Champions of the Force: Exclusive Interview with Darla Freeze

Questions by Cody "Micajah" Bye

by Cody "Micajah" Bye
style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">
by Darla Freeze, Associate Producer at SOE-Denver

Following the success of their online trading card game (TCG) for style="font-style: italic;">Everquest and style="font-style: italic;">EverQuest 2--called
Legends of Norrath--Sony
Online Entertainment (SOE) is out to bring the same fun to gamers who
love Star Wars Galaxies.
The new TCG bears the title Champions
of the Force
and is scheduled to appear at the 2008 SOE
Fan Faire. Ten Ton Hammer's resident TCG junkie, Cody "Micajah" Bye,
had a chance to ask SOE-Denver Associate Producer Darla Freeze about
the game.

Ten Ton Hammer: Why did
you (SOE) decide to pursue another online trading card game? Did you
have enough success with Legends
of Norrath
(LoN) that another card game was warranted?

style="font-weight: bold;">DF: The idea has
been there for a little while, and Legends
of Norrath
has certainly led the way to making the style="font-style: italic;">Star Wars Galaxies
Trading Card Game a reality, both with its success and its technology.

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You can bet at least
one card will feature a rancor.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will the style="font-style: italic;">Champions of the Force
cards be available to anyone that wants to play with them? Can non-SWG
players buy and download the cards?

style="font-weight: bold;">DF:  style="font-style: italic;">Star Wars Galaxies
TCG is an extension of Star
Wars Galaxies
, and the full version is available only
through a Star Wars
subscription. Players with an active or
previously active SWG subscription can purchase cards and play SWG TCG
from within Star Wars Galaxies, as well as through a stand-alone client.

Ten Ton Hammer: What kind
of gameplay differences will there be between style="font-style: italic;">Champions of the Force

and LoN? Will players be forced to play with purely Light Side or Dark
Side decks? Or will Darth Vader be matched with Luke Skywalker in a
duel against Obi-Wan and Yoda?

style="font-weight: bold;">DF: Just one of the
gameplay differences is how faction is handled. In LoN, your avatar
begins aligned neutral and over the course of a game can become light
or shadow to gain special gameplay. In SWG TCG your avatar is, from the
start, either light side or dark side.  Scenarios and Heroic
Encounters (raids) will be light side versus dark side only.

Ten Ton Hammer: Currently,
tournament schedule and prize support for style="font-style: italic;">Legends of Norrath

is pretty outstanding. Are you looking to make a similar sort of move
with Champions of the
? Or will this be a purely “for fun” type venture?

style="font-weight: bold;">DF:  style="font-style: italic;">Right now we are
working on SWG TCG's organized play and plan to launch the first events
soon after SWG TCG releases.  The scope of these hasn’t been
determined yet, but players will be able to compete for ratings and
earn booster pack rewards for playing in scheduled tournaments, as well
as in ongoing automated-queue events.  We also want to hold
some special events that focus more on having fun and learning than on

Ten Ton Hammer: style="font-style: italic;">When will players
be able to jump into Champions
of the Force
and start building their decks? Will we be
waiting for long before the card game kicks into full gear?

style="font-weight: bold;">DF: SWG TCG is set
to launch this summer. You'll be able to build decks right away,
challenge others in casual games, team up with friends against a tough
[artificial intelligence] opponent, and play through an original
story-based single-player campaign.

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"Luke., I...have a
bigger deck than you."

Ten Ton Hammer: style="font-style: italic;">How are you going
to handle starship combat in Champions
of the Force
? Will it be included? If so, where will it
take place?

style="font-weight: bold;">DF:  style="font-style: italic;">Champions of the Force
focuses primarily on the heroes and villains of the style="font-style: italic;">Star Wars Galaxies
universe, and starship combat won’t be part of this base set. 
That said, we are exploring the possibility of including it in future
releases, but I don’t know for sure if it will make it into the game or

Ten Ton Hammer: Are
there any previous card games that you’re drawing inspiration from for style="font-style: italic;">Champions of the Force
Decipher’s Star Wars CCG or some of Wizard’s products perhaps?

style="font-weight: bold;">DF:  style="font-style: italic;">While we're
familiar with the other Star
based card games (several of our designers are
Decipher veterans), SWG TCG really stands on its own. Not only is the
gameplay different, but story-wise SWG TCG is based in the SWG
timeline, and not solely on the movies. Also, while most of the
predecessors used still frames from the films, all of our card images
are new, original illustrations created specifically for each card.
With the Champions of
the Force
set alone we're adding almost 250 brand new
pieces of Star Wars
art.  Plus in a computer game there are things you can do that
you just can't in traditional card games. You can play single-player
games against an AI opponent. You can easily sort and search through
your collection of cards. You can even build and save as many decks as
you like using the same cards from your collection. And because it's
online, you can find an opponent anytime, day or night.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is
there anything else you’d like to tell Ten Ton Hammer readers and SWG

style="font-weight: bold;">DF:  style="font-style: italic;">Players attending
SOE Fan Faire next month will have the opportunity to demo SWG TCG
before it's released, will receive an exclusive SWG TCG loot card for
SWG, and will be eligible to participate in the Beta. I’ll be there,
speaking on a couple of SWG TCG panels, and hope to see you

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