Like the Death Star, Star Wars: Unlimited Has Incredible Power and a Notable Flaw
The upcoming trading card game Star Wars: Unlimited is off to a promising start, if the two starter decks I tried out are any indication. It has you step into the role of an iconic Star Wars character, battle it out on the ground and in space, and use all manner of weapons, vehicles, and allies to destroy the opponent’s base to claim victory. Unlimited sets itself apart from the Big Three card games – Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and the Pokemon Trading Card Game – by constantly bouncing back and forth between each player, creating a fun rhythm that keeps you on your toes. But while the Force is strong with its gameplay, its artwork doesn’t exactly have a high Midichlorian count.
Developer Fantasy Flight Games gave us an early look at this new Star Wars TCG by sending over a box full of cards and accessories, from art sleeves to playmats, which we’ll showcase below. We’ll also give you our first impressions of Unlimited after playing a few rounds with the Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader starter decks.
How Star Wars: Unlimited Stands Apart From the Crowd
The first thing that became obvious about Star Wars: Unlimited is it was clearly designed by people who are longtime TCG players, with numerous rules and mechanics that reduce common criticisms of other games in order to amp up the fun and strategy. For example, you start each match with two resources to spend, rather than having to build up from nothing in games like in Magic. Speaking of resources, any card can become the resource used to pay card costs, rather than having dedicated resource cards such as lands or energy, so there’s no chance of getting “mana screwed/flooded.” What a relief!
The biggest departure from your typical TCG is how both players effectively take their turns in the same round, called the Action Phase. Each player takes one action at a time, back and forth, until both players pass, not unlike Legends of Runeterra. Then, the Regroup Phase has both players draw two cards, put down another resource, and ready up their cards for another round of battle.
Only taking one action at a time took a lot of getting used to, and my opponent, a Magic veteran, often tried to play additional actions out of habit. It’s nearly impossible to carry out a strict plan for your turn because your opponent’s next action can (and often will) disrupt your line of play by destroying your units, bolstering their defenses, or using game-changing abilities. You’re forced to constantly think on your toes and pivot to a new plan based on the ever-changing board state. There’s no way to interrupt your opponent with a counter-spell or trap card, so it all comes down to trying to outmaneuver them – in that sense, it’s not unlike a game of chess where one piece is moved at a time, slowly building an advantage until you can lock up the win.
Another unique aspect of Unlimited is the dual battlefield, which is split between ground and space. Characters and land vehicles are played on the ground, while X-Wings, Tie Fighters, and other spaceships are placed on the space side of the board. Units of one type can only attack other units in the same zone, so a ground unit can attack opposing ground units but not space units. However, a small number of cards can interact with the other zone, such as a Tie Bomber hitting ground units with a bombing run. Matches have you constantly fighting a war on two fronts, and paying attention to both is key. If you leave one zone uncontested, then your opponent will be free to build a huge force and blast your base with reckless abandon. Pretty much every Star Wars movie has an exciting dogfight in space alongside an epic confrontation on land, and Unlimited does a great job indulging both fantasies.
Easily the most exciting part of playing Star Wars: Unlimited is utilizing your Leader card in various ways. Each player is represented by a Leader, an iconic Star Wars character that starts the game off the board that has the ability to use a minor power to influence the game, such as Luke Skywalker giving his allies shields or Darth Vader dishing out a bit of damage. But once you have a certain number of resources, you can activate your Leader and have them take the field. Leaders don’t have “summoning sickness” like regular cards. They can immediately start attacking and make use