In 2001, gaming company Decipher Inc. got dealt a hand that should have been a fatal blow to their popular Star Wars: Customizable Card Game - they lost the Star Wars license.
Unable to come to terms on a new deal with Lucasfilm, Decipher watched as the Star Wars license passed to Wizards of the Coast. After six years and 12 expansions, they were dead in the water, stuck with cards in pre-production that would never see the light of day. That should have been the end of this story, but it's not.
(Three of the original Star Wars CCG cards)
Decipher could no longer legally print and sell Star Wars cards, but they weren't about to abandon the community they'd spent six years building. Rather than pack up shop up and go home, Decipher created a volunteer group called the Star Wars Customizable Card Game Players Committee (PC for short), and handed off all operation and oversight of the game to them.
Free to run the game as they saw fit, the Players Committee starting creating new 'official' expansion packs that players could download for free, print, and use in official SW: CCG tournaments. Some packs covered material from the prequels, others dug deep into the Expanded Universe. The game continued to grow and expand, and 13 years and nine new sets later, it's still here.
(Two of the newest cards created by the PC. You can download them here.)
The Players Committee now holds multiple official tournaments every month, and their World Championships are taking place this weekend in Toronto. Outside of those high-level offerings, the official PC website also has a forum for players to coordinate smaller tournaments, and they released a virtual Holotable for players to play online.
It might have been struck down, but the SW: CCG has become more powerful than we could possibly imagine, and that's why I'm writing about it today. One common complaint I see from tabletop players in Magic or to a lesser extent Hearthstone is that it's hard to compete at a high level without investing some serious cash in a deck. That used to be the case with the SW:CCG - I can't imagine how many hundreds of dollars I sunk into my card collection - but that barrier to entry is gone. Every card is free to download and use, and with a new Star Wars trilogy set to release next year, I can't think of a better time for a new player to jump in.
(How a game of the Star Wars: CCG can look. Thanks to the SW CCG PC Facebook page for the picture)
The Star Wars: CCG is far and away my favorite card game that I've ever played. Unlike other 1v1 card games, battles take place on specific location cards that also supply passive status effects. This opens up a wide range of strategy like choosing whether to attack on multiple fronts or staging a full-scale frontal assault. Games also move at a more methodical pace. You're not going to lose in three turns because your opponent happens to draw the right overpowered card combination into his hand.
If you're bored with the current card landscape, or if you need something to scratch your Star Wars itch before December 18, 2015, this is the game you should be playing.