Friday, October 7, 2011

"Death Star II" Returns To Rarity, Offering A Great Star Wars CCG Experience!

The Good: Good images, Exceptional collectability, Come decent conclusion cards
The Bad: Script-like nature of game
The Basics: A wonderful gaming card set, “Death Star II” ends the primary run of the original Trilogy Star Wars CCG on a high note!

As I near the end of the Star Wars CCG game in my reviews of the series, I find myself strangely pleased about the experience and the fact that it is rapidly coming to an end. There were manufacturing problems at Decipher as the card series progressed and when the collection finally got back on track, it took a little work before it truly got worthwhile again. With "Death Star II," Decipher succeeded in re-establishing some serious interest in the game and making the CCG interesting for players and collectors again. Following on the heels of "Endor," this was just what the company needed.

Still, "Death Star II" is not flawless and the set is irksome in its rarity now and the fact that not all of the cards may even be found in the boxes of booster packs. Players still have much to complain about from the fact that the card set continued in a recent tradition of sets that had a more script-like format to them. Even so, "Death Star II" overcame that limitation by including more starship combat game mechanics which fans and collectors responded positively to.

Basics/Set Composition

The Star Wars Customizable Card Game “Death Star II” set was the eighth Star Wars expansion set and it continued the presentation of the third (or sixth, depending on one's perspective!) Star Wars film in the card game form. The "Death Star II” set is a 182 card set focusing on characters, ships, alien races and scenarios presented in Return Of The Jedi, mostly the latter portion set in space around Endor. This set is centered on the assault on the second Death Star where Luke and Darth Vader find themselves confronting Emperor Palpatine while Lando leads a space battle to try to destroy the new Death Star. The set consists of 91 Light Side and 91 Dark Side cards which form sets of 50 common cards, 50 uncommon cards, 80 rare cards and 2 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. This was essentially the final original material set from the original Star Wars Trilogy.

The 182 card set features 10 Admiral's Orders (cards that create goals for within the space battles, like Taking Them With Us or Fighter Cover), 50 Characters (Droids, Rebels, Imperials and Aliens who make up the primary characters for playing with, like Admiral Ackbar and Janus Greejatus), 30 Effects (Changes to the situations which allow for movement during the game, like Strike Planning or developing a Combat Response), 2 Epic Events (cards which illustrate very long-term effects and missions for the game conditions, like the double-sided There Is Still Good In Him/I Can Save Him or realizing that That Thing's Operational), 13 Interrupts (immediate changes to gaming conditions which may be played even by the player on the defensive, like Force Lightning or Heading For The Medical Frigate), 1 Jedi test (a card which allows Jedi in training to become full Jedi, in this case You Must Confront Vader), 10 system locations (star systems which form the “board” of the game, like Sullust or Death Star II), 4 Site locations (places on Home One or Death Star II for characters to move around at, like Home One: War Room or Death Star II: Throne Room), 49 Ships (cards for vehicles for interplanetary travel, like Home One or the star destroyer Dominator), and 12 Weapon cards (which feature equipment used to kill characters or destroy ships, like an A-wing Cannon or Darth Vader's Lightsaber). This set, unlike Return Of The Jedi is evenly split between the Empire and the Rebellion, though this is a set that truly beefs up the Rebellion and the Light Side, giving the good guy players a real chance to annoy the villain players with ways to overcome their more powerful artillery.

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.

Unfortunately, many of the cards in Death Star II 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.

Rules/Rule Changes

There is no rulebook in this set of cards. Instead, one has to get a revised rulebook from the Special Edition set (reviewed here!). In this set, there is a new card type, the Admiral's Orders card, but each card describes exactly how to play it.


Players, collectors and fans of Star Wars will appreciate the image quality of the situations from Return Of The Jedi in “Death Star II,” especially because this gives the Light Side players a fighting chance to win. This set features a new Darth Vader (Lord Vader) and Admiral Piett cards, as well as a General Calrissian and the introduction of characters like Mon Mothma, Nien Numb and General Walex Blissex to the card game.

For a highlight, though, the choice is simple with the only Star Wars CCG card of the Emperor. Emperor Palpatine is an Ultra Rare and he is awesome. For only five Force points, the most powerful Sith (7 Ability) comes into play with an astonishing loss value of 9! Immune to attrition, this powerful character also weakens Light Side players attempts to turn Vader back to the Light Side and can take Force Lightning continually into hand. Plus, the picture is pretty snazzy.


The Death Star II set had amazing collectability. Because it was only released in once, “Death Star II” remains one of the hardest sets to find. Collation of these cards was exceptionally good, with most boxes breaking right along the odds and the only cards that were exceptionally common were the ones that were also printed for the starter decks.

The cards come in packs of 9 cards that feature one rare, three uncommon and five common cards. Packs were traditionally split 4/5 between Light and Dark Side cards. As a result, even with a box of forty packs it is likely a collector will be able to assemble three to five common sets, and two uncommon sets. A full master set takes two boxes with ideal collation, plus one of each of the two starter decks for the exclusives there.

“Death Star II” cards were found in packs as well as packs of Reflections II and II, which is another reason they have retained their high value on the secondary market.


The "Death Star II" CCG is a pretty amazing set of gaming cards and as a result, it has enduring appeal for players, collectors and investors.

This set culls material from Return Of The Jedi, which is reviewed here!

This set was preceded by “Endor” (reviewed here!) and followed by the Star Wars CCG expansion "Tatooine," reviewed here.

This is a set of cards I proudly sell in my online store! Check out my current inventory by clicking here!


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

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

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