by David Tietze
Determining a winner between two seemingly equal opponents has been a struggle in competition since the inception of competitive play. From penalty kicks to sudden death showdowns, a variety of tiebreakers are used and are as diverse as the types of competitions that exist. Tiebreaker rules are not always perfect, including in the Star Wars LCG during elimination rounds.
In the Star Wars LCG, at the conclusion of the allotted time of an elimination round game, the players continue to play through the end of the Light Side player’s turn, assuming the winning conditions are not reached first. If the winning conditions have not been met at the end of Light Side player’s turn, tiebreaker scoring is implemented, which has the following rules:
1. The Light Side Player scores four points for each objective in his victory pile.
2. The Light Side player scores an additional 0.1 point for each points of damage on any remaining Dark Side objective in play.
3. The Dark Side player scores 0 points if the Death Star dial is between zero and three, 4 points if the Death Star dial is between four and seven, or 8 points if the Death Star dial is between eight and 11.
4. The Dark Side player scores an additional 0.1 point for each point of damage on any remaining Light Side objective in play.
5. The player that has the Force at the conclusion of the Light Side player’s turn also receives 0.25 point.
Upon examination of these rules, it is clear that the goal was to give each player an equal number of turns and let the game state at the conclusion of time determine the winner. However, this has not been the experience of this author. On two separate occasions, the rules have failed to identify what I deemed to be the true winner, due to manipulation by the Light Side player. Two cases presented below exemplify this conclusion:
The Light Side player is playing a mono Jedi deck while the Dark Side player is playing a Sith/Scum control deck. The Dark Side player keeps the Light Side mains focused down the majority of the game, and uses events to keep the rest in check. When time is called, the Death Star dial is at 11. During the Light Side player’s final turn, they use a Force committed Luke from the objective set A Hero’s Trial to destroy an objective, and a Dagobah Nudj to attack another objective, unopposed, thus destroying the objective. Utilizing the reaction from May the Force be With You, after the Nudj was committed to the Force, the focus token was removed from the Nudj, allowing the Light Side player to take the Force, as well as the game, as the Dark Side had no ready units committed to the Force.
In this scenario, the Light Side player scored 8.25 points for destroying two objectives and having the Force on the final turn. The Dark Side player, despite potentially winning immediately on the next turn, only scored eight points for having the Death Star dial at 11 at the conclusion of the game. In this example we can see that because the Light Side takes the final turn of the game, they can be in situations where ‘stealing’ the Balance of the Force is incredibly easy, and yet also very point beneficial.
The Light Side player is playing a Jedi/Smuggler deck and the Dark Side player is playing a mono Scum deck. The Light Side player is only able to destroy one objective before capture and events of the Scum deck begin to shape the outcome of the game. Time is called for the round, and the Dark Side player declares an attack against the objective Trust Me, which has four damage on it. The Light Side player lets the damage through to destroy the objective, and the Death Star dial is moved from six to seven.
In this scenario, the Dark Side player did not receive any additional points for destroying an objective or moving the Death Star dial. In fact, they actually lost 0.4 points for destroying the objective. In this scenario we can see not only the advantage to the Light Side player for playing “safe” but also how the Dark Side player can actually be penalized for attempting interaction.
There is a clear trend in favor of the Light Side player in the two situations described above. In them, although the Dark Side player was in clear control when the game went to time, they ultimately lost due to the current rules. The current rules also encourage players to alter from interaction and progression.
Based on these examples, I recommend making modifications to the “going to time” rules. The easiest change is to eliminate having control of the Force add points to a player’s total. Due to the Light Side having the final turn, it is not equal for both the Light and Dark Sides to hold the Force as this can be readily done at the end of the Light Side player’s turn in the majority of circumstances. This can be prevented by the Dark Side player committing units with high force counts to the Force, of course, but forces (pun intended) the Dark Side player to not block with these units during the final turn (which in turn gives the Light Side player access to ‘free’ points).
An additional suggestion would be to let each game be played without a time limit. With this method there would be no disputing who the winner of the game is. This may result in tournaments that last for several hours after the conclusion of the Swiss pairings, but it may in fact be the fairest determination of a true tournament champion (and how the elimination rounds were originally designed).
It should be noted that although I have benefited from these rules, such as in Scenario I above, I still want change to occur. I can affirm that Light Side players have not been satisfied with winning under these conditions, but rather felt like they only manipulated the game state to their advantage.
I have attended four regional tournaments since the implementation of the new elimination round tiebreaker rules, two of which had a “time” scenario occur. Due to this, we can see that going to time in the top cut is not an uncommon occurrence. This suggests that multiple occurrences will continue until the rules are changed.