“He will join us or die, my master.”
-Darth Vader, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Balance of the Force, the second deluxe expansion for Star Wars™: The Card Game is fast approaching! Balance of the Force introduces the first rules for playing two-versus-two games, but it also introduces challenge decks, which enable one player, playing a specially prepared deck, to take on two or three opponents.
In our last preview, we looked at the dark side challenge deck, Jerjerrod’s Task, which invites you to attempt to complete the second Death Star as the forces of the light side work to destroy it. Now, we’ll examine the light side challenge deck, The Hunt for Skywalker!
Evade Imperial Patrols
Luke retreats to Tatooine to hide from the Empire and complete his Jedi training after his climatic escape from Cloud City. Using the light side challenge deck, The Hunt for Skywalker, you can chronicle Luke’s efforts to evade the Imperial searchers. The dark side players must discover where Luke has hidden and destroy him in order to win the game. For you to win however, you must ensure that Luke’s trail goes cold and the Empire can no longer spare the resources to search for him. If you have completely depleted every dark side player’s deck, you win the game! The Balance of the Force also functions differently when playing The Hunt for Skywalker. When you have the Balance of the Force, the dark side players must discard the top card off of their decks at the beginning of your turn, but if the dark side has the Balance, they may damage one of your objectives that can currently be attacked.
At the beginning of every game, you will arrange your special, double-sided objective cards in a pyramid shape, placing the side labeled The Hunt for Skywalker face-up. The dark side players must attack your objectives, beginning at the top of the pyramid and working downwards, attempting to reveal the objectives in order to discover and eliminate Luke Skywalker before they run out of cards! When the dark side successfully damages one of your facedown objectives, you must turn it face-up, revealing a new objective, with special abilities that trigger when the card is revealed. If that objective is destroyed, the objectives behind it become open to attack. You must consider carefully where to set up your objectives and determine exactly where you hope the dark side will strike.
Even reaching your objectives will be a hard task though, because you begin the game with nine objectives in play, all of which can generate resources. When you begin the game with the ability to use nine resources every turn, you can easily set up monstrous defensive lines, keeping your objectives and Luke safe as you run the dark side players out of cards. Since your only path to victory is by destroying your opponent’s decks, your objectives and the cards in your deck can give you the tools you need to defend your objectives as you lead an assault that forces your opponents to discard their cards.
Establish a Lethal Defense
The objective card Mission at Kothlis (Balance of the Force, 472), for example, increases your reserve value based on the number of opponents you are facing, making sure you have enough cards in your hand each turn to keep the dark side at bay. With enough cards in hand, you can be nearly certain of winning an edge battle when you attack, giving you the opportunity to destroy enemy forces, and enhancing the potential of a card like Red Five (Balance of the Force, 480). If you have the edge, Red Five not only deals four to an enemy objective, he also discards cards from each player’s deck equal to damage dealt. When you have Mission at Kothlis face-up, it gives you the cards you need to ensure Red Five and other cards are performing at peak capacity.
If the dark side has the misfortune to encounter your objective card The Mines (Balance of the Force, 465), they suffer a double penalty. Not only must each of your enemies discard the top card of their deck, but no Vehicle units can be declared as attackers against The Mines. With the assistance of the Bothan Facilitator (Balance of the Force, 475), you can focus up to two enemy units when he attacks, shutting down enemy assaults by focusing their Character units, leaving The Mines and all the objectives behind it free from danger. In addition, the Bothan Facilitator lets you go through each opponent’s hand and common reserve and discard one card from each opponent. By specifically choosing which cards get discarded, you can defuse your opponents’ plans before they even begin, and as an added bonus, you'll have full knowledge of what tricks your opponents might have!
What if you desperately need a specific objective turned faceup, but the dark side player hasn’t revealed it yet? The light side has an answer for that as well. With the objective The Final Ship (Balance of the Force, 466), you can reveal another objective when The Final Ship is revealed, giving you the option to activate a much needed ability, such as that of Mission at Kothlis. Even if The Final Ship is not revealed, the light side still has an effective way to activate objectives with Leia Organa in disguise as the bounty hunter “Boushh” (Balance of the Force, 483). In addition to possessing a solid spread of combat icons, “Boushh” allows you to turn one of your objectives face up when she enters play, powering your defense even more, and helping you keep Luke hidden from the Empire.
Bring Balance to the Force
If the dark side does happen to uncover the objective Return to Tatooine (Balance of the Force, 468), the dark side players have a fight in store for them when Luke Skywalker (Balance of the Force, 485) comes into play. With wide spread of combat icons, Luke might be his own best defender, but the dark side players can also damage him by attacking the Return to Tatooine objective. Fortunately the light side has more units available to help defend Tatooine and Luke, such as the SpecForces Commando (Balance of the Force, 478). With up to four this unit is a vicious defender, but he also discards cards from opponents’ decks based on the damage he deals, bringing you a few steps closer to victory every time he defends.
Even though Luke is close to becoming a fully trained Jedi, it’s still best to keep him out of the dark side’s sight. By strategically arranging your objectives and defending them with various tricks and traps, you can help Luke evade the enemies searching for him and run the trail cold on the dark side. Unless the dark side is able to quickly shut down your resource production and break through your able defenders, they will find themselves out of cards and out of time!
Whether you’re leading the search for Luke Skywalker or helping him to escape the hunters, the experience of the challenge deck The Hunt for Skywalker is not to be missed. Keep checking back for our next preview, where we’ll look at two of the new objective sets from Balance of the Force, and prepare for a new era of galactic conflict. Preorder Balance of the Force at your local retailer today!...
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