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Michael Mikaelian

Rulebook: Part Four

The Way of Things



This spring, SW:TCG will see the release of Revenge of the Sith -- and with it, a new rulebook. Michael Mikaelian continues his coverage of exactly what this rulebook will contain, what's been added, what's been changed.

The Star Wars Trading Card Game differs from most (if not all) of Wizards of the Coast’s other TCGs in one big way: no individual players’ turns. This has presented the game’s developers and editors with some interesting challenges. For instance, the Attack of the Clones rulebook included a draw step in which each player drew a card before either players’ build phase. A Dark Side player could eliminate the Light Side’s hand with cards like Nute Gunray (A) and Destruction of Hope. Once the Light Side was reduced to playing off the top of his or her deck, Nute’s ability sealed the deal during the Dark Side build step—no new cards for the Light Side player.

Drawing, a Conclusion

The fix for “Nute lock” was a great example of the kind of subtle changes Henry Stern asked the Star Wars Guru group to look for whenever possible. For the Empire Strikes Back rulebook, the draw step was eliminated. In its place, each player was to draw a card before building units and completing Missions. Unfortunately, the rule was written two different ways. The summary page instructed each player to draw a card at the start of his or her build step. Yet on the Turn Structure section, the steps “Dark Side draws” and “Light Side draws” were added. This has since been handled in errata (you draw a card when your first build step of each turn starts). Now, it’ll be clearly defined in the Revenge of the Sith rulebook too.

What does that mean for cards that say they work during the draw step? They still work in the way intended, but require some errata:

  • Bespin System: When each player’s build step starts, he or she draws 1 extra card.
  • Commander Nemet (A): When your build step starts, look at the top card of your opponent’s deck. You may put that card into your opponent’s discard pile.
  • Han Solo (A): When your build step starts, draw 1 extra card.
  • Jocasta Nu (A): When your build step starts, draw 2 extra cards then put 2 cards from your hand on the bottom of your deck.
  • Mos Eisley: When you would draw a card at the start of your build step, instead name a card type (Space, Ground, Character, Battle, Location, Mission, or Equipment). Reveal cards from the top of your deck until you reveal a card of that type. Put that card into your hand and the other revealed cards into your discard pile.
  • R2-D2 (F): When your build step starts, draw 1 extra card then discard a card from your hand.

First Build Step?

Duel of the Fates and Ugnaught were two very loud wake-up calls for Star Wars TCG players—infinite loops can find a back door into this game, and can be game breakers. Duel of the Fates provides an excellent example of how you can abuse triggered effects.

Take for instance what happens when you have Wedge Antilles (B) in the Character arena, Hound's Tooth (A) in the Space arena, and then Duel of the Fates is played. At the start of each Space battle step, the Hound’s Tooth gains Wedge’s Pilot ability (+20 speed, +2 power, Accuracy 1). For the first Space battle, Hound’s Tooth is 60/7/5, and Accuracy 1. In the second Space battle, it’s 80/9/5, and Accuracy 2. Each subsequent battle adds another +20/+2 and enough Accuracy to insure its enormous power hits with 100% efficiency. A card like Twilight of the Republic could have done the same with effects that trigger at the beginning of the build step. That’s the reason each start-of-build-step ability only triggers at the start of the first build step each turn.

Drawing a card, Upkeep, Bounty, and over three dozen other triggered abilities happen at the start of someone’s build step. At a build cost of 2, Twilight of the Republic wouldn’t have given the Dark Side an unreasonable amount of bang for its buck: One Twilight gives the Dark Side a second build step; two give it a third and the Light Side a second. While Twilight is the only card capable of causing additional build steps, you never know what the future holds. If the means to infinite build steps is ever out there, effects intended to only happen once per turn will stay that way.

(For a while, one of the effects of Surprise Reinforcements created build steps during the Battle phase. This raised all sorts of questions about drawing, Upkeep, and Bounty. The concept had too many bad side effects and was ultimately revised.)

Ready, Command, Battle

The Empire Strikes Back rulebook sort of mashed all of the steps in a turn together into one big list. The Revenge of the Sith rulebook breaks the turn into three phases: Ready, Command, and Battle. Here’s a quick rundown of each step within these phases:

Ready Phase

  1. Untap. No big changes here.
  2. Gain Force. Or here.
  3. Roll for build points. Now includes a reminder that this is the step that you play abilities that affect or are affected by the build roll.

Command Phase

  1. Dark Side builds. A start-of-build-step ability replaces the draw step. The Dark Side player chooses in what order each of his or her start-of-build-step effects happen. From there, the build step is mostly unchanged.
  2. Light Side builds. Ditto.
  3. Dark Side retreats. Nothing new here.
  4. Light Side retreats. Or here.

Battle Phase

  1. Space battle. Before this step, there’s now a chance to play activated abilities and Battle cards.
  2. Ground battle. You still get to fight here.
  3. Character battle. And here.
  4. Turn ends. Instead of telling you to go to the next untap step, you now go to the next Ready phase. (Exciting, I know.)

It’s quite fitting to end this installment with the Battle phase, because that’s where we’ll pick it up next time.



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