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Star Wars Epic Duels Review

Jeremy hopes the Force is with him as he pursues a forensics career in the swamps of Louisiana.

Epic Duels Box Art

Epic Duels Box Art

What Is Epic Duels?

Despite the mixed reception to the Star Wars prequels, they undeniably generated millions of dollars, often collected through toys and games. Of the dozens of options available, I've always enjoyed the board/card game blend of Star Wars Epic Duels.

Created in 2002, this relic was out of print by 2004. Though short-lived, it offered an enjoyable strategy game complex enough to appeal to hardcore fans and simple enough to be rapidly learned. Today, we'll review how to play, examine some of the decks, and explore the future of Epic Duels!

Yoda and Clone Troopers Health Card

Yoda and Clone Troopers Health Card

How To Play

Players: 2-6
Epic Duels comes with several boards depicting various Star Wars locations. From constantly storming Kamino to the ominous carbonite chamber in Cloud City, these sets will host your battles. Epic Duels includes several character decks with a variety of cards that players use to defeat their opponents, as well as miniature figures that move across the board as you battle.

Characters: Each deck includes a "major" character and either one or two "minor" characters. They also have their own sheet and counters to keep track of each combatant's health. Your objective is to vanquish the opposing major character. Eliminating minor characters will make the task easier, but you only win once the major foe falls.

Below is a quick list of the available combinations.

Characters Available

Major MinorAlignment

Anakin Skywalker

Padme Amidala

Light Side

Han Solo

Chewbacca

Light Side

Luke Skywalker

Princess Leia

Light Side

Mace Windu

Clone Trooper (x2)

Light Side

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Clone Trooper (x2)

Light Side

Yoda

Clone Trooper (x2

Light Side

Count Dooku

Super Battle Droid (x2)

Dark Side

Darth Maul

Battle Droid (x2)

Dark Side

Darth Vader

Stormtrooper (x2)

Dark Side

Emperor Palpatine

Royal Guard (x2)

Dark Side

Boba Fett

Greedo

Dark Side

Jango Fett

Zam Wesell

Dark Side

Two boards, Kamino and Cloud City

Two boards, Kamino and Cloud City

Game Set-Up: In two player games, one player chooses a Light team and the other selects a Dark. Pick a board you'd like to battle on, then each player places their main character in the designated spot on the board.

Next, roll a die, and the player with the higher value puts their minor character(s) anywhere adjacent to their main character, then their opponent does the same. Shuffle each player's deck, and draw four cards. The player who rolled higher goes first.

Gameboard with miniatures and sample cards

Gameboard with miniatures and sample cards

Turn Progression: First, roll a die and move a single character a number of spaces up to the number you rolled. The die in Epic Duels sometimes lands on an "all" number; this lets you move all your characters up to the rolled value. You do not have to move if you don't want to.

Actions: Now, you have tqo actions to spend on your turn. You can mix and match your actions or double up on either drawing a card, playing a card, or healing. Drawing a card is simple enough, just remember your maximum hand size is ten. If your minor character has perished, you can spend an action to discard one of their cards to heal your major character one damage.

Attacking: The real fun comes with playing cards. If you can attack (see range below) you may spend an action to do so, or play one of your "special" cards (see card types). When attacking, you declare which character you're using to attack as well as the target, then set your attack cards face-down. Before you reveal your attack, your opponent has the option to defend by playing a Defense card. Reveal both cards, and the defender takes damage equal to the difference between the two. An attack of five defended by a Defense of three results in two damage, for example.

Range: Characters with lightsabers must be next to an opponent to attack them, while characters with blasters only need to be facing them in a straight line, no matter the number of squares between. A character's health card has a small blaster icon if they can attack from range.

Yoda's Power Combat and Special cards

Yoda's Power Combat and Special cards

Card Types

Combat cards list both an attack and a defense score; you can use these to either attack or defend using the appropriate value.

Power Combat cards have only a single attack or defense score, but contain a variety of additional effects, from moving extra spaces to looking at your opponent's hand. If used to attack, your opponent can defend as normal.

Special cards invite mayhem with a plethora of unique effects. These can't be defended against.

For further clarification on any rules, you can review a pdf file of the instructions here.

Here's a concise summary of the strategies for each deck plus an overall score to help you determine which ones you'd like to experiment with!

CharacterStrategyRating

Anakin Skywalker

Risky deck that easily defeats minor characters with "Wrath" Special.

7/10

Han Solo

Ranged, weak major but superb minor character.

9/10

Luke Skywalker

Balanced deck, Luke becomes deadly once Leia perishes.

8/10

Mace Windu

Windu gains power as you accumulate cards.

7/10

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Focuses on movement and extra draws.

8/10

Yoda

Incredible defense and potent specials.

9/10

Count Dooku

Well-balanced, focus on drawing cards. Strong minors.

9/10

Darth Maul

Offense-oriented, focuses on bonus attacks. Weak minors.

7/10

Darth Vader

Hit Points galore and unavoidable damage through Specials.

10/10

Emperor Palpatine

Low Health but strong minors and forced opposing discards.

9/10

Boba Fett

Risky and ranged deck with high offense but low defense.

6/10

Jango Fett

Ranged, focus on movement.

6/10

The Epic Duels Official Characters

The Epic Duels Official Characters

Legacy

Epic Duel released after Attack of the Clones but before Revenge of the Sith, so many characters are based on their Episode 2 incarnations. Disappointed by the absence of your favorite characters? Fear not! Despite the relative obscurity and short life of Epic Duels, it retains some devoted fans to this day.

You can even go here to see hundreds of fan-made decks that encompass characters from the new movies, like Kylo Ren, Expanded Universe champions, like Mara Jade, and new pairings of classic fighters, like Old Ben Kenobi with young Luke. Thanks to devoted fans and the internet, this classic game enjoys play even today, and I hope you give it a chance to see if it enthralls you!

Questions & Answers

Question: How much does Star Wars Epic Duels cost?

Answer: Like any popular out-of-print board game, obtaining a new copy won't be cheap. I found gently used copies on Amazon for $150, and around $240 for an entirely new one. If you're lucky enough to own an unopened copy, there's some profit to be made!

© 2016 Jeremy Gill