Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ugh...Star Wars (Fantasy Flight Games)

I am NOT gaming my own choice. There were two, perhaps three interested folks (and the usual no-shows, illnesses, and "goin' to the movies" responses) but my wife is pretty darn ill right now and that trumps things for me...especially considering she's off to Paraguay again on Sunday and needs to rest up before then.

[yes, she'll be missing the Super Bowl. I'm thinking of taking a pass on the Harbaugh-Extravaganza myself...but then, what kind of American would I be?]

Which is too bad because, while I've got the Legendary Might game somewhat tightened down (you can download the one-page micro-version here), what I've REALLY been working on the last couple days (very passionately might I add) is my D&D Mine edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Corrected a few over-sights (like not confusing the risk mechanic with different die pools) and figuring out a new name that actually corresponds to the game setting. Yes, it has a specific setting. No, it's still only half-baked. Yes, there will probably be people that hate it...I don't care, I like it. A lot.

But none of that's what this post is about (nor is it about the half-dozen D&D topics that keep popping into my brain...need to keep a list). Instead, just wanted to tell people I had a chance to peruse Fantasy Flight Game's brand spanking-new Star Wars:Edge of the Empire Beginner (boxed) Set down at Ye Ol' Game Shop tonight. I even got Tim to let me tear off the shrink-wrap and plunder its contents.

What can I say? I didn't buy it.

And not 'cause it's expensive or anything. The box game is a standalone for $30 and includes a huge set of dice (important, as they are non-numerical, and of varying sided-ness), a 48-page rulebook, a 32-page adventure book, and a random assortment of tokens and sheets and maps. I flipped through it a bit, but didn't actually sit down and read it with a discerning mind, so take my words with a grain of salt.

It looked ugly.

I mean, the package and the contents aren't literally ugly. They are well produced with beautiful artwork and layout. And the words that were being mouthed at me from the pages...something about being abstract so as to allow the game to be cinematic with a non-binary (i.e. non-straight success/failure) mechanic all seemed to be a step in the right direction. Hey, at least the system didn't resemble Death Watch.

However, what it DID look like was an experimental-style, slickly-produced, narratavist-wannabe (indie-style) game. With a proprietary dice-mechanic (based on the special dice included with the game). And that, while taking a few pages from Saga (D20) Star Wars (observe the "talent trees"),  was still messy and incomplete ( Jedi?) with no mention of such being intended for the final "core"rule book (instead, FFG's on-line press release seems to indicate three separate, standalone core books will be issued with the third a few years...being released to deal with the Jedi).


Anyway, I didn't get it, despite the price and the subject matter. And I am still on a D&D kick right now, so you probably won't hear much more on the subject anyway. But with all the space opera musings/postings I've been making lately I felt I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention I had a chance to skim it. A chance to skim it and then to put it all back together and shelf it.

Ugh, I am tired...I may just go to bed early tonight.
; )


  1. I frequent the FFG forums sometimes, and this is what I have picked up.

    1) As far as Jedi, Edge of the Empire will have some rules for force sensitive characters, enough to produce a character not unlike Luke Skywalker during Episode 4, who is beginning to open up to the force. You won't be able to build a real Jedi, because

    2) They are relegating to their own book. FFG decided they want to produce three sets of main rules. Edge of the Empire handles smugglers, bounty hunters, colonists, and other such characters who are migratory and operate at the fringes of the galaxy. The next book will be about soldiers and pilots and those fighting in the galactic civil war. Finally, there will be a Jedi book.

    The reason for the three book setup, as I understand it, is to give each broad area of campaign-type play their own area and consideration. Specifically for the Jedi, they decided that if you try to have mixed parties of Jedi and non-Jedi it can be unsatisfying at times, and the Jedi have a huge draw for the setting. You can see a similar arrangement in the Warhammer 40K books, where rogue traders are one book, tech priests another book, and the super space marines an other. All varying power levels, all varying functions.

    1. And, of course there's the whole "Vader hunted down and exterminated the Jedi at the dawn of the Empire" thing :)

  2. @ Orion:

    The thing about "mixed power levels" and the need for separate books makes sense...I've blogged often enough about the issues I've had trying to meld the two (I think the old D20 tact of "balancing all character types" by putting smugglers and soldiers on par with Jedi was pretty bunk).

    That being said, part of what makes a setting "Star Wars" is the inclusion of Jedi. They've been there from Day 1 (or rather, since Episode IV). Leaving them out seems a bit of an over-sight to me.

    Then again, perhaps what they're really trying to do is ape the feel of the original movies...THAT actually makes a lot more sense. The first film didn't really delve into Jedi or the War (bunch of fringers running around and being craws in the Empire's gullet). The second movie dealt much more with life as a rebel soldier (Echo base, being hunted, gathering like-minded allies like Lando and Yoda), while the third film opened up the whole Jedi can (with the Emperor and the philosophies of the two opposing "Forces" being pretty clearly laid out).

    That would actually be a sharp way for FFG to do a "trilogy" of core rule books. Perhaps I'll check out the main hardcover when it arrives.

    But then, that still doesn't solve the system issues...or the dice.

    1. You are very astute JB, as I neglected that to say that, yes, FFG was a sort of symmetry in the book releases and the original trilogy.

      As for as the game-specific dice, I offer an anecdote from playing the X-Wing minis game: the dice really go a long way to streamlining the gaming experience. When you roll those dice, you know what happens the moment they hit without consulting any charts or doing any calculations in your head. I'm not saying these activities are difficult, but the dice go a long way towards shaving time. Additionally, the rules give some opportunity to tweak the mechanics in neat ways.

      I wasn't sure about the dice themselves prior to playing X-Wing, but now I see that they allow for the designers to alter the probabilities in ways they see fit for the game play experience.

  3. "The thing about "mixed power levels" and the need for separate books makes sense...I've blogged often enough about the issues I've had trying to meld the two (I think the old D20 tact of "balancing all character types" by putting smugglers and soldiers on par with Jedi was pretty bunk)."

    We could embrace imbalance (between different PCs) as a key part of the setting - see WFRP1e or Stormbringer, for example. I doubt that'd fly with contemporary gamers, but I can dream.

    And "I'm thinking of taking a pass on the Harbaugh-Extravaganza myself...but then, what kind of American would I be?" Well, the [Rugby Union] 6 Nations tournament begins this weekend - real Blood Bowl! ;-)

  4. Of course the Beginner Box looked incomplete. It is not the complete RPG, and anyway, it is actually complete in that it provides everything necessary to play the scenario included and its sequel. Full review of the Beginner Box here (, the review including a link to my review of the beta version of the RPG.

  5. I bought the beta version a few months ago. I tried to like it, I really did!

    I found the reliance on the 'special dice' to be a pain in the ass. Unless you memorized what the symbols on each die means, you will likely spend a lot of time looking at charts, which is something I really, really hate. The starter adventure included in the book was pedestrian in it's plot and a bit railroady.

    The beta version didn't even include dice. They gave you a page full of stickers which you had to put on your own dice. How sad.

  6. Bah. I am biased, but I found ffg's mechanisms in warhammer 3e to be too much of an abstraction as to be a distraction. Too much clever manipulation of game elements and less playing of the game for me. Looks like more of the same.