How 'Solo' rolls dice on a key piece of 'Star Wars' history

Ethan Alter
·Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

You don’t have to be a card shark to appreciate the latest teaser trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story… but it helps. Disney recently released an all-new spot for the Ron Howard-directed Star Wars prequel — which will have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 15, 10 days before it flies into theaters around the world — that spotlights one of the most consequential moments in the history of that far, far away galaxy.

That would be the moment that flyboy Han Solo (played by Alden Ehrenreich) wins his beloved “bucket of bolts,” the Millennium Falcon, away from its previous owner, Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). Their face-off occurs during a climactic round of sabacc, the card game enjoyed by galactic citizens residing on every planet from Apatros to Yavin. And based on this Solo teaser, Han is quite clearly the underdog, while Lando is the top dog; in a hilarious moment, Solo reveals his cards to his sidekick, Chewbacca, and the Wookiee lets out a classic moan that doesn’t require any translation. (But allow us to translate anyway: “You’re screwed.”)

The sabacc sequence won’t just be Solo‘s answer to Casino Royale‘s classic poker game, though. It’s also going to firmly establish how the Millennium Falcon changed hands, a story that has gone through several permutations over the decades. It all started in The Empire Strikes Back, when Han (played by Harrison Ford) showed up in Cloud City and Lando (Billy Dee Williams) ribbed him over the Falcon’s poor shape. “What have you done to my ship?” he asked, to which Han protested: “Your ship? Hey, remember, you lost her to me fair and square.”

A.C. Crispin described that loss in more detail in the 1998 book Rebel Dawn, the third and final installment of her Han Solo Trilogy, which is no longer considered official Star Wars canon. As Crispin outlined, during the 2.5 BBY edition of the Cloud City Sabacc Tournament, Han and Lando found themselves as the final two players, with Solo pulling off an upset victory that awarded him 20,000 credits plus any ship in his foe’s fleet. Over Lando’s protests, Han chose the Falcon and transformed it into a smuggler’s dream ship.

Crispin’s version of sabacc was a cards-only game, but around the time of The Force Awakens, the Star Wars overlords introduced a variation called “Corellian Spike.” In this version, a pair of six-sided dice were incorporated into the gameplay, and it just so happens that Solo has a famous pair of six-sided golden dice hanging in the Falcon, a bit of set-dressing that’s been there since A New Hope. In his Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, real-life Jedi Master Pablo Hidalgo confirmed that Han used those golden dice during his bout with Lando and they were the lucky charm that won him his ship. And, as a Solo promotional item hints, they may have previously belonged to Qi’Ra (Emilia Clarke), a newly introduced character who will play a pivotal role in the young smuggler’s life. That gives the dice a newfound emotional weight to go along with their gambling value.

The Solo teaser doesn’t include any shots of Han rolling dice, but here’s one more piece of evidence that the version of sabacc we’ll see in Solo is the “Corellian Spike” variation. Hasbro’s recently released “Han Solo Card Game,” a.k.a. sabacc, comes with a pair of (non-golden) dice. We aren’t the only ones who noticed that connection.

And that’s not all; some eagle-eyed sabacc players noticed that Mandalorian chips were on the table between Han and Lando, pointing to the possible reappearance of a certain helmeted bounty hunter.

Since sabacc is clearly going to be the next big card game craze after Solo hits theaters, here’s our pitch for the next standalone Star Wars Story: A Rounders remake, sabacc-style.

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