Written by DarkAngelAz
At the FFG World Championships in 2016, Fantasy Flight Games launched a new CCG, their first in almost a decade, Star Wars: Destiny. A two-player game spanning all eras of the Star Wars storyline, which let players pit Rey and Qui-Gon Jinn, against Jango Fett and Kylo Ren, if they wanted by playing characters, ships. weapons, and mysterious force abilities, fighting across the battlefields of the galaxy.
The game was released with two starter decks at launch events with some nice promos for everyone attending. Like a lot of people, I tried it at those events. I was impressed not only with the way the game played, but also the quality of the dice. I imagine a lot of people having seen and used Dicemasters dice, were worried they would be low quality and look cheap. However, they were not and it was this, coupled with the game mechanics and the Star Wars theme, that led me and a lot of others down this expensive rabbit hole.
Due to an underwhelming response from distributors based on retailer pre-orders, when the game was released, there was a massive shortage of product worldwide, and this meant FFG had to do a reprint of the Awakenings set early in 2017 to cope with demand.
The two starter sets were a Hero deck which featured Rey and Finn, and a Villain deck which had Kylo Ren supported by a First Order Stormtrooper. Each deck was a 20-card deck with nine dice and two starting characters. This was not enough to make a full deck but it made the product affordable as a starting point for players to try.
A look at the cards in the set gave us an idea of what aspects of Star Wars they would draw on, and what Heroes and Villains would be seeing the table, as players got hold of booster packs and started feverishly to build decks.
Decks were built with exactly 30 cards, excluding your starting characters and chosen battlefield. Characters came in two types, non-unique characters which had a single point value, but a team could include any number of them, and Unique characters which had two different points values, based on whether you built them with one or two dice. It was generally better for characters to be elite where possible, as the cost of this extra die in points was always less than adding another character.
Players could win the game by defeating all of their opponent’s characters or lose it by ending a turn with no cards left in their hand or deck.
Characters, Upgrades, and Supports all came with dice, which were then as the game progressed rolled into the pool. All the dice had on them, symbols to allow you to cause damage, both ranged and melee, discard cards from their opponent’s hand, gain resources, gain shields, focus their own dice (turn them to different sides), disrupt their opponent’s resources or finally a Special symbol. Specials were different for each card that had them, and had the ability relevant printed on the card. Events were also a card type, and they were played from hand for a one-shot effect and then discarded.
For the completely uninitiated, this tutorial produced by FFG, gives a good overview of how the game is played.
Some of the early decks that came to the fore we will talk about, as with only 174 cards like all games when they are first released, the choices were quite limited but there was still variety and options available for players.
Players tried to maximize the potential for their decks by always being on the 30 point character limit, as well as aiming to be at least multi-color, if not all three colors (called rainbow decks). Cheaper characters such as First Order Stormtrooper made these decks possible and efficient.
This build was based around action efficiency, by using Jango’s ability to the maximum and then activating him with increasing numbers of upgrades, and resolving dice before they could be mitigated or dealt with. Veers proved to be a very solid partner for Jango in this regard as his dice were complimentary, and even though many versions didn’t really play supports at the time, as they were initially not very good, it worked well. Compared to more modern characters, characters had smaller health values at this time, so decks were squishier and more susceptible to big bursts of unmitigable damage.
This is one of the decks that used FOST to round out an efficient points curve and add extra hit points to the team. Bala-Tik was one of the more irritating cards to try and deal with at the time, because of his ability to ready himself when opposing characters were defeated. By loading him with redeploy weapons, which would then still be in play when he was defeated, it forced opponents into difficult choices as to who to target first. Because if they targeted the higher health elite Captain Phasma this would leave Bala free to cause havoc, with at least one free activation and possibly a second. At this point in the game, few decks could survive a second free activation. Cards like Holdout Blaster with its ambush keyword, as well as redeploy keyword, were almost auto includes in every deck, even those that focused on Melee damage.
This was one hero deck that consistently reached the top of the tree. Han Solo, whose ability allowed him to gain shields when an ambush card, was played along with Rey, who gained an additional action when an upgrade was played on her. Meaning if an upgrade with Ambush were played on her, two action would be gained. This created an incredible amount of action efficiency, by playing upgrades on Rey, gaining extra shields and actions, activating Rey and resolving dice, before their opponent could respond. Hyperspace Jump was a card that also caused their opponent problems, by ending the action phase, before giving them a chance to respond with their own dice.
The last deck we are going to look at, is the one that took home the first Star Wars: Destiny World Championships in May 2017. Darth Vader was the biggest and baddest of all the characters in the Awakenings set, with a high health total and damage output, coupled with an ability that caused your opponents to discard a card when he was activated. Tusken Raider, who’s ability allowed you to resolve a die immediately after its activation, was also very strong. By playing a Sith Holocron on the Raider, and using that to make the Raider a strong threat, players created the classic quandary for their opponents; Who to target first, Vader or the Raider. It’s interesting to note that this is one of the few three starting dice decks that achieved prominence.
May 2017 was the end of the Awakenings era as Spirit of Rebellion was released and changed everything….