By Zach Bunn– September 4, 2012
There has been a lot of debate surrounding the upcoming Star Wars LCG by Fantasy Flight Games. When the game was initially previewed, it was set to be a cooperative game where players acted as the Rebellion attempting to stop the Empire from controlling the galaxy. A few months after GenCon 2011, it was announced that what had been previewed was being totally scrapped due to it having what FFG described as a lack of innovation.
At GenCon 2012, we were fortunate enough to sit down for a full demo of the redesigned and completely innovative Star Wars LCG. The entire time I was playing the game I couldn’t help but smile. Unlike the original, this game was a competitive game that pit the good guys against the bad guys (including jedi and sith, rebels and the empire). Insert even more intense debates on forums across the internet here.
But it wasn’t until later that we discovered one of the biggest innovations that the game was bringing to the table. This innovation is something that Fantasy Flight today revealed as set-focused deck-building (and even more previews here). Insert even more intense debates… A lot of players who were behind the competitive remake of this game feel as though this is a major injustice and are crying for reprieve. After two full demos of the game, re-watching one of the demos on video, and reading the article today, I’d like to make a case for this set-focused deck-building.
Do or do not, there is no try
I have a very high amount of respect for what Fantasy Flight Games is doing with their tabletop card games. The LCG model is, quite simply, brilliant. They have designed a truly innovative system on to which they can release new games, with new flavor, and beautiful art and very likely have a huge following. They have already successfully used the LCG model for Game of Thrones, Call of Cthulu, Warhammer Invasion, and are releasing this week the Netrunner LCG that is about as hot of a game as there has been in years.
Of course it makes sense that they would scoop up one of the most popular card game titles, let alone brands in general, and drop it into their LCG system. Yet this is where my respect for Fantasy Flight has only grown with the Star Wars LCG. They could have done just that. They could have literally created a game that is true to the Star Wars universe, slapped it into the LCG model, and been done with it.
I don’t think any of us can really expect that Fantasy Flight, the one who invented the LCG model, would just sit back and rinse and repeat. Unlike other companies, they continue to innovate. Instead of the standard card game, where you build a deck and are done with it, they have done something drastically different.
This building mechanic is wildly innovative and brings an entirely new twist to the card game format. In fact, since I’ve had time to reflect on it I’m quite relieved that they didn’t do this as a standard game. I’m already playing the Game of Thrones LCG and plan to play Netrunner. Had Star Wars been the same old same, I doubt I would have ended up seriously playing all three. This gives Fantasy Flight a chance to entertain their most intense of gamers by offering a completely new experience.
On top of all of this, the format is actually VERY friendly to newer players. I’ve seen countless times new players coming in to our store looking like a deer in headlights with a pile of cards in their hands. For the newer players, the LCG format is great. Having a simplified deck building system is going to make it even easier for new players to hop on board, and with the Star Wars license behind it I imagine there will be no shortage of new players.
And yet I still don’t think this leaves card game veterans in the dust. It’s definitely a different deck building mechanic, but that does not mean that there isn’t skill placed on deck building. Further, unlike Game of Thrones (where I think a large share of the battle is won before you sit at the table), this could really place an emphasis on player skill as opposed to deck building.
At the end of the day, this system is completely innovative, competitive, and definitely a swing for the fence by Fantasy Flight Games. I couldn’t be more excited. What are your thoughts on the set-focused deck-building system? The full demo video is below.