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Greg Collins
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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...., I preordered Star Wars Miniatures Starship Battles. Countless days later it came into my clutches. I carefully began undoing my starter and two boosters. Precisley 18 seconds later the boxes were completely destroyed. The adhesive is apparently also used to anchor Super Star Destroyers in dry-dock.

As with many mini's games, several of the pieces were a bit, shall we say, wobbly looking. Some hot then cold water later, they were back in the shape the designer had intended.

The starter contained all you need to get started (no surprise in that), albeit nowhere near the 300 points of ships needed for a regulation game. Including the two boosters I came up with about 270 points per side, so a starter and 3 boosters should see you about ready.

Of course, being a collectable game, you would need many more boosters and substantial trading to put together a cool fleet with squadrons of Tie fighters and X-wings.

The box also contained specification cards, command and damage counters as well as that confounded paper foldy playmat (also known as a stellar grid). If you haven't got perspex (plexiglass) or something similar, now may be a good time to invest in a sheet. The game does look very nice set out when using something over the top.

Included also are 2 Fleet Commander sheets and the usual checklist just to make sure you don't miss collecting any ships on your way to bankruptcy.

The game itself is played on a grid (11 by 17 squares) imprinted with a nice space-scape on both sides with one edge of a planet at one end.

The rule-book is comprehensive and after playing a round or two, most things become second nature. I think we'll see an FAQ at some stage because one or two things are not crystal clear (that could just be me). For example the rules section states that the winner of the initiative check moves second and attacks first whereas the glossary says that the winner of the IC chooses who goes first. Apart from that it's all simple, space-smashing fun.

This is why I was originally attracted to this game. I've tried other games such as Star Wars and D&D minis and was a bit put off by an overabundance of options and abilities.

Then of course are the ships themselves. Apart from the reshaping needed on a few, they are very nice sculpts with all the detail you'd like. I was lucky enough to draw the Falcon and it looks very nice. Each ship belongs to Light Side or Dark side. Your fleets must be pure, no cross-pollentation here.

There are 4 classes of ships that are differentiated by the size of their base (largest to smallest, classes 1-4). There are only 2 class 1 ships, the Mon Calamari Star Defender Viscount and the Super Star Destroyer Executor. It's easy to remember how far each ship can move, class 1 move 1 square, class 2 move 2 and so on. Ships that fit within 1 square (classes 3 and 4) are the only ones permitted to move diagonally.

Now on with the game:

There are several phases to work through. I wont go into minute detail but give you a feel for what happens in each.

Choose your fleet (use the cards so your opponent can't see what you're up to) then line them up within the first 3 rows on your side (the short side) of the grid. Hold onto your class 4 fighters for the moment.

Initiative Phase
Roll for initiative each round to see who goes first. Using the main rules, low roll moves first, attacks last.

Move Phase
Low rollers moves all ships then launches fighters. High roller then follows. Time for an explanation. Class 4 ships are fighters, eg X-Wings and Ties Fighters and more. They begin the game in a pool off to the side of the play area. Certain class 1 and 2 ships are capable of launching fighters which as we've just seen, occurs after movement. Place fighters adjacent (includes diagonally) to the launching ship.

Attack Phase
Each ship has one or more weapons that are listed on their stat card. It has an attack modifier that is added to the D20 roll. If it's equal to or greater than the defense of the target then you score a hit and apply the damage, also stated on the card. Many ships have a shield value and a hull value. Once you've got through the shield you flip the stat card for that ship and it now has limitations on it's abilities. Get the hull value down to zero and it's curtains.

Damage Phase
After both sides have taken their shots, damage is applied and some ships are inevitably lost.

Now start all over again. The basics are quite simple but there is a lot more flavour to this game than I have mentioned here. The class 1 ships are cumbersome and lumber through space as you'd expect. They can turn slowly and fire off a broadside.

Class 4 ships(fighters) can zip past just about anyone except other class 4 ships or leviathans with tractor beams or point defense systems. Command counters can be used just about anytime and can thwart a devastating attack where all could be lost. Ships must be faced carefully as shields may be weaker at the side or rear.

You need to try this game to appreciate its simplicity and depth. Hardcore wargamers may find it underdone but if you want something fun you can play with friends or your kids then I recommend it (if you are prepared to fork out a fair bit of cash).

Of course if you're like me you'd be happy with a small collection that you can play without buying the whole set (as you can with Dreamblade). The counters are a little flimsy but the ships are great to look at and handle. Great detail, easy to play and a nice way to waste some time.


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Peter L
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Good review! The one thing that I would disagree with you would be how the simplicity of the game is a good thing. I wasn't expecting something incredibly complicated, but after a few plays, each game started feeling very same-y to me. With the high $$ cost of the miniatures, I wanted something that had a little more substance and more staying power; the addition of some cover rules (like in base Star Wars Minis) would have added something extra to think about while maneuvering.

Also, as another data point: with my starter & 3 boosters, I had about 280 points for Dark and 210 for light. Since the rule book seems to suggest 300 point battles, maybe I'm not getting the full experience, but it's hard to see (right now) how tossing in a few more ships would help.
 
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Nick
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Nice review.

As a big fan of the standard SW Minis game from Wizards, this release didn't appeal to me at all for two specific reasons.

1.)They released it right after a major new expansion for the regular minis as well as a long awaited reprint of an older expansion for the same game; this was obviously rushed for the holidays. I might have supported it had it come in Feb. since Wizards promised no new Minis expanisons for the original game until May 07.

2.)It's impossible to recreate the chaotic combat of a Star Wars spacebattle, since 95% of the most memorable moments in the film battles involves manuvers that can't be done on a flat board.

I'll try the game when it hits Vassal, and if I really, really, like it then I might buy the starter and a few boosters.

I will give Wizards credit (if they hold to their word) for making this a "one-shot" release; to my knowledge they plan to go back to their standard minis game now and no expansions for the Starships set will be produced.
 
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Jeff Pratt
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The one-shot release claim was tentative at best. What they actually said was no expansion was planned, but if it sells well and the people want it (and they will ), they would consider another expansion for the game.

-Jeff

 
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John Goewert
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WotC is getting close on Cost Per Model to GW.

The gameplay is fair at best but feels very generic. I've been trying out some new tactics that may give the game some hidden depth that isn't obvious such as slamming - Pushing a capital ship through a fighter screen and then flying all of my fighters through the screen.

It would be nice if there was a way to give each piece some height equivalent. I love the PC Game Homeworld's 3D system more than the PC Game Star Wars: Empire at War's 2D system.

 
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Paul DeStefano
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If you want true 3d, go look at Attack Vector: Tactical.

Be warned - it is magnitudes more complex.
 
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Jeff Kahan
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Geosphere wrote:
If you want true 3d, go look at Attack Vector: Tactical.

Be warned - it is magnitudes more complex.


I haven't had a chance to play Starship Battles yet but I'm a big fan of the minis game- more from the collecting but I have a good time playing skirmishes with friends. Got 4 cases of Starship Battles and ended up with 2 short of a set. They look really great except for the class 4 ships which hopefully with some hot water treatment they'll look better. I can't wait to try it, but I'm taking it with a grain of glitterstim.

At BBG.con I saw Saganami Island Tactical Simulaor (Go Honor!) which is based on Attack Vector. Looks way cool and set in my second favorite scifi universe. I'll have to pick it up at some point.

Oboewan
 
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Vince Londini
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Attack Vector: Tactical (AVT) and Saganami Island Tactical Simulator (SITS) are AWESOME representations of combat in 3-d space. But, be warned, they're not quick 1-hour one-offs.

AVT and SITS use a spherical positioning system allowing each ship to be facing in any of 12 horizontal directions and 12 vertical directions. Ships are above or below the map, as indicated by stacking tiles. Target resolution involves shooting a bearing from the firing ship to the target position to determine which (if any) of the firing ships weapons can bear through that window. Movement is equally as thoroughly thought-out.

SITS is a bit easier on the combat front, as most combat consists of resolving waves of incoming missiles (as in the Honor novels). Whereas AVT includes more and varied weapon systems that add increasing levels of realism/complexity.

Don't worry, the scary math is all done for you (as Ken likes to say ), but it's definitely a meat-and-potatoes space-combat sim, rather than an arcade title.

(Disclaimer: I worked with the Ad Astra guys as one of the demo monkeys at GenCon Indy '06 - great experience, great game - so I'm a bit biased ).
 
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Steve McIlhatton
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Geosphere wrote:
If you want true 3d, go look at Attack Vector: Tactical.

Be warned - it is magnitudes more complex.


The first couple of tutorials for this game were enough to make my brain explode
 
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Steve McIlhatton
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Geosphere wrote:
If you want true 3d, go look at Attack Vector: Tactical.

Be warned - it is magnitudes more complex.
 
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