Star Wars Destiny Review: A game that’s simple to learn and play, while having hidden depth

Released by Fantasy Flight Games, Star Wars Destiny is a dice based game that's recently been released by this company. Players will look to defeat their opponent in a one on one format, in games that are fairly short, and straightfoward. Oh, and spoler alert: the game is a LOT of fun, and fairly thematic as well.


The game's compnents are as follows: There are tokens for Damage that come in ones and threes, and are shaped a bit like a throwing star; Resource tokens which function as currency and are shaped like containers, and lastly there are Shield tokens, which are tokens fashioned after a Mandalorian helmet. Everything else in the game are based either on oversized dice, or cards, which work in tandem. The best way to think of it, is that a character's stats are reflected on the dice, and depend on things like what the frequency of positive or negative icons are, on the dice. The dice are colored after the character type that they are associated with: Red (military-esque), Blue (Force user/Sith/Jedi), and Yellow (unaligned, mercenary, etc). That color classification also matches with the characters that specific dice are paired with, or auxilary cards (support, events, etc) that also have the same colors. A given dice can have any combination of several icons: melee attack, ranged attack, resource (for adding a token to your pool for later spending), shield (for adding a token to a character to absorb damage), disurpt (to cause your opponent to forfeit a resource token), focus (for changing the face of an already rolled die) or an outright "miss", with all the values save for "miss" having a numeric value as well. All of the dice in the game have pictures next to the appropriate icon and value, and the picture matches the card that it's paired with. Not only does this add a bit of visual flair to the dice in addition to their base color, but it also enables players to keep track of which card a given die represents. In short, it's difficult to confuse which dice go with which cards.. All of the cards in the game have both a picture at the top, rules and flavor text below, and at times a visual copy of the dice icons that are found on that cards die. In the case of characters, health, and point values are there as well. Reading it like this may sound a bit like information overload, but within a few minutes of play, it all clicks into place. Given how everything is one of those three primary colors, or gray for outright neutral, it's easy to see how certain cards compliment others, simply by associating the colors together. Red cards rarely can be used in conjunction with yellor or blue, and so on, with this adding to the games streamlined feel. On the whole, the quality of these components good enough for regular and repeated play.

The mechanics of the game are also simple, and allow the game to really flow. All of the main and support characters available within the game are picked ahead of time by the player, along with a deck of exactly thirty cards (constructed by the player) that is drawn upon in the game to suppliment the hand; both of these, along with a card for where the battle is to be fought, are all chosen ahead of time. Generic characters (Stormtrooper, Tusken Raider, etc) are assigned a single point value, that's on the lower end of possible values and is usually a single digit. Unique characters (the ones you likely have heared of, like Vader, Rey, et al) have higher point values available; players are capped at thirty total points availble to spend on what characters they will bring in to the game. Unique characters also have two different point values, usually four-ish points apart. Non Uniques come into the game with one die, specific to that character. Uniques can come into the game with one or two, depending on which of their point values the player is willing to have deducted from the starting balance of thirty. So, players could try to forgo the second die on the Unique (thus costing fewer points to play), in the hopes of fielding an addtional Non Unique. The pace and format for the game move QUITE quickly, to the point where there's little or no down time. A round begins with the first player taking one of several actions (play a card, roll all the dice for a character, trigger an ability, fulfill an already rolled dice, etc), then the other player takes a single action from the same set of options, followed by play returning to the first person. When both people have the hang of things, it can toggle back and forth fairly quickly. The round will end once both players have passed consecutively, which then resets surviving charcters, hands are refreshed, new resources taken by players, and the first player then begins the next round. And while this can seem almost trite in its bobbing back and forth between players, there's actually some critical decision making that players are forced into, due to this fact. For example, if I am playing Kylo Ren, and roll a total of five different Kylo or auxilary dice, I can't use them immediately, since rolling them was my one action. My opponent will get to take a single action, such as rolling dice for one of his characters, and then I'll have the optoin to execute one type of whatever I had already rolled, or play a card from my hand, etc. If I rolled some resources, and my opponent is showing disruption on at least one of his dice, I may not want to cash in on my resource dice, for fear of losing them when it's his turn, and before I can spend them on the subsequent turn. On the other hand, forgoing or delaying those resources might hamstring my ability to pay for using a card in my hand, thus forcing me to find a way to deal with my opponent's dice, and plan out a sequence of events that might go my way. Ultimately, there are two ways to win the game. Either by defeating all of the other person's characters, by attacking until each character receives enough damage to be removed from play due to his/her health being exausted, or one of the players expending all of their cards from their hand and deck, causing that player to lose. Games typically take around half an hour or so, so players shouldn't have trouble getting multiple games in, for a given session. Lastly, the game is surprisingly thematic, for its mechanics. Kylo Ren, for example, has dice that are weighted for a "hit or miss" feel. When his dice roll unvaforably, he's weak (though to a degree, that can be the case for any character). When you get good rolls though, the guy can lay copious amounts of damage, especially when coupled with the right Upgrade cards. The Obiwan card (from an upcoming set) is another, quite powerful example, in that he's able to take damage that could be aimed at other characters; if he's defeated, he can put into play a more powerful version of "himself" (albeit in a non-character form), and it's reminiscent of his final, corporeal line in Episode IV.  Even Stormtroopers are thematic, having two "miss" icons on their die, vs how most die only have one, thus cauing their infamous marksmanship to easily translate into the game, with players forced to offset their horrendous aim through other means. Lastly, I'd like to mention how the game has a feel that's very "forgiving". One example is with card draw. At the start of the game, as well as any subsequent round, players can discard any number of cards from their hand, and refresh up to five. Don't like your dice rolls? Discard a card from your hand, to reroll any number of them, and you can repeat that as long as you can pay that cost. It's a great idea, that keeps players from being bound to a poor roll.

On the whole, I'm quite the fan of this game. The game play moves quickly, and the rules are simple, but not simplistic. Much to my surprise, there's a measure of depth to this game, without making it comlicated. I tried this game out on my friend's assurance that was really good, and this came after Dice Masters wasn't really clicking with me, so I was surprised to enjoy another dice based game, and as much as I did, at that. This game is an easy recommendation for me. A core/base set only runs $15, and blind/random booster packs run $3. The game is worth both the asking price, and your time.

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