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.
Following the 4 month delay between the end of the Hoth cycle and the release of the Balance of the Force deluxe box, there was another 2 month gap before FFG finally started releasing the Echoes of the Force cycle. The 6 month delay between the end of a cycle and the beginning of the next one certainly impacted to popularity of the game. The cycle itself included very powerful cards and mechanics. Unfortunately, it also introduced in the opinion of many, including myself, the most broken combo that ever existed in the game as well as several cards that were so powerful they had to receive errata.
The Hoth Cycle completed and it was about 4 months before the next release for the game. That release, Balance of the Force, introduced multiplayer modes for the game as well as two challenge decks. I have to admit 2 vs. 2 play and the challenge decks, were something I only tried once each. So unfortunately, I can’t offer much insight or reflection about them other than to say that neither multiplayer mode seemed to see a lot of play. FFG did hold an official world championship for 2 vs.2 play, but the games tended to be much longer and didn’t really catch on.
Looking back, in retrospect, one of the odd things about the Star Wars LCG Core Set was that it introduced all 6 of the affiliations, but 2 of those (1 on each side) only got 1 objective set at the start. While the Core Set did introduce classic characters tied to those affiliations, like Han Solo and Boba Fett, to the game. Others classic characters like Chewbacca, Lando, Jabba, other named bounty hunters and classic ships like the Millennium Falcon had to wait. The first expansion cycle for the game, the Hoth Cycle, slowly added sets for both Smugglers and Scum, but other than getting Dengar in the very last pack of the Hoth cycle. Star Wars fans were still waiting for appearances from characters and ships that were obviously going to have to show up at some point. Finally, Smugglers and Scum got their day in the sun when FFG released its first full Deluxe Box expansion for the game, Edge of Darkness.
The Star Wars LCG game designers and developers certainly had a variety of choices to explore for development after the release of the Core Set. The universe is filled with iconic moments and locations. Given the fact The Empire Strikes Back is often viewed as the most popular of all Star Wars films, it was not too surprising that the first cycle of the game focused on themes from events on Hoth. The Hoth Cycle packs started releasing in late 2012 and finished in mid-2013.