Star Wars : Epic Duels is a tabletop game for 2 to 6 players that was published by Hasbro in 2002, in coincidence with the release of Attack of the Clones. It is a miniatures and deck-based tactical game in which players control various characters from the two first Star Wars trilogies (minus Episode III, which would not come out before three more years) in duels that disregard continuity for the sake of Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny. Despite not being ever re-released, it was successful enough among its players that up to nowadays, fans have kept creating new decks for additional characters (or alternative decks for existing ones), new maps, and making up more and more bizarre confrontations.
The goal for each team is to eliminate every "Major character" on the other side by depleting their Hit Points count. Every main character comes with a unique deck of cards and one or two "minor characters" who have their separate HP track. A minor may be destroyed with limited consequences, and a player may keep acting as long as they have at least one character alive and their side still has at least one major.
Characters get a turn alternating between teams (not necessarily heroes against villains), to prevent Zerg Rush. A turn goes as follows : The player rolls a die which indicates how many of their miniatures (one or all) may move this turn, and up to how many spaces ; moves accordingly on the game board (orthogonally, but not diagonally) ; then gets two actions note .Cards may be used for attacking, defending, or special effects. When a character attacks another with a card, the attack value is at first kept secret : only the attacker and the target are known. The defending player may then select one of their cards for defense and reveal it (or chose not to defend), and the attack card is revealed : if the value is greater than the opponent's defense, the difference is dealt in damage to the defender. Then, any side-effect the cards may have are applied, and the action is over.
The game draws its strength from its asymmetric yet balanced gameplay : every character has a unique gameplay and set of abilities, yet there is supposedly no completely overpowered characternote . As such, every game can feel different as players will have to adapt their character's playstyle to the situation ; and given the amount of alternative decks, there is virtually no limit to the possible combinations, balance problems notwithstanding.
The base game includes six main characters for each side, 31 plastic miniatures, and four different maps from 3 different movies. Tropes concerning specific characters are best kept to the characters page.More complete information can be found on the wiki, as well as on Geektopia Games. These two sites appear to be the main nexuses about the game that are still active today, along side a discord server.
Star Wars: Epic Duels contains examples of:
- Absentee Character: Qui-Gon Jinn isn't in the game, likely because there weren't enough villains to balance each side. Would the game have been released after 2005, General Grievous (for instance) would have been perfect for that purpose. Fans took care of that anyway.
- Arbitrary Maximum Range: Averted, replaced by Denial of Diagonal Attack.
- Arbitrary Minimum Range: Averted as well. Blasters work fine at point-blank range, it's just not a very good option because shooter-types typically have poor defense and lower HP counts than melee fighters.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: Is a tactic that can work, especially if you've cornered you opponent, not letting them any opportunity to get away to recover, and forcing them to use any cards they draw to defend, guaranteeing relative safety on your side. Doesn't work if your opponent's got as many or more cards in hand than you do.
- Cannon Fodder: Sidekicks who aren't very powerful can easily serve as this, though not for long since they are rarely numerous.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: Downplayed. Sidekicks that come in pairs tend to be weak and without special abilities. They are easily limited to occupying the board and taking damage for the heroes while solo sidekicks have more hitpoints, better attack and defense abilities, and can be a serious loss if destroyed.
- Covers Always Lie : A weird example. The game box advertises duels that never took place in the films, but it is exactly the point of the game to do so. However, it also advertises "Relive classic duels", which is ironically harder, because most duels were precisely duels, between only two characters. As such, all sidekicks are out of place for these, and unless you tweak the rules, it is never possible to recreate any actual fight from the films.
- There is a Fan-made variant that uses single-character decks only, but this is another story.
- Close-Range Combatant: Most Major characters are Jedi or Sith who mostly fight at melee range.
- Competitive Balance: There are four archetypal "deck colours" that codify which basic combat cards each character uses, and globally define their fighting styles. Talent cards differ for each character and help make them unique.
- The "Blue deck" is the balanced melee deck. Solid and versatile, it compensates a lack of specialization thanks to talent cards. Poster boy for this would be Obi-Wan.
- The "Green deck" is the defensive and conservative melee deck that focuses on staying alive and wearing the opponent down. Typical example would be Yoda.
- The "Red deck" is the offensive and aggressive melee deck that focuses on lots of good attack cards, and then some more attack. Best exemplified by Darth Maul.
- The "Yellow deck" is weaker everywhere than the other decks, and is normally reserved for blaster-toting characters to compensate for their ranged attacks' advantage.
- Finally, there are two typical fan-made decks for weaker melee fighters, and powerful shooters, respectively called Brown and Orange.
- Critical Existence Failure: All characters can fight at full strength even on the brink of death. Sidekicks who didn't suffer a scratch immediately lose if the main characters are dead (although it might be a surrender).
- Denial of Diagonal Attack: type 2. All characters can attack orthogonally and diagonally, but only that. You may snipe a character between obstacles that shield them on two sides, but not one who's three spaces away in your blind spot.
- Elite Mook : The Super Battledroids and the Royal Guards.
- Enemy Mine : It is possible without even tweaking the rules, to make heroes and villains team up. The players simply need to agree beforehand on who can fight with whom.
- Evil Versus Evil: Allowed and advertised.
- Faction Calculus: In the original game, heroes tend to be better at defence, while villains are the only ones who can deal unblockable damage from anywhere on the board, often without needing a line of sight.
- Geo Effects: the Kamino Platform map gives a boost to one of Jango Fett's attacks.
- Good Versus Good: Same thing as Evil Versus Evil.
- Guns Are Worthless: Downplayed and justified by the setting. Ranged characters typically have weaker decks than melee-based ones, but this is made to reflect the difference between a powerful, force-sensitive lightsaber-wielding Jedi or Sith and a normie with a blaster. There are fan-made basic decks that allow for more powerful shooters.
- Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: This used to be the case in the base game : All females used ranged attacks, and all melee-based characters were males. However, the trope is downplayed considering there were also a lot of shooty males, and that ranged characters can still perfectly shoot at point-blank range. Fan decks avert the trope completely.
- Heal Thyself: A few characters have healing abilities, and all of them can discard fallen characters' cards to slowly regenerate health.
- Hit-and-Run Tactics: Is a valid tactic for any character who has access to attack cards that allow for an immediate move after damage is resolved. Other characters may have trouble pulling this off, since standard move happens at the beginning of the turn and is optional.
- Joke Character: Greedo. Sidekicks that don't come by pairs usually have 10 HP, but Greedo does with a meagre 7 ; and he's only got three special cards : two of them grant him a free move, the third one is a decent attack card... That terminates him if it fails to kill his target !
- Long-Range Fighter : Downplayed. Characters who can shoot usually have less HP and are best kept at a range, but nothing stops them from shooting point-blank. As such, they are better from afar, but not useless up close.
- Mooks: Stormtroopers and Battle Droids.
- Short-Range Guy, Long-Range Guy: The standard configuration for most Major characters, who fight at short range with lightsabers, and their accompanying minor characters who can shoot. There are a few long-range only duos, however.
- Take Cover!: Several maps feature cover that negates most attacks.
- Turn-Based Combat: Justified for a tabletop game with no activation order mechanics. One may defend any time they are assaulted, but only move and attack at their turn.
- Red Shirts : Clone Troopers in the original edition.
- Sidekicks : All characters have at least one, who provides tactical advantage of varying importance.
- Signature Move : Every character has one or two unique moves. Some are functionally similar, but never truly identical.
- Trade Snark : Inverted. There are Trademark symbols everywhere on the board, HP plates and cards (next to proper names, such as Skywalker, Wookie, Jedi or even Geonosis), but it is completely serious and more a case of Disney Owns This Trope. Which can make it even [Hilarious in Hindsight funnier in hindsight].
- Unfortunate Implications: All the female characters are (relatively) expendable minor characters, who support a male Major. Granted, they didn't get that much of a role in the films either... And fans took care of producing new decks that put females in Major roles, such as Episode I Padme, or Ahsoka, Mara Jade and Rey.
- Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny : The premise of the game, taken up to eleven by the fan content, which regularly adds characters who aren't even from the franchise.
- Villain Team-Up: A base premise. Not even regarding continuity, there is little chance that two Sith apprentices (for instance) would co-operate, yet the game allows and even encourages it.
- We Have Reserves : Usually averted, as you've got only two sidekicks at most per Major character. However, the heroes for once can pull off a small instance of the trope if they team up Mace Windu, Yoda and Obi-Wan for a total of... 6 Clone Troopers.