Friday, August 5, 2016

Review of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Beginner Game

There was a small amount of controversy when Fantasy Flight Games first announced this product; some fans of the game thought it would herald a new, fourth core series of products. Those fears were quickly quashed, however, and then it was left for people to wait until today for it to be released. Now the time has come.

In its layout, this set is very similar to the ones that preceded it. It comes with a map, a short introduction, an adventure booklet, a rules booklet, tokens to represent characters, and vehicles and creatures. The adventure scenario is pretty straightforward, involving a band of nomads who make a surprising and important discovery aboard a downed Corvette but run afoul of a local criminal gang. From there, however, the story takes a surprising turn, throwing the PCs into the middle of the conflict that is erupting throughout the galaxy. It even has suggestions for adventures occurring after the First Order's destruction of Hosnian Prime.

That, in the end, is what I think makes this set worthwhile for fans of The Force Awakens. It is the first RPG product specifically related to the new movie(s), bringing Star Wars roleplaying into the new era. To me that's notable because I started playing the d6 version of the RPG from West End Games in the late eighties or early nineties, back when there was nothing but the Rebellion Era. Some ten years later, when the prequel movies were hitting the theaters, Wizards of the Coast put out its d20 version; with that and the RPGA's Living Force Campaign, I associated those rules with the time period leading up to the Clone Wars, the fall of the Old Republic and Order 66. This boxed set, then, takes the new FFG rules and sends them into the new era.

In that way, the set achieves its core purpose: It provides an introduction for new players, especially for those whose first Star Wars experience might have been Episode VII. What is more, it leads right into a downloadable adventure, A Call for Heroes. This promises to explore even more of this time period, and GMs can always adapt material from the other FFG core rulebooks and sourcebooks, along with elements from the movie(s). The boxed set also includes a map of the galaxy—including the new planets Jakku, Takodana, D'Qar, Hosnian Prime and Starkiller Base—which is a nice addition. There are also stats for some of the character types who serve the First Order, the Resistance and various criminal organizations,

Finally, it comes with another set of dice, which are always handy.

 For these reasons, I believe this set is invaluable for GMs who want to launch campaigns in the new era of Star Wars.

Review of A Call for Heroes
After reading through this scenario, I've found some things I like and some that I don't. They are:
  • Positive: The document, thirty pages long, presents three separate “missions” that the PCs can undertake. One is a raid on an old Imperial communications station, another is the exploration of an old Imperial research facility, and the last is a return to Jakku to help deal with the Strus Clan enemies made during the scenario Discovery on Jakku from the boxed set. This could easily make for three sessions' worth of play.
  • Positive: These scenarios provide a good mix of encounters, with fast action, creepy atmosphere and good roleplaying opportunities at different times.
  • Negative: I wish that the scenarios had maps. While I know that the Star Wars RPG doesn't rely on maps for game play, I still like to have them to set the scene for the players.
  • Negative: Although I figured this might be the case, there aren't many details about what the Resistance (or the rest of the galaxy) is doing in the aftermath of The Force Awakens. I understand why this is, of course, since Episode VIII is still in production, but I'd hoped that there might be a few tidbits.
All in all, A Call for Heroes provides a solid resource for adventures, even though most GMs would need to do some extrapolation in order to continue developing a campaign in the Episode VII era after this scenario is finished.


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