What is Star Wars: Destiny? Well from a marketing perspective it is a game where you use dice, cards and resources to play epic “what if” battles with your friends to see who would win a duel. But if you ask me, its an experience where everything matters. Characters have their HP yes, but its a game of strategy, sacrifice and most of all fun. With Stele Open wrapped up and Worlds in a few weeks I want to address some of the things I love about Destiny so that players of all skill sets and experience can see what I see in this beautiful game.
Nothing Is What It Seems
Destiny on the surface is a 1vs1 game where you need to deal enough damage to your opponent before they deal enough damage to you. That is the most basic form of most games actually – Magic/Pokemon/YuGiOh whatever you want to think about. But when you start to really play some of these games, you realize that HP, life points or whatever life resource you’re tracking is exactly that, a resource. This was something I learned in Magic from a very good friend JR, he once said that as long as you have 1 life left, you’re still playing the game. This made me realize that 20 life was just 19 resources I had available to spend however I saw fit as long as I was able to win games by spending those resources wisely. Destiny doesn’t use character HP as a resource, but it does use a lot of game mechanics as resources a player might not consider.
The most obvious resources are the cards or dice you use – which make up the core of the game. Everything revolves around cards being played and dice being rolled, you can’t do much without either of these two. However, I challenge you to look more closely, and see cards and dice as another resource to manage. Cards in deck, hand and discard pile are resources that can be used toward your advantage or your disadvantage. In Pokemon, players bring 60 card decks and take the top 6 cards and place them face down on the table as Prizes. Pokemon TCG uses a lot of tutor and search cards, and all pro level players spend the first few minutes of their first search card to look through their deck and determine what 6 cards are face down so they can play their deck without those 6 resources. Destiny does not offer a prize system or a search system, but as a player, you should know all 30 of those cards in your deck and where they are at any given time. You deck, hand and discard pile are very important resources. A good player needs to not only manage, but have clear knowledge of what cards are in which location. Now I am not suggesting cheating and looking for cards specifically, but I am saying that if you are in a situation where you NEED a crime lord to win the game, you had better know what cards you’ve played, and how many cards to discard for your best chance to draw into that card when you need it. This comes from playing a LOT of games and learning your deck, how it performs in specific situations, and what options you have available to get out of bad ones.
I can hear some people thinking, well couldn’t you look through your discard pile and see what you’ve played? Yes you can, but that’s a BIG tell, and giving away information can lead to some hard counter play. Imagine you’re in a winning situation and notice your opponent start to dig through their graveyard, looking for cards. You can make a healthy assessment of what they are looking for based on the deck they are playing and their resource count/board state. If you can’t you’re always free to look through their graveyard and try to figure out what they are planning to do. The bigger problem isn’t looking at the cards, its a couple things actually. First of all, the game lengths are rather short for a game of this nature. 35 min rounds are playable, but unless someone is running aggro, you may get close to or hit that 35 min mark. Every action counts, and time is not your friend, especially if you’re in top cut and you have to play best 2 of 3 with 90 min rounds. So remember that time is not your friend, it’s not crushing you, but you should be as time efficient as possible. Also by going through your graveyard you’re signaling to the opponent a few things. Perhaps fear, desperation, confusion or plotting. Any of these are telling signs that you are more than likely not in a good place right now. Sometimes looking at your cards may not reveal much, but it can reveal enough for your opponent to capitalize on it. I recommend practicing counting cards or spreading cards in your graveyard out like Magic/YuGiOh players do so they can see pretty much all the cards at a glance and don’t have to search through to see what they’ve done through the game. Knowing what you have played, what’s in your hand and what still is in the deck will help at any given moment because you will know what you can do and what you can’t and that will help you win games.
Who Is The Target?
This might seem a little too simple, but this is something players seem to forget when playing games of Destiny. Who is the target? This can be the most critical question of the game to ask when you first see the initial teams set on the field. When you come across 2-4 character decks you should take a moment to determine, who is the biggest threat. Who is the character that is the lynch pin of the deck, who is the character that creates the biggest threat to my strategy? Being able to determine what character your opponent needs to keep alive can greatly help focus your attacks, thin out threats, and give you a decisive advantage in the flow of the game. I am aware that dice and cards do create a good bit of variance, and that some of these decisions are very difficult to achieve because you might not roll the right die faces or draw the cards you need. I do agree yes, things can be difficult, but by managing the resources you can control, it won’t hurt so bad when variables you cannot control fall apart.
Focusing your deck, actions, and game plan against a single target is much easier than spreading out across multiple targets. Now this is not a firm rule where you should target one character and never let up. But as you begin the game you should be aware of who your opponent needs alive and who is not a big threat when left alone. This will lead to understanding the cards in your hand, dice on your field, and how to use them together to achieve your goal. Splitting resources, dice, actions, and choices across multiple characters and win conditions waters down your strategy and will usually leave you open to removal and disruption. Staying focused on your goals and targets helps to make decisions more easily. You’re able to target the threats, and deal with the rest later as the game moves forward. But being able to identify threats, determine where to cut losses, and where to strike fast will really swing games in your favor – you’re much less likely to get distracted or lured into traps.
Can You Hear It Calling?
These are just a few thoughts about Destiny I wanted to share, many more are on the way but let me leave with this. Destiny is an amazing game and anyone can play and enjoy it. This is a beautiful game that has so much to offer players of all types. Utilizing dice and cards like this is really something unique, and I challenge players to see the game past just rolling and resolving dice. See the die faces as options and cards as ways to create more consistent choices and powerful actions. But most of all, I hope that players will have fun while they play Destiny. This game has an amazing community and company that’s working hard to give players one of the best Star Wars tabletop experiences we have seen. So my best advice for all players reading this is to play a deck you enjoy and have fun with. Winning is nice but its not the most important thing. Having fun, making friends and creating new stories provides the most value I can gain from any card game, because those are the things you remember in the long run. 🙂