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During a recent week, I experienced the Star Wars Unlimited card game and transformed the normally amicable protocol droid, C-3PO, into a dangerous and aggressive lightsaber user.
Culture Games

During a recent week, I experienced the Star Wars Unlimited card game and transformed the normally amicable protocol droid, C-3PO, into a dangerous and aggressive lightsaber user.


One of the most attractive features of Star Wars themed games is the ability to create unique scenes and stories that would not appear in the films. Whether you are playing Knights of the Old Republic, Jedi: Fallen Order, or the vintage Star Wars role-playing board game created by Greg Costikyan in the 1990s, there will be exclusive moments not seen on the silver screen. I can attest to this, as I recently emerged victorious in a game of the new Star Wars Unlimited trading card game with the help of a courageous C-3PO wielding Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber.

At a fundamental level, Star Wars Unlimited operates similarly to modern trading card games such as Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic: The Gathering. Each player has a deck of cards containing characters and vehicles, each with a health and power/damage value. Additionally, the character cards may have special abilities that add strategic depth to the game. The objective is to defeat the opponent’s base by playing cards and attacking their forces. The starter kit for Star Wars Unlimited includes two full decks – one for imperial forces and one for rebels. Booster packs are also available for purchase to personalize and build themed decks.

 Star Wars Unlimited cards.View image in fullscreen

The unique aspect of this is that it is based on Star Wars. The initial card set, “Spark of the Rebellion,” takes place during the classic trilogy and Rogue One, evoking a sense of fond memories. When playing as the Rebels, you’ll have Luke Skywalker as your leader and a variety of familiar companions, such as Leia, Chewbacca, and the consular security forces seen at the beginning of A New Hope. There are even cards featuring the mustachioed guards from Cloud City. The game also includes X-Wing fighters and Snowspeeders, as well as their imperial counterparts. The card illustrations are charming and add to the nostalgic feel, with detailed and lively artwork.

This game is reminiscent of Marvel Snap, but also incorporates visually appealing card art and a strong grasp of the character and lore. The Event cards, based on scenes from the movies, were particularly enjoyable. For example, one card named “Shoot First” allows players to attack before their opponent can react and features an image of Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina with a laser gun.

Lead designer Danny Schaefer, along with a small team at veteran board and card game studio Fantasy Flight Games, took on the fun challenge of matching card values with well-loved characters and vehicles in their game Unlimited. With a wealth of trading card game experience and a plethora of ideas for each character and vehicle, the team poured an unprecedented amount of resources into the game’s development over the course of three years. This resulted in passionate debates as the team, all huge Star Wars fans with their own unique connections to the franchise, worked to bring their visions of the beloved series to life in the game. They eagerly await the reaction of all game players, who will get to see their own Star Wars experience reflected in the game.

The game was created with beginners in consideration. It features three primary types of cards – Units (representing characters and space ships), Upgrades (that can enhance unit cards) and Events. The gameplay consists of two rounds – Attack and Regroup – which is a significant departure from the intricate structure of a typical Magic: The Gathering round. The card text is also straightforward and easy to comprehend. Players rapidly take turns, strategizing against their opponent similar to a fast-paced game of chess: attack, defend, switch to a different card, build towards a major move, then execute it.

Star Wars Unlimited match.View image in fullscreen

However, this game is not limited to beginners. By strategizing and determining the optimal timing for key moves, it unveils a whole new level of complexity and presents intriguing options. In one instance, I was performing poorly in a game until I realized that I could unite C-3PO, who has a low attack but strong defense, with Luke’s lightsaber card, increasing his attack power. In a sudden turn of events, my protocol droid transformed into a formidable warrior, easily defeating stormtroopers with his golden lightsaber.

Unlimited’s creators aimed for a balance of instant gratification and hidden complexity. They meticulously tested every aspect of the game and utilized each designer’s strengths, resulting in a well-rounded approach to themes and competitive deck building. With a team of experienced game designers, they were able to draw from their past experiences to ensure the game’s success. The team went through multiple versions of cards in order to achieve the perfect balance.

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This isn’t the first time Star Wars has been a trading card game. Magic: The Gathering creator Wizards of the Coast made a version in the early 2000s, and then Fantasy Flight Games itself produced Star Wars: Destiny in 2016, which had you rolling dice. But Unlimited feels more compact, streamlined and accessible, and though it’s still early days, players I’ve spoken to are figuring out how to exploit the straightforward mechanics for unexpected effects.

I have personally had fun surprising my friends by defeating an AT-AT or Emperor Palpatine when they least expect it, all while asking Alexa to play the Imperial March. The card art in this game does a great job of capturing specific moments from the movies, yet still allows you to successfully battle a group of stormtroopers with just a 2-1B Surgical Droid and emerge victorious. Star Wars Unlimited understands that the ideal version of Star Wars is the one that exists in your imagination.

Source: theguardian.com