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Time to punch it! Star Wars: Unlimited gameplay revealed!

It seems like a lot more than two months have gone by since I first wrote about Star Wars: Unlimited. Fantasy Flight Games has been steadily releasing teasers on Twitter, but today they dropped their biggest yet. The full quickstart rules are now available for Star Wars: Unlimited! Now we have some context for all of those brilliantly-illustrated cards. Remember how they promised a nice, traditional TCG with unlimited deck building options?

Turns out, they (mostly) weren’t kidding.

Build your Base

Arguably, the core of SW: Unlimited is the Base. You want to defend your base, and you want to destroy your opponent’s. These are iconic settings from throughout the Star Wars Universe. FFG hasn’t released many of these yet, but the QuickStart guide uses the Administrator’s Tower in Cloud City and the Command Center on the Death Star.

Base cards themselves are pretty simple and straight forward. The hit points are in the top left – 30. Every base has the same amount, at least in this first set. Top right of the card has its Aspect icon. Think of that as setting the base’s color or element identity. In this case, Cloud City is Cunning-aspected. We’ll get more into deckbuilding and Aspects later, but right now just keep in the back of your mind that this means you’ll be wanting to run Cunning units and abilities in your deck.

The first base to reach 0 HP loses, so make sure you pack in plenty of ways to defend yours!

Choose your Leader

We’ve known for a while that gameplay in SWU would involve a signature hero or leader card. Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Leia Organa are the three leaders we’ve seen so far. You can almost guarantee that fan favorite characters from Clone Wars, Rebels, and the Mandoverse will turn up in this slot as well as reveals progress.

Your Hero sets the second half of your deck’s Aspect. Leia has, unsurprisingly, Command (green) and Heroism (white). Your Hero’s Aspects do NOT have to match your Base. Again, I’ll dig into the Aspect system in another article. It’s crunchy – and not in a bad way!

Each leader has an action, which be used from the start of the game. In this case, you can exhaust (tap) Leia to attack with a unit that has the Rebel type. Then do it again with a different Rebel type unit. (Notice: Leia’s types are “Rebel” and “Official”)

Leaders also have Epic Actions, which you can activate at any time for free once you meet the requirements stated. In Leia’s case, if you control 5 or more resources, you flip her and she becomes a 3 power 6 toughness unit.

You can only use your Leader’s Epic Action once per game! (Think VStar abilities in Pokemon.) The good news is that if they are defeated as units, they flip back to their Leader side and you still get the benefit of whatever their regular actions are.

Recruit an Army

A deck in SWU contains at least 50 cards, plus your Leader and Base. Those 50 cards can be Units, Events, or Upgrades. Think of these as creatures, spells, and equipment if you’re coming from MTG. While these cards don’t have to be the same Aspect as your Leader and Base, it’s a good idea to stay relatively close to that theme. Units can attack and be attacked. Events are one time effects. And Upgrades get attached to your Units to make them more powerful.

Every non-Base/non-Leader card follows the same general format. See the Aspect Icons under the casting cost? Think of those as colored mana pips or typed energies. Your Base and Leader give you three pips, so if you’ve got at least one Aggression (red) and one Villainy (black) on yours, you just have to pay two resources to get this out. For each Aspect pip you don’t have, you pay an additional two resources.

They weren’t lying when they said deckbuilding is basically unlimited. This means you can mix and match characters and factions as much as you want, so long as you’re willing to deal with the deckbuilding implications.

Lay Siege!

To start off the game, both players lay out their Base and Leader, shuffle their decks, then draw six cards to hand. Each player may Mulligan once, but the second hand must be kept. Each player places two cards from their hand face down in the Resource zone, leaving them with four cards in hand. We do not know yet if Resources can ever be returned to hand or deck, or if they may be looked at after being pitched. Presumably, this is similar to the Inking system in Lorcana.

Actual gameplay phases in SWU are deceptively simple. The main part of the game is the Action phase, where players pingpong priority back and forth until both players pass. There is no stack. There is no reaction step. Gameplay is a simple call and answer. In the Action phase, players may Play a card, Attack with a Unit, Use an Action, Take Initiative or Pass. Once both players pass in succession, the game moves to the Regroup phase.

In Regroup, both players draw two cards from their deck. They may then place a card in the Resource zone. This is a may, not a must, so if you really like the cards you just drew, you can hold onto both of them. Players will probably have a sweet spot for how many Resources they want in general. The QuickStart rules don’t mention a maximum hand size, so… Start stretching those fingers. Both players then Ready their Exhausted cards, and a new Action phase begins. The player with the Initiative goes first.

WTF is the Initiative?!

The Initiative in SWU is a physical counter which shows who will takes actions first. During the Action phase, when they have priority a player may take the Initiative away from their opponent. Taking the Initiative signals that you Pass and automatically ends the Action phase and moves the game to the Regroup phase. If you choose to Pass only, your opponent may continue to take Actions. (You can Act later in the turn as well, even if you choose to Pass one exchange.)

Traditional, but still unique.

So far, it seems like FFG is really delivering on their promise to keep Star Wars: Unlimited traditional and un-gimmicky. Combat is intuitive enough that I don’t feel the need to give it a proper rundown. Decide if you want to attack the Base or a Unit, Exhaust to attack. Units deal damage back, Bases don’t. A Unit is defeated if it takes more damage than it has HP. Don’t mistake this simplicity for mindlessness though! Between the unique deckbuilding rules and the Initiative system, there is plenty of nuance to go around for those of us who like our card games crunchy.

Keep checking back as we move through the summer and into the fall for more info and reveals! There’s a LOT going on in the TCG space right now, but the GTN crew are here to help you filter through to find the good parts!

About the Author
Silver has been playing Magic: The Gathering and other trading card games off and on since 1999, and is a lifelong roleplayer. They believe in Rule 0 and The Rule of Cool, and that the gaming table should be a safe space for everyone.

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