It’s really fun. The covert gamer’s-game nature of this Hasbro-branded, direct-to-Toys-R-Us product has been slowly percolating up into the consciousness of hobby gamers for a couple months now – you might have seen Phil Reed name-check it when he wrote up his 3D Frag standards. Or you might have heard it whispered about in the crowd surrounding WotC’s d20 Star Wars demo table at Origins, or chattered about on rec.games.board. Imagine Mage Knight only ten times more so – a child’s introduction to skirmish combat games. Your “army” is a major character and two weak minor ones (or one strong minor one). Instead of the combat dial, you have a very simple character sheet (for tracking damage) and one deck of cards for your whole team. The board is a square grid; the figures are pre-painted; the movement is rolled on a Hasbro stickered-d6, and the rest of the game is in those decks of cards. Well, not totally – you get two actions a turn, with which you can play or draw.
Some of the special cards are stupid-powerful, so much of the strategy lies in knowing the decks and choosing your board position accordingly. And in watching people’s hand sizes. So yes, you have real things to do in this game. You just don’t have so many of them that life will get overwhelming for the eight-year-olds. We at the Cave have been making this one of our principal fast-and-fun selections lately (although its reign may soon be challenged by Gregory Horror Show), and we will not be at all surprised when… well, the less said about that, the better.
In the meantime, here are some handy suggestions to make your Star Wars Epic Duels games even more nuts:
- Instead of drawing from one core deck for your character, place your characters wherever you’d like on the board, then draw a card from a deck whenever your major character steps on that named space on the board. Minor characters can’t trigger card draws in this way.
- Bust out a copy of RoboRally and use a board like Pit Maze or Cannery Row instead of the supplied boards. Instead of rolling the movement die, deal nine RR movement cards to each player before each time around the table. Each player splits the cards between their major and minor characters however they wish. On your turn, first the board moves, then you reveal your cards, one character at a time. Use the Epic Duels decks for combat. All board effects that would kill a robot automatically, instead do five points of damage to your character (except for pits – they’re still death). Oh, and no pushing.
- Pick up a copy of Cosmic Coasters (hey, it won an Origins award and it’s cheap). Use three major characters and three minors from one side of the Force as your pool of ships. Draw two cards from each deck you have a figure from, as your opening hand. Instead of conducting battles with rock-paper-scissors, use the cards; when you use one, draw its replacement from the same deck the one you used came from. You’re actually playing Cosmic Coasters, not Epic Duels, so ignore the goals of Epic Duels. However, you should also ignore the Cosmic Coasters special abilities. Specials that put a character elsewhere on “the board” apply to the same board they’re on. Also, um, well, you’ll work it out if you’re motivated.
We hope this gives you some evil ideas. Hail the Emperor!