By Firestone I love Star Wars. I really, really love Star Wars. Of course there are problems, and plot holes, and inconsistencies, and those awful, terrible Episodes I, II, and III. But no film/franchise/toy line is so firmly entrenched in my memories of childhood.
So, of course, I was giddy when I heard they were making a miniatures game based on my beloved franchise.
I played a friend's copy—he'd picked up two copies of everything. At this point that includes the base game, which includes two tie fighters and one x-wing, and the Wave 1 expansions, which include another tie fighter and x-wing fighter (with new pilots and powers), a tie advanced, and a y-wing. The minis are terrific hand-painted plastic. They are awfully fragile, and at the prices these fetch, I admit I'm hesitant for my 4-year-old to be anywhere near this thing.
The gameplay is superficially similar to the Wings of War game—but with some significant differences that ensure this is no knockoff. First, each person build a squad using points. 100 points seems to be the norm, and you get there by choosing various ships, and then adding pilots (such as Wedge Antilles and Darth Vader), and then adding upgrades (such as proton torpedoes). Each one of these things costs a different number of points; you add them all up to get to your squad total. Here's where I come up against my first problem with the game: You'll need more than the base game to make a decent game—either more base games or a bunch of expansion pieces. I get that this is Fantasy Flight's business model, but someone opening up just the base game on Christmas morning might be disappointed with how small their game will be.
Game play is straightforward: Each type of ship has a unique set of maneuvers it can make, and has a unique movement dial that lets you set its next move and then set it facedown until everyone has made their movement selection. Then in turn order people reveal their dial and move. There are templates that you place in front of the mini's base, and then you simply move the ship to the end of the template. It's easy and unambiguous.
Then each person can choose an Action from the choices on their various pilot and upgrade cards; these might include focusing on fighting, or evading a shot that comes at you. Then each ship determines whether there's a target in their firing arc and attacks if possible. Attacks are resolved using dice, with various abilities affecting the attack or defense dice. The various ships have different defenses: Tie fighters have great maneuverability, but have no shields, while X-wings have shields but have fewer maneuvers available to them.
That's a basic overview of the game.
The complexity is low. My 8-year-old might need a little help with the smaller details and fine strategy, but I think he'd hold his own...
There's a fair amount of luck in this—in fact, more than I'm generally comfortable with. It gets some grace because of the theme, and because I know my kids will love this game, regardless of luck. The playing time is short—games should take no more than 30-45 minutes. And while the game says it's for 2 players, we've played team games of 4 people (two on each side), and it worked great. Of course, for that size game you'll need some expansions.
Speaking of expansions, Wave 2 is scheduled for February. And it includes two larger models, one of Boba Fett's Slave 1, and one of the Millenium Falcon. I can't wait!
My biggest complaint is how much money this will cost me over time. I understand that I can choose to not buy the expansions, but if you think that's an option, you obviously don't know me very well! :)
Bottom line: If you have kids who love Star Wars—or if you love Star Wars and can get over the randomness and the price—then this is a great game to consider. It'll tide me over until Star Wars The Card Game comes out!
Thanks for reading!