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Star Wars: Shatterpoint preview – animated gameplay

Star Wars: Shatterpoint preview – animated gameplay
Star Wars: Shatterpoint – not all Star Wars games are on consoles (pic: Atomic Mass)

If you’re interested in trying a new tabletop Star Wars game then the Shatterpoint miniatures game is one of the best value titles so far.

No sooner had I put down my lightsaber at the end of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor than a new miniatures game dragged me back to that galaxy far, far away. There’s already plenty of analogue Star Wars games to get to grips with, including X-Wing, Armada, and the increasingly popular Legion. While everyone at my gaming club is waiting to get their hands on the new Ewoks pre-order for Legion, there is a more accessible entry point for tabletop Star Wars fans, with the new Clone Wars era skirmish game Shatterpoint.

The beefy core box has a cartoony art aesthetic borrowed from the Clone Wars animated series and is filled with stunning miniatures that make a great addition to the Atomic Mass games roster. Atomic Mass is what was formally Fantasy Flight’s miniatures division, and the same people who are now handling all the Star Wars IP, including X-wing, Armada, and Legion. I love what they have already achieved with Marvel Crisis Protocol, with the larger models being easier to paint and play with.

In Star Wars: Shatterpoint the character cards are huge, as are the tokens, with massive numbers that are clearly trying to make things as simple as possible for newcomers. Each of the 16 miniatures in the core box showcases iconic characters from the Clone Wars and does well at capturing the essence of their on-screen cartoon counterparts. From Jedi Knights to Sith Lords, these miniatures are the perfect scale to bring the Star Wars universe to life on your dining room table.

The game mechanics of Shatterpoint are centred around building and commanding a strike team, made of two squads. That’s much simpler than the otherwise similar Legion, where you might have three to six corps units, with the reduced number of units making deployment quicker and games easier to start and finish.

The squads must always contain one primary unit, one secondary unit, and one supporting unit. So, you could have Ahsoka as your primary backed up by Bo-Katan Kryze as your secondary, supported by 501st Clone Troopers.

These iconic Star Wars characters each have distinctive abilities and cards representing their skills, equipment, and tactics. This include Darth Maul’s ‘There is no place to run’ ability, which leaves his opponent exposed; Ahsoka Tano with the ability ‘What’s the matter, too fast for you?’, which means your unit only takes half the damage from melee attacks; and Bo-Katan ability ‘Pride of the Mandalore’, which allows an allied Mandalorian character to jump.

Star Wars: Shatterpoint – there’s a bit of a learning curve (pic: Atomic Mass)

These iconic Star Wars characters each have distinctive abilities and cards representing their skills, equipment, and tactics. This include Lord Maul’s ‘There is no place to run’ ability which leaves his opponent exposed , Ahsoka Tano with the ability ‘What’s the matter, too fast for you’? Means your unit only takes half the damage from melee attack, and Bo-Katan ability ‘Pride of the Mandalore’ which allows an allied Mandalorian character to jump. Each just so happens to tie in well with the narrative of the season 3 finale of The Mandalorian, which has just aired.

The special abilities and combat skills are used to control the flow of battle, as you race against your opponent to complete dynamically evolving mission objectives. I found the relatively complex combat and expertise charts for each unit hard to get to grips with when playing a new character, which slowed the game down at first, but once you familiarise yourself with your line-up this becomes only a temporary problem.

A two-action limit, similar to turn-based video games like XCOM, makes for satisfying swings in gameplay momentum between turns and gives each game an increased sense of tension and drama. Combat is resolved by forming a pool of attack dice and rolling them against a defender’s defence dice. This wouldn’t be Star Wars without the presence of the Force but only some character can wield it; your Force pool is generated at the beginning of the game and pays for your special abilities.

Star Wars: Shatterpoint – tabletop DLC is totally a thing (pic: Atomic Mass)

Shatterpoint’s mission-based gameplay is designed to recreate pivotal moments from the Star Wars saga. A mission is made up of two or three struggles and mission cards generally revolve around controlling objectives and resolving struggle cards, which have titles such as ‘Steal the secret plans’ and ‘So much for the element of surprise.’ Struggle cards create shifting objectives, so players need to constantly strategise and shift priorities to win two struggles and then ultimately the game.

Characters from the original trilogy will be added later but even then you’ll only be able to play with characters of the same era. So, for example, Darth Maul (who is referred to as Lord Maul, because he’s not a Darth yet) with characters from Clone Wars or Darth Vader and characters from the original trilogy. Forthcoming expansions also promise to take Shatterpoint to new heights with the high ground terrain pack and I’m keen to see the expansion boxes for Count Dooku and General Grievous and his battle droids.

Is Shatterpoint poised to steal Star Wars tabletop enthusiasts from Atomic Mass’s other Star Wars tabletop IP? There were certainly whispers of that at the war gaming convention Adepticon a few months ago. With its immersive missions and rich thematic depth Shatterpoint promises to deliver an engaging and strategic experience for fans of tabletop gaming and those who have enjoyed the animation and want to engage with it in a more immersive manner.

Shatterpoint is not exactly an entry level game, occupying more of a middle ground in terms of complexity, but whether you’re a seasoned war game enthusiast or a diehard Star Wars fan this is a fast-paced and cleverly designed tabletop experience. The Force is already strong with it and once it embraces more than just the Clone Wars it could end up as the biggest miniatures game so far for Star Wars.

Star Wars: Shatterpoint Core Set will launch on June 2 for £164.99.

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