- Spencer Crilly
A Gem of Star Wars Board Games: Epic Duels
Created in 2002, this incredible game was out of print by 2004. Though it was short-lived, it offered an enjoyable strategy game complex enough to appeal to hardcore fans and simple enough to be rapidly learned. Today, we'll review how to play, examine some of the decks, and explore the future of Epic Duels that includes the Expanded Universe!
How To Play
Epic Duels comes with several boards depicting various Star Wars locations. From the storming Kamino to the ominous carbonite chamber in Cloud City on Bespin, these sets will host your battles. Epic Duels includes several character decks with a variety of cards that players use to defeat their opponents, as well as miniature figures that move across the board as you battle.
Each deck includes a "major" character and either one or two "minor" characters. They also have their own sheet and counters to keep track of each combatant's health. Your objective is to vanquish the opposing major character. Eliminating minor characters will make the task easier, but you only win once the major foe falls.
To set up the game, one player chooses a team they want to play. You can play a free for all, teams, light v. dark, etc. You also can have heroes fight heroes, villains fight villains or have the classic heroes vs villains. Pick a board you'd like to battle on, then each player places their main character in the designated spot on the board.
Next, roll a die, and the player with the higher value puts their minor character(s) anywhere adjacent to their main character, then their opponent does the same. Shuffle each player's deck and draw four cards. The player who rolled higher goes first.
First, roll a die and move a single character the number of spaces up to the number you rolled. The die in Epic Duels sometimes lands on an "all" number; this lets you move all your characters up to the rolled value. You do not have to move if you don't want to.
Now, you have two actions to spend on your turn. You can mix and match your actions or double up on either drawing a card, playing a card, or healing. Drawing a card is simple enough, just remember your maximum hand size is ten. If your minor character has perished, you can spend an action to discard one of their cards to heal your major character one damage.
The real fun comes with playing cards. If you can attack you may spend an action to do so or play one of your "special" cards). When attacking, you declare which character you're using to attack as well as the target, then set your attack cards face-down. Before you reveal your attack, your opponent has the option to defend by playing a Defense card. Reveal both cards, and the defender takes damage equal to the difference between the two. An attack of five defended by a Defense of three results in two damage, for example.
Characters with lightsabers must be next to an opponent to attack them, while characters with blasters only need to be facing them in a straight line, no matter the number of squares between. A character's health card has a small blaster icon if they can attack from range.
Combat cards list both an attack and a defense score; you can use these to either attack or defend using the appropriate value.
Power Combat cards have only a single attack or defense score, but contain a variety of additional effects, from moving extra spaces to looking at your opponent's hand. If used to attack, your opponent can defend as normal. However, special cards invite mayhem with a plethora of unique effects. These can't be defended against.
Here's a very brief summary of the strategies for each deck from my perspective:
· Anakin Skywalker - Risky deck that easily defeats minor characters with "Wrath" Special.
· Han Solo - Ranged, weak major but superb minor character.
· Luke Skywalker - Balanced deck, Luke becomes deadly once Leia is taken out.
· Mace Windu – He will gain power as you accumulate cards.
· Obi-Wan Kenobi - Focuses on movement and extra draws. Fairly balanced
· Yoda - Incredible defense and potent specials. If you’re a defensive player, he’s the route to go.
· Count Dooku – Another well-balanced, focus on drawing cards. Strong minor characters.
· Darth Maul - Offense-oriented, focuses on bonus attacks.
· Darth Vader - Hit Points galore and unavoidable damage through Specials. My favorite to use in this game currently.
· Emperor Palpatine - Low Health but strong minors and forced opposing discards.
· Boba Fett - Risky and ranged deck with high offense but low defense.
· Jango Fett - Ranged, heavy focus on movement.
Epic Duel released after Attack of the Clones but before Revenge of the Sith, so many characters are based on their Episode 2 incarnations. Disappointed by the absence of your favorite characters? Fear not! Despite the relative obscurity and short life of Epic Duels, it retains some devoted fans to this day. There are hundreds of fan-made decks that encompass characters from the Expanded Universe champions, like Mara Jade, Thrawn, Ulic-Qel Droma, Dash Rendar, Darth Revan, Vergere, Anakin Solo, Kyle Katarn, etc. There are also new pairings of classic fighters, like Old Ben Kenobi with young Luke from A New Hope.
But my current favorite are the Solo twins:
The deck depicts their teamwork before the start of the Yuuzhan Vong War. Their synergy is excellent, and this is one I enjoy playing. (Thanks to my beautiful wife for letting me use her circuit to print and cut this expansion!)
Thanks to devoted fans and the internet, this classic game enjoys play even today. With the core box and the fan EU creations, I hope you give it a chance to see if it enthralls you to play it!