What do Fantasy Flight Games and Asmodee want you to know about the Star Wars Unlimited TCG? I mean, other than the 2024 release date and the fact that while the components aren’t entirely finalized, what they do have is very, very nice to look at? Well, the thing I heard the most while looking over the cards laid out at Gen Con is that this is a game made for Star Wars fans, by Star Wars fans. They read the books, watched all the movies, paged through endless comics, and have been doing it for years. They have had the experience of watching the Star Wars Expanded Universe become Star Wars Legends, they have watched the rearranging of what is canon as ownership rights changed hands, they have mourned the loss of original trilogy actors right along with the rest of us. They have taken all their fandom and passion for the galactic brainchild of George Lucas, all their feelings for TCGs of years past, and decided to make a smorgasbord of a new card game.
Which is why they decided to call it Star Wars Unlimited, right? They want players to have the agency to make crazy decisions. If you are fresh from watching the Star Wars animated shows and want Ahsoka hanging out with Count Dooku in your deck? You got it. You want to add Rey in there and give her the time with General Leia that she (and all of us) deserved? You get that, too. These folks are doing everything they can to give you the biggest range of choices possible for your precious deck of 50 cards. While the Gen Con demo decks of Luke and Vader are fairly clear-cut and easy to learn, I suspect from watching and participating in chats with the people behind this game that it will have a lot more depth than one can capture at a 35-minute demo table.
Now, that said, plenty of people will forgo the “motley band of randos” decks and focus on a couple characters at a time when building their decks. Here, to me, is where it gets interesting. SWU has made it so these are character snapshots, really. They are moments in time and storyline. So theoretically, in your deck you can have a fresh-faced farm boy Luke AND the grizzled hermit Luke that Rey pulls off of Ahch-To. You can put Teen Jedi Anakin Skywalker against the Darth Vader he will become. However, we aren’t likely to get fan ideas canonized (e.g., I would LOVE a Sith Jar Jar Binks, but we are highly unlikely to see an official one since it isn’t canon).
Aside from the obvious Hero and Villain cards, you can expect to see categories like Command, Vigilance, Aggression, and Cunning on cards. These aspects help guild your deck construction, as each symbol on any cards you play will be discounted if they match your Leader or Base cards. For each symbol that doesn’t match, you will have to pay an extra 2 resources to play that card. Let us have a look at character cards (units) and items (upgrades).
Star Wars Unlimited plays a bit differently from most TCGs. During the course of the game the players will alternate taking actions (such as playing a card, attacking, using an Action Ability, taking the Initiative, or passing) during their Action Phase, until both players have passed consecutively. After this has occurred, there is a Regroup Phase where each player will draw 2 cards, may play a card face down as a resource, and then they ready all cards. Once this is completed, a new Action phase can begin with the player who holds the initiative.
Most of the rules are straightforward, but a few things deserve some clarification. Attacking units can only ever attack enemy units in their arena (Ground or Space), or the enemy base, and any damage dealt stays from round to round. Any player may take the initiative marker as an action, including the player that currently holds it, and no other player may take that action once someone has done so. Finally, the last player to have a functional base standing wins the game.
This game is fairly accessible to new gamers. I personally am not well versed in most TCGs, not having the funds for them as a kid and not particularly interested in collecting binders or boxes of cards. (This thought might make my family laugh, considering all the odd things I DO collect.) I always gave away baseball cards, never got into Pokémon cards, watched a lot of Magic but never caught the bug to play much. But I understood the rundown pretty well even though I had never played Star Wars: Destiny. I appreciate the back-and-forth actions that let you react quickly and stay engaged with your opponent with very little downtime. The space and ground arenas are clearly separated—you won’t find ground forces blowing up Star Destroyers in orbit. But once you get past the Gen Con demo and start watching the videos where new cards are revealed, this game is clearly made for those who want tactical complexity. I don’t imagine many 8-year-olds will be putting this on their Christmas list over Lorcana. That said, everybody starts somewhere, so moving from cartoon animals to cartoon space battles is likely an easy one!
The game play seems quicker than I expected compared to some other trading card games I have seen, because players start with some resources already out on the table and being able to draw 2 cards and decide which to play and which to make a resource looks to keep things moving, overall. FFG did say to expect Foil art, Extended Art, Legendary cards, and some collectible Alt Art cards all available in booster sets. For those who aren’t thrilled with the style of art, there will be a range of art styles in the game done by dozens if not hundreds of artists. I expect that there will be a style to appeal to every fan of the game.
I obviously enjoyed taking photos of everything they laid out here, and I am hoping the old school TCG enthusiasts I know find a suitable Heir to the Empire in Star Wars Unlimited. I know how polarized Star Wars fans can get, though, so I will lay off the jokes and pat myself on the back for not bringing thumbs or the Schwartz into this article in spite of great tempta…. well, I really did try. It looks like I will be watching Star Wars parodies for the rest of my weekend now, but I hope you enjoy the game when it releases in 2024!