Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Concept Set That Can Really Beef Up Your Deck Enhanced Cloud City Satisfies!

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The Good: Easy-to-play, Collectible value, Images, Concepts
The Bad: Still has a load of recycled cards!
The Basics: Arguably the first truly worthwhile deluxe draft deck product from Decipher, Enhanced Cloud City does more than simply recycle crap for the fans!.

When a company tries something new, it is always interesting to me to see how the fans of that company’s product will take the change. With so many companies, especially food companies, new products are simply a way to prevent the company from stagnating in a market because having a single successful product is hard to continue marketing to the people who already like it. This is why we have eight flavors of Doritos on the shelves at any given time, but only the regular and cool ranch flavors endure – Frito Lay had a good idea, made a good product, but because they can’t count on people to remember to buy Doritos or Cool Ranch Doritos each time they go out, they keep churning out crap that fails. With gaming cards, the strategy was slightly different. Decipher, the premiere gaming card company after Wizards Of The Coast during the huge boom of CCGs in the late 1990s, sought to clear their warehouses. To that end, they just repackaged their packs of cards with a few inexpensive-to-make premiums to lure fans into paying for (mostly) what they already owned (which, comparatively, is like when Doritos added lenticular cards to their packs of chips and Pepsi made limited edition cans with Star Wars characters on them for the Special Edition releases of the films!). They called the re-releases “deluxe draft decks” and the first one, Enhanced Premiere (reviewed here!), did not really take off in the marketplace. Enhanced Cloud City was part of their "deluxe draft deck" scheme and it did what Decipher needed it to do; it blew out old product with the promise of twelve new cards. The unique aspects of Enhanced Cloud City have remained popular to this day.

To be sure, Enhanced Cloud City is not just "Cloud City" (reviewed here!): it includes packs from that set, but was essentially the twelve unique cards found in one of four Deluxe Draft Packs.

Basics/Set Composition

The Star Wars Customizable Card Game Enhanced Cloud City set was not a true expansion and was the second of the "Enhanced" sets Decipher did. The Enhanced "Cloud City" set is a 12 card set focusing on characters, ships, weapons and scenarios presented in The Empire Strikes Back, as well as concepts implied in the heroic and criminal elements of the Star Wars universe. This set is centered on the events on Cloud City where Lando and Chewbacca work to flee Bespin and bounty hunters ruthlessly hunt Han Solo. The set consists of 5 Light Side and 7 Dark Side cards which are all premium cards.

The 12 card set features 4 Characters with weapons (Droids, Rebels and Aliens who make up the primary characters for playing with and come already armed and ready to do battle, like Chewie With Blaster Rifle and IG-88 With Riot Gun), 3 Characters with ships (Primary characters already in their space vehicles for the instant ability to do battles along the spaceline, like Boba Fett In Slave I or Lando In Millennium Falcon), 1 Effect (long-term changes to gameplay, in this case Vader’s quest to Crush The Rebellion), 2 Epic Effects (Changes to the situations which allow for movement during the game, like Lando Calrissian asserting that he runs a "Quiet Mining Colony / Independent Operation"), 1 Interrupt (cards that make instant changes to keep gameplay fresh, in this case “Any Methods Necessary”), and 1 Ship (cards representing space transport, like the Z-95 Bespin Defense Fighter). This set is heavily balanced to the Dark Side and finally offers a new, powerful rogue Dark Side characters for players to play with.

The deluxe draft pack comes with four packs of Cloud City cards and one special packet of three of the exclusive enhanced cards. Thus, in order to collect the full set, one has to buy four draft boxes to get all of the exclusive 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.

The twelve cards in Enhanced Cloud City are not enough to actually play the game with, though they may enhance one's game quite nicely.

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 are no new card types or rules.


Players, collectors and fans of Star Wars will appreciate the image quality and concept cards based upon The Empire Strikes Back and the expanded Star Wars universe in Cloud City, especially because this fleshes out the popular bounty hunters in the Star Wars universe very well and adds a lot of menace to the Light Side player's experience. Most fans geeked out over having another Boba Fett and getting an armed Chewie, but for my money, they are not the best cards in the Enhanced Cloud City selection.

For a highlight, I go with IG-88 With Riot Gun. IG-88 is a powerful droid and his armor makes him resistant to a number of attacks while his native weapon makes him a cool killer. With an armor of 5 this IG-88 is strong and while it deploys for 5 Force, it is worth it as its riot gun targets for free. Unlike many of the droids, IG-88 With Riot Gun is immune to both Restraining Bolt and Purchase, so it cannot be taken out of the game that easily! The picture is cool and a concept shot, not one which appeared in The Empire Strikes Back.


The Enhanced Cloud City set has good collectability. Because it was only released in one printing (though later some of the cards were made into Reflections foils), the Enhanced 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.


Despite the fact that to get the exclusive cards, one is saddled with extra packs of "Cloud City" cards, the Enhanced Cloud City cards are a surprisingly good investment and fun to play with, making it an enduring winner for Star Wars fans, card collectors and the Star Wars CCG players.

This set culls material from The Empire Strikes Back, which is reviewed here!

This set was preceded by Death Star II (reviewed here!) and followed by the Star Wars CCG expansion "Tatooine," reviewed here!

This is a set of gaming cards I proudly sell in my online store! For my current inventory, please visit the Star Wars CCG Category!


For other card reviews, please visit my Card Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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