Star Wars Destiny is a collectible card and dice game, which pits 2 players against each other in charge of a team of legends from the Star Wars Universe. Seen by many as a successor to WizKids’ Dice Masters, it follows their lead in letting you throw together heroes from different time periods, or pit them against adversaries who preceded them by many years – it sounds like a fan’s dream, but is it any good? – let’s find out.
Star Wars Destiny: what’s in the box?
When Star Wars Destiny was announced, there was some concern at what looked like cheap-quality dice covered in stickers. Fortunately, the final product turned out to be very high quality, with images printed directly onto the dice, and heat-sealed for durability: you don’t need to worry that the dice you roll are going to wear out-quickly. The card-stock is what you’d expect for a card-game like this, with plenty of nice art – FFG are even offering some gorgeous Star Wars Art Sleeves for those who like to keep their games protected. The tokens are the least exciting element of the game, but are still perfectly passable.
To get into Star Wars Destiny, there are 2 starter sets currently available – a Hero starter set, featuring Rey and Finn, and a Villains starter set featuring Kylo Ren and a First Order Storm Trooper. Each starter is enough for one player to get going, so you’ll need both if you plan to play at home. The boxes have plenty of space for extra dice, although cards are likely to need storying separately.
So what do I do?
In Star Wars Destiny a team is typically comprised of 2 or 3 characters who start in play, along with their accompanying dice. Non-unique characters like a Stromtrooper will only ever have a single dice per card, but Uniques can have up to 2. For official play, characters have a points cost, based on their strength and the number of dice you have chosen to take in order to maintain an element of balance in the force. But, the starter sets just come with 2 characters and 3 character dice total, allowing you to get the hang of the game without complicating things.
Each turn in Star Wars Destiny, players alternate actions, which gives the game a great back-and-forth feel with little downtime. You’ll build up the number of cards and dice you have in play, and use those dice in an attempt to eliminate all your opponent’s characters, or to mill out your opponent’s deck and empty their hand.
Dice in Star Wars Destiny have a number of effects: generally dealing damage (ranged or melee), generating resources, adding “Shields” (damage prevention) to your characters, discarding your opponent’s resources, or discarding their cards.
You activate a card in play to roll the dice on it, then as another action later that turn, you can either discard cards from your hand to re-roll some/all of the dice, or you can resolve them to trigger their effect. Taking the re-rolls to get the perfect storm of damage may seem like a good idea, but your opponent probably has things to remove your dice from play, or to make you re-roll them, so if you leave them too long, you may lose them.
The core of Star Wars Destiny is very simple – it really won’t take you long to learn how to play, the terminology and the iconography is clear, concise and easy to grasp. The theme shines through, with cards taken straight from the films, and it does a good job of offering you meaningful choices without overwhelming you with options. My wife, who generally shies away from head-to head games like this, and refuses to touch Dice Masters, was willing to play this a fair few times without too much coercion.
I haven’t had any yet, so I can’t very well take more
Dice in Star Wars Destiny can produce Melee or Ranged Damage, they can generate resources, or they can remove an opponent’s card or resources. Mostly this will be done with a symbol and a number alongside it – 1 with a crossed lightsabre represents 1 melee damage, 2 with a blaster represents 2 ranged damage.
Sometimes though, rather than just a number, the dice will give a blue background and a +1 or +2 – these pluses can only be resolved if you already have another dice producing that type of damage (or resource etc) – this can make some dice very high risk/reward – for example a blaster that has 2 faces offering +2 ranged damage – quite likely to cause your opponent problems if you can roll some normal ranged damage.
Claiming the High Ground
Lots of people will want to play Star Wars Destiny for the iconic characters they can control, and it’s fun to add in iconic items, weapons or vehicles – even Luke’s Lightsaber or the Millenium Falcon. Whilst those things are the most visible element of the game, it’s also worth looking at the Battlefields where you fight.
When it’s your turn to take an action in Star Wars Destiny, you can always pass, resuming further actions after your opponent has had their turn (although if you both pass in sequence, the round ends, so be a little careful). One less-common action available to you though, is claiming the Battlefield and it can be very powerful if used correctly.
When you build your team for Star Wars Destiny, you also include a battlefield, and at the start of a game, you roll to see who chooses the site of that conflict: the winning player chooses 1 battlefield to be left in play for the entire game, whilst the other player gets 2 shields for their characters. Once you claim the battlefield, you automatically pass for the remainder of the round, but it gives you the first action in the next round, as well as the chance to trigger its ability.
Feeling underpowered? How about a boost?
As I mentioned at the start of the article, Star Wars Destiny is a collectible game, and it’s likely that you’ll soon want to expand your collection of cards and dice. Sadly, that’s not as easy as you might think.
Your starter deck contains 2 characters, a handful of support dice, and enough cards to form a 20-card deck. As a full deck in Star Wars Destiny has 30 cards, this is a fair way short of the full-blown version of the game and the character costs are 20 for the Villains and 25 for the Heroes, leaving you some way short of a “standard” 30-point team.
If you plan to play Star Wars Destiny at home, 1 of each starter is an obvious way to go – it gives you reasonably balanced teams to pit against each other (the Heroes are slightly more powerful), and allow you to see a decent spread of cards and dice.
Moving on from there, if you want to build a tournament-legal deck, combining the 2 different starter sets will allow you to build a 30-card deck. A single deck can only include Heroes or Villains, but there are enough Neutral cards in the starters that you can make it 30, albeit with limited options. You could also combine 2 copies of the same starter, which will get your nearer to the 30 points worth of characters (2nd dice for Finn in the Hero deck, 2nd Stormtrooper for the Villain). However, doing this limits the range of cards you have available.
Never Tell Me the Odds!
Ultimately, if you’re serious about playing Star Wars Destiny, at some point, you’ll need to start buying boosters, and boosters seem to be where this game starts to feel like a bit of a poor deal.
Boosters seem to be retailing for around £3 in the UK, and they come with 1 dice and 5 cards. The 5 cards divide into 3 commons, 1 uncommon, and 1 legendary or rare, with the dice to match.
There are 58 common cards in this first wave, so it won’t take long for any serious player to get a decent spread of these, if not a full set. The dice-based cards are another matter though: with 44 rare and 16 Legendary, that’s 60 packs, even with perfect luck, to get one of each, and for the 20 or so unique characters, you probably want a duplicate to get the second dice.
For the ultra-competitive player, there are plenty of options – many will simply buy boxes and boxes of boosters, whilst other may look to somewhere like Team Covenant who are offering complete play-sets for around $300 a time.
My concern is more at the lower end of things – if I want to play Star Wars Destiny at a more complex level, how much is that going to cost me – to turn my 2 starters (1 of each) into 2 legal decks?
Card-wise, a handful of boosters should be fine – I spent £15 on 5 Star Wars Destiny boosters, and of the 25 new cards I got to go in decks, only 1 or 2 were duplicates of the ones I already had.
For dice though, it was less of a success story: I opened 4 Rare and 1 Legendary dice, but only 1 of those was a character, the Rebel Trooper. I can now put together a “legal” Hero deck which is definitely a step up from the starters in terms of power level, (even if it has come up short against players who have most of the card-pool at their disposal). But my Villains have barely moved on.
The odds of getting a character in any given booster are actually more like 35-40%, so I was a bit unlucky – still, even if I did have 1 more Villainous character, there’s no guarantee that he would actually fit at all well with what I have – being able to roll lots of dice on turn 1 in Star Wars Destiny definitely feels like it gives you a big advantage, and having a range of cheap characters is the key to this.
Do I accept my Destiny, or resist the call of the dark side?
Overall, I think Star Wars Destiny is a great game- it’s simple enough to pick up, or to teach quickly, it’s really quick to play, with a good back and forth momentum, meaning little to no downtime. It also does a great job of capturing a good Star Wars feel whilst allowing you to pit Padme against Kylo or any other time-skewed match-up. If I was rating the gameplay alone, I’d definitely give this an 8.
The trouble though, is the deceptive cost: if you want to play Star Wars Destiny at home with just starters, then £26 for one of each isn’t bad, but you won’t be able to deck-build, and you probably won’t have a very enjoyable game if you take that deck up against a competitive player. To do meaningful deck-building for 2 players at home, or to be able to have worthwhile games at a local shop or gaming group, this is going to cost you a lot more – probably somewhere around £100 for a box of 36 boosters (which is still nowhere near having a full set) and/or a lot of buying singles on the secondary market. If you’ve got that kind of money to sink in to the game, then you’ll probably find you enjoy it, but for me that’s just too steep, and for the lack of decent middle-ground between “starters only” and “tournament play” I’m going to give Star Wars Destiny a 6.
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I'm an avid board and card-gamer, still trying to figure out where Board Gaming fits into life as the dad of a very grabby toddler.
I enjoy thematic games (Fantasy, Cthulhu, etc) and play a lot of cooperative games, along with a bit of competitive gaming (currently Legend of the Five Rings) when I can make it out of the house.
When not playing games, I can be found doing a mundane office job, or working on my own Blog, Fistful of Meeples.