19 October 2018
A Solo game that deserves to be left alone
From its uninspiring name to the heavily photoshopped artwork featuring the Hollywood stars of its source material, the Han Solo Card Game is a game that oozes the word ‘tie-in’ from every one of its cardboard pores. But being based on a popular movie and being a good game aren’t necessarily independent of each other, especially nowadays, so: is it actually any good?
The Han Solo Card Game is very loosely inspired by the fictional gambling game of sabaac played in the Star Wars universe (this is far from a one-for-one recreation). In essence, it’s a variant of blackjack where the target is zero instead of 21 and cards can be positive or negative numbers – the main decision is whether to draw extra cards (and potentially discard one of those you hold) or stay.
That would be fine, if bland, by itself. To try and make it feel like more of an exciting taste of a galaxy far, far away, the Han Solo Card Game throws in a dice roll at the end of each of three rounds, with the dice featuring random vaguely alienish symbols. Because it’s Star Wars, obviously. Two matching results means everyone replaces their current hand with an equal number of freshly-drawn cards. At random. This even happens before the final reveal and scoring, essentially undermining any semblance of strategy. It’s luck on top of luck.
The winners claim tokens featuring a selection of Star Wars miscellanea: ships, stormtrooper helmets and the most valuable prize, the Millennium Falcon. These all have different values and are also drawn at random, meaning that a decent hand can mean very little if you happen to claim a naff top prize that round anyway. Oh, and if you do get the Falcon, someone can steal it off you with the right set of prizes. More luck.
On the positive side, it at least moves quickly and, if everyone knows what they’re in for, can distract for a few minutes. Don’t expect to easily take it with you, though: the box is ridiculously inflated (in every regard) for a small deck of extremely thin cards, two dice and some cardboard strips.
If you’re desperate for a prop for your Star Wars-themed game night (though the whopping logo on the back of the cards breaks the immersion somewhat) or have to own literally every piece of memorabilia going, the Han Solo Card Game might find a place in your home. For everyone else, buy a standard pack of cards (and two dice, if you really want to play this variant, though it’s not recommended) and spend the rest of the money on another trip to the cinema to remember how Star Wars should be experienced.
Designer: Hasbro team
Artist: Hasbro team
Time: 15-30 minutes
This review originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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