Star Wars Starship Battles

Star Wars Starship Battles was a collectable miniature game for Star Wars space craft from the movies episodes I-VI (Clone Wars and Galactic Civil War). The game was produced by Wizards of the Coast (of Magic the Gathering fame). There was a starter set with some miniatures, map, dice, and rules. In addition booster packs were available with 7 ships. Each ship came with a stat card and was rated as common, uncommon, or rare (you where less likely to get rarer ships in each booster pack). There were 60 different ships you could collect. The game went out of print sometime around 2007.

The reviews of the game similar: nice miniatures well scaled for fleet action; horrible rule set which sucked any potential joy out of playing. It stands to reason that the poor rule system suppressed the popularity of the game which then lead to the game being removed from production, without any expansions or revisions (many of us were hoping for additional ships to be introduced).

If you seek an enjoyable Star Wars starship battle game the solutions is apparent. Use the miniatures from Wizards of the Coast and find a good rule set. No claim is made here that an exhaustive search of rule sets was made but one that is very good is the Full Thrust adaptation by Rod and Aaron Cain. It is simple, fun, and captures the spirit of Star Wars and fleet battles. The only downside of these rules is that you need a tracking chart for each ship or fighter squadron, which requires an initial investment of time to set up (the authors use peg boards, I find it easier to use laminated paper copies and dry erase markers). This rule set is for engagements (combat), I am still seeking a good rule set for a campaign (owning worlds, getting more resources to produce and maintain ships, etc.). There are many rule set available for free on the internet, you are sure to find one you like.

Once you overcome the rule set hurdle, you run into another problem: balanced and realistic fleets. Wizards of the Coast includes some Star Wars extended universe ships (ships not in the movies, such as the Imperial Immobilizer Destroyer and Rebel Assault Frigate), but not enough to make a real balanced fleet. I am sure they intended to release other ships as an expansion but there rules sucked so bad no wanted to play. This creates a problem especially if you want to have a realistic campaign. Sure it is fun to drive into a system with 5 Star Destroyers and 30 TIE Squadrons, but it's not always realistic. Clearly the Rebel/Empire dynamic is that the Empire has powerful weapons but they can't be everywhere at once. If the Empire could afford a couple Star Destroyers in every system that would end the rebellion but that would take more resources than are available in the entire galaxy.

Every fleet (from real naval fleets to every sci-fi genre) needs a full complement of ship classes and roles. The obvious one in Star Wars is anti-fighter support vessels to support capital ships. Ships like the Corellian Gunship and the Lancer frigate are extended universe ships designed to protect capital ships from swarms of fighters. Wizards of the Coast tried to account for this by giving other class III ships anti-starfighter capability, but come on, Imperial shuttles protecting SDs from X-wings and B-wings, really? As implied above the Empire needs mid-sized capital ships because it can't have SD everywhere. Although called a Star Destroyer, it is clearly a battleship or heavy cruiser by class. The Empire needs cruisers, destroyers, and frigates. Wizards of the Coast did produce the Immobilizer Cruiser, but this ship has the specific role (in the Star Wars universe) of preventing enemy ships from entering hyperspace, it is not really a medium sized combat ship (and Wizards of the Coast does not provide the equivalent Rebel vessel, the CC-7000/E). Here is an example breakdown of some of the key ships to balance the game (this in no way a complete list; a good, more complete class breakdown is here:

by Thanas):

As mentioned this list is by no means complete and it is debatable which category certain ships should be put in, but the bottom line is there are whole classes of ships no represented in the original miniature set. For balanced campaign games more ships are needed.