Thursday, June 27, 2019

Review Quickie: "Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure"

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, loyal readers of this blog already know that I consider  "MARK I" deck-builder Dominion to be more of an introduction of a cool and original mechanic and less of a fully-realized game. But thanks to varied titles like Thunderstone Quest, Star Realms and A Few Acres of Snow, fans of this relatively-new game mechanic have a lot of intriguing options to explore.   

The landscape got even richer back in 2016 with the introduction of Clank!, a multi-faceted and rewarding deck-builder that pairs its board-based, dungeon-crawl theme with a ticking clock element, resulting a compulsively-playable game.


In Clank!, players are "master" thieves who are looking to infiltrate a subterranean dungeon below an abandoned castle in order to steal artifacts from a sleeping dragon. Aaaaaand we all know that always works out well. To that end, players begin the game with an identical deck of mediocre cards, five of which are randomly drawn and played out every turn to get your character moving into the maze. This also generates the Skill required to draft new, and generally superior, Dungeon Row cards into your deck.

Starting decks also include the titular "clank" cards, which represents the noise players make while they drunkenly careen their way through the dungeon.Whenever these cards hit the table, the owners have to contribute an equal number of their colored cubes to the board's "Clank Banner." Later, when the Dungeon Row is refilled with cards bearing the "Dragon Attack" symbol, these cubes are dumped into a black bag and then "X" number are randomly drawn based on the dragon's ever-increasing  Rage level. Any cubes that match a player's color are placed on their respective Health Meters, which simulates the dragon going after the noisiest interlopers. When this meter fills up with cubes, you die.

Well, not quite. If you die in the castle portion of the board, the locals drag your sorry ass out and you can still count your points. However, if you get knocked out in the dungeon level, the villagers are all like "Fuck dat!" and leave your charred carcass down there as a jerky treat for the dragon.

Since the goal of the game is to snag at least one artifact and get out, the first person to achieve this goal actually triggers a terrifying endgame countdown. On every subsequent turn, the escapee presides over an increasingly-nasty dragon attack and, after four rounds of this punishment, the dragon goes completely HAM on all the remaining interlopers, killing them wholesale. Needless to say, this mechanic really drives up the game's growing tension.


For a deck-building game that downright wallows in its blatantly-Ameritrash theme, it sure sports a lot of interesting chrome. Such as:
  • Boot symbols generated by your cards let you move efficiently through the maze, but the board itself throws in a few wrinkles. Certain passageways have impassible locked doors, difficult terrain (requiring double movement costs), "wandering monsters" that guard corridors and cavernous Crystal Chambers that soak up excess movement. The board also "wraps around", Pac-Man style, yo!
  • You're encouraged to incorporate cards featuring Swords into your deck to deal with those pesky, aforementioned wandering monsters. You can also use this potential damage to gank Dungeon Row as well as the poor, eternally-renewing Goblin, for profit.
  • If you can reach one of the four mid-board Market spaces, you can then spend all of that stolen lootz on cool upgrades. This includes Keys to unlock doors, Backpacks to ignore the "one Artifact per intruder" limit and Crowns, which dovetail nicely with certain cards that appear in the Dungeon Row. 
  • Adventurers can recover Major and Minor Secrets which feature helpful perks.
  • Some chambers have a Fountain of Healing to provide much-needed rest and respite.  
  • The sheer variety of cards that appear in the Dungeon Row gives the game a crazy amount of variety, including the ability to Teleport to inaccessible parts of the maze. 
  • The flip-side of the game board features an even more challenging layout!
In fact, the only thing I really don't like about the game is it's woefully milquetoast art design. If this ever gets reprinted with some Warhammer-esque grit and a few expansions tossed in for good measure, I'll be all over it like a dragon on a nude beach.

The really great thing about Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure is that neophytes to the hobby won't find the rules overly  daunting but it's just meaty enough to keep veteran gamers amused. This one scores five pips out of six with a slight tilt down towards the subterranean depths!


***

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Friday, May 24, 2019

Game Night: "Fallout"

Sometimes the heavens align and I get a rare chance to throw down wif mah O.G. gaming peepz. Getting together with people I've known for years to take the piss out of each other, make the sort of puerile jokes that would make a 12 year old kid wince and experience a collective cardboard adventure together is downright therapeutic! I'd forgotten how much I miss this.

This past Wednesday night we tackled the tabletop version of Fallout, a fun but flawed take on the seminal video game series. For the record, Chad did a phenomenal job explaining the rules, so hopefully I won't dishonor his efforts here.

You start out by selecting one of Fallout's seminal character templates, such as the "Ghoul" (me), the "Super Mutant" (Dean, natch), the "Vault Dweller" (Alex) or the "Brotherhood of Steel Outcast" (Chad). Of course, every character has some sort of cool, thematic special ability. My Ghoul, for example, had a lower health cap but regenerated hit points whenever he passed through irradiated areas on the map. He drinks that shit up like lime-flavored Kool-Aid.

In order to keep track of your shiznit, every player gets a handy-dandy cardboard "pip boy", which you'll use to record skills, conditions, experience points, radiation levels and health. At the bottom of each template there's a place to equip your limit of one weapon, one armor and one companion. You also have a backpack which holds up to three unused items. 


The location tiles are head and shoulders above the shitty "drink coasters" included in Star Trek Fleet Captains. The muted and detailed art is super-slick and really evokes that post-apocalyptic vibe. As you can see, the character minis are great but the monsters are just wargame-style cardboard chits. Easy to read and nicely illustrated chits, I'll concede, but chits nonetheless. The cards are either miniaturized or made busy with a riot of micro print but this doesn't render them impractical, so no demerit there.

Striking out from the starting tile, players take turns performing two actions which they'll use to explore the concealed map, search locations for loot, get into assorted scrapes and pursue the expanding storyline. If your character is standing next to an unflipped tile you can use an explore action to reveal it. When you choose to move, you can typically can travel two spaces, but red-bordered difficult terrain eats up all of your movement while green bordered irradiated regions bump up your rad levels. If your radiation level ever intersects with your dwindling life points, you dead, son.

You can also croak in combat, which is cleanly resolved in a single die roll. As veterans of the video game will attest, it's all about hit location and the customized combat dice, featuring icons for arm, leg, head and body shots, elegantly reflects this. Each creature you fight is susceptible to certain types of damage and if you roll enough matching icons to overcome its "level", you'll kill it and gain some experience points. Re-rolls, courtesy of equipment, skills and being refreshed from the "camp" action, will hopefully mitigate a spate of bad luck.

You end up taking damage based the number of pips generated from the same die result, multiplied by the enemy's "level". In other words, a level two monster deals 8 damage with 4 pips to an unarmored character. Yikes! Word to the wise: find some armor and a decent weapon as soon as you can. Unsurprisingly, you're pretty vulnerable out in the wasteland without these two important assets.

Fortunately, as it is with most video games, death isn't the end of the game. After respawning back home and chucking out anything in your backpack, you're ready to strike out again. This might seem kinda weak sauce, but going "back to start" typically puts you so far away from any Victory Point goals, so I think its suitably harsh.

Leveling up in the game is ridiculously elegant and certainly reminiscent of the original IP. Just like in the video game, each character's abilities are covered by the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. acronym, which represents Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck. After gaining enough ex pees to clear a level, you draw two new random letter tokens, cherry pick the one you like the most and then slot it into your pip boy. With the appropriate attribute now unlocked, you'll get a re-roll whenever your use the matching skill. Like I said, easy and elegant. 


But, honestly, the scenario details and the branching story deck is what gives the game its main appeal. For example, our scenario, featuring a turf war between two rival factions, set up a co-operative ticking clock situation, influenced our revealed character affiliations and determined the frequency of hostile threats on the board. Also, when you do an explore action, you're often faced with an Above and Below-style story adventure choice that challenges one of your character's skills in order to score some new reward or avoid a terrible punishment.

When these are resolved, it usually opens up a few new quests and avenues to explore. Needless to say, completing these quests provides the victory points you need in order to win. If anything, quests popping up all over the board makes the board game feel more like it's original source of inspiration than anything else.

Fallout is far from perfect, however. A full compliment of four players can really drag the game out, especially if someone is prone to analysis paralysis. We started at 7 pm and finished just after 11. Yikes!

Also, if you fall behind, the game has a tendency to keep kicking you right in the blocks. Given the fact that I was at full health and my irradiated surroundings promised plenty of potential recovery, I felt pretty confident taking my first low-level enemy right away. Unfortunately my notoriously-bad dice rolling skills were characteristically awful and, since I had no way to re-roll, I got spanked pretty badly right out of the gate.

That's when I found out that enemies go after the weakest characters first. Thematically that makes sense, but becoming the entire board's punching bag because of one bad call and some crap luck kinda blows.

And trust me, I tried to improve my odds. I really did. I took approximately one-hojillion in-town explore actions, just begging for the chance to go on a simple shopping trip and buy some basic equipment. But I got denied over and over again to the point where I had close to 30 caps (I.E. cash money for the uninitiated) and nothing to spend it on. I think I only scored some proper armor in the second or third final turn of the game.

But, you know something, I still liked this stupid game. Like, irrationally liked it. Granted, that's probably because I'm a sucker for adventure / exploration type story games, especially ones with a post-apocalyptic vibe. Lately I measure my appreciation for a game based on whether or not I'd play it again, and, given half a chance, I'd venture back into this cardboard wasteland anytime.

Fallout scores three pips outta six with a huge tilt up towards the perpetually ashen sky!

 


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Game Night: "Indian Summer", "MegaLand" and "Walk the Plank"

I played a decent little trio of games awhile back but didn't report on it here...so better late than never!

First up was Indian Summer. Even though a case can be made that Uwe Rosenberg's Patchwork is nothing more than a side mechanic cast off from his sprawling masterpiece, A Feast For Odin, it still became a huge surprise hit on the two-player game circuit back in 2014.

Well, fast forward three years and the same designer's Indian Summer provides a more elaborate  game experience that can be played with anywhere from one to four players. Between the deeper rules, which have you constantly striving for and chaining together special actions, an infinitely more charming theme which appeals to the outdoorsman in me, and considerably more tasteful art design, I dumped Patchwork days after playing this one.


I guess my only niggling issue with the game is its unnecessarily problematic name. I just can't fathom why Uwe didn't call it something more politically correct like New England, Fall Hike or Grab Deez Knutz.

Despite the potential trigger-factor, Indian Summer rates four pips our of six with a big ol' tilt up towards the top of yonder oak tree!



We also got into the new(ish) Ryan Laukat / Red Raven title MegaLand.

This "blink or you'll miss it"quickie plays out like the A.D.D. love child of Incan Gold and Machi Koro. Every player enters into an abstracted dungeon delve to see how far they're willing to push their luck for loot before they're knocked out. Sets of treasure can be traded in for buildings or extra health which, in turn, helps you mitigate risks and earn the coins required to win the game.


Honestly, my only complaint with the game is that, just as it starts getting interesting, it ends. But, then again, you can always house rule the victory conditions!

MegaLand scores four pips outta six with a slight tilt up.


Finally there was the completely goofy programmed action-er Walk the Plank. In a nutshell, there are certainly worse ways to kick start or end a deeper night of gaming.

This one borrows elements from River Dragons and Mayday's own Get Bit. Players table three action cards from a sizable deck of options, trying to feed rival pirates to the kraken whilst keeping their own dudes safe.The more powerful cards have a cool down period to ensure that they're not tabled over and over again.


This might not be the deepest pursuit ever, but the grin-enduring artwork and trash-talk-inspiring game play make it a fine little diversion.

Three pips out of six with a healthy tilt up towards the crow's nest!


***
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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Game Night: "Mice and Mystics"

If you've read a lot of my blog entries, you know that I love Dungeons & Dragons and, as such, I'm a huge sucker for dungeon crawl games. If you're like me, you probably want to introduce as many of your friends as possible to your peeps to wonderful world of role-playing, but what if they break out in hives every time you start talking about orcs, trolls and elves?

The answer to this quandary may very well be Mice and Mystics, an endearing co-operative fantasy adventure game inspired, in large part, by the Mouse Guard comic book and subsequent RPG. Like all good campaign settings, M&M has an intriguing back-story. Players take on the role of various fantasy archetypes, such as cleric, wizard, warrior and thief, who are all are all in the orbit of a royal family living in an expansive castle. When rivals of the royal family stage a coup, the group is captured and imprisoned, forcing them to transform into tiny mice in order to escape!

In their quest to restore the rightful rulers to the throne and regain their original forms, the group must navigate through the castle, which is now twenty times its normal size! Along the way they're forced to contend with a host of deadly traps and battle a horde of vicious vermin, including cockroaches, rats and centipedes. Only by working in tandem will our heroes survive the perils of their over-sized new world.

Game play in Mice and Mystics is pretty straightforward. When you move into a new location, plastic miniatures representing your character and various enemies are dropped onto lavishly-illustrated grid boards which facilitate movement and battles. The game then turns into a simplified version of D&D tactical combat, with cards representing the various characters and threats getting shuffled together and drawn at random to determine their initiative order.

Naturally, every character has a unique combination of speed, hit points, and methods for dishing out damage, whether it be melee, archery or magic. Characters are further distinguished by different weapons and special maneuvers that let you break the regular rules of the game. On a turn you can move and attack, or vice versa; the effectiveness of which is determined by rolling customized dice for additional movement points, swords for melee hits, bows for ranged hits, shields for blocks and, of course, cheese! This latter result is a particularly cool consolation prize, since it lets players collect a cheese token, which can be spent on fueling special abilities or unlocking new ones.

As battles wind down, you can search your environment for more equipment, but you can't tarry too long. At the end of every action round, an increment of time passes and when this clock fills up, new threats appear. So, needless to say, the pace of the game is rather brisk.

In our game Cheryl was Tilda the Healer, Trevor was Maginos the Wizard, Rachael was Flich the Thief and I took on the role of Nez the Warrior. The game threw us right into the action, just seconds after we'd transformed into mice. On that first tile, out goal was to defeat the rat-guards and sneak out through the floor grate:


This accomplished, we soon found ourselves in a subterranean sewer, attempting to ford across a waterway, all the while being assaulted by hordes of voracious cockroaches!


After clearing this obstacle and battling our way through a corridor, we opted to go top-side to the kitchen in an attempt to liberate a potential ally:


Unfortunately that's where our adventure came to an end. Even though we dispatched the roach infestation with considerable aplomb, the event clock ushered in the kitchen's terrifying guardian and the player's arch-nemesis: Brodie the Cat. Regrettably, the colossal feline made short work of us diminutive mice.

***

There are a slew of dungeon crawl options out there, chief among them being Fantasy Flight's Descent: Second Edition. Descent is great and all, but Mice and Mystics has one primary advantage: no one has to be the overlord and play the monsters. Everyone plays a mouse character and everyone tries to work together to win!

The down side is that games which use this "programmed movement" system for the enemies can often generate a lot of rules questions, either because the game isn't play-tested enough or the rule-book is vague and / or poorly organized. And while Mice and Mystics isn't the hazy mess that Castle Ravenloft and Ashardalon can be, it does have its own issues which caused us to go spelunking into the manual to seek answers to some pretty obvious questions.

For example: is diagonal movement possible on those irregular cobblestone floors? Also, as part of their "programming", enemies are supposed to close on the closest characters and attack, but what do they do when multiple figures share the same space? Or several are equidistant from one another? From what we could gather, it's based on initiative order, but I'm still not 100% sure.

Then there are the scenario or location-specific rules, like the ones governing the actions of Brodie the Cat. The programming doesn't account for all of the possible in-game variables that can occur, so we often found ourselves putting the action on hold to go rooting around for an answer. Even when we found the relevant section, the rules were so general that we were forced to apply the sort of group interpretation usually reserved for deciphering the glyphs on ancient stone tablets.

Otherwise the game is pretty solid. When new environments are revealed, players have to think tactically, leverage all of their character's advantages and work in close conjunction in order to survive. I really love the branching options in a game, which forces the group to make interesting decisions on the spot. Do we take this dangerous detour to earn a potential reward or just make a bee-line for the exit?

And, as evidenced by the photos, the designers clearly spared no expense where it comes to the  game's lavish production design. The tiles and cards feature evocative artwork, the dice are durable and cool, the cheese tokens are super-cute and the plastic figures are incredibly detailed. In fact, if you plug "painted Mice and Mystics miniatures" into the ol' Google machine you'll marvel at the amazing results that talented artists have produced from these tiny l'il hunks of plastic.

I know this might be sacrilege, but I think I'd be more likely to play Mice and Mystics over Descent: Second Edition. It's an easier game to jump in a game of M&M because the combat is more straightforward, the branching choices are just as frequent, the art design is more unique and no-one gets stuck playing the asshole who's trying to murder everyone else. Interestingly enough, it's the last element that gives Descent a strong rebuttal since the threats are represented by one of the players. As a result, the monster "A.I." is a lot stronger and you won't waste time trying to interpret some vague instructions on a creature card.

Still, Mice and Mystics is a wonderful way to introduce imaginative kids and gaming neophytes to the deeper aspects of RPG's. As such, this one scores five pips out of six with a tilt down into a cockroach-infested basement!


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Monday, February 25, 2019

Game ̶N̶i̶g̶h̶t̶...er...Day: "Thunderstone Quest" and "Paper Tales"

Got in a game of Paper Tales and Thunderstone Quest recently.

Back in 2008, game designer Donald X. Vaccarino had a brilliant idea: "Hey, everyone loves collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering...why not design a game where you build your deck as you play? Whaaaaaaat?!?" The resulting game, Dominion, was an instant smash hit, but then, just one year later, Mike Elliot's Thunderstone came along and added an actual theme to the concept...a dungeon crawl no less!

And, with that, Dominion was deader than disco to me.


Admittedly, that inaugural version of Thunderstone had a coupla pretty prominent warts, which necessitated several "new n' improved" editions over the years. The latest, Thunderstone Quest, released just last year, represents a high water mark for the design.

Just like in every other deck-builder, players start off with a handful of mediocre cards, which include pencil-necked adventurers armed with lame-ass weapons, as well as strength boosts to carry heavier stuff and light sources to delve deeper into the dungeon. Players also produce gold which can be used to, *surprise, surprise*, buy equipment and recruit hirelings from the Town Board's Marketplace and Guild's Quarter.

As these party members "level up" and start wielding increasingly-powerful equipment, players will look to "trim the fat" from their decks to create a lean, mean, monster-killin' machine. Naturally, the ultimate goal is to build an efficient engine that doesn't leave you sitting around polishing your longsword during any given turn.

I enjoyed Thunderstone Quest. The production design is fantastic and the art is breathtaking. Since you can typically plot your turn out well in advance, the game keeps chugging along at a nice clip. There's a ton of different weapons, equipment, characters, monsters and spells, which drives up the game's re-playability. Also: bonus point for linking the number of cards you draw to your current health and using poison cards to create dead spots in your hand until you heal.There's also a genuine visceral thrill going after powerful monsters, knowing that their impending death will yield tremendous rewards.

Victory points are so understated that I completely forgot about them and just spent every one of my turns getting ready to battle monsters or battling monsters(go figure). As a result, my final score sucked kobold balls (koballs?), despite an decent start and what I thought was a fair effort. Also, the co-operative final boss battle involves rolling dice to see what hirelings and equipment you'll lose in the fight. Naturally, given my Wheaton-esque proclivities with dice, I lost a bunch of random stuff right at the end.

I'd rank it a lot lower than A Few Acres of Snow, which I think is the perfect marriage between theme and mechanics. And even though the art in Clank! is vastly inferior, I still think like that one a shade better since moving around the board / exploring a maze does wonders for my immersion.

Thunderstone Quest rates four pips outta six with a big tilt up towards the top of dat Elven Outpost!


In Paper Tales, players secretly draft five cards, reveal them, pay their recruit cost, place once in reserve and then table the others. Two cards are placed in the front rank to battle against opponents sitting to the left and right while the remaining two are placed in the back rank to either support the front line or produce assorted resources.


Resources can be used to great production synergies between cards, create victory point engines and/ or construct buildings. The latter is great because they let you table more cards in future drafts, help bolster your troops, give you moar veeps and add to your resources. Basically the buildings help bolster your prevailing strategy.

At the end of a round, remaining characters get an "aging" token, sticking around for one more round before they "die", thus making room for new recruits. This mechanic alone requires some pretty deep planning, since new acquisitions will be taking over vacant slots and some even take advantage of the collective number of aging tokens on all of your cards.

This one has a lot going for it. Even though the building iconography is a tad muddy, the overall art style is whimsical and charming. The game is also surprisingly deep, requiring players to ponder through-line strategies and draft accordingly over the course of four rounds. Points gained from military wins are great, but if you ignore all other development then there's a really good chance that your l'il civilization will stagnate.

Paper Tales is a great choice for folks who have graduated beyond Sushi Go or they just don't wanna be bothered with a long and sterile-looking game like 7 Wonders. This is definitely one that'll have you agonizing over decisions and chomping at the bit to play again and again.

Five pips outta six with a mild tilt down into the crystal-filled Mine!


***
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Monday, February 11, 2019

Game Night: "Through the Desert", "Photosynthesis" and "5 Minute Dungeon"

Hey folks! I'm introducing a new series here called "Game Night" which will feature super-brief reviews of the games we play on our, well, you guessed it, weekly game night.

Last week we kicked things off with Through the Desert.


This venerable Reiner Knizia classic sees players staking claims across a vast desert using their five caravan leaders. Turns consist of taking two camels of any color from the common supply and then placing them on the board to expand your caravan trail, picking up points whenever you reach a water hole or an oasis. Bonus points can be earned for walling off large tracts of desert space and having the longest caravan in each of the five colors.

The game is deceptively deep. Since rival camels of the same color can't be placed next to each other it's pretty easy to get up in each other's grill. Recognizing immediate threats and expanding early to "draw a line in the sand", so to speak, is critical to success. Successful players will always be studying the board, looking for a few choice colors to specialize in since "longest caravan" end-game points can really effect the scores.

The game isn't perfect, though. The pastel, candy-colored camels might be adorable but a full board of them results in visual anarchy. Fiddly tweaks and rules based on number of players and first turn placements can easily be overlooked. Poor allocation of your caravan leaders can result in players quickly getting hemmed in, but, honestly, this just makes me want to play it again to apply what I've learned.


For being vibrant, charming and deceptively tactical, Through the Desert scores four pips out of six with a slight tilt down to the burning sands of the Sahara!


Next up: Photosynthesis!


In this one, players attempt to expand their species of tree in a highly-competitive forest. After starting out with few small saplings, players cast off seeds to expand their growth. A "sun" tile constantly moves around the board, tracking turn cycles and giving trees the solar energy required to grow from sapling to Ent!

Even though I liked Photosynthesis, he rules aren't particularly intuitive and, without any quick-reference guide to refer to, we all seemed to be asking the same questions over and over again. There's just something vague, nebulous and slightly unpolished about the game, making it feel kinda clunky. There also not a lot of different options to pursue, making each turn feel kinda "samey". Finally, some of the game's elements are thematically baffling. For example, the biggest victory points come from mulching your oldest trees; an action that seems to be at odds with the game's otherwise environmentally-friendly message!

On the plus side, competing for space in this increasingly-crowded arena is pretty intense and forward-thinking players will try to set up their trees to gather as much sun as possible, regardless of its position. There's also something supremely satisfying about growing the tallest tree in a clearing to net mondo radiant points while casting shade on your frustrated rivals! Also, let's face it, this has to be one of the prettiest games on the market right now.

For being pretty but kinda dim, Photosynthesis rates three pips outta six with a tilt up toward the top of dat dere redwood!


Finally we played several games of 5 Minute Dungeon.


As someone who typically hates these frantic, stressful, real-time games with the fire of a million suns, I actually didn't feel compelled to bite down on a cyanide capsule while playing this one.

After selecting a fantasy archetype to play (Barbarian, Thief, Wizard, Valkyrie...etc, etc) and arming yourself with your character's customized deck of cards, players choose a boss monster to fight, which dictates the game's difficulty level, I.E. the number of dungeon cards you have to clear through and how tough the final boss is. A five-minute timer is started and players now must work together to blow through all of the dungeon cards, which represent various events, traps, and adversaries.

In order to overcome these obstacles, players must table the requisite number and type of cards. For example, to get past the "Miniature T-Rex", the group has to come up with two melee, two ranged and two defense cards in order to kill it and move on. Fortunately, every character has a cool special ability that players can leverage to break the regular rules of the game and mitigate misfortune. The players win if they can maneuver their way through the dungeon deck and destroy the boss monster before time runs out.

Unlike the annoying Escape: The Curse of the Temple and the "barely qualifies as a game" Camelot by the usually-solid Tom Jolly, this one isn't a miserable exercise in anarchy. Whereas it it's super-easy to fudge and / or screw something up in those two aforementioned games, 5 Minute Dungeon, forces you to play all of your cards communally in the middle of the table. Not only does this prevent  oversights it also ensures that crusty ol' rules lawyers like myself feel reasonably appeased.

The game's customized decks are well thought out, with fighter types having more swords and shields and wizards equipped with an abundance of scrolls. This rewards players for picking a nice variety of different character types. The official timing ap also adds a lot to the game's appeal since it features a charming variety of narrator accents and /or  temperaments. A lot of interaction and table talk is required, which usually results in participants becoming increasingly monosyllabic as they scramble for specific solves. As expected, the art design is goofy as hell and, even though I'm not a fan, I will concede that it matches the game's ridiculous tone. 

The bottom line is that no-one had to twist my arm to get me to play the game several times. I found myself keen to try out new characters and take on new boss monsters. Dare I say it? Yes, I dare...5 Minute Dungeon is most likely the high water mark for this concept. The fact that I'm willing to play it again is arguably the highest possible praise I can give to it.


For being fun, frantic and not overstaying its welcome, 5 Minute Dungeon scores four pips outta six with a slight tip up to the surface world!


Awrite, guys...thanks for reading and expect a back-log of these to show up over the next little while.
Until then, take care and game on!

***

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Star Wars Destiny Galactic Rumble - Part Two

Last update: June 4'th, 2019.

***

Greeting, Star Warriors!

I had so much fun with my first Star Wars: Destiny tournament (deets right hur) that I couldn't wait to do another! 

My original plan was to run it exactly like the first one, I.E. with the same number of decks. But after placing two separate orders for singles and acquiring a gravity feed box of the new set, Legacies, things quickly shot into Hyperspace. By the time I was done, sixteen different decks were vying for galactic supremacy!

Naturally, with things changing so much, the card lists for each deck are also in flux. In fact, at one point I had to spin characters off from established decks to form brand new ones. Think of this as a flurry of mid-season trades! I'll try to do my best to keep you informed of these tweaks but I consider all of these decks to be works in progress and I'm constantly fiddling with them.

As you'll soon see, not only did the tournament double in size, the play-by-play for each match became increasingly detailed. As such, I've decided to make this a "living post" which I'll update every few days with the results of a new match. Not only will this spare me a nigh-insurmountable initial time investment it should make the post more approachable for visitors as well.

So, with all of that established..."Let's get ready to rumblllllllllllle!!!"

ROUND ONE - MATCH ONE

WONDER TWIN POWERS - ACTIVATE!

Characters: Luke Skywalker - Jedi Knight and Leia Organa - Born Leader

Battlefield: Moisture Farm - Tatooine

Supports: Launch Bay x 2, Strike Team, Outpost
Vehicles: n/a
Droids: C-3PO and R2-D2

Upgrades: Teamwork
Ability:  Fearless, Force Training, Coordination, Force Protection
Equipment:  Jedi Robes
Vehicle: n/a
Weapons: DH 17 Blaster Pistol, Lightsaber, Luke Skywalker's Lightsaber

Events: Daring Escape, Our Only Hope, Willpower, Block, Leadership, Dodge, Deflect, The Day Is Ours, Fierce Resolve, Defiance, Take Cover, Determination, Force Misdirection, Lightsaber Pull, Strategic Planning

*** VERSUS ***

SERVANTS OF THE DARK SIDE

Characters:  Servant of the Darkside and Darth Vader (Elite) - Sith Lord
Battlefield:  Separatist Base - Mustafar

Supports: Power Of The Darkside, Emperor's Favor
Vehicles: Darth Vader's TIE Advanced
Droids: n/a

Upgrades: Now I Am The Master
Abilities:  Force Choke, Force Throw, Immobilize
Equipment:  Sith Holocron
Vehicle: n/a
Weapons:   Lightsaber Pike, Vibroknife, Grand Inquisitor's Lightsaber

Events: Pulling The Strings, Dodge x 2, Force Strike x 2, Lightsaber Throw, Isolation x 2, Block x 2,  Abandon All Hope, No Disintegrations x 2, The Power Of The Force x 2, Your Skills Are Complete, It Will All Be Mine, Lightsaber Pull, Battle of the Wills

***


In quick succession, Luke got "Force Trained", Leia promoted "Teamwork" and Vader played with his "Holocron". "Force Strike" hit the table 2 times in a row, dealing a total of 6 Melee damage to Luke! Our boi responded by arming himself with his namesake"Lightsaber". The Bad Guys dropped "No Disintegrations", prompting a Discard. Luke remained "Fearless", giving him the ability to draw 2 new cards and get a Shield with every Activation. Vader swapped his "Holocron" out for "Force Choke". Ruh-roh.

Our favorite neophyte Jedi proceeded to tee up 6 points of Melee damage but Vader countered with a "Choke" Special, dealing 1 smack to Luke and turning one of his 3 Melee dice to a miss. Fortunately Leia's re-roll came to the rescue! She gave her bro back his power smash (#unfortunatewording) and then dialed up a "Teamwork" Special. But then mean ol' Papa Vader delivered 3 Melee damage of his own to Luke, dropping him down to 1 point shy of defeat.

Luke went on to pummel the Servant with 6 damage blowing out his target's lone Shield. The Servant bounced back, taking on 2 new replacement Shields. Knowing that his elimination was inevitable, Luke convinced his sis to take the 2 Shields provided by the "Teamwork" die. The Bad Guys Claimed the Battlefield, dealing a single point to Luke and knocking him right the fux out.

The Servants kicked off the next round with "Abandon All Hope", flushing all of Leia's resources down the space-loo. After recovering 2 back from her dice, she immediately constructed an "Outpost". Vader proceeded to clobber her Shields with 3 Melee damage. Leia Claimed, delivering a point of damage to her pops. The Servants finished the turn by gaining 1 Resource.

C-3PO shuffled onto the scene and the Servant generated 3 Melee damage. Noticing this, Leia  quickly put her Shields up. The Bad Guys dropped "Power of the Dark Side" and Leia took 2 hits after they rolled a Blank on the next turn. A Focus provided by the "Outpost" turned Leia's Character Die to 2 Ranged damage. In reply, the forces of evil chucked out "Power of the Force" to re-roll Vader's die. Leia dealt her Ranged damage to the Servant but thanks to those pesky Shields he was still kickin'.

To add insult to injury, Vader's activation forced Leia to discard "Co-Ordination". Done with this crappy round, she Claimed the Battlefield to put a point of damage on Vader. The Sith Lord responded by piling 2 more damage onto his "beloved" daughter.

Leia finally got her "Lightsaber", but this long-awaited moment was short-lived. After the Dark Side forced 3 Discards with a second "No Disintegrations", Vader pulled a Padme on his own daughter (#toosoon) via a lethal "Choke".

SERVANTS OF THE DARK SIDE WINS!

 
Wow, rough match for the Twins. Their deck really benefits from getting "Launch Bay" and / or "Strike Team" out early, so it was probably short-sighted to spend my early Resources on Luke's saber.

I always knew that Elite Vader could be vicious and this match certainly proved that!

***

Next up: "We Do Need Their Scum", a semi-finalist from the the first Tournament, goes up against a re-constituted and re-jiggered "Millennial Falcon". How will a heavily-armed Fett and Bossk fare against wunderkind Rey, traitor-riffic Finn and a new mystery ally?

Tune in next week to find out!

***

ROUND ONE- MATCH TWO

MILLENNIAL FALCON

Characters: Rey - Force Prodigy, Finn - First Order Defector, Max Kanata – Pirate Queen
Battlefield: Starship Graveyard

Supports: It Binds All Things, Awakening
Support - Vehicles: Quadjumper
Support - Droids: BB-8
Support – Location: Maz’s Vault

Upgrades: n/a
Abilities: Second Chance x 2, Force Heal, Force Training
Equipment: Jedi Robes
Vehicle: n/a
Weapons: Rey's Staff, Rey's Lightsaber

Events: Draw Attention, Take Cover, Riposte, Heroism, Defensive Stance, Draw Attention, Deflect x 1, Unpredictable, Dodge, Block x 2, Mind Trick, Willpower, Negotiate, Use The Force, Flank, Daring Escape, Let The Wookiee Win.

*** VERSUS ***

WE DO NEED THEIR SCUM

Characters: Boba Fett (Elite) - Deadly Mercenary and Bossk - Wookiee Slayer
Battlefield:  Mos Eisley - Spaceport

Supports:  Weapon Cache, My Kind Of Scum, Black Market, Infamous, Hutt Ties, Underworld Connections
Vehicles: Z 95 Headhunter, Hound's Tooth, Slave-1
Droids: n/a

Upgrades: Prized Possession
Abilities:  Deadly, Hunter Instinct, Jetpack
Equipment: Mandalorian Armor, Cable Launcher
Vehicle: n/a
Weapons: Thermal Detonator x 2, Hidden Blaster, Relby VE 10 Mortar Gun, Flame Thrower, Wrist Rockets

Events: He Doesn't Like You, Threaten, Entangle, Subdue, Go For The Kill, Take Flight, Relentless, Pursuit x 2, Evade

***


Rey dons “Jedi Robes” and gets 2 bonus Shields since this happened on turn 1. She then Activates, as per her Special Ability. The bounty hunters pay 2 Resources for the “Hound’s Tooth”. Maz Activates, turning her and Rey’s Focus into a 3 point Melee attack. The hunters respond with “Take Flight” for free. Bossk Activates, rolling 1 Ranged damage. 3 damage is delivered to Fett, but 1 is soaked up by a Shield. The Millennials Claim the Battlefield. Before the round ends, the hunters pay 1 Resource to get 2, thanks to the “Hound’s Tooth”. Then they deliver 2 Melee and 1 Ranged damage to Maz. Oh, and Bossk gets his “Relby”. 

Maz Activates, resolving her Focus to magically transform Finn’s blank into 2 Ranged, which goes on Fett. Boba retaliates by rolling double Specials and Maz takes 2 more damage.  Finn plays “Draw Attention” to divert 2 of her wounds but not long after the Millennials are forced to Claim. Bossk gets a last minute single smack in on Maz before the rounds ends.

The Millennials play a much-needed “Second Chance” on the already-bloodied Maz. Bossk activates his “Hunter’s Instinct”. Finn also gets his own “Second Chance”! Bossk Activates, shifting 1 Damage from Finn to Rey and on the following turn 2 more Ranged damage is piled onto her. After Maz Activates she resolves both her and Rey’s Focus, setting up 1 Melee from Finn with a +2 assist from Rey. Fett counters this with “He Doesn't Like You”, removing 1 of his own blanks to take out Finn’s Melee die. Out of options, the Millennials are forced to Claim. The hunters pile on, playing “Weapons Cache" and then discarding “Threaten” to re-roll 4 dice. Fett gets another Special, resolving both it and the “Hound’s Tooth” die to deal a whopping 4 damage to Rey!

The good guys lead with “Maz’s Vault” while the bounty hunters bring in a “Z-95 Headhunter”.  Bossk activates, methodically shifting 1 Damage from Finn to Rey. He then resolves the “Hunters Instinct” Special, leaving our favorite Force prodigy with only 2 Health remaining. Maz Activates and gets a Focus which she uses to give Rey 1 Melee. She then resolves Finn’s 2 Ranged on Fett with a +1 assist from Rey. Fett strikes back with 2 Ranged damage on Rey, eliminating her. Tapped out, the Millennials are forced to Claim and the bounty hunters go on a tear. Fett’s 1 Resource powers Bossk’s 3 Melee on Maz and then a 2 value Disrupt is resolved. Bossk then drops a punishing 4 damage on Maz. Knocked out, she discards “Second Chance” to come back with 5 health.

Butt Hole Eyes...er, Maz, rolls and resolves 1 Focus to turn Finn’s die to a 2 Ranged result, which he promptly uses to blast Fett. “Hunter’s Instinct” is played on Maz for 2 points of damage. Fresh out of options, the Millennials are once again forced to Claim the Battlefield. Fett uses 4 Melee to knock out Maz for a second time and then proceeds to whack Finn upside the head for 1 Ranged.

Finn picks up “Rey’s Lightsaber”. In quick succession, the bad guys deploy “Underworld Connections”, “Deadly” on Fett and then “Hutt Ties”. The good guys respond with 2 Ranged damage to Boba. Again, the Millennials must prematurely Claim, putting “Jedi Robes” back on top of their deck. Before the round ends, Finn gets rawked by a brutal 4 points of Ranged damage from Fett and the “Cache”. Another single Damage comes from Fett’s Special and 2 more from “Hunter’s Instinct”. Yeesh.

Finn applies “Jedi Robes” like a giant body-sized band-aid. Bossk gets a “Thermal Detonator”. Finn polishes off Fett with 1 Ranged Damage. Bossk “Entangles” Finn for 1 Ranged Damage. Finn’s all out of tricks so he’s forced to Claim. Bossk goes HAM on Finn with 3 Ranged damage, killing him. “Second Chance” kicks in and he comes back with 5 health but then Bossk resolves a “Thermal Detonator” special for 3 points, “Hunter’s Instinct” for 2 and the “Headhunter” for 1.

Winner:  We Do Need Their Scum


***
At first I was concerned that I’d stumbled upon a game-breaking combo that recycled an infinite loop of “Second Chances”. Mercifully I noticed that these cards are meant to be discarded from play after they’re activated.

Maz’s ability to daisy-chain dice resolutions together is great and all, but Finn and Rey just weren't generating much damage. To mitigate this I swapped in a “Hidden Blaster” for "Riposte" with “What's a Padawan?” and another “Hidden Blaster” for a “Dodge” with the bounty hunters.

Hopefully that’ll improve their odds in a future match.

*** 

Next up: a Sith powerhouse faces off against Han and his 62%-more-thematically-appropriate partner!

***

ROUND ONE - MATCH THREE

THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE

Characters: Palpatine – Galactic Emperor, Royal Guard
Battlefield: Emperor’s Throne Room

Supports: Emperor’s Favor, Power of the Dark Side
Support - Vehicles: n/a
Support - Droids: n/a
Support – Location: n/a

Upgrades: Dark Counsel
Abilities: Force Lightning, Temptation, Force Illusion, Force Rend
Equipment: Sith Holocron
Vehicle: n/a
Weapons: Vibroknife, Infantry Grenades

Events: Deflect, Power of the Force, Feel Your Anger x 2, Manipulate x 2, Doubt x 2, Indomitable, Snare, Boundless Ambition, Overconfidence, Momentum Shift, Block, Pulling the Strings, Nowhere to Run, The Price of Failure, Dodge, As I Have Foreseen, Intimidate.

*** VERSUS ***

BEST BUDZ

Characters: Han Solo - Scoundrel and Chewbacca – Loyal Friend
Battlefield:  Outer Rim Outpost – Nal Hutta

Supports: n/a
Vehicles: Millennium Falcon
Droids: n/a

Upgrades: Life Debt, Ammo Belt
Abilities:  Roguish Charm
Equipment: Quickdraw Holster
Vehicle: n/a
Weapons: DL-44 Heavy Blaster Pistol, Bowcaster 

Events: Battle Rage, Shoot First x 2, Let The Wookiee Win, Close Quarters Assault x 2, Scruffy Looking Nerf Herder x 2, Impulsive x 2, Cheat, Quick Draw, Block, Disarm, Never Tell Me The Odds, Against The Odds, Hyperspace Jump, Scramble, Smuggling, Dodge, Smuggler’s Run, Sabotage, “Fair” Trade.

***


The Emperor kicks things off, dealing 3 Ranged to Han and then 2 damage to Chewie for his special ability. Han pays 1 Resource to plow the Guard for 3 Ranged damage and, in response, the Royal Guard gets 1 Shield. The round ends after Chewbacca takes on a “Life Debt” and the bad guys Claim the Battlefield.

After Palpatine gets "UNLIMITED POWAAAAH!!!" with “Force Lightning” he rolls 4 Ranged (requiring a cost-prohibitive 1 Resource) and 2 Discards. Han pays a Resource to blast the Guard again. The Emperor resolves the Discards and the good guys are forced to chuck out “Smuggler’s Run” and – EEP! – “Bowcaster”. Our favorite walking carpet then takes 2 points of damage from the Emperor’s special ability. The bad guys then turf “As I Have Foreseen” to re-roll. This time the Emperor gets 2 Ranged and a blank. The good guys Claim, Chewie turns his own die to the Special, flips Palpy’s die to 4 Ranged and then hammers the Guard, killing him. Since the Emperor can't resolve the die’s cost, he’s forced to end the turn.

The good guys play “Cheat”, swapping an “Ammo Belt” for the “Bowcaster” while the Emperor incongruously scores some “Infantry Grenades”. Han picks up a Resource. The Emperor rolls a 2 Discard result, so after Han and Chewie both take a point of damage, they're forced to throw out “Sabotage” and “Disarm”. The Furry One gets a “Quick Draw”-augmented “Bowcaster” so he Activates immediately. The Emperor resolves his Grenade Special, delivering 2 damage to both of his enemies. He then piles 2 more Ranged damage onto the wookiee. Chewbacca fires back, using his “Bowcaster’s” Special to smack the Emperor for a point. After Palpy Claims the Battlefield, Han and Chewie polish off the round by picking up a Resource.

Han gets his “DL-44 Blaster Pistol” and, thanks to the Ambush keyword, he also snags a Shield and then Activates. The Emperor spends 2 Resources for "Dodge", which returns a whopping 6 Ranged damage. Ouch! The Emperor then discards “Price of Failure” to re-roll. Chewbacca resolves his Special, inflicting 1 damage on the Emperor. Palp then makes the wookiee’s hair stand on end with 3 Ranged damage! Han loses a Shield and takes a damage from the Emperor’s relentless Special Ability. The good guys Claim and since the Emperor can’t pay for the cost for his 4 Ranged “Force Lightning”, the round ends.

Han generates an insane 6 damage but Palpatine is ready for him. He flops “Overconfidence”, forcing the smuggler to re-roll, getting 2 Disrupt and 1 Resource, the latter of which is lost. Vicious! As a consolation prize, Han resolves the 2 Disrupt. The Emperor rolls 2 Ranged on 2 dice and the good guys play “Let the Wookiee Win”, delivering 2 damage to Palp. Then Chewie takes 4 Ranged damage right in his furry mush. With that, he’s knocked out and Han mourns by Claiming the Battlefield.

Han gets another “DL-44” so now he’s like an interstellar version of Chow Yun Fat. This gives him another Shield and he Activates. The Emperor plays “Indomitable” and gets 3 Shields! Han plays “Against the Odds”, producing 2 Ranged damage. Next up, Palpy plays “Intimidate” and Han loses his Shield. Our favorite scruffy-looking nerf-herder then discards “Close Quarters Assault” to re-roll his “DL-44” die and ends up smoking the Emperor for 4 points, 3 of which is soaked up by Shields. The Emperor then pays 1 Resource to drop a nasty 4 Ranged lightning blast on Han, who immediately Claims. The Emperor collects 2 Shields and the round ends.

Monsieur Solo Activates. The Emperor plays “Doubt” on Han’s 3 Ranged roll but he gets the same result. He pays 1 Resource and Palpy takes a net of 1 damage. Han then jettisons “Block” to re-roll one of his blank dice but gets a duplicate result. The Emperor plays the appropriately-named “Feel Your Anger” which turfs one of Han’s blanks but also a Supply die. Han then discards “’Fair’ Trade” to re-roll but he only gets 1 Supply. “Emperors Favor” hits the table. Han resolves his 1 Supply and then claims on his next Action. The Emperor picks up 2 Shields then delivers 2 Ranged to Han, finishing him off.

Winner: The Emperor’s New Groove


***

As expected, the Emperor is a freakin’ brute. This deck is basically the polar opposite of “We Do Need Their Scum” which has a shit-ton of Supports and Upgrades. But this one also works. Like really, really well.

It works because that be-helmeted, red-fabric-swaddled meat-shield the Royal Guard can soak up lots of damage while the 15-health Emperor gets established. It works because the bad guys have some pretty hardcore dice manipulation. But it works mainly because Palp is probably gonna light you up with 4-5 damage...every...SINGLE...TURN

Even though the Emperor won, I thought that Han and Chewie acquitted themselves rather nicely, mainly because their relative speed is a big threat to this deck. Next time out I’ll trim “Best Budz” down a bit more and table an elite Chewie.

***

Next up: an octogenarian Jedi and his fledgling apprentice, er...padawan take on the whole Empire by themselves!

***

ROUND ONE - MATCH FOUR

IMPERIAL WAR MACHINE

Characters: Ciena Ree - Adept Pilot, General Veers - Field Commander, Veteran Stormtrooper
Battlefield: Imperial Academy

Supports: Imperial HQ,  E-Web Emplacement, Armored Support, Attrition, Tech Team
Vehicles: Speeder Bike Scout, AT-ST, AT-DP
Droids: Interrogation Droid, Probe Droid

Upgrade: n/a
Abilities: Imperial Discipline, Promotion
Equipment: Plastoid Armor
Vehicle: 74-Z Speeder Bike
Weapons: Infantry Grenades, T7 Ion Disruptor Rifle, EMP Grenades

Events: Take Prisoner, Tactical Mastery, Imperial Envoy, First Strike, Occupation, Flanking Maneuver, Covering Fire, Probe, Firepower, Imperial Backing,  Imperial War Machine, Imperial Might, Pinned Down

*** VERSUS ***

"WHAT'S A PADAWAN?"

Characters: Luke Skywalker (Elite) - Unlikely Hero and Obi-Wan Kenobi - Mysterious Hermit
Battlefield: Obi-Wan's Hut

Supports: It Binds All Things, Your Eyes Can Deceive You, Perseverance  
Vehicles: n/a
Droids: R2-D2

Upgrades: Journals of Ben Kenobi
Abilities: Force Focus,  Akashi Training x 2, One With The Force, Inner Strength, Psychometry
Equipment: n/a
Vehicle: n/a
Weapons: Hidden Blaster, Lightsaber, Hunting Rifle x 2, Heirloom Lightsaber, Shoto Lightsaber

Events: Heightened Awareness, Invigorate, Guard, Distraction, Force Vision, Voices Cry Out, Rejuvenate, Noble Sacrifice, Alter, Mislead, Bestow, Krayt Dragon Howl, Mind Trick

***


“What's a Padawan?” starts, paying 2 Resources to play “Force Focus” on Luke. The Imperials bring in an “Interrogation Droid”, which later forces a Discard of “Heightened Awareness”.  Ben uses a Focus to turn 1 of Luke's dice to a 2-Ranged side. Luke then uses his own “Force Focus” to turn his other die to a 2 Ranged result! He then heaps all 4 points of damage on Ciena! “What’s A Padawan?” go on to Claim the Battlefield and Luke gets a Shield. The Imperials end the turn with Veers giving Ciena a badly-needed Shield.

After a flurry of activations, the “Interrogation Droid” forces the good guys to turf “Mislead” while “What’s A Padawan?” collect 2 Resources. Veers gets a “Promotion” and draws a card. “One With The Force” is played on Obi-Wan (natch). Once again, Ben’s Focus transforms Luke’s die into a 2 Ranged result and on the following turn this damage strikes Ciena, who loses 1 Shield and takes 1 damage. The good guys Claim and Ben gets a Shield. The villains play “Imperial HQ”, pick up 1 Resource and assault Luke with 3 points of damage. He takes a net of 2 thanks to his Shields and the round ends.

The Veteran Stormtrooper picks up some “Infantry Grenades”. Ben executes his now-trademarked stunt of using a Focus to turn 1 of Luke's dice to 2 Ranged. Luke returns the favor, using “Force Focus” to spin Ben’s “One With The Force” die to a 3-Ranged result! 4 Resources are spent to bring “Tactical Mastery” onto the table. 1 Shield is placed on the Trooper and 1 Ranged damage goes to Luke. “What’s A Padawan?” clobber Ciena with 4 more Ranged damage, knocking her out! 2 more points are delivered to Veers, so he loses a Shield and takes 1 point. The Imperials collect 1 Resource. The good guys Claim and Luke gets a Shield. Fresh out of options, the Imperials end the turn.

Luke ignites his “Lightsaber”. The Stormtrooper inexplicably gets dressed up in a second set of “Plastoid Armor”, giving him 10 Health. When the villains table “Imperial Envoy” 2 “Makashi Trainings” are revealed. Since this is an Upgrade, nothing is lost. Luke delivers 1 Ranged damage to Veers and then picks up a Shield. Ben Claims, giving 1 Shield to Luke. The Impies use their “HQ” to make the 2 Ranged “Infantry Grenades” side free to play and then plaster Luke for 3 points of damage. After his Shields are reduced, he ends up taking 1 damage. The turn ends after the villains collect a single Resource.

“What's A Padawan?” plays “R2-D2” for 1 Resource. For 2 Resources, “Imperial Might” hits the table, hammering Ben for a blistering 5 points of damage! The “Interrogation Droid” forces the good guys to Discard “Makashi Training”. Once again, Ben uses a Focus to switch one of Luke’s die to 2 Ranged. The Imperial spend 2 Resources to play “Imperial Backing” and later “Tech Team” comes down for free. The good guys direct a punishing 5 damage on Veers! Veers uses a Focus to turn the “Infantry Grenade” to its Special. The good guys spend 1 Resource for 3 melee damage on Veers, knocking him out of commission! The “Infantry Grenades” go ‘splody, dealing 2 damage to both Luke and Ben. Luke collects a Resource. The Imperials Claim but the Trooper can't get a Shield ‘cuz he’s not Blue. *beep, boop* Luke finishes the turn by picking up 1 Shield.

“Tech Team” lowers the cost of the “AT-DP” by two Resources. Ben gets “Makashi Training”. The “Interrogation Droid” forces the good guys to jettison “Bestow”. Luke uses a Focus to turn 1 of his dice to 2 Ranged. The Impies discard “Firepower” to reroll the Trooper’s 1 Ranged result and his blank. Luke does a 2 Resource Power Action which delivers a whopping 4 damage to the Trooper. The embattled bucket-head strikes back at Ben for 1 damage. The Trooper is then brutalized for another 3 damage before he’s forced to Claim. “What’s a Padawan?” polish off the round by dealing 1 more Ranged damage to the Trooper and collecting 2 Resources.

“Armored Support” is played for free, thanks to the Imperial’s “Tech Team”. The villains pay 1 Resource for 3 damage on Ben but thanks to his Shields, he only takes one. Luke’s “Lightsaber” Special does 2 damage to the Trooper. “Imperial HQ” resolves, covering the cost of 3 Ranged damage on Ben...he’s eliminated! “Makashi Training” is played on Luke for free. Monsieur Skywalker then proceeds to use a Focus result to turn 1 of his own Character Die to 2 Ranged. Next turn he takes a Power Action, spends 2 Resources to deal 3 Ranged damage to the Trooper and he’s K.O.’ed!

“WHAT'S A PADAWAN?” wins!


***

The Imperials rolled a lot of blanks so, honestly, I don’t know if the solution is to add more Weapons and Vehicles to the deck. Cheaper options, more Resource generation or the ability to retrieve cards would be equally-attractive additions. Sadly, the “Disruptor Rifle” and the “AT-ST” arrived in hand waaaaaaaay too late in the game.

As for Luke and Ben, their synergy is pretty obvious. Not only can Ben soak up a crap-ton of damage, his ability to consistently customize Luke’s dice is pretty sweet. The deck also seems to generate Resources reasonably well, which, in turn, often translates into some pretty potent Power Attacks.

***

Next up: a fledgling Rebel deck gets a baptism by fire in battle against the last tournament’s champion!

***

ROUND ONE - MATCH FIVE

THE DORK SIDE

Characters: Kylo Ren - Vader's Disciple, Captain Phasma - Elite Trooper, Nightsister

Battlefield:  Frozen Wastes - Starkiller Base

Supports:  Power Of The Darkside
Vehicles: First Order TIE Fighter
Droids: n/a

Upgrades: Lure of Power, Force Stasis, Immobilize, Mind Probe
Abilities: n/a
Equipment: n/a
Vehicle: n/a
Weapons: Kylo Ren's Lightsaber, Captain Phasma's Blaster, F-11 D rifle

Events: Feel Your Anger, Firepower, Isolation, Closing The Net, Pulling The Strings, Enrage x 2, The Power Of The Force, Parry, Drop Your Weapon, Kill Them All, As You Command, Ruthless Tactics, New Orders, Decisive Blow, Leadership, Undying Loyalty x 2, Tactical Mastery, Subjugate, Clash.

*** VERSUS ***

WE’RE REBELS, WE REBEL

Characters: Poe Dameron –More Than A Pilot, Rebel Trooper, Admiral Ackbar – Perceptive Tactician

Battlefield:  Rebel War Room – Yavin IV

Supports:  Air Superiority, Resistance HQ
Vehicles: Y-Wing, Black One, T-47 Airspeeder, Z-95 Headhunter
Droids: Astromech

Upgrades: Wingman
Abilities:  Natural Pilot, Tactical Aptitude
Equipment: n/a
Vehicle: n/a
Weapons: IQA-11 Blaster Rifle, A-280 Rifle

Events: It’s A Trap!, Surgical Strike, Strike Briefing, Logistics, Natural Talent, Hit and Run, Rebel Assault, Strategic Planning, Suppression, Logistics, Leadership, Reckless Reentry, Deploy Squadron, Field Medic, Air Superiority, Honor Guard, Defensive Position, Direct Hit.

***


“Force Stasis” is played on Kylo but he completely whiffs on his Activation. But, then again, so do Poe and Phasma! Ackbar uses his 2 Focus result to change Poe and the Rebel Trooper’s dice to 2 Ranged each. 4 Ranged damage is then delivered to Phasma. Kylo resolves his Special on the Rebel Trooper, revealing a “Y-Wing”, so that’s 3 damage! After the Rebels Claim the Battlefield, Phasma picks up a Shield and the round ends.

The Rebels lead by launching a “Y-Wing”. The bad guys respond by giving Phasma an “F-11D Blaster Rifle”. “Hit and Run” is played on Poe and on their next turn the Rebels spring “It’s A Trap!” for 1 Resource, selecting Ranged results. Poe, the Rebel Trooper and the “Y-Wing” all turn their dice to their  2 Ranged damage sides! Kyle-O resolves his “Stasis” Special on the Rebel Trooper who loses his Ranged die and takes 1 damage. 4 more damage is piled onto Phasma’s chrome dome. Her Shield soaks up 1 so she takes a net of 3. Hux then uses his Focus to turn Phasma’s “Rifle” to +2 Ranged and Kylo’s die to its 2 Melee side. The Rebels respond with “Logistics”, so they get 2 Resources from Ackbar’s 1 Resource die. The Dork Side plays “Enrage” for 1-Resource and once again the Rebels Claim. The Rebel Trooper gets plowed with 4 damage, killing him! The Dork Side then pay 1 Resource to resolve Kylo’s 2 Melee damage on Ackbar. Yowza!

Poe gets armed with an “A-280 Rifle” and then an “Airspeeder” takes wing. Once again, Hux uses his Focus to turn Phasma’s die to 2 Ranged and the “Rifle” die to a +2. On their very next turn Ackbar eats all 4 damage and then Mr. Ren drops an additional 1 Melee on the Admiral. The Rebs discard “Leadership” to re-roll 4 dice and then the bad guys spend 1 Resources to play “Power Of The Dark Side”. Next action, Poe does 3 Ranged Damage to Phasma...defeating her! Hux inherits her “F-11D”. The “Y-Wing” resolves its Special, dealing a combined 4 hits to either Characters and / or Resources. The Dork Side opts to lose 2 Resources and take 2 Shields from Kylo. The villains then Claim. Ackbar finishes up the round by collecting 1 Resource and 1 Shield.

Hux stumbles across “Phasma’s Blaster” in the armory. In true action hero fashion, Poe adds an “IQA-11 Blaster Rifle” to his free hand. In a familiar play, Hux employs his Focus to turn his “F-11D” die to +2 Ranged and “Phasma’s Rifle” to 2 Ranged. After spending the required 2 Resources, all of this damage is then piled on Ackbar, eliminating him! Kylo adds insult to injury, resolving 1 Disrupt and delivering 1 Melee to Poe. The Rebels discard “Suppression” to re-roll all of their dice and the Dork Side Claim the Battlefield. Poe and company finish up the round by collecting 2 Resources and using this to play “Direct Hit” on Kylo Ren for a total of 4 damage with an additional 2 coming from the “Airspeeder”.

The Rebels pay 1 Resource for “Air Superiority”. Hux then uses his Special to resolve “Firepower” for free, spending 1 more Resource to deliver 3 Ranged damage for a total of 4 on Poe! The good guys then pay 1 Resource to play “Field Medic” on their wounded ace pilot. The “F-11D Rifle” Special resolves for 2 more damage on Poe. The Rebels respond by tabling “Honor Guard” but then Kylo uses his Special to hit Poe again for a single smack. Poe responds with a vicious 4 damage back to Kylo, taking him out...and not in a “let’s go to brunch” kinda way. The Rebels then apply another point to Hux who promptly Claims. The Rebels finish up the round by giving a Shield to Poe and discarding “Defensive Position” to re-roll a bunch of craptacular dice. The new results are marginally better. First they resolve 2 Ranged damage on Hux from the “Speeder” and then 4 points of hurt from the “Y-Wing”. The bad guys decide to split this up by turfing 2 Resources and the dealing 2 damage to Hux. They finish the turn by picking up 1 Resource.

The Dork Side kicks off the new turn with “Tactical Mastery”, giving them 2 more Actions. Hux Activates then spends 1 Resource to do 5 Ranged Damage on Poe, knocking him out!

THE DORK SIDE Wins!      



***

Clearly this Rebel Deck isn’t fully baked yet. Poe is an animal and he’s nicely assisted by Ackbar, but they just don’t have enough Weapons and Vehicles to put up a proper fight. Especially against The Dork Side; a deck that’s been aging to perfection like a fine wine since the game first launched.

With the upcoming addition of “Legacies” and a bunch of single Upgrades I’m about to buy, I should have plenty of options to build a proper Rebel / Resistance deck. Heck, I might even be able to build two of them!

Stay tuned, Star Warriors!

***

Next up: two bros who lift face off against a kiwi and an asthmatic. The results are just as weird and wild as you might expect.

***

ROUND ONE - MATCH SIX

QUI-GONE GYM & OBI-BRAWN KENOBI

Characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi - Jedi Master & Qui-Gon Jinn - Ataru Master

Battlefield:  Jedi Temple - Coruscant

Supports:  Defensive Teaching, Jedi Council 
Vehicles: ETA-2 Interceptor, Delta-7 Interceptor
Droids: R2-D2

Upgrades: Protective Mentor
Abilities: Makashi Training, Inner Strength, Coordination, Force Protection
Equipment: Hush-98 Comlink
Vehicle: n/a
Weapons: Lightsaber, Shoto Lightsaber

Events: Ancient Wisdom, High Ground, Unbreakable, Synchronicity, Overconfidence, Riposte x 2, Secret Mission, Strength Through Weakness, Investigate, Ataru Strike, Caution, Defensive Stance x 2, Concentrate, Swiftness, Lightsaber Training.

*** VERSUS ***

THE KIWI & THE ASTHMATIC 

Characters: General Grievous - Jedi Hunter & Jango Fett - Lethal Mercenary

Battlefield:  Separatist Base - Mustafar

Supports:  Black Market, Bubble Shield, Outpost, Backup Muscle
Vehicles: Fang Fighter
Droids: n/a

Upgrades: Prized Possession
Abilities:  On the Hunt
Equipment: Armor Plating x 2, Supply Pack, Jetpack, Mandalorian Armor, Ascension Gun
Vehicle: n/a
Weapons: Vibrosword, BD-1 Cutter Vibro-Ax, Vibroknife, Thermal Detonator, Verpine Sniper Rifle, 
IQA-11 Blaster Rifle, LL-30 Blaster Pistol

Events: Lying In Wait, Coercion, Suppression, QuickDraw, Recon, Tactical Mastery, Battle Fatigue, Armed to the Teeth, Only Business Matters, Loose Ends. 

***


The villains spend 2 Resources to equip Grievous with a “Vibroknife”. Obi-Wan Activates, giving Qui-Gon a Shield. This activates Liam, er...Qui-Gon’s special ability to deal  1 damage to Jango. Fett opts to use his own special ability to Activate. The Jedi play “Defensive Stance”, giving Obi-Wan 2 Shields. After  Qui-Gon plows Grievous for 3 Ranged damage, Obi-Wan performs a “Riposte”, smoking Fett for one damage for each of his 3 Shields. The bad guys Claim the Battlefield and ding Obi-Wan for a point of hurt. For their final action, Obi-Wan uses “Concentrate” to dial up a 3 Melee die result which he then delivers to Fett’s shiny metal face.

Fett dons (more) “Armour Plating” and Grievous goes “On The Hunt”.  After “R2-D2” arrives on the scene, Obi-Wan Activates which gives Qui-Gon  a Shield. After Jango Activates in response to this, the villains chuck out “Backup Muscle” to reroll 3 dice. On their very next action, Grievous spends 1 Resource to deliver 4 damage to Obi-Wan. “R2” generates 1 Resource, which the good guys then use to rock Jango for 3 more Melee damage. His “Armour Plating” soaks up most of this, resulting in a net damage of 1. Grievous resolves a Disrupt, forcing the Jedi to throw out “Swiftness”. Fett nails Obi-Wan with 2 Ranged damage and then Qui-Gon returns the favor, tagging Jango with 1 Melee. The villains Claim, delivering a point of hurt to Obi-Wan and the good guys pass, ending the round.

Like the walking Swiss army knife he is, Grievous suddenly produces an “LL-30 Blaster Pistol”. Obi-Wan Activates, giving Qui-Gon a Shield which he, in turn, uses to snipe Fett for one damage...eliminating him! After Grievous discards “Coercion” to reroll 3 dice the villains strike back, plowing Obi-Wan for 4 Melee damage. Unbowed, the Jedi returns the favor, delivering 3 right back to Grievous! This vicious slug-fest abruptly ends when Obi takes 1 final Ranged hit and gets knocked out. So uncivilized! Once again, it’s “R2” to the rescue! He uses a Focus to turn Qui-Gon’s die to 2 Melee which the Jedi Master then uses to smoke Grievous. All the asthmatic android can do in response is generate one measly Resource. Qui-Gon Jinn Claims, Grievous takes another damage and the round ends.

Qui-Gon fires up a “Lightsaber” and Grievous pays 1 Resource to draw his “Vibrosword”.  This reveals a minor error: the mechanical menace was supposed to get a free Ambush action for his “LL-30”. To make amends, Grievous resolves his “On The Hunt” special to turn his “Blaster” die to 1 Ranged and then zaps Qui-Gon.  The Jedi plays “Force Protection” on himself right before he takes a whopping 4 Melee damage. Grievous gets 1 Resource just as Qui-Gon reconciles his “Lightsaber” special on his foe. In a last ditch effort, Grievous pays 2 Resources to play an “Outpost” but it’s way too little / too late. Qui-Gon delivers the coup de grâce to Grievous in the form of 2 Melee damage, ending the match.


Winner: QUI-GONE GYM & OBI-BRAWN KENOBI!

***

Wow, this one was the equivalent of four hockey goons meeting at centre ice of beating the shit out of each other.   

Admittedly, this new Grievous / Jango deck is pretty anemic, mainly because the lion’s share of my best Upgrade cards are in my Bossk / Boba deck. Needless to say, I need to find some kind of hook or engine for this deck other than “two heavily armed goons try to murder you”. At the very least it needs a Slave-I and Grievous’ Big Wheel! 

As for Obi and Qui-Gon, their synergy worked perfectly, as expected. Obi Activates, Qui-Gon gets a Shield and he then uses his special ability to spend a Shield to deal a point of damage. Nice!

***

Up next: a massive influx of new cards from the “Legacies” set results in a second chance for Poe Dameron and a rabid Attack Dawg being let off the chain!

***

ROUND ONE - MATCH SEVEN

ATTACK DAWG

Characters: Maul – Vengeful One, Mother Talzin – Nightsister Matriarch, Nightsister

Battlefield:  Sith Temple – Malachor

Supports:  Insidious
Vehicles: n/a
Droids: n/a

Upgrades: n/a
Title: Jedi Rival
Abilities: Immobilize
Equipment: Crystal Ball
Vehicle: n/a
Weapons: Maul’s Lightsaber, Grand Inquisitor’s Lightsaber, Lightsaber Pike

Events: Momentum Shift, Intimidate x 2, Consumed by the Dark Side x 2, Now You Will Die, Frighten x 2, Evade, Spell of Removal x 2, Double Strike, Witch Magick x 2, No Mercy, No Surrender x 2, Block, Take Cover, Dodge, Hidden Motive, Cornered Prey x 2.

*** VERSUS ***

HOT SHOTS – PART DEUX

Characters: Poe Dameron –More Than A Pilot, Temmin “Snap” Wexley, Admiral Ackbar – Perceptive Tactician

Battlefield:  Launch Deck – Home One

Supports:  Air Superiority, Resistance HQ
Vehicles: Y-Wing x 2, Black One, T-47 Airspeeder x 2, Z-95 Headhunter
Droids: Astromech

Upgrades: Wingman
Abilities:  Natural Pilot, Tactical Aptitude
Equipment: n/a
Vehicle: n/a
Weapons: DH-17 Blaster Pistol x 2, Poe Dameron’s Blaster

Events: It’s A Trap!, Surgical Strike, Strike Briefing, Logistics, Natural Talent x 2, Rebel Assault, Strategic Planning, Suppression, Reckless Reentry, Deploy Squadron, Targeting Computer, Attack Run, Refit, Aim.

***


Mother Talzin gets the potential to “Immobilize” and the good guys launch a “T-47 Airspeeder”. Maul plays “Hidden Motive”, declaring Ranged damage but the re-rolls don’t match. The Nightsister provides one Resource but then Snap Disrupts it! Mother Talzin activates, revealing a cost 2 “Astromech” so there’s no effect. Ackbar forces Mama Talzin to discard her “Witch Magick”.  The Nightsister responds by using her Focus to turn Maul’s die to 3 Melee and then Em Tee collects a Resource. Poe uses his Special to give Ackbar a Shield and then turns the “Speeder” die to 2 Ranged. The bad guys then spend a Resource to clobber Poe with 3 Melee! Yowtch! The “Speeder’s” 2 Ranged damage is then leveled at the Nightsister! After the villains Claim the Battlefield, the good guys opt to end the round.

The villains lead off by paying 1 Resource to “Frighten” their foes, so Ackbar discards one Shield and Snap chucks out 2. The Resistance pay 1 Resource to give Temmin a “DH-17 Blaster” and then Ackbar get the same weapon on the following turn. Maul delivers 2 Melee to Wexley. Mother Talzin Activates, drawing “Air Superiority” (cost 1) and turning the “Speeder” die to a blank! Mother Talzin follows this up by forcing her rivals to discard the “Astromech” and giving the Nightsister a Shield. The Resistance discard “Supression” to re-roll all of their dice and then Ackbar gives the beleaguered Snap a Shield. The Sith Claim, removing one Disrupt die to do 1 damage to Temmin. The heroes finish the round with Poe playing “Logistics” for 2 Resources and Ackbar doing 1 Ranged damage to the Nightsister who discards her Shield.

Mother Talzin gets her “Crystal Ball” for 1 Resource...look out, y’all! Ackbar displays his “Tactical Aptitude” and “Air Superiority” comes out next turn for 1 Resource. After a “Strike Briefing”, the Sith are forced to discard “Cornered Prey” and then “Air Superiority” is used to place a Shield on Snap. The Nightsister resolves a Discard, forcing the good guys to jettison “Natural Talent”. The villains then voluntarily throw out “Consumed by the Dark Side” to re-roll all of their dice. The heroes give no quarter, blasting the Nightsister for 3 Ranged damage! Maul prompts a Discard and the Resistance chuck out “Reckless Re-Entry”. Mother Talzin gets all matronly, giving 2 Shields to her Sistah. “Frighten” is played on their next turn, so Snap loses his Shields. The bad guys Claim, dropping one unblockable damage on Wexley but then Poe and company are fee to pile on. After using the “Airspeeder” Special to draw 2 new cards, they launch a “Y-Wing” with 3 Resources and then play “Wingman” on Snap. Sadly the “Y-Wing” whiffs on its Activation. Ackbar consoles the group by giving Temmin a Shield and then Poe delivers 2 Ranged damage to the Nightsister, who forfeits her 2 Shields. So ends the round!

The heroes pay 2 Resources for another “Airspeeder”. Ackbar Activates , using “Tactical Aptitude” to draw a card and seed “Attack Run” at the bottom of the deck. Mother Talzin removes the “Immobilize” die to turn the Speeder’s 2 Ranged die to a blank. She then uses a Focus to turn her die to 2 Ranged. Ackbar uses his own 2 Focus to flip the “Y-Wing’s” die to a Special and the “Speeder” to 2 Ranged.  “Intimidate” forces Snap to give up a Shield. The villains pay 2 Resources to play “Dodge”, removing all Ranged damage! The “Y-Wing” executes it’s Special, so Maul takes 3 damage and Mother Talzin takes 1. Mother returns the favor, hitting Snap for 2 Ranged. “Air Superiority” gives a Shield to Temmin but Maul bombs in and clobbers him with 2 Melee damage! Snap executes a Discard so the bad guys heave out “Spell of Removal”. Out of options, Maul and company Claim, giving Wexley a damage in the process. For 1 Resource Poe gets a “Targeting Computer” and then upgrades the Speeder die to 2 Ranged which is then delivered to the Nightsister...eliminating her and ending the round!

Ackbar Activates and uses “Tactical Aptitude” to draw a card and bury “Rebel Assault” at the bottom of the deck. The bad guys spend 1 Resource to knock Snap out with 3 Melee! Mother Talzin Activates and, as per her special ability, she draws a card which turns out to be “Poe’s Blaster”. Since the cost is even (2 Resources), there’s no effect. The Resistance pay 2 Resources to put a “Z-95 Headhunter” into the air. Mother Talzin collects 1 Resource and the villains pay 2 to play “No Mercy”. They discard “Momentum Shift”, adding +1 to their 2 Ranged attack on Poe. Ackbar forces a Discard so the villains throw away “Take Cover”. Once again, the Sith are out of options and are forced to prematurely Claim, giving the heroes an opportunity to run rampant. After Poe takes 1 damage, they use “Air Superiority” to give him a Shield and Ackbar adds another. They resolve the “Speeder’s” Special and draw 2 new cards while the “Y-Wing’s” Special inflicts 4 hits! The bad guys decide to divide the hurt equally between Maul and Mother Talzin. 4 more Ranged damage is then directly inflicted on the not-so-good Mother.

Maul pays 1 to do 3 Melee to Poe just as the pilot gets his “Blaster” for 2 Resources. After Em Tee activates, the Resistance draw “Surgical Strike”. Since it’s an odd number (1 Resource), the villains get to turn Ackbar’s Ranged 1 die to a blank. On their very next turn, the bad guys use “Immobilize” to turn Ackbar’s 1 Ranged “Blaster” result to a blank as well. Mother Talzin follows this up by using the Focus on her “Crystal Ball” to turn her own Character Die to 2 Ranged which later strikes Poe. They then play “Evade” to remove the Speeder’s 2 Ranged die. After this flurry of actions, the villains are once again tapped out and forced to Claim. The heroes discard “Refit” to re-roll all but the “Headhunter’s” die. They then resolve the second “Speeder’s” Special (try saying that five times real quick!) and draw 2 cards. Poe generates and then spends 1 Resource to “Aim”, adding +1 to the “Headhunter’s” 1 Ranged die, which then strikes Mother Talzin! They continue to pile on with Ackbar forcing a Discard of “Block” and then discarding “Strategic Planning” to re-roll 3 dice. Unfortunately the only useful thing they get is 1 more Ranged damage, which is applied to Maul.

The villains use “Witch Magick” to collect 1 Resource and then Maul heals 2 damage. They then play “Consumed by the Dark Side” which turns Poe’s “Blaster” die to a blank. Ackbar’s “Tactical Aptitude” helps him draw “Resistance HQ” and bury “Natural Pilot” at the bottom of the deck. Poe and Ackbar then combine for 2 Ranged damage on Maul. Maul plays “No Surrender” to re-roll his blank but he misses again! Ackbar gives Poe a badly-needed Shield. Maul discards “Intimidate” to re-roll...and then misses for a third time! The heroes pay 2 Resources to table “Resistance HQ”. Maul Claims, dealing one unblockable damage to Poe...killing him! The good guys retaliate by activating all of their ships. To maximize the results, they discard “It’s A Trap!” to re-roll the 2 “Speeder” and 1 “Y-Wing” dice. The “Speeder” forces a Discard: the “Grand Inquisitor’s Lightsaber”! Ouch! Since Maul has no cards left in hand, this triggers Ackbar’s special ability and he takes 2 damage. Finally, the “Y-Wing’s” special ability delivers the coup de grâce!


Winner: HOT SHOTS: PART DEUX!

***

Bad rolling really seemed to drag out this match. The bad guys definitely need more Dark Side Force powers to be competitive, particularly a “Lightsaber Pull” make sure Maul gets his signature weapon in hand early. It is in this deck; it just got buried at the bottom.

I’ll also be the first to admit that the deck has waaaaaay too many m’eh-level Events. Hopefully the thing will be more competitive after I procure a few more Dark Side upgrades. Also, is it also too late to ask for Maul’s Scimitar in the next set?

As for Poe and company, it’s a strong roster. And, let’s face it, I don’t care how Sith-y the competition is, when you come at them with an entire squadron of fighters and bombers they’re gonna get pasted.

***

Next up: Phasma gets her own second chance to prove herself against the gender-flipped Indiana Jones of the Star Wars universe! 

ROUND ONE - MATCH EIGHT

BUCKET HEDZ

Characters: Captain Phasma – Ruthless Tactician, FN-2199 – Loyal Trooper, First Order Stormtrooper

Battlefield:  Frozen Wastes – Starkiller Base

Supports:  Backup Specialist
Vehicles: n/a
Droids: BB-9E, Droid Commandos

Upgrades: n/a
Abilities: n/a
Equipment: n/a
Vehicle: n/a
Weapons: Captain Phasma’s Blaster, Z6 Riot Control Baton, F-11D Rifle x 2, EMP Grenades

Events: Dodge, Undying Loyalty x 2, Take Cover, Endless Ranks, New Orders, Superior Position, Flank x 2, Target Practice x 2, Shrapnel Blast, Mobilize, Scorched Earth, Battle Fatigue, Drop Your Weapon, Subjugate, Strength in Numbers, Evade, Ruthless Tactics, Tactical Mastery, Parry

*** VERSUS ***

YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS

Characters: Doctor Aphra – Artifact Hunter, Bala-Tik – Gang Leader, Hired Gun

Battlefield:  Arid Wasteland - Geonosis

Supports:  Backup Muscle, Stolen Cache, Black Market
Vehicles: Ark Angel, Pirate Speeder Tank, Modified HWK-290
Droids: BT-1

Upgrades: Gang Up, Extortion
Abilities:  Bartering, Hunker Down
Equipment: Personal Shield
Vehicle: n/a
Weapons: DL-44 Heavy Blaster Pistol, Hidden Blaster x 2, Vibrocutlass, Scatterblaster

Events: “Fair” Trade, Quick Draw, Pickpocket, Free-For-All, Dive, Delve, Pilfered Goods, Persuade, Friends in Low Places, Ace in the Hole, Trickery, In Pursuit, Rumors.

***


The Young Entrepreneurs spend 2 Resources to blast off in the “Ark Angel”. The Troopers spend 2 Resources to do a combined 3 Ranged damage to Bala-Tik and then use their collective dice to replenish those Resources. A Focus is used to give the “Ark Angel” 1 Resource. After the Bucket Hedz claim, the young rogues play “’Fair’ Trade” for 0 Resources and then spend a Resource so the “Ark Angel” can upgrade it to 3! They then spend a Resource to do 3 Ranged damage to the Trooper; a net of 1 after Shields. Bala gives himself a Shield and the round ends.

“Undying Loyalty” heals the Trooper for a point. The Entrepreneurs play “Quick Draw” and then pay a whopping 4 Resources to give Aphra a “Vibrocutlass”. Later they discard “Stolen Goods” for a Resource. The Troopers indulge in some “Target Practice” to re-roll 3 red dice and then re-roll again. The Entrepreneurs pay 1 Resource to play “Pickpocket” and the Bucket Hedz lose “Endless Ranks”...ouch! They then draw a “DL-44”. Phasma puts 2 hits on Bala, one of which is blocked by a Shield. The villains pile on, tabling “Scorched Earth” for 2 Resources which leads to a punishing 5 Indirect Damage, 2 of which hits the Hired Gun and 3 to Aphra! With their final action they do an additional 1 Ranged damage to Bala, who then uses his Focus to turn Aphra’s “Cutlass” to 4 damage! The “Ark Angel” generates a single Resource. After the Hedz get  1 Resource from the Trooper they Claim, which causes the Entrepreneurs to lose a Resource. D’oh! The rogues force a single Discard (“Undying Loyalty”) and then deliver a nasty 4 points of pain to the Trooper before the round ends.

For 1 Resource, Phasma gets he signature “Blaster”. Aphra hones her skill of “Bartering” for 1 Resource. The First Order troops spend a Resource to deal a collective 5 damage to Bala...killing him! Aphra seeks revenge, Focusing her “Cutlass” for 4 damage to the Trooper, so he’s dead! The Hired Gun takes a retaliatory 1 Melee damage and  then spends 1 Resource to do 2 Ranged right back to Phasma. The slug-fest continues with the bad guys dealing 1 Ranged damage to the Gun! After this the Bucket Hedz Claim! Aphra hits her enemies with a Discard, so they’re forced to throw out “New Orders” and the round ends.

In a timely move, the First Order plays “Drop Your Weapon!” for 2 Resources and Aphra is forced to lose her “Cutlass”! The Hired Gun spends 1 Resource to do 2 Ranged damage to Phasma. The villains throw out “Ruthless Tactics” to re-roll 3 dice. “Indiana Jeanette” spends 1 Resource to do 2 more Ranged damage to Phasma. Unfazed, Chrome Dome resolves her Special, smoking the Hired Gun for 2 damage. See his commanding officer getting attacked, *a-hem* LOYAL trooper FN-2199 steps in to give her a Shield. The Entrepreneurs generate 2 Indirect Damage and FN, like a good l’il soldier, takes both hits. FN battles back, striking the Hired Gun for 1 Melee. Aphra discovers a single Resource lying around amidst all the chaos. Phasma fires back, hitting the Gun for 1 Ranged damage. The Young Entrepreneurs claim, the Bucket Hedz pass and the round ends!

Aphra draws a “Hidden Blaster” for 2 Resources and she Activates so Phasma loses a Shield! The villains play tit for tat, spending 2 Resources to give FN an “F-11D Rifle”. After Aphra collects 2 Shields, FN drops 2 Ranged damage on the Hired Gun...taking him out too! Phasma then uses a Focus to wring 1 Resource from her other die. The Resource-fest continues with Aphra generating 2 and Phasma getting 1. Aphra then braces herself, collecting 2 Shields for a max of 3. The villains pay 1 Resource to deal 2 Melee to Aphra...leaving her with 1 Shield. Our interstellar Lara Croft then Claims the Battlefield and the bad guys pass to end the round!

The “Doctor” gets the drop on her enemies, drawing her “DL-44” and Activating with the Ambush. The Bucket Hedz do their own quick reaction with “Tactical Mastery”, allowing both FN and Phasma to Activate! The villains play “Flank”, forcing Aphra to remove her Focus. She collects 3 Resources on her turn, which ain’t gonna do her much good.  Phasma  rolls out her Special, dealing 2 damage to Aphra, one of which is blocked by a Shield. Aphra pays 1 Resouce to call in some “Backup Muscle” while the Hedz discard “Parry” to re-roll 3 dice. Terrified by all the potential hurt staring her in the face, Aphra plays “Dive!” for 2 resources to remove 3 of the Ranged dice pointed at her. This card’s Ambush ability then gives “Backup Muscle” an opportunity to blast Phasma for 1 Ranged damage! The villains claim and the round ends.

Aphra spends 2 Resources to call in a “Modified HWK-290”.  It Activates on her next turn, doing 2 damage to Aphra but letting her draw a card. She then pays 1 Resource to do a punishing 4 Indirect Damage from the “HWK”. 1 Shield comes off Phasma and FN takes the remaining 3. Phasma then uses a Focus to turn her “Blaster” to 1 Resource and picks up another from her own Character Die next turn. Aphra continues the valiant fight, delivering 4 Ranged damage to Phasma. The villains spend 3 Resources to “Mobilize” and the “Backup Muscle” smacks Phasma again. The Hedz then pay 4 Resources to bring in some “Droid Commandos” while FN delivers 1 Ranged damage to Aphra. The “Arc Angel” fires back, dealing 1 Range to Phasma - killing her! Next “Free for All” is played, which results in 2 dice being removed and 2 damage on FN! In a last ditch effort to prevent a win from slipping away, the bad guys throw out “Evade” to re-roll 3 dice. Now fresh out of tricks, Aphra Claims! FN generates 1 Resource which the Hedz then use to bring in “BB-9E” for 2. They then hit Aphra with 2 Discards: “Extortion” and *GASP* the “Pirate Speeder Tank”. As if that wasn’t crippling enough, “BB-9E” rolls a Discard as well, forcing Aphra to throw out “Friends in Low Places”. And with that, the round ends.

“Backup Muscle” delivers its third and final damage to FN and then it’s discarded. FN plays “Back Up Specialist” for 1 Resource. Aphra plays “Persuade” for free, turning FN’s die to miss! The “Ark Angel” rolls up 2 Indirect Damage but then “Target Practice” hits the table and the villains re-roll all of their dice twice! That 2 Indirect damage targets FN, but he still has 1 Health left! The loyal trooper then Pays 1 Resource to rock Aphra for a brutal 5 damage, defeating her.


BUCKET HEDZ WIN...BARELY!

***

What a crazy match! Honestly, this one could have gone either way. For first time designs, I think both are fairly solid and I’m curious as to how the Bucket Hedz will fare in Round Two.

*** 

And that concludes Round One, folks, so here are the random match-ups for Round Two:

THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE vs. WE DO NEED THEIR SCUM

THE DORK SIDE vs. QUI-GONE GYM & OBI-BRAWN KENOBI

SERVANTS OF THE DARK SIDE vs. “WHAT’S A PADAWAN?”

HOT SHOTS PART DEUX vs. BUCKET HEDZ

So, pop by again soon to see the top tier decks battle it out in the quest for galactic supremacy! Place your bets, folks!

***

ROUND  TWO – MATCH ONE

THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE  vs. WE DO NEED THEIR SCUM


To off-set TENG’s character total of 30, the Scum start with a “Pre-emptive Strike” Plot card, which deals 2 damage to the Imperials even before the match begins. The hunters then spend 2 Resources to launch the “Z-95 Headhunter”. Palp plays “Pulling the Strings” on himself and follows this up with “Manipulate”, turning both the Royal Guard and Fett’s dice to blanks. The fringers respond with 2 Disrupts to the Emperor’s Resource pool and Palpy strikes back by shocking Fett with 2 Ranged damage and then using his special ability to zap Bossk for 2 more. The Scum tap out by Claiming the Battlefield and the Emperor passes, ending the round.

The Imperials table “Power of the Dark Side” for 2 Resources while the “Headhunter” spends 1 Resource to blast the Royal Guard for 2 Ranged damage. Palpatine lights up Fett for 2 more Ranged damage and then electrifies Bossk for 2 more. Fett retaliates, nailing the Royal Guard for 2 Ranged damage. The Guard returns the favor, clipping Fett with 1 Melee. The grudge match continues with Fett delivering 2 Melee to Palp’s meat shield. The Emperor Claims, Bossk collects a Resource and the round ends.

Bossk pays 3 Resources to ready his “Relby”. The Emperor rolls a miss but then uses “Power of the Dark Side” to re-roll, getting 1 Resource, triggering Palp’s ability and dealing 1 damage each to Fett and Bossk. As if that wasn’t vicious enough, The Emperor figures out how to “Force Rend” for 3 Resources. Next up, Palpatine forces Fett to have a “Doubt” about his Special. Unfortunately, the resulting re-roll turns up 2 Ranged which is immediately delivered to the Royal Guard, killing him! Whoopsie! Bossk collects a Resource, the Emperor Claims and the round ends.

Fett dons his “Wrist Rockets” for 3 Resources. The Emperor then plays “Nowhere to Run”, turning his own die to 3 Ranged and his “Rend” die to +2 Ranged. Ruh, roh! Fortunately for the hunters, they’ve got “Evade” for 1 Resource, which kicks back Palp’s character die. The Emperor assuages his frustration by activating “Power of the Dark Side” and re-rolling his “Rend” die to get a Special. Unfortunately he doesn’t have any Resources to take advantage of this, so he’s forced to Claim. The bounty hunters go on a tear with Bossk getting a Resource and Fett using his Special to nail the Emperor for 2 damage. They then spend 1 Resource to pile on a whopping 7 more Damage!

Understandably rocked by this storm, Palpatine summons a “Force Illusion” to protect himself while the “Z-95 Headhunter” delivers 1 Resource for the Scum. The Emperor discards “The Price of Failure” to re-roll both of his dice and then Bossk digs out a “Thermal Detonator” for 3 Resources. Palpy zaps Fett for 2 Ranged damage and then uses his special ability to fricassee Bossk for 2 more. On his next action, he uses “Power of the Dark Side” to re-roll his “Rend” die. In a last gasp attack, Fett deals 2 Melee damage to Palpatine just as the Sith Lord finishes him off with 2 “Rend” damage. To celebrate, he plays “Boundless Ambition” for 1 Resource and re-fills his hand. Bossk lands the “Thermal Detonator” Special, so the Emperor uses “Force Illusion” to nullify the damage by chucking out three cards! He responds with “Dark Counsel” for 1 Resource. Sensing that the momentum is slipping away, Bossk discards “Relentless Pursuit” to re-roll 2 dice and gets 2 blanks again! Next action they throw out “My Kind of Scum” to re-roll yet again. Palpatine gathers 1 Resource from his “Dark Counsel” die. Bossk initiates 2 Disrupts, the Emperor Claims and the round ends.

Palpatine produces a “Vibroknife” and then Activates thanks to the weapon’s Ambush trait. Bossk plays “Threaten” for 1 Resource, hissing out some choice expletives before kicking Palp’s character die back to him and replenishing the spent Resource on his next Action. Once again, the Emperor uses “Power of the Dark Side” to re-roll his “Rend” die but the results aren’t much better. He consoles himself by poking Bossk for 1 Melee with the “Vibroknife”. The Trandoshan responds by running over to his “Weapon Cache” for 2 Resources. Palpy Claims and the round ends with Bossk delivering 1 Ranged damage to the Sith Lord.

Reading the aurebesh on the wall, Bossk looks to flee by strapping on a “Jet Pack”. Unfortunately, before he can get airborne, Palpatine fries him for 3 Ranged damage and another 2 for his special ability. This instantly turns the notorious bounty hunter into the equivalent of a newt that escaped from its tank three weeks ago and you just found it underneath the radiator.     


(DECISIVE) WINNER: THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE!

***      

Wow. Just...wow.

Okay, granted, the Scum didn’t get a lot of their ships, weapons and equipment out and their luck was pretty shaky, but I really didn’t expect the Emperor and his red-garbed flunky to absolutely annihilate them in six rounds.     

Palpatine’s got a decent set up. While the Royal Guard is soaking up damage, he’s single-handedly delivering 2-5 damage every round and getting more powerful with each passing turn. That formidable 15 life points is also pretty daunting to go up against.

***

ROUND TWO - MATCH TWO

THE DORK SIDE vs. QUI GONE GYM & OBI-BRAWN KENOBI


Kylo Ren ignites a “Crossguard Lightsaber” for 2 Resources, dealing 1 damage to Obi-Wan. “Protective Mentor” Qui-Gon spends 1 Resource to discover some “Ancient Wisdom”, drawing 2 cards in the process. Obi-Wan Activates, giving Qui-Gon a Shield which, in turn, translates to the First Order Trooper taking a point of hurt. Kylo uses a die result to Shield the Trooper. Obi-Wan takes 2 Ranged Damage, 1 of which is blocked by “Protective Mentor”! The Jedi follow this up by delivering 2 Melee Damage to the Trooper, destroying his Shields! The Dork Side Claims the Battlefield and they deploy “BB-9E” for free!

The First Order show off their “Tactical Mastery” for 1 Resource while Obi-Wan borrows Asoka’s “Shoto Lightsaber”. After he Activates, Qui-Gon gets a Shield which translates into 1 Damage to the Trooper! Kylo discards “Enrage” to re-roll both of his dice while Qui-Gon takes two Shields. Between Hux and the Trooper, the villains spend 1 Resource to deliver 3 Ranged damage to Obi-Wan. “Protective Mentor” Qui-Gon blocks 2 of it and with their next Action they discard “High Ground” to re-roll. 2 Shields are placed on the Trooper, the Jedi throw out “Unbreakable” to re-roll again, the Dork Side Claim and finally Obi-Wan ends the round by giving his mentor a Shield.

A “Delta Interceptor” takes to the skies for 3 Resources. Obi-Wan Activates, giving 1 Shield to Qui-Gon who, in turn, hits the Trooper for 1 point which is blocked by Shields. The First Order goons then spend 1 Resource to play “Isolation”, removing Obi-Wan’s 3 Melee die! The “Delta’s” Focus result turns the “Shoto Saber” die to +2 Melee. The villains avoid an impending strike with “Parry”, which kicks Qui-Gon’s 2 Melee die back to him! The Jedi Claim but the Dorks ain’t done! The Trooper deals 2 Ranged damage to Qui-Gon, trashing his Shields. They then discard “Undying Loyalty” to re-roll 3 dice. Hux uses his 2 Focus to change the “Crossguard Saber” die to +2 Melee and this results in 4 damage from Kylo and “BB-9E” to Obi-Wan!   

Obi-Wan Activates and gets a Shield. “BB-9E” resolves his Special, re-rolling a single Shield to replace Obi’s 3 Melee die. Jedi Master and pupil then combine to deal 3 Melee to the Trooper, 1 of which is blocked by a Shield. As soon as Obi-Wan picks up his own Shield, he gets smoked for 2 Ranged damage. The Jedi Claim and then launch the “ETA Interceptor” for 2 Resources. The “Crossguard Lightsaber” Special inflicts 2 more damage on Kenobi, Hux zaps him for 1 Ranged damage and then Kylo spends 1 Resource to do 2 more, eliminating him!

The Trooper blasts Qui-Gon in his bearded mush for 2 Ranged damage.  The Jedi retaliate, eliminating one of their foes by paying 1 Resource to paste the Trooper with 3 Ranged damage from the “Delta”. “Synchronicity” hits the table, nailing Ben Swolo for 2 Damage and then Qui-Gon piles on for 2 Melee. After the wannabe Sith slinks off and collects 1 Resource, Qui-Gon picks up a Shield. Kylo rallies, spending 4 Resources to prime up his invasive “Mind Probe”. Qui-Gon braces himself by playing “Defensive Teachings” for free. “BB-9E” forces the Jedi to Discard “Overconfidence”. The bad guys then voluntarily chuck out “Power of the Force” to re-roll 2 dice. After Qui-Gon Claims, Kylo gathers 1 Resource to fuel “Pulling the Strings” on his next Action. He draws 3 cards from the Jedi’s deck, buries “Crafted Lightsaber” and “Makashi Training” at the bottom and then plops “Jedi Council” on top. What an asshole!

Qui-Gon performs “Force Protection” on himself. The villains spend 3 Resources to open up a “Detention Center” which then Activates to remove Qui-Gon’s character die! The Jedi Master discards “Riposte” to re-roll 3 dice. Hux then uses 2 Focus to give Kylo his “Mind Probe” Special and 1 Resource on the “Crossguard Saber”. Qui Gon gets 1 Shield and then uses his special ability to transfer 1 damage to Monsieur Ren. Kylo resolves his lethal “Mind Probe” special so Qui Gon is forced to take 3 damage; one for every car he holds. The Jedi Master then resolves a Discard, forcing the villains to throw out “Immobilize”. After this Kylo gathers up a Resource and Qui Gon Claims. The round ends as the First Order uses their remaining Resource to do 2 Melee damage to Qui Gon!

For 2 Resources, Qui-Gon embraces “Coordination”. Kylo gets his “Mind Probe” special again and this time he causes a crippling 4 points of damage! The Jedi Master goes on a “Secret Mission” for 0 Resources. He guesses “Red”, draws and discards an “F-11 Rifle” and, since he was right, he gains 1 Resource. In the final play of the game, Kylo spends a Resource to deal 2 Melee damage to Qui-Gon, defeating him.


THE DORK SIDE WINS...WITH AUTHORITAH!

***

I seriously thought this one would be a lot closer. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan work nicely in tandem with one another, but they just couldn’t generate enough raw damage (or damage mitigation) to be competitive.

Conversely, it looks like the new Dork Side deck is even stronger. Phasma was a decent partner for Kylo, but Hux’s ability to lower the cost of Red Events and customize Kylo’s results with a 2-point Focus just makes him a superior choice.

From where I’m standing, The Dork Side’s got a pretty good shot at repeating their championship win!

***

ROUND TWO - MATCH THREE

SERVANTS OF THE DARK SIDE vs. “WHAT’S A PADAWAN?”


The villains get the initiative and spend 2 Resources to play “Makashi Training” on Vader. For the same amount, Luke gets buffed with “Force Focus.” Vader Activates, and his special ability forces the Jedi to chuck out “Noble Sacrifice.” Later he resolves a punishing 5 Melee damage on his L’il Boi. Luke returns the favor, blasting Pops right in the grill for 4 Ranged damage! The good guys Claim, activating the Sith Temple’s Special Ability to force a Discard. After Vader Shields himself the Round ends. 

The villains spend 1 Resource to play “Emperor’s Favor” to increase their hand size. Vader Activates, forcing the heroes to throw out “Bestow.” Later they spend 1 Resource to table “Dark Scheme”, which results in an “Heirloom Lightsaber” being discarded. Ouch! Luke generates a Resource but then Vader takes two of them away. Ben and Luke pair up to deliver 2 Melee damage to Vader, knocking out his one remaining Shield. Vader then deals 3 Melee damage back to the kid. Meanwhile, Ben chooses the worst possible time to make a diary entry, scribbling in his “Journals of Kenobi” for 1 Resource. Luke fires back at Dad for 1 Ranged damage. After the Servants Claim, the good guys are crushed when the random discard turns out to be a “Lightsaber”! This ends the round.

The Sith add to their momentum, giving Vader “Force Choke” for 2 Resources. After Luke gets “Rejuvenated” he uses a “Force Focus” Special to turn a Shield into 2 Ranged and then reveals “Adapt” to flip the Servant’s die to a blank. The villains console themselves by collecting 2 Resources. Luke performs his Power Action, spending 2 Resources to deal a total of 4 Ranged damage to Vader! The Empire strikes back with “Force Strike”, using 1 Resource to alter one of Vader’s dice to 3 Melee, which is then used to clobber Luke for a total of 4 points! The bad guys claim and their rivals are forced to discard “Adapt.” The heroes end the round when Luke produces 1 Resource and then immediately spends it on “Perseverance.”

Round four kicks off with the Servant generating 1 Resource. Luke uses his “Force Focus” special to turn his own Character Die to 2 Ranged. The Sith then spend a whopping 4 Resources to launch “Vader’s TIE”! Pity Luke then spends 2 Resources to perform his Power Action, dealing 3 Ranged damage to his poor, ol’, broken-down asthmatic Dad, eliminating him before he can go on a final joy-ride! The TIE (which presumably went to some random stormtrooper in an estate sale) promptly deals 2 Ranged to Luke, knocking him out as well! Ben Claims the Battlefield and the Servant Discards a “Block”, ending the round.

Obi-Wan says “Hello, there!” as he gains a “Heightened Awareness” for 2 Resources and maxes out his 3 Shields. Later he exhausts “Perseverance” to re-roll his own Character Die and plays “Your Eyes Can Deceive You” to re-roll again. The Dark Side responds with the 2-Resource-cost “I Am Your Father” to resolve Obi’s Focus, which forces them to discard all of their cards! Paralyzed, Kenobi Claims, and the Sith throw out “Isolation.” Next up, the bad guys chuck out “Resilient” to re-roll both dice. The Servant promptly uses a Focus to change the TIE’s die to 2 Ranged, which then destroys an equal number of Ben’s Shields. And, with that, the round ends.

Kenobi exhausts “Perseverance” to re-roll his “Journals” die twice, but he turns up blanks both times. On his next turn he produces 1 Resource.  The Servant spends 2 Resources to play “Abandon All Hope”, which drains away all of the Jedi Knight’s Resources! Out of options, Ben Claims the Battlefield, forcing the Dark side to discard “It Will All Be Mine” and ending a pretty uneventful round.

Obi-Wan finally remembers that he owned a droid, bringing in “R2-D2” for 1 Resource. Later he discards “Battle of Wills” to re-roll both of his dice. The Servant then uses a Focus to turn the TIE’s die (Tie-dye?) to 3 Ranged. Anticipating the inevitable, R2 gives 1 Shield to Ben.  The Servant then spends a Resource to deliver 3 Ranged damage to the geriatric Jedi, two of which is soaked up by Shields.  Again, Kenobi is forced to Claim, resulting in the Servant discarding a “Block” before ending the round.

Then there was the play that broke the levee: Ben drops “One With The Force” on himself for 4 Resources. The Servant develops the power to “Force Rend” for 3 Resources and then plays “Pulling the Strings” to bury Kenobi’s next three cards on the bottom of the deck. The crazy ol’ wizard comes back with “It Binds All Things” for 1 Resource and then uses one more to heal a wound via “Rejuvenate.” The Servant braces himself, gaining 2 Shields from his dice. Ben then uses “Perseverance” to re-roll his “One With The Force” die, eventually getting a 3 Focus result which eventually results in 1 Resource from the “Journal”, 3 Melee for Obi-Wan and 1 Melee from R2. The Servant can’t do much in reply, simply collecting 1 Resource before Claiming, which forces the discard of “Riposte.” Kenobi then drops a 4 Melee hammer on the Servant, dealing a net 2 damage after his Shields break. The Jedi Master keeps piling on, collecting 1 Resource and then tapping “It Binds All Things” to play “Psychometry” for 2 Resources.

In a last ditch effort, the Servant plays “Resilient” on himself for 2 Resources. Ben drops “Alter” for 2 Resources, flipping his character Die to 3 Melee and his “One With The Force” die to 3 Ranged. Ruh, roh! The TIE manages to “PEW-PEW-PEW” the Jedi for 3 Ranged damage but then Obi unleashes a one-two punch of 3 Ranged and 3 Melee to clobber the Dark Side Servant!



WINNER: "WHAT'S A PADAWAN?"

***

I assumed the Servants would deal more damage, so I now stand corrected. Luke’s Power Action is not to be underestimated and “One With The Force” is a card beyond compare. Add in the Jedi’s ability to mitigate more hurt and heal incrementally and you have a pairing that’s pretty darned resilient as well.               

***

ROUND TWO: MATCH FOUR

HOT SHOTS PART DEUX  vs. BUCKET HEDZ



The villains use 2 Resources to equip their Trooper with an “F-11D Rifle.” The Resistance spend 2 to buy  an “Astromech” and later play  “Strike Briefing” for free. This creates a draw order of “Control Baton” and then “Target Practice” with “EMP Grenades” discarded!  Phasma produces 1 Resource, an act that’s ten times more productive than anything she’s ever done on-screen. The Rebe...er, Resistance table “Logistics”, increasing the “Astromech’s” 1 Resource die to 2. The bad guys spend a single Resource to power FN’s 3 Melee to Snap. This blows out his Shields and he takes 1 Damage. The Trooper resolves his “F-11D” Special and both Poe and Ackbar take a hit. On a subsequent turn he resolves his Character Die for an additional 1 Ranged. Admiral Fishface then uses a 2 Focus result to generate 2 Ranged damage from Poe and 1 from Snap. The Hedz “Claim the Battlefield”, kicking Poe’s die back to him. Snap deals 1 damage to the Trooper and, with that, the first round ends.

“Team Evil” uses 1 Resource to produce a “Backup Specialist”, which is later used to re-roll two of their crap dice. A clutch Focus from the “Astromech” results in Poe’s die being turned to 2 Ranged and Snap’s die to 1 Ranged.  The villains respond with a 2-Resource “Subjugate”, which, once again, punts Poe’s die back to him. After Ackbar’s 1 Discard prompts the turfing of “Flank”, Phasma continues to be her usual stellar self, producing a single Resource. Don’t spend it all in one place, guys! The heroes use 1 Resource to drop “Natural Talent”, letting Snap “pew, pew” the Trooper for 2 Ranged. FN’s aim is a little rusty, so he’s sent off for “Target Practice.” The “Hot Shots” Claim, returning the Trooper’s 2 Ranged die. The bad guys finish the round by delivering 2 Ranged and 1 Melee to the Snapster.

4 Resources may be a bit of an investment, but Poe gets the very handy “Natural Pilot” upgrade. Showing his “Undying Loyalty”, the Trooper heals 1 Damage. Once again, Ackbar’s 2 Focus transforms Poe’s die to 2 Ranged and “Natural Pilot” to +3! The villains are ready for this, spending 3 Resources for a well-timed “Dodge” that sends both dice packing! Phasma finally does something useful, sniping Snap for 2 Ranged damage. Temmin strikes back, using a Discard to force the loss of “Flank.” The First Order then exhaust “Backup Specialist” to re-roll FN’s die and the Rifle die. Poe and company Claim, eliminating FN’s Character Die. The villains still have some tricks up their sleeve, using the Trooper’s 1 Resource to drill Snap for 1 Ranged damage...knocking him out! Such a critical loss, right at the end of a round, is heart-breaking for the heroes!

Things are looking up at the start of the new round with Poe getting his Blaster for 2 Resources. Totes jelly, Phasma gets her Blaster for the same cost. Given this NRA convention-level of guns being waved around, the Trooper “Takes Cover” and gets a Shield. The Resistance jettison “Rebel Assault” to re-roll 3 dice while the Trooper and FN conspire to hit Poe for 3 Ranged damage! In an attempt to rally, the “Astromech” uses a Focus to change the “Natural Pilot” die to +3 and Ackbar’s to 1 Ranged. FN rushes in and cracks Poe upside the head for 1 Melee. The ace pilot exacts brutal revenge, teaming up with Ackbar to crush the Trooper with 7 Ranged damage. Needless to say, he’s killed! Feeling accomplished, the “Hot Shots” Claim, kicking Phasma’s Character Die back to her. “Backup Specialist” is then tapped to re-roll a Rifle die, but the resulting miss signals the end of the round.

Round five starts with the heroes establishing a “Resistance HQ” for 2 Resources and the “F-11D Rifle” Special deals 2 Damage to Ackbar. Phasma continues to wake up, using her Special to smoke Poe for 2 Damage. The villains play “Battle Fatigue” for 1 Resource, removing Poe’s Character die! The good guys jettison “Strategic Planning” and then “Suppression” to re-roll twice. FN gives his commanding officer Phasma a Shield and then wings Poe for 1 Ranged. Once again the “Astromech” comes to the rescue, using a Focus to transform Poe’s Blaster die to 2 Ranged and “Natural Pilot” to a +3. Yikes! Out of tricks, the “Bucket Hedz” Claim, turfing Ackbar’s die in the process but then FN gets blasted for a total of 5 damage! The Resistance crew continue to pile on, using “Resistance HQ” to generate a Shield by discarding “Attack Run.” Their rivals refuse to pay a Resource so the card is refreshed. Poe and company chuck out “Natural Talent” to get another Shield. This signals the end of the round.

The heroes kick things off with “Refit”, launching a “T-47 Speeder” for just 1 Resource but it comes into play “Damaged.” In a key drop, the villains cough up a whopping 5 Resources to play “Endless Ranks”, bringing the Trooper back! The Resistance try to, um, resist by playing a “DH-17 Blaster” on Ackbar. Meanwhile, Poe keeps battling back, dealing a brutal 5 damage to FN. Phasma’s Special finally lands, delivering 2 Damage to Poe’s Shields and one to him. Ackbar then polishes off FN with 3 Ranged damage!

ERROR: The “F-11D Rifle” carried by the Trooper should have been re-deployed. As soon as I noticed this, I placed the card on Phasma, rolled the die and got a Special result, the damage for which I immediately put on Ackbar. 

The replacement Trooper snipes Poe for 1 Ranged damage. The “Bucket Hedz” Claim, giving the heroes a chance to go on a tear. They start with a “Discard” courtesy of the “Speeder”, forcing their rivals to randomly lose “Droid Commandos.” Ouch! They finish off a decent round with the “Astromech” and “Resistance HQ” giving Poe two badly-needed Shields.

For 2 Resources the Trooper equips an “EMP Grenade” while Ackbar becomes the ultimate “Wingman” for free (“Poe! Don’t that crazy chick a drink! IT’S A TRAP!”). The “T-47” blasts away, forcing the Discard of “Superior Position.” The villains initiate “Target Practice” to re-roll 2 dice. Poe Activates, dragging “Wingman” Ackbar along with him while readying the “T-47.” The Trooper deals 2 Ranged damage to Poe, blowing out his Shields and then collectively searing Ackbar for 5 damage. He’s eliminated! The “Hedz” pile on, with the Trooper hitting Poe for 1 Disrupt before Claiming. The slugfest continues as the ever-handy “Astromech” changes the “Natural Pilot” die to +3, resulting in a combined 7 Ranged damage on the Trooper from Poe and the “T-47”, eliminating him!  “Resistance HQ” is used to Discard “Reckless Re-Entry”, giving Poe a Shield. He does this two more times, chucking out “Air Superiority” and “Deploy Squad.”  He then spends 3 Resources to climb into a “Y-Wing”. The First Order crew discards “Drop Your Weapon!” to re-roll 2 dice. The “Y-Wing’s” Special resolves, draining away 1 Resource, 1 Shield and dealing 2 Damage to Phasma. Chrome Dome spends 1 Resource to deliver 4 Ranged damage to Poe, cracking his 3 Shields and causing a single point of Damage...just enough to knock him out!   


WINNER: BUCKET HEDZ

Even though the “Hot Shots” could virtually cherry pick their dice results thanks to the twin threat of Pablo Astrobar I.E. Ackbar and the "Astromech", they just couldn’t generate enough damage to deal with a re-constituted “Endless Ranks” Trooper! If that card hadn’t been pulled it might have resulted in a very different finale!

Awrite, on to the semi finals, which will feature the following tilts:

"WHAT'S A PADAWAN?" vs. THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE


BUCKET HEDZ vs. THE DORK SIDE

***

SEMI-FINALS 

ROUND FOUR – MATCH ONE

“WHAT’S A PADAWAN?”  vs.  THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE


Like any good redneck, Luke proudly open carries his “Hunting Rifle” while Palpy does his best David Blaine via “Force Illusion.” The villains then use the zero cost “Manipulate” to turn the Emperor’s 1 Ranged die and Obi’s high-damage die to blanks!  For 1 Resource, R2 makes his appearance while mean ol’ Sheev discards “As I Have Foreseen” to re-roll his Character die. R2 prompts the loss of 1 Resource but the bad guys retaliate, using a Discard die result to force the heroes to chuck out “Rejuvenation” and “Riposte.” His special ability then jolts Luke and Ben for 1 Damage each. Luke fires back, dealing 2 Ranged damage to the Royal Guard. Out of tricks, Palpatine Claims the Battlefield, giving the Royal Guard a Shield. The good guys pass and the round ends.

The villains kick things off with the 1-cost “Emperor’s Favor.” Ben dons his favorite “Jedi (Bath) Robes” for 2 Resources. R2 resolves his Special, giving his team a free card draw before turning Luke’s Character die to 2 Ranged. Anticipating trouble, the Emperor uses “Doubt” to neuter Luke’s die. Ben strikes back, dealing 1 Melee damage to the Royal Guard, breaking his Shield. His student follows up, blasting the Guard for 2 Ranged damage. After collecting one Resource from his die, Palpy electro-shocks Ben and Luke for 1 damage apiece and then Obi uses 1 Focus to turn his die to 3 Melee. The Royal Guard smokes Luke upside the skull for 2 Melee. In an effort to protect his investment, Ben swings back, clobbering the Guard for 3 Melee! The Emperor Claims, giving his drone a Shield in the process. The good guys end the round after using Luke’s Rifle die to force the removal of 1 enemy Resource.

Sheev and company spend 2 Resources to table “Power of the Dark Side.” Luke braces himself, getting 3 Shields via the 2-cost “Heightened Awareness.” The card’s “Ambush” keyword then lets him Activate. Palpy uses his “Sith HoloCron” to turn his own die to 3 Ranged! R2 nails his Special again, giving his allies a free card and then turning Luke’s die to 2 Ranged. The fledgling Jedi then plows the Emperor right in his prune-y mush for 3 Ranged damage, blowing out his Shields. Palpatine channels his rage into a high-voltage shocka, zapping Obi-Wan for 2 points of damage. Luke presses the advantage, hitting the Royal Guard with 4 Ranged damage, destroying his single Shield and causing 3 net points to eliminate him! Thrown aback by the young protégée’s vicious assault, Palpatine Claims and takes a Shield, ending the round.

The Emperor comes out swingin’, forcing two Discards, namely “Heirloom Lightsaber” (!) and “Mind Trick.” This also triggers his special ability, dealing 1 damage to both Luke and Ben. He then plays “Overconfidence” for 1 Resource, re-rolling Luke’s 2 dice, getting 1 Resource and 1 Ranged and then punting back the Ranged damage. Fresh out of options, the Emperor Claims and then picks up a Shield. R2 prompts the loss of a single Resource, Obi and Luke conspire to pick up 2 Resources and the good guys deliver 1 Ranged damage to their foe, which is soaked up by a Shield.

For 1 Resource, Luke gets “Invigorated.” Once again, the “HoloCron” gives Palpy an opportunity to switch his die to 3 Ranged. After Obi-Wan gets the gift of “Psychometry” for 3 Resources, the Emperor  unleashes his attack on Luke, dealing 3 damage and then 2 more to Ben thanks to his special ability. R2’s lands his special again, allowing a card draw and then turning Luke’s die to 2 Ranged. Palpatine responds with “Feel Your Anger”, and since the good guys have one blank die, the 2 Ranged die is kicked back to Luke. Obi resolves a Disrupt die, forcing the villains to throw out 2 Resources. Tapped out, Palpatine Claims, scoring a Shield in the process. Meanwhile, Obi uses a Focus to turn his pupil’s die to 2 Ranged. Inspired, Luke triggers his Power Action to deal a total of 4 Ranged damage to the Big Bad. Obi-Wan collects a single Resource and this contentious round comes to an end!

Palpatine continues to rally, using “Indominable” to get himself 3 Shields. R2 rolls his special yet again, but the Emperor plays “Feel Your Anger” for 1 Resource to remove it! Once again, the “HoloCron” Focus result lets the Sheevster dial up 3 Ranged attack. Obi-Wan quickly plays “Voices Cry Out” for free and his foe proceeds to roll a blank! The back-‘n-forth continues, with Palpy playing “Manipulate” to re-roll the die! The good guys jettison “Adapt” to re-roll five (!) of their own dice. After the Emperor generates 1 Resource, his electrifying personality jolts Ben and Luke for one point apiece. Obi swings away with 3 Melee, shattering all of his opponent’s Shields. Palp Claims, regenerating a new Shield and the heroes are left to their devices. First Luke gets a Shield and then Obi-Wan forces the Emperor to discard a Resource. The “Psychometry” special is resolved, revealing “Alter.” For 2 Resources, Luke changes his character die to 2 Ranged and his rifle to the same. They end the round by spending 1 Resource to do 4 Damage to Palp! Yowtch!

The Emperor discards “Intimidate” to re-roll his two crappy misses. The heroes play “Distraction” for 1 Resource, removing Palp’s “HoloCron” die. The Emperor then forces 2 Discards, namely “Bestow” and “Your Eyes Can Deceive You.” This resolution then deals 1 *bzzzt!* damage to both Ben and Luke, the latter losing a Shield in the process. The heroes chuck out “Guard” to re-roll all of their dice. Palpatine spends 1 Resource to play “Deflect”, kicking Luke’s 2 Ranged die back and winging him for a point! Once again, R2 comes to the rescue, using his special to draw “Force Focus” and then giving Luke another 2 Ranged die! Like clockwork, the Emperor Claims, insulating himself with a Shield. After generating 1 Resource for themselves, Obi-Wan removes one from his Sith-y foe. Luke delivers another 3 Ranged damage to Palp, but the desiccated villain lives on! Dude has a longer life than a Duracell battery!     

Obi-Wan pays 1 Resource to "Mislead" the Emperor. The Sith Lord strikes back, exhausting "Power of the Dark Side" to re-roll the "HoloCron." He turns up a blank but his special ability still deals 2 force lightning damage to Luke...eliminating him! Ruh, roh! Pausing to mourn his ward for approximately three seconds, Obi-Wan gets "Force Focused" for 2 Resources. All out of options, Palpy Claims and gets a Shield. Unimpressed by his dice rolls thus far, Ben discards "Noble Sacrifice" to re-roll everything! He swipes at the Sith Master for 3 Melee, a net damage of only 1 thanks to all dem sweet-ass Shields. 1 Focus is resolved to turn R2's die to 1 Melee, which is then delivered. The "Force Focus" special resolves, turning the "Psychometry" die to a 2 Disrupt and forcing Sheevy-boi to throw out 2 Resources. This ends the round!

Obi-Wan trades "Psychometry" for a "Lightsaber." The Emperor chucks out "Momentum Shift" to re-roll, leading to a "HoloCron" special which lets Palpatine table "Force Lightning" and then roll the die for a measly 1 Resource! Sensing an imminent pounding, Ben Shields up! Palpatine merrily pays 1 Resource to fry his opponent for 3 Ranged damage but Obi-Wan's Shield blocks one-third of this. NOTE: Ben should have gotten 1 Shield for his “Jedi Robes” so he still has 1 health remaining! In a last-ditch effort, Obi-Wan uses “Force Focus” to generate 3 Melee on the Lightsaber and 1 Focus. Palpatine resolves his 2 Discard die, turfing "Force Vision" and "Perseverance." With this, the Sith Master triggers his special ability, which generates 2 damage and electrocutes his octogenarian rival!


WINNER: THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE

The Emperor once again reigns supreme! Between the Guard acting as a damage soak, Palpatine’s ludicrously high health and his ability to consistently dish out anywhere between two and five points of hurt every round, this combo keeps paying dividends.

And it’s not as if Ben and Luke were slackers; they delivered some pretty consistent hay-makers. I suppose this was offset by Palp’s small die pool; he ended up Claiming the Battlefield every round and getting Shields from “Obi-Wan’s Hut”!

In order to beat this deck I think you have to pile onto Palp and knock him out as quick as possible 'cuz the longer he’s in game, the harder he is to kill and the more hurt he’s gonna dish out.

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Next up: the other semi-final match sees the Bucket Hedz square off against their thematic allies and last year's defending champs, The Dork Side. Any way you cut it, it's gonna be an all-villain finale!

Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion!

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SEMI-FINALS

ROUND FOUR – MATCH TWO

BUCKET HEDZ   vs.  THE DORK SIDE


The Hedz spend 1 Resource to play “Tactical Mastery” while the Dorktrooper equips his “F11-D Rifle” for 2. FN-2199 generates one Resource then spends 3 to activate his “Z6 Riot Control Baton”, giving himself a Shield on a later action. After Kylo gathers a Resource, the Dork Side Trooper uses it to deal 2 Ranged damage to his rival. Phasma responds, using a Focus result to bully her own Trooper into teeing up 2 Ranged damage. Kylo’s Trooper plays his Rifle Special to nick Phasma in the dome for 1 Ranged damage and then depletes FN’s Shield. The Hed Trooper strikes back, dealing 2 Ranged damage to his twin. The Dorks Claim the Battlefield and end the round.

Kylo and company spend 1 Resource to recruit a “Backup Specialist.” FN blows 2 Resources to produce an “EMP Grenade” and then resolves a die on his next action to get 1 back. The Dorktrooper follows suit, producing 2 Resources. FN invests 1 Resource to deliver a punishing 4 Melee strike to the Dork Side Trooper! Eee-YOWTCH! For 1 Resource, Hux plays “Leadership”, which apparently he’s capable of. Who knew? Hux exhausts himself (ew.) but Readies the Trooper. After losing 1 Resource to the enemy’s Grenade, the Dorks spend 1 Resource to plaster the Bucket Hed Trooper with 4 Ranged damage. On their very next action, Emo Ren piles on, dealing one more damage to the opposing Trooper and eliminating him! Unfazed, Phasma strikes back, using a 1-Ranged die to knock out the Dorktrooper! After Hux incongruously inherits the Redeployed Blaster Rifle, the Dorks Claim and end the round!

The Hedz spend 2 Resources for “Subjugate”, which boots Hux’s 2 Focus die back to him. Next up they play “Pulling the Strings”, burying the top three cards of their enemy’s deck at the bottom. Kylo and his crew then invest 1 Resource in “Isolation”, kicking Phasma’s 2-Ranged die back to her. FN goes in for some “Target Practice”, re-rolling his dice twice. Hux actually hits something, dealing 1 Damage to both FN and Phasma with his Rifle Special. Irked, FN smokes Hux upside his gingery noggin for 2 Melee damage. The Dorks then Exhaust “Backup Specialist” to re-roll Kylo’s dice. Finally, FN deals 1 Ranged to Hux and Kylo and generates a Resource before the Bucket Hedz Claim!

Phasma and FN pay 2 Resources and yell “Drop Your Weapon!” at Hux, who loses his rifle and the contents of his bowels in quick sucession. Even scarier, Kylo pays 4 Resources to get his “Mind Probe” all lubed up. After the Hedz discard “Battle Fatigue” to re-roll 4 of their dice, Hux and FN take turns generating 1 Resource for their respective teams. Kylo lurches into action, spending a Resource to deal 3 Ranged damage to the “TRAITOR!”-ous Phasma. FN then lashes out, spending 1 Resource to fuel 2 Melee damage on Hux. The slugfest continues, with Monsieur Ren pinging Phasma for 1 Melee. In an effort to salvage something from this brutal round, the Bucket Hedz chuck out “Scorched Earth” to re-roll 2 dice. Unfortunately it fails to amount and the Dork Side Claims, removing Phasma’s die in the process!

The Hedz try and battle back, with FN spending 1 Resource to fund a 3 Melee smack on Hux. The Dorks tap “Backup Specialist” to re-roll 2 of their dice, but then Phasma and FN spend 1 Resource to play “Flank”, which removes Kylo’s scary-looking 2-Discard die. Hux acquires a Resource while Phasma picks up a Shield. Kylo busts out his Special and draws a card. It’s another “Backup Specialist”, dealing 1 damage to Phasma. On their next action, the Dorks Claim, punting Phasma’s die back to her. FN caps out the round by generating 1 Resource and then forcing the enemy to throw one out.

The Hedz parley 3 Resources into 4 via “Mobilize” and acquire some “Droid Commandos.” Hux snipes Phasma for a single point of damage, blowing out her lone Shield. Kylo plays “Now You Will Die”, resolving his 2 Disrupt as 2 Melee on Phasma. Then, on his next action, he spends 1 Resource to deliver the coup de grâce via 2 Melee. However, on the very next play, the Droid Commandos polish off the wounded and groveling Hux via 3 Ranged damage! FN tries to avenge his commander with 1 Melee to Kylo, costing him a Shield. After the Renster Claims and voids FN’s remaining die, the round concludes.

Kylo’s switches on his “Crossguard Lightsaber” for 2 Resources. Duly intimidated, FN hastily scrambles to arm himself with a “F11-D Rifle” for 2 resources. Unsatisfied with his rolls (and pretty much everything in general), Kylo taps “Backup Specialist” to re-roll two of his dice. On his next action, he plays “Power of the Force” for 1 Resource to bump his 1 Melee up to 2 which he resolves with another 1 Melee die. Still locked in neutral, FN is forced to throw out “Strength in Numbers” to re-roll 3 of his dice. Ren spends 1 Resource to mercilessly whale the crap outta FN for 3 Melee. FN stumbles away, but his “Undying Loyalty” lets him recover a point of damage. Content that he’s kicked a sufficient amount of ass, Kylo Claims, removing FN’s 1 Melee die. Desperate to strike back, FN jettisons “Evade” to re-roll his 2 dice and the results are decent. The Commandos execute their Special, dealing a point of hurt to Kylo which clears out his final Shield. Seizing this opportunity, FN resolves both a 3 Ranged and a 2 Melee die. In the words of Kylo’s idol: “Impressive. Most impressive.”


But this is nothing more than a sputtering last gasp. FN manages to swap out his EMP Grenade for an F11-D Rifle just before Kylo goes HAM on him with a Mind Probe Special, dealing 4 damage because of his card count. He then delivers the killing blow with 2 damage from his Crossguard Lightsaber’s special. 

WINNER: THE DORK SIDE!

Despite their potential to bring the hurt, the Bucket Hedz just couldn’t co-ordinate enough damage to beat the reigning champs. And, as you can see, if you don't take Kylo out early, he ramps up to the point where he's virtually unstoppable. 

With this match complete, we're now set up for the final confrontation. Check back soon for the final championship match between the wannabe baddie of the sequel trilogy versus the supreme evil of the Galactic Empire. It's....


THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE  vs. THE DORK SIDE 

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