Game Review:  Sabacc:  Corellian Strike

Sabacc is a game from Star Wars lore.  The version reviewed here is sold only at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge themed areas of Disney parks.  It is known as Corellian Strike and is famous for being the card game in which Han Solo won the Millenium Falcon from Lando Calrissian.  This is a description of how to play and a review of the game along with how our games turned out. 

Game Review: Sabacc: Corellian Strike!

What is Sabacc?

Sabacc is similar to poker.  It is a game that is best played with betting.  There are 62 cards including 3 suits (square, triangle, circle), two colors (red and green), and two null cards.  Each suit has cards from 1 to 10.  Numbers 1 to 6 are easily identifiable with the appropriate number of each suit on the card.  Numbers 7 to 10 are more difficult, since they each have a particular shape that you have to memorize.

The only other part of the game is the dice.  The dice are identical and each has 6 different icons.

How do you play Sabacc?

Sabacc games each consist of 3 rounds.  Everyone is dealt two cards to begin.  When it is your turn, you have the following choices for actions:

Sabacc turn options:

  1. Draw a card from the draw pile.
  2. Swap a card from your hand with the face up card in the discard pile.
  3. Discard a card from your hand and draw a card from the draw pile.
  4. Junk your hand (which means to fold).
  5. Stand (take no actions, pass, keep your cards).

The overall goal is to get to a sum of zero in your hand.  Green cards have positive values, and red cards have negative values.  The two nulls do not add value, although they improve your hand.  The winner of a game is the person closest to zero.  If there is a tie that is not zero, then positive numbers win over their negative counterparts.  If there is still a tie, then the better hand wins.

Hands are evaluated by how they got to zero (or the lowest number).  The more cards in your hand that total zero, the better.  Two null cards make up the best hand in the game and are an automatic win (called Pure Sabacc).  There are lots of lore-appropriate names for the hierarchy of hands, such as Bantha’s Wild.  In general, the order of poker hands is close to the order of Sabacc hands.

For example, if two people get to zero; one has a green 3 and a red 3, and the other has a green 7 and a red 7, the hand with the higher numbers wins.  If both have the same numbers but one has a null card, that person wins, since they had more cards.  

A hand that got to zero with three red 3s and a green 9 would have the poker equivalent of three-of-a-kind embedded in that zero-value hand.  That means it would beat a hand that had a red 10 and a green 10 and a null card.

Sabacc hand rankings are more complicated than poker, but the known poker hands generally are in the same order as Sabacc.  The game comes with a reference chart that seems confusing at first but helps. 

The last bit of the game that adds randomness and frustration and sometimes yelling, is about the dice.  After each of the three rounds, the dealer rolls the dice.  If they come up with the same symbol, then all hands are discarded and the dealer gives each player a number of cards equal to what they were holding.  If this happens in the third round, you are simply stuck for your score with whatever cards you are dealt!

These are some of the 62 cards in a Sabacc deck.

Was it fun and worth buying?

Sabacc was fun to play and is worth buying.  Trying to find all of the ways to get to zero kept your mind engaged and although the strategy isn’t deep, it exists and is not to foreign from poker strategy.  

How did the matches end up?

We found that games mostly ended with one of the five of us having a zero sum and the others with low numbers.  There were rarely ties, but when there were, they were usually determined by the high card.  We didn’t get anything like a zero-sum with two pairs or higher.  

So we tried a couple rounds with a house rule that we would have six rounds in a game and that the dice would only be rolled after round 3 and six.  That resulted in much higher hands for everyone at the table and was a fun modification.  We weren’t playing with betting, but in any future game, I would insist on it, since betting and laser blasters would make this game even more fun!

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

  1. What do you think of Sabacc?
  2. Have you ever played a version of this before?
  3. Was there anything about the game you would change?

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