Posted by: gschloesser | October 1, 1971

Clash of the Lightsabers

This is a hidden gem released from, of all folks, Hasbro.  It is fast and easy to learn, yet contains a surprising amount of strategy. 

This one would be very easy to overlook.  Based on the Star Wars: Episode 1 movie AND released by Hasbro, a company which doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation for releasing quality strategy games, I wouldn’t have given this one a second glance.  However, after hearing some positive buzz on the internet, coupled with the fact that the local Toys R Us store was blowing them out the door at ridiculously low prices, I decided to give the game a chance.

What a pleasant surprise!  The game is quite good, with some nice strategic decisions to be made along the way.  I’ve played it a dozen or more times and still continue to enjoy it.

Nick Danger has suggested the following modifications to help reduce some of the ‘luck of the draw’ problems and add even more strategies to the game.

A variation for your consideration.

I’ve been playing this game ever since its arrival on the scene and have been enjoying it as a quick little two player game.  However, one recurring theme keeps playing out and it has finally caused me to try and think of some way to vary the game play a little.

What I’m referring to is the one sided whooping that takes place whenever one player can play multiple ‘use the force’ cards in tandem with a ‘retreat’ card(s). Once that player loads up with a truckload of cards only the equivalent of a lottery win can turn the tide. Unfortunately this is happening more and more often as everyone plays trying to get that winning combo into their hands. No, it’s not a big problem as the game itself is such a quick little beer and pretzel type of game but that didn’t stop me from tinkering.

After trying a few different variations we’ve settled on one that really seems to have re-ignited the fun we used to have with the game. The change is simple, yet the outcome has a nice little affect on game strategy. Here’s are the changes:

*Beginning hand size changes from 7 to 8.

*Scorers start off the “board” and must travel beyond it. Effectively changing a winning score from 4 to 6.

*Introduce a starting round hand limit of 8. Such that before any round if you have less than 8 cards you may only draw to fill your hand to 8. If you have more than 8 you must discard down to 8.

These few changes seem to really emphasize your hand management skills.  Shear hand size cannot win the war for you anymore.  It may win a battle or two but no more.  Plus, you now have to think about what cards you might want to carry over and what ones you’d like to get out from your hand before replenishing time.

The extra card, plus the extra points required for a win just about guarantee you will be going through the deck so more problems of one player hitting the “sweet spot” in the deck and the other player not having enough time to counter.  Since you can count on getting to every card you can play and plan accordingly.

All our games played under these rules have been pretty tough and closely fought affairs. In fact the biggest margin of victory so far has been a 6-4 score.

If like me, you really like the game but it has started to become a bit stale for you try this variation.  It might just have you bringing it to the two player table a bit more often.

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