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Unofficial Kid-Friendly Guidelines for Star Wars: The Card Game

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Well thanks to another post on a request for a Kid-Friendly variant for this game, I found myself thinking about it this morning and I think I have come up with some pretty good ideas on how to adapt this game for younger minds.

I have a 4-year-old (nearly 5) who just loves Star Wars (of course) and is pretty much my unboxing buddy every time I get a new Force Pack. He loves all the cool pictures on the cards but of course can't read much. But I have always just assumed that in order for him to play this game, he would have to learn how to read. So now he really wants to read.

But after having considered the above request, I think I have come up with a scalable version of this game that can allow even some VERY young children to enjoy some quality time with their Dads playing Star Wars: The Card Game. The following is not so much as a set of rules as it is more a guideline to tailoring the game to suit your child's level of comprehension. By the end of this guide, you should have a pretty good idea of where the starting point is in varying this game for your child and what you might do to scale it up to meet his playing level.

So without further ado, I give you...

STAR WARS: THE CARD GAME
Unofficial Kid-Friendly Variant(s) by hundreds

INTRODUCTION:

The main principle in playing this kid variant is that you reduce the game down from the complex, subtle, tactical game that it is, to its roots, its core premise, its main objective. What you end up with is a game that is "stripped down" to the point where a child can play the game, understand what he or she is doing, and most importantly, have fun. Once you arrive at that bare bones of the game system, you can then play a game or two with your kid, get a feel for his level of comprehension, and then take steps to introduce more complicated aspects of the game. This should keep the game fresh for both you and him, and eventually make a world champion out of your son or daughter (well, probably not).

OVERVIEW:

The following game guide will present this "bare bones" version of the game and will focus specifically on what makes this game appealing to young players - the good guys and the bad guys, and watching the good guys and bad guys beat each other up. It assumes that you have a clear and correct understanding of the full version of the game.

There will be alternative names for things like "Objectives" and "Events" in order to make it more simple for the little guy. Along with the bare bones guidelines, there will be periodic suggestions on how to upscale that specific part of the game as your kid gets more understanding of how to play a more complicated game. Of course, these are just suggestions, as is this whole guide, so feel free to custom tailor it with your own ideas. So while this guide may be overly simplified, it's just a starting point.

There will, however, be a few basic requirements for even the bare bones game play. After all, you can only be so young. So just to state at the outset, in order to play this game, your kid will have to have a VERY basic understanding of a few things:

1. Reading - He doesn't need to actually know how to read. I made this mistake of assuming that at the beginning. He just needs to have some VERY simple word-recognition. In other words, he needs to recognize the word "EVENT", "UNIT", "FATE", and "ENHANCE" when he sees it on a card. And this is not as hard as you might think. Visual-based reading is usually one of the easier methods for learning how to read - children recognize logos all the time (even from a very young age) without actually having to read them. So there's that.

2. Arithmetic - No, he doesn't need to know his times tables. He just needs to understand the concept of counting pretty well. He needs to grasp the concept of how an objective has to be hit with 5 damage tokens before it is destroyed. He needs to know that when Vader has 2 damage tokens on him that he needs only 2 more to be destroyed, and so on. And finally, he will need to understand that when he sees a cost of 3 how he can pay for that cost with focus tokens on his resources to fulfill that cost.

3. Don't break my stuff! - The only other thing that might a requirement for this game would be that your kid isn't going to bust up your cards the way kids can do at times. Nothing like looking across the table as your 5-year-old FOLDS YOUR YODA IN HALF.

So now, let's break it down. We are about to take the game of Star Wars: The Card Game, and find its least common denominator. It's about to be all about the battles, baby. When we are done, you are going to have a battle-centric version of this game that hopefully will bring you and your kids some good times together. We are going to go over every phase of the game and its aspects and present them in this reduced manner starting with...

THE PHASES or THERE ARE NO PHASES

Yep, no phases, no action windows, no actions and reactions or interrupts or force struggles. The Framework of the game has just been reduced. He is just going to draw cards, play cards, and fight battles with all his favorite good guys and bad guys. And he's going to love it.

THE CARD ABILITIES or THERE ARE NO CARD ABILITIES

From this point on, pay no attention to ANY of the card abilities or text; objectives have no abilities, units don't have abilities, etc. For the bare bones variant, each card only has:

1. A Cost - This is the cost to play the card. It's in the upper left corner.

2. A Health Limit - This is how many damage tokens it takes to destroy the card. It's in the bottom left corner.

3. A Label - This is the type of card. This is either EVENT, FATE, UNIT, ENHANCE, or OBJECTIVE.

Cards also don't pay any attention to affiliation types. This is something that can be scaled up later, as your kid progresses. Color matching is a good next step. But more on upscaling later. But let's examine the cards a little closer.

THE CARDS TYPES or THE NEW CARD TYPES

The bare bones game does not have Events and Enhancements as we know them. Additionally, Fate cards aren't used the way we are used to using them. For the bare bones game, card types can be explained to your kid as follows:

1. Objectives - These are your home bases. Kids love home bases. This is where you store all the money you need to build other cards with. Show 'em the little resource icon on the objective cards. Go ahead, I'll wait. Give him a few to look at and ask him how many resource in total his few home bases have. He'll get the idea.

Explain to him that in order to win this game, he has to destroy 3 of your 4 home bases (more on that later). Show him the health capacity on each home base. Show him how many damage tokens it takes to destroy any given home base. Don't worry about ANYTHING ELSE on the objective cards.

I have one suggestion that might work wonders in teaching your kid about using his home base money properly. Instead of placing a token on the objective to represent using the resource, remove one. In other words, at the beginning of your turn, fill up all your objectives with focus tokens equal to each of their capacities. That way, when your kid plays a unit, he just takes off the focus tokens to indicate paying for them.

2. Units - These are your good guys and bad guys. Aren't they awesome?! You know it! These are the guys who are going to destroy home bases. But they cost money from your home bases to play. Show him the cost. Ask him how many focus (money) tokens he would need to place on his home bases to pay for an example card.

Next, show him that even these good guys and bad guys can be destroyed. Show him the health capacity of each of them. If he got the concept with the objectives, he'll get it with these guys too. Finally, show him the damage icons. Show him all 3, and explain to him that: the gun icon is what he uses to destroy other guys; the explosion icon is what he uses to hurt home bases, and the tactics icon is what he uses to block other guys he is battling.

Ignore everything else, including the force icons and ability text.
As you might imagine, this will result in some pretty over-priced units, since much of the printed cost on a unit or other card is based on its ability text as well as its health, edge, damage capacity, etc. Don't worry, we'll fix that.

3. Enhancements - Enhancements? What?! Yeah... well, we are going to make this one real easy. I like to think of enhance cards like doctors. They fix you all up after the battle. They heal you. You can play these guys ahead of time, and when you are done with a battle, you can use them to fix up all your dudes.

Now, we are used to having a few types of enhancements, depending on what they are... well... enhancing. For the bare bones game all enhancements are just a single generic type of doctor. If it says enhance player, you ignore it. If it says enhance your play area, you ignore it. Wait a second, why am I stressing this? We are already IGNORING ALL OF THE ABILITY TEXT, right? But seriously, an enhance is just a doctor. And maybe I didn't state this before, but with enhancements that have resources, you ignore the resources too. Enhancements are just a doctor with a cool picture.

The way enhancements, err, doctors will be used is at the very end of your turn, you have the option to discard any number of enhancements you have in your play area to heal 1 damage from a unit for each enhancement discarded. Isn't that nice? Nice little doctors.

Cost for enhancements for the bare bones game is always ZERO. This makes it easier for your little dude to play cards during his Assemble the Troops step (more on that below).

4. Events - As with enhancements, events have no text either, mainly just a picture. Events, unlike Doctors, are ways to do direct damage to units. Think of every single event as a Force Choke. Every event does exactly 1 damage to 1 unit. This can be upscaled too, but now is not the time for that.

They can be played literally at ANY time. Since we are not using Action Windows, we are also NOT using Active Player Priority. This means that your little dude can throw down an event card to deal 1 damage to your Admiral Ackbar any time he wants. The only limitation is that he can only play one at a time. That's not to say he can't play 3 in a row, he just needs to show some restraint, which will go well with upscaling the game later on.

As it is with enhance cards, cost for events for the bare bones game is always ZERO. That's a crazy amount of free "Force Chokes"!

5. Fate Cards - The bare bones game does not use the edge battle system, so fate cards can be explained to your kid as super-duper event cards. They do 2 damage to a home base. 2 damage!!! Your kids are going to love fate cards.

Fate cards can be played in the same manner as event cards to deal 2 damage to an objective, one fate card at a time, any time he wants. And of course they are free.

THE DECKS or... well... THE DECKS

You can pretty much use most custom built decks, or even use the starter decks suggested in the core rule book and the insert for the Edge of Darkness expansion. I will say that decks that have a very specific method to play them, especially decks that rely only on a few units to play with, will probably not work. You kind of need a deck that has a nice mix of all the card types and you will see why as we go on.

THE FRAMEWORK or THE REDUCED FRAMEWORK

So you are used to following a strict set of framework events that define the game for you. In those strict framework events, you inject your strategy into it and your game adapts to your input. Well for this, we are going to, you guessed it, REDUCE the framework. The following section outlines the steps for the reduced framework. More detailed information about the Battles step will be clarified later.

SETUP: Don't bother taking out the Death Star dial or the Force Struggle indicator. You won't need them. The game is won when EITHER SIDE destroys 3 objectives. This number can be adjusted as well. In order to give your kid a fighting chance, you might decide to make it so that you have to destroy 4 of his and he 3 of yours. Do whatever results in the most fun for the kid, but doesn't spoil him with endless wins.

Shuffle the decks like normal, both the command deck and the objective deck. Each player draws four objectives and keeps them all. Yeah, they keep them all. Of course, this isn't hard and fast, but it allows for more cards to be played and for the decks to be cycled quicker since edge battles will NOT be present in the bare bones game. It also fixes the issue of paying for overly high costs units since much of the printed cost on a unit or other card is based on its ability text, which we are ignoring, remember?

Tell your kid to lay them out face-up in the common fashion. You also each get an affiliation card of your choice. Since we are not color matching, let him pick the one he thinks is the coolest looking.
Each player draws 6 cards from the command deck and there will be no mulligans. Your kids might not know what a good "opening hand" is, so why give them that unnecessary decision?

Once you are both ready, the dark side takes his first turn as typical in the full game. The dark side also can't attack on his first turn like in the full game.

STEP 1: PREPARE FOR BATTLE!

Okay, I know I said there are no phases, but that was mainly to stress that the phases as we know them are not there. There ARE steps to be followed. Kids just LOVE following steps, don't they? They don't??

So during Prepare for Battle, you first fill up all of your home bases (objectives) with focus tokens to indicate how many resources you have for this turn. That's your money. And if you are missing a home base, from an earlier assault, go ahead and replace those like normal. Mo money.

You also remove all focus tokens on your units, even if they have more than one.

Next, you draw up to your hand reserve like normal. There is no optional discard here. Instead, you count the number of resources you have available, and you look at your freshly drawn hand. If you have a card (any type) or cards that is MORE than the amount of money on your home bases, you discard that/those cards and you immediately replace it/them from your command deck. Sorry, Palps.

Now you have your full hand. You are ready for...

STEP 2: ASSEMBLE THE TROOPS!

So what are you going to do with all these cool cards in your hand? Start shopping, that's what.

Go ahead and play your first card from your hand, paying for it with the money in the home bases. You do not have to worry about resource-management. In other words, if you have a 2-resource objective, you can use 1 of the focus tokens (monies) to pay for one card, and the other one to pay for another card next.

So start buying good guys (or bad guys) and putting out your free doctors (enhance cards). If you want, during this step, you can even play event or fate cards to deal damage to your opponent's units and/or objectives. Remember, they can be played at any time. The ONLY stipulation for this is that during the very first dark side turn, the light side player can't play any event or fate cards to damage a bunch of things right away.

By the end of this step, your hand should be about half the size it was when you refreshed it, and you should have some doctors and units out. Now, you are ready for... wait for it...

STEP 3: IT'S THROW-DOWN TIME!

Feel free to rename the above step to something your kid likes. As if it's better than "throw down time"... phssshht...

Here's is where we get to it. Unless this is the dark side's first turn, of course. Cheater.

The active player chooses an objective to attack if he wants to attack. As your little guy learns the game, he is going to start picking up on when and how to attack, which defenders to leave back, when to play event cards to deal direct damage, how many doctors to use and which units to heal, and so much more. But for now, he just chooses a home base to attack.

He then chooses which good guys (or bad) he is going to attack it with. He may not be choosing units based on their combat icons at first, but he will learn to.

Then, you chose which bad guys (or good) will be defending and then you... flip a coin. Yeah, no edge battles of course, but we need to know who attacks first, don't we? So we flip a coin. it's a 50/50 chance. It'll be fun! Hah! Once you know who goes first, you proceed to take turns striking as in the normal game. Now you can show him how unit damage hurts other units and how blast damage hurts home bases. You can also show him how if you strike with a unit that has a tactics icon, you can put a focus token (blocking token) on a unit that hasn't done anything yet to make it so he CAN'T do anything. Ohhhh snap! Remember to always use ALL of your icons. Black and white icons are equal.

Unopposed reward does NOT exist in the bare bones game. Instead, and as an optional rule, you can state that EVERY battle fought will always result in a reward of 1 damage to the engaged objective. You can also limit this to just your kid as well if you want to adjust the difficulty for him.

Once all the participating units have struck, the battle ends. For the bare bones game, there can only be ONE battle per player turn.

STEP 4: THE FORCE STRUGGLE

Just kidding. I already said there was no Force Struggle. Instead, play goes to the opponent and he starts at step 1.

WINNING AND LOSING THE GAME:

The game ends immediately after the required number of objectives are destroyed. Normally this is 3, but can be adjusted, as already mentioned to fine tune the difficulty for your child. Alternatively, the first player who runs out of command cards loses.

Congratulations! You just played the awesome Star Wars: The Card Game with your little kid! And there was much rejoicing!

UPSCALING THE GAME:

Okay. So the bare bones game is just too... bare bones - not only you, but also your prodigy of a child! It's time to upscale this sucka. Here are a few pointers and game details that can be upscaled to put a little flesh on this drum stick. Remember, your goal is not to get your kid to play the full game with you. Sure, that's the eventuality. But the GOAL is to make sure your kid is having fun and is experiencing a comfortable level of challenge. These tips are not necessarily in chronological order. So here goes...

1. Resource Matching - Instead of ignoring the colors, make sure that when your kid pays for a card that he takes at least ONE money token from a resource card that has the same color as the card he will be playing. You could also apply this limitation to just yourself, to manage the difficulty level. You might also want to start using the correct affiliation card at this point as well.

2. Multi-Function Doctors - Instead of simply discarding an enhance card to heal a unit, give your kid a choice to make. He can either heal 1 damage from a unit as normal, OR place 1 shield on an objective that he doesn't want to get destroyed. This will teach him about priority defense and shields.

3. Doctors and Events are NOT free - You can now explain that doctors and events have to be paid for according to their cost. Some doctors and events are more expensive than others. This will teach your kid how to plan ahead and choose which doctors to play and which ones to get rid of during the...

4. New and Improved Discard Functionality - Instead of simply discarding the card or cards you can't afford during your Prepare For Battle step, give your kid the choice of which card he wants to discard, like in the normal game. You can implement the rule to discard BEFORE drawing up to reserve, or after, depending on how easy/hard you want to make it for him.

5. To Mulligan, or Not to Mulligan - Why not give your kid the choice of looking at his first hand and deciding for himself if he likes the cards he has. This can build in him the inclination to think more strategically, planning ahead by looking at what he has now. It also teaches the lesson of the consequences of taking risks, because you have to keep that second hand.

6. More Battles - Satisfy your growing child's thirst for conquest by allowing him to attack two or more different home bases. This will help him to start making tactical decisions as to who to send into what battle, as well as the already important decision of choosing who to save for defense in the bare bones game.

7. The Edge Battle - I'm sure you have tired of flipping that coin. Why not tell your kid what those little force icons mean as respects the Edge Battle. Now your kid will have to start thinking about keeping cards in his hand to use during the Edge Battle instead of simply playing everything he can afford. This teaches planning and prioritizing, as well as organizing units and other cards according to their effectiveness. Does your kid play that card as a unit, or does he hold on to it for the Edge? This will likely work well with introducing the Event and Enhance (doctor) costs, since now he doesn't just discard these cards - he gets to use them in the Edge Battles. This will also, of course, change the usage of Fate cards to what they are normally used for, and will likely result in them having to know what each Fate card does. This is a big step. I told you these upscale tips were not in chronological order.

8. Double Focus - You may want to introduce the concept of only removing ONE focus token from each unit, even if they have more than one on them during the Prepare For Battle step. This helps to teach them that blocking (or using tactics) can last more than one turn. Verrrry nice.

9. Normal Objectives - Instead of putting money tokens on objectives, you do it the more traditional way, adding them to the objectives in the legal way when paying for a card. You also only keep 3 of the 4 objectives when you start, as per the normal game.

10. The Force Struggle - Eventually, you are going to introduce the Death Star dial and the Force Struggle - most likely at the same time. Now, your child learns to play the game differently as the dark side, attacking where appropriate, defending his home bases, and making sure that he keeps the force to turn the dial faster. When he plays as the light side, he wants to keep the force so that he can have a free damage to an objective each turn.

11. Everything Else - If your kid is playing with nearly everything in the upscale section at this point, you might as well teach him the full game. Assuming he can read, he can start using all of the card abilities and abiding by the game rules (action windows, interrupts, objective bonuses, etc.).

CONCLUSION:

Well, as always, I wrote way more than I planned to. But I really think these guidlines will help create a variant that works for you and your kid. After all, you have been having a ton of fun playing this game. Why not share a little of that with your child?

What? Are you scared he's gonna start whipping up on you? Yeah, me too.

Special thanks goes out to Matt Henderson, for inspiring me to write all these nice pretty words. Special apologies goes out to all those who don't like reading all these nice pretty words.

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Great job.

 

I did a version for my 10 year old who as Dyslexia and reading is not easy (see http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/85309-kids-rules-working-out-playing-with-my-son/ or our very short Youtube video at BELOW).  But this is much more detailed than we went into.  And I am working with him to upscale as he can grasp the concepts.

 

Moved this link down since the forums post a thumbnail (which is cool):

 

JH

Edited by jesterhawk

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