Champions of the Force: Exclusive Interview with Darla Freeze

Questions by Cody "Micajah" Bye
Questions by Cody "Micajah" Bye
Answers by Darla Freeze, Associate Producer at SOE-Denver

Following the success of their online trading card game (TCG) for Everquest and 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?

DF: The idea has been there for a little while, and Legends of Norrath has certainly led the way to making the Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game a reality, both with its success and its technology.

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

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

DF: Star Wars Galaxies TCG is an extension of Star Wars Galaxies, and the full version is available only through a Star Wars Galaxies 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 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?

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, the tournament schedule and prize support for Legends of Norrath is pretty outstanding. Are you looking to make a similar sort of move with Champions of the Force? Or will this be a purely “for fun” type venture?

DF: 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 competition.

Ten Ton Hammer: 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?

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.

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

Ten Ton Hammer: How are you going to handle starship combat in Champions of the Force? Will it be included? If so, where will it take place?

DF: Champions of the Force focuses primarily on the heroes and villains of the 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 not.

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

DF: While we're familiar with the other Star Wars 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 fans?

DF: 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 there! 

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Star Wars Galaxies Game Page.

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