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The Force Is Strong With This One

A New Hope brings classic elements and more to the Star Wars Trading Card Game.
By Aaron Brogdon (A.K.A Bacabachaui)

Just about every true fan of Star Wars will agree that nothing compares to the original trilogy. It is the benchmark everything else in the Star Wars Universe is measured against. For many, the classic themes and characters are what define Star Wars and everything associated with it. Card games are no exception.

The Star Wars Trading Card Game welcomes the classic trilogy November 4th, with the release of the latest expansion, A New Hope. Based on Star Wars Episode IV, this expansion is fully compatible with the Attack of the Clones and Sith Rising expansions released earlier this year.

I had the privilege of visiting Wizards of the Coast headquarters in Renton, WA last week and previewing A New Hope with Chris Erb, marketing manager for the Star Wars TCG, and David Eckelberry, Star Wars TCG lead developer. I opened some starter decks and booster packs and put the cards to the test.

A New Hope brings more to the game than you can shake a gaderffii stick at. Included are plenty of "must have" characters such as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Darth Vader. As if that were not enough, we get three new powerful abilities and loads of new Battle and Mission cards to fill your toolbox to the brim.

This expansion does not focus on your typical powerhouse "slugfest" cards like the Mace Windu card in the Sith Rising expansion. Instead the focus is on introducing more options and strategy to bring play to a new level that will appeal to even the most experienced players. A New Hope also caters to anyone new to trading card games, offering beginner and expert level play to break you in slowly. If you have been sitting on the sidelines waiting to try this game, delay no more. Right now is a great time to start collecting and playing the Star Wars Trading Card Game.

Exciting New Abilities

Three new Unit abilities, Accuracy, Intercept, and Piloting, are released with A New Hope. Each of them introduces exciting new options and deck strategies.

"Accuracy X, Add +X to each of this unit's attack dice." A unit with Accuracy 1 would score hits on any 3's, 4's 5's or 6's rolled. Accuracy 1 increases chances of rolling hits from 50% to 2 out of 3. This ability is found in many Unit, Mission and Battle cards. The advantages are obvious, and probably do more to reduce the random factor of dice than any other ability.

"If a unit is attacking one of your units in the same arena as this unit, it now attacks this unit instead." You can choose whether or not you want a unit to use this ability. This comes in handy when you want to protect a valuable card like Wat Tambor who denies one build point to your opponent. If your opponent attacks Wat Tambor, a card with Intercept, like Darth Vader C, can make your opponent attack him instead. Vader can survive longer, and Wat Tambor continues to choke your opponent's Build Points.

The Piloting ability will have the biggest impact on SWTCG game mechanics. Pilot characters add bonuses to the unit they pilot. Chris Erb describes how it works; "Each turn, heroes and villains with the Pilot ability can leap onto certain Ground vehicles and Space units and give one or more bonuses or special abilities to their vessel. Of course, as long as characters spend their time Piloting, they can't fight in the Character arena, and the Pilots are lost should their spaceship or vehicle be destroyed."

Light Versus Dark

The Light Side in this expansion focuses on significant build point advantages, and deadly offensive maneuvers. There are quite a few new Mission cards and Unit abilities that give the Light Side critical build point bonuses. Powerful new Battle cards are included, such as Leia's Kiss, which gives a unit in any arena Accuracy 1 and increases it's speed for one turn, and Han's Courage, which gives a Character unit power +2 and Accuracy 1 for one attack. Fast X-wing units with a variety of abilities make swarms more effective and deadly.

The Dark Side concentrates on raw power and shut down strategies. There are plenty of powerful Star Destroyers and of course, Darth Vader. Vader is not extremely powerful in this expansion, but he packs plenty of punch, and there are three versions of him to prevent the Light Side from using many of the current Anakin strategies. Battle cards like Vader's Leadership increase raw power in one arena so you can tip the scales in a seemingly balanced arena. Cards such as Tarkin's Stench, Jedi Extinction, and Imperial Blockade are effective in slowing down the Light Side long enough to win a decisive battle.

There are many new powerful neutral Battle, Mission, and Unit cards that each side can use. Some tend to work with one side better than others, but they all allow exploitation of brilliant new strategies.

Cool Combos and Killer Cards

With the larger variety of Mission, Battle, and Unit cards come new deadly card combos:

Admiral Motti and Into The Garbage Chute. Use Admiral Motti in a theme deck such as a Geonosian deck which has a low average attack speed. All Jedi characters that can attack, including your Dark Jedi, must attack Motti if he is in the arena. Put him out there to absorb Mace Windu's attack, then use Into The Garbage Chute to prevent all damage to him and retreat him. This gets him safely out of the way when it's time for your Jedi to attack.

Rebel Surrender and Tyranus's Gift. I watched David Eckelberry use this combo. Play Tyranus's Gift during the play or pass chance after your opponent declares an attack with a 5 or less power character (reducing it's power to zero). Follow that up with Rebel Surrender, forcing them to discard that unit since it "rolled no hits". The combo costs 7 Force but considering the pay off, it's worth the investment.

Wedge Antilles and Obi-Wan's Starfighter. Using Wedge's Piloting ability, place him on Obi-Wan's Starfighter to increase it's speed to 70 and it's power to 5. With first attack privileges and the built in critical hit of 2, this combo can really hurt any ship the Dark Side throws at you. If Obi-Wan's Starfighter takes a non-lethal dose of damage, retreat him using Wedge's added abilities. At the beginning of the next battle phase, remove all damage and do it again.

Krayt Dragon and just about any Battle or Mission card that adds a bonus. With a natural 8 power, any bonuses will only make it that much easier to kill many Ground units with one roll. If this happens, Krayt Dragon's gametext allows you to untap him and attack again. Look for cards that add bonuses until the "end of turn" versus "this attack" because chances are you can untap and attack several times per turn.

Princess Leia can be an annoying upset to any Dark Side character strategy. In order to damage Leia, your opponent has to use up valuable force. If they have a low roll, they are faced with the decision of wasting force, or wasting the attack. If your opponent decides to pay the Force, use any number of prevention cards to reduce the damage, making the Dark Side pay plenty for little or no payoff. Whatever happens, you have forced them to choose between wasting resources intended for bigger targets or leaving her in the arena to strike with deadly Accuracy (version B). When she has sustained a lot of damage, move version C to the top of a stacked Leia during your next build phase so you can draw three cards when you discard her.

Other cards like Strategy Session, It's Not Over Yet, Starfighters End, LIN Demolitionmech, and many more are powerful alone, or can be combined together to make unique combos. There are many excellent cards too numerous to mention.

Theme Decks

With A New Hope come newer or more practical theme deck possibilities. These deck themes include Stormtroopers, Rebel Soldiers, Jawas and Droids, Tusken Raiders, and Swarms. Look for the Battle and Mission cards from A New Hope and other expansions that boost these themes. Stormtroopers decks will benefit from cards like Stormtrooper Charge, Taun We, or Lama Su. Rebel Control Officer and Benefits Of Training are essential for any Rebel Soldier deck. A Jawa and Droid deck will find Jawa Supply Trip very handy, and the Tusken Sharpshooter is great in a Tusken Deck.

Moon-Sized Battle Station Not Included

Although some parts of the Death Star are represented in Unit cards released with A New Hope, the Death Star itself not included. Nor are Han Solo, Chewbacca, and the Millennium Falcon. Have no fear; we will see these in the Battle of Yavin expansion (scheduled for a March 2003 release). I saw the Death Star and I can confidently say fans will not be disappointed with the wait. It gives the Dark Side some unique strategy opportunities without making the Light Side gun shy, as it is extremely well balanced. If the Force is with you now, you may also find a special foil promo Han Solo in A New Hope booster packs.

Once you test drive A New Hope, seek out your fellow TCG players at a DCI sanctioned tournament near you. The new strategy levels and options found in this expansion should be a huge shot in the arm for Organized Play. Who knows, you may find yourself at one of the SWTCG DCI Qualifiers competing to go to the Gen Con Championships next year.

The A New Hope expansion is a turning point for the Star Wars Trading Card Game. Having Mace and Luke team up against Vader and Maul is just plain fun and the new strategy options are so numerous it would be nearly impossible to highlight and analyze them all. That is where you come in. Go crack open a few boosters, try the cards out, and see what unique strategy you can come up with. You won't be disappointed.

4 November 2002

Star Wars ? 2002 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ? or TM where indicated. Wizards of the Coast and all character names and their distinctive likenesses are property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc. ?2002 Wizards

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