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Beginner Box first session impressions/comments/questions (More for GMs, spoilers!)


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#1 71gamer

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 04:43 AM

First Impressions

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.

The Game:

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?

The dice:

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 Adventure:

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.

Social encounters:

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.

Combat:

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.

Combat minions:

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.

Starship combat:

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.



#2 71gamer

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 04:46 AM

Oh, and I see this being a VERY low-prep system, which I am SO in to!



#3 Sturn

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 04:31 PM

For someone who has studied the system, but never played yet, just the sort of review I was looking for. Thanks.



#4 ironman

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 12:00 AM

My experience was very similar to yours, except my players ran and hid from the stormtroopers rather than fighting them. I think the troopers would have decimated the players pretty quickly even with high soak values, although I didnt have a full group. I imagine shooting at the troopers at medium range, with troopers in cover and their defense die would be 2 purple and 2 black, so very hard to hit with begginer shooting stats.

I like the grouped minion rules but your right it makes disarming difficult to play, but according to the rules a disarm should only be allowed with 2 triumph sysbols, which can only be got by rolling 2 yellow dice, not with advantage symbols. There are a lot of other things advantages and threats can do though, we have lots of fun having players being kneed in the balls, enemies slipping on something on the floor, tripping up, energy cell falling out of guns, light gets in someones eyes etc. Anything I can think of from action movie combat scenes will get incorporated into this edge system. Most of them adding blue or black dice to rolls, or adding or taking away strain. Ive never been a fan of d20 games, and not a massive fan of percentile systems, so this abstract dice system really works for me as I am probably a rules lite GM. I will let the players do pretty much anything as long as they keep it in character with star wars and try not to turn it into generic sci fi.

We found the space combat pretty tedious after how much fun we could have with ground combat.



#5 Sturn

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 01:39 AM

ironman said:

We found the space combat pretty tedious after how much fun we could have with ground combat.

I'm thinking you meant that deep space combat was boring because of the environment and so less options when interpreting dice rolls? Or did it just take too long? Some answers if the first were what you were getting at:

As a GM, could we take a hint from the movies to help with this? The problem may be that there are no objects or terrain in typical space combat to interact with. Place the combat inside an asteroid field, inside a space station, inside a tunnel network, around a larger spaceship, etc, etc, allowing for more options when interpreting dice rolls.

Also remember that the ships themselves are an environment for things to happen within or upon them during combat.

Some things from the movies that could have been a result of Triumph/Despair or Advantage/Threat during space battles:

  • During a space combat Mechanics roll, a Threat causes a tool to fall and wacks you in the head (you are dazed next round, one Setback die).
  • You shoot at a TIE Fighter and miss when looking at only the Success results. You roll a Triumph, however. The TIE Fighter dodges and bumps into a TIE Advanced Fighter beside it.
  • With a difficult Pilot roll, you knock some of the scavenger droids off another player's snub fighter. However, you roll 2 Threats during the success and now two of the scavenger droids have jumped onto your fighter!
  • While flying through the interior of the Death Star II, you make a successful pilot roll, but also a Threat. You knocked off a radar dish and will suffer Setback to any sensor rolls until repaired.


#6 ironman

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 04:35 AM

Thanks for the ideas. Yes I did mean because I couldn't come up with anything to happen, and when you have been playing x wing constantly for the last 3 months it just seems to be lacking something.

#7 Sturn

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 06:40 AM

What is really needed are lists of balanced examples for all types of skill rolls. We have examples for combat, but little else. It would be nice as a GM to have a PDF printed out of several pages of alphabetized skills with examples of Threats, Advantages, Triumphs, and Despairs to help out when creativity fails.

ANYTIME GENERAL PURPOSE (suggested by Beta pg 133 or Beginner's pg 15)

Note: Lower options can be chosen over upper options (you could roll a Triumph or 3 Advantages and choose an option under 2 Advantages instead).

1 Advantage: Recover 1 Strain each, add Bonus to a friend's next check.
2 Advantages: Add Bonus to you or a friend's next check.
3 Advantages: Temporarily ignore penalties caused by environement.
1 Triumph: Upgrade you or a friend's next check.

1 Threat: Suffer 1 Strain each.
2 Threats: You or a friend suffers Setback to next check.
3 Threats: Fall prone.
1 Despair: Upgrade the difficulty of your or a friend's next check, Your tool is damaged.

COMBAT GENERAL PURPOSE (suggested by Beta pg 133 or Beginner's pg 15)

1 Advantage: Notice a single important aspect in the conflict, activate a weapon's ability or critical injury.
2 Advantages: Add Setback to targeted enemy's next check, Perform an immediate free maneuver (max. 2).
3 Advantages: Negate target's defensive bonuses until end of round, +1 melee or ranged defense until end of your next turn, Disarm the target.
1 Triumph: Upgrade difficulty of target's next check, do something vital to turning the tide of battle.

1 Threat: Lose benefits of prior Maneuver until performed again.
2 Threats: Opponent may perform immediate free Manuveur, Add Bonus target's next check.
3 Threats: Accidentally give enemy an advantage in the on-going encounter (blasting closed an escape route).
1 Despair: Your weapon is damaged, Your weapon runs out of ammunition.

COMPUTER

1 Advantage: Doing what you do best, you relax and settle in at the keyboard, remove 1 Strain.
2 Advantages: You quickly write a routine to help with your task, add Bonus to your next check.
3 Advantages: You are an old hand at this program. Ignore any penalties you might be suffering.
1 Triumph: You discover an exploit in the software, Upgrade your next check.

1 Threat: You aren't sure if you can manage this program, it's complicated, suffer 1 Strain.
2 Threats: You've never used this sort of software before, suffer Setback on your next check as you figure it out.
3 Threats: The computer's A.I. becomes suspicious of you, any future Threats will set off a security alarm.
1 Despair: You set off a security alarm, You drop your cup of blue milk into the keyboard damaging it.
 



#8 71gamer

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 02:18 AM

Man, awesome insights! I am very excited to continue this in Long Arm of the Hutt!



#9 Darth Treelogeo

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 04:10 PM

Your experience with constant failure seems contrary to when we played… I'll do a similar account of how the introductory adventure went for us in another post. Thanks.



#10 aramis

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 11:56 AM

Darth Treelogeo said:

Your experience with constant failure seems contrary to when we played… I'll do a similar account of how the introductory adventure went for us in another post. Thanks.

 

Mine decided to try and go out a ventilation shaft behind the stage… note that one isn't mentioned on the map, they looked for one, and got enough successes that I put one there… ◊◊◊◊ to climb to. That resulted in massive failure. Finally, they got the "emergency ladder" halfway dropped… and it droppeed to ◊◊◊… at which point, with an average of 2Green, 1 yellow, and 3 blue, they made it up and out. 



#11 WittyDroog

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 12:02 PM

There is a list of examples for advantages and threats in the Beta book that breaks it down more mechanically, telling you when enough is for a boost die and when you have enough to upgrade a die, etc.

 

That said Space combat was the funnest part for my group, they really got into the zone with each person manning their station, barking back to each other what the ship should do. We translated advantages and threats like any other combat, being able to shirk off the bonus a Tie receives for Evasive Manuvers or great a setback die to Gunners when the Pilot gains a lot of threat to represent shakey handling. Tie Fighters themselves are paper thin so taking them out isn't a problem when you've got two gunners on board (we had to use three flights of two to make it a close match).

I disagree about repairing one point of damage per mechanics check being lame, it makes sense to me. If your ship has a gaping hole in the side of it it's awfully hard to patch it up in a minute or two in such a way it would retain structural integrity as if it was new. Damage control is exactly what it says, it control the damage, not outright repairs it. The moral is to not get shot, which can be done by Evasive manuvers.

 

Some example rolls and what we did are as follows:

+During the fight with the Stormtroopers, the group was trying to run through the streets, exchanging a shot every block or two to deter the troopers. Pash swung his gun around and took a shot, scoring an impressive 4 advantages but no successes. I ruled that the shot missed the troopers but struck the awning of a streetside shop, causing a mountain of products and cloth to topple onto the group. They had to make Average Athletics checks to free themselves of the rubble, which gave the group enough time to get a head start for the starport.

+When the group encountered Trex, they went the "We're here to install the Igniter" route, meeting Trex on the ramp. Talks broke down almost immediately, as they often do with my group, and it came to blows. Lowrick (sp?) ran up the ramp and got into fisticuffs with the lizard. On Trex's turn he succeded with a triumph, so in addition to slashing the wookie with his fearsome claws, he kicked the walking carpet down the ramp, pushing him to Short range and having him prone.

+During the same fight, Matthas (holding the Igniter), decided that he would try to sneak past the fight between Trex and Lowrick and onto the ship. I deemed a Stealth check was all that was required as he's been around ships enough to know how to jump up onto the ramp from behind Trex's back. He succeeded but with 3 threat. While he had snuck onto the ship, now inches away from the victorius Trex chortling as the wookie rolled down the ramp, the Igniter was missing! It had fallen off his possession while trying to climb onto the ramp, laying in the dust below. To fix this, I had him make an althetics check to carefully and quietly reach down to grab it, which is barely succeded.

+In the opening encounter in the Cantina, 41-VEX, against all odds, decided that he was going to plop down at a table and pretend nothing was wrong (the group was shocked, I was delighted). He passed his Cool check, but with 1 threat. I ruled that while it sat down with swagger at one of the tables, it was currently occupied by three gambling patrons. The aliens, partly upset, partly confused, stared at the droid. If it came down to it, this men would rat the droid out in the following encounter.

+But they never got a chance to rat him out. In the first PC action 41-VEX took initiative and fired, sending one of the pigs over the barside. On this roll he rolled marvelously, tons of successes and a triumph. While explaining what a triumph could do the player interrupted me and said "Can I use it to make it tricky to determined where the shot came from? VEX was holding the pistol under the table, Han Solo style." Well how could I say no to that? Not only did the grunts fail to recognize 41-VEX was the source of the shot, but the patrons at his table suddenly felt less interested in ratting out the cold droid.

 

Really when it comes to advantages and threats, triumphs and dispairs, we found it was better to not think about the mechanical implications first but rather the thematic implications. Then once you've found a good theme the group agrees on you can apply some mechanical benefit if it applies. Players constantly used their advantages to "set-up" shots for other players or to "cover" them as they ran across a gunfight (adding a boost die in both cases).Not only that but good roleplaying was often awarded in boost dice in my group and it worked out well.



#12 Sinosaur

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 09:37 AM

With my group, I found that the system worked fairly well overall. Combat was quick and effective, instead of dragging a simple fight out for an hour, but skills were sort of the harder part, it can be somewhat difficult to determine how difficult certain checks should be. In particular, the fact that the group made efforts to move stealthily, but continuously caused more and more trouble until they'd drawn the attention of nearly everyone in Mos Shuuta.

 

In particular, Lowhhrick failed a lot of stealth checks in a row and ended up getting separated from the group for awhile as he bounded through the city attempting to escape pursuit from Gamorreans and then Stormtroopers. I couldn't reasonably give him less than a Hard check by the end of it, because it's kind of hard to be subtle about being a giant wookie. This would have turned ugly if the player didn't have amazing success in every combat he bumbled into.

 

The biggest problem with the system was when we got to the space combat rules and what had been a fairly quick explanation paused for about ten minutes while we sorted out all the new rules. The fight only lasted 2 rounds, with the Krayt Fang only managing to get hit once, partially because we misread the rules about Evasive Maneuvers and I added extra difficulty dice instead of upgrading them to challenge.

 

Overall, it was exciting, but I felt that the person scale parts of the adventure were more fun and entertaining than the ship scale stuff. The dice system made it easy for even me as the GM to want to root for the players, since I only really had to roll in combat, and it also made it really easy to add new in between steps for the players off the top of my head.



#13 x13phantom

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 11:30 AM

So do you guys find space combat lacking becuse the mechanics are different, or because all the PC's are not engaged? Do you think it would have

been more exiting to have each character in thier own fighter? I ask this because in the West End Star Wars game space combat alway seemed exiting

to me, and I don't recall anyone even if they did not have anything to do not waiting with great anticipation for each die to be cast and a sigh of relief when jumping to hyperspace.



#14 Sinosaur

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 04:19 PM

Three problems not immediately relating to the system itself that probably had a negative effect on my group enjoying space combat: We'd run the entire module in one sitting with no break up to that point, the TIE fighters couldn't manage to be a real threat, because they only managed to hit once between the two wings while the PCs easily blasted them out of the sky with lucky rolls (including some triumphs), and everything had been smoothly flowing right up until we hit the block of space combat rules and had to go through them for awhile, which broke the flow.

These were definitely part of the cause, but the group's energy was just sort of low for most of the fight. It's possible if that having to explain new rules after running for about 4 hours straight just broke our stride and fatigue sat in. Having to explain to people what their new set of available actions is was probably the biggest drag, and not actually finding themselves in any real danger didn't help (I also screwed up the rules for Evasive Maneuvers).

Under circumstances where they each had their actions clearly available to them and they were less fatigued, I think the space rules might be more fun for them.



#15 A1istir

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 08:12 PM

May I ask for a link to these cheat sheets I havent been able to find them maybe I'm not looking well enough.






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