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First Impressions of the Jedi Knights Trading Card Game

First of all, for those of you who don't know me, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Daniel Holmes and I'm a 20-year-old education student from Queensland, Australia. For those of you who post in the Jedi Council Forums or on Decipher's message boards, my user name is Yarua Of Kashyyyk at both locations. I come from a predominantly Young Jedi CCG background, but I have had some interaction with the Star Wars CCG. I have now started playing Jedi Knights TCG, and I am already enthused about it. As well as reporting all the news from each Friday's Radio Free Decipher, I hope I can answer any questions that anyone has about Young Jedi or Jedi Knights and look forward to filing more reports for Starfire's Rebel Log. Now, Jedi Knights...

To my surprise, Jedi Knights was available in Australia at the same time it became available in the United States. I bought a starter deck for each side and a number of boosters. As I opened them and looked through these shiny, new cards, my first impressions were simple: "Impressive. Most impressive."

Prior to the release date, I obviously didn't have an opportunity to attend any of the pre-release events held at a number of gaming stores throughout the United States. I had followed the game's progress on Decipher's website and, though the release date never seemed to get any closer, Decipher's reports kept my interest in the developing game. At times I felt that the game might be a big disappointment: a game with hum-drum gameplay and cards that on the whole - besides a couple of snazzy-looking ones - would feature images of tacky, misshapen renditions of our favourite heroes, villains, droids and starships from the Star Wars saga. So, believe me, I had my doubts and worries.

Once the rules were released, my trepidations began to dissipate. Though it was hard to completely understand the rules without concrete cards to look at, it helped to have an idea of the way the game would be played out. Some of the things that stood out to me included the use of Force cards to track deployment and drawing, and the dual use of event cards for both game text and tactical bonuses. The use of weapons reminded me greatly of the way in which weapons work in Young Jedi, while Star Wars' influence was present in the form of Jedi Knight's focus on the intricacy of game text. I still had some uncertainties: the rotating function seemed a bit weird, while I felt that starship battles weren't really that important. But I felt confident that Decipher would come through.

My misgivings were pretty much blown away when I was able to watch Decipher's instructional videos they posted during the 12 Days of Jedi Knights. Watching the game being played finally brought it home to me that all the things I had liked and the things I had found peculiar in the rules all meshed together wonderfully. Rotating now made sense, and I saw that starship battles were a vital part of winning both battles and the Control Check. The use of weapons was still cool, I found that manipulation of the Force pile was probably one of the most important strategies in the game, and it was exciting to see all the different cards' game text at work. Everything seemed fine, bar one thing: I now had to play the game myself.

I got my chance soon enough. I played a friend using an Alliance starter deck and finally found that everything fell into place. However, I found my first true gripe about the game: the Jedi Knights playmat. It had a couple of errors on it (it states that the Alliance starter deck has 3 blasters when it only has 2; the Empire should play Lars Moisture Farm, when it actually gets Mos Eisley in its starter deck) and seemed to confuse more than help me. My friend and I scrapped using it and were able to play fine without it. I concede that it may be helpful for very new players to the CCG environment (as long as the errors are pointed out), but for players who already have experience with CCGs, the playmat just makes a nice poster (a blown up version of He Certainly Is Brave).

My other gripe about the game is one that can be traced back to my background as a Young Jedi player. Every card in Jedi Knights has game text on it and for me, as a Young Jedi player not used to voluminous amounts of game text, I find I have to take a lot of time checking what each card I have on the table does. I have confidence, though, that as time progresses, and I play more and more games, this will no longer trouble me.

So that's my first impressions of Jedi Knights. It's still early days, so even though I am still making myself familiar with the rules and playing around with deck construction, I am enjoying every second of it. While it does have its little kinks that may need to be worked on, I think that Jedi Knights will fit easily alongside Star Wars and Young Jedi as thoroughly playable and - most importantly - enjoyable games about our favourite heroes and villains from that galaxy far, far away.

Daniel Holmes
'Yarua Of Kashyyyk'
"Let the Wookiee win."

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