules of the game being good. 

 

The way units/characters interact attack/defend is an interesting game feature. I dont care about the "names of the creature" so if a Rancor kills a x-wing, it doesnt mattter, as all unit cards are the same to me.   Howerver I understand some people care more about theme, and thats cool.

 

Lord of the Rings is by far my favorite LCG, but I'll play this sometimes with friends, and I think its ok to not like a game. When you post stuff like this on the forum, i imagine you expect some peopel to argue you, so there is probably some trolling / excuse to rant about a game you paid money for and dont like, so you get something about of the experience by focusing your opinion online. :)



#11 snaggrriss

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 05:04 PM

everything that coma black said. i saw the games demoed at gencon on youtube. read reviews on ffg. this game surpassed my expectations. this is now my # 2 game. draw is frustrating with only 1 core. a 2nd core set deck options are endless. get tired with light side, try the dark side. i thought the deckbuilding was going to be too basic. it's not at all. very unique. i'm very excited. will it be my favorite game? no that's thrones. i'm not the genious who can analyze a game in 2 weeks and lay bare all the faults and totally manipulate it past the point of fun. i love star wars. i love this game. please play it few times with 2nd core set.. you may change your mind like i did. then you put the cards in buba fett sleeves. bam! this is a kick-ass game.



#12 snaggrriss

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 05:15 PM

in our group one is netrunner fan. it's cocaine to him. another absolutely hates lotr. absurd i know. i'm a thrones fan but love all those games and now star wars. i was hoping i wouldn't like this so i wouldn't feel pressured to buy.  compared to a magic budget, i'm still ahead. here's nother example, buba fett killed jedi's. how does a bounty hunter kill a frakkin jedi? even that doesn't seem believable. but it happened. lol.

no interaction? wait till he slams an event that totally wipes out one of your objectives. or play lightning force on you and kill your focused player. or you play new hope and take out his fleet of tie fighters, followed by some sacrifice of weenie x- wings and kill some more remaining ships. then go unopposed with wookie twice and mess up his objection.

i find i spend a lot of time thinking about when to play characters. do i use them in play or do i keep them for edge? how to defend/ attack. if i attack with these characters how does this leave me open to his attack next turn? you have to think ahead past the present conflict to the edge battle to your next defence to your next refresh. do i commit players to force or to conflict. do i attack or leave them for defence……. plenty interaction and choices.

and then. if i like to eat peanut butter sandwiches with pickles and you guys don't and you give me hard time for why my tastes are inferior, i'll tell you all to go to …. the store and get some and bring it home and try it. i don't eat that  by the way. that's disgusting. but there was this guy back home that did like that. good for him. true story.



#13 circledude

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 05:49 PM

I ended up with a game tonight that worked out to be very thematic. It was Imperial navy vs Rebel Alliance. I took the first objective using the Death Star Supe laser. I lost the game with Red Two blasting away on trench runs. It made it a lot of fun.



#14 MarthWMaster

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 06:29 PM

Ulairi said:

 

Anytime "adherance to the setting" or "realism" gets in the way of fun, fun wins. These games are not a literal rerpesentation of the fiction. They are a card game that uses the fiction for flavour. It's a competitive card game, first and foremost. It's Star Wars somewhere down the list. 

 

 

You're right in saying that the mechanics trump flavor. Anytime there is a conflict between the two, the mechanics should win out to provide a fun, balanced play experience. However, I think you may be taking this idea to an illogical extreme. You're bringing this game to a strange place where flavor doesn't matter at all, and despite being ostensibly "Star Wars," it's just cards with Star Wars imagery that don't in any way need to otherwise express the mythos of the Star Wars saga. My question is, why shouldn't the game strive to feel like Star Wars whenever doing so doesn't conflict with the mechanics? If we didn't care about theme and just wanted Star Wars pictures, we could just play poker using a Star Wars-themed deck of playing cards. But we're not doing that.

One opinion that I think anyone will find it hard to argue with is that A Game of Thrones: The Card Game absolutely gushes flavor. Fans like this game because it does a good job of translating the tone and feel of the world described in the books and TV show into a card game. There is a great deal of abstraction, yes: the acquisition of power tokens is not encumbered by the kind of detail that takes hundreds of pages of prose to play out. This is necessary in order for the game to play in an acceptable length of time. But even so, players want to feel like they are playing the titular game of thrones, laying out complex schemes that aren't fully realized for several turns, building and breaking alliances, and positioning key figures to wield tremendous influence over the realm. These themes all come together to condense George R. R. Martin's epic in a feasible and easy-to-play ruleset. Star Wars: The Card Game should be the same way, capturing the heroic elements of the films in card form, and making players feel like they are battling it out for the fate of the galaxy. Some may disagree with me, but I feel that it does this rather effectively, and the addition of the Hoth objective subtheme is definitely going to tease this out more.

At this point it's too late to rehash basic rules of the game to make it more Star Wars-esque. But I don't think it's fair to criticize people for having an issue with how the game portrays certain aspects of a beloved universe. For it to rightly be called Star Wars: The Card Game, the game should absolutely feel like Star Wars, except with cards.


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#15 Remorhaz

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 07:26 PM

i posted my response on bbg but im going to repost here because i feel like people are complaining about the symptoms of a  fundamental problem in the design of the Star Wars LCG. 

 The first question you have to ask when designing a thematic game is "who is the player?" In magic the gathering the player is clearly defined as a wizard. All the mechanics and all the themes are based around the idea the player is a wizard.In pokemon the player is clearly a monster trainer all the themes and cards are designed around the role of monster trainer.

What is the player role in Star Wars ? in the rule book the players choose to represent the light sight of the force or the dark side of the force. This nebulous definition of the player role is poor design and the reason why people are experiencing a thematic disconnect. What doe is mean that im the light side of the force? How am i gathering resources ? what are these resources? are they credits? are they influence ? Where are my units? am i ordering them to these locations and to complete these objectives ? im not an imperial commander i'm..the dark side of the force…hmm.

the decision to not clearly define the player role seems inconsquential but in ccg design terms its like building a house on a cracked foundation. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



#16 conykchameleon

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 03:36 AM

TMarthWMaster said:

Ulairi said:

 

Anytime "adherance to the setting" or "realism" gets in the way of fun, fun wins. These games are not a literal rerpesentation of the fiction. They are a card game that uses the fiction for flavour. It's a competitive card game, first and foremost. It's Star Wars somewhere down the list. 

 

 

You're right in saying that the mechanics trump flavor. Anytime there is a conflict between the two, the mechanics should win out to provide a fun, balanced play experience. However, I think you may be taking this idea to an illogical extreme. You're bringing this game to a strange place where flavor doesn't matter at all, and despite being ostensibly "Star Wars," it's just cards with Star Wars imagery that don't in any way need to otherwise express the mythos of the Star Wars saga. My question is, why shouldn't the game strive to feel like Star Wars whenever doing so doesn't conflict with the mechanics? If we didn't care about theme and just wanted Star Wars pictures, we could just play poker using a Star Wars-themed deck of playing cards. But we're not doing that.

One opinion that I think anyone will find it hard to argue with is that A Game of Thrones: The Card Game absolutely gushes flavor. Fans like this game because it does a good job of translating the tone and feel of the world described in the books and TV show into a card game. There is a great deal of abstraction, yes: the acquisition of power tokens is not encumbered by the kind of detail that takes hundreds of pages of prose to play out. This is necessary in order for the game to play in an acceptable length of time. But even so, players want to feel like they are playing the titular game of thrones, laying out complex schemes that aren't fully realized for several turns, building and breaking alliances, and positioning key figures to wield tremendous influence over the realm. These themes all come together to condense George R. R. Martin's epic in a feasible and easy-to-play ruleset. Star Wars: The Card Game should be the same way, capturing the heroic elements of the films in card form, and making players feel like they are battling it out for the fate of the galaxy. Some may disagree with me, but I feel that it does this rather effectively, and the addition of the Hoth objective subtheme is definitely going to tease this out more.

At this point it's too late to rehash basic rules of the game to make it more Star Wars-esque. But I don't think it's fair to criticize people for having an issue with how the game portrays certain aspects of a beloved universe. For it to rightly be called Star Wars: The Card Game, the game should absolutely feel like Star Wars, except with cards.

This is a really solid post. Thank you for it! Some of the responses to my theme issues seem to be: 'it's a Card Game first and Star Wars second'. I find this difficult for two reasons 1) If that's true, then we should be equally happy with a 52 card deck of playing cards with Star Wars pictures on them 2)The two are definitely not mutually exclusive. The example of Thrones was provided and I gave the one of Netrunner. These are games that are both excellent card games and excellent reinterpretations and representations of their source universes. And like I have said before, while I think that the individual cards from SWLCG are thematic I feel that basic mechanics and the like are not. I think a good litmus test for this is: could this game have been pretty much the same, but branded with a different universe? Not so much for Thrones, Netrunner, or LOTR. But unfortunately here, I think the answer is yes.



#17 Troopershark

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 04:55 AM

Netrunner is not a good compare on flavor, because we have no framework in our minds of what flavor should be, it is not a "licensed" product from a large existing and defined environment, so the game and the cards define the environment and the flavor.  LOTR being a coop game where really the encounter deck defines the flow of the game is also a poor compare to a PVP game like Star Wars in terms of flavor because it's simply easier to convey flow when you define the path of the adventure and the composition of the entire deck of the foe.  Thrones however is a very good compare, both have exhaustive source material that players will be familiar with. 

 

When I look at the flavor / theme feel, I look at the mechanics more then individual card interrations, you can find situations that make no sense on individual card interrations in any licensed game.  Carrion birds wipe out armies all of the time, someone won worlds by training our favorite drunken king to be a Maester,…

In Thrones, the mechanics and structure of the game really feel like the struggle for the Throne we see in the book, battling, intrigue and Power struggles, the Dominance phase adds to that, this game is very thematic, all over the place, from a mechanics perspective.   The plot deck is an accessorie that helps this as well, love the game.  I don't feel like SWLCG lacks theme from a mechanics perspective, I do however agree that it is no where near the level of Thrones on that front, when comparing Core set to Core set, the house mechanics and strenghts come out more in Thrones with more flavor in my opinion.

Comparing Thrones as it is now, with a very large card pool, to the SWLCG core set is an incomplete assessment in my books, already the previews for the Hoth cycle hooze with flavor at least from what I've seen, so we'll see in 3 years.

At this point, my concern for the long run with SWLCG (and I really like the game) are not with flavor / theme, but with interaction.  I really like how the mechanics put the LS against the clock from a theme perspective, but the few PVP games that have attempted that before have not done that well, it is a very difficult mechanic to balance because it essentially rewards one player for stacking up defences and doing absolutely nothing else, which can certainly lead to boring games (ie it can lead to forcing DS to playing control and forcing LS to play agro if not balanced properly).

I also at least partially agree with point 2 in the original post, it still feels like the main characters in the storyline are not resilient enough, and Yoda, the example used above, is the biggest issues of course because he has 2 hit points / lives.  There is a big difference between 2 and 3 in this game on that stat, a single force choke with Vader on table can take out any 2 hit point character, targeted strike will often do it, Heat of Battle with a wiener,…, 3 is much harder to take out.  It just feels like Yoda should be 3, he's really by far the worse offender on that stat in my book but if does feel to me like there should be a bigger gap between the main characters and the soldiers on that stat.  My issue with this is somewhat tempered by the fact that those guys don't 'die" in this game, they just leave the board and can comeback.

 

 

 



#18 AlKusanagi

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 10:07 AM

Netrunner does indeed have a license and backstory to back it up. In fact, it has TWO! It was originally part of the classic RPG, Cyberpunk 2020, and then when FFG got a hold of it, it was added to their Android series of games. The rulebook even provides fiction for all the corps and runner factions.



#19 Ulairi

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 10:59 AM

AlKusanagi said:

Netrunner does indeed have a license and backstory to back it up. In fact, it has TWO! It was originally part of the classic RPG, Cyberpunk 2020, and then when FFG got a hold of it, it was added to their Android series of games. The rulebook even provides fiction for all the corps and runner factions.

 

So? It was originally apart of GENERIC CYBERPUNK and now is apart of another GENERIC CYBERPUNK story. It is not even comprable. 



#20 AlKusanagi

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 11:05 AM

Says the guy with GENERIC FANTASY avatar talking about GENERIC SPACE OPERA the card game. See how that works?

And, sorry, but if the flavor of the card game pains people so much as to turn them off to a great game, there is always the pure Star Wars experience of the Edge of the Empire RPG.






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