You’ve done it. You’ve honed your team to a razor sharp focus. You’ve tested yourself against some of the best Star Wars Destiny players that your kitchen table has to offer. You might even have gone online and played a few games on Tabletop Simulator or with your webcam. You are ready to go to your local game shop and test your mettle against other sentients for fabulous prizes. I have one question for you first: Have you read the SWD Tournament Regulations?
A little over a month ago, Fantasy Flight games released their official Tournament Regulations. In case you haven’t yet seen them, you can view either a PDF or a “just the text version” on Fantasy Flight’s product page for the game.. I would like to discuss some of the highlights, and go through important information for players and judges alike. I hope that it will answer some of the common questions that new players (and judges) have about the rules and how they pertain to organized play. I will be going through the reference sheet hitting the most important points in the order they are presented there, so feel free to follow along. Also, I am (obviously) not affiliated with Fantasy Flight games, and while I believe that my interpretations are correct, the final say is up to FFG themselves (or your local judge at an event). All of that being said, let’s dive in and digest this like a Sarlacc munching on a Mandalorian.
Participant Roles and Etiquette
Everyone attending an organized play event has a “job” that they are doing. Sometimes, more than one. For example, the main person is considered the Organizer, and they may also assign (or be) the Marshall (the main judge). There can be other Judges involved as well to help give rulings and maintain order in the chaos of a larger event. There is one role in particular that I want to address, though, and that is the Spectator. Sometimes, you’ll have a quick game and finish your round before everyone else. Other times, you’ll have a Bye and not have an opponent at all. Or, maybe you were late to the event and only able to watch some games instead of joining in. No matter the situation, it’s just good manners to watch the game quietly without trying to engage either player in conversation or to offer advice or commentary about the game. It’s fine afterwards, of course, but during the game itself make sure to let them slug it out in their heated hexahedral havoc.
Decks and Components
For a Star Wars Destiny event, all of the normal rules for building a deck apply. You must have thirty cards in your draw deck, and your characters cannot equal more than thirty points. One thing that is a little different, however, are the rules about sleeves. I know it can sound silly, but your draw deck MUST have matching and opaque sleeves. If they are clear, then make sure that all of your cards have the same backing image. This shouldn’t be an issue for the draw deck, as the only different backs I’ve seen are from promo cards given at conventions and the like.
The real thing about sleeves is this: your characters and battlefield don’t have to be sleeved but, if they are, the sleeves have to be different than your draw deck. I didn’t really get this rule at first, but after playing a few games in a tournament atmosphere it made sense. More than once, I almost shuffled Darth Vader in with his Force Choke, Lightsaber, and Dodge. There can be a limited set up time in organized play events, and the different sleeves can help cut down on the time it takes to get set up for another game.
Setup, Shuffles, and You
The start of a game sets the tone for the entire match. To begin, of course, first set out your characters and battlefield. Then, shuffle your deck and present it to your opponent. They have the option to shuffle and/or cut your deck to their satisfaction. Draw your five cards. If you mulligan any, shuffle them back into your deck… then present your deck again to your opponent giving them the opportunity to shuffle and cut. Draw the cards needed to bring you back up to a hand size of five. Then, you can roll off with your opponent to see who gets the choice of battlefield.
I emphasized the shuffle and cut rule, because it has been a small point of contention. It is good manners anyway, but it is also the rule. I have gotten into the habit of offering the cut even in very relaxed games with friends. It’s just good practice, and makes sure that everyone is on the same page come tourney time. Also, and this is key, it lets you say the word “cutsies”. This is not mandatory, of course, but it lets your opponent know that you are no one to be taken lightly because you are a fierce competitor.
So Many Dice
Star Wars Destiny is a game of cards and dice. Sometimes, like with my famous “TriPad” deck, you are going to have copies of dice that go with different characters. It is important to make sure you know, before you roll, which die goes with which character. For example: if I’m rolling both of my Padawan dice at the same time, but they have different health or upgrades or whatever, I want to make sure that my opponent and I know which die goes where. Usually, I’ll do this by rolling each in a different hand. You can also say that the one that lands on the left goes with Padawan A, while the right-most die goes with Padawan B. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you and your opponent both agree before you chuck those cubes. It’ll make for a smoother experience.
Winning the Game
Here’s the big one. This is the area that became a bit of a sticking point in my first event, so it is one I’ve put a bit more effort into understanding. Obviously, the normal rules for winning the game apply in a tournament. If one player’s characters are defeated, they lose immediately. If one player has no cards in their hand or deck, they lose at the end of the Upkeep Phase. If both players would lose like this, then the player that has control of the Battlefield wins. These are the standard rules, and can be viewed in the expanded Rules Reference available on the FFG website. One thing that sets tournament play apart from casual play, though, are time limits. That’s why we are now going to talk about…
Winning the Game (After Time is Called)
Keep in mind that in tournament play, you are “on the clock”. For the Swiss rounds, it is a single game in thirty-five minutes. For the best two out of three rounds, except for the Finals, there is a ninety minute time limit. Then, in the Finals themselves, there is a one hundred and twenty minute time limit. This may seem like a lot of time but, well, sometimes there will be no clear cut winner when the time is called. What happens then? Star Wars Destiny is not a game where ties are allowed, so there must be a winner.
When time is called, it’s important to know that the current round is played out in its entirety. This means that the game is played through the Upkeep phase. This is an important distinction, because it makes sure to give teams that win by running their opponent out of cards or teams that win using Crime Lord’s ability to defeat characters at the end of a round the chance to finish out the game. If neither the All Characters Defeated or No Cards In Hand or Deck win conditions are met, then the game is decided in the following ways:
“1. The player who has less damage on their characters receives a win. To determine this, players count the total amount of damage on any characters in play, and add the total health value of all of their defeated characters to achieve a final number. If both players have the same total, proceed to step 2.”
So here is the most common way to determine a winner after time is called. It’s a pretty easy one, too. Add up all the damage on your characters with total health of your defeated characters, and then hope that the number you come up with is lower than your opponent’s. This rule hurts people who play more characters and have more potential health on their team, but it seems to be the fairest way to determine this.
“2. The player with the most cards remaining in his or her deck and hand is receives a win. If both players have the same number of cards remaining, proceed to step 3.”
Again, this is a pretty straightforward way to determine a winner. Count all of your remaining cards and see who has the most. If one player has more, they win.
“3. The player who controls the battlefield at the end of the game receives a win.”
The final check is to see who holds the high ground (so to speak). The player that controls the battlefield wins the game. It should be noted, of course, that this is an extremely rare occurrence. Sure, the game hasn’t been out very long yet, and it’s always possible that a game could go to this stage, but most games will be decided by one of the first two guidelines. That being said, be aware of the game state as this could mean the difference between a win or a loss in a close game.
Remember To Have Fun
Okay, this bit isn’t in the official rules reference or tournament guidelines… but it’s perhaps the most important. These events can be “serious business” and it is very easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment, but remember to have fun. Always. Whether a rule gets interpreted incorrectly, or a mistake is made by a player, or one of your dice rolls the exact wrong thing at a key moment… have fun. Losing a game doesn’t make you a worse player, and winning a game doesn’t make you the Bantha’s Knees. Make friends, trade cards, and have amazing battles.
Hopefully this article has helped digest some of the rules for tournament play. Fantasy Flight Games has been doing organized play events for awhile for a multitude of games, and their experience shows with these guidelines. Things may change in the future, and rules may evolve, but for right now these reference points will keep any event running smoothly. Remember to read and review ALL of the rules for the game and tournaments before attending an event, but also remember my final rule above. I only wish there was some way to express my hope that a galactic force that moves through everything and binds us all together will favor you in your event… but there isn’t. So, well, good luck!