First Impressions: Sw Minis: Starship Battles


12-02-2007 00:55:07

Good morning, fellow peeps!

Hereís my quick and dirty review of the relatively new Star Wars Miniatures: Starship Battles gaming system.

First, a little background. About the only miniatures game that Iíve every played is the relatively complicated Classic BattleTech series, and Iíve never played any of the Wizards of the Coast stuff before. I once actually purchased a box set of the Clone Strike introductory box set, but buyers remorse set in and I returned it. So, Iíve never played any SW miniatures game at all.

That being said, I noticed on a Classic BattleTech board that someone wanted to trade SWM: SB minis. I didnít even know such a thing existed, but a quick Google search, and I was enthralled. You see, I absolutely love all of the ships in the SW universe, and to have a minis game that covers them is beyond compare. I immediately tracked down a store that sold the Starter set, and luck would have it that my birthday was only a few days away, thus explaining that un-expected $40.00 purchase to the wifeyÖ ;)

Anyway, that night I opened up the box when I got home from work, and was quite pleased. Speaking about the physical minis themselves, Iím amazed at the level of detail that the plastic miniatures have, and the painting was definitely above what I expected. Itís actually kind of cool to have your minis pre-painted, as opposed to CBT where you get metal minis that are not painted. I still have a battalion out in my garage that has yet to be completed! :(

About the only thing that was somewhat annoying is that there is a lot of ďbendy-nessĒ to some of the minis. For example, an X-Wingsí lasers were bended up out of line, and the lower wings for the Lamba-class shuttle were also bended towards the body of the ship. Nothing too serious, but a minor annoyance anyway.

In any case, after I marveled the minis (The SSD still makes my heart skip!), off to the rules I went. I quickly set up the quick start game, and with my 5-year oldsí help, we set up a nice skirmish.

I learned a few things. First, things tend to die rather quickly. The entire game only took a max of 25 minutes, and that was because I had to refer to the rules a bunch of times. Also, it was pretty fun! Being used to a CBT game, in which a 4 mini lance vs. another 4 mini lance can take about 2-3 hours, having a game that can be quickly played was a revelation! Since my main hindrance nowadays is my lack of time, I foresee that this will work greatly to my benefit. I also learned that my son is apparently a crack shot, rolling 18ís, 19ís, and 20ís consistently. :P

A bit later I got a chance to play another quick-start game against my brother, and we had a blast. We havenít as yet had a chance to get together to play a game using all the rules, but I expect that the fast pace will remain. From what Iíve read online, though, people have complained that the rule set is fairly shallow. Iíll address that at the end.

Part of the appeal of the game, of course, is the collectable nature of it. A few days later I dropped another $40 for two booster sets, and was pleasantly surprised at my luck to draw an ISD, a Mon Cal cruiser, and a few other nice ships. However, since Iíve got quite a few bills already that have much higher priority, I can see that this is the limit to my fleet expansion for quite some time. This is definitely not a cheap hobby, one that Iíll advise anyone. I think Iíll wait a little bit for the game to get a bit older so that the prices can drop on the common stuff to bulk out the rest of the fleet.

After reading up on the gaming system, there has been some criticism against the game being pretty shallow. This is referring to the fact that a lot of the details and nitty-gritty of starfighter/capital ship combat has been reduced down to all-inclusive numbers, like a defense rating. A miniatures version of X-Wing Alliance or TIE Fighter this is not. Itís pretty obvious that Wizards of the Coast has decided to make a game that is easy to pick up, play, and learn, at the expense of granularity. Personally, I like the path that WotC took, since I can play a quick game when I have a few minutes to spare, and be done with it in a relatively short amount of time. If I actually had an entire afternoon to spend, there is no law against creating a set of home rules to add that granularity that is missing. Already people have created a good set of rules that can be added to add that extra element thatís missing. However, I know that some like for those rules to be officially endorsed. To each his own. :)

In any case, to summarize, SWM: SB is a pretty decent gaming system that emphasizes quick play, and a generally enjoyable time by those playing. The relatively high quality of the miniatures themselves are quite ďprettyĒ, and once I have a few spares you can bet that some of them will be put on display, since theyíre good enough for that purpose. Itís a bit on the expensive side, but honestly most miniatures games are.

Thanks for reading my first ever review of anything. :)

Adien Falaut

18-04-2007 13:22:20

I've read a bit about the mini game while on my search for figuring out the RPG game and so far from what i understand the new saga stuff is suppose to be mini friendly and personally I wouldn't mind learning both games.