Star Wars: Unlimited’s new two-player starter set tells a great, modern Star Wars story

The contents of the Star Wars: Unlimited - Shadows of the Galaxy Two-Player Starter set laid out in a render. They include two deck boxes full of cards, some tokens for damage, and a guide book.
Image: Fantasy Flight Games/Asmodee

A handful of new mechanics recreate the tension of The Mandalorian’s first season on Disney Plus

The second set of cards for Star Wars: Unlimited, the new collectible card game from Asmodee’s Fantasy Flight Games studio, is all-in the iconic franchise’s modern expressions. Titled Shadows of the Galaxy, it’s a full-sized release with over 250 cards featuring everyone from Cad Bane to Dr. Aphra. But the set’s two-player starter set tells a much more intimate story. In motion it’s a clever retelling of the first season of The Mandalorian, and it serves up some big changes for the popular new TCG’s expanding metagame.

A selection of cards from the two-player starter set of Star Wars: Unlimited’s Shadows of the Galaxy set, including Din Djarin and Moff Gideon.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

On one side of the table sits Din Djarin, the eponymous Mandalorian backed by a tight group of allies, like The Armorer, Greef Karga, and Kuiil. On the other side is Moff Gideon, commander of a well-resourced group of Imperial Remnants, represented by starships, stormtroopers, and the dreaded Phase-III Dark Troopers. With all those different elements in play, it’s no wonder that the action is fairly asymmetrical. But what’s interesting is in how that asymmetry plays out.

Players piloting Mando’s deck will be doing a lot of capturing, a new mechanic that has players reaching all the way across the table, plucking an active unit out of their opponent’s spread, and placing them face down beneath their own guarding unit. The captured card is out of play, but not “defeated” in game terms. That places it in a kind of limbo that can only be ended by removing the guarding unit from the table. It’s an effective way to lock down high-value cards that your opponent has brought to bear, often regardless of their numerical strength.

Players working with Gideon’s deck have completely different objectives. They’ll be smuggling (another new mechanic), which allows them to play certain cards from their resource pile. In a game like Magic: The Gathering, that would mean casting one of your mana cards as if it were a creature or a spell. It’s a clever way to hide your true intentions, effectively burying cards in your resource pool with the intent to bring them back when it’s most advantageous for you. The other big mechanic here, although it isn’t new, is called overwhelm, and it allows additional damage to blow past its intended target to deal excess damage to your opponent’s base. Field a token force to protect your base, smuggle in enough units to field a superior force, and then overwhelm Mando and his friends to win the day.

The two-player starter set has lots of decent extras for the $34.99 price tag, including two deck boxes, damage tokens, and a pair of paper playmats with thematic posters on the backside. Fans and newcomers alike should have lots to work with, and I’m excited to see how these new decks stand up against the Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader from the original starter set released earlier this year.

Star Wars: Unlimited – Shadows of the Empire Two-Player Starter was reviewed using a retail copy provided by Fantasy Flight Games. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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