Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Star Wars and Samurai

There's been a bit of a lull since my last post. 

Since the Force on Force game at Guildford I've re-played the scenario in a game vs my son, who to be fair can usually kick me all over the park! The results came out much the same... a bloody tussle between both sides before the Rebels nicked the trucks and drove off into the sunset.  As he pointed out [not entirely unreasonably!] the forces need a little bit of tweaking for it to be a more balanced scenario and certainly the rebels preponderance of RPGs needs reducing.  Possibly because of that the game [and round 1 at Guildford] ended with burning vehicles everywhere... I really haven't got the hang of them!

Since then I've also played a very enjoyable Star Wars themed game of Stargrunt.  I last played these rules a few years ago and, despite some of the mechanics remaining a bit murky, they do seem a good rule set which reflect well games where there  are very different troop quality and tactics.  In this case the solid, reliable drilled forces of the Empire vs the rather flaky Rebels.  We decided to approach the game using 'historically accurate' tactics for the Stormtroopers [I know!].  In true George Lucas style this meant marching steadily towards the enemy in the open while failing to shoot anything... I like to think I played [and lost] with a lot of authenticity!!!

Keeping up the Star Wars theme...

Periodically I've mentioned how my son and I have been dabbling with Role Playing Games.  So far we've rediscovered AD&D [...ok...], Call of Cthulhu [... very good...] and Space Opera [...good, but long winded...].

Recently we came across adverts for the latest Star Wars RPG game, Edge of the Empire from Fantasy Flight Games.  There's been a Beta set of rules kicking around for a while which had passed me by and I discovered the new 'proper' rules were about to be released.  In a moment of madness I ordered the rulebook [not cheap although comparable with other RPG rules it seems].  The book itself is pretty hefty at 440 odd pages long and is a really nicely produced tome.

Character generation is pretty straightforward... choose a race, choose a class, allocate points to skills and buy equipment.  There are 8 races to choose from [including Wookies and Droids] and 6 classes, each of which has specialisations.  The emphasis seems to be on creating a game that is 'cinematic' in the way the story unfolds which is true to the films and suits the type of game I like.  The setting is during the 'proper' Star Wars films and events take place just after the destruction of Death Star I although I think people have set games in the earlier Episode I-III setting.  The game also includes some really nicely produced background fluff for the SW universe and rules for starship combat which I haven't got round to yet but which again appear to be very 'cinematic'.

The defining feature of the game [and the one I'm still trying to get my head round!] is the range of special dice which are used.  There are a selection of opposing dice which are rolled in order to succeed in actions.  At a basic level these are opposing skill rolls based on skills and characteristics but extra factors [and dice] can then be added in or upgraded or downgraded to reflect things like environmental factors [a passing cloud over the moon casts a deep shadow...], setbacks [... a twig snaps under your foot...], etc.  The resulting pool of dice give an indication of whether the character has succeeded but qualify that so that the result may mean, for example, an action succeeds but raises suspicion and so makes it harder for following characters.  There are a whole load of factors involved here and it does potentially seem overly complex but it does allow for the GM to give his or her own interpretation to the dice and use these to steer the story.  There are also Destiny Points which allow players and the GM to directly change results [... naturally it's all down to the Force]... the neat feature here is that if the player uses a Light side point to positively influence  a result, this is then changed to a Dark Side point which the GM can then use to bugger things up so there is always a balance.

I'm still trying to work out how practical this dice system will be in practice.  We haven't actually played through a scenario yet but have tried out a few examples to try and get it straight in our heads and it does feel as though it could work once you get into the swing of it.  This does mean, of course, that you need to shell out for some special dice with appropriate symbols on them.  The rules do give a method of using ordinary polyhedral dice and there is a download available to print stickers.  Inevitably though its easier just to buy the special dice!  There is also an App available for your tablet or iPhone which is actually quite neat and can also roll dice for the Star Wars X Wing game as well as 'ordinary' dice.

the SW dice App

FFG appear to be planning a whole range of supplements for classes etc but there is also, as you'd ecpect, a whole load of stuff appearing online to add to the game, including extra races [Ewoks... boo!...and Jawas...yay!!], scenarios etc.

It's probably still too early to say if this is 'the' SW game but there are some interesting mechanics which could work if they haven't made it too complex [and I say this as someone who liked Space Opera :)  ] but even so, the book's a very nice thing and would appeal to Star Wars fans generally.

Giving in to temptation....

At some point I plan to review the list of projects that I produced at the beginning of the year but I already know I've failed miserably to stick to a plan [like that's going to surprise anyone who knows me!!].  My latest moment of weakness...apart from the Edge of the Empire rules... has been pre-ordering the new Ronin Samurai skirmish rules from Osprey and 2 of the factions from North Star.  Yeah... like I really needed to dabble in something else!! 

My son has also pointed out that I got really frustrated trying to paint Samurai in 15mm so how is it going to be any easier in 28mm?  I'm hoping it will be but I have a feeling I may have set myself up for a fall!  Of the sets I've ordered are monks so at least there will be lots of Saffron Robes instead of intricate lacing!!!

The Bushi and Sohei factions which I've rashly pre-ordered...will I never learn!!!!

1 comment:

  1. I'm thinking about getting these two. Maybe I should get a couple of factions you didn't!