The Good: Decent sized images, Easy to learn game
The Bad: Lame game mechanic, Collectibility issues (with foil cards), By-the-pack is a terrible value.
The Basics: By the pack, the lackluster "Menace Of Darth Maul" gaming set becomes one that is impossible to get excited about investing in or playing.
Does anyone remember how, before the release of Star Wars: Episode 1 all of the merchandising was capitalizing on Darth Maul? Darth Maul was mysterious and powerful, dark and badass in a way that fans of the franchise were excited about. Darth Maul became instantaneously the most common fan costume from Star Wars at the conventions and some collectors made collections of all of the Darth Maul memorabilia they could find (and let's face it, there was a lot of Star Wars swag with Darth Maul on it at the time!). Of course, it only took one viewing of The Phantom Menace for most of us to see through they hype; Maul might look pretty cool, but in his tenure on screen, he takes out one Jedi (who more or less let him) before getting split in half by an enraged young Obi-Wan. Not exactly the most powerful Sith we ever see.
So, one assumes it was all hype when Decipher, makers of the Star Wars CCG launched their new game mechanic, Young Jedi, with the "Menace Of Darth Maul" set. I mean, beyond the hype, there's not much menace to Darth Maul. Sadly, there's not much fun to be had from this first Young Jedi set, either. More than that, the average gaming set is plummeted into territory not worth purchasing when sold by the pack.
The "Menace Of Darth Maul" was the first set Decipher produced to capitalize on the excitement surrounding the release of The Phantom Menace. While their enormously popular Star Wars CCG would have expansions that contained characters and themes from Episode 1, that game was not designed for the heavy influence of Jedi Knights that the time period of The Phantom Menace demanded. As a result, they decided to create a new game, called Young Jedi. Young Jedi was also geared toward a slightly younger audience than the late-teen and twentysomething crowd that ate up the Star Wars CCG.
"Menace Of Darth Maul" is a 158 card gaming card set comprised of 60 common, 40 uncommon, 10 starter deck exclusive and 30 rare cards and eighteen foil reprint cards that were available approximately one in every nine packs. The cards were broken down between Light and Dark Side cards with each side getting seventy of each. The 140 unique cards for the set were comprised of 68 Character (cards depicting personnel like Qui-Gon Jinn or Darth Sidious), 27 Weapon (cards illustrating weapons that enhance a character's ability to do battle, like Aurra Sing's Blaster Rifle or an Electropole), 32 Battle (cards that provide playable actions for the characters, like the appearance of an Opee Sea Killer or Amidala's insistence that I've Been Trained In Defense), 6 Locations (cards that act as a "board" for the game) and 6 Starship cards (which provide vehicles to move characters from one location to another).
The images on the Young Jedi cards are as close to full bleed as possible, minimizing the borders and texts to provide cards that are actually nice to look at. "Menace Of Darth Maul" was originally released in boxes that had 36 packs of eleven cards each. Booster packs came with 1 rare, three uncommon and seven common cards. Foil cards replaced a rare in about every nine packs and finding loose packs is often indicative of culling for the foils. The "Menace Of Darth Maul" cards are distinguished from subsequent sets by the small Maul head in the lower right corner of each card.
Young Jedi introduces a new gaming mechanic unique to this game. The game is played with sixty-card decks and the rulebook (not included in the booster packs or boxes) describes how to assemble a deck to play the game and achieve victory against your opponent. This is essentially a strategy game played with cards that have different values and functions. Players draw cards to their hand, stock up a location with characters and do battle.
With the "Menace Of Darth Maul" set all of the battles are fought on Tatooine and the game may be won by either taking control of the planet by winning each location or by playing in such a way that your opponent runs out of cards before you do. Either way, the game is not the most exciting CCG ever and truth be told the simplicity of it is likely to drive away players who like a good game of skill.
Most of the cards, especially the Battle cards define actions and tell the player how to use them. This is an easy game to learn, but consequently one that is not challenging to master and therefore less exciting to play over and over again.
"Menace Of Darth Maul" is the first Young Jedi set. The starter decks come with a rulebook (not included in booster packs). Given that the rules take up 29 pages of a little book, it's not so much the point of a review to list the rules for readers. It is, however, a very easy game for anyone over twelve to learn and master. As the first set, "Menace Of Darth Maul" does not have any rule changes.
Fans of The Phantom Menace will likely enjoy "Menace Of Darth Maul" for the images of a number of very popular Star Wars characters. In addition to familiar characters like R2-D2, Yoda and the incomplete C-3P0, "Menace Of Darth Maul" includes such favorites as the young Obi-Wan, the very young Anakin Skywalker and the mysterious Darth Sidious. As well, there are a whole bevy of characters introduced in The Phantom Menace, like Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, Darth Maul, and Jar Jar Binks.
But for the best card of the set, I'd have to go with card 71 Darth Maul, Sith Apprentice. In addition to having a damage that makes him equal to Obi-Wan or Qui-Gon, he has more power than Qui-Gon and can move between locations expertly. As well, this card has a great image of the dreaded Darth Maul, so he's great for casual fans as well as those who play the game.
"Menace Of Darth Maul" was grossly overproduced in relation to its demand. This is one of the easiest sets of gaming cards to find and conversely one of the worst investments for those who look to trading and gaming cards to make money. Disportionately expensive by the pack, sets can still be assembled rather inexpensively via the booster boxes and starter decks.
One of the big issues with "Menace Of Darth Maul," though are the foil cards. Foil cards have rarities of their own and two of them are exceptionally rare, popping up one in every hundred packs or so. This makes is a ridiculous set to try to collect because of all of the extras one is left trying to assemble a master set with the foils. Moreover, it is not cost-effective for most dealers to break open the product to try to assemble sets for people, whatwith the lack of demand and the overall expense of assembling sets of these cards.
Young Jedi might be an agreeably diverting game, but "Menace Of Darth Maul" was so simplistic and overproduced it is almost astonishing that Decipher bothered to continue with this Episode 1 gaming set. What might be a sub-average game is sucked down into "avoid it" territory when purchased by the pack, which will cause a collector to spend a lot more money on the essentially worthless product than they need to.
This set utilizes images from Star Wars The Phantom Menace reviewed here!
"Menace Of Darth Maul" was the first Young Jedi set and was followed by "The Jedi Council," reviewed here!
For other Star Wars product reviews, please check out my takes on:
Star Wars Premiere CCG
2011 Vintage Collection Boba Fett action figure
Hoth Han Solo Mighty Muggz
For other card reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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