I ran the intro scenario with my regular gaming group this weekend. It was a pretty cool experience overall. Here’s a few of my groups first impressions. Players, sorry, there are probably spoilers ahead. But it’s a 5-encounter learning scenario, the free downloadable second adventure is where the real fun is.
It’s Star Wars. I have never RPG’ed in the Star Wars universe before, but it felt natural. Awesome. And one of my guys was just incredibly stoked he got to play a droid. All of us know what light and heavy blasters are, and what a stimpack does. COOL. Did I mention it’s frigging Star Wars?
I’m not gonna talk about the dice pool hate/love. When I brought them out, everyone at the table’s eyebrows went up. And it took us a while to get it rolling. The most helpful thing were the cheat sheets others have posted on the forums, GRAB THEM if you GM and give them out to all the players. Also, I am unclear on how to upgrade a die in the case of a player who already is at max die, are they done? Or do you just re-roll a green? By the end, we were all VERY familiar with the mechanic, and knew what all the dice meant.
The beginner box adventure is meant to teach you and your group the rules, one encounter at a time, until you are familiar with the mechanics. New concepts and mechanics are introduced with every encounter until maybe you get to the loading bay. Well, even after that. But it’s pretty cool
On a rail:
It’s pretty stuck on a rail, and of course my players wanted off the rail within the first three minutes. But once it gets rolling, and you know what you are supposed to do (GMs: stress the importance of getting off Tatooine ASAP, for example). There’s some swing room, e.g. the group could explore every bathroom stall and food stand in Mos Shuuta, there are definitely many ways to get through these encounters. The rail was a little annoying to my group, but I think overall it was a positive learning experience.
My group had the most fun in the junk shop. Interacting with the R5 unit, bartering for the part, rigging some gear to explode, distracting the shopkeep, very cool, and the funky dice mechanics definitely made for some FUN uses of the advantage/disadvantage dice. BUT we were kind of unsure how to use those in some cases, the charts in the book only give specifics for COMBAT uses of those dice. Hmm.
Here’s where it got clunky. One of my players emailed me last night and said “I thought it felt like star wars but when it came to combat it was more like elder sign” (a reference to our elder sign game history, e.g. fail after fail after fail). The gamorrean guard fight was quick, and they sent one running back to Teemo (worst name ever, league of legends anyone?). The trooper fight was LONG. LOOOONG. Like 4E long. Fail after fail after fail. Given, many of them were fails with advantages, but it was at the point where we may house rule the next game that we can buy successes with advantage points. Seriously, this was freaking ridiculous—and the group was laying on the destiny points every turn. Not one grenade hit its target, etc. If combat in this game is this clunky at release, I am seriously going to have to either house rule something or maybe just use a different mechanic somehow. It was painful.
Cool mechanic, but weird because of the disarm rule. The stormtroopers were using blasters, and the group rolled a fail, but with MANY advantage points, and bought a ‘disarm’ mechanic. So now I have 3 troopers as a minion group, and one has a vibroknife out. So they lose the extra minion die? And now I have to roll twice for attacks, so the minion rule is kind of broken in that case. Unless I am still supposed to roll the bonus die on both sets of weapons for the single minion group. Kinda clunky.
Wtf do I do with advantage die in space combat? GAH. Also, there’s a mechanic from advantage dice that lets you buy a free maneuver, so my pilot wanted to use both maneuvers (which I let him do, see: Rule of Fun). Was this legal? Healing only one point of hull damage per round was kind of lame, why even allow that, considering the TIE’s were hitting for 6 damage (linked) every time! I think it was just frustrating for the engineer, to heal a single hull point and have 6 get taken off every hit (the TIEs hit every turn).
Another player just emailed me—cool thing, he said Indiana Jones basically failed all his rolls with advantage/disadvantage points, e.g. he loses the talisman but finds out where the Nazis are headed, gets the idol but the ball is triggered, etc.
I’d love to hear from other players what their thoughts are on this game, I am very much looking forward to the final product, I hope FFG makes some changes to speed combat up (escalation dice? ability to buy successes with advantage dice?), maybe clarify some rules and add some tables for buying advantages and disadvantages in vehicle combat and social encounters, I love thinking them up, but some players want a rule they can look at and pick one.