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Shadowy Insights: Danny Schaefer

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As we count down the days to the release of Shadows of the Galaxy—the second set of Star Wars™: Unlimited—we wanted to share some insights from the designers. Today, we’ve got some Q&A with Danny Schaefer, lead designer of the game and one of the designers of this second set. Let’s see what he has to share!


Can you share some insights about how the game’s second set, Shadows of the Galaxy, came to be? For example, what led to the set’s theme being largely focused on smugglers, bounty hunters, and the Outer Rim?

We always planned for the first year of the game’s life to cover a broad range of themes. With Spark of Rebellion focusing so much on Rebels vs. Empire, we wanted to explore different directions in the following two sets and going to the fringes of the galaxy felt natural. Smugglers and bounty hunters are such a major part of Star Wars, from the earliest movies through to newer shows like The Mandalorian™, so we feel like this set will have something exciting for everyone.

How was designing Shadows of the Galaxy different from designing Spark of Rebellion? What unique challenges did the second set bring to the table?

The biggest challenge was the balance of bringing something new to the table without deviating too much from what makes Star Wars: Unlimited gameplay fun. The set has three new mechanics between Smuggle, Bounty, and capture. That’s a lot of new stuff to fit in! But the set does a great job of keeping the core gameplay identity while still feeling fresh and exciting.

What are you most looking forward to about Shadows of the Galaxy? What do you think will be most exciting for players?

For me the most exciting new thing in Shadows of the Galaxy is the Smuggle mechanic. This mechanic takes one of the most fundamental choices in Star Wars: Unlimited—which card do I resource—and turns it on its head. Early in the game, the mechanic makes my resource decisions easier since I can default to resourcing cards with Smuggle. Later in the game, my options expand as my resources with Smuggle act like additional cards in my hand. And Smuggle gives a major boost to one of my favorite Spark of Rebellion leaders, Han Solo, as I can now burn through cards in my hand with no fear of running out of things to play.

What’s your favorite card from Shadows of the Galaxy, and why?

My favorite Shadows of the Galaxy card is Rose Tico (Shadows of the Galaxy, 45). The flavor of turning Shields into Experience is a great fit for her as a mechanic, but what I really love is the way she plays. She comes down as a 4-drop and immediately presents a major threat: if she’s allowed to attack with a Shield on her next round, she can immediately make herself a 4/8. My opponent can easily disrupt this plan by simply attacking Rose to knock her Shield off and leave her as a 2/6, but doing so may require them taking initiative or making an attack that they’d otherwise prefer not to. Because of this, Rose almost acts as a pseudo-Sentinel. The other thing I love about Rose is that she makes me look at deckbuilding in a new way. Every unit with Shielded or card that gives a Shield takes on new life with Rose in your deck, from Asteroid Sanctuary to Crafty Smuggler to the Luke Skywalker leader.

After seeing the metagame for Spark of Rebellion develop over the past couple of months, what prominent cards from the first set do you think will be affected by the release of Shadows of the Galaxy? What underutilized cards do you think will get a boost from the new set?

Several Spark of Rebellion leaders get a boost from Shadows of the Galaxy cards and mechanics, including Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, as I mentioned already. Honestly, the biggest shift with Shadows is simply that it doubles the size of the card pool, giving far more options for decks that want more of a certain kind of card. My fastest decks can now play more 1- and 2-cost units; I can include more Heroic cards to go with Red Three and For A Cause I Believe In; if I’m leaning into the space arena I now have twice as many options. You may notice that these examples all point towards aggressive strategies, but rest assured that slower midrange decks get plenty of tools to blunt that aggression. Sundari Peacekeeper (Shadows of the Galaxy, 98), Moisture Farmer (Shadows of the Galaxy, 55), and Top Target (Shadows of the Galaxy, 71) are all great ways to ensure that you survive your opponent’s initial assault.

Are there any additional thoughts about Shadows of the Galaxy that you would like to share?

Only that I can’t wait for it to be in players’ hands! With so many new cards and mechanics, Shadows of the Galaxy creates a ton of new deckbuilding options and I’m so excited to see what cool ideas the community comes up with.

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