Wargame Wednesday – Carriers in Space

Courtesy loomingy1 via Flickr

Michael Peck, writing for Foreign Policy National Security Blog, had a very interesting interview with naval analyst Chris Weuve on the concept of aircraft carriers in space. Basically, Mr. Weuve discusses what is “right” and what is “wrong” about aircraft carriers in science fiction.

After reading this article I think it is easy to say that Chris would probably agree that starship combat games that use vector movement (such as Mayday, Power Projection: Fleet, Full Thrust, etc.) are far more realistic than ones that don’t. The article also explains why it was so easy to base Star Wars: X-Wing off the Wings of War series (WWI and WWII) and make it appear “cinematically correct.”

Good comments for designers of science fiction games to keep in mind.

Miniatures Monday – Star Wars X-Wing: A Matter of Scale

Courtesy Fantasy Flight Games

The new Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures game claims that their ships are all in scale to each other. So what do you see in the above photo? Looks like a single X-Wing against two TIE/In fighters, right? But those TIE fighters are way too big!  Everybody knows that the TIE fighter is a small ship and NO WAY can it be that big compared to the vaunted X-Wing!

According to Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels (Del Rey/Random House/Lucasfilms Ltd., 2003) the Incom Corporation T-65 X-Wing Space Superiority Fighter is 7.25m long (p. 168). The Seinar Fleet Systems TIE/IN Space Superiority Starfighter is 6.3m long (p.156).  By this material (canon?) the TIE should be about 1/3 shorter than the X-Wing. Looking atthe photo above that does not appear to be the case.

So did Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) screw up the scale? In an interesting twist, FFG claims that all the source materials over the years has been dead wrong:

During the production process, we were surprised to discover that the official dimensions for some of the ships did not match our pre-existing expectations of their relative sizes. Nowhere is our devotion to scale more evident than in our TIE fighter. Through intensive research and close correspondence with Lucasfilm Ltd., we confirmed with no degree of uncertainty the true scales of this iconic Imperial fighter as it appears in the films, even going so far as to study the proportions of the original film models. (“The Making of X-Wing)

The main source FFG appears to have used is this production photo of various models:

Courtesy Fantasy Flight Games

The TIE fighter certainly looks big compared to the Y-Wings (front) or X-Wings (back row). Did George Lucas retcon another change into the Star Wars Universe? Do I really care?

I don’t really care because the X-Wing game is a guilty pleasure that I enjoy with my youngsters. It’s Star Wars…not reality. Once the Millennium Falcon comes out the scale will be totally ruined anyway.

Courtesy Fantasy Flight Games

Miniatures Monday – Star Wars X-Wing

Courtesy BGG

OK, I will admit it; I love the Star Wars Original Trilogy. So when Fantasy Flight Games announced they were making an adaptation of their Wings of War system for starfighter combat in the Star Wars Universe, I was both happy and hesitant. Happy for Star Wars; hesitant because see the Wings of War system as pricy and not quite “crunchy” enough for my grognards tastes.

What I failed to initially factor in was Little RMN. He is a true Star Wars fanatic (see what I created?). When I brought home the Core Set and first four expansions he badgered me endlessly to play it. I was a bit concerned because the game is rated for ages 14+; Little RMN is only 8.

I needn’t have worried.

Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game is an easy to learn, easy to play system. The miniatures are well detailed and a joy to move through space. The game mechanics are fairly straightforward and simple enough that even Litle RMN (with a bit of coaching) was able to make sense of it.

Most importantly, we had fun. We first played an introductory game of two Academy TIE fighters versus Luke Skywalker. We didn’t use many of the advanced rules, starting first with a focus on game flow and basic mechanics. Little RMN as Luke scored a few hits but never concentrated on one TIE fighter long enough to knock it out. He eventually lost as he ran for a board edge (safe exit) after losing all his shields and a bit of hull.

But he wants to play again. He wants to add the full rules. The grognard in me hasn’t changed my opinion  that the Wings of War system is a bit of a simplification, but I will freely admit that X-Wing captures the cinematic feel of Star Wars space combat rather well.

Most importantly, it brings me closer to my kids. That’s the real win for me.