Star Wars: Destiny Review Hot

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MattDP   February 05, 2018  
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The kitchen is bright and white. On the breakfast bar is a colossal faux-lego rollercoaster, a testament to a late-night drunken Kickstarter visit. Glancing down to the nearby dining table, I see a scattered mess of cards, dice and Star Wars art.

My face falls. "Oh no," I say. "You didn't".

"It's an experiment," my host replies. "Was just curious about the system. I'm not going to buy any boosters."

This triggers a sequence of awful flashbacks. Sitting in my car, surrounded by empty Magic: the Gathering wrappers, consumed by guilt at my wasteful profligacy. Visiting a dark house to see a dodgy man with a dodgy beard to buy cards unavailable elsewhere. Standing in a cold car park while strangers flip through binders of my cards, offering me a pittance in return.

"That's how it *starts*," I try to explain. "Next thing you know you're knee deep in card sleeves and re-mortgaging the house."

My host assures me the game works fine played with only the starter decks. Now I'm here, I might as well find out for myself. He explains the rules. It's a quick-fire game of discreet actions: rolling your dice and using them are two separate actions, for example. So it's all about order and timing.

Half an hour later, I'm unconvinced. I've lead Rey and Finn to ignominious defeat, but worse than the shame is the sense of not knowing quite why. A lot of it seemed to be down to rolling bad dice and drawing bad cards. But hey, it only took half an hour. Why not try again?

Another half-hour later, I'm hooked.

What emerged from the chaos and clatter of dice reminds me, just a little of Twilight Struggle. Not in a mechanical sense, but in the way that play is all about building and demolishing dreams. A turn starts with five cards in your hand and two resources to spend playing them. So you start to dream. If I roll *this*, then I can afford to play *that* but if *the other* happens I can counter with *this*.

Then you roll your dice and half the plan falls down. Then, as you're scrabbling for new ideas, your opponent rolls and the other half falls down. But you can't stop dreaming, rebuilding, trying to force some order into the falling bricks. No matter how many times everything gets planned and smashed, it's addictive to keep trying.

Next day, I order the starter decks and box of boosters. 

About the third pack I open contains my first "legendary", the rarest and most powerful cards. And it's a doozy: Ashoka Tano, a character I am unfamiliar with but who I was, nevertheless, looking out for. As the parent of two girls, both of who like Star Wars, I wanted female characters for them to build decks around. And they don't come better than Ashoka. I tear into more packs, dreaming about what other exciting and valuable cards might lie within.

Not long after I find myself in a familiar situation. Sitting on my sofa, surrounded by empty Star Wars: Destiny wrappers, consumed by guilt at my wasteful profligacy. And yet at the back of my head is an itch, buzzing away, demanding more.

So when I arrange another game with another friend at a local club, I leave that stack of cards behind and just take the starter decks. We play under bright lights at a small, white Formica table that wouldn't look out of place in a 70's sci-fi film. There's barely room to fit our drinks, and our rolling dice constantly barrage into each other's card tableaux. The noise they make bouncing off the table is incredible and earns irritated looks from other gamers. I make a mental note to get a dice tray.

Our first game doesn't go that well. A lot of useless red faces get rolled. As an experiment, I roll my yellow Finn dice six times, and it comes up red half of them. "It's too random," complains my opponent. But he's a Star Wars fan and we've got nothing else to play, so we play again anyway. 

Another half-hour later, he's hooked.

Because this is the thing about Destiny. Sure, it's random, although part of the purpose of building a deck is to ameliorate that randomness, to make sure you always have an option. But even when all your dice are rolling nothing but crap, and you're not pulling any of cards you need, it never feels unfair or unfun. In the same way that not winning a raffle never feels unfair. 

Besides, whatever you roll or draw, it's all about using what you've got to try and steal an edge. It's about brinkmanship: if you've got a card that removes damage dice, do you play it now, or do you dare wait until your opponent has rolled them all? It's about whether to buy a lesser upgrade right now, or risk waiting a turn to afford a better one. No matter how the luck runs, this stuff is fun. It's varied and addictive. And when it isn't - and it never isn't - who cares when turns are so quick-fire and games are so short? 

Next day, I start to build a deck around Ashoka. That buzzing itch intensifies because I don't have enough cards to copy a design from the internet. So I try to make my own with what I've got instead. She's a powerful character because she can roll her dice multiple times by paying "resources", the game's currency. I'm looking for powerful upgrades, a bit of defence, and combos that generate resources.

Options come up and I compare them and improve or reject them. Soon, I'm surrounded by small stacks of cards. Shortly after that, two hours have shot by into hyperspace and I'm sated with my own cleverness and creativity. I haven't looked at the internet once.

The result is a hit: with me playing a starter deck, it feels like I'm playing on a par with them. They roll the dice, screaming with delight when good stuff comes up, groaning in despair when it doesn't. We make lightsaber noises and Yoda impressions we do. At no point does anyone get grumpy about bad results.  

It's such a success that for the next play, I take my newly constructed deck out to see my friend again. Played by an adult, it wipes the floor with his starter deck. And just like that, the itch is gone. I don't hesitate to grab his spare starter deck and we play again, right back in a galaxy far, far away. 

And we agree: the experiment was a success.

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Posted: 02 Feb 2018 10:27 by Michael Barnes #262673
Michael Barnes's Avatar
This is probably the best dice game I've ever played. It really blows King of Tokyo and all of the others away, and the addition of cardplay elements brings a lot of depth. There's tons of drama, action and fun so it feels totally SW- moreso than some of FFG's larger attempts at the setting.

I really wish they would do set packs with fixed cards- like a Hoth set, where you get all of that stuff. Then a Rey/Kylo Ren/Snoke battle pack. There's so many they could do, so many different scenes, battles, and environments that could be explored without the collectible distribution. I would buy every set like this they would make.

I almost bought a $40 Asohka single since she's a favorite character. But I balked when I realized that I could put another $40 with that, buy a booster box, and sell five rares out of it for $100 or more. And then buy Asohka and have $60 to spare. Seriously- flip those legendaries you aren't attached to. You can buy extra boxes with just a couple of them.

I have the new starters, Luke and Boba Fett, for review...haven't gotten them open yet, but looking forward to them. The starters have been really good so far.
Posted: 02 Feb 2018 10:39 by MattDP #262674
MattDP's Avatar
Busted. You're not supposed to be able to read this yet, but MB can because Admin rights, and I think everyone can now because it's on the forum :)

Michael Barnes wrote:
This is probably the best dice game I've ever played. It really blows King of Tokyo and all of the others away, and the addition of cardplay elements brings a lot of depth.

Not going to argue with any of that, except that KoT will always have a place at my table because it's so easy and because big multi-player fights are the biz. I haven't tried Destiny with more than two yet: I know it's theoretically possible but I don't think it's going to work that well.

Michael Barnes wrote:
I really wish they would do set packs with fixed cards- like a Hoth set, where you get all of that stuff. Then a Rey/Kylo Ren/Snoke battle pack. There's so many they could do, so many different scenes, battles, and environments that could be explored without the collectible distribution.

Awesome idea. Hopefully in that "review", I did communicate the idea that this is a game that works really well without the deckbuilding, just as my friend had promised. One thing I didn't like so much about it was that although it feels like Star Wars, it lacks much of a narrative. Having a set of cards based around a situation rather than just a character would go a long way toward fixing that.

Michael Barnes wrote:
Seriously- flip those legendaries you aren't attached to. You can buy extra boxes with just a couple of them.

Of the six legendaries in the box, four were pretty worthless. The only other decent one was Mace Windu, and I'm tempted to sell that, although it won't anywhere near pay for another box, even if I sold the four lesser ones alongside him.
Posted: 02 Feb 2018 10:50 by Michael Barnes #262675
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Well, I would say that the narrative is actually in the deck building. When I put together decks, really all I’m thinking about is if all makes sense for the characters- or setting up “what it” scenarios... classic match ups (Han and Luke versus Vader and Jabba) or going crazy with timelines (Rey and Leia versus a deck loaded with Asajj Ventress and Night Sisters).
Posted: 02 Feb 2018 12:26 by Gary Sax #262687
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Michael Barnes wrote:
I almost bought a $40 Asohka single since she's a favorite character. But I balked when I realized that I could put another $40 with that, buy a booster box, and sell five rares out of it for $100 or more. And then buy Asohka and have $60 to spare. Seriously- flip those legendaries you aren't attached to. You can buy extra boxes with just a couple of them.

Yup. This is why I cannot play this game. I get that other people would be able to not buy any more and just play with the starter, I respect that, but I cannot. So better I don't touch it. Too many good games.
Posted: 02 Feb 2018 16:41 by Joebot #262706
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This game is fucking great. I've played it a bunch with my youngest son (age 8), and we both like it a lot. I've probably dropped around $75 or so on boosters and singles, and I think we're all set. I don't need to buy any more cards. I don't have Vader or Luke or Han, but who cares. I can field Leia and Admiral Ackbar instead, and that's fun. My son thoroughly kicked my ass the last time we played with his lightsaber-wielding Tusken Raider.

I've never played a collectible card game before. Never got into Magic or Pokemon or any of that shit. I never understood the appeal. NOW I understand the appeal. That endorphin rush you get when you open a new blind pack is very real, and very dangerous.

I like the idea of making "themed" deck. I hadn't considered that.

It's also worth noting that the dice are really nice. Heavy, chunky, nicely printed.
Posted: 02 Feb 2018 17:12 by Michael Barnes #262707
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Yeah, if you are thinking "I'll just pick up the starter and check it out", forget it. You are in it to the hilt even at that point. And if you are a no self control wastrel like me, you are getting on that treadmill with the quickness.

I got so incredibly lucky when I got into it, I caught a mistake Ebay listing that had TWO boxes for the price of one. So...yep.

I need to get a box of the new set...and I'm still wanting Cad Bane. And Asohka.

The thing is, some of the big bucks singles are the most popular and iconic characters, but the reality is that a) you will get a least a couple of A-listers in any box and b) a lot of the minor characters are just as fun in terms of gameplay. You can totally partner up Admiral Ackbar with R2D2 if you want to. Most of the cards AREN'T expensive. I have picked up a couple of singles, like I wanted Ezra Bridger and Kanaan Jarrus from Rebels- they were like $5 together. I wanted General Grievous and paid BIG BUCKS for him, a cool $8. I also wanted to do a Chirrut and Baze bromance deck, so I spent another $4-5 there. Then when you add in their special weapons and cards that either picture them or make sense for the characters, your narrative deckbuilding is pretty much done.
Posted: 04 Feb 2018 06:43 by MattDP #262761
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Michael Barnes wrote:
Yeah, if you are thinking "I'll just pick up the starter and check it out", forget it. You are in it to the hilt even at that point.

I think it's entirely possible to just play with the starter decks - it's an inexpensive way to try it out, and it's just fun to play regardless of what cards you've got. Sure it won't have the same shelf-life as if you invested in some boosters, but you'll still have a great time.
Posted: 05 Feb 2018 10:45 by Sagrilarus #262834
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Lifespan? This game checks all the boxes for the "Discontinued 18 months later" category of games. Collectible, Star Wars, FFG, mainstream market placement . . .

You can pick up a starter set and 36 boosters on Amazon for under $100. But, if it's due to die in the next six months you'll be able to pick that much up for $40 in November.

Looks interesting.
Posted: 05 Feb 2018 11:06 by charlest #262840
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Sagrilarus wrote:
Lifespan? This game checks all the boxes for the "Discontinued 18 months later" category of games. Collectible, Star Wars, FFG, mainstream market placement . . .

You can pick up a starter set and 36 boosters on Amazon for under $100. But, if it's due to die in the next six months you'll be able to pick that much up for $40 in November.

Looks interesting.

What FFG Star Wars game died after only 18 months? Even the unpopular LCG lasted years.
Posted: 05 Feb 2018 11:10 by Sagrilarus #262841
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I didn't conflate the two. FFG has a list of lost souls on their Christmas special each year. Star Wars have a few hundred titles released on it over the years, very few of which are still in publication.

But I'll ask the question again -- do you guys think this game is going to be publishing new boosters a year from now? Or is it likely to run its course in a year or two?

Seeing boosters on Amazon for $2 apiece in bulk makes me think it doesn't have a good footing, but that may be just the discounters doing what discounters do. Or as I'm sure Asmodee would suspect they're knock-off copies. It likely won't be easy to expand this for years, as the number of named characters in Star Wars is relatively fixed and not terribly large. Not sure there's a lot of call for Major Derlin cards.

I don't care either way, good game is good game. I may pick up $100 worth for the May-Getaway convention at the shore and just break it open there with the guys. Just thinking through my options. I may be buying used stuff off of you guys at some point in the near future.

S.
Posted: 05 Feb 2018 11:43 by charlest #262845
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Yes, I think it will still be around 2 years from now at least.
Posted: 05 Feb 2018 11:44 by MattDP #262846
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Sagrilarus wrote:
But I'll ask the question again -- do you guys think this game is going to be publishing new boosters a year from now? Or is it likely to run its course in a year or two?

Seeing boosters on Amazon for $2 apiece in bulk makes me think it doesn't have a good footing, but that may be just the discounters doing what discounters do.

I think it's got the legs. It's been around 18 months now and has proved popular enough to justify 3 waves of expansions in that space of time. Given that it's known to have high production costs with all the custom dice, that's a solid investment on the part of the publisher so they must feel the investment is worthwhile.

I don't have a great track record in making these sorts of predictions, but fortunately, I don't need to in this case. As I implied in the review, it's a game you can enjoy without spending a penny on boosters. Get the starter sets, roll the dice, have fun.

As far as discounters go, it's worth knowing that there's a very pernicious practice on this game doing the rounds in less reputable retailers. Each box of boosters has exactly six legendaries, which are worth between $5-$25 each. So some scum-sucking retailers have been opening packs from each box until they find all six, and then flipping the rest as "individual" boosters. That may explain why it's possible to buy them so cheap, and also why fans recommend you buy them by the boxful.
Posted: 05 Feb 2018 12:11 by Sagrilarus #262851
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MattDP wrote:
As far as discounters go, it's worth knowing that there's a very pernicious practice on this game doing the rounds in less reputable retailers. Each box of boosters has exactly six legendaries, which are worth between $5-$25 each. So some scum-sucking retailers have been opening packs from each box until they find all six, and then flipping the rest as "individual" boosters. That may explain why it's possible to buy them so cheap, and also why fans recommend you buy them by the boxful.

Yeah, I was looking at the price of entire boxes. But that would be a question worth asking.

As for the practice of each box having exactly 6 legendaries . . . are the publishers unaware that they're selling to gamers? That kind of thing gets figured out and optimized.

If they've had 3 waves of expansions there's more than enough material for me. The question comes down to how much to spend (i.e., when to purchase).
Posted: 05 Feb 2018 12:19 by MattDP #262852
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Sagrilarus wrote:
As for the practice of each box having exactly 6 legendaries . . . are the publishers unaware that they're selling to gamers? That kind of thing gets figured out and optimized.

I'm sure they have. Note the result: they're shifting entire boxes at a time instead of a handful of boosters here and there.
Posted: 10 Feb 2018 19:11 by blatz #263369
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I bought the kids each a starter set as stocking stuffers and now the whole family is hooked. We’re having a blast thinking up teams and chasing down singles of characters we want to play. I’m currently building a Maz/Chewbacca deck called “I LIKE that Wookiee!”

As long as you stay away from Netdecking and just build what sounds fun you’ll have a great time. My daughter built a Leia/Chewie deck and the only thing she put in it were cards with pictures of Leia or Chewie. The deck is actually fun to play and wins about 50% of the time against our equally ridiculous decks.

The only thing that bothers me is the feeling that these mechanics would have been better suited to a superhero slugfest theme. I spent half my childhood I imagining what would happen if Hulk and Cap fought Superman and Batman but I’ve never given a good goddamn about wheather Count Dooku and Captain Phasma would hit it off.
Posted: 11 Feb 2018 10:56 by Sagrilarus #263382
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So, Star Wars Destiny and Star Wars Force and Destiny — different games. Who’s brilliant idea is that?
Posted: 22 Feb 2018 16:17 by Sagrilarus #263845
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Doctor Aphra, two Yodas.

Dude, I need your Yoda PM again, lost in the storm.
Posted: 22 Feb 2018 21:04 by Sagrilarus #263865
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My dupe greens and purples:

Mother Talzin
Palpatine
Obi Wan Kenbobie
Yoda (one claimed but I’ll offer the other)

Anybody looking for anything particlar let me know. I may have it. I’m holding onto Doc Aphra and am looking for droids and a Vader. I’ll consider a sell or a trade if I have it.
Posted: 23 Feb 2018 22:04 by Sagrilarus #263931
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Just sorted things up, and I have a pile of commons, uncommons and rares from the white booster packs. If you’re in the US and are looking for something in particular let me know.

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