Written by Bill Yankosky (aka Yodaman)
In what, unfortunately, came to be commonplace in the life of the Star Wars LCG, there was almost a 6 month delay between the end of the Echoes of the Force cycle and the release of the next product for the game, the Between the Shadows deluxe box. The deluxe focused on the Jedi and Scum affiliations, both of which received 5 new sets. The other 4 affiliations just received a single new set.
The Jedi and Scum sets released had immediate impact on the game, and some of the LS cards ended up receiving restrictions, or erratas, because of their power levels and interactions with other cards. The light side provided new versions of some of the most iconic Jedi in the Star Wars universe.
This third version of the hero of the original trilogy appeared in the set A Hero’s Trial. He was given his standard combat icons and two great abilities, along with being the first Elite version of Luke. As an action, he can discard an enhancement to remove a focus token, which gives him the opportunity to double strike. As a reaction, once per turn, he does a damage to an enemy unit when an enhancement is attached to him. His set was extremely synergistic within itself and was widely used until official support for the game ended. The objective allows the light side player to play an enhancement from hand once per turn during the conflict phase to potentially trigger Luke’s reaction and action abilities on each player’s turn. Luke’s Lightsaber can be attached to Luke from the discard pile as an action and gives a Force Sensitive unit a black and white gun. The set contains a copy of the fate card Heat of Battle to help Luke and the light side do even more damage to units and clear the way for blast to get through. Luke’s Speeder Bike is a cheap 2 cost unit with an amazing 2 black tactics and edge . It does have a potential downside of being destroyed if it’s participating in an engagement and the light side loses the edge battle, but savvy players could certainly account for that and get maximum value out of the cheap tactics.
Following the natural progression of previous versions in adding icons to Yoda, this version gains white tactics for each Jedi objective the light player controls. In a mono Jedi deck, Yoda could regularly have 3 tactics to use along with his printed black gun and black blast and like the May The Force Be With You version, he’s got 3 health. Yoda’s Hut is a 2-1 resource, which contributes its 2 force icons to the Force Struggle as long as there are 3 Jedi objectives in play, helping the light side to keep Balance over the course of a game. Keeping with the theme of benefiting from playing mono Jedi, the objective itself, The Master’s Domain, generates X resources where X is the number of Jedi objectives controlled by the light player. The set also includes a copy of Lightsaber Deflection and a new fate card, the The Jedi’s Resolve, which allows the light player to flip the Balance of the Force to the light side and skip the Force phase when it’s played during an edge battle with a unique participating Jedi unit. Eventually this objective set would end up on the restricted list with May the Force Be With You, because the interaction between Yoda, You Seek Yoda, and the Master’s Domain Yoda was deemed to abusive.
While interesting, this Obi-Wan didn’t see quite as much play as the Between the Shadow versions of the other classic heroes. He’s got the standard 5 cost and 3 health, as well as a decent spread of combat icons with 1 black icon of each type along with a white tactics. Thematically, cards in his set deal with the sacrifice mechanic. Obi has an interrupt ability that lets you destroy a unit that doesn’t match its owner’s affiliation card, whenever a Force User unit you control is destroyed or sacrificed. Noble Sacrifice allows a light side player to sacrifice a Force User to place 3 focus tokens on an enemy unit. Overall, the lack of objective damage in the set, even though it includes the fate card Target of Opportunity, probably explains why it didn’t see as much play.
The other two Jedi sets released in Between the Shadows ended up seeing quite a bit of play during various times in the life of the game.
At first glance, this set didn’t appear to be one that would end up requiring multiple nerfs, but eventually that’s what happened. The objective’s original text let you search your deck for a Creature card with cost 3 or less and put it into play when the objective is revealed. Eventually, that was changed so that you had to focus the objective to do the search, so there was at least a cost involved with the process. The set contains two copies of the 1 cost Jubba Birds. As originally written, the LS player could sacrifice a Jubba Bird to remove all combat icons of a chosen type from an enemy Character or Creature unit for an entire phase, and the card also prevented that unit from gaining any combat icons. This means 1 little bird could negate all Palpatine’s tactics or all of Vader’s guns. To top it off, there wasn’t a limit as to how many times you could sacrifice Jubba Birds in a turn so you could potentially use 4 of them in a single conflict phase. That unit’s card text was changed to make it “Limit once per turn” to help negate the abusiveness of the card. The other Creature in the set is the Knobby White Spider. The Spider is a 1 cost enhancement that can be turned into a unit for the remainder of a phase as an action for just 1 resource and, while a unit, the Spider gets 2 black guns, 1 black tactics and 5 health! The difficulty for dark side players is the “action” timing for the card. Until the light side player uses an action to turn the Spider into a unit, it is immune from regular combat icons (although it can still be targeted as an enhancement by cards like Utinni!). It’s still somewhat surprising the Spider never got nerfed, but since other things in the set were, FFG obviously felt like what they did was enough. To round out the set were two events that could be very impactful if timed correctly. Life Creates It is a 1 cost event that lets you put all creature units and enhancements into play as long as you control 1 Dagobah objective. This means the Jubba Birds and Spiders could all be recycled and return to the game. Size Matters Not is a free event that lets the light side player move a focus token from a unit a player controls to another unit they control with lower printed cost. While most often used offensively to set up a double strike capability, it could technically be used defensively as well, if needed.
This set was a bit ahead of its time and really became prevalent towards the end of the game when there was a strong Ewok deck archetype, which was widely played at the last official Worlds Championships for the game. The set has two Ewok Hunters, 2 cost units that help the light side player dig for cards and cycle though the deck since they let you draw a card both when they enter play and when they leave play. They also have a black gun and white tactics. But, the main reason people played this set early on was because of the enhancement Funeral Pyre. That 1 cost, 4 force icon, unique Jedi enhancement lets you focus it and sacrifice a unit to place a focus token on a target enemy Character unit. Savvy Light players were able to use this card to completely mitigate the impact powerful dark side characters like Palpatine and Vader could have in a game by swarming the board with smaller units and using Funeral Pyre to keep them locked down.
Commando Raid is the only Rebel set included in Between the Shadows. It is a limit 1 Rebel objective set, which focuses on fate cards and has some useful synergy. The objective itself lets you discard a fate card from your hand as an action in order to resolve its effect. So you could use it to get around Twist of Fate and make sure an important fate card is able to resolve. The main, Lieutenant Judder Page, lets you return any fate card besides Twist of Fate to your hand after an edge battle resolves. There are two copies of Page’s Commandos, which let you return the top most fate card to your hand after they enter play. To synergize with the fate card theme, the set includes a copy of Heat of Battle and Target of Opportunity.
Calling in Favors is the only Smuggler set included in Between the Shadows. The objective generates 4 resources, but doesn’t refresh during the refresh phase. That meant in order to actually be able to free it up after use, the light player needs to use cards like the main in the set, Talon Karrde, who lets you remove a focus token from an objective, unit or enhancement after he enters play, Clever Ruse, an event in the set that lets you move all focus tokens from one objective to another controlled by the same player, or the core set Rebel objective, Mobilize the Squadrons, which lets you remove a focus token from an objective after you typically refresh. The set included 2 neutral vehicle units, the Skipray Blastboat, which is a cheap 2 cost unit with 2 black blast that does have the drawback that you have to focus it twice when it strikes.
The dark side sets included for Scum featured some cult favorites.
The famous bounty hunter got a new version in the “No Disintegrations” objective set. Boba has 2 guns and 2 blast (1 black and 1 white for each) and a built in ability to double strike within the same engagement since, after he focuses to strike, you can remove all focus tokens from him so you can do it again. Flamethrower is a weapon enhancement which can do a lot of damage since after a unit is focused to strike, it does 1 damage to all participating enemy units. Entangled is a 0 cost event that makes the opponent strike in a different order than they might have initially intended, which can make a huge difference if timed correctly.
The Black Sun leader who first appeared in the Legends novel, Shadows of the Empire, was introduced to the game in the Masterful Manipulation set. The objective generates 2 resources and then, after your opponent’s turn ends, you can shuffle the objective back into your deck to draw a new one. This meant you could get the resource use out of it and then potentially get a fresh resource the next turn as long as you could keep it from being destroyed. Xizor is a solid main unit with 5 combat icons, one black of each type as well as a white gun and white tactics. His ability synergizes with Scum capture mechanics and the objective itself since, after an objective leaves play, you can capture a card from the light side player’s hand. The set also included a copy of the Black Sun Headhunter, a solid 2 cost, 4 health unit that has shielding, 1 black gun, 1 black blast and 1 white blast, making it a unit that could work both offensively and defensively. It does have the drawback that you need to spend a Scum resource every turn you want to keep it on the table as an upkeep cost, but decks could easily be built to work around that. Shadows of the Empire gives the dark side a 1 cost event that can both help mitigate an annoying light side objective and trigger Xizor’s reaction if he’s on the table since it lets you put an enemy objective on the bottom of the deck. Xizor’s set also includes a copy of The Prince’s Scheme, a fate card that specifically works with Scum and lets you steal a non-fate card from your opponent’s edge stack and put it in your own edge stack during an edge battle as long as you have a participating, unique Scum unit.
The Hunters included the bounty hunter Leia impersonated, Boussh, as well as the Wookiee bounty hunter Snoova. The objective helped Scum players make it more difficult for the light side to destroy objectives, because as long as the Scum player controls at least 3 Scum objectives, it gives each Scum objective +1 damage capacity. Boussh and Snoova work great together. Snoova captures a unit that doesn’t match it’s owner’s affiliation when it enters play, and whenever a Scum unit captures another unit from play, one per turn Boussh’s ability can be used to increase the Death Star dial by 1, getting DS closer to victory. A Better Offer lets you return a Scum unit to your hand for free. This can both give you a way to free up a Scum unit that has been over focused or pull a unit like Snoova back into your hand, so you can put it into play again and trigger its enters play ability. In order to help get things out quicker, the set includes a copy of Pay Out, a 1 cost event that lets you unfocus all your Scum objectives, even the one you may have used to pay for the event itself. The resource acceleration can help Scum build a board quickly. Keeping with the Black Sun theme, Show of Force, a 5 cost event, lets Scum players make one final push or stand by putting all Black Sun units in the discard pile back into play, until the end of the phase, when all Black Sun units, including any that may have been on the board before playing the card end up getting discarded.
All Out Brawl gives all units in both sides of an engagement an extra black gun. The set also gave dark side a board wipe in the form of Zekka Thyne. Whenever Zekka is destroyed, all other units in play are also destroyed. Clever dark side players could use other cards like Force Choke and core Vader to destroy their own Zekka at just the right time even if their opponent played around killing Zekka. If Zekka hangs around, he’s a tough unit to deal with since he has 2 black guns, 1 black tactics and 1 white gun. Armed to the Teeth is a free event that changes all combat icons on a unit into black guns when it focuses to strike and turn a unit that seems relatively harmless into a gun machine. To keep with the theme of dealing damage, the set also included a copy of Heat of Battle.
The Investigation was the only Sith set included in the box. It’s a limit 1 set that actually is focused around the capture mechanic, so it could serve as a splash in Scum capture focused decks. After the objective enters play, the dark side player can name a card, and while the objective is undamaged, the light side player cannot play that card. Ysanne Isard is the main in the set, and her ability stops the light side player from playing any card or enhancement that has already been captured. To help capture important light side cards, the set includes the one cost event Official Inquiry, which lets you look at the top 3 cards of an opponent’s deck, capture one of them, and put the rest back in any order.
Family Connections, the only Navy set in Between the Shadows, provided tools for the Trooper archetype. The objective puts a shield on every trooper you control after you refresh. General Tagge lets you return a Trooper that costs 2 or less to your hand whenever it leaves place, so the bodies can keep on coming out as long as you have resources. The 2 copies of the Security Task Force units each Protect Troopers. The set also includes a way to give Troopers targeted strike at the expense of discarding them after they hit with Precision Fire, and a way to do some extra unit damage when a Trooper leaves play in Imperial Discipline. While Troopers never really ended up being top tier, this set helped make them fun to play.
Overall, Between the Shadows shook up the Star Wars LCG meta when it was released and sets in it saw play throughout the game. The set focused on Jedi and Scum, but eventually the other affiliations would all get featured in later deluxe box releases.
As mentioned in the my previous articles, there is a player led committee, the Star Wars LCG Council, that has worked to keep the game alive for its small, but loyal community. There is a fall online tourney taking place right now, that just started. If you’re interested in learning more about the game and what’s going on with it, you can check out these resources.
- Previous Enties into this series
- Star Wars LCG Council Facebook page – the official page of the Star Wars LCG Council.
- Star Wars (LCG) Facebook page – this community-led Facebook page has been around since the start.
- Cardgamedb SW LCG General Discussion Forum – This is where the community really started and the Star Wars LCG boards are still active, especially when things such as the online tourney are going on
- Yoda’s Hut Youtube Channel – As mentioned before, you can find literally hundreds of Star Wars LCG gameplay videos with recorded commentary on my Youtube Channel.
- Frozen In Carbonite – Another member of the Star Wars LCG Council, Darthbs, has had his Youtube channel around in various forms throughout the years.
- CoDameron, a long-time Star Wars LCG player, has been recording his matches in the top cut of the current online tourney and posting those games on his Youtube Channel.
- Former 2015 Star Wars LCG World Champion Tom Melucci aka Ozrix, also has recorded some of the top cut matches from the current online tourney. Those are on his Twitch Channel and include commentary from him and other members of the community.
- Many years ago Team Covenant did an introductory gameplay video and they have many older recorded games with commentary on their Youtube channel as well. They also recently revisited the game on one of their daily streams during the pandemic isolation period and it was great to see that.
Thanks for reading and thanks to I Rebel for allowing me the opportunity to write about this game that I have loved for many years.
May the Force Be With You.