So you’ve heard the hype, you’ve watched the videos (actually, if you haven’t, I recommend this excellent run-down from the folks at Team Covenant). Now you’re trying to decide if the game is worth the effort to find through the early supply shortages or the money that collectable games can be.
The easy answer is “yes.” It’s worth the effort.
But don’t take my word for it – I won’t just tell you, I’ll show you. With words. Ok, so I guess that’s still taking my word for it…
I have tried so many of the currently released Star Wars games, including the mass-market Star Wars: Risk (worth a look!) and Loopin’ Chewie (also worth a look!). When it came to the meatier games, like Imperial Assault or X-Wing Miniatures, though, something just wasn’t clicking for me. As games go, these weren’t the droids I was looking for.
When Destiny was announced, I was intrigued but skeptical. It had been a long time since Fantasy Flight Games had released a collectable card game – though some would argue that their oodles of expansions for everything amount to the same thing – and the environment has changed a lot since that time. Still, with Lukas Litzinger and Corey Konezika running the show, I was enthused. I have played many games that both were involved with, several sitting on my shelf currently, and Lukas’s reputation as the first lead designer of Android: Netrunner was excellent. Why not give it a look?
Destiny is indeed a collectable game. If that is a turn-off for you, that’s fine. Everyone needs to know their limits. I believe you will find completionists in games like this and there is some advantage to having a full collection, but when you sit down to play someone, you have 30 cards, a couple of characters, and several dice. At that point, it doesn’t matter what else is in the box, because this is all you have to work with. Players who want to get some cards and put together a solid deck or two will have just as much fun (perhaps more) than those who feel that they need everything.
The packs themselves are $2.99 and contain three commons, one uncommon, and one rare or legendary with its corresponding die. You’ll want that as well as one of each of they Kylo Ren and Rey starter packs, which run about $15. If all you get are the starters plus 5-10 boosters, you have enough to get plenty of enjoyment and haven’t spent much more than you’d spend on the average board game.
Cards and Dice? Isn’t this just Dice Masters then?
Nope. The games couldn’t be more different other than the fact that they have cards and dice. Monopoly also has cards and dice, and you’ll never hear anyone compare that to this game (or Dice Masters for that matter). If you like one, you aren’t guaranteed to like the other. They manifest in completely different ways.
The game looks cool. First, and this is an obvious point to give praise, the artwork. Fantasy Flight could have used stills from the movies or shows, but they didn’t, and that’s a big plus. It allows characters that exist in the cartoons to look perfectly fine alongside characters that have only (or primarily) existed in the live-action iterations of the saga.
Next, the dice. Oh, the dice! Big, chunky dice with rounded edges are a favorite of this board gamer, and these do not disappoint. Many people were skeptical of the dice at first, thinking that the artwork looks like stickers. I’ll add to the chorus of voices saying that they’re not stickers, they look phenomenal and until you see them in person, it’s hard to understand just how good they are. Instead of the dice being gimmicks, they feel like a part of the game, as much as any of the cards do. They communicate a lot of information, and they do it well.
I love that downtime is at a minimum. I take an action, you take an action, and so on. The actions are clearly defined and make sense. You always have the idea that there is something that you can do to impact the board, whether advancing your strategy or stifling your opponent’s.
Dice involve luck, but there are plenty of ways to mitigate that luck built into the gameplay, with many ways to reroll dice or even to turn a die to a desired side. Could a die roll mess you up? Sure, it could, just as a bad card draw could mess you up in any game. Still, Destiny takes great care to give you options, and that’s great.
Back-and-forth play? Chunky dice? Sounds like Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn to me…
No, stop making silly comparisons!
Though to be fair, Ashes is a closer cousin than Dice Masters, but I didn’t care for it at all and in converse, I love this. There are a few reasons why I prefer this one. The first is that turns in this move much faster, even in learning games. The second is that you start with your characters on the board and can begin activating them immediately, which you can’t do in Ashes. The third is that the resources aren’t tiered, a resource is just a resource. Ashes has three tiers of resources and what you can use is entirely predicated on a die roll. Not a fan.
The Bottom Line: It’s fun.
There are a lot of choices that you get to contend with every turn and they’re meaningful ones. Despite that, the game is short enough that it never overstays its welcome. You’re not slogging through a loss, so instead of getting bogged down and feeling stuck in a bad round, you can consider what you might want to do differently for the next time because you know that you’ll be done soon. The game keeps you thinking; there are push-your-luck elements; there is a lot of risk-reward balancing. It’s always interesting and engaging.
You will like this if you…
- Like chucking lots of dice
- Like Star Wars
- Enjoy Ashes but want something with a different pace
- Like quickly moving games
This might not be for you if you…
- Hate randomness of any kind
- Hate the collectable model on principle
- Don’t like confrontation in games