Friday, August 19, 2011

Reinventing The Trilogy, Reinventing The Game: Star Wars Special Edition CCGs Hold Up!

The Good: Good images, More clear rules, Decent collectability
The Bad: Still tough to play, No rulebook in this box
The Basics: A cool expansion set which beefs up the Star Wars CCG, “Special Edition” is well worth hunting down.

As the Star Wars CCG continued along, fans began to get upset by the way the game was changing. As a result of more scriptlike game mechanics in prior sets, Decipher decided to release a few sets which would take the emphasis off of the more linear gameplay and return the game to its roots. So, before they introduced their Return Of The Jedi block with a ton of character cards in “Jabba’s Palace,” Decipher tried to recapture the enthusiasm for the entire franchise with “Special Edition,” a set which explored the changes George Lucas and his effects team were making to the original Star Wars Trilogy with the Star Wars: Special Edition films theatrically released in the late 1990s. And this reboot of the game actually worked fairly well and the booster pack boxes remain one of the best ways to get the majority of the cards in the set.

Special Edition was only the second Star Wars CCG release that appeared only in limited, black border form. While it was released in other products, the booster packs – which were different from the fixed sealed decks released at the same time – tend to have a greater card variety for fans. Special Edition returned the Star Wars CCG to a more “role play” type customizable card game, mostly by bulking up on characters, ships and locations as opposed to stacking the deck with “activity” (Event and Interrupt) cards.

Basics/Set Composition

The Star Wars Customizable Card Game “Special Edition” set was the fifth Star Wars expansion set and it presented situations and characters from the updated versions of the Star Wars films in the card game form. As a result, new virtual characters like the ASP-707 droid and the A New Hope version of Jabba The Hutt entered the game. There were no earth-shattering additions to the set, but it was designed to bring players back to the game and it largely worked for that. The "Special Edition” set is a 324 card set focusing on characters, ships, alien races and scenarios presented in altered sequences of the original Star Wars Trilogy. As a result, Coruscant makes its gameplay debut, as does The set consists of 162 Light Side and 162 Dark Side cards which form sets of 80 common cards, 80 uncommon cards, 120 rare cards and 44 starter deck exclusive cards, with the most popular characters and vehicles being given rare status and the background supernumeraries filling out the more common cards.

The 324 card set features 99 Characters (Droids, Rebels, Imperials and Aliens who make up the primary characters for playing with, like TK-422 (Han Solo as a Stormtrooper!) or a Dark Side Lobot), 5 Creatures (cards representing non-sentient lifeforms, like Surriers or the Sarlacc), 4 Devices (Equipment for characters to use, like a Wrist Comlink or a Homing Beacon), 54 Effects (Changes to the situations which allow for movement during the game, like the Cloud City Occupation or Entrenchment in besieged territories), 10 Epic Events (cards representing changes to play dynamic that can go back and forth dependent upon the circumstances in play with double-sided cards like “Hidden Base/Systems Will Slip Through Your Fingers), 52 Interrupts (immediate changes to gaming conditions which may be played even by the player on the defensive, like receiving First Aid or falling into a Heavy Fire Zone), 11 system locations (star systems which form the “board” of the game, like the Rendezvous Point in space or Coruscant), 41 Site locations (places like a generic Forest of specific locations, like the Cloud City: Casino), 21 Ships (cards designed for interplanetary travel like Vader’s Personal Shuttle or the starship Spiral), 14 Vehicle (cards representing planet-bound transport, like Rontos or Wittin’s Sandcrawler) and 12 Weapon cards (which feature equipment used to kill characters or destroy ships, like Lando’s Blaster Rifle or SFS L-s9.3 Laser Cannons) . This set, unlike most of the Star Wars Trilogy is evenly split between the Empire and the Rebellion, though this is another set that truly beefs up the Empire and the Dark Side, with some cool cards like the combination Bossk in Hound’s Tooth card.

The booster pack box comes with forty packs of nine cards.


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.

Rules/Rule Changes

There is no rulebook in this particular packaging for the set of cards. Instead, players had to get the starter decks, which came with expanded rulebooks (featuring all of the changes made to the game) as well as Glossary of terms not made explicit in the rulebooks.

In “Special Edition,” the big addition was certainly the double-sided “epic event” cards. Fortunately, each of those cards was quite clear on the rules governing how they are to be played and exactly what circumstances are needed to flip each card over. The revised rules in “Special Edition” merely clarify the complexities of the game by this point.


Players, collectors and fans of Star Wars will appreciate the image quality of the situations from the special editions of the Star Wars Trilogy in “Special Edition,” as well as concept cards which expand the game nicely. Things never seen on screen, like Bossk In Hound’s Tooth or Jabba’s Space Cruiser make for compelling cards that flesh out the broader Star Wars universe. New versions of Ben Kenobi, Princess Organa and even Boba Fett make this a packed set when it comes to powerful cards.

Even so, for a highlight, I had to go with the Sarlacc. The CG-altered creature was not terribly impressive to me on the screen, but as a card, it holds up. With an image breaking out of its convenient card box, the Sarlacc is a pain in the butt for Light Side players that the Dark Side can play for cheap. With only four Force required to bring it into play, its 12 tentacles can adequately menace players and really tear apart a Light Side deck! The ferocity of the creature allows it to take a lot of characters out of play quickly and that can be a real asset to the Dark Side.


The Special Edition set has good collectability. Because it was only released in one printing – even though there were starter decks - the “Special Edition” 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 9 cards that feature one rare, three uncommon and five common cards, usually split 4/5 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 a common set nor even one uncommon set. A full master set takes several boxes, as well as one each of the Light and Dark side Starter Decks.

“Special Edition” cards were found in packs as well as packs of Reflections products and the Anthology boxed set, so they are strangely common to have remained as valuable as they have.


The "Special Edition" CCG is a set I still enjoy, mostly because I love the source material. This is one set it is easy to still recommend after all of this time!

This set culls material from the special editions of:
A New Hope
The Empire Strikes Back
Return Of The Jedi

This set was preceded by “Cloud City” (reviewed here!) and followed by the Star Wars CCG expansion "Jabba’s Palace," review pending.

This is a card set I proudly sell in my online store. Please be sure to check out my current inventory by clicking here!


For other card reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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