I am, I have to admit, an avid collector of things. Personally, I blame the Pokémon card game. When I was younger I used to play it avidly with my friends and family; however, Pokémon was never really a game designed to be played. It’s about collecting, a collectable card game no less, with the tagline “Gotta Catch ‘Em All”.
That message was indoctrinated into me, and so many others, from a young age and, although Pokémon cards were my first real collectable game, they certainly weren’t my last.
To be completely honest, it is now 16 years later and I currently have four on the go. Star Wars: X-Wing, The Game of Thrones LCG, Arkham Horror LCG, and Magic the Gathering. Yes, a couple of those are LCGs (Living Card Games) which are somewhat different, but to be blunt they are still collectable games. They are all games where the buying of expansion packs are imperative to the game.
Luckily, leaving aside Magic the Gathering, none of them are Trading Card Games (or TCGs). The difference between an LCG and TCG is that in an LCG all of the expansions are static. You know exactly what is in each one. A TCG relies on base sets and booster packs, where the booster packs are random. This satisfies the collector, whilst also adding an element of risk that you will not always get what you want. When I was 22 years old I decided to consciously stop playing the National Lottery. When I was 25, I decided I would not get into another TCG unless it was for the sake of documenting it for this blog, for much the same reason. It feels like flushing money down the toilet.
Then my friends decided to introduce me to Star Wars: Destiny, and everything kind of went out of the window.
A Force To Be Reckoned With
Star Wars: Destiny is a Trading Card Game designed by Fantasy Flight. It is played with a mixture of cards and dice, where players battle each other in simulated combat. Dice are rolled and manipulated to determine your actions each turn. It is a game of cunning, fast-paced planning, and stabbing your opponent with vibroknives.
Like…no matter who you are playing as. Han Solo? Vibroknives. Padame? Vibroknives. Luke Skywalker? Vibroknives. You get a vibroknife! And you get a vibroknife! Everyone gets a vibroknife!
Okay, I’m calm again now.
When it was first suggested to me, Star Wars: Destiny seemed like a terrible idea. I loved the Star Wars franchise growing up; however, nowadays I can take Star Wars or leave it. I am a stickler for the original trilogy, but after that – meh. Sorry for being so adjective-less, but “meh” kind of covers it.
This is one of the two reasons getting into a Star Wars TCG didn’t appeal. The other aspect, as mentioned above, is the money aspect. TCGs can get expensive, and they can get expensive fast.
So needless to say, when I was invited for a Destiny Day, I was dubious. There were some fairly serious players there and I would be loaned a deck for the day to play against them. My friends are pretty malleable so they built a few and let me choose between them.
I picked Luke and Rey. Not only because…well…Luke, but also because, with all the additional canon around Star Wars now, I actually knew who both of them are.
So, we sat down to play and, I have to admit, as someone who went in fairly cynical, I was incredibly surprised. I really enjoyed myself.
What Is The “It” Factor?
I’ve spent today trying to nail down what it was that I liked about the game, and I think I am going to fall back on the typical response when talking about most Fantasy Flight games. It just has “it”. I don’t know what “it” is, but they have “it”.
There was something really enjoyable and fun about the whole experience. I’m going to try and narrow it down a bit, but generally speaking Star Wars: Destiny is a well-balanced game that offers a lot of options for how you want to play.
I think the card game world is, generally speaking, split into three kinds of people. There are the people who just want to collect, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is a collectable game and, as explored above, I am an avid collector of things myself.
There are people who want to play casually. This is the area most players of card games sit. They like playing on occasion, to have fun. This is the area where, if I didn’t write a blog about board games that kept me going back to explore more, I would probably sit. I enjoy the odd game but don’t want to live my life by cards.
Then there are people who live for the competition and the challenge. These are people who deserve respect and admiration, as they seek to build the best lists to win the top tournaments. My friends fit into this category and, if you also fit into this kind of category, then Destiny is probably the right game for you.
Star Wars: Destiny, more so than other games, seems to be about understanding your cards inside and out. I played six games with the same deck on Saturday, and by the end of it, I understood that I had an aggro deck in my hands. I knew I had to play cards fast, roll out as quickly as possible, and strike to kill off characters. Fantasy flight seem to have understood this and so the decks are only small decks (30 cards). This makes it possible to, within a few games, truly understand how a deck works.
And I suppose, said he rambling and going with a stream of consciousness, this is Destiny’s biggest success. Due to the small deck size, it remains accessible where games like Magic the Gathering have now achieved a cult status. I was able to understand 30 cards really quickly where a larger deck (Game of Thrones, for instance, has 60 cards) could be more difficult to grasp a hold of.
This makes Destiny a fast paced and enjoyable game for newbies and veterans alike. I played against four seasoned players (three had won regional tournaments) and managed to hold my ground fairly solidly against most. “It” was easy, “it” was accessible, and, unfortunately, I can see exactly why people want to get into “it”.
There Is No Try
After trying Star Wars: Destiny, I was asked a simple question by my friends: “Are you going to get into it?”
My answer was, I have to be honest – no because I can’t afford the investment. One booster box, which is recommended for beginners after purchasing the basic set and contains around 38 booster packs, is £80 which is can be the same price as two (maybe three) board games.
When asked if money was the only aspect, and I said yes, my friend disappeared into his gaming cupboard. He emerged a few seconds later, with a whole stack of cards and a few dice.
“There you go,” he said, “there is every common card in the game.”
It turns out he had them spare from buying so many booster boxes, and now I have a Star Wars: Destiny collection. I guess we will see where it goes from here.
As Master Yoda said, “Do or do not, there is no try.”
So I’m interested – if you have played Destiny, what was your experience of it? More interestingly, why did you get into it? If you aren’t into it then why haven’t you got into it? Let me know in the comments below.