By Julian H. Betancourt
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STAR WARS MINIATURES:
A LOOK INTO A VERY SMALL REALM
 
In September of 2004, Wizards of the Coast released a much anticipated miniature game, Star Wars Miniatures. Although not unfamiliar to Star Wars miniatures, it became the first sci-fi entry by WOTC into the pre painted miniatures rage. For those not aware about them, think of them as the newest version of the highly successful Dungeons and Dragons ... with a Star Wars twist. It is a head to head game for competitive players, a line of prepainted, fully assembled miniaturized figures, ranging in size from small to large and averaging one and a half inches high (34 mm).
 
 
The line offers a new dimension into Star Wars collecting with a scale and level of detail never before applied to Star Wars. It is a product that definitely appeals to role-players in their adventures with such activities as battling and invites fans to collect the miniatures as single pieces, allowing for a great number of movie scene recreations.

S
tar Wars Miniatures is an entertaining game to play. Players can just pull it out of the box, set it on a table, look through the rules and be rolling the die in no time. Not difficult to play, the game captures a great deal of the Star Wars universe. You'll find heroes, villains, droids, creatures, and aliens of all sorts. But although it does not simulate much of Luca's galaxy fighting, it has enough bite to have you away from your daily routine and into a realm of shooting blasters, ignited sabers and onrushing empire servants.
 
Two different sets have been made available up to this point:
  • Rebel Storm: Deals only with figures of characters from the classic trilogy/Expanded Universe
  • Clone Strike: Deals only with figures of characters drawn from Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Clone Wars.
  • A third set due out this year will cover Episode III
STAR WARS MINIATURES:
WHAT TO GET. WHAT YOU'LL FIND INSIDE
 
STARTER PACKS: The first thing to get, if your interest drives you to it, would be the game's Starter Pack (also known as Entry Pack) a box containing all the starting materials needed for a player to get familiar with the game. Inside you will find a skirmish rulebook, a fold out battle grid, terrain tiles, a stat card for each miniature, a 20 sided-die and a bunch of mini figures, ten to be exact.
 
 
Out of all ten, eight of the figures are randomly inserted while two of them, Luke and Vader for the Rebel Storm Pack, and Jango Fett and Obi-Wan for the Clone Strike Pack, are exclusives to the Starter Packs only. Included in the starter set you will also find a listing with the names of all 60 figures making up the game and their level of scarcity going from common to uncommon, rare and very rare. By looking at the list one can very much know what is or isn't easy to find.
 
MAP AND TILES: The play map is a large fold out paper and pre-printed terrain.  It's two sided, so you can use either side you want. One side being specific to the given game, whether Rebel Storm or Clone Strike and the other side a more open terrain that can be customized using the tiles. The included terrain tiles can be used to make the game more interesting, altering the terrain locations on the map.
 
BOOSTER PACKS: Also known as Expansion Packs, are narrow boxes containing a selection of seven randomized mini figures. Booster packs support, on their own, the Rebel Storm and Clone Strike sets. Included in the packs are seven stat cards, one for each figure, and again a complete list of names for all 60 miniatures belonging to the set.
 
Contrary to the Started Packs, Booster Packs include Very Rare (VR) miniatures. The Started Packs only offer Commons (C), Uncommons (U) and Rare (R) figures. Booster packs provide them all, practically guaranteeing a Rare (R) in every pack, allowing to trade with others as well as an opportunity for army building, from Stormtroopers to Geonosian Warriors.
 
 
STAT CARDS: The included two sided stat cards each set provides feature on one side the skirmish combat character's description, pointing out strength, weakness, special abilities and their Force powers. Some of the commander miniatures increase the battling ability of other characters within their squads. The opposite side of the stat cards feature a sketch of the character used to create the miniature.
 
Here is a detailed explanation on what you'll see on the skirmish combat side of the stat cards:
  • Cost:   Shows how many points it takes to field a miniature
  • Hit points: Shows how much damage a miniature can take before being removed from play.
  • Defense: Shows how hard it is to hit a character (the higher the Defense, the harder it is to hit the character).
  • Attack: Shows the number you modify d20 attack rolls by. For instance, if you have a mini with a +5, when you attack you roll a d20 and add +5 to the result
  • Damage: Shows how many hit points your mini deals to an opponent if you succeed on an attack.
  • Special Abilities:  A provided definition is given on the white area of the card to those characters having one. An important special ability is named "Melee Attack" which gives the miniature limited attacking to minis adjacent to it on the map. It is assumed a miniature has a blaster or range weapon if it does not have Melee Attack stated on the card.
  • Commander Effects: They can be used to make troops more deadly in a battle or to give specific benefits to some leader type miniatures. Commander Effects are spelled out plainly right on the white rectangular area of the card
  • Force Powers: Just like special abilities, Force Powers are given to some characters, while others as the Luke included in the starter set have Force Points available but no Force Powers. Miniatures with force points can either use one Force point to re roll an attack, move two spaces during its activation or use enough of them to active Force Power
  • Collector number/rarity/set:  Shows how rare your mini is, what release wave it is part of and which number in the wave it was and faction. For instance: LUKE SKYWALKER  REBEL  10/60

The cards are of standard size and will easily fit in 9 pocket plastic sheets used for baseball card albums, thus you can nicely keep them in great condition if you wish to collect them.

ULTIMATE MISSIONS:  They are series of full color books accompanying each Star Wars Miniatures expansion, providing in depth information and suggestions to play the game for anyone wanting to expand their Star Wars Miniatures experience. Besides their related game content, a fold-out poster map and new color terrain tiles are included, allowing gameplay to be diversified.
 
 
 THE GAME IN A NUTSHELL

With so many high detail but low fun games on the market today, the Star Wars Miniatures save the day by providing players with enjoyment not only to share with their friends but also with the little ones in their families.

The Rebel Storm and Clone Strike games are the same as far as setting of the rules. Only the use of different terrains (eg. Death Star for Rebel Storm, Naboo for Clone Strike) and figures is what changes. Nothing says you cannot use the CS Naboo Map with Stormies, or the RS Death Star Map with Droidekas.

T
he only change seen is in the manual included in the Clone Strike Starter Set, which clarifies such principles as the "Line of Sight" and "Cover" in a much better way than it did in the Rebel Storm set. Also, an obvious observation but worth mentioning is that because there are new characters with more and different new Abilities and Force Powers in the Clone Strike set, its rulebook delves into these as well.

The combat and movement are simple to understand, yet it isn't simplistic. The tactics are in-depth but without mind-rattling in-depth rules. Just roll the d20 die, add it to your attack factor and compare it to the target's defense. It's still critical to seek cover, place leaders where they may help subordinates, mass fire and use unique models' special abilities. 

In order to play a game, each player must create a squad with a limit agreed upon.

The games are divided into three groups. The Rebel Storm set is equally divided, with each group containing 20 characters for a total of sixty different characters. The Rebel Storm set is made of:

  • Rebel: Lower numbers, going from 01 to 20
  • Imperial: Mid numbers, going from 21 to 40
  • Fringe: High numbers, going from 41 to 60

While the Imperials and Rebels don't mix, the Fringe can join either force or create their own squad. In two player games, one player should play Empire and the other Rebel forces.

The Clone Strike set is unequally divided in three groups. The Clone Strike set is made of:

  • Republic: Lower numbers, going from 01 to 26
  • Separatist: Mid numbers, going from 27 to 48
  • Fringe: High numbers, going from 49 to 60

While the Republic and Separatist don't mix, the Fringe can join either force or create their own squad. In two player games, one player should play Republic and the other Separatist forces.

The squads are built in secrecy by the players, allowing for the game to be more varied and fair. When the forces have been chosen and the squads are ready, they can be placed in pre talked about starting areas, or those areas already marked on the map. In a two player game Rebel (RS) or Republic (CS) set up first and Empire (RS) or Separatist (CS) go second.

Once all the miniatures are on the map, initiative time is up by rolling the provided d20 die. 

Special considerations such as squeezing through passages are given to larger size miniatures such as Jabba the Hutt or the Wampa, for instance, but they are not frequent to come upon due to the rarity of the larger figures. These "extra punches" are clearly explained in diagrams.

Depending on the terrain used, movement on the map becomes complicated. For instance, objects such as walls cannot be gone through. On the other hand, doors could either be open or impassible, depending whether they are open or not. Moving diagonally or areas with low objects in them are counted as double spaces for movement. If you move diagonally in a space with low objects, a penalty costing four spaces from a mini's movement will be given. The penalties stack.

When attacking, a line of sight is required in order to have an opportunity to succeed, thus attacks are straight forward. For range attacks, low objects and some characters get counted as cover, which adds +4 to the defense of the defending model. Ranged and Melee attacks get taken care of by rolling a d20 and adding the Attack modifier on the stat card. Doubling the damage dealt, Natural 20's always succeed. On the other hand, 1's always a fail. Stated on the back of the stat cards, If applicable, Force abilities take the place of an attack.

An attacker's damage value gets subtracted from the defender's hit points, if an attack connects, being Melee or ranged and any appropriate special ability is applied. There are some Force attacks that use the damage value stated on the attack on the card, making things much easier to keep up with.

The game ends when, if players have agreed upon playing a certain scenario, one player achieves the objectives of the mission or only one player remains.

STAR WARS MINIATURES:
SCULPTS AND CURE FOR A BENDING ILLNESS

First of, let's keep in mind we are dealing here with figures approximately an inch and a half tall, with certain figures such as the Wampa slightly taller. As such and being part of a role playing game, they do not have articulation and are permanently attached to their rounded bases.

With this said, the detail, paint application, extensive array of characters and poses could fairly be tagged as superb. For customizers liking to re paint, these miniatures hold paint well and they do look better than most of the HeroClix sculpts. There are a couple of instances where the sculpts are a little out of scale when placed next to other human sized counterparts such as the rebel pilot, per say, in the Rebel Storm set, but considering this is minimal, it isn't something to honestly complain about.

Overall the miniatures are very accurate as far as color of their clothes and weaponry is concerned. With the exception of the larger and some of the rarer figures, the likeness isn't precise. But, How much detail can you give to a face slightly bigger than a grain of rice?

A problem we do face with the sculpts is that a great number of their weapons are bent. The pieces being so small, the soft nature of the plastic and being shoved in their packs cause this to happen. For instance lightsabers, staffs and gun barrels are frequently found slanted. And although I was first very disappointed by this, I was soon told about a happy solution to this situation, boiling water!

Using a small pot, boil two to three cups of water in it. Grab the out of shape miniatures with some metal tongue or pliers and dip in the boiling water the bent part of the sculpt, for a few seconds. The plastic will soften greatly. Pull the figure out and using your fingers reshape the area. Be fast and hold the appropriate shape for a few seconds more. As the plastic hardens, the correct shape will remain in place, with the end result of a perfectly straight saber or staff. Sometimes this process needs to be repeated as some figures will bend out of shape again.

STAR WARS MINIATURES:
PROMOTIONAL FIGURES

AS I write this, twelve promo figures with unique bases have been issued. Most of them were given out at several conventions at the WOTC stand in 2004, some were promoted through British publications and in 2005, one was included as a pack in with Wave 12 of Unleashed figures. Here are the details on these exclusives:

  • Mon Calamari Mercenary (promo): Given to retailers as a promotional item. Base marked "Promo1 6/04."
  • Elite Stormtrooper (promo): Given out at San Diego Comic-Con 2004 and as a retailer promo. Based marked “Promo2 7/04.”
  • Tusken Raider (promo): Given to retailers as a promotional item. Base marked “Promo1 8/04.”
  • Mon Calamari Mercenary (Origins '04 promo): Given out at Origins 2004. Base marked “Origins 6/04.”
  • Wookiee Soldier (GenCon '04 promo): Given out at GenCon '04. Base labeled “GenCon 8/04.”
  • Dark Side Acolyte (GenCon UK '04 promo): Given as a promo to attendees of GenCon UK 2004. Base marked “GenCon UK 2004.”
  • Tusken Raider (Lotus Noir promo): Bundled with Lotus Noir magazine (UK). Base marked “Lotus Noir.” Does not come with stat card.
  • Stormtrooper/ Rebel Trooper carded 2-Pack: Free gift to subscriber's of UK publication Star Wars Battle Games issue #1. Unique bases show name of publisher, reading: "DeAgostini" Imperial 5 (Stormie) and "DeAgostini" Rebel 7 (Rebell Trooper). The Rebel Trooper miniature was later on carded alone with issue #3 of this publication
  • Princess Leia Senator: Free gift to subscriber's of UK publication Star Wars Battle Games issue #2. Unique base shows name of publisher, reading: "DeAgostini" Rebel 13
  • Lando Calrissian: Free gift to subscriber's of UK publication Star Wars Battle Games issue #4. Unique base shows name of publisher, reading: "DeAgostini" Fringe 16
  • Twi'lek Bodyguard (promo): Packed with Unleashed figures. Base marked "Unleashed". The figure isn't bagged. It comes with regular stat card and promo card, sealed, advertising RS and CS games.

T
here may be some slight differences in the paint on these freebie pieces, but they are minimal. The noticeable uniqueness of these miniatures is only subject to their bases and how they have been stamped, differing from the regular issues by showing the name of a publisher, convention, etc.
 
Despite their "honorable" Exclusive status, they are common on trade sites and the aftermarket. Mainly because they are exactly looking as their standard issued counterparts.

STAR WARS MINIATURES:
LIST OF CHARACTERS FOR EACH GAME

REBEL STORM SET

Rebel

FIGURE CARD NO. NAME RARITY LEVEL
01/60 Bothan Spy Uncommon
02/60 C-3PO Rare
03/60 Chewbacca Rare
04/60 Commando on Speeder Bike Very Rare
05/60 Elite Hoth Trooper Uncommon
06/60 Elite Rebel Trooper Common
07/60 Han Solo Rare
08/60 Hoth Trooper Common
09/60 Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight Very Rare
10/60 Luke Skywalker, Rebel Rare
11/60 Obi-Wan Kenobi Very Rare
12/60 Princess Leia, Captive Very Rare
13/60 Princess Leia, Senator Rare
14/60 R2-D2 Rare
15/60 Rebel Commando Uncommon
16/60 Rebel Officer Uncommon
17/60 Rebel Pilot Common
18/60 Rebel Trooper Common
19/60 Rebel Trooper Common
20/60 Wookiee Soldier Common

Imperial

FIGURE CARD NO. NAME RARITY LEVEL
21/60 Darth Vader, Dark Jedi Rare
22/60 Darth Vader, Sith Lord Very Rare
23/60 Elite Snowtrooper Uncommon
24/60 Elite Stormtrooper Uncommon
25/60 Emperor Palpatine Very Rare
26/60 General Veers Rare
27/60 Grand Moff Tarkin Rare
28/60 Heavy Stormtrooper Uncommon
29/60 Imperial Officer Uncommon
30/60 Mara Jade, Emperor's Hand Rare
31/60 Probe Droid Very Rare
32/60 Royal Guard Uncommon
33/60 Scout Trooper Uncommon
34/60 Scout Trooper on Speeder Bike Very Rare
35/60 Snowtrooper Common
36/60 Stormtrooper Common
37/60 Stormtrooper Common
38/60 Stormtrooper Common
39/60 Stormtrooper Officer Uncommon
40/60
Sandtrooper on Dewback Very Rare

Fringe

FIGURE CARD NO. NAME RARITY LEVEL
41/60 Bespin Guard Common
42/60 Boba Fett Very Rare
43/60 Dengar Rare
44/60 Duros Mercenary Uncommon
45/60 Ewok Common
46/60 4-LOM Rare
47/60 Gamorrean Guard Uncommon
48/60 IG-88 Rare
49/60 Ithorian Scout Uncommon
50/60 Jabba the Hutt Very Rare
51/60 Jawa Common
52/60 Lando Calrissian Rare
53/60 Mon Calamari Mercenary Common
54/60 Quarren Assassin Uncommon
55/60 Greedo Rare
56/60 Bossk Rare
57/60 Tusken Raider Common
58/60 Twi'lek Bodyguard Uncommon
59/60 Twi'lek Scoundrel Common
60/60 Wampa Very Rare

CLONE STRIKE SET

Republic

FIGURE CARD NO. NAME RARITY LEVEL
01/60 Aayla Secura Very Rare
02/60 Aerial Clone Trooper Captain Rare
03/60 Anakin Skywalker Very Rare
04/60 ARC Trooper Uncommon
05/60 Captain Typho Rare
06/60 Clone Trooper Common
07/60 Clone Trooper Common
08/60 Clone Trooper Commander Uncommon
09/60 Clone Trooper Grenadier Common
10/60 Clone Trooper Sergeant Common
11/60 Agen Kolar Rare
12/60 General Kenobi Rare
13/60 Gungan Cavalry on Kaadu Rare
14/60 Gungan Infantry Common
15/60 Jedi Guardian Uncommon
16/60 Ki-Adi-Mundi Rare
17/60 Kit Fisto Rare
18/60 Luminara Unduli Rare
19/60 Mace Windu Very Rare
20/60 Naboo Soldier Uncommon
21/60 Padme Amidala Very Rare
22/60 Plo Koon Rare
23/60 Qui-Gon Jinn Very Rare
24/60 Quinlan Vos Very Rare
25/60 Saesee Tiin Rare
26/60 Yoda Very Rare

Separatist

FIGURE CARD NO. NAME RARITY LEVEL
27/60 Asajj Ventress Rare
28/60 Battle Droid Common
29/60 Battle Droid Common
30/60 Battle Droid Common
31/60 Battle Droid Officer Uncommon
32/60 Battle Droid on STAP Rare
33/60 Count Dooku Very Rare
34/60 Dark Side Acolyte Uncommon
35/60 Darth Maul Very Rare
36/60 Darth Sidious Very Rare
37/60 Destroyer Droid Rare
38/60 Durge Rare
39/60 Dwarf Spider Droid Rare
40/60 General Grievous Very Rare
41/60 Geonosian Drone Common
42/60 Geonosian Overseer Uncommon
43/60 Geonosian Picador on Orray Rare
44/60 Geonosian Soldier Uncommon
45/60 Jango Fett Rare
46/60 Security Battle Droid Common
47/60 Super Battle Droid Uncommon
48/60 Super Battle Droid Uncommon

Fringe

FIGURE CARD NO. NAME RARITY LEVEL
49/60 Aqualish Spy Common
50/60 Aurra Sing Very Rare
51/60 Devaronian Bounty Hunter Common
52/60 Gran Raider Common
53/60 Ishi Tib Scout Uncommon
54/60 Klatooinian Enforcer Common
55/60 Nikto Soldier Common
56/60 Quarren Raider Uncommon
57/60 Rodian Mercenary Uncommon
58/60 Weequay Mercenary Common
59/60 Wookiee Commando Uncommon
60/60 Zam Wessell Rare

FINAL THOUGHT

This isn't the most exciting game this side of the Galaxy. Rarer characters are often more powerful and low power troops are easily overpowered by named characters of same points value being somewhat predictable. But it is  all together neat Star Wars fun.
 
The miniatures can be used for RPGs or as minis for other games if the rules aren't of your liking, and they are worth the basic price for a booster pack, anywhere between $10.00 to $13.00 depending on where you buy them. On the downside single figures such as Very Rares (VR) can fetch some ridiculous prices in the secondary market, for instance a #42 Rebel Storm set VR Boba Fett can easily sell for as high as $75.00. However, one has to realize the odds are extremely slim to find this figure and would take quite a few booster packages to be opened, at almost $13.00 each, to find the Fett thus the price could be, in a certain way, reasonable.
 
And speaking of the miniatures, these are excellent quality durable sculpts, tough to break, easy on the eye and bursting with action, providing a quick and fun game to play whenever the chance calls for it. No need for painting, no special carriers to purchase and their distribution ratio assures a rare character in every booster pack. A great concept and a fine effort by the Wizards.
 
Enjoy the Guide!