Back in May, we officially announced Star Wars™: Unlimited as Fantasy Flight Games’ latest and greatest trading card game. Now, we’re excited to show off one of the first products for the game, as well as give you all an in-depth look at how the game is played!
Introducing: the Spark of Rebellion Two-Player Starter!
The two pre-built decks in this box provide everything you need to kickstart your Star Wars: Unlimited collection. Each deck has been carefully crafted to help you learn the game, with several cards that show off different keywords and mechanics but overall remaining straightforward enough so that anyone can pick one up and play. Also included in this box are quickstart rules to help you jump into the game, all the counters and tokens you’ll use during gameplay, and even a pair of folded deck boxes that you can use to store the starter decks (or your own decks that you build in the future).
When you open the box, you’ll have your choice between two different pre-built decks: one is a Luke Skywalker (Spark of Rebellion, 5) deck with the Vigilance, Cunning, and Heroic aspects, and the other is a Darth Vader (Spark of Rebellion, 10) deck with the Aggression, Command, and Villainy aspects (you can read more about aspects in this article). The decks themselves are a mixture of cards that can be acquired in booster packs and unique cards that can only be obtained in these starter decks. For example, you can find General Dodonna (Spark of Rebellion, 242) and General Veers (Spark of Rebellion, 230) in Spark of Rebellion booster packs, but Leia Organa (Spark of Rebellion, 189) and Grand Moff Tarkin (Spark of Rebellion, 84) can only be obtained from this box.
If you want to know what other cards can be found in these starter decks, simply read on! Each of the cards shown in this article can be found in one of these two starter decks.
Note: The following is a step-by-step preview of the setup and gameplay for Star Wars: Unlimited. If you would like to read the official Quickstart Rules, click this link.
To set up a game of Star Wars: Unlimited, you and your opponent each put your base into play in the center of the table. You each then place your leader card beneath your base, horizontal (non-unit) side faceup.
Next, you randomly determine which player starts the game with the initiative, and give that player the initiative counter. Once that’s done, both players shuffle their respective decks and draw a hand of 6 cards. You’re allowed one “mulligan,” in which you shuffle your entire hand back into your deck before drawing a new hand of 6. Be careful, since you have to keep the new hand no matter what!
After that, each player chooses 2 cards in their hand to place facedown in front of them as “resources.” These will be used to pay for cards played throughout the game, but they also can no longer be used for their own abilities; we’ll go into more detail in a moment.
And that’s it! Once both players are ready, the game starts with the first action phase.
Most of a game of Star Wars: Unlimited takes place in the action phase. In this phase, players go back and forth taking a single action at a time. The player with the initiative counter takes the first action, then their opponent acts, and so on until both players have passed. The actions available to each player are play a card, attack with a unit, use an action ability, take the initiative, and pass.
The first option, play a card, involves you “exhausting” (turning sideways) a number of resources equal to the cost of a card in your hand, and then playing that card. Once exhausted, a resource can’t be used again until it is “readied” (turned back upright). The cost of a card is the number in its top-left corner; for example, R2-D2 (Spark of Rebellion, 236) costs 1 resource to play, while I Am Your Father (Spark of Rebellion, 233) costs 3.
If you play a unit, it comes into play exhausted. Ground units are played into the ground arena while space units are played into the space arena. The arenas are to the left and right of your base, and which one is which is determined by the first unit played; for example, if the first unit played is an Alliance X-Wing (Spark of Rebellion, 237), then the arena it’s played into becomes the space arena for that game. Keep in mind that units can only attack other units in the same arena as themselves, so playing a good mixture of ground and space units is crucial for success!
When you play a unit, you immediately resolve all “When Played” abilities it has. For example, the Viper Probe Droid (Spark of Rebellion, 228) has you look at your opponent’s hand, while the Imperial Interceptor (Spark of Rebellion, 132) lets you deal 3 damage to a space unit.
If you play an upgrade, you must “attach” it to a unit by placing it beneath that unit. Upgrades often provide a boost to a unit’s power and HP (the red and blue numbers on the unit card), and can have additional effects depending on the upgrade in question and what unit it’s attached to. For example, Luke's Lightsaber (Spark of Rebellion, 53) gives +3 power and +1 HP (or “+3/+1” for short) to any unit it attaches to; however, if you attach it to Luke Skywalker, it also gains a When Played effect that fully heals Luke and grants him a Shield (Spark of Rebellion, T02). Likewise, any non-Vehicle unit can make use of Vader's Lightsaber (Spark of Rebellion, 136), but only Darth Vader himself can make use of its ability to deal 4 damage to a ground unit.
The third type of card you can play is an event. These cards have an effect that resolves immediately when the event is played, and then the card is discarded. Events have all sorts of effects; some are defensive, such as Asteroid Sanctuary (Spark of Rebellion, 218), which can exhaust an enemy and grant a Shield to an ally. Other events are offensive, such as Maximum Firepower (Spark of Rebellion, 234) and its ability to deal a large amount of damage to a single unit. While most of the cards in these starter decks are units, the handful of events they have can provide some extra strategic options to help swing the game in your favor.
Once you have some units in play, you have access to more actions on your turns. To attack with a unit, you exhaust a ready unit you control and choose something to attack. You can attack either an enemy unit in the same arena or your opponent’s base. If you attack the base, you simply deal damage equal to the attacking unit’s power (the red number on their card) to that base. Remember, the goal of the game is to be the first player to destroy your opponent’s base; deal enough damage to their base, and you win!
However, oftentimes your opponent will have a unit that you can’t simply ignore. When you attack an enemy unit, both your unit and the defender simultaneously deal damage to each other equal to their respective power. This means that if an Alliance X-Wing attacks a TIE/ln Fighter (Spark of Rebellion, 225), both ships will deal 2 damage to each other at the same time. The X-wing has 3 HP (the blue number on its card), so it would have 1 HP remaining after taking 2 damage and thus would still be in play; the TIE Fighter, however, only has 1 HP, and thus would be defeated after the ships damage each other.
That’s how combat works at its simplest, but of course there are many cards that have attack-related abilities. Normally, a unit can’t attack on the same turn that it enters play (since it comes into play exhausted), but if a unit has the Ambush ability, such as a Snowspeeder (Spark of Rebellion, 244), then it can attack an enemy unit immediately on arrival. The Snowspeeder demonstrates another common feature on units: an On Attack ability. These abilities trigger before any damage is dealt during an attack and provide some additional effects when going on the offensive.
Of course, there are units with defensive abilities as well. Units like Admiral Motti (Spark of Rebellion, 226) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Spark of Rebellion, 49) have When Defeated abilities that give their controller some sort of benefit when they get taken out. Obi-Wan and other units like Cell Block Guard (Spark of Rebellion, 229) also have access to the Sentinel ability, which effectively blocks enemy units from attacking the base or any allied units who don’t also have Sentinel.
There are lots of other combat-related abilities as well. Some units, such as Han Solo (Spark of Rebellion, 198), can deal damage first during an exchange, while others, such as the AT-ST (Spark of Rebellion, 232), can deal excess attack damage directly to the opponent’s base. Some cards, such as Snowtrooper Lieutenant (Spark of Rebellion, 227) and Shoot First (Spark of Rebellion, 217) allow you to attack with a unit while gaining an extra benefit. Just remember: a unit always exhausts when it attacks, even if it was another card that let it do so!
Another action you can perform on your turn is to use an action ability. If a card you control has an Action ability, you can resolve that ability (paying any necessary costs). For example, Admiral Ozzel (Spark of Rebellion, 129) has an Action ability that, at the cost of exhausting him (denoted by the little arrow after Action), allows you to play an Imperial unit from your hand and have it enter play ready instead of exhausted. This ability also allows your opponent to ready a unit, so be careful not to get overconfident!
Leader cards are a special case. In addition to most leaders having a normal Action ability that you can use each round, they also have what’s known as an “Epic Action.” These function like normal Action abilities, except that each Epic Action can only be performed once per game. Each leader has an Epic Action that allows you to deploy them as a unit, so long as you control enough resources. This is always a big moment in the game, since your leader comes into play ready and tends to be stronger than a typical unit. However, if your leader is defeated, they flip back to their horizontal side, and since you already used their Epic Action, you won’t be able to deploy them again during that game!
The last two actions, take the initiative and pass, both involve essentially “doing nothing” during your turn. If you choose to pass, you do nothing on your turn, and that’s it. Your opponent takes their turn, and then you can decide if you want to pass again or perform a different action. If you take the initiative, you claim the initiative counter (even if you already have it) and guarantee that you will act first during the next round. However, once you take the initiative, you automatically pass for all subsequent actions during that action phase. Only one player can take the initiative each round, so taking the initiative before your opponent can put you at advantage during the next round, but if you do so too early, your opponent could perform several actions in a row that could potentially turn the game in their favor!
Once both players have passed (through either taking the initiative or simply passing), the action phase immediately ends, and play proceeds to the regroup phase.
Rest, Resource, and Regroup
There are three steps to the regroup phase: draw cards, resource a card, and ready cards. Both players complete these steps in order.
In the first step, you draw 2 cards from the top of your deck. Nice and simple, right? This is the most common way to get more cards in your hand, though there are a decent number of units and events that can net you some extra cards as well.
In the second step, you may choose 1 card from your hand and put it into play facedown as a resource. This step is referred to as “resourcing a card” and is optional; that said, it’s highly recommended that you resource a card each round until you have at least enough to use your leader’s Epic Action.
Normally, this step is the only way to increase your number or resources. However, certain cards—such as Resupply (Spark of Rebellion, 126) and Superlaser Technician (Spark of Rebellion, 83)—have abilities that add to your resources during the action phase. This can shape the strategy of your deck, including how many high-cost cards you decide to include, so it’s always something to consider!
Finally, in the last step of the regroup phase, you and your opponent ready all of your exhausted cards, including units, resources, and your leader. Once you’ve both done so, play proceeds back to the action phase. The player who currently has the initiative counter takes the first action, and the cycle repeats.
And that’s it! That’s how you play a game of Star Wars: Unlimited. The core gameplay is simple and straightforward, but the different strategies and combinations at your disposal are…well, unlimited!
One More Thing…
As you learn to play the game with the starter decks, you’ll want some matching sleeves for your cards, and our partners at Gamegenic have you covered! Look forward to these slick Luke and Vader art sleeves hitting store shelves alongside Star Wars: Unlimited when it launches globally in 2024.
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