A few years ago my younger son came home from a visit with a friend, and he told me about this new game that let you play Star Wars on a tabletop. Now I’m as big a geek / Star Wars fan as the next person, but I couldn’t see how a tabletop version of a space fighter game would actually work. A few weeks later, I dropped him off at a local game store for X-Wing Night and checked out the game. It seemed really fiddly to me. There were so many tokens and moving parts. I got over it. 🙂 In fact you can read a review of X-Wing that I’ve previously posted to hear the rest of that story.
Fast forward a few years, and I now have invested in dozens of ships and user-created materials and storage cases and game accessories. The primary reason? Heroes of the Aturi Cluster.
The standard X-Wing configuration has two people sitting on opposite sides of a table with 100 points worth of ships (each) and six obstacles (asteroids, debris fields, or other). This format is sometimes called 100/6 for the 100 points and 6 obstacles…which doesn’t make sense because there’s either 200 points for both players, or only 3 obstacles per player. So it really should be 100/3 or 200/6 but that’s just the math geek in me coming out… 😯
Anyway, while I do enjoy the squad building and flying (and blowing stuff up) the potential is there for so much more. Enter Heroes of the Aturi Cluster. In this framework there are five different story arcs, most with three (one with four) missions. Some missions you repeat until you win, and some you only get one shot at.
Missions for X-Wing was not exactly an original idea. The X-Wing core set includes a mission called “Political Escort” and other large-based ships (or aces packs) typically also include missions. Some epic ships include a campaign (collection of missions with consequences). For example, here’s the campaign (called “Will of the Empire”) that comes as part of the Imperial Raider package.
The core set mission assumes you don’t have any other ships available. It requires one X-Wing pilot and two TIE Fighter pilots which gets all of your ships on the table. There is a cardboard token for the Senator’s Shuttle (I’ve seen some cool 3D printed versions too). The goal of the X-Wing / Rebel side is to escort the shuttle across the board. The goal of the TIE Fighters is to blow up the shuttle, and if necessary, the X-Wing. ‘Cause stuff gets blown up in X-Wing. 😉
Missions in later packages allow a semblance of squad building. For example, Mission 6: Undeniable Assets awards the Rebel side 100 points but the Imperial side gets 120. Asymmetrical conflict presents a more interesting challenge! But the point is you get to use whatever ships you have in your collection as long as you follow the point restrictions.
What makes Heroes unique from anything provided by Fantasy Flight is the concept of “leveling up.” Each player character (or PC as they are often called) starts out as a rookie pilot of pilot skill (PS) two. As the players accomplish things (like damaging an Imperial opponent, blowing up a TIE Fighter, helping a fellow Rebel pilot, accomplishing a mission objective) they earn experience points (XP). XP can be used to upgrade their ship or to increase their pilot skill or even to take on pilot abilities of named pilots. For example in my last campaign I had a Y-Wing (call sign: “Rover”) who combined the regeneration capabilities of Miranda Doni with Chewie’s ability to ignore critical hits.
Yes, he was ridiculously overpowered, but that’s essentially the intention of Heroes. 😀