“Decide you must how to serve them best. If you leave now, help them you could. But you would destroy all for which they have fought and suffered.”
–Yoda, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
As Imperial walkers deploy to Hoth, the battles on the frozen planet build toward a white-hot intensity. A Dark Time, the third Force Pack in The Hoth Cycle for Star Wars™: The Card Game, is now available at your local retailer and online through our webstore!
A Dark Time continues the ongoing tale of the light side’s desperate stand on Hoth. As light and dark side forces prepare to clash for control of the desolate ice planet, its sixty cards reinforce the Hoth trait with new Characters, Fighters, and Locations. But even as its five new objective sets draw inspiration from the early scenes of The Empire Strikes Back, they also expand the game’s exploration of the Star Wars universe beyond the classic films.
Several of the new objective sets in A Dark Time encourage players to forge their own stories within the Star Wars universe. They hint at hidden Sith schemes and trace the efforts made to ready the Cloud City carbonite chamber for activation. They explore the unsung heroics of Renegade Squadron, and they draw attention to discontented survivors of the Clone Wars who fled to the wilds of the Outer Rim to hide from Imperial detection.
The Struggles for Self-Preservation
After the execution of Order 66, belief in the Force nearly became extinct. The vast majority of the Jedi were hunted down and destroyed by the Emperor and his minions. Those who survived were forced to flee to the farthest edges of the galaxy, and the Galactic Empire decreed that the use of the Force was a crime punishable by the harshest measures. In the span of a few short decades, with nearly all evidence of the Jedi destroyed, most of the galaxy forgot the order and dismissed the Force as an ancient religion.
One of the objective sets in A Dark Time, Self-Preservation (A Dark Time, 228), imagines the struggles of some of those rare Force users who managed to survive the Great Jedi Purge. And if its cards are any indication, those few rare survivors, despite their exile to the farthest edges of the galaxy, may prove instrumental in turning the balance of the Force back in favor of the light side…
- First of all, the objective turns your focus to the Force phase by granting each of your units one Force icon during the Force struggle. Note, here, that it doesn’t say that your units each gain one Force icon while they’re committed to the Force. Why is that, you wonder? Read on…
- The second and third cards in the objective set are the same, two copies of the non-unique Gotal Outcast (A Dark Time, 229). The units in any objective set are usually close to its thematic core, and here we see that the Gotal Outcast is a cheap, two-cost Force User who is relatively worthless during an engagement if the balance of the Force is with the dark side, but who gains two valuable icons while the balance of the Force favors the light side. This means that if you’re playing with the Gotal Outcast, you’re very likely going to focus on winning the Force struggle. That’s fine. There are plenty of reasons to want to win the Force struggle, and the Gotal Outcast is perfectly capable of working to his own benefit. He has two Force icons he can contribute to the struggle, and if you’ve got a copy of Self-Preservation in play, he’s even more effective.
- Still, even with the Force tilted to the light side, the Gotal Outcast needs to be able to strike during an engagement in order to apply his to a dark side objective. Soresu Training (A Dark Time, 230) can help. While it’s obviously better to win the edge and strike first, Soresu Training can provide your Gotal Outcast with both shielding and an extra point of damage capacity to help him survive any shots fired by the dark side’s defenders. Of course, Soresu Training can play on any Force User unit, not just the Gotal Outcast, so the odds are pretty good that you’ll see it played on other heavy hitters, too, including Luke Skywalker (Core Set, 92) and Yoda (Core Set, 166).
While strikes with your Gotal Outcast can lead toward the quick elimination of a dark side objective, they also illustrate one of the underlying principles of Star Wars: The Card Game. This is a game of choices. More than most games, Star Wars rewards players who make wise, forward-thinking choices about which cards to play from their hand, and when. It rewards sound decisions made to hold cards for future edge battles. It rewards feints and bluffs. And it pushes players to make hard decisions between striking with a unit or committing it to the Force struggle.
To paraphrase Yoda, “Decide you must how best your cards may serve you.”
- The fifth card in the Self-Preservation set, though, allows you a brief respite from such difficult decisions. Unwavering Resolve (A Dark Time, 231) allows you to exhaust your unit and have it participate in the Force struggle, too. While this card might permit your Gotal Outcast to conduct an early strike and then win the Force struggle immediately afterward, it can have an even greater impact when used with Luke Skywalker. Despite his three Force icons, Luke isn’t really built to hold back for the Force struggle. He lacks the Elite keyword which would allow him to strike in the defense, then remove both the focus tokens that would be placed upon him as a committed unit striking during an engagement. Furthermore, his Targeted Strike ability and icons work best when he takes to the offensive. Thus, experienced players who drop an early Luke will press the attack…and forfeit the balance of the Force. Now, though, Unwavering Resolve means that attacking with Luke does not preclude winning the Force struggle with him, too. And, remember, if you’ve got a copy of Self-Preservation in play, it applies. Your units don’t have to be committed to the Force to benefit from the objective’s ability. They just need to contribute to the Force struggle for its ability to be relevant.
- The sixth and final card in the objective set is Heat of Battle (A Dark Time, 65). One of the Fate cards that repeat in objective sets now and again, Heat of Battle is always useful during an engagement and particularly relevant to those Jedi who must always be ready to defend themselves from the Emperor and his minions.
The Force Is My Ally
The Force is a powerful ally, and the Galactic Empire has reason to be concerned by the existence of any Force users who might resist it. How much of an impact can the few remaining Gotal Outcasts and their allies make upon the outcome of the Galactic Civil War? That’s a matter that remains to be seen as you and your friends explore new battles in the expanded Star Wars galaxy.
Battle for the ice planet of Hoth, or expand your galaxy. Pick up your copy of A Dark Time today at your local retailer or online from our webstore!