The Star Wars Customizable Card Game Part 8: Reflections II
By Scott Johnson
Unlike Reflections I, which was strictly a reprint set comprised entirely of cards from previous sets, Expanded Universe fans got a real treat in January 2001 with the release of Reflections II. Subtitled “Expanding the Galaxy,” Reflections II included reprints from previous sets, dozens of new combo cards, and 21 cards based upon characters, starships, and events entirely from the Expanded Universe. Originally, the card game’s publisher, Decipher, was going to make a mini set called “Shadows of the Empire” which would be yet another continuation of the Shadows multimedia project. Products such as the Death Star II starter deck, as mentioned in Part 7 of this article series, even contained advertisements for the Shadows of the Empire expansion.
Although, the Shadows of the Empire mini set was scrapped, the cards it was going to contain made their way into Reflections II. Cards from Shadows of the Empire featured Artoo & Threepio as a pilot card (referencing them taking the Falcon for a joyride on Coruscant during SotE), Obi-Wan’s Journal, Dash Rendar, Leebo, the Outrider, Prince Xizor, Guri, Snoova, the Virago, the Stinger, Black Sun Vigo, Black Sun Fleet, and the new objective card Agents of Black Sun/Vengeance of the Dark Prince. Other cards from the Expanded Universe in Reflections II were Kir Kanos from Crimson Empire, several from Timothy’s Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy including Arica (a Mara Jade persona), Captain Pellaeon, Talon Karrde, and Grand Admiral Thrawn himself! If that wasn’t enough, cards from Michael A. Stackpole’s X-wing series also made it into the set like Corran Horn, Mirax Terrik, and the Pulsar Skate.
The Decipher art and costume department was responsible for creating images of all these cards. As stated in Part 6 of this article series, professional model and makeup artist Shannon McRandle was selected as part of an open casting call for the role of Mara Jade for the Enhanced Jabba’s Palace set. As part of her photo shoot Shannon modeled a few different costumes including an outfit for Arica, the dancer persona Mara Jade used to infiltrate Jabba’s Palace, a green jumpsuit similar to the Vision of the Future cover, and two different shots in a black cloak and catsuit outfit. Only two of the images would be used for the CCG game. The other two would be shelved for later use.
One of the two shelved images would later be used for a Mara Jade card in the Wizards of the Coast TCG and the other was supposed to be for a light side persona card of Mara for a future CCG set that unfortunately never officially printed due to the Decipher losing the license. There are a handful of “test card” prints of this light side Mara which former Decipher employees have offered up for sale and are highly sought after by collectors.
While the digital art department created images for the Pulsar Skate, Stinger and Virago, Shannon McRandle was not the only model used for card images in this set. Both Michael A. Stackpole and Timothy Zahn were used for the Corran Horn and Talon Karrde characters, respectively. There was even an oversized card made featuring Mara, Corran, and Talon all sitting at a cantina table that was given away at certain conventions, typically signed by McRandle, Stackpole, and Zahn. A similar image to this one, excluding Corran, made it onto the “This Place Can Be A Little Rough” objective card. Additionally, several Decipher employees including one of the main designers Chuck Kallenbach wore costumes and makeup to have their photos taken for the images of the other Expanded Universe characters used in the set. Per an interview with Chuck Kallenback, who portrayed a Black Sun Vigo, Shannon McRandle was instrumental in using her skills as a makeup artist to assist in preparing the other stand-in models to look their part. Several of the alien characters including Xizor and Thrawn required a ton of makeup in addition to their costumes. Shannon, not only stood in for her role in the photoshoot but also played a role in preparing the other characters as well.
Reflections II is probably the most sought-after set of the Star Wars CCG for Expanded Universe fans and is consequently one of the most valuable in terms of both specific cards and sealed product. If you are interested in somewhere to start as an Expanded Universe fan by either obtaining competitive cards to play the game or simply collecting cards of your favorite characters than this is probably a must have set. As of the time of this writing, sealed product is extremely rare and any that become available for sale are typically bid up to prices that exceed the price of a complete set. The most valuable cards from the set are foil versions of the ultra rare cards from Death Star II which are Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight and Emperor Palpatine. There are also foil versions of Mara Jade, the Emperor’s Hand and Lord Vader which are also considered ultra rares for this set. However, all of the non-foil Expanded Universe cards with the exception of Mara Jade and Thrawn are fairly affordable at no more than $10 each, many being under $5 each. Additionally, the set features a non-rare Luke Skywalker, Rebel Scout and The Emperor which are basically slightly worse versions of the ultra rare Luke and Palpatine for budget conscious players to still use those characters in their games. If both players use these less than ideal versions, games can still be highly competitive and fun at a very reasonable price.
Although Reflections II was the first official set to feature cards exclusively from the Expanded Universe, there were also a handful of unofficial cards featured in InQuest magazine issue #34 from February 1998. Interestingly, some of the named characters cards in this magazine were the same ones (although different versions) that came out in Reflections II. None of the artwork for the cards in this magazine was original and was instead either repurposed from the comic books or from other pre-existing Expanded Universe art available at the time. However, it is interesting to see fans were itching for expanded universe content in the CCG during the peak of the game. I recently bought InQuest #34 from Belgium (which was the only place I could find a copy) just so I could have prints of the cards, even though these cards are not legal for official tournament play. Let me know in the comments below what your favorite cards from this set are. Do you have the signed convention exclusive oversized card of Mara, Corran, and Talon Karrde?