Star Wars: Unlimited pushes the limits of galactic warfare — and deck building

Regardless of the history-changing implications of battles on Endor and Yavin, the nature of struggle, particularly inside the Star Wars universe, is one of numerous skirmishes throughout the furthest reaches of the galaxy. Unlikely heroes and allies come collectively to battle on land and in area, accruing small benefits alongside the solution to inch towards their variations of victory. The identical will probably be true for Star Wars: Unlimited, the latest entry into the hotly contested battle for gamers in the world of buying and selling card video games.

Its seventh project primarily based on the Star Wars universe, Fantasy Flight Video games’ newest effort combines time-tested components from its previous ventures, together with inspiration from different fashionable TCGs, to make Unlimited its most dynamic model of a galactic battle but.

“We’re trying to go in a bit of a new direction with this game in terms of streamlining things and making a really fast back-and-forth game, compared to some of our past games,” mentioned Danny Schaefer, a designer at Fantasy Flight, in an interview with Polygon. “We definitely picked up some elements from our past [living card games] as well as some of the older Star Wars games, as well.”

One of Unlimited’s designers, Jeremy Zwirn, additionally labored on FFG’s earlier Star Wars: Future cube and card recreation, which utilized a fast-paced tit-for-tat motion system, and helped port that to the guidelines and imaginative and prescient for Unlimited.

An early demo of Star Wars: Unlimited was held at Gen Con 2023.
Picture: Fantasy Flight Video games/Asmodee

“The turn structure is very quick, very interactive, and simplified,” Zwirn defined. “You don’t have something like the stack in Magic with confusing timing issues when things are happening. That worked really well in Destiny, so we wanted to carry that over to this game too.”

One other one of the recreation’s elementary traits was borrowed from a special physique of work altogether. Like many buying and selling card video games, Unlimited playing cards have a price that should be paid with a view to play them out of your hand. However not like Magic: The Gathering, which requires including particular land playing cards that generate mana, Unlimited’s useful resource system is nearer to Disney Lorcana and Flesh and Blood’s method, video games that help you use virtually any card in hand as a possible useful resource.

The Call of Cthulhu LCG had a somewhat similar resource system where essentially any card could be used as a resource,” Zwirn defined. “You resource one card per round, so you can eventually build up, get more powerful cards, and play them at a higher cost.”

As these assorted inspirations progressively got here collectively over greater than three years of design, they finally paved the method for extra defining components that the recreation’s creators launched to make Unlimited thrilling, replayable, and, in its personal method, difficult.

Deck-building dynamics

Central to deck design are the recreation’s heroes and bases, which begin on the board at the starting of each recreation.

Just like Flesh and Blood or Magic’s Commander format, Unlimited makes use of iconic Star Wars characters to function a deck’s main hero. These embrace the likes of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Chewbacca, and lots others. Likewise, base playing cards depict basic areas from Star Wars tales, from the swamps of Dagobah to the Loss of life Star Command Middle and even the Catacombs of Cadera on Jedha.

The heroes present a number of essential contributions to every deck. For one, they’ve built-in talents that impression the recreation in a spread of methods. These heroes can even function items that do battle extra instantly with opponents. However most significantly, heroes and bases characteristic coloured “aspects.”

Unlimited makes use of six completely different “aspects” that decide the play model and doable talents of the recreation’s playing cards. Suppose of them like colours in Magic, the Pokémon TCG, Hearthstone, and numerous different card video games.

In Unlimited, the points are Vigilance (blue), Command (inexperienced), Aggression (pink), Crafty (yellow), Heroism (white), and Villainy (black). An Unlimited deck should have a pacesetter and a base — your chief then supplies as much as two side icons whereas your base supplies one. Collectively, the points that your base and hero characteristic then form the playing cards the relaxation of your deck can embrace.

“All those permutations of mix-and-matching a leader with different bases and different aspects can create an entirely new deck,” Zwirn emphasised. “Sometimes those bases can really make or break a deck, as well.”

To spotlight the primary look and construction of Unlimited’s future decks, the design group shared just a few examples that characteristic completely different leaders and bases, together with some of the playing cards that play effectively with these configurations. Zwirn factors to the Crafty and Villainy Boba Fett deck as one instance of the significance of maximizing heroes and bases to get the most worth and synergy out of the remaining playing cards in the deck.

A full deck of cards for Star Wars: Unlimited

A deck by Jeremy Zwirn primarily based on the hero Boba Fett, along with his base set in Jedha Metropolis.
Picture: Fantasy Flight Video games

“For the Boba deck, the card Cunning is an extremely powerful card that has double Cunning aspects. So to play it for only four [resources], you have to have a base and leader with Cunning aspects, which is gaining you tempo,” Zwird defined. “And the card itself creates probably the best tempo in the entire game; it can exhaust two units and bounce an enemy unit, all for four resources.”

If you break down these points additional, you start to see how they specific the recreation’s play types and colour identities into basic card recreation archetypes.

“There are some very good aggro decks, especially on the hero side. Some very good control decks, especially on the villain side. And there are a variety of midrange decks somewhere in between,” Schaefer mentioned.

Nevertheless, don’t anticipate to see breakout combo decks when the recreation first hits cabinets in 2024.

“We’re intentionally not leaning hard into combo, with the first set at least,” mentioned Tyler Parrott, one other designer on Unlimited. “There will be some combos eventually, inevitably.”

“There are combo elements to decks, but not really like ‘we’re going to kill you in one turn’ or infinite loops,” Schaefer added.

A collection of cards based on Han Solo thematically includes some of his favored alies, includind Chewy and Lando.

A deck by Danny Schaefer primarily based on the hero Han Solo, along with his base set to Catacombs of Cadera — additionally on Jedha.
Picture: Fantasy Flight Video games

“The Han Solo deck is about as close to combo as you’ll get in Set One, with the ability to cheat out expensive cards a little bit ahead of time,” Schaefer defined. “It’s playing You’re My Only Hope with all the cards that look at the top of your deck. It’s not like a one turn kill combo, it’s more like I got my seven drop out on turn five, or my five drop out on turn three.”

One other intriguing side of Star Wars: Unlimited lies in its deck-building mechanics. Decks should be a minimal of 50 playing cards, with a restrict to solely three copies of anybody card.

“It’s a bit less consistent than if you have four-ofs, obviously,” Schaefer mentioned. “That was partially because you see so much of your deck in a given game, we didn’t want it to be quite as easy to always see your same cards over and over — especially in the first few turns.”

In response to Parrott, 50 playing cards is “also just a value that we’re familiar with. We have enough other games that have been 50 with three copies that we knew exactly what that was going to play like mathematically.”

Arenas of battle

One of the most original components to Unlimited, which followers of Star Wars will certainly acknowledge as a recurring theme throughout the movies and tales, are battles that occupy each land and area.

Unlimited options two arenas of play, floor and area, that are then occupied by respective items.

“One of the things we learned from the Star Wars LCG, it bounced off a lot of people for thematic reasons because the idea that Chewbacca could fight a Star Destroyer was a little bit too much of a stretch,” Parrott defined. “That was one of the huge incentives to have the two lanes be separate.

A decklist of cards featuring Chewbacca, which includes more than a couple nimble starfighters in the mix.

Danny Schaefer’s Chewbacca deck finds its house on Hoth, naturally: “Chewy’s ability lets you play three drops or smaller and give them Sentinel, which means they have to be attacked. It’s really good for slowing the game down and stopping your aggro opponents from hitting your base. And the idea here is you play those cheap units early, stall things out a little bit, and then eventually either build up to some ramp or some removal, keep the game under control, then get to seven resources and bring out Chewy, who when he flips is a giant monster. He has Sentinel and he has Grit, which means his power goes up for each damage he takes. So once Chewy flips, it just locks down the ground and threatens to hit really hard. You’ve also got a couple eight drops in here for once you’ve gotten to that point, you can slam the door shut with your giant capital ships.”
Picture: Fantasy Flight Video games

Nevertheless, not solely does this aspect make the taste of Unlimited extra genuine to its supply materials, it additionally provides an essential strategic aspect too.

“Bringing the correct ratio of ground to space units is going to matter a lot,” Parrott mentioned. “If you go to a tournament and you expect the metagame to be heavy on people playing space aggro, then now I need to add more space units to my deck to fight against the space units, and now my ground units maybe can be fewer and they’ll go farther in the game because that is now the uncontested lane.”

Play modes and organized play

Wanting forward, Star Wars: Unlimited will characteristic a spread of play modes, together with 1v1 and multiplayer, the place gamers deliver pre-built or fine-tuned decks to battle at shops or different informal environments.

The sport will even characteristic draft and sealed modes, the place gamers can open a specified quantity of card packs to assemble a brand-new deck on the spot.

Ultimately, Unlimited will even introduce its personal system of organized play spanning from weekly retailer occasions to galactic championships, although extra particulars on the specifics behind organized play are coming down the line.

Star Wars: Unlimited launches in recreation shops globally on March 8, 2024.

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