My Wife Always Wins - an Uphill Battle in Board Gaming
by Brian Shabbott
This Week’s Game: Star Wars: Destiny
I found myself really reflecting about life and family over the recent holidays, more so than ever before. I think it has something to do with finally viewing myself as an adult – which is something I haven’t been willing to do for much of my “adult” life. Graduating college, moving out, getting a job… those things meant very little to me as far as “growing up” goes. But that has changed now that I am building a family of my own; I think I’ve finally found the “real world” everybody talks about.
I’ve really come to appreciate what the holidays are for: Charity, goodwill, family, love. For my wife, Lyndsey, and me these holiday values became a great focus of ours this year. Even three weeks later that focus remains. And what better way to take advantage of that greater family focus on love and trust, than to cheat my way to victory in our most recent game of the week?
I know what you’re thinking, and I get it. Listen… I’m not proud of it, but it isn’t easy to maintain that holiday cheer and goodwill when you’re getting stomped at all your favorite games. At a certain point you become desperate for a win at any cost.
So here’s what happened: We’re both avid Star Wars fans, and we have been buying up cards for Star Wars: Destiny for a while. The idea of battling heroes and villains in a customized deck game appealed to both of us. There was only one shortcoming for Lyndsey: she loves to play these games, but is pretty disinterested in the deck construction phase. Being the loving husband (pronounced: conniving trickster) that I am, I built her deck for her.
I didn’t build her a poor deck by any means. But knowing the contents of her deck, I made mine to specifically counter it. For example, the majority of her damage is dealt through ranged attacks (with just enough melee so as to not be suspicious), and the majority of my counter-abilities remove ranged damage. Don’t judge me.
I’m setting myself up to get into a bit of trouble with this, as Lyndsey will learn about my deception the same way as the rest of you: when she reads this article. (I’m sorry sweetie. I only cheated for comedy’s sake.) Seriously, though, who cares? She’s heartless. A win’s a win. (Not really, Lyndsey, it’s still just a joke.) But seriously. Heartless.
I knew what I was getting into. I just hoped I could pull in a win, and it would all be worth it.
Star Wars: Destiny is a card and dice game where players battle their heroes or villains against each other. A deck consists of characters (the heroes or villains), a battlefield, and 30 cards. Characters start out in play, and players can play cards for instant or long-term effects, or to upgrade their characters’ equipment. Each character has their own die (or dice), and many of the upgrades have dice of their own. By adding more upgrades and dice to the mix, characters grow stronger gradually throughout the game.
Gameplay consists of several rounds, and each round consists of several turns. A turn consists of a single action, which can include but is not limited to: playing a card, resolving the effect of a card already on the field, activating a character (rolling their dice), or resolving the effects of dice that have already been rolled (which may inflict damage to a character, or cause a player to discard cards, for example).
Once a player completes his turn the next player takes a turn of her own. The round ends when one player claims the battlefield (which has effects of its own), and the other player runs out of possible moves. At the start of a new round, each player gets two new resources to spend to play cards, and all cards in the field of play become available for resolution again. Play continues until all of a player’s characters are defeated or a player runs out of cards in their deck and hand.
Time to Play
We laid out the characters and battlefields. I had Luke Skywalker and Rey, Lyndsey had Jango Fett and General Grievous. I was pleased to see the characters were the same ones I had chosen – part of me was expecting her to have amended her deck prior to the game.
I won the dice roll to determine what battlefield we would use. Lyndsey made a snarky comment, impressed that I could even win so much as the opening roll. I chose my battlefield, so I would go first.
Round one was far too even for my liking. I was hoping I could pull ahead quickly – Luke and Rey seemed like a powerful combination – but such things just weren’t meant to be.
After we each played an event and support card, Lyndsey activated the first character, General Grievous, and rolled melee damage. I activated Rey, and likewise rolled some melee. At this point I realized I forgot Jango’s special ability – he can activate for free when an opponent’s character activates. So when Rey activated, so did Jango – leaving Lyndsey free to take a second action. A tough tactic.
The final moves of the first round left us pretty much even: three damage on each of our strongest characters.
Lyndsey controlled the next few rounds. After the third, Jango only had four damage, while Luke was up to seven. But round four was my time to shine. I was able to redirect all Lyndsey’s damage and hand five more to Jango.
I defeated Jango in the fifth round and was certain my victory was coming. With only one character left, it would be difficult for Lyndsey to land enough consistent damage to catch back up. Boy was I wrong.
Lyndsey played a First Order TIE Fighter – which could serve as a second source of damage. Between Grievous and the TIE, Lyndsey dealt Luke four more damage. I was able to return the favor, but after the fifth round, Luke was at 11 damage – just one from defeat. Grievous was only at two.
In round six, Lyndsey played Backup Muscle. This support comes into play with three damage on it. Each round it can move one damage to a character. Needless to say, Luke didn’t survive the next turn. We were pretty close to even again.
Over the next rounds, Lyndsey hit me for a few more damage. I equipped Rey with both her staff and a lightsaber, two very good sources of melee damage. This would have been great, if I didn’t consistently roll blanks. After round eight, Rey had four damage and Grievous still had two. It wasn’t an insurmountable gap, but I’d expected my dual-wielding would have led to more damage (or any damage).
I was down to my last two cards in the ninth round. Just great – I survived the entire game and stayed relatively even with Lyndsey only to possibly lose by default if she made me discard. I kept my fingers crossed that she wouldn’t roll any discards. She didn’t, but it didn’t matter.
Lyndsey immediately activated Grievous to start the round, now equipped with a flame thrower. She rolled exactly what she needed to win: four damage from the thrower, two from Grievous.
I looked at my hand, waiting for the cards to change into something useful. They didn’t. It was futile, but I activated Rey anyway. Her dice showed two shields – perfect to equip next turn. If there was a next turn. Instead, Grievous cut her down with his ridiculous six damage.
To add salt to the wound, Lyndsey exclaimed, “I can’t believe I won!” Yeah, right. Like this isn’t a common trend in our house.
I was really worried getting whooped in this game was going to sour my enjoyment of everything Star Wars, but luckily it did not. Star Wars is still awesome, and that is a fact that will not change no matter how bad I am at games. While I’d rather play somebody else – anybody else – I am lucky Lyndsey enjoys the Star Wars Universe as much as I do. We both watch all the movies and shows, read the books, and scour the internet for the latest rumors and theories. As such, Star Wars: Destiny really is the perfect game for folks like us.
Every Star Wars fan has had that debate about whether Luke or Anakin Skywalker was the stronger Jedi. Some of us on the nerdier side have envisioned battles between Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Vader. Star Wars: Destiny makes those battles a reality in a simple, yet involved card game that is enjoyable on so many levels. A decent deck, some strategy, and lots of luck can provide a fun gaming environment where anyone can win – if the Force wills it. But I’ll have to find somebody else to win against, because in my house only one person commands the will of the Force – and it ain't me!
Brian Shabbott is a 31 year old aspiring writer. Brian spends much of his time playing games with friends and family. Brian loves to compete and play games he loves - but he never wins against his wife! Brian is looking forward to introducing himself as a writer and producer for you!
Follow Brian on Twitter @heyshabbott
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