|The Force Will Guide You
A STAR WARS (TM): The Card Game Article by Guest Writer Matt Brown
|Star Wars: The Card Game | Published 11 March 2014|
Every game of Star Wars™: The Card Game presents the players with dozens of small choices, any of which could be the tipping point of the game. When faced with myriads of possible options, it’s easy to forget what you know about the state of the game. But situational awareness always pays off, and today, guest writer Matt Brown will use a personal game example to illustrate his point: every decision matters!
The Attack Begins
Star Wars: The Card Game has a tactical depth few games can match, despite the relative simplicity of its rules. It is important to have good situational awareness and apply what you know about the current game state, your deck, and your opponent’s deck to every decision you make. To illustrate how seemingly small decisions can change the game, here’s a look at an oversight I recently made that resulted in a loss.
In the game, my Sith control deck seemed to have stalled the light side’s Vehicle onslaught. It had taken a heavy toll on both sides, but the game was in the final stages. The board was clear except for an undamaged, ready Darth Vader (Core Set, 35) holding the Force for the dark side. I’d deduced that my opponent was holding his last Rebel Assault (Core Set, 108) in his hand. I had Defense Protocol (Core Set, 40) on the board with three damage and Trandoshan Terror (Edge of Darkness, 393) with two damage. My final objective was an undamaged Counsel of the Sith (Core Set, 27), and with my enhancements, I had eight total resources.
My opponent had already destroyed one of my objectives while I had yet to destroy any. As my turn began the Death Star dial ticked up to 10. For some reason, my opponent didn’t play Rebel Assault on my Defense Protocol in my refresh phase, leaving me with all of my resources. I looked at my hand and saw: Kuati Security Team (Core Set, 136), Emperor Palpatine (Core Set, 51), Heat of Battle (Core Set, 169), Force Choke (Core Set, 59), Force Lightning (Core Set, 60), and Darth Vader.
From that information alone, it seemed logical to play the Kuati Security Team and Emperor Palpatine. However, we need to consider what I knew about my opponent’s deck. He was running Renegade Squadron Mobilization (The Search for Skywalker, 208), Raise the Stakes (Edge of Darkness, 322), The Defense of Yavin 4 (Core Set, 138), Prepare for Evacuation (A Dark Time, 232), and The Rebel Fleet (Core Set, 143). On the table he had The Defense of Yavin 4 and two copies of Renegade Squadron Mobilization. So far, I’d dealt with one Home One (Core Set, 70) and one Blockade Runner (Edge of Darkness, 323), leaving one of each in his deck. His behavior the previous turn convinced me that Rebel Assault was currently in his hand even though he didn’t play it during my Refresh phase. He also had a copy of Swindled (Edge of Darkness, 130) still unaccounted for. Does that information change what I should have played? Or should I still have played out the Kuati Security Team and the Emperor?
The Assault Pattern
This is where situational awareness became important. I could pretty fairly expect to win the game on my next turn. Even if he managed to take the Force back from me, I could expect Darth Vader or the Emperor still in my hand to take out a damaged Renegade Squadron Mobilization. So what cards in my opponent’s deck could win the game for him on his turn? Rebel Assault would be enough to take out my Defense Protocol, so he needed to find a way to do three additional damage to win, not an easy feat when starting from scratch. Possible options included getting either Home One or Blockade Runner unopposed. A Y-Wing (Core Set, 165) swarm was less scary, since Vader could always Force Choke himself to kill one and take out another while striking.
It was very unlikely that my opponent could win an edge battle and his deck had no copies of Twist of Fate (Core Set, 171) so I could count on striking first and my Heat of Battle dealing damage. Renegade Squadron (The Search for Skywalker, 209) could be problematic if it managed to tactics down my units, but he would still need a way to do three damage after that. A quick check of his discard pile told me that he was out of Target of Opportunity (Core Set, 170), so the most likely method for getting three damage remained an unopposed Home One or Blockade Runner. Home One was covered by Vader and either Force Choke or Heat of Battle, leaving me needing to find a way to stop an unopposed Blockade Runner to win.
Unfortunately, I did not think through all of the possibilities carefully during the game and proceeded to play out the Kuati Security Team and the Emperor. At the time, my thought was that the Emperor would give me protection against Renegade Squadron while the Security Team could defend against a Blockade Runner with Heat of Battle and Vader, allowing me to destroy the Blockade Runner before it could even strike.
My opponent played his Rebel Assault in my Force Phase, scoring his second destroyed objective. He then proceeded to play a Blockade Runner and Swindled my Kuati Security Team, leaving Vader and Palpatine sitting helpless while he destroyed the final objective. At this point, it would be easy for me to say he got lucky, but I’d be missing the opportunity to learn from a very real mistake.
The mistake was playing Emperor Palpatine. I didn’t need him. The key deduction I missed was that I needed to stop a Blockade Runner from attacking unopposed. Looking back at my hand, I had two good ways to do that: defending with the Kuati Security Team or playing Force Lightning, after the Blockade Runner had struck, but before the Reward Unopposed step. The more reliable of those options was Force Lightning, though it didn’t help me if the Blockade Runner had an Astromech Droid Upgrade (Core Set, 158).
Still, by choosing to play Emperor Palpatine I reduced myself to one option, knowing that my opponent could have a card to negate that defense. If I had played just the Kuati Security Team and left myself the resources for Force Lightning, then his only winning play was Blockade Runner, Astromech Droid Upgrade, and Swindled. Any other combination allowed me the opportunity to use Force Lightning to deny the unopposed bonus and hold on for the win.
So what’s the point of this story? The key to making good decisions in this game, where you know so much information, is to take a moment to put yourself in your opponent’s chair. What do they need to have happen in order to win? It can be easy to forget to incorporate your knowledge of their deck and the current game state and make a costly mistake. Many times Palpatine is a great choice, but this game he was the wrong choice. If I had exercised better situational awareness, I could have realized that and saved the game.
Matt Brown is an active member and contributor to the Star Wars: The Card Game community. Look for more Star Wars guest articles from Matt Brown and others in coming weeks!
The characters, starships, and situations of the original Star Wars trilogy come to life in Star Wars: The Card Game, a head-to-head Living Card Game® of tactical combat and strategic planning that allows two players to wage cinematic combats between the light and dark sides of the Force.