|Star Wars: The Clone Wars Box Cover|
Gaming buddy Joe brought out a new boardgame called Star Wars: The Clone Wars (TCW), which apparently uses the game mechanics of Pandemic. After watching the Watch It Played video on the rules it seemed to me to be Star Wars United, or a Star Wars version of Marvel United. I guess that means Marvel United's game mechanics closely follow those of Pandemic.
So, why do I say it is like Star Wars United? All players cooperate to defeat an enemy A.I. Every player plays one Jedi (Hero). There is a Villain and Thugs (Droids). Players maintain a hand of cards. Players move from location to location thinning out the Droids, sending the Villain into hiding (by beating them in combat), all while trying to minimize the Threats the Villain lays down, completing Missions before having one final battle with the Villain, at which point they are defeated and the Heroes win.
|Our Game in Progress|
We were able to play three games from about 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM, or one game per hour. So this is a great boardgame for a group to play on a weeknight as setup and tear down is very quick and the rules are very quick to grasp.
Each turn the next player (going clockwise) gets four actions and one free action to perform. The actions are:
- Move to an adjacent location on the map (following the lines between systems)
- Draw a card (called a 'Squad')
- Attack at your location
- Attempt a mission at your location
As you can see in the image above, the map displays named planetary systems, with lines of travel indicated between them. Each action used for movement allows the player to move to one adjacent system. Note that there are 'Squad' cards that allow a Jedi to move two systems with a single movement action, but that can only be played a maximum of once per turn. There are also cards which allow a Jedi to move more than one location, and Jedi powers (free actions) for a Jedi to move themselves or others multiple locations.
Draw a Card
Each player starts with four cards and can hold up to seven at one time. It takes one action to draw a card. There are five types of cards:
- Assault: These are used to attack droids, blockades, and villains and to attempt to complete some missions.
- Stealth: These are also used to attack droids, blockades, and villains and to attempt to complete some missions. You cannot combine Assault and Stealth cards in an Attack action, but some missions allow you to play both.
- Transport: These cards allow you to move two locations, but only one of these cards can be played by that Hero that turn.
- Armor: These cards allow a Hero to reduce damage to a Hero (in that player's location).
- Ally: These represent other characters from the stories that are not Heroes that the player can play, such as Padmé Amidala, C3PO and R2D2. Unlike the other cards, playing these cards doesn't exhaust them (see below), but causes them to be discarded.
When a player plays a card it is exhausted, i.e. turned sideways, to show it cannot be played again until the player's next turn when all of their cards are unexhausted. The exception to this is Ally cards, which are discarded when used.
Attack at Your Location
Players attack in order to remove the blockades, droids, and villains in their own location. When you attack you roll a custom die that inflicts 0 to 3 hits, choose either Assault or Stealth cards to boost your attack, and remove enemies based on the amount of damage you inflict, then take damage (if any). The die can inflict hits on the attacking Jedi as can any remaining enemy that survive the Jedi's attack.
So why do you want to attack these items?
- The Villain: When the villain is on the board they can wreak havoc. Eventually they will raise the Threat Level so high (7) that the player's lose. So if you attack and defeat the villain, they are removed from the board and can do less damage. Also, after all missions have been completed, defeating the Villain is a requirement in order for the Heroes to win.
- A Blockade: If a blockade is present on a planetary system then it must be defeated before a Jedi can attack Droids or Villains or attempt a mission on that system.
- Droids: If the game calls for a fourth Droid to be added to a specific planetary system then a Blockade is added to that system and the Threat Level is increased.
So, they players have to control the number of Droids that gather on a system to ensure the Threat Level does not rise (and so that Blockades don't get in the way of attempting to complete missions or defeat villains).
Attempt a Mission
The difficulty of the game is controlled by the number of missions that the players must complete before the Villain can be defeated in the final battle. (Unlike Marvel United, Star Wars: The Clone Wars allows the Villain to be attacked before all of the missions are completed. But when the are defeated, it just removes them temporarily. Completing the necessary number of missions brings about the Final Battle.)
There are only two missions in play at any one time. There are markers which indicate system the mission is at. Basically a mission is an all-or-nothing thing. You either inflict the stated number of damage and succeed or you fail. You cannot carry damage over from player to player or turn to turn.
TCW is a great, easy to learn, cooperative game with a little more complexity than Marvel United but nowhere near the replayability (yet) due to having no expansions. Like Marvel United it is a boardgame with miniatures, not a miniatures game played on a board; miniatures are simply tokens for indicating which planet you are currently on. (Although that does call into question whether that is the same for miniatures in miniature games…)