The Star Wars Customizable Card Game (SWCCG) is a collectible card game based on the original trilogy (including Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire) as well as The Phantom Menace. It was created and released by Decipher, Inc.; however, Decipher lost its license to publish official Star Wars products in 2001.
Star Wars CCG was first released in December 1995. Over the years, Decipher added eleven full expansions to the original card base, as well as numerous smaller expansions, special-purpose sets, and promotional releases. The last set, Theed Palace Limited, was released in the fall of 2001. The game spanned all of the original Star Wars trilogy (A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi) as well as Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace. During several years of the game's run, between 1995 and 1998, it was a top-selling CCG, second only to Magic: The Gathering, according to the InQuest magazines. Decipher lost its license to produce official Star Wars products in 2001; the CCG was replaced by Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars Trading Card Game.
Decipher released over twenty expansions and small boutique products. Expansions are the way in which new cards are released to add to the game.
- Premiere Limited
- Premiere Unlimited
- A New Hope Limited
- Hoth Limited
- Dagobah Limited
- First Anthology
- Cloud City Limited
- Jabba's Palace Limited
- Second Anthology
- A New Hope Revised Unlimited
- Hoth Revised Unlimited
- Special Edition Limited
- Endor Limited
- Dagobah Revised Unlimited
- Reflections: A Collector's Bounty
- Death Star II Limited
- Reflections II: Expanding the Galaxy
- Tatooine Limited
- Coruscant Limited
- Reflections III
- Theed Palace Limited
- Rebel Leader Pack
- Premiere Introductory Two-Player Game
- Jedi Pack
- Enhanced Premiere
- Official Tournament Sealed Deck
- The Empire Strikes Back Introductory Two-Player Game
- Enhanced Cloud City
- Enhanced Jabba's Palace
- Jabba's Palace Sealed Deck
- Third Anthology
Prior to Decipher's loss of license, a number of sets were officially announced but ultimately not released.
- Shadows of The Empire expansion (parts of which were integrated into Reflections II)
- Jedi Masters expansion (parts of which were integrated into Reflections III)
- Skywalkers expansion (parts of which were integrated into Tatooine)
- Scoundrels expansion
A fifth set, Reflections Gold, was in development at the time that Decipher lost its license and, despite protests by the company, the cards were not allowed to be released to the public, even in a digital-only format. Over the years, draft versions of many of these cards have appeared on the secondary market and they are considered extremely rare.
Compared to other trading card games (TCGs), SWCCG is complex and has a steep learning curve. It has more rules than other TCGs, with some of these rules being obscure and seldom-needed. Some of the basic concepts (such as the distinction between "battle damage" and "attrition" in battle) can be counterintuitive. On the other hand the basic mechanics are innovative and flexible, giving SWCCG a game depth that appeals to serious gamers.
One other feature distinguished SWCCG from many other TCGs: while Decipher oversaw the game, no card was ever banned from tournament play. Instead, when a card or strategy was deemed abusive or too powerful, Decipher chose to release "magic bullets," new cards which were specifically designed to counter the offending strategy. In some cases, Decipher also used errata, modifications to game text of a card that supersede the actual printed version. The use of errata also contributes to the steep learning curve, since players need to be aware of errata in order to use the affected cards properly. While other formats have been created, using a limited card pool, the original open format still has no card banned from play.
Each game requires one player to play the Light Side of the Force, while the other plays the Dark Side. The objective of the game is to deplete the other player's deck.
In friendly play, a player can specialize in one side or the other, but for tournaments, players need both Dark and Light decks. The action of the game occurs at various Location cards (both interstellar and planet-bound) from the Star Wars universe. Locations can be deployed as the game progresses; furthermore, most locations come in both Dark and Light Side flavors, and an on-the-table location can be "converted" (changed to the other side) at any time. Most locations affect game play in some way; all also provide "Force icons," which represent the amount of "Force" — the game's resource — that a player can activate per turn.
Each unit of the Force is simply a card from the top of a player's deck, placed off to one side in the Force Pile. When used to deploy something, each unit of Force is placed on another pile, the Used Pile, which then cycles back to the bottom of the deck. Unused Force remains in the Force Pile, and can be conserved for the next turn or drawn into hand. The objective of the game is to force the opponent to discard all of his or her Life Force (consisting of Reserve Deck, Force Pile and Used Pile). This is accomplished via Force Drains (forcing the opponent to discard cards by controlling, unopposed, a location with their Force Icons on it), battling opposing characters, and resolving certain climactic situations (for instance, freezing a character in carbonite, winning a pod race or dueling a Jedi).
The game system also features Destiny draws, which represents the elements of chance, uncertainty, luck and the Force. Each card has a destiny number, from 0 to 7, at the top right corner (except locations, which count as destiny 0), and rather than using dice for generating random numbers, players "draw destiny" from the top of their deck, revealing the top card and using its destiny number as the result. This is used for a variety of purposes, from determining weapon hits to mandatory losses your opponent incurred to resolving whether a character passes a Jedi Test. The drawn Destiny card goes to the Used Pile and is recycled into the deck. Through this system, a skillful player can legally count cards, remembering where the high-destiny cards are in the deck. Finally, the stronger (or rarer) cards generally had lower Destiny values, though there were exceptions.
Star Wars CCG had more basic card types than most CCGs; the game began with 8 card types, most of which contained several subtypes. Later expansions added new basic card types.
The original card types were:
Card types introduced later:
- Epic Event
- Jedi Test
- Admiral's Order
- Defensive Shield
Complete List of Card Types and subtypes
Decipher produced two other TCGs based on the Star Wars universe: Young Jedi, based on the prequel trilogy, and Jedi Knights. Neither of these games matched the popularity of SWCCG.[source?] Both were discontinued when Decipher lost the Star Wars license.
The original Star Wars Customizable Card Game had initially been continued by a Players Committee, through the release of new "virtual" sets. Any cards produced post-Decipher are neither official nor considered canon. As of 2013, the SWCCG still has an active playing community administered by the Players Committee.
Notes and references
- starwarsccg.org's archived copy of Decipher.com's full card list
- Star Wars Customizable Card Game on Wikipedia