So, I first heard about these on Zak Smith’s D&D blog a little over a year ago. I did not immediately get any because their availability and pricing on Amazon have been wildly variable, and it seemed like whenever I checked they were unavailable or too pricey or only available from some third-party seller that was going to charge four bucks to ship five bucks worth of cards.
BUT happily they finally went down to something reasonable–currently five bucks with free Prime shipping–so I got a pack (you can too, at this link). And I’m super-happy with them. For someone who has purchased shedloads of books just so I can have pictures of as many Star Wars vehicles as possible, getting 110 of them reproduced nicely on cards for five bucks is a crazy steal.
As Zak pointed out in his blog post, the possibilities for these go way beyond poker. This afternoon, London and I invented a new game to go with them.
Here’s how we play:
- First, each person choose a deck. There’s one deck of heroes and one of villains so the choice is pretty cut-and-dried (although I thought it was a little harsh to put the Jawa sandcrawler in the villain deck). You’ll also need two d6 (what muggles call regular-ass dice) and one of something fancier–we’ve been using a d10 but we might switch that up.
- On the first turn, each player turns over one card from the drop of their draw pile. That card becomes their active card.
- Next, figure out if one vehicle has a clear advantage over the other, or if they’re about evenly matched. Like, the Millennium Falcon has an advantage over a TIE fighter, a Star Destroyer has an advantage over the Millennium Falcon, a Star Destroyer and a Mon Cal cruiser are about evenly matched. Our quick-and-dirty rule is that if you have to stop and think about it, they’re evenly matched.
- Roll dice to figure out who wins this turn. If they’re evenly matched, both players roll a d6. If one vehicle has a clear advantage, that player gets to roll the d10 instead. Highest roll wins.
- If you win, the other player’s vehicle goes in your captured vehicle pile. You can choose to retire your winning vehicle, or keep it in play for one more turn. But no vehicle can be in for more than two turns–if it wins twice in a row, it must be retired. This is to keep one player from using a huge capital ship to give the other player a never-ending beat-down.
- In the case of a tie, both vehicles are destroyed and go in the other player’s captured vehicle pile.
- The contests do not have to be shoot-em-ups. For example, anytime a podracer is involved, it’s a race, not a battle. Podracers automatically have an advantage over other ground vehicles or speeders, are at a disadvantage compared to starships, and are evenly matched compared to each other.
- What about Death Stars? Automatic advantage against all capital ships and planetary vehicles (because they could just blow up the planet…), but disadvantaged relative to starfighters and ships up to the size of the Millennium Falcon, for reasons that should be obvious from the movies.
- If one player runs out of cards first, the other player gets to move all the cards left in their draw deck into their retired vehicles pile.
- At the end of the game, all of your cards are either in your retired vehicle pile, or in the other player’s captured vehicle pile. Whoever captured more vehicles wins.
Now, this is a fast-playing, silly game of all luck and no strategy. But it’s fun to see all the ships, it’s fun to pit them against each other, and it’s especially fun to try to explain why a Jawa sandcrawler has an advantage against Luke’s landspeeder, or why Jabba’s sail barge was able to blow up a Mon Cal cruiser, on those rare occasions when the d6 beats the d10.
I should mention that we’ve only played twice, and I’m sure the game could be given some depth with a few tweaks. I’d like to try a d8 instead of a d10 and see how much of a difference that makes. Or have critical hits and fumbles for max/min rolls, but use d12s and a d20 so you’re not getting one or the other every third roll. If there’s a third person around to adjudicate, it might be fun to have each player make a case for why their vehicle should get an advantage, with the d10 (or whatever) going to whoever makes the most plausible or ballsy or funny case. Maybe each player could have a hand of three or five cards, the winner of the last hand has to play an active card first, so the other player gets a choice of what to play in response (with both drawing each turn to replace the cards they played). Although I think the game might lose something then, because you’d miss out on a lot of the zanier juxtapositions–Anakin’s podracer versus an AT-AT! A Super Star Destroyer takes on a Coruscant firespeeder!
Whether you try our silly game or not, these are cool cards. I’m sure you’ll find something to do with them. Have fun!