Home Tech ‘I turned C-3PO into a lightsaber-wielding psychopath’: a week with the Star Wars Unlimited card game

‘I turned C-3PO into a lightsaber-wielding psychopath’: a week with the Star Wars Unlimited card game

by Elijah
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‘I turned C-3PO into a lightsaber-wielding psychopath’: a week with the Star Wars Unlimited card game

OhOne of the most appealing aspects of games set in the Star Wars universe is that you can concoct scenes and stories that we would never see in the movies. Whether you’re playing Knights of the Old Republic, Jedi: Fallen Order, or the old Star Wars role-playing game designed by Greg Costikyan in the 1990s, there will be irreplaceable individual moments on the big screen. I know, because I just won a game of the new Star Wars Unlimited trading card game thanks to a heroic C-3PO wielding Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber.

At a basic level, Star Wars Unlimited works like most modern trading card games, such as Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic: The Gathering. You and your opponent each have a deck of cards, most of which feature a single character or vehicle, with one number for health and another number for power/damage. Usually the character will also have special abilities outlined on the front of the card, which add strategic depth. Players then take turns placing cards in the arena and attacking their opponent’s forces, and the winner is the one who destroys their rival’s base. The Star Wars Unlimited Starter Set gives you two complete decks, one for Imperial Forces and one for Rebels, but you can also purchase booster packs to start customizing your army and creating your own themed decks.

The illustrations elevate the nostalgia… Star Wars Unlimited cards. Photography: Fantasy Flight Games/LucasFilm

What makes this different, of course, is that it’s Star Wars. The first card game, Spark of the Rebellion, is set in the era of the classic trilogy and Rogue One, so it’s rich in nostalgia. Play as the Rebels and defend your remote base with Luke Skywalker as your commander and an array of familiar allies: Leia, Chewbacca, the consular security forces from earlier in A New Hope, and even the mustache-wielding guards of Cloud City. . There are also X-Wing fighters and Snowspeeders, as well as their Imperial counterparts. Lovely card illustrations enhance the nostalgia, with careful, detailed art that really brings them to life.

It’s similar to the Marvel Snap digital card game, which similarly combines accessible, familiar gameplay with stunning card artwork and a good understanding of characters and lore. I really enjoyed the Event cards, which are inspired by specific moments from the films. There’s a card called “Shoot First”, which lets you attack the enemy before they have a chance to respond, featuring an image of Han sitting in the Mos Eisley cantina holding a smoking laser gun .

“It was a fun challenge to match card values ​​with such beloved characters and vehicles,” says lead designer Danny Schaefer, who created Unlimited with a small team from the veteran fantasy board and card game studio Flight Games. “We all brought so much trading card game experience and so many ideas for each character and vehicle. We’ve never invested so many resources into a game before, so these three years of development have been filled with heated debate. We’re all huge Star Wars fans, each with our own unique experience of the franchise…we can’t wait for every player to see their vision of Star Wars reflected in the game.”

The game was designed for newcomers. There are three basic types of cards: units (your characters and spaceships), upgrades (which can be added to unit cards to give them extra power), and events. The game plays out in just two turns – Attack and Regroup – which is a huge contrast to the complex structure of a standard Magic: The Gathering turn, and the card text is easy to understand. You play your cards quickly, trading moves with your opponent like a game of rapid chess: attack, defend, attack again with a different card, prepare for a major push, then make it happen.

Like a game of rapid chess…a Star Wars Unlimited match in progress. Photograph: Keith Stuart/The Guardian

But it’s not just for beginners. Combining cards and determining when to play your key moves makes things surprisingly deep and interesting possibilities emerge. I was losing a game a lot until I realized I could combine C-3PO, who has weak attack but great defense, with Luke’s lightsaber card, boosting his attack. Suddenly, my protocol droid is blasting his way through the stormtroopers like a golden psychopath.

According to the team behind Unlimited, this combination of immediacy and hidden depth is exactly what they were looking for. “We carried out numerous tests with a critical eye so that no detail was left unnoticed,” explains Schaefer. “Each designer has their expertise – some of us focused on theme and others on building competitive decks, allowing each game to be analyzed from several different perspectives. We had a team of veteran game designers who had worked on huge card games, so everyone had a good idea of ​​what we needed to do to make this game a success. We went through different card versions to find the best balance.

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

Personally, I enjoyed horrifying my friends by sending an AT-AT or Emperor Palpatine when they least expected it, while asking Alexa to play the Imperial March; I really appreciate how the card artwork represents very specific moments in the films, but at the same time you can happily fight against a squad of stormtroopers with just a 2-1B surgical droid – and win. Star Wars Unlimited knows that the perfect version of Star Wars is the one that exists in your head.

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