second chance games

Search This Website of delight

Showing posts with label Star Wars. Show all posts

Star Wars Legion is a two-player battle between the Imperial forces and forces comprising the Rebel Alliance (what else?).  I've pla...

Star Wars Legion Star Wars Legion

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Star Wars


Star Wars Legion is a two-player battle between the Imperial forces and forces comprising the Rebel Alliance (what else?).  I've played enough of the current catalogue of the seemingly never-ending release of Star Wars to be able to say I think this is my favourite at the tactical level (with a few caveats). 

Before I tell you why I think this is my favourite tactical Star Wars game, I've got to set some expectations. The Star Wars Legion box is a starter set for the rest of the system, it is far from the full SW:L experience.  This is a tabletop wargame with elements borrowed from board games that optimise gameplay; it isn't a board game.  To explain further, I would consider Imperial Assault to be a miniatures boardgame; SW:L is a miniatures wargame.

You can watch my unboxing video of the core set below:

Gameplay

A game, or battle, lasts for six turns in which all of your and your opponents will activate alternately with each other.  A full turn of the game comprises three different phases, (I told you it was like a board game), the Command Phase, the Action Phase and the End Phase.
Starter Battle setup
During the Command Phase, players choose one from a hand of 7 command cards to 'order' a number of their in-command units.  However, these command cards also determine the initiative for that turn. If you've chosen a command card with a high number of activations you've probably ceded the initiative to your opponent.  Because there are so few command cards in use, you can know what cards your opponent still holds in their hand and choosing a command card turns into a fun mini-game within a game.

Your commander will be able to order a small number of units directly by placing an order token next to that unit (assuming they're within order range). Units that don't receive an order token will have their order tokens shuffled and placed in a face-down stack. During the activation phase, you can elect to move a unit that has an order token next to it or pull from the randomised stack and activate whichever unit is drawn. 
Protecting the transmission dish
In the most basic terms, each activated unit can move and fire.  As you're moving after your opponent (except for the first activation of the turn) you should be able to react immediately to any manoeuvre.  However, if you've placed an order token next to units that are far from the action, you'll be reduced to hoping that you pull the right order token from the stack to react or cause your opponent the same dilemma. This may sound quite random but you can control it in a variety of ways and it actually plays out like another fun mini-game within a game. 

Your units are not just limited to just moving and attacking. In the learning battle, players can also, aim and dodge, but the full rules, allow for a plethora of abilities to be used. The abilities when used allow you to have more control over the timing or your units' activation, their movement or their abilities in combat.  These powers are mostly tracked through the use of intuitive tokens next to the unit which neatly avoids the ubiquitous lookup tables in many other wargames.  These abilities not only are evocative of the lore of Star Wars but make the tactical decision space far greater.


Father and Son dukin' it out

The movement system is nice and simple. You are given three movement rulers which hinge in the middle and you measure the unit's leader-figures movement. Every other figure in the unit is just placed somewhere within XXX of that figure. There is no need for unit trays or endless measuring of distance. I thought this sped up the gameplay compared to many miniature wargames I've tried and it lets you get on with the real battle.

When in combat your units roll a number of dice depending on how many figures there are in the unit.  The unit cards indicate the number of red, black or white dice a single figure rolls in attack or defence. The strengths of each dice colour are different and I was continually pleased with how thematic the units abilities and dice mechanics worked to fit into Star Wars canon. Once again this was quite a simple mechanic but when the full rules are used, your units may have more than one weapon type and can fire on multiple enemies. Although the gameplay is very accessible there are plenty of good tactical decisions to be made.  I particularly like the surge mechanic which is present in quite a few FFG games.
Stormtroopers rolling too well, they defended every single hit!
The starter battle is very easy to jump into even if you're both complete newcomers to the game or have never played a miniatures wargame.  And you know what? I thought it was a blast.  I've continued to play the advanced rules and built up to nearly a full army of Imperial and Rebels.  A full army is 800pts and when building your army lists visiting table top admiral is a must.  I've even put my 3d printer to good use producing terrain for the game.

I just wish there were more players of the game near me. I've only found one game store out of about 7 or 8 I've visited recently (I travel quite a bit for work) who is stocking SW:L product. Which is a shame because I think this game is a great example of what a tabletop wargame should be and it's set in the Star Wars universe. Win-win from me. Its largest rival in this space is probably Games Workshop's 40k behemoth, and for me, there is no question which is more fun. (hint: it's not the spacemarines)
500pt Battle to control the comms array

Components

The game comes with a plethora of different tokens and figures to get going with the base game. It's almost expected that I would say that these components are up there with the best in the business as is the rest of FFG's output. However, I can criticise the miniatures, specifically the limited glueing surface (e.g. two boots) to their bases. I thought I was a fairly competent modeller and used the right type of glue but I've still had a few miniatures come unstuck.  Why can't all minis come on slotted bases?


Ubiquitous Learn to Play and self-printed Reference

Criticisms

The rest of the production of this game is top-quality, as ever from FFG, but there is lots to criticise here.  I think the delivery of the product to gamers has been poorly handled. 

The core game doesn't provide enough dice to roll just one hand of dice. Scooping up the misses and rolling again, or remembering the previous roll to add to the next is not what I want to be doing. My first 'expansion' that I bought was an extra set of dice.  Adding an extra 9 dice couldn't have been that cost prohibitive, could it?
Can you spot the Rebel sharpshooters?
The rules reference is not provided in the box. The Learn to Play book is there and it's excellent, but to progress onto the next stage you'll need to download and print out or use a screen to read the rules reference.  I know this is intended to be a living document so any print out will show its age, but wargamers have been adding errata corrections to manuals for as long as Star Wars has been around. You can't even buy the rules reference as a standalone product. However, they have used lots of links in the pdf and it's very easy to navigate. You just need to have a large tablet or laptop at the game table.

The scale of the miniatures does not match that of Imperial Assault, they are larger and, however, much better quality, but I think this aspect alone massively damaged Legion's launch. Imagine if all the Imperial Assault players woke up to find a new game, playable with their existing miniatures with just a purchase of some dice and card decks. I guarantee that the uptake of this would have been through the roof. The potential for future expansions would also have been massive as IA players realise that this game is a much better skirmish game than IA. This miniature scale decision could be viewed as quite cynical corporate greed and I think it may have stabbed FFG in the foot a little.

If you do eventually buy the expansions, and I heartily recommend SW:Legion with them, then be prepared for the amount of air you're buying.  The expansion box sizes far outstrip the amount of content you get. I'm getting a bit fed up with publishers making their boxes with no consideration to the amount of stuff that box will hold. It's not bad in the Core Box, mine is stuffed and it comes with an almost workable insert, but the expansions are ridiculous. What is more egregious is that I'm sure 90% of players will be ditching these expansion boxes straight away.

Looking at the prices for this in the one store, I found actively stocking it (luckily it's local) is the price model.  FFG know what they're doing with this IP and the level of players they can expect to invest and support the game, but the prices for the expansions feels fairly wallet gouging if you're not a regular miniatures gamer accustomed to skipping meals to pay for the next unit...



via GIPHY

However, with all that said, these criticisms do nothing to detract from the gameplay. 

Conclusion

So I love the gameplay. There are some really great 'ah-hah' moments when you realise how to use your units abilities and how it fits thematically and I've only really scratched the surface; there's lots of game here to get your teeth into.  But there is lots to criticise as well. Thankfully very few of my criticisms are levelled at the gameplay, more at how FFG have handled the production and launch of this game.
Comms power generator captured by a severely weakened stormtrooper unit
Star Wars: Legion shares top-gong, with Star Wars Rebellion, for best game in the Star Wars universe, in my opinions, and is the most fun I've had playing a tabletop wargame.  Other games I've experienced which I'm basing this comparison on are: Lion Rampant, Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Warhammer 40k, and Bolt Action.

Legion plays quickly and you have a plethora of tactical decision every single turn of when to activate and how to minimise the damage an unwanted activation could do whilst attempting to destroy your opponent's forces. 


That's a lot of stuff in the base box
Some people have described this as an incomplete board game, and that is unfair. It is firmly a miniatures wargame with a little bit of a board game in there, e.g. the use of tokens and command cards.  You're paying for the rules and some starter units which aren't provided by many wargame rulesets.


If Star Wars is your thing and you're either a tabletop gamer wondering what all the fuss is about with board games, or you're a board gamer, curious what the other side of your local game shop is all about, then I can recommend Star Wars Legion, it has a foot in both camps.


Now would be a great time to get into Legion as the support from FFG continues to grow and the Clone Wars core box sets are soon to be released alongside the multitude of expansions that will eventually come with the new factions. At the moment only B-1 Battle Droids and Clone Troopers have been announced but you get General Grievous and Obi-Wan Kenobi (of Mcgregor vintage) in the core box alongside two base units and a vehicle unit for each side.

This is a little hard to find in local brick and mortar stores but still widely available online and actively supported by FFG, I get the impression that it is much more popular across the pond than in the UK.  You can 
find your nearest FLGS at http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/

Publisher: FFG

Website: https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/star-wars-legion
Players: 2
Designer: Alex Davy
Playing time: 1-2 hours

Star Wars: Imperial Assault (SW:IA) probably needs no introduction here, but Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) have just released a compani...

Star Wars: Imperial Assault and Legends of the Alliance Star Wars: Imperial Assault and Legends of the Alliance

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Star Wars



Star Wars: Imperial Assault (SW:IA) probably needs no introduction here, but Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) have just released a companion app that allows full cooperative rebel play against the app-driven Empire. This review will cover both the game and the brand new Legends of the Alliance app.

As with nearly all FFG games, this is dripping with theme. In fact, the theme makes this game stand out above all my other dungeon crawlers. If you enjoy the Star Wars universe then I feel pretty confident that you’ll enjoy this game. It really does feel like you’re playing as a small group of rebel operatives launching guerrilla raids on Empire outposts. The Story Starts just at the end of A New Hope with the remnants of the Death Star crashing down onto Yavin 4.
3rd Mission of the traditional campaign game.

SW:IA was released in 2014 and it is pretty much a re-skin of Descent 2nd Edition. If you know that game, this one will take you about 1 minute to grok the elegant line-of-sight rules and appreciate the subtle difference between the Overlord player (in Descent) and the Imperial player in this game. In my playgroup, it felt like there was a little less downtime between players.

The game can now be played in three different ways, the standard PvE-like (1 vs many) campaign game - which is where my jam is. The PvP skirmish game or now, thanks to the app, as a fully-cooperative (or solo campaign) game. In the UK the game has an RRP of £92.99 which hurts just a little bit. However, the app is free and it provides a completely different campaign for rebel players to play-through.
You get four rulebooks, count 'em four!
To get the best experience of this game I feel like you need to have a dedicated group of regular players that are also willing to spend the next dozen game sessions or so bashing through this campaign. My group weren’t willing to play this exclusively so we’re only about halfway through the main campaign and the side missions that are interspersed with the story missions. I have also played it in Skirmish Mode which is arguably the most popular mode and as of last week, I have played two missions in the app campaign.

The rules recommend that you also have someone familiar with the game to play as the Imperial player. There is hidden content revealed only to the Imperial player at the start of every campaign mission. As a rebel player, this is a great way to immerse yourself in an almost RPG-like experience. The hidden knowledge also provides a true sense of jeopardy and suspense, although that is tempered by the knowledge these missions have been thoroughly balanced to within an inch of their life to make them winnable by either side. I recommend that you have John Williams playing in the background to add atmosphere.

In my group, only 1 person had played this before, in fact, he owns the game and several expansions. I didn’t know this before picking Imperial Assault up as he is a new to my group, but he was perfect to give us a run for our money as the Imperial player. In our campaign, the rebels have won more than they’ve lost but if there was a consistent trend of one side winning then the game might become unwinnable for the losing side.

Your characters gain XP and access to new equipment and allies as they progress through the campaign. Unfortunately for those wanting to play as Luke or Han Solo they only appear as ‘allies’, appearing only to assist during particular missions. The Imperial player is not left without their own allies or ‘villains’, which may enter play as the rebels progress… There are a total of 12 ally and/or villain tokens in the base box. You can, of course, buy all the miniatures for these extra 12 characters but they’re not provided in the base box.
Some of the components... can you spot the AT-ST?

Worryingly, the base box does come with an AT-ST miniature which is one of the best core-game miniatures I’ve ever seen. It is solid plastic, or at least it feels solid, and it sits approximately 12 cm (or 4” ¾ for those used to old money). I say 'worryingly' because as a rebel player it’s not come out to play in our campaign yet and I feel like we’ll be woefully underpowered when it does. Maybe Chewbacca will come out to help us? Either way, as a player and Star Wars fan I’m excited about the experience and intrigued by the lure of expansions.

Of course, if you want to play with all the goodies straight away you can make up your own army in skirmish mode. Players (just two) will each take a side and build their army using a traditional point-based system. This is done in secret and before both of you know what the particular mission will be. The mission is decided after the players have finished army-building by drawing a card from the Skirmish Mission deck. This make’s an enjoyable and fair mission but for the wannabe-tactician in me, I would prefer to know what my mission is before building and outfitting my force. I’m absolutely fine not knowing the enemy disposition, but not knowing my mission before I select my forces does feel a bit strange.
Everything but the insert

The box and components are all glorious but I do have one niggle with the production. The stupid trench insert FFG insist on using in their big-box games. I didn’t mind it in SW: Rebellion (there were two trenches), I could fit everything back in ‘the trench’ in Mansions of Madness but in this, there is no way all of the terrain tiles, miniatures, tokens and card decks are going to fit back into the box. In the end, I just gave up and ditched the insert. I’m sure 80% of gamers will do the same. “Why bother FFG?” Please, either make the box smaller and ditch the insert, or the trench wider so that it can hold all the components that are in the box after it has been punched.

As you can see from the picture above, once you've ditched the waste-of-cardboard-insert, you have room for lots of expansions...
iOS Screenshot

I’ve only played two missions with the app, but that wasn’t without some teething issues. I should caveat this with I tried this in the very first week it was released so I fully expect the problems I experienced to be ironed out. I initially attempted to run it on stock Android, albeit quite an old version and it hung on the splash screen. The app does say that if this happens. you should restart your phone. After restarting I could never start a mission, so I switched to an iPad which had no problem with the app.

If you’ve played the Road to Legend app, (for Descent 2nd edition) you know what to expect here. Legends of the Alliance is a slick and highly-professional app that makes an already great game even better, by allowing for solo play and fully cooperative modes. This may not be of interest to you but in this free app, it adds a completely new dimension to the game. If you own IA and didn’t know about the app, do yourself a favour and try it out. I am loving it so far and can see myself completing the campaign in it before my group finishes our traditional campaign game.
Whoops!

Another benefit is that the app allows me to play a 2 player game with my son, who is just a bit young to fully control a group of rebels against his merciless father to enjoy it fully. With the app, we get to play together and in the Star Wars universe so it gets two thumbs up from him. Although there are far fewer faux-tortured breathy “... I am your Father!” quips. (He didn’t laugh the first time, I’m not expecting a laugh anytime soon, but I won't stop doing it).

Unlike the Descent app, I don't think the app changes the missions or encounters based on your collection yet. FFG has said that they will be implementing that soon as you expand your collection those additional figures and items will possibly turn up in the app-campaign. This is a great feature which provides a great reason to pick up the base game and some (affordable to you) expansions. However, I should mention and warn those of us who suffer from a completionist disorder that you’ll be spending the best part of £1200 to complete your Imperial Assault collection. Buyer game collector beware!
Shut up and take my money!

The game comes with the expected plethora of tokens and different card decks, when it is all out on the table it is a bit bewildering for new players but the basic rules take about 30 minutes to fully explain (if you've got an attentive group) and after half a dozen or so activations there will be very few rules that require look up.
So many card decks
FFG do an excellent job of writing their rules these days and SW: IA is no exception. The game comes with a basic rules book that consists of 5 pages of basic rules and 1 page of advanced rules. There is a separate Rules Reference Guide that contains every single rule in an a-z format. Each entry has a super useful ‘Related Topics...’ at the end which lead to other sections. I wish all publishers did this. You also get a short Skirmish guide and a much more extensive Campaign Guide rulebooks.
My own token storage solution

I love Star Wars and this game is a fantastic implementation of a great combat system in a universe I would like to visit. I’ve often wondered how good (and long) a grand-strategy and tactical game in the Star Wars universe could play out with all the different and individually excellent FFG Star Wars games we have today.

For example, you could play Star Wars: Rebellion as your over-arching strategy thread; Break out X-Wing the Miniatures Game or Star Wars Armada (I prefer X: TMG) to resolve the space battles; Then break out SW: IA to resolve any ground battles; While dressed in your finest Rebel fighter gear (of course).

If anyone is interested in a very long weekend of Star Wars gaming, full of theme music and tired jokes then let me know...maybe the day after watching the imminent Episode VIII - Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

You can pick up Star Wars Imperial Assault from nearly any Friendly Local Gaming Store and just in time for Christmas...

Amazing fact: FFG own 17 different Star Wars game titles, take that EA! (I have no idea how many current Star Wars games EA have released)
PixelPLaybox.co.uk