The Young Jedi Collectable Card Game
Hey there Expanded Universe fans! After reviewing all the expansions of the Star Wars Customizable Card Game, I wanted to showcase a lesser-known Star Wars card game which was also produced by Decipher called Young Jedi. Young Jedi was a slightly more simplified card game focusing entirely on The Phantom Menace. The target age group for Young Jedi was for children as young as 6 and was released in May of 1999 specifically to compete against the rapidly growing Pokémon Trading Card Game. Although the game only lasted until Decipher lost its Star Wars gaming license in 2001, it featured 5 main sets and 3 special sets.
Menace of Darth Maul (Set 1)
The Jedi Council (Set 2)
Battle of Naboo (Set 3)
Enhanced Menace of Darth Maul (Special Set 1)
Duel of the Fates (Set 4)
Enhanced Battle of Naboo (Special Set 2)
Reflections (Special Set 3)
Boonta Eve Podrace (Set 5)
The game was designed with aspects from the main Star Wars CCG but with much more simplified rules and gameplay. Gameplay consists of a lightside player using a 60 card deck and against a darkside player also with a 60 card deck. Like the CCG, each Young Jedi card feature its own “destiny” number which was the game’s randomizer used to decide who takes the first turn in the game as well as determining weapon hits. Young Jedi also featured location cards which were designed to be the location of all the battles. However, unlike the main CCG which had several dozen possible locations, Young Jedi had only three planets each with three possible locations for a total of nine. The player going first would determine the games first location and both players were required to have at least one location from all three planets in their constructed deck. The possible locations consisted of the following:
Naboo- Battle Plains
Naboo- Gungan Swamp
Naboo- Theed Palace
Coruscant- Galactic Senate
Coruscant- Capital City
Coruscant- Jedi Council Chamber
Tatooine- Podrace Arena
Tatooine- Desert Landing Site
Tatooine- Mos Espa
Battles and Win Conditions
Players initiated battles at the above locations each turn by spending six points deploying any combination of cards from their hand up to that point total and then replenishing their hand by drawing from their deck until they have six cards. Once a battle was initiated both players would sequence any character, weapon, and battle cards in any order and then based on the chosen sequence, characters would each fight one on one adding in any bonuses. The lower power character would be discarded, and the losing player would discard additional cards based on the eliminated character’s damage number in each dual segment. More powerful characters were balanced out by higher costs and damage numbers, meaning they were more difficult to get into play and if they lost a dual segment and were discarded, they would force the losing player to discard a high number of additional cards. Additionally, each character has certain location “specialty” for which they receive a battle bonus. The “specialty” bonuses play such a big role in gameplay that they are color coded by planet. Characters which specialize on Naboo are green, those which specialize on Coruscant are blue, and characters which specialize on Tatooine are yellow. This color coding is just for ease of reference and didn’t restrict where characters deploy. Once a player controls a planet the defeated player would be able to choose to deploy the next planet location from their hand, deck or discard pile. Once a player had no more cards left in their deck or if they took control of any two of the three planets by being unopposed for a turn, they would lose the game.
There is a restriction that battles can only occur on one planet at a time so if Naboo is the starting location you cannot deploy a Coruscant or Tatooine site until Naboo has been controlled and resolved. Players may replace a Naboo location with another from their hand during the deploy phase for free and may discard other planet locations from their hand in order to replenish with more desirable cards. Additionally, once a planet has been controlled, the victorious player may choose to transport out the remaining characters and weapons from the planet using a starship transport. Transports can be played at any point, and if successful, may relocate all cards on the planet back to their draw deck giving the player extra force and resources to potentially use again on another planet. However, starship transports can be intercepted by the opposing player using a starfighter if they have one in hand. If intercepted, both starships do battle in similar fashion to a character battle. If the starfighter wins, the transport and all cards abord are discarded and the losing player would discard according to the damage number of the starship transport. Starships are not used for any other purpose. Additional rules for gameplay can be found here. There are not many gameplay videos online for Young Jedi and this can make learning the game somewhat difficult but the Star Wars CCG Players Committee is the best resources for more specific gameplay rules and FAQ.
To make deck construction easy for young players, each card has a color-coded system of dots. A legal deck must contain exactly ten cards of each of the six colors for a total of 60. Usually about half the deck (the red, green and blue dotted cards) were characters. The purple dotted cards were locations or starships, the orange dotted cards were weapons, and the yellow dotted cards were battle (rules modifier) cards. This color-coded system allowed for balance so players couldn’t specialize too heavily in certain areas like having all destroyer droids with destroyer droid weapons and battle cards specifically tailored to give bonuses to destroyer droids. Since this game was only out a short time, it is very difficult to find competitive deck lists online. However, this game seems to be fairly balanced such that you could comprise a deck without any rares and still be competitive if played wisely. It’s possible there was never a serious meta developed for this game’s deck construction.
Once the game was discontinued, there wasn’t a serious online following for Young Jedi like there was for the main CCG. Since it was a Decipher Star Wars game, the Star Wars CCG Players Committee continued to support it through 2003, posting two different virtual sets. There is still a token following of Young Jedi amongst the Star Wars CCG player base. When Decipher liquidated their remaining product after they lost the license, some sealed products were sold in stores that contained a mishmash of Young Jedi and Star Wars CCG packs and starter decks. I recall one collection being sold at Target in the early 2000s for $15 each and remember using what meager savings I had as a 14-year-old to buy as many as I could. Such products now could sell over $500 each now depending on the packs it contains. However, all that value came from the Star Wars CCG and not Young Jedi. Young Jedi nowadays can still be bought for close to original retail price and to my knowledge doesn’t have many expensive cards.
All my Young Jedi cards are either from those early 2000s liquidation collections or from Star Wars CCG collections I’ve purchased with Young Jedi mixed in. I’ve sorted through those cards and constructed decks to try out the game and despite it being designed for young kids, Young Jedi still holds up well as a card game. In the few games I’ve played it seems very balanced in almost all aspects and nothing seems to be especially overpowered. The downside is there is not much strategy besides the battle deck sequencing. Once you know what your opponent is playing, its very easy to not contest your weaker planets and concentrate on your stronger locations. There is also a decent degree of RNG and players are often dependent on the luck of the draw rather than strategy.
There was also a third Star Wars Decipher card game called Jedi Knight that had an even shorter run to Young Jedi. Released during the last few months of 2001, Jedi Knight cards all featured computer generated artwork that had a stereoscopic effect which looked really cool for its time. However, do to its extremely short run of only three sets, very little is known about the game and I only have a few Jedi Knight cards in my collection.
Overall, Young Jedi was a decent but simpler game that had some elements of the main Star Wars CCG but had too short of a run to fully mature. In a few instances, such as names for unique Jawas, Young Jedi even used certain character names created from the Star Wars CCG and for this reason, it does have some minor EU collectable value. However, because it was so limited to The Phantom Menace, its content is limited. Those interested in trying out the game can purchase two starter decks or can pick up a small collection and make your own deck for less than $50. The game can be fun but doesn’t have nearly the depth or replay value as the Star Wars CCG. Let me know in the comments below if you ever played Young Jedi or have any Young Jedi cards in your collection.