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Subject: Rebel Storm to Bounty Hunters: The expansions to date. rss

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Nick
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The following is my critique of each expansion for the Star Wars miniatures game. This is geared more for people familiar with the game, but is also helpful for people who have decided they are going to get started in it and want to know where there money should go. For each expansion I will review them in context of when they were released, and then how they stand today.

KEY TO ABBREVIATIONS:
RS: Rebel Storm
CS: Clone Strike
ROTS: Revenge of the Sith
UNI: Universe
COTF: Champions of the Force
BH: Bounty Hunters

REBEL STORM
This is a great expansion, despite the fact it can’t stand toe-to-toe with more recent figures. In context, when this was released, this was all there was for Rebel and Imperial factions until ROTS/Universe. Nowadays, a lot of the uniques simply don’t hold up, mostly on the Rebel/Imperial side. This is still a great set to buy a case of since you get a lot of core commons and uncommons. All the Rebel troopers and Stormtroopers are great army builders and haven’t been re-released in the past year or so. The fringe figures have actually seen some more usage with the more recent expansions. The Bespin Guards are extremely useful for their excellent defense and low cost; a perfect addition to a heavy shooter squad. The bounty hunters have for the most part have been improved in the most recent Bounty Hunters release, however, Dengar and Bossk, despite being ‘weak’ compared to their new counterparts, are excellent figures considering their low cost. Boba Fett is still a great figure to have and one of the top 5 in the entire line of minis. The Rebel uniques, haven’t “aged” well and I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to get them. The Imperial uniques feature some must haves: Gen. Veers and Emperor Palpatine spring to mind. Overall, Rebel Storm is definitely an expansion to consider.

CLONE STRIKE
For quite some time, Clone Strike fetched prices of $30+ per booster online (as opposed to the $13-15 in store prices of everything else) as it was out-of-print. This was largely due in part to it featuring Darth Maul and Aurra Sing. In Oct 2006, Wizards reprinted this set and you should be able to find it at reasonable prices. In context, this was another Rebel Storm-esque set. It introduced Republic and Separatist factions; it didn’t introduce any new Rebel or Imperial figures, so it was an essential expansion at the time. Nowadays, despite its legendary status, Clone Strike isn’t something you should go nuts over. I would recommend a one-case purchase for those really into the game. The few uniques worth having are easier bought secondhand and in the long run you’ll save money. The once prized Darth Maul was practically made obsolete by a new figure in the commonly found, Champions of the Force expansion. Aurra Sing remains the prize piece of this collection now, mostly due to her undercosting; compared to any of the newer Bounty Hunters, she doesn’t hold up stat/skill wise. Other pieces worth getting in this set are Durge, Zam Wessell, Yoda, and Kit Fisto. Yoda sports an extremely useful CE (commander effect) made even better by the introduction of Mas Amedda in COTS. Kit Fisto's CE is also very relevant. Durge and Zam Wessell are two great bounty hunters that have yet to been revamped in recent expansions. Overall, CS houses some must own figures, but isn’t worth going nuts over: for the most part, the commons and uncommons are merely ok compared to what’s more readily available; notable exceptions include Battle Droids, Super Battle Droids, and Destroyer Droids.

REVENGE OF THE SITH
In my opinion, ROTS is a complete failure of an expansion; the only black mark on Wizards’ releases for this game to date. It consisted mostly of new Republic, Separatist, and Fringe figures, while adding a few new Imperial “replacement” pieces. When it came out, it only mildly added to the game itself, no true game breakers were here and the majority of the commons/uncommons were just ‘meh.’ The Imperial pieces, as it turns out are the most useful: Anakin, Sith Apprentice and Emperor Palpatine, Sith Lord are great; Palpatine is essentially a must own figure due to his Betrayal ability and his ability to use Order 66 characters along side Imperials. Other figures that stand out here are Gen. Grievous, Supreme Commander and Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Master (both available in the wonderful ROTS starter set). Super Battle Droids make another appearance here and are good army builders. The Medical Droid is a great fringe piece to pick up. I highly discourage buying any boosters or cases of this, especially at the high price they are now, due in part to this sets out-of-print status. For the $175-200 you would spend on one case, you should be able to get 6-10 good rares/very rares individually, something you would most likely not get in a case purchase. If none of the standout figures from this release interest you, then just ignore ROTS like it never happened.

UNIVERSE
Universe is a double-edged swords. When it came out it truly had an impact on the game as a whole. It introduced Huge characters as well as two new factions: Yuhzan Vong and New Republic. Universe had something for every faction. In its heyday, it was a must buy. Now, while sporting many useful figures, including one of the most vital to the game as a whole. Grand Admiral Thrawn, its better to buy individual figures as opposed to cases. I base this on my own personal experience: huge distributions aren’t that good. It’s very likely you could buy 6 cases and out of the 36 huges you would get (there are 11 different ones), you might not get a single Rancor, which is the most wanted huge to date. The uncommon huges can all be bought online for $10-$15 total and the rare/very rare huges, with the exception of the AT-ST aren’t anything special. The Rancor (a very rare huge) itself isn’t much better, stat and cost wise when compared to the Acklay and Reek (both uncommon huges). Grand Admiral Thrawn is the key to having a competitive Imperial squad; he is a must buy. As I mentioned above, RS Rebel Uniques aren’t that great. That’s largely due to the releases of Han Solo, Rebel Hero; Princess Leia, Rebel Hero; and Chewbacca, Rebel Hero in this set. They are slightly higher in cost than their RS counterparts, but much more useful. They are must owns as well. While Universe on a whole is useful, again I don’t recommend purchasing cases; go with single purchases here; beware though, UNI did have the dishonor of featuring some of the most outright, worthless rare and very rare figures to date: Nien Nunb and Ponda Baba are the biggest offenders. This is still a much more useful expansion than the dreadful ROTS.

CHAMPSIONS OF THE FORCE
Without a doubt, this is the finest overall expansion to date. When it came out, it changed game play completely. It also introduced Old Republic and Sith factions. There is something for every faction in this set. Most of the Unique characters in COTF are the best editions to be found. Since its still relatively new, its impact is still great. I say without hesitation, COTF is a must buy. The Sith uniques are forces to be reckoned with and the Clone Commanders, especially Bacarra in conjunction with Republic Commandos, Gen. Windu, and Mas Amedda (all from this set), make up one of the most lethal and hard to beat competitive squads to date: Superstealth. There’s not a single disappointing rare or very rare in this set; a first for any expansion. The introduction of Jacen and Jaina Solo allow bringing Han and Leia into New Republic squads, making New Republic finally competitive. There’s not much more I can say about this set that I haven’t already said; simply, if you only collected one complete expansion, this should be it.

BOUNTY HUNTERS
BH is the most recent expansion for the game. It was a Fringe heavy expansion, providing games with a lot of useful characters for any squad they could think up. Jango Fett, Bounty Hunter and Boba Fett, Bounty Hunter showed up in this expansion and quickly have become the best figures available in this game. Out of both, Boba is a must buy. He is a god, simply put. Even the nasty Darth Bane, one of the most feared individual figures in the game will fall 99% of the time against this new Boba. Why? Boba is tough, plain and simple: high defense, great attack against uniques, disintegration (the ability to instantly defeat a living character on a roll of 20), evade (a 50/50 chance of dodging any ranged shot), etc, etc. Add into all this his Fringe status and you can plop him in nearly any good squad to make it great. BH was also another huge expansion, but the huges this time around aren’t that great. The Rebel Snowspeeder and Basilisk War Droid (part of the new Mandalorian faction, introduced here) are the only real standouts, both ironically are uncommons. BH is very much worth purchasing cases/boosters of if you love the game. There are also some great additions to the Rebel and Imperial factions, a first since UNI. Buying stuff on the secondary market from this set becomes interesting. Boba and Jango will set you back $80-$100 easily if you purchase them separately; this is simply unheard of, this last time such pricing existed was when CS was OOP and Darth Maul and Aurra Sing were hot sellers. I find it hard to recommend dropping this much on them when your chances of getting at least one of them is pretty good with 3 case purchases (which should run $300 total); even if you don’t get either, you should walk away with something good to trade for them. BH gets my recommendation as purchase worthy.

***NON CORE EXPANSIONS/RELEASES***
ATTACK ON ENDOR
This was a re-release of the AT-ST from the UNI expansion along with three previously produced Imperial figures. It was sold for $20 in stores and featured 4 maps along with a scenario book. It was a great release then and even better now considering it can be purchased for $10-$15. The AT-ST alone makes it a must buy, the maps and scenarios only sweeten the deal. If you lack an AT-ST, I say buy one or two; you won’t be sorry.

AT-AT: COLLOSSAL FIGURE
The AT-ST was the first Colossal release. It was simply a ‘colossal’ AT-ST figure with two Hoth maps. It was and always will be a scenario piece only; it’s not designed for any competitive play and only functions on the Hoth maps or third-part Internet releases. A must buy for those who want to recreate the Battle of Hoth (made perfectly possible by the availability of AT-STs and Snowspeeders, as well as Hoth themed characters). For the average player who never does scenarios, skip it. At $40 it becomes an expensive dust collector, although if you love Star Wars, it is worth buying as a display piece.

***RANKINGS AND CONCLUSION***
The following is my rankings from best to worst for each core expansion.

1.)Champions of the Force: MUST BUY; WORTH COMPLETE A WHOLE SET
2.)Bounty Hunters: WORTH BUYING; NEARLY ALL USEFUL FIGURES
3.)Rebel Storm: WORTH BUYING; PLENTY OF USEFUL CORE FIGURES
4.)Universe: BUY WHAT YOU NEED; GOOD STUFF, BUT SOME STINKERS AS WELL
5.)Clone Strike: BUY WHAT YOU NEED; NOT AS IMPACTFUL NOW AS IT WAS UPON RELEASE
6.)Revenge of the Sith: AVOID WITH 1-2 EXCEPTIONS; A WASTED RELEASE

As far as “must own” rare/very rare pieces for each faction go, I’ll offer the following recommendations:
Rebels: Yoda of Dagobah
Imperials: Grand Admiral Thrawn
Republic: General Windu
Separatists: Darth Maul, Champion of the Sith
Old Republic: Bastilla (currently the only rare/very rare released for the faction)
Sith: Darth Bane
Yuhzahn Vong: Nom Anor
Mandalorian: Mandalore the Indomitable (currently the only rare/very rare released for the faction)
Fringe: Boba Fett, Bounty Hunter

FINAL REMARKS: I highly recommend people research all the stats of the figures themselves and make their final opinions based on what they need. Star Wars Shoebox is an excellent resources for this: http://www.swshoebox.com
The Shoebox has stats for every figure broken down by expansion as well as rankings based on user input. I recommend this site without any hidden agenda, I have no connection to it, other than a user myself; it has proved invaluable in my decisions of how to purchase older releases and I feel anyone who researches what they feel they need and purchases accordingly will save money in the end and enjoy the game more fully than blindly purchasing boosters, hoping to get one specific figure.

EDITED: Corrected mistake; Champions of the Sith --> Champions of the Force
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Jeff Pratt
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Great review...but it's Champions of the Force, not Sith....

-Vladd
 
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Nick
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vladdswrath wrote:
Great review...but it's Champions of the Force, not Sith....

-Vladd


Thanks for pointing that out. I got mixed up since there are a few figures in that set with the subtitle "Champion of the Sith."
 
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J B
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I own a handful of these from various releases, and have been considering buying the "main" characters so that my friends and I can play with the characters we know and love from the movies. Sounds like there's quite a bit of power-creep in the game...your various comments about newer figures making old ones "obsolete" troubles me a bit. Will my games become unbalanced if I buy an older Chewbacca, Yoda, Boba Fett, etc versus a newer one? I know some newer versions of the main crew have more powers, but I understood that their point cost had gone up as well, meaning you paid more for the power boost. Shouldn't a point-based army picking system be fairly balanced with new versus old? Is this not the case?
 
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Joe Reil
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jcb231 wrote:
I own a handful of these from various releases, and have been considering buying the "main" characters so that my friends and I can play with the characters we know and love from the movies. Sounds like there's quite a bit of power-creep in the game...your various comments about newer figures making old ones "obsolete" troubles me a bit. Will my games become unbalanced if I buy an older Chewbacca, Yoda, Boba Fett, etc versus a newer one? I know some newer versions of the main crew have more powers, but I understood that their point cost had gone up as well, meaning you paid more for the power boost. Shouldn't a point-based army picking system be fairly balanced with new versus old? Is this not the case?


JB

First a caveat that I have not actually played the WotC SWM rules.

So, even though I can't speak to whether or not what you are describing is a real problem in SWM, I can say that IN GENERAL the phenomena you describe does tend to happen with Collectible games of any kind. You'll typically either see Power Creep or some form of set rotation (or both) in most Collectible rules - they want you to keep buying new sets after all.

I will suggest that if you like the minis, but aren't sure about the rules, there is a free rules set called No Limits which you may want to check out. It's designed for any 25-30mm SF minis and it works great for Star Wars.

The drawbacks are you'll need more of the 'troop' type characters as this is a squad based game. That also means that the battles will usually tend to need more models per side, which can be good or bad depending upon your point of view (to my mind it's a good thing). The main advantage is you break out of the collectible mode of buying: Most of the figs you need are common and Power Creep and new figs replacing old ones is completely unheard of and/or irrelevant.

www.wargamesunlimited.com is their site...
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Mark Griffiths
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Vampyur wrote:
while sporting many useful figures, including one of the most vital to the game as a whole. Grand Admiral Thrawn


Is this Grand Admiral Thrawn any better than the Thrawn in Imperial Entanglements? I've got him, and while I've not played with him yet, he does seem pretty decent (provided you can keep him alive long enough - just 70 hit points?) The Thrawn from the Universe expansion is just way more expensive to buy than that from Entanglements, so I don't want to go throwing away upwards of $30 to get a figure that might not differ too spectacularly from one I already have...
 
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spalanzani wrote:
Vampyur wrote:
while sporting many useful figures, including one of the most vital to the game as a whole. Grand Admiral Thrawn


Is this Grand Admiral Thrawn any better than the Thrawn in Imperial Entanglements? I've got him, and while I've not played with him yet, he does seem pretty decent (provided you can keep him alive long enough - just 70 hit points?) The Thrawn from the Universe expansion is just way more expensive to buy than that from Entanglements, so I don't want to go throwing away upwards of $30 to get a figure that might not differ too spectacularly from one I already have...


Not too different. The biggest use of both is swapping (need Mas Amedda to make it most effective). Ysalimiri vs Opportunist... both have their advantages and different players favor each piece.
 
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