Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Sidegame Ends "Young Jedi" With The Lame (But Valuable) "Boonta Eve Podrace!"

The Good: Small, Easy-to-collect (if you can find it!)
The Bad: Lack of any incentive cards, Small set, Uninspired sidegame.
The Basics: "Boonta Eve Podrace" is a depressingly small set which investors have found more value in than collectors or players, finishing "Young Jedi" with a whimper.

When Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace finally fulfilled its destiny and appeared on the big screen, I had finally come to terms with the concept that I was a picky person who had something even I was beginning to recognize as high standards. As a result, when the podrace scene came around and many of my peers in the theater sat dazzled, I sat bored and asked "What does this have to do with anything?" In fact, at the time, I was on a first date with a person I would eventually marry and I remembered how I had read that the podrace was ten minutes long in a magazine earlier in the day. So, I nudged my date and commented "That's ten minutes of our lives we can never get back." So when "Young Jedi," the trading card game based solely upon The Phantom Menace was wrapping itself up - it never achieved what anyone might call popularity - the choice to do an expansion based solely on the podrace scene seemed right away to me like the final nail in the game's coffin.

The final set was "Boonta Eve Podrace" and it sold out quickly, largely because it was so much more limited than the earlier releases and only was available in boxes of booster packs. It remains (oddly enough) one of the harder to find Decipher Star Wars sets largely because of its quick sellout! In addition to selling out quickly, it appears to be one of the least produced card sets Decipher ever released. So, while one might note that supply and demand needs can drive price up, there was such low demand for "Boonta Eve Podrace" that Decipher created only a tiny supply.

Basics/Set Composition

The "Boonta Eve Podrace" was the sixth full set Decipher produced to capitalize on the excitement surrounding the release of The Phantom Menace. While their enormously popular Star Wars CCG ultimately had 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.

"Boonta Eve Podrace" is a 60 card gaming card set comprised of 20 common, 20 uncommon, and 20 rare cards. The cards were broken down between Light and Dark Side cards with each side getting thirty of each. The 60 cards for the set were comprised of 32 Character (cards depicting personnel like Shmi Skywalker and Meddun), 10 Weapon (cards illustrating weapons that enhance a character's ability to do battle, like a Pull-out Blaster or Gaderffi Stick), 8 Battle (cards that provide playable actions for the characters, like All-Out Attack and No Gimben Up), 6 Effect (cards that determine consequences for battle actions, like What Does Your Heart Tell You? and He Always Wins!), and 2 Objective (extended Effect cards which provide goals for the game), and 2 Starship cards (which provide vehicles to move characters from one location to another, like a Viceroy's Battleship and Amidala's Starship).

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. "Boonta Eve Podrace" 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. There were no foil cards in this set. The "Boonta Eve Podrace" cards are distinguished from subsequent sets by the small Sebulba head in the lower right corner of each card.


Young Jedi introduced 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.

"Boonta Eve Podrace" requires other cards from other expansions as there are no location cards in this expansion. As a result, it is impossible to play the game with just cards from these boxes.

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. But more than anything, "Boonta Eve Podrace" is hampered by the fact that this expansion is focused almost solely on being a sidegame to the main game allowing players to race one another in podracers, without a strong game mechanic to make the outcome of such races truly variable. In other words, with the right cards, Anakin will win every single time.

Rule Changes

"Boonta Eve Podrace" is the final Young Jedi set. There are no starter decks, so one must track down a starter deck from one of the first three expansions for rules. 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. "Boonta Eve Podrace" follows the same rules laid out in "Menace Of Darth Maul" (reviewed here!) with no changes to the core game.

It is best to find a "Battle Of Naboo" starter deck, as "Battle Of Naboo" expanded the game by adding a new planet to it and provided new rules for the new card type. The new card type was Effects and "Boonta Eve Podrace" has them, too. Effects essentially allow one to play cards together and most every one has text on it with explicit directions on how to use it for play.


Fans of The Phantom Menace will likely enjoy "Boonta Eve Podrace" for the images of all sorts of obscure characters from the film. Unlike most of the expansions which capitalize on the familiar faces and known recurring characters and situations, "Boonta Eve Podrace" is more obsessed with the minutia surrounding the podrace. As a result, obscure podracer pilots and bounty hunters seen on screen for about a frame make up most of the set along with podracers for the characters to participate in the sidegame with.

But for the best card of the set, I'd have to go with card the rare Aurra Sing, Formidable Adversary. If this seems an odd choice, one need recall that Sing's lone scene in The Phantom Menace is the Podrace scene. Aurra Sing is a bounty hunter with enough power to take on Jedi and be used as a sniper to kill Anakin from a distance. She is the most useful card, not for this set, but rather for the overall game.


"Boonta Eve Podrace" was incredibly underproduced and as a result - and the fact that the set was so small - made it one of the harder ones to find. Many dealers did not even get it in and as a result, it sold out quickly and has been a tougher set to find on the secondary market. As well, without any foils, the set is easier to collect, though there were very few collectors or players left who wanted to!


Young Jedi might be an agreeably diverting game, and if one is looking to invest in the product, "Boonta Eve Podrace" is one of the strongest ways to go, even if one cannot play the game right out of this box. Still, players have shunned the product, so its value is relative and the cards themselves are hardly the best "Young Jedi" ever produced.

This set utilizes images from Star Wars The Phantom Menace reviewed here!

"Boonta Eve Podrace" was preceded by "Reflections" (reviewed here!) and was the final set (not followed by anything).


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

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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