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Smugglers and Wookiees and Death Stars...
Oh My!

A Review of the new Star Wars Trading Card Game expansion, Battle of Yavin
By Aaron Brogdon (A.K.A Bacabachaui)

In Episode IV the Battle of Yavin was a turning point for the citizens of the galaxy far, far away. For eager card game fans in this galaxy, the same is true with the release of the Star Wars Trading Card Game expansion of the same name.

For several months now, tantalizing glimpses and previews of this 105-card expansion have been whetting the collective appetite of the SWTCG gaming community. Players anticipated that this second expansion based on the classic trilogy would be to A New Hope, what Sith Rising was to Attack of the Clones. Following what seems to be a trend of releasing a powerful companion expansion to compliment a base set, player’s high expectations were realized when Battle of Yavin was released last week.

Don't Get Mad, Retaliate

Each expansion of Star Wars Trading Card Game has added one or more new abilities. Battle of Yavin brings us Retaliate. If a unit is attacking a unit with this ability in the same arena, the retaliating unit does a number of dice of damage to the attacking unit when the attack ends. It sounds like a mouthful, but it basically means your unit with this ability can strike back at the unit attacking it, and then still get its regular attack. Using the Retaliate ability costs force, and as long as you have the force to spend, a unit with this ability can retaliate every time it is attacked in a turn. To give you an idea how useful this ability can be, the 8 build cost Chewbacca can pay 1 force to Intercept an attack, then spend an additional 3 force to Retaliate 6 (rolling 6 dice of damage against the attacker). He can do this multiple times per turn, and he still gets his regular power 6 attack.

Look At the Size of That Thing!

Probably no other card symbolizes the strength of this expansion more appropriately than the mighty Death Star. The ultimate power in the universe makes its debut with three versions, each with a powerful space presence and with a unique feature true to the role that the Death Star played in the movie. One version helps you deploy a squadron of Tie Fighters, another makes taking out your opponents pesky units on the ground as easy as swatting flies, and the third makes the entire Ground arena, dark and light, meet the same fate as that of Alderaan. The key weakness of the Death Star is that all Starfighters get Critical Hit 3 against it. Damage prevention cards such as this expansions Han’s Evasion, which prevents all damage to a Space unit, or Sith Risings Shoot Her or Something (to reroll attacking dice of your choice), are going to be essential for keeping this costly unit in play.

She's Got It Where It Counts

Also arriving as promised are Han Solo, Chewbacca, and the Millennium Falcon. Just like the movie they each pack a powerful punch and work well when you get them all together. There are four versions of Han, one of them neutral that can play for the dark side as well; a potential upset to light side Han strategies. All four Han cards have Accuracy 1 making every die result from 3 on up a hit. His furry companion also comes with four versions including a neutral version, which thankfully for good guys is not version A, one of the most powerful Character units in the expansion.

There are three versions of the Millennium Falcon, including a neutral one, and they all allow an extra pilot aboard. A three stacked Millennium Falcon C with Han Solo B and Chewbacca C on board gives you a space unit with 80 speed, 8 power, 6 Health, Accuracy 2, and Shields 1. The combo might cost a lot but it’s tough and is sure to give you a lot of hits. Two swings from this combo could take out a Death Star. Just make sure you protect it in between turns with a few A Moments Rest mission cards from Attack of the Clones. If things get too perilous, Han and Chewie can always jump ship to the Character arena where their pilot versions are still a force to reckon with. Version G of Luke can also team up with either Han or Chewie to pilot the Falcon giving it Critical Hit 2, gunning down starships like he did womp rats back home.

The Force Will Be With You

The versions of Luke in Battle of Yavin compared to A New Hope parallel the growth young Skywalker went through in Episode 4. They are just a bit more powerful with more abilities, including retaliate in one version. The most notable version is Luke Skywalker E, which gives any starfighter he pilots Critical Hit 4. Throw him on Luke’s X-Wing B, which already has a built in Critical Hit 4, and add R2-D2 D who can hop on board as an extra pilot to add an extra Critical Hit 2. Against any space unit this combo means that one roll of six will deal eleven damage. Add that to the automatic Critical Hit 3 all starships get when attacking the Death Star and, as Michael Mikaelian pointed out in Star Wars Insider 66, one roll of 6 is “enough to destroy the Death Star (B) outright”.

Battle of Yavin gives us two more versions of Princess Leia to stack our decks with. One version adds an extra build point per turn and includes the automatic damage prevention she came with in A New Hope. Another version comes with a unique Jedi recycling feature; just wash, rinse, and repeat. Obi-Wan is back as well, this version enhancing Luke if Obi is struck down. Other Light side returnees include C-3PO and more Rebels, Pilots, and X-wings.

Fear Will Keep the Local Systems In Line

In addition to the Death Star, the dark side gets its share of powerful new units. Among them are three versions of Grand Moff Tarkin and three more versions of Darth Vader, including one that can pilot. Besides being powerful units unto themselves and a deadly duo, certain versions of Vader and Tarkin enhance theme decks.

Version E of Vader gives all your Stormtroopers +1 power, including Ground units like the new Dewback Patrol, Sandtrooper Squad, and the eight power Stormtrooper Regiment. Combine this with Stormtrooper Commander for another +1 power to all your Stormtroopers and add in A New Hope’s Stormtrooper Squad Leader to give them Accuracy 1. Stormtrooper decks are now much more deadly.

Tarkin B will come in handy for Death Star themed decks since he removes 5 damage counters each turn from a damaged Battle Station. Just make sure you protect him because he will become a prime target for any strike team assisting the Rebels in Space. Tarkin A gives all your Dark Jedi Retaliate 4 for a payment of 1 Force.

To help these major dark side characters squash the rebellion, Battle of Yavin gives us plenty of new Stormtroopers, Imperials, and TIE fighters.

Shifting Loyalties

As far as neutral units go, Battle of Yavin also brings more Tuskens, Jawas, and creatures that make playing these themes more viable. The powerful Tusken War Party is going to be an essential part of many Tusken decks. The aforementioned neutral versions of Han, Chewie, and the Falcon get us closer than ever before to the possibility of an all-neutral deck that can hold its own.

Always in Motion Is the Future

Just when you think you have a good idea what type of army you can build and which foes you can expect in the arenas, along come new Battle and Mission cards. Battle of Yavin has its share of these tide turning strategy enhancers.

New battle cards Blast It! and Let the Wookiee Win give your units the Retaliate ability. Vader’s Fury allows the dark side to attack in succession every space unit the light side has with a starfighter, while the light side sits helplessly by. Anyone playing Han, Chewie, or many of the theme decks out there will want to watch out for Obi-Wan’s Handiwork, which denies all non-Jedi Characters an attack for a turn. Pilot’s Speed adds 40 to the speed of a Space or Ground unit, giving slow Core units, Star Destroyers, and even the Death Star the chance to attack first. Blow this Thing makes it possible for any unit to take out the Death Star with the roll of one dice, although it's not quite as easy as it sounds.

Mission cards can alter the battlefield quickly as well. Cards such as Second Wave allow you launch a surprise Space attack from your discard pile. Your Powers Are Weak forces your opponent to lose all their force. Creature Attack is great for whittling down the intimidating Krayt Dragon for only 2 build points.

Battle of Yavin, the fourth expansion for the Star Wars Trading Card Game, contains plenty of classic elements to keep us happy for a long time. With so many deck options, unexplored combos, and strategic plans yet to be carried out with precision, this expansion is sure to keep you guessing what your opponent has in store for you.

24 March 2003

Click here to discuss Battle of Yavin in our SWTCG Jedi Council forums!

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