So, last week, I decided I was going to change gears when it came to gaming. I have been doing Age of Sigmar in a big way for two years now, the Horus Heresy for a year(ish) and 40k pretty solid since the release of 8th edition. And that is not just painting, but gaming (both on the table and on the screen), reading novels, and so on – really getting into the settings, you know?
Last week, I decided a change was as good as a rest, and so switched to my favourite setting of all… Star Wars.
Principally, I am going to be looking at X-Wing, Star Wars Armada and Imperial Assault – only one of those needs any real painting, so I have made a start on the miniatures in the Imperial Assault set, but it looks like we will be playing X-Wing first.
The big question, I guess, is why it took me so long to get into Star Wars gaming – after all, Star Wars has miles more source material to get into, in the form of video games, novels, animated series and, of course, the films. It is also my very favourite universe of all time.
Overall, the issue has been the tabletop games themselves. None have been done that have the depth or scope of 40k, and so the ‘hobby’ aspect has always been a little lacking. Which brings us to FFG.
Now… you can say all sorts of things about GW, the original Evil Empire – the price of their models, the idea that the Primaris Marines are here not because of a new chapter in the lore but because GW wanted to sell more models, and so on. And that may all be true in part. However, you also very much get the feeling that despite what directives may or may not be sent down from the Powers That Be in the higher echelons of the company, there are designers (writers, miniatures designers and artists) who genuinely care about their craft and want to create the best gaming experience possible. This is one reason GW has rolled on for decades.
I have two issues with FFG. First, their use (over-use?) of counters and cards. I like ‘clean’ tables with no counters, dice, or anything else being present when the miniatures are there – after all, you don’t get giant counters landing next to units in real world battles. It just jars the experience, and FFG goes very heavy into the components side of things with their games. Great for board games, not always the key to a miniatures game. Which focuses on, you know, miniatures.
Second… there is always a feeling in the back of my head that the same care over the craft of creating a gaming experience is not always there. This is not an issue with mechanics (necessarily) but in presentation and a disregard for aspects of the hobby beyond actually playing.
To give some examples, Imperial Assault has nine Stormtroopers – but they are all the same sculpt. There was no thinking as to how they would look painted, as a unit. Someone just did not care (and, I have a feeling this might be true of most of the actual customers of this game, most of whom will never put paint to brush). The rules mechanics are on the whole tight – but the writing is not. It is very difficult to get a grasp of the game without having the miniatures and cards in front of you, something that just does not exist in GW books, where the writing flows exceptionally well to the extent that examples are not really necessary.
There is also no flair to the rulebooks. With your typical GW rulebook or Codex, you can sink into the background of the universe, look at pictures of pretty miniatures, and plan your armies. FFG rulebooks are very dry in comparison.
All that said, there are obvious plus points. The miniatures do not have the level of detail of GW (they never would, it takes years and years to build the infrastructure necessary for that), but they are solid. Second… this is fricking Star Wars! I will go a long, long way to forgive less than perfection in the pursuit of Star Wars. FFG will have to really foul up to put me off.
It looks like it will be X-Wing we dive into first, but my Armada fleets are being built up already (more Star Wars toys, it really is not a burden) and my main painting is focussing on Imperial Assault (not foregoing GW-related projects, but I want Star Wars to take the lead for a bit).
And very easy it is to grips with too – that AT-ST was perhaps the fastest model to paint that I have seen for a long time, despite its size. I will go into the details of painting in my next post but, for now, if you have been following the GW route I would urge you to visit Sorastro’s Painting channel on Youtube. This gentleman uses modern GW paints to do the whole Imperial Assault range and, while I will touch on this in the next post, he has a fairly genius way of doing the glow-effect on Lightsabers. You really should check it out.