Miniatures Monday – Star Wars Miniatures Battles Companion & Imperial Entanglements

Courtesy BGG

IN AUGUST 2011 (wow, that long ago?) I got the West End Games Star Wars Miniature Battles rulebook. At that time I mentioned needing the Star Wars Miniatures Battles Companion for vehicle rules. Last week, I was once again in Gamer’s Haven in Colorado Springs and searching the used game book section I happened across a boxed Star Wars Vehicles Starter Set  as well as the scenario book Imperial Entanglements.

First off, I was amazed to even find the Vehicles Starter Set at all. Secondly, to find it COMPLETE is a real bonus to me. By complete I mean not only does it have the box (with expected wear) but the Companion Rulebook (mint condition – probably opened only a few times),  five die, and unopened/unbuilt/unpainted Snowspeeder and Scoutbike miniatures!  All for the cost of $6.99!

Courtesy BGG

Like the original Miniatures Battles Rulebook, Companion is compatible with West End Games’ Star Wars Roleplaying Game Second Edition rules. Like the basic miniatures rules, Companion continues to be a stand-alone game; i.e. one doesn’t need the RPG to play Miniatures Battles.

The heart of this game are the vehicles. Vehicles rules are in Chapters One and Two (total of 24 pages). Additionally, there are six pages of Reference Sheets for vehicles, including two pages of actual vehicles. I am a bit disappointed here; actual vehicle descriptions are missing. Instead, the authors direct the player to other WEG Star Wars RPG products. Good if you are a Star Wars RPG collector; bad if you aren’t (or can’t anymore). On page 27 there are rules for “Converting Other Star Wars Vehicles” – as described in Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. The end result of all this for a player of today means that in order to expand the vehicle list one must either acquire the older materials or try to reverse-engineer the vehicles given to divine the design assumptions.

Vehicles cover only about 36 pages of this 96-page book. The balance covers new combat rules, equipment, and unit insignia and organization. Chapter Six, “Scenarios and Campaigns,” has one stand-alone scenario and one campaign. Interestingly, for a supplement focused on vehicles the stand-alone scenario specifically states the NO VEHICLES are allowed whereas the campaign limits the Rebel player to one landspeeder and two speeder bikes while the Imperial player is limited to a single speederbike.

When I first wrote about the basic Miniatures Battles I stated that the game was more of a wargame and less an RPG. Companion doesn’t change that. I am also disappointed that even though vehicle rules are here, they are not showcased in any scenario or campaign here.

Courtesy BGG

Imperial Entanglements is a scenario book for Star Wars Miniatures Battles. Interestingly, the  section titles “Rules Updates and Clarifications” starts out with the following quote:

“All rules-intensive battle games, including Star Wars Miniatures Battles, have a few oversights and ambiguities.”

After “clarifying” the rules, Imperial Entanglements has nine scenarios. Each scenario is a bit unique:

  1. Big Game is a solitaire safari hunt
  2. Terror in the Trees takes place in an Ewok tree village; beware the Ewok traps and falls!
  3. Hammer of Destiny uses a single vehicle as a terrain/objective piece
  4. A Bazaar Encounter is a swoop gang brawl
  5. To Hunt the Hutt is a bounty hunter ambush
  6. Who Goes There introduces a “fog of war” mechanic where the table as laid out is not a true reflection of the ground
  7. Scavenger Hunt is a take-the-booty-and-run scenario
  8. Rescue Run showcases the prisoner rules and variable night visibility.
  9. Surprise Visit is an ambushed ambush.

Taken as a whole, the scenarios bring home the point that Miniatures Battles really is a skirmish game.

For $6.99 (Vehicles Starter Set) and $3.99 (Imperial Entanglements) I can’t say I’m disappointed. Miniatures Battles is a decent set of rules, though I must say that other skirmish games do a better job of streamlining rules and creating a faster playing experience.

Old- Fashioned Star Wars Miniatures Battles

Courtesy RPG Geek

A few days ago I was in Gamer’s Haven here in Colorado Springs and was looking over their used RPG book sales. Amongst the items I picked up that day was the West End Games Star Wars Miniatures Battles (SWMB) rulebook. This book is part of the West End Games Star Wars Adventure Game series and proclaims to be “compatible with Star Wars the Roleplaying Game, Second Edition” although you “do not need the roleplaying game to play this game.” According to Wikipedia, these rule were first published in 1989 and won the Origins Award for Best Miniature Rules in 1991. My book is copyright 1993 making it part of the Second Edition collection.

SWMB is essentially a set of skirmish rules for the Star Wars universe. The scale is one miniature per soldier and 1 inch equaling  2 meters. The time scale is not defined but looks to be about 30 sec to 1 minute per turn. The core combat mechanic is closely related to the West End Games D6 engine; indeed soldiers in SWMB can be used in the WEG Star Wars Roleplaying Game with almost no conversion needed and vice versa. The Basic Game covers the sequence of play for combat while the Advanced Game adds useful rules such as hidden movement, Heroes (essentially player characters), droids and creatures.

Courtesy RPG Gek

Vehicles are not covered in this book; for that you need the Star Wars Miniatures Battles Companion. Also note that this ruleset was published after the original trilogy (Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi) and before the prequels so it is based heavily on the first three movies with a bit of what would later be called the Expanded Universe thrown in.

Courtesy RPG Geek

Inevitably, one wants to compare SWMB with the newer Wizards of the Coast Star Wars Miniatures . The older game is definitely more wargame-like and less of an RPG, although the section on Heroes is essentially how to take a RPG character and drop them into the game. For an old grognard like myself, I find these wargame combat rules more to my liking but at the same time I recognize SWMB is a set of wargame rules and not intended to replace player combat in an RPG, nor is it a mass battle resolution system. I also like the fact that you can almost seamlessly move SWMB soldiers from or into a roleplaying game. This makes the entire series hang together better. There is alot to be learned here regarding how to integrate an existing RPG system with a wargame.