Star Wars: Epic Duels
Back in 2002, Craig Von Ness and Rob Daviau created this super fun little board game to release with Attack of the Clones. It’s an interesting mix of a strategy board game and a trading card game; characters move along a board to get into attack position, but all of the attacks are handled by cards that are drawn from a deck that is unique to each character. My brothers and I got it for Christmas and we had fun with it, but it wasn’t until almost a decade later that I found out about the rich fan community Finding out that there were several people who loved the game as much as I did was really exciting, and I’ve had fun using a lot of the best designed decks on that game.
Roman Farraday and Geektopia as well as Mike Maloney were the deck creators that most pique my interest. Geektopia excelled at creating decks that were fun and simple to learn and play, perfect for what they call “beer and pretzel” sessions. Mike Maloney’s use of complex (sometimes overly complex) mechanics showed me just how far the game could be stretched and still be fun and challenging for adults. Studying their work helped me to eventually get into tweaking existing decks to my liking and eventually making decks of my own.
I first got into deck design with the release of The Force Awakens, and you can still see my original decks for characters from that movie on the website, where I post as DarthWolverine. But as much as I love Star Wars, my true love is comic books, and it’s a much more common interest among my group of friends. It became clear to me that if I was ever going to build up a community of players for myself, I’d need to adapt this Star Wars game into a comic book game.
Which ended up proving difficult for a few reasons. First, the decks were designed for a group of characters. Darth Vader had Stormtroopers, Darth Maul had Battle Droids, and Han Solo and Chewbacca were a team. I tried at first to work with the team dynamic; some characters like Batman and Robin were obvious, while it was simple enough to give Wonder Woman Amazon warriors or Aquaman some Atlantean soldiers. But what about Superman? Giving him Supergirl or Steel as a minor didn’t feel right, and ultimately the structure proved too limiting. So I eventually settled on the idea of single character decks, a massive departure from the original game.
Coming up with a solution that worked for that proved difficult; there’s been a few attempts by fans, like Obi-Wan John’s Epic Jedi Battles (and his Marvel and DC decks, which he definitely created before me). But ultimately I’ve never cared for Obi-Wan’s deck design, especially the 9 healing/utility cards that replace the minor attack cards from the original decks. Craig Von Ness’ Transformers Armada: Battle for Cybertron set was an unofficial sequel to Epic Duels and was closer to the format for what I wanted, but not quite uniform enough for my liking.
I eventually settled on the number of 16 Basic Combat Cards (cards with an attack value and a defend value and no additional effect) and 15 Unique Talent Cards for each character. This provided another challenge; how to balance the existing Major Character basic decks to accommodate the difference in cards. This including more than a few changes for balancing issues but I eventually hacked them out to where I want them to be.
So, with all of the background and due credit out of the way, I finally was able to get this passion project of mind off the ground and start designing decks. And it’s been a rewarding journey that I’m finally starting to enjoy the fruits of. I hope other people can have as much fun with the decks as I have, and enjoy the game as much as I do.