Epic Duels: What’s the Appeal?

“We designed this for 8-to-10 year-olds to last 3 months,” — Rob Daviau.

In case it didn’t come through the interview as I wrote it, Mr. Daviau was genuinely surprised to be talking about this game in 2018 with someone as old as myself.  He’s made many games, why did this one stick?

Instead of lasting 3 months, Star Wars epic Duels has lasted 15 years.  If you take time to see the rest of my blog, you’ll see that I pretty much play all the big titles, so it’s not like I don’t know what else is out there.  Though I spend more time playing other games these days, Epic Duels is still probably the one I play more than any other.  The people at the back of this photo are playing SWED, and this was taken in 2015 (courtesy of bgg):

Over the past 90 days, the Wiki has averaged 441 users per month and I imagine that most, like me, represent playing groups of many more.  About 30 people a day.

This site gets about 341 per month over that same time, about 13 per day.  Thank you!

Boardgamegeek also gets some discussion.  The game is still going.

So, what’s the appeal of Star Wars Epic Duels?

One theory I have is that when Epic Duels came out in 2002, the internet was just waking up, making the online collaboration new and special.  Boardgamegeek itself, the king of all board game sites, has only been around since 2001.

The early days of Epic Duels were the early days of using the internet to reach out fans who shared your interest, which made that interest only intensify.  Game customization is something I’ve personally done for as long as I’ve played games, but this was the first game in my lifetime I could collaborate with people across the country, who went so far as to create tools to make it easier to customize my favorite game.   The Wiki holds some chronicles of those early days of Epic Duels, if you’re interested.  So, Epic Duels was the first of its kind for me in some respects.  It sort of caught fire as a meld between the new internet and game customization, and the customization aspect if this game is as strong as any I’ve ever seen.

15 years later and we do still collaborate online, don’t we?  Decks like Luke Skywalker Grand Master and Supreme Leader Snoke, both from a 2017 release of a Star Wars film, don’t come together without collaboration at this site.  Customization and collaboration have helped keep the game alive for me.  What else has?

  1. Easy to learn.  I’m beginning to appreciate how important this really is.  You can teach SWED to someone in 5 minutes
  2. Strategic depth.  Yet, Star Wars Epic Duels takes a lifetime a master.  Ok, not a lifetime, but there is absolutely enough strategy to sink your teeth into.  It takes time to master, and there are still things I see in games that I haven’t seen before, even from decks I’ve played for 10 or more years.
  3. Short playing time.  We can play a game in 15 minutes.  A long one might take 30 minutes or more, but then it’s probably a good one.  This means in a given night, we can play several games, and also get several breaks if we need them.
  4. It’s Star Wars.  We might not be 8-year-olds, but we were when movies like Return of the Jedi reached the theaters.  Star Wars holds a special place in our hearts.  Star Wars Minis is also out of print, but similarly still enjoys a strong following at Aaron Shockley’s bloomilk.  Meanwhile, new games like Star Wars X-Wing Minis game and Star Wars Imperial Assault have unbelievably come and gone, and now Star Wars Legion has come out.
  5. New content.  It helps quite a bit that Disney purchased Star Wars and then kept adding to it in a way of high enough quality to generate interest, even in adults.  This in turn has led those adults who love Epic Duels to want to keep playing the game so they could see new characters in it.  I personally didn’t care much for the Star Wars Rebels cartoons, but I’m certainly interested in the new Disney films, and thought Rogue One was in fact one of the best Star Wars movies.

What keeps you interested in Epic Duels?  What’s the appeal for you?  Leave comments below.

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