Written by David Holland
In middle school, I sort of played Decipher’s Star Wars Collectible Card Game. I say “sort of” because my primary opponents were my brother (who is two years older than me and much, much smarter) and one other kid at my school. My brother and I had Light Side and Dark Side starter decks along with a small handful of expansions. The rules were complicated and my parents were skeptical of sinking a lot of money into packs of cards so our collection remained limited. Since I always played Dark Side, I was most proud of my Darth Vader With Lightsaber, even though looking back at the rules in the text of the card now is like trying to read Spanish after more than a decade since taking an actual Spanish class. Do I even speak this language anymore?
Eventually the Decipher game went by the wayside. I think the cards are still in a shoebox in my parents’ house. My brother lost interest, my other friend started making money playing some different card game called “Magic”, and I thought that my CCG days were over. But that’s the funny thing about Star Wars:
It never really ends.
About two years ago while I was at work I walked in on a couple of guys playing a Star Wars game with cards and colorful dice called “Star Wars: Destiny” during lunch. We are all teachers, so lunch is only about 25 minutes but the games were quick enough that they could finish at least one in between bites. I saw characters that I recognized and some that I didn’t, but either way the game was fast-paced and very interactive. Dice could be added with upgrades and supports or could be manipulated or removed with cards. I borrowed a deck from one of them and proceeded to get my butt kicked repeatedly by Cad Bane & FN-2199. Even though I lost, I was hooked. I researched the database to build my own decks and bought a couple Two-Player Starters to fill out my collection. Some creations worked really well (lookin’ at you, Sabine/Ezra!) others… not so much (Grand Inquisitor/Gamorrean Guard… What exactly was I thinking?)
For a while I enjoyed the small four-person meta at our school, but soon, like a farm boy staring at the twin suns of Tatooine, I began to wonder what else was out there. After all, I was spending more money than I’d anticipated on these oversized dice and I was anxious to test my chops against others. A little Facebook research led to a local group and soon I was doing something I absolutely hate – meeting strangers.
But games have a funny way of bringing people together, and this is the heart of what I will take away from Destiny as I reflect on the game’s untimely end. Destiny is more than binders full of commons that never saw play or entirely too many Dark Mystic dice (can I build a deck with five Dark Mystics? Because otherwise what am I going to do with them all?) I realize as I write this that it will sound extraordinarily cheesy (“The real Destiny is the friends we made along the way!”), but I am so thankful for my local Destiny community. Everyone brags about their locals, but I want to take the opportunity to say how grateful I am for this game. I don’t have a ton of CCG experience so I don’t know what it’s like in other games, but there’s something cool about finishing a game and then picking apart each others’ decks to show appreciation for cool tech or offer suggestions for better mitigation. Playing a game that always felt on the bubble and at risk of ending meant that welcoming new players was a necessity. In our locals, prime champs had no problem patiently helping less experienced players with sequencing when they played each other, or offering coaching to those who were preparing for big tournaments.
Again, everyone brags about their locals and hopefully as you’re reading this you’re thinking “Yeah, dummy, that’s everyone’s Destiny experience”, because that would mean that you had a positive experience just like I did. On some level we’ve all been in some of the same situations while playing – re-rolling five dice looking for one damage and whiffing, hitting that rare 1 in 6 for a win, or drawing a hand full of upgrades when all you really need is mitigation. But when it comes to the people in Destiny, my limited interactions have been overwhelmingly positive. People are united by their love of Star Wars and their love of this uniquely fun and at times maddeningly frustrating game. When I’ve ventured outside my locals for a Prime or some other large tournament it’s been more of the same – just a bunch of nerds having fun with each other, rolling dice, and occasionally swearing at them.
I don’t know what the Destiny world will look like in the future. I’ve heard talk of continuing the game with fan-made cards or on TTS and I would love for that to be the case. Either way, obviously things will be different. But take a moment in between yelling at FFG or trying to figure out how much your Ancient Lightsabers will sell for on eBay (not much) to reflect on what Destiny has given you. If you get a chance, thank the store owners where you meet for your locals for their support, and talk to the other players about what comes next. Above all, celebrate what this game brought you – hopefully some new friends, some great experiences, and a lot of dice.
Seriously. So many dice.