|The last major expansion I collected, the fearsome Death|
Star II set, with the Rebel deck.
But one of the best combinations of 1990s and Star Wars that I remember from that era was the Star Wars Collectable Card Game. It was created by Decipher during the explosion of CCGs inspired by the success of Magic: The Gathering. Decipher already had success with their Star Trek CCG, and managed to score this space adventure franchise as well. They would continue well into the 2000's with a very fun Lord of the Rings CCG, but I'll save that for another blog.
The Star Wars Collectable Card Game (or just SWCCG to keep things short) had a fairly simple premise. Each player has 60 cards. One player plays the Rebels, the other players plays as the Galactic Empire. The goal is to drain your opponents deck of cards. First person who ends up without any cards in hand or in the reserve deck loses. This was ingenious, because you didn't need to keep score, your Lost Pile told you how well you were doing.
|A selection of Galactic Empire cards featuring images|
from all three films in the original trilogy.
The cards also had flavor text, and much of it pulled from the films and the expanded universe of the time including Timothy's Zahn's novels, the video games and other supporting material. These days most of that stuff is considered non-canon, but who cares. A lot of it was creative and they way they worked it into the game structure was a blast.
I collected and played the game for a few years, as they went from the Premier set all the way to the final final one from the ending of Return of the Jedi called Death Star II. There were a few supplemental expansions after that that I picked up. But I never got around to collecting the cards for The Phantom Menace. Decipher released another CCG in between featuring images from Episode One. It wasn't a very good game and as I became more and more disenchanted with the latest film I ignored the official CCG releases. I guess I wasn't the only one because SWCCG eventually stopped after a few expansions based on The Phantom Menace.
|A selection of Rebellion cards featuring images from all|
three films and one all new image.
One of the most memorable is when I had a whole group of Stormtroopers hunting down Princess Leia on Tatooine. My deck was based around superior firepower and overwhelming numbers of Stormtroopers. It was working pretty well too. One of my troopers had a nasty repeating rifle and I had plenty of ammo, so I figured Leia was toast. Well my wife was playing Rebels and had the card Weapon Levitation. Leia was Force sensitive, so she could use that ability. My wife gets a great number on her draw and my repeating blaster flies over to Leia, with the Power Droid attached! Leia turns around and guns down my entire squad with their own gun. She then high tails it to the Falcon and takes off into space with Lando. And believe me, in the SWCCG, once someone is aboard the Falcon, you never can get them. Besides I had to figure out how to rebuild my squadron, or risk losing Tatooine.
|This is the Reserve deck showing how much life you have|
left. The cards face up are the Lost Pile. Looks like
the Galactic Empire is losing this game!
I could go on and on about tactics and the way you could start a deck to look like you are playing one style but have a sneaky twist part way through (the Rebel decks were really good at doing that). Suffice to say it was a very fun, but complicated game. I remember talking to the gent who owned the hobby store I used to frequent and he kept asking me and my co-worker to come in and play in store so other people could see how much fun it was. But I think he was trying to get us to mentor new players too. We never did that. We usually played after work with a couple beers and 90s alternative rock blasting in the background. Fun times, fun times.
My wife eventually got into playing it, and much of the later expansions I played were against her. She made a very deadly Ewok deck that pretty much handed my ass to me, just like in the film. And the Jabba's Palace deck gave her a ton of great aliens to use in her decks. So I have a lot of fun memories from those days. I still have all my cards (eight binders worth of them!) And I'll pull them out once in a while and look through the images and read some of the text.
|Small sample of what the "game board"|
of the SWCCG could look like.
And playing a SWCCG game could take a couple hours too. It could go longer if you used a larger deck (as we sometimes did, 80 cards opened up a lot of opportunities for tactics). But it was a good time, even if the game would force you into some situations where you might start cursing your luck or the luck of your opponent. Some days you keep drawing jawas and gaffi sticks, but Vader won't show up. Meanwhile Luke, Obi-Wan and Chewbacca are running around Tatooine taking control of each site and draining you for six cards a turn. Maybe the Jawa/Tuskan Raider deck wasn't a good idea after all.
The explosion of Star Wars popularity combined with the explosion of CCGs is certainly a time capsule to the 1990s, and one that always makes me smile.