Game Master: Yes or No?
I really liked running Heroes as a Game Master. It allowed me to keep things secret and allow the Rebel pilots to discover them on their own, rather than everyone already having the knowledge that they shouldn’t shoot the cargo bins because they might explode. 😈 I would provide a mission briefing, let the pilots discuss strategy, and then I would roll all of the dice for the Imperials. I had fun, and honestly I think the other players had more fun that way too.
We started playing Heroes at a local game store. The table presence is fantastic, and the excitement of the players as they shot down the Imperial hordes was palpable. We got more and more attention and interest…to the point where I ended up recruiting a second GM and we had two concurrent campaigns going. (Yes, I own that many TIE Fighters. No, I’m not proud of that. Wait, yes I am.) At the most active point we had 12-14 people involved in the dual campaigns.
But the specific question is: Do you have to have a GM?
No, you absolutely do not. You could even play the campaign solo. (Ha, I said “solo.”) If you do, I would suggest that you run at least two or three ships as a single ship just doesn’t have the firepower of the proper magnitude to get the job done. As you advance you levels (pilot skill) you would find that a variety of ships brings more capabilities to your team. Just like a D&D squad works best with a couple of fighters, a mage, and a cleric…a Heroes squad probably works best with a couple of X-Wings, maybe an A-Wing, and a Y-Wing dropping bombs and plinking the opponents with a turret.
What ships do you need to run the campaign? Of course you need whatever Rebel ships you want to fly (the original Heroes was released very early in the existence of X-Wing so they prepared for only the basic ships). The FAQ for Heroes suggests that you need two TIE Fighters for each Rebel player, and one of each other ship (TIE Advanced, TIE Interceptor, TIE Phantom, and so on) per two Rebel players. Certain missions call for a GR-75 Rebel Transport but you can print out just the base of the ship and use that; you do not require the actual model. (I have two, just in case.) There is an NPC HWK-290 as well as a YT-2400 that shows up periodically. On the Imperial side you need a Decimator at some point. (I have three, just in case.)
One of the main rules that even the creator of Heroes suggests using is to pool (share) XP. I covered XP (experience points) in my first Heroes post. In theory XP progression should balance out naturally. Higher PS pilots shoot first (Han!) and hopefully damage a ship, leaving the lower PS pilots to clean things up and gain the XP for the destruction of the ship. However, it doesn’t always work out that way. Plus the A-Wing pilot who is flying along drawing the TIE Fighters off on a wild goose chase never gets to kill anything, while the Y-Wing who bombs an entire squad of TIE Fighters into space dust scores several.
The answer to this is to add up all of the XP earned during a mission and then split the total among the active pilots. Any extra can be awarded to the lower PS pilots to help them level up. By doing this, players do not always have to focus on making their ship the most powerful offensive weapon. In one campaign we had a support HWK that was dealing out focus tokens left and right, could boost and barrel roll and had a stealth device. They never killed anything but were a major help in completing multiple missions.
It is appropriate to mention at this point that Heroes was designed before X-Wing 2.0, so a number of things have changed that have various degrees of impact on the game. For example, in X-Wing 1.0 (or X-Wing as we called it) pilot skills ranged from 1-9. In the updated version they range from 1-6. Some pilot abilities were changed, some were combined, and some were removed altogether. Bombs and missiles changed in 2.0 as well. What does this mean for Heroes?
There are a couple of options. You can play Heroes under 1.0 rules, with 1.0 ships, and have a blast. Trust me, you will have so much fun you won’t care that you’re not using Force abilities and chained actions and stuff like that. Or you can read up on the Heroes Facebook group, where an enthusiastic group of folks is working to update Heroes to the 2.0 framework. It’s not as simple as you think! And the difficulty simply reinforces just how good of a job that Josh Derksen did with his initial design.
The Force is strong with this one…
I have mentioned previously that I have spent a metric ton of cash (almost) on X-Wing and accessories. Let’s pull a round number out of the hat and say over the last four years I have spent $2,500 on the game. What the heck, let’s round up to $3,000. During that time I have spent at least four hours every week being entertained by the purchase. How does the math work out?
4 hours a week * 52 weeks a year * 4 years = 832 hours
$3,000 / 832 hours = $3.60 / hour
The net is that I have paid less than the cost of a movie per hour for the entertainment. That’s right in the sweet spot I mentioned during one of my posts about Terraforming Mars accessories.
Heroes of the Aturi Cluster is a huge part of that, and it’s free to download and play. If you are a fan of the game and haven’t played it yet, do yourself a favor and try it out. Fly with 1.0 rules, or check out the Facebook Group where people are working to update to 2.0. Either way, you’re in for a load of fun.