By Matthew– December 3, 2012
Hello again. If you haven’t already, you should check out my post on the top 3 cards in the upcoming Star Wars LCG core set. Today, I want to take a brief look at the enormous design space presented by 6 simple, unassuming cards:
The affiliation cards. 6 different affiliations are introduced in the core set – Jedi, Sith, Rebel Alliance, Imperial Navy, Smugglers and Spies, and Scum and Villainy. For each of those affiliations, an affiliation card is included. I’m going to break down the different parts of the affiliation cards and look at what potential design space there is in the future.
The most visible component of these cards is the affiliation itself. Each card currently has one of the six current affiliations and defines your affiliation for the handful of objectives that can only be used by the matching affiliation. Perhaps the most obvious way to expand this portion of the cards is just adding new affiliations, especially if the game ever expands into the prequel era or the upcoming sequels. There could also be a neutral affiliation card, though that would probably require a power bump elsewhere on the card or the release of some “neutral only” objective sets that gave you some incentive to run it. More exciting for those of us who don’t like making decisions is the possibility of multi-affiliated cards. Perhaps a Sith/Scum card or a Jedi/Rebel one (which would finally allow for sending Red 5 on a Trench Run). Of course, these would clearly be advantageous to their single-affiliation cousins and require some power compensation elsewhere on the card. Luckily, there are several more areas that could be tweaked to allow that.
Currently, each affiliation card provides 1 resource. Future cards could be made that provide 2 or more resources, or even 0! While the options aren’t particularly interesting, it does exist as a way to balance other changes. Perhaps the neutral affiliation provides 2 resources, for instance. Maybe a powerful enough affiliation card would not provide any resources.
Every current affiliation card gives the same starting reserve value of 6. Like resources provided, this is an easily adjusted number to allow for other changes. In particular, the combination affiliations could be best balanced by lowering the starting reserve. Sure you could make the Jedi/Rebel card that provided 0 resources, but that would defeat half of the purpose of having a combination card in the first place. Instead, the starting reserve could be adjusted down to 5 or even 4. Now it becomes a decision: lower hand size in exchange for guaranteed resource match? You could also bump the starting reserve up higher (for the neutral affiliation, for example).
I’ll start by saying that I find it unlikely that any future affiliation card will change turn order around at all. That being said, the option certainly exists and could do some interesting things. Perhaps one could have the Conflict phase before the Deploy phase. You’d have a disadvantage in not being able to attack with units on the turn you played them, but also an advantage in your opponent not knowing what units might still be played when deciding how to defend your attacks. Or maybe move the Draw phase to the end of the turn, which would always leave you with a full hand for defensive edge battles but weaken your offensive abilities. I’m barely scratching the surface of what could be done here, but like I said before: I am extremely doubtful that anything like this will ever be done.
There you have it: the significant design space opened up by the very existence of the affiliation cards. While it is certainly possible that the 6 cards included in the core set will be it and no more affiliation cards will ever be published, I would be surprised if FFG never utilized any of these options. More importantly though, the number of things that can be done with the seemingly innocent affiliation cards offers a glimpse at the enormous design space the game itself has to expand into. Thanks for reading, and until next time: May the Force be with you.