The Good: Decent images, Fills in gaps
The Bad: Confusing rules when one does get them, Scriptlike demand of cards, No rulepage
The Basics: Despite getting more difficult to play, “Cloud City” is a winner for fans of The Empire Strikes Back and card collectors.
There are very few things I harp on with collectible cards and toys the way I obsess about value and going for the best potential release of a product. In the case of trading and gaming cards, there are essentially two ways to go: buying through a dealer (who does all of the work of opening boxes, packs, collating and creating the set for the customer) or buying cards by the box (or case). But the way to not buy at all is by the pack, which tends to be disproportionately expensive. That's my public service for the day.
Cloud City was first major Star Wars CCG release that appeared only in limited, black border form. Unfortunately, as many players have indicated to me, this is also the set which cemented the “script like” nature of the game. By that, very specific cards tended to be required to get out of certain situations and as a result, the game stopped being a creative play within the Star Wars universe and more of a recreation of the movies as players played cards back and forth. As one who doesn't play the game (anymore, for sure), the gameplay of this game matters a lot less to me than to most.
The Star Wars Customizable Card Game “Cloud City” set was the fourth Star Wars expansion set and it concluded the presentation of the second Star Wars film in the card game form. The "Cloud City” set is a 180 card set focusing on characters, ships, alien races and scenarios presented in The Empire Strikes Back, mostly the final portion. This set is centered on the events on Cloud City where Han, Leia, Chewbacca and C-3P0 find themselves after fleeing the asteroid belt. It continues through Luke's arrival on Bespin as well as the end of the film. The set consists of 90 Light Side and 90 Dark Side cards which form sets of 50 common cards, 50 uncommon cards and 80 rare cards, with the most popular characters and vehicles being given rare status and the background supernumeraries filling out the more common cards. This is the first CCG set to feature Lando Calrissian and Boba Fett and this also has new versions of Han Solo and Princess Leia, which helps to keep fans buying it even now.
The 180 card set features 26 Characters (Droids, Rebels, Imperials and Aliens who make up the primary characters for playing with, like Lando Calrissian and Boba Fett), 7 Devices (Equipment for characters to use, like a Bionic Hand or Mandalorian Armor), 35 Effects (Changes to the situations which allow for movement during the game, like discovering oneself Mostly Armless or getting trampled as part of a Civil Disorder), 1 Epic Event (long-term changes and goals in the game, in this case an Epic Duel between Jedi and Sith), 79 Interrupts (immediate changes to gaming conditions which may be played even by the player on the defensive, like hitting a Force Field or being tossed Off The Edge), 6 system locations (star systems which form the “board” of the game, like Bespin or Cloud City), 15 Site locations (places on Cloud City or other large locations for characters to move around at, like the Carbonite Chamber or Dining Room), 5 Ship (cards that transport characters from star system to star system and engage in space battles, like the Bright Hope or Slave I), 2 Vehicle (cards representing planet or atmospheric-bound transport, in this case Cloud Cars) and 4 Weapon cards (which feature equipment used to kill characters or destroy ships, like Boba Fett’s Blaster Rifle or a Cloud City Blaster) . This set, unlike The Empire Strikes Back is evenly split between the Empire and the Rebellion, though this is another set that truly beefs up the Empire and the Dark Side, making it a lot of fun for people like me who had been waiting for strong, meaningful villains to come into the game.
The packs of fifteen cards are originally from boxes, but sold separately they indicate boxes which had been opened and culled through.
At its most basic level, this is a board game where one constructs the board and pieces out of a selection of cards. The starting purpose of the game is to drain your opponent of Force without depleting your own Force and to survive the trip around the Star Wars Universe with whatever your player throws at you. The basic idea is to assemble a sixty card deck (for beginners), lay out the board (spaceline) and play against an opponent. In laying out the board, players get the power from the Force they need to play other cards.
Locations form the board for the game and almost all of them have an indicator which puts into play Light Side and Dark Side Force points, which the player may then tap into to “buy” characters, ships, weapons and tactical cards to thwart their opponent. Events represent the obstacles that opponents can use to make the game more than just a basic search and kill game. The rulebook clearly defines what each deck must possess in terms of numbers of the card types. But basically, one starts by laying out a board, assembling a starship and its crew and traveling along the planets and through space to either crush the Empire or put down the Rebellion.
This is a very complex customizable card game, but it represents a level of gaming sophistication designed to appeal to younger adults and actually challenge them, which is a decent idea given the thematic complexity of the Star Wars universe. The problem, of course, is that most people who would be most stimulated by this game do not have the time or effort/interest to learn to play it. As a result, the late-teens that basically run the CCG players world seem to have had mixed impressions about this game.
Unfortunately, many of the cards in Cloud City require specific opposing cards to progress with the game. As a result, it is quite possible for an opponent to stop a player with a card and if they do not have one of the specific cards needed to remedy that card in their hand, they cannot progress with the game. I found this to be an additional detraction to playing the game.
There is no rulebook in this set of cards. Instead, one has to get a rulebook from the Premiere set (reviewed here!). In this set, there are no new card types nor rule changes. There is a summary sheet in the boxes that clarifies some of the card text within this set.
Players, collectors and fans of Star Wars will appreciate the image quality of the situations from The Empire Strikes Back in “Cloud City,” even if it is not the most character-rich expansion set. The “Cloud City” set fleshes out the game by finally presenting Boba Fett, his ship the Slave I and situations like the carbon freeze chamber. The game was clever enough to make both Light and Dark side versions of Lando to account for his shifty nature and there are some cool mechanics that come into play in this expansion, despite the script-like nature of play.
For a highlight, Boba Fett is an obvious choice and I have no problem picking that card as the best in the set. For a relatively low cost of 5 Force, the bounty hunter may be brought into play. He's an impressively powerful character on his own with 4 power and 3 ability. Like a droid, he also comes armored, so he is easier to protect and any ship he plays on gains three power. This makes him a powerful boost to any Dark Side deck!
The Cloud City set has good collectability. Because it was only released in one printing (though later there would be a deluxe draft pack release of the same cards), the “Cloud City” set is one of the sets which was rare enough to retain its value, so most collectors are likely to be pleased with it.
The cards come in packs of 15 cards that feature one rare, four uncommon and ten common cards, usually split 7/8 between Light and Dark Side cards (packs tend to go either way). This means that even with a box of forty packs it is unlikely a collector will be able to assemble a few common sets and at least one uncommon set. A full master set takes two boxes with ideal collation.
“Cloud City” cards were found in packs as well as packs of Reflections products, the Anthology boxed set and later in Deluxe Draft Packs, so they are strangely common to have remained as valuable as they have.
The "Cloud City" CCG is a decent set, very much worth picking up!
This set culls material from The Empire Strikes Back, which is reviewed here!
This set was preceded by “Dagobah” (reviewed here!) and followed by the Star Wars CCG expansion "Special Edition," review pending.
This set of cards is one that I proudly sell in my online store! Check out my current inventory of them by clicking here!
For other card reviews, please be sure to check out my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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