For many Star Wars fans, particularly avid players of the Knights of the Old Republic games, pazaak is as famous a game as sabacc. Even if you’ve never played KotOR I or II, you may have seen pazaak referenced in canon Star Wars books like the Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig, Victory’s Price by Alexander Freed, the short story “The Ride” by John Jackson Miller in the Canto Bight book.
Whether you’re a fan of Star Wars Legends, the canon universe, or both, pazaak remains the same across the board. It’s a fun card game with a history that, if not as long or as storied as sabacc, is sure to provide plenty of fascinating conversation fodder for your next pazaak match.
2003: Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic
The first time we see pazaak mentioned in Star Wars lore is in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, set thousands of years before the events of The Phantom Menace. Released in 2003, this fantastic video game won several awards, as well as a secure place in many a fan’s heart as their favorite Star Wars game of all time.
Pazaak is a minigame within the game. As your character, you can go into any cantina in any world and play it. You can also play it in pazaak dens and while traveling through hyperspace. (Want to try it yourself, but in real life? Check out our tutorial.)
2004: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
Pazaak shows up once again as a playable minigame in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. This sequel to KotOR was released in 2004. The gameplay for pazaak remains unchanged except for one element: winning the game by filling the table. In the previous game, you would not automatically win under this condition.
2003-2014: Legends Era Books, Comics, And Video Games
From its initial introduction in the Knights of the Old Republic games up until the establishment of the official Star Wars canon timeline in 2014, pazaak was occasionally referenced in Legends era books, comics, and The Old Republic MMORPG.
Most often, pazaak appeared in stories that took place pre-The Phantom Menace, in the Old Republic era. For example, you’ll find it mentioned in books such as The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance by Sean Williams, Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn, and Red Harvest by Joe Schreiber. It is also referenced in issues 12 and 49 of the Knights of the Old Republic comic series published by Dark Horse.
2014-Present: Canon Era Books And Games
In April 2014, Lucasfilm announced that going forward, any Star Wars story that was released would be considered part of the universe’s official canon timeline. Any story created before that (aside from the saga films, their novelizations, and The Clone Wars series) was considered part of the Legends universe and not automatically canon.
The first time pazaak was mentioned (and therefore established) in Star Wars canon was in the book Aftermath by Chuck Wendig. In the sequel to that story, Life Debt, some characters are described playing the game.
From that point on, pazaak is referenced, but not actually played, in several different canon stories, including the audio drama Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott, a short story called “Lord Vader Will See You Now” featured in From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back, Victory’s Price by Alexander Freed, Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson, and The Last Jedi novelization by Jason Fry.
Following Life Debt, pazaak was not actually described as being played by any Star Wars characters until a short story called “The Ride.” The story, written by John Jackson Miller and released in an anthology called Canto Bight in 2017, chronicles the struggles of a character named Kaljach Sonmi. Kal has only one night left to pay off all his gambling debts at Canto Bight, the lavish casino from The Last Jedi. You can bet that pazaak has something to do with the outcome of that fateful night.
2022: Making And Selling Pazaak Decks At Hyperspace Props
Aside from its history, what we love most about pazaak is that you can play it in real life. All you need is your own pazaak card deck, which you can purchase directly from the shop. To brush up on the rules, be sure to read our step-by-step tutorial on how to play the game.