I didn’t have a chance to elaborate on this before because I spent a bit dissecting combat and life totals in Magic, but I did want to talk about combat in the Star Wars CCG by Decipher (the company that produced the game is important because there was more than one) because I think it’s fascinating. I’m a nerd for rules and game mechanics, what can I say? *shrug*

Combat mostly exists to facilitate the Force Drain mechanic. If you had your way, you would force your opponent to discard 4-6 cards per turn via Force Drain. Of course the problem comes in determining whether you control a location and can use Force Drain, and that’s where combat comes in. To “control” a location, you first must have a “presence” there, which requires a character with Ability 1 or more.

Ability is a catch-all for, like, “power level.” It could represent martial arts, keen piloting skills, or actual ability with the FORCE. Once you have a presence at a location, you must be the ONLY presence there, meaning your opponent doesn’t also have a presence. If they do, then neither of you can effectively Force Drain until one is eliminated. In the end, there can be only one.

You initiate combat by spending 1 Force. That’s typical for performing any action. You then add up the total Power of all your characters participating in the battle at that location. If your side has Ability totaling 4 or higher, they can tap into the FORCE to sway the odds in their favor, and you get to draw “Destiny” and add the value of the top card of your deck to your total power.

Ultimately, the side with the greatest power of the two, wins the battle, and the loser suffers attrition. To satisfy attrition, the loser of the battle must lose Force (see: the cards in your deck) and/or cards that participated in battle, equal to the difference in Power between the victor and loser. So, if you have a ton of stormtroopers, totaling 16 Power after drawing destiny, and your opponent has three rebels totaling 8 Power (after destiny), then he has to lose 8 cards. That’s more than 10% of his deck.

Cards tend to have a decent forfeit value, though, so it’s usually more effective to satisfy attrition by forfeiting cards that took part in combat. A single character might be worth 3-5 if forfeited. Of course, once you throw weapons into the mix, everything gets more difficult. When you equip a weapon to the character, they can “fire” on an opponent, which usually requires a separate destiny draw to determine. If “hit,” a character or vehicle must be forfeited, regardless of the battle’s outcome.

Big battles are frequently more devastating than the Force Drain they’re designed to facilitate. Sometimes, you just want to let your opponent whittle away at your deck than risk everything by pitting a lone X-wing against an Imperial Star Destroyer. Trust me, it doesn’t usually work out in your favor.

Still, fun!