A Beginner’s Guide To Star Wars Destiny & Collectible Card Games
Hello, my name is Jason and I’ve never played a collectible card game in my life.
The world of cards and dice has always lived right on the line between my interests and actual hobbies. It’s a world I’ve always been fascinated with but it’s also an intimidating world. When you think about collectible card games, the most obvious one is Magic: The Gathering. About a year ago, I decided to teach myself how to play using Magic 2015 for iPad as my guide. The first thing I realized is the game is actually fairly straightforward once you grasp the core concepts. As an outsider, the idea of tapping cards and learning all the instructions and stats on each card seemed impossible.
Slowly, I learned the deeper strategies and began building my own decks. (In digital form of course) Deck building on its own is probably more intimidating than learning the game itself. You can’t just throw 60 cards together and expect to compete. Every single card must be carefully chosen and balanced with the other 59 cards you choose. There’s a lot to consider. Magic cards are color coded based on a particular style of play. They are further broken down into different types of spells that adds an extra layer of strategy to the game. Lands, creatures… You get the idea. Magic may be intimidating but it’s easy to see how players can immerse themselves in a game with so much depth.
I’m heavily influenced by the video game world. Learning Magic reminded me of a deep RPG like Skyrim. Bethesda’s 5th entry in their Elder Scrolls series is full of systems and mechanics to master. The game boasts in depth skill trees, perks, weapons, enchanting, crafting, alchemy and more. All of these systems combined make the game one of the deepest ever. However, you can play through the entire game using a little magic and a good sword. It all depends on how deep you’re prepared to dive.
Magic: The Gathering is very similar to me. I could pull out my sword and have a great time with a starter deck. Or I could start purchasing cards and slowly immerse myself in that world. Crafting my own decks along the way. In the end, I chose to pass on Magic as a hobby. It’s not because the game is hard or the strategy is too difficult to grasp. It’s the decades of history the game has built since its launch in 1993. Year after year, new expansion sets are released and I couldn’t fathom jumping in so late. The games are fascinating and fun but I’m more interested in the collecting aspect rather than building strong decks.
So my card collecting hobby was put on hold.
A few months ago, a friend of mine told me about Star Wars Destiny. It’s a brand new game released late in 2016 by Fantasy Flight Games. The brief overview of the game is simple. You control characters from the Star Wars universe and take turns adding upgrades and support cards to destroy your opponent’s characters. Characters and powerful cards come with a single die you add to a pool.
Cards and dice. Check. Star Wars Universe. Check. A new game I could jump into? Check.
It didn’t take long for me to seek out local stores and online retailers to begin a collection of my own. In truth, I’ve wanted to collect ‘something’ again for years. I was hooked. I was immediately reminded of my modest baseball card collection from way back in 1991. The simple satisfaction of ripping open a new pack of cards came rushing back. Even as an adult, there’s an amazing sense of joy when you open up a pack of collectible cards and spot something rare. (Or in this case, Legendary)
It only took a few packs for me to fully commit. I went out and bought my first booster box as soon as I could. The idea of the booster box is well known to fans of the genre. As a beginner, I had no idea just how much people enjoy buying entire boxes of unopened cards. A Star Wars Destiny Booster Box contains 36 individual packages of cards. Each pack contains 5 cards: A rare or legendary card with accompanying die, an uncommon card and three common cards. Every booster box is guaranteed 6 packages containing a legendary card.
It’s easy to see why it’s worth it to buy a booster box if you have the means. Buying packs from the store or online gives you a ‘chance’ to find the rarest cards in the game. Buying a booster box guarantees you’ll find 6 of them.
My research into the world of collectible card games revealed an entire sub-genre of YouTube I didn’t know existed. Booster Box-Unboxings. If you love a game, watching these videos is actually exciting. Here’s a video of a Magic player who finds the most valuable card in the game: The Black Lotus. A card currently worth between $5000-10,000!!!
With my booster box and a couple of extra packs here and there, I built up a respectable collection of Star Wars Destiny cards pretty quickly. It was time to take it to the next level. With my friend as a guide, I discovered various Facebook pages where collectors could trade and discuss the game. I made deals for my valuable doubles and filled out my collection even further.
I’m now a few cards short of a complete set of the game’s second series of cards. The idea of collecting Magic cards was overwhelming because I couldn’t imagine catching up on 20+ years of expansions. As of the summer of 2017, Star Wars Destiny has released two sets of cards. Awakenings and Spirit of Rebellion.
Since its release, the game became so popular, so quickly, the idea of buying cards on eBay was simply too pricey. The company behind the game have committed to a reprint of that first series (Awakenings) this summer. As a new collector, I’m thrilled to have a second chance to build up another full set.
I love Star Wars. That was an easy sell but the point of entry is what truly convinced me to give this collectible card game a shot. It’s early enough that I feel like I’m in on the ground floor. Part of me wants to resist opening a Booster Box so I can store it for 20 years and see what happens. Maybe there will be a $5000 dollar card hidden within when the time comes.
All of these concepts are new to me but it’s an exciting world once you find a game you can dive into. I now have drawers full of card boxes, bags of dice and hard cases for my most prized cards. Every card I unwrap is carefully placed in a protective plastic casing and ordered by number and series. I use a website called The Star Wars Destiny Database which helps me keep track of my entire collection digitally. I’ve also discovered fantastic websites like The Chance Cube. A website home to a handy Price Watch page that gives you a good idea of what each card is worth. They also produce The Chance Cube Podcast, a blog, videos on YouTube and more… The podcast alone taught me a ton about the game, how it’s played, popular decks people are building and more. It’s a community. A community I feel a part of now that I’m so involved in collecting.
But what about competition? I’ll be honest, I’m still intimidated. There are local tournaments held all the time but I just can’t seem to work up the nerve to gather some cards and get my ass kicked for a few hours. In all honesty, I wish there was a video game version. My friend showed me how to boot up a virtual version of the game in Tabletop Simulator (available on Steam) but I think I need a full game dedicated to Destiny. The Star Wars Destiny official app?
Someday, I’ll find some time to play the game but, for now, I’m having too much fun collecting cards and completing my collection. It’s honestly exhilarating to collect something again. The artwork on these cards is amazing and I’m learning more and more about their worth, how they are used and if I’d include them in my decks.
The wild card (pun intended) here is time. Many big collectible games have come and gone. There are several previously established Star Wars card games out there already. My initial investment depends entirely on the longevity of the series and whether or not my collection’s value rises over time. Watching prices rise and fall has become a weekly tradition thanks to the aforementioned Price Watch page on The Chance Cube. Will my Force Speed continue to raise the bar and reach the $100 price tag by the end of the year? I was in a store the other day that sells singles. A Force Speed card is worth $80(!) dollars (CDN) in store and they were sold out!
All of these elements make me extremely excited to continue collecting. The steadily rising value of cards suggests this game will hang around for a while. I hope it does. This is only the beginning after all. The game will steadily evolve over time. I may be a little late to the party but I’ve still got a front row seat to the evolution of my first collectible card game.
So to aspiring collectors I say jump in! If you love Star Wars and you’ve always wanted a collectible card game to call your own, there’s never been a better time. Star Wars Destiny is pretty amazing. To established veterans of the collectible trading card world I must apologize. I had no idea what I’ve been missing and this is a community I’m proud to be a part of.