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Star Wars Miniatures» Forums » Reviews

Subject: The Definitive Star Wars Miniatures Review rss

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Russell Waddel
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At first, I was NOT a miniatures gamer. Let's get that straight. Mage Knight was useless in my humble opinion. I was not impressed by that game, being that it was a chopped down version of Warhammer fantasy battles. I also did not play much of the West End Games version of Star Wars. As much as I like the 6-sided die, I liked the d20 better, because it gave me a better chance of actually getting a hit! In all seriousness, I didn't want to spend tons of money or time painting miniatures or actually getting tons of booster packs in hopes of getting good figures to battle with. Also, until Mage Knight Dungeons, there were no terrain rules for MK. Then, in 2004, came an awesome sight. Star Wars miniatures, Rebel Storm Set.

This set revolutionized the genre. It came with a Luke, Vader, and random miniatures. It also featured stat cards for easy reference of rules and HP, Defense, etc. And it had a full color map that you could play on, and easily reference things like pits, walls, doors, etc as well. All in all, the figures were well detailed for 25mm plastic, and the lightsabers were clear, so when light shone behind them, they "glowed". Also, you could use the miniatures for the RPG instead of buying hundreds of action figures, like Hasbro wanted you to (WoTC is a subsidiary of Hasbro, INC.).

Now, instead of painting tons of miniatures, or buying huge amounts of boosters hoping to get something good, you had a balanced miniatures game that many people loved to play. It was simple, direct and fun to play. But don't let this fool you, People still bought huge numbers of packs!

And now, the review...

Gameplay-
10/10
This is the best aspect of the game. It is very simple. You either move 6 square and attack, or attack and move 6 squares, or move 12 squares with no attacks. There are certain figures with the "mobile attack" ability, which allows them to move before and after attacking (i.e.-move 3 squares, attack, move 3 squares). Also, if a character has a "force rating" (i.e.-Force 3), they can move an extra 2 squares or re-roll an attack or save by spending a Force Point. The game also comes with easy to use rules that illustrate movement, attacks, walls, low cover and the like. A game with complete newbies lasts around 1 hour to 1 and a half hours, where a game featuring veteran players could probably last around 30-45 minutes, depending on strategy. Oh, and let me mention, this game is BALANCED. There are powerful figures, yes, but they also cost huge points to play. If you are only playing 100 point squads, you might be in for a surprise, as you put Yoda (64-odd points) in your squad, and are left with a few "cruddy" figures in the back. Don't be surprised if Yoda is the first to die. This game also has a TON of strategy, not only in squad-building (which I will get to in a moment) but in gameplay as well. You can take many figures with "ranged attacks" (i.e.-a person with a blaster or no melee attack ability) and put them in "low cover". Their defense gets a +4 boost, and if they have "stealth" they can't be attacked unless they are the closest figure to your opponent's figure firing the shot. It is very good to use a mix of "high-powered" characters, and "peons". Look at your map as well. I always choose the map first, then build an army around my strategy. Also, this game is awesome with 4 players as it is with 2. 3 players has the effect of 2 players killing each other while the third picks off the "winner." If you are going to play with 3 players, try going to 150 or 200 points, that way you might have a chance "splitting" your forces to deal with the other 2 players simultaneously.

Squad-Building-
9/10
This universe of figures is HUGE. There are so many to chose from, the possibilities are almost endless. I have about 200-300 figures, and I still have trouble getting the squad just right. Also, I love to teach the game, as people don't realize just how much strategy there is in building your squad, making them effective in combat, and getting abilities that match. And, there are different factions. Rebels, Imperials, Sepratists, Republic, New Republic, Mandalorians, Sith, Old Republic, Fring, Yuuzan Vong, just to name a few. They are discontinuing the line of miniatures, but I wish they would re-release many of the old sets. Some of us that got into the game late might need some of them older figures darnnit. Anyway, usually games are made up by points. A good game might have 100-150 points. I try to do this. If you want to have melees, you can go for 200, but anything higher than that will just be too long. Once I played a 300 point game, and it took us about two and a half hours to play. After a while, you might just want to give up. Pick good figures, and you can't lose. Also, you might try "peon" squads. This is a squad made up of all non-unique characters. It is fun to play sometimes, and you will most likely win, considering your sheer numbers. Once again, this game is balanced, and no one figure is all-powerful. Except for Master Luke (Universe). He just rocks.

Rules-
8/10
There are a lot of abilities, but the core rules are very basic. Usually, if I have a rules argument, it is over LOS. Line of Sight is the hardest thing to get in the game, considering that you need to try to establish LOS over 20-40 squares. I have found that using a string works the best, as you can take the string from your square to the opponent's square and then you know if you have LOS. This probably should have been mentioned by WoTC, or even had a string with "Star Wars" printed on it in the starters. Oh well, if wishes were fishes, we'd all cast nets (and if you can guess that line's origin, you win a gold star. Post in the comments). Also, many of the figures have "commander" effects, which affect the area immediately around them. Usually 6 squares. Some figures extend the range, and others don't have range. Probably the best figure in the game for this is Mas Ameeda, the chancellor's senate advisor. He extends all commander effects to unlimited range. Awesome.

Game/the actual game-
9/10
This game is simple to play. Once you have chosen your squad, you place your figures on the map. You then roll for initiative. After this is done, you then decide which to characters you are going to move. After moving 2 characters, then your opponent moves 2 characters. You alternate like this (unless you have more than 2) until you have moved and/or attacked with all characters in your squad. Then you roll initiative again and repeat. It is very simple to play. Combat is rolling a d20 (20-sided die) and adding your Attack modifier. If you hit, you deal a set damage number. If you miss, nothing happens. If you roll a 1 on the die, you miss (even if your attack is higher than the target's defense) and if you roll a 20 on the die, you get a critical hit. If you get a critical hit, you multiply your damage number by 2. Droids cannot be hit like this, since they have no constitution score (similar to undead in DnD).

Overall-
9/10
This game is downright FUN. The strategy is awesome, the figures are balanced and the rules are simple, easy to learn and strategy is hard to master. You will have tons of fun just playing over and over. I know I have. In fact, I could probably make a decent Warhammer 40k army just using stormtroopers, vader, and some other characters. I hope that you have enjoyed this particular review of Star Wars Miniatures. Maybe some renewed interest will persuade WoTC to continue producing this awesome game. Let me know what you think of this review.
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Good review however you did't speak deeply about the collectible and money aspect of the game. How many boosters need one to purchase to have a good squad, and how much ?
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It still boggles my mind that the Figures-based Star Wars miniatures game was more popular than the spaceship one. Bizarre. I'm not saying that as a reflection of the quality of either game - I'm sure they both have their strengths and what-not - but rather, I can't imagine enjoying the dorky little figures as much as the awesome starships from the Starship Battle game.

Very good review, btw.
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Russell Waddel
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Actually, to answer your question, thus:

When I first got into the game, I bought only 2 starters (Clone Strike and Revenge of the Sith) and about approximately 10 boosters from both sets. I had enough miniatures to create (IMHO) a "satisfactory" army. Remember that people's tastes run to different things. I don't want to speak to each person, so whatever people "feel" that their army's worth to them. Each miniature game is different as well. If one person wants to spend $100's on one game, but a new game comes out and they don't want to play, that is their perrogative.

A better answer would probably be:

I wanted to show people how easy it was to play, and that once you get started, the universe of figures is huge. If a person wants to collect figures, then I might need to post something in the "gameplay" section about that. This is a review, not a rules or gameplay question. One of the only reasons I collected so many figures was because I wanted people who played the game to see how diverse it was when I was teaching it to people. Read my other reviews (Young Jedi CCG and Star Wars TCG) for more info on how I write reviews.

Once again, people are different. I have been to many different forums on the value of miniatures, and what makes a good "starter army". One guy on the WoTC boards wanted many different "rare" and "ultra rare" figures in his "starter army". I will post up something in the forums in the next few days that will help people on that front. Is that ok with you?
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Russell Waddel
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I think that one of the reasons that the figure-based miniatures game did so well is that people love the "face-to-face" aspect of the game. Starships are great, and (don't get me wrong) the game was cool. But, there is something 'impersonal' about getting in a starfighter and blowing up your opponent. When you are on the planet, you get to use vehicles, characters and creatures from the universe that you wouldn't get to see if you were on a spaceship. Besides, it was $20-30 for a starter in the starship miniatures game, and $20 for a booster. It was about $20 for a starter in miniatures and about $12-15 for a booster. I think that this might answer the question of the other commentor as well. Besides, no one got the quote in the review yet...
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stephen
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The starship game rules just didnt work as well as the figures rules and thusly were less popular. I would love simple fun star wars space cobat game but the WOTC idea wasnt it.
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Cracky McCracken
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russdogg99 wrote:
...You can take many figures with "ranged attacks" (i.e.-a person with a blaster or no melee attack ability) and put them in "low cover". Their defense gets a +4 boost, and if they have "stealth" they can't be attacked unless they are the closest figure to your opponent's figure firing the shot...
Let me know what you think of this review.


Are you sure this is correct? I thought figures in cover could only be targeted if they are the closest enemy figure to the shooter. Figs with "stealth" are never counted as the closest figure, so if they take cover, they have to be flushed out.

Great review, Star Wars Minis is an awesome game. Although very simular mechanically to it's D&D Minis counterpart, the rules seem to fit the Star Wars theme better. Perhaps because the Star Wars skirmishes tend to be firefights...

It's actually kind of a cool case-study of theme and rules working well together.
 
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Cracky wrote:
russdogg99 wrote:
...You can take many figures with "ranged attacks" (i.e.-a person with a blaster or no melee attack ability) and put them in "low cover". Their defense gets a +4 boost, and if they have "stealth" they can't be attacked unless they are the closest figure to your opponent's figure firing the shot...
Let me know what you think of this review.


Are you sure this is correct? I thought figures in cover could only be targeted if they are the closest enemy figure to the shooter. Figs with "stealth" are never counted as the closest figure, so if they take cover, they have to be flushed out.

Great review, Star Wars Minis is an awesome game. Although very simular mechanically to it's D&D Minis counterpart, the rules seem to fit the Star Wars theme better. Perhaps because the Star Wars skirmishes tend to be firefights...

It's actually kind of a cool case-study of theme and rules working well together.


Figures with cover cannot be targeted unless they are the nearest figure. Figures with Stealth cannot be targeted at all if they have cover, unless the shooter is within 6 squares. Figures with 'super-stealth' (provided by some commander effects) cannot be targeted at all if they have cover, unless the shooter is adjacent. There are other abilities that can get around Stealth.

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wytefang wrote:
It still boggles my mind that the Figures-based Star Wars miniatures game was more popular than the spaceship one. Bizarre. I'm not saying that as a reflection of the quality of either game - I'm sure they both have their strengths and what-not - but rather, I can't imagine enjoying the dorky little figures as much as the awesome starships from the Starship Battle game.

Very good review, btw.


For me, 2 reasons... (1) You can't get the scale right for Star Wars ships because the capital ships are so much larger than the fighters. (2) There's no terrain in space.
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wytefang wrote:
It still boggles my mind that the Figures-based Star Wars miniatures game was more popular than the spaceship one. Bizarre. I'm not saying that as a reflection of the quality of either game - I'm sure they both have their strengths and what-not - but rather, I can't imagine enjoying the dorky little figures as much as the awesome starships from the Starship Battle game.


For me, nicely detailed minis of Vader and a horde of stormtroopers versus Luke, Han, Leia, and the rest of the crowd are just as iconic as the admittedly awesome starships, and a ground battles based minis game in the SW setting is going to give a person a lot more variety of pieces - heroes & villains, various troop types, and of course a galaxy wide selection of aliens. Even with the Expanded Universe, the variety of ships pales next to the variety of characters available for the figures game. After all, there's only so many different ways you can paint the same starfighter. Even so, both games were really high on my radar.

The problem with Wizard's Starships game was that it sucks, just sucks. The rules were mind numbingly simple and feel like an afterthought. It was like Wizards decided to aim mainly for the collectors, with a little side targeting of parents who might want to play something light with their children, but gamers were left out in the cold... except that the starship miniatures themselves are perfect for using in better game systems. I believe it actually sold very well for WotC because so many people just wanted the prepainted ships. I myself have acquired a heck of a lot of the Original Trilogy ships (mainly starfighters) to game with, but I have no plans to ever use them with the game they were actually made for.
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Don Whitney
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Nice review and I think you've done a good job of capturing the gist of the game. One thing I might suggest is instead of referring to squads with many low point cost figures as "peons" use the more accepted term "activation squads". I say that mostly because using low cost fig's is a viable squad strategy and in some cases will produce an overall stronger squad, whereas the term "peons" suggests otherwise. As well you mention "many" of the figures have commander effects, but in fact very few of the type of figures that comprise the majority of sets (common and uncommon) have such abilities, with the far less Rare and Very Rare figures having a significant majority of such abilities.

I don't think mentioning cost of collecting is a big deal for a review of a miniatures game at a site like BGG. However, I do think it's worth mentioning that's there's 2 approaches to collecting; Star War collectible fans that want to spend the money to collect complete sets, and those that just want to build good squads and purchase specific figures from a LGS or an online retailers. I think that the latter is important to mention now, since the series has been discontinued and boosters and case are going to become much rarer. I also think it can be a potential money saver to point out that individual figs can be acquired as an alternate to the costly booster box approach - despite there being some Very Rare fig's that fetch hefty prices, it's still cheaper overall if you just want a few good squads to play the game with.

As to WotC reconsidering - they didn't renew their entire Star Wars license which cost them a hefty amount of $, so as much as I'd wish it wasn't true, I don't see new SW Minis coming from them again.
 
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There have been rumors that another company picked up the game. If not, V-sets are being planned at swmgamers.com, similar to the V-sets for SWCCG.
 
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Solid review. You have pretty much the same enthusiasm for this game as I have. I've been playing it weekly for about five years and still love it.

My only two disagreements with your rewiew were;
Quote:
Except for Master Luke (Universe). He just rocks.

No. Seriously, he does not, he sucks big time. Best Luke is Hoth Pilot IMHO, 40 damage at range with no save! Master Luke is easily bested and no match for the equivalant costed Vader.
Quote:
Probably the best figure in the game for this is Mas Ameeda, the chancellor's senate advisor. He extends all commander effects to unlimited range. Awesome.

Mas is by far my biggest gripe in the game. He makes things too easy. This is supposed to be a skirmish game, so I do have a gripe with all the unlimited range CEs. The Mouse Droid on the other hand is brilliant, a much better idea that needs to be used tactically. If I could ban just a single mini it would be Mas.
Sure, I still use Mas Amedda, I'm not stupid


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Russell Waddel
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That was a testament to how balanced the game was up until the Force Unleashed set. I have the Luke Hoth Pilot figure, and he NEVER had those abilities in the movies. I mean, seriously folks. FU just totally unbalanced the game. And Vader SUCKS. There are a few Vader figures that are OK (Anakin from ROTS mainly). I have about 10 Vader figures, and most of them are repeats. Now, if you had said "the emperor" then yes. The Emperor was a great figure.

Master Luke has Force 2, can block melee and ranged attacks and move up to 6 squares a turn. He also renews 1 force a turn. All this for 74 points. Plus, he has triple attack, so once you get him near a character, he just doesn't move and kicks butt.

As for Mas Ameeda, yes, his "booming voice" can suck to play against. But, I would think that he was banned for tourny play (having not ever played in tourneys myself, I don't know the figs that are banned or "restricted"). Another figure that sucked was Grand Admiral Thrawn from Universe. He could modify the initiative for any player on the board. Only Han from the Alliance and Empire set can counter him (at least among my figures). Tactician and Never Tell Me The Odds. The ysalamiri that he has is also awesome, since players like Luke, Leia, Grevious and the like can't use the force adjacent to him!

Just a few observations. But here again, this is just a review, and I wanted to make a statement about how great this game really is. Outside of a few sets, the game really well balanced.
 
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russdogg99 wrote:

Master Luke has Force 2, can block melee and ranged attacks and move up to 6 squares a turn. He also renews 1 force a turn. All this for 74 points. Plus, he has triple attack, so once you get him near a character, he just doesn't move and kicks butt.


I have to agree with Ugavine. Master Luke cannot do more than 60 damage per round with triple attack, has no ranged attacks, and cannot attack more than once (20 damage) if he moves. Lord Vader (cost 71) can do 120 damage on a turn even if he moves. Vader Unleashed (50) can cause massive automatic damage from a distance. Vader Jedi Hunter (75) can do 90 damage on a turn, 120 if paired with Thrawn. Vader Scourge (55) can do 60 damage, 80 damage if paired with Thrawn, and can potentially hit back twice (40 damage each) whenever someone else hits him with a lightsaber. The top Vaders damage output is way more than Master Luke.
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I took Master Luke apart very quickly with a couple of Yuuzhan Vong Jedi Hunters a couple of weeks ago. That Force Renewal & Block meant nothing

Even Grand Master Luke isn't great due to his whopping 115pt cost. You just don't have the support.

Quote:
As for Mas Ameeda, yes, his "booming voice" can suck to play against. But, I would think that he was banned for tourny play (having not ever played in tourneys myself, I don't know the figs that are banned or "restricted").

The only figure banned from tournamnet play was General Obi-Wan Kenobi. He got 3 attempts to block any attack with decreasing Saves 11, 7, 3!

Grand Admiral thrawn is just a minor gripe to me. YES, he is powerful, but it's the combination is Mas Amedda allowing boardwide swapping of characters which is annoying. For those that don't know the tactic; Thrawn, Mas, Vader, Stormtroopers & other low point activations. Out activate your opponent, run a Stormtrooper up to opponents big gun, swap in Vader, Vader gets all his attacks. Next round Thrawn automatically wins Initiative, Vader finishes off the opponent, swap out Vader for Stormtrooper.

But take Mas out of the equation and more tactics are needed, which I like. The new Thrawn granting Opportunist makes this combo even more powerful!
 
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Ugavine wrote:

Even Grand Master Luke isn't great due to his whopping 115pt cost. You just don't have the support.


The new Ganner piece with levitate makes GMLS a lot more powerful. He can do his 120 damage more reliably since he can be levitated adjacent to an enemy.
 
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Russell Waddel
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Well, another combo that is just wrong at times is the Rebel Commando-Strike Leader with the Rebel Commandos. If the strike leader doesn't die, no one can touch your commandos unless they are in melee combat with them, and they get grenades 20.

I hear what you are saying...I said that "among my vaders". I don't have those vader figures, so I can't really do that much damage with them. Also, I think that the FU set has REALLY unbalanced the game.

Anyhoo, you keep your figures and I'll keep mine.

 
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russdogg99 wrote:
Well, another combo that is just wrong at times is the Rebel Commando-Strike Leader with the Rebel Commandos. If the strike leader doesn't die, no one can touch your commandos unless they are in melee combat with them, and they get grenades 20.

I hear what you are saying...I said that "among my vaders". I don't have those vader figures, so I can't really do that much damage with them. Also, I think that the FU set has REALLY unbalanced the game.

Anyhoo, you keep your figures and I'll keep mine.



The stats for all of the figures can be browsed on www.bloomilk.com. Super-stealth is still tough, but Force Sense, Disruptive, and It's a Trap make it less of a threat.

My least favorite figure for un-balancing the game in Yoda on Kybuck from the Clone Wars set. He can be towed up to 12 spaces by R2-D2, Astromech Droid (aka "Doombot") and then move up to 26 spaces. While he's moving those 26 spaces he can use Galloping Attack to attack every character he moves adjacent to. That one piece eliminates low-cost swarm-squads as a viable strategy for most factions.
 
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Well, that does suck. I haven't collected much from "Clone Wars" on. I have heard that some of the newer sets have "unbalancing" units. Seems like WoTC tends to do that with their games *cough, magic, cough*


I like the game as it is. It is still simplistic, and fun to play. The myriad of characters, abilities and combinations make it hard to master. Also, just when you think that you have lost, sometimes timely hits and kills can turn the battle into your favor.
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chris doonan
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Very nice review. I love this game, i haven't had time to play a game in some time, but still buy a booster every now and then.

I think someone asked how many boosters you need(this may have been answered). I think i bought 2 or 3 of one set and was able to make a nice sized force.

Fringers rule
 
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thatdoonan wrote:
Very nice review. I love this game, i haven't had time to play a game in some time, but still buy a booster every now and then.

I think someone asked how many boosters you need(this may have been answered). I think i bought 2 or 3 of one set and was able to make a nice sized force.

Fringers rule


Sealed tournaments are played with 2 boosters, so you can certainly play with 2 boosters per person. You'd have to ignore faction restrictions, though. It's cheaper to buy from ebay than to buy boosters.
 
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Depends on what you are buying. If you want to round out a faction, say rebels, then getting "lots" on ebay is much cheaper. If you are just getting started, then you probably should buy a starter set, and 2-3 boosters. The starter will get you a good mix of characters, and the boosters will round out your forces. Yes, fringers are great characters, and great cannon fodder in the armies. A few, like the Black Sun Vigos, are extremely powerful. Also, the bounty hunters (Boba Fett, Dengar, etc) are great if your opponent is going to use unique characters.

The reason for buying a starter set is so that you have a map for battling, and some units to battle with. You can get a good feel for certain factions if you can battle with them on a regular basis. I may start a new thread for choosing factions based on units within the factions.
 
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My local Target has several Clone Wars starters and a bunch of Jedi Academy boosters, Empire something-or-other boosters, and some boosters that include 1 large and 6 small figures that might be Force Unleashed. I got a starter to check out the game -- are any of those boosters worth collecting? (IIRC the Empire boosters were $8, the Jedi boosters were $9, and the large boosters were $11. The starter was $5.)

Are the starter sets the only way to get maps?
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The Unleashed boosters contain a 'huge' figure, whose base is 9 squares instead of 1. The Imperial Entanglements booster focuses on the classic trilogy. You're pretty much guaranteed to get at least one imperial troop (of some sort) in a pack. The Jedi Academy booster focuses on the Star Wars exapanded universe, mostly the New Republic era (after Return of the Jedi). The Galaxy at War booster focuses on the clone wars. If you just want more figures to play at home, I'd go for whatever era you're most interested in.

If you want to get into competitive play (tougher since the game was cancelled - fewer venues but they're still out there), it's a tough call to say which is your best bet. The shortest path to a competitive squad is Jedi Academy - if you pull Grand Master Luke Skywalker and Leia Skywalker (both rares, not very-rares), you nearly have a competitive squad right there with just those 2. Competitive, but not top level.

As far as return on investment, IE is probably the safest bet. A mouse droid goes for $5 plus on ebay, and that's just an uncommon. The biggest 'jackpot' is probably Cad Bane from Galaxy at War, which can go for $50 or so. But I wouldn't buy them as an investment. Buy them to play or collect, but don't plan to make money off of them.

Regarding maps... of the items on Target clearance, the starter is the only one with maps. There were previous starter packs as well that contained other maps, and last summer they put out 'map packs' which just had a map plus 2 figures. For the earliest sets (4 years ago or so), they had "Ultimate Mission" books, which had a bunch of scenarios and also included another map. There are also some quality third-party maps that are available.

Official Wizards of the Coast maps:
http://www.the-holocron.com/index.php?option=com_content&tas...

Third-party maps:
http://mapsofmastery.com/
http://www.miniaturemarket.com/inc/sdetail/648338 (This is map pack #3 - he made 2 others that have sold out. You might find them used somewhere. Map pack #4 is due to be released in about a month.)
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