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My first impression of the Beginners Game…

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#1 Armchairadventurer



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Posted 21 May 2013 - 04:37 AM

I recently got to play this game for the first time, at the Roleplayers Guild of Kansas City Game Day, and I thought I would give you my impressions.  I should say up front, that I have played two other FFG RPGs; Dark Heresy (love it) and Warhammer Fantasy RPG (hate it).  I would also like to state that I generally love the look and feel of most every product that FFG puts out.  The 40k line, in particular, I could almost buy for coffee table books alone, even without consideration for their value as an RPG system (which I feel is very high).  The books are just that beautiful.  Finally, I need to be completely forthcoming; I generally dislike dice pool systems and systems with unique dice.  I find them confusing in interpretation and clumsy in action resolution.  It's why I don't like World of Darkness Games, Shadow Run, WEG Star Wars (although I loved the writing and setting material for those products), and the afore mentioned WFRP 3rd edition.  I would also like to say, that I don't think there is any such thing as a good or bad game.  There are only games that you like, or don't like, and that is subjective to the individual. 

Now, having said that, what is my own subjective opinon of this game? (ALERT:  Adventure spoilers ahead.  Read at your own risk)

The game was ran by a GM who, I am told, has actually written material for every iteration of the Star Wars RPG (I don't remember his name; please forgive me- I'm terrible with names).  He produced several pre-generated characters for us to choose from.  We wound up with a wookie mercenary, a droid colonist, a twi-lek bounty hunter, and a human smuggler.  Since I like to play characters who are slick talking con-men, I chose the smuggler.  I thought all the pre-gens were interesting and the artwork and background for the characters was excellent, and strongly evoked the feel of the setting (that being the Fringe culture of Star Wars).The game also came with a cool map of the city, with a layout of the cantina, spaceport control and docking by on the other side.  We also got some spiffy cardboard counters to use for game tokens.  The artwork and overall quality on these were generally excellent.

The adventure was Escape from Mos Shutta.  The basic premise, is that we were a bunch of fringers on the run from the empire, who had recently gone to work for a local hutt lord, doing smuggling runs.  Unfortunately, we had recently botched a mission for him, and now he was looking to take the credit loss out of our hides.  That being the case, we had to find a ship to steal so we could blast off the planet and escape.

We started the game by heading to the local cantina to see if we could scare up some information.    While we were kicking back a few drinks and soaking up the atmosphere (one of the players cued up the cantina theme music from Episode IV on his smart phone), a bunch of the hutts Gamorrean thugs walked in, looking for us.  This is where I got my first taste of the dice resolution mechanics.

The GM had us all make rolls to try to look inconspicuous and blend in with the crowd.  We all succeeded, except for the droid, who was standing by the entryway to the cantina, where the gamorreans walked in.  The Droid decided to lob a stun grenade at the thugs, and succeeded magnificently, managing to knock all of them out.  I then attempted a deception roll, by commenting out loud that, "The clumsy gamorrean fools had dropped a stun grenade and knocked themselves out."  I also, succeeded admirably, and the bartender (who didn't like gamorreans and was amused by my quip), offered a bit of free information; a Trandoshan Bounty Hunter as docked nearby, with a vessel we could use to escape the planet.  However, there was a catch; it needed repairs before it could make the jump to hyperspace.

The GM for the game was very skilled at roleplaying the NPC's, describing the environment and encounter and at improvising responses to our actions.  However, he seemed to have about as much difficulty as the rest of us (all but one of whom had never played before, I believe) in interpereting and resolving the action dice.  While the encounter, as designed, was very good and captured the feel of the setting, the actual combat and skill checking proved to be disappointingly slow and complex.  The GM had warned us, prior to starting, that the dice rolling is a little confusing at first, but becomes easier with practice.  Since this was only the first encounter of the game, I didn't worry about it too much, and figured I would pick things up as we went.

From the cantina, we decided to go to the local junk shop to try to procure the needed part for the Trandoshans ship (which we had, of course, decided to steal at the earliest opportunity).  When we stepped outside, we discovered that the hutts goons were out in force, and that all traffice to and from the city had been shut down; the docking clamps on all the ships had been locked down from the spaceport security center.  We continued on to the junk shop, where we attempted to fast talk the shopkeeper into believing that we had come to pick up the part for the trandoshans ship (he only had one part of that type- and the trandoshan had already reserved it, but had not yet come to get it) and succeeded, then attempted to negotiate a lower price for the part, itself (we all failed on that one).  We managed to wrangle the part from the guy, after chucking and squinting at more handfuls of dice.  Action resolution wasn't any easier than the first time but, thankfully, there was little dice rolling necessary.  We gave the part to the wookie to carry, and moved on.

Next we travelled to the space port control center.  We had to figure out some way to get inside and unlock the docking clamps on the ship, so we could steal the thing and blast off planet.  At first, we tried to slice the lock on the rear entrance and sneak in the back, but we all failed miserably.  Then we tried to fast talk the security droids out front into believing we were a crew coming to do monthly maintenance.  This time, we succeeded.  Inside, we conned the space port operations chief and his peons into believing the Hutt lord had sent us personally to inspect the premises.  The GM managed the flow of the RP brilliantly but, once again, seemed to get hung up on dice action resolution (as did the rest of us).  At any rate, we managed to unlock the docking clamps without provoking suspicion and continued on to the landing bay where the trandoshans vessel was docked.

When we stepped back outside, we discovered a squad of imperial stormtroopers waiting for us.  Apparently, the hutt had ratted us out the Imps, he was that upset with us.  I suggested we try to hotwire a nearby landspeeder to make our escape, but everyone else thought it would be more prudent just to make a break for it on foot.  So, we made a run for it and, after some more dice checks (the slowness of which made the urgency of the scene somewhat less intense than it might have been- due to all the squinting and head scratching over resolving the dice rolls) we managed to slip away and make a run for the docking bay.

The next encounter was the most combat intensive of the game.  We shot it out with some security droids in front of the docking bay, forced our way into the place, locked the blast doors to delay the stormtroopers, and attempted to persuade the trandoshan to give us a lift off planet in return for the part he needed.  We failed at the last bit, and a firefight/slugfest ensued that was the longest combat encounter yet.  It was here that the special dice really proved to be an impediment to the action.  The trandoshan was also one tough nut to crack.  We shot the hell out of him and he didn't go down.  We chopped his arm off and he didn't go down.  We tried to grapple and subdue him and he resisted.  None of this (while enjoyable) was as fun or exciting as it should have been, due to clunky dice resolution, but we finally overcame the bugger when the wookie delivered a gruesome vibro-axe to the face.  We then blasted off planet, and tried to complete the repair, while shooting it out with a squadron of tie fighters.  Ship combat was interesting, with every character able to contribute in some fashion, with a special action related to space combat but, again, was bogged down by the numbers of dice and interpretation of the special symbols.  In the end, we managed to blast our way free and make the jump to hyperspace; HOORAY! (cue the star wars theme music).

After playing the game, here is my final evaluation:  The aesthetic appeal of the product is strong.  All components seem to be sturdy and attractive.  The art is excellent.  The writing is tight and provides the appropriate feel for the setting.  From a players perspective, with the GM doing most of the heavy lifting with dice resolution, I thought the game was fun, but not nearly as enjoyable as the D20 version of the game.  From the GM's perspective (which is the more relevant one, for me- as I prefer to be the GM to being the player), I find the special dice mechanics frustrating and to actively impede the flow of the action.  Given that, I will not be purchasing the game (or any other products in the series using the same dice mechanic), though I would consider playing in another game.

#2 Rich J

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 04:41 AM

We found once we had a few sessions with the dice they were actually so much better than the normal d20 system.  But it did need a few sessions to get used to it especially as GM.  


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#3 MrDodger



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Posted 23 May 2013 - 04:10 AM

What sold me on getting this game was listening to the live play episodes of the Order 66 podcast. I'd strongly recommend listening to those (and the skill monkey segment) before judging the dice mechanic too harshly.

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#4 herozeromes



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Posted 23 May 2013 - 07:00 AM

MrDodger said:

What sold me on getting this game was listening to the live play episodes of the Order 66 podcast. I'd strongly recommend listening to those (and the skill monkey segment) before judging the dice mechanic too harshly.

This x1000. I bought the beginner's game and found much confusion with the game system. It started to click more once I read the included rulebook which I wish I had read BEFORE GMing (even though it tells you not to). However, I was still lost on several things until I stumbled across the NEW Order 66 Podcast this week, which is dedicated to this game specifically. I have listened to 3 or 4 of them so far and they have provided some awesome insight into the mechanics of the game. I feel like my next session will go MUCH faster now that I am gaining a more complete understanding of everything. According the Order 66, the key is having GMs and players that understand the give and take of the dice pool so that there is a free-flow of suggestions for what can happen next. If everything is left solely to the GM, the game feels rather dry. However, the game is much more fun if the PCs say things like  "well, could I find such and such an item with my successful perception check with a triumph?"

#5 Kager



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Posted 23 May 2013 - 05:47 PM

Check out this series :  

It really brings to light how the dice mechanics should flow.

#6 kinnison



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Posted 24 May 2013 - 09:45 AM

Personally for me, a few tries at the dice and it becomes quite easy to pick up.  Just have to be able to know what cancels out, and pulling them out of the clutter.  ONe of my players had a Macro for dice rolling, but by the end he felt rolling the dice was easier.  In fact, it was really easy for me when I ran it as a GM to get the dice pools for the TIE fighters.  My only problem was I tended to roll better then my players.  At the end of "Escape from mos shuuta" the Krayt Fang was down to 2 Hull Trama… didn't help that the Smuggler was the one trying to install the HDMI.

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#7 Stibbons



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Posted 30 May 2013 - 10:51 PM

I recently picked this up myself after a fair amount of prevaricating. My initial thoughts were that it was pretty much a new version of the old "Invasion of Theed" starter game from the previous incarnation. However after a full read-through I'm pretty impressed, production standards are very high, particularly for the art (although a few niggling typos and hold-overs from the beta-system were annoying, I cn work around those though). The dice and game mechanics I was a little wary of, but once I'd spent some time actually trying it out it "clicked" and I was able to rapidly process actions, an extra set of dice will help but the mechanic does work and I think helps with the feel of the game.

I'll almost certainly pick up the core rulebook when that appears, I think this is a fine product and will look forward to playing it.

My one real gripe is the ship. A YT-1300? Really? With the same interior configuration as the Falcon? Come on, while I appreciate players might like to get hold of "the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy" there's only one Falcon and it's Solo's. Bit of a lack of imagination here I thought, at least give us something different like a YT-1250 (with a quad turret and a couple of concealed concussion missiles) or go really wild with a HWK-90. I've printed out the deckplan of a YT-1250 from the old game to the same scale as the map and mounted it on board. A bit of tweaking to the descriptions in "Long Arm of the Hutt" and my players will be getting this instead.

#8 Bobus X

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 02:53 PM

Well, to be honest, certain mechanics really don't mesh with certain people.  I for one, cannot stand percentile systems, and find them clunky, counter-intuitive, and boring.  I tend to find dice pools quick, easy to understand, and to have nicely rounded probability curves that blend into the background nicely.

I ran some of WFRP 3rd, and the dice pool is really easy for me to understand.  Sometimes, narrating the results when you get so much information can be tough, but it is really good at preventing the normal.  "You hit.  Roll Damage.  3 points of damage, next!" that hapens so easily with many games.  WFRP 3rd did bog down with the massive amount of subsystems in the game, and this version of Star Wars seems to have trimmed that by a significant amount.  I may just consider houseruling some of the Star Wars rules into my WFRP game (like mergin fatigue and stress possibly, not much thought given to it yet).

So, it may just be that you and your GM need more time and practice, and it will come to you, or as indicated by the fact that it just got harder for you, you are just not built to understand it quickly and easily, and you will never be able to wrap your head around it.  If you are happy with d20, no real biggie to just keep running that.  I give you credit for not totally washing your hands and refusing to even play it.  Perhaps a few more sessions would do you good.

#9 Maric



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Posted 06 July 2013 - 07:32 PM

What sold me on getting this game was listening to the live play episodes of the Order 66 podcast


I'd be interested in listening to that.  I can't seem to find it.  Are you able to link the episode(s)?


EDIT: Nevermind found it!

Edited by Maric, 06 July 2013 - 11:23 PM.

#10 Dex Vulen

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 09:08 PM

My Wednesdays group has a player that is a huge Star Wars fan and has been following this games production for some time.  He has the Beta book and Beginners Game and had been talking it up for a bit.  One night we had finished early and he asked if we would be interested in giving it a go.  We obliged and began Escape From Mos Shuuta.  Due to time we were only able to get as far as acquiring the HRI, at this point the party split to save time (we were under the impression after killing the Gamorreans at the cantina that time was something we were short of) one group went to the space port command center and the other to the docking bay.  The group that went to the command center was able to get the clamps undone with some fun RP and die rolls and the group that went to the docking bay managed to clear the droids and find out that the Trandoshan was on the ship.  Cliffhanger...


Of the 5 of us that were playing (he had a print out of the Explorer (Sasha?) 2 of us ordered the Core book.


He had a real grasp on the dice pool mechanic and has been GMing games for a long time.  We had no issues with the dice system and all of us are hooked.  It was a great time and we were able to finish the adventure the following Wednesday.  He has several adventures lined up to include Long Arm of the Hutt and a few of his own.


I just wish our books would come in so we can create our own characters.


Loved it!

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#11 zymurgy65



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Posted 16 August 2013 - 09:53 AM

Played the intro adventure a couple of nights ago and loved it! My first group RPG session in over 20 years (three out of the six of us are over 40 and saw the original films waaaay back when) and it was just like old times. We lucky to have Paul, an experienced GM, who made it a night to remember.


Our group comprised Oskara (me - I like playing female characters), Pash, Mathus, Sasha and 41-VEX. Right from the start we found innovative and amusing ways to interpret the die rolls. Mathus kicked over a mop bucket and ripped out some wiring in an attempt to electrocute the Gamorreans. He failed, but with three advantage, which resulted in the Gamorreans slipping in the water and crashing to the ground in a heap. He was able to electrocute one directly, filling the cantina with the smell of roast pork, and I blasted the other two with my carbine. I suffered one strain, though, caused by the dancer slapping me for ruining her act!


Later on 41-VEX, in a stroke of genius, used Spaceport Control to divert the security droids from the Krayt Fang's landing bay to the other one, leaving us with a clear path to the ship. The firefight with the stormtroopers showed another side to Mathus; he punched out three stormtroopers without getting a scratch! (Note to self - get him to make me a pair of shock gloves.) I agree Trex was a tough nut to crack, but he's supposed to be. Pash suffered an agonising wound before I was able to bring down the slaver with a critical hit. That was as far as we got on the night, and I'm looking forward to taking on the TIEs; if I can bag a couple I'll have notched up 10 kills!

#12 JetBlackPanda



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Posted 12 September 2013 - 03:06 PM

The dice were hard for me to grasp for about 10 minutes. Once it clicked I enjoy it so much more then d20 (which I love) I can tell exactly whats going on within seconds and can shape the narrative quickly.



#13 Jaenus



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Posted 12 September 2013 - 09:48 PM

Think of the dice as an assistant story teller.


I want to shoot at that Gamorrean thug!


So you roll, 3 successes, 2 advantages, 2 failures.  You succeed!  Weapon's damage + 1.  But you also have 2 advantage.  So perhaps you recover two strain:


After seeing such a good shot, a rush of adrenaline surges through you and you feel a bit more recovered, ready to take on the Empire by yourself!


Or, perhaps you use your advantage to give an ally a boost against the Gamorrean, assuming he's still alive?


As the blaster strikes his armor, he staggers back, exposing himself nice and wide for the next attack (add one boost die to the next attack).


Etc.  The dice DO take getting used to, but LET them help tell the story, you just interpret what they do.  I found it useful to have a print out for each of my PCs of possible advantages they could do.


There is no rush to buy the game.  I'd watch the mentioned videos/podcasts and try to play with a different GM, or give that GM some more time to get refined himself.  He sounds like he was creative, perhaps just still new with the die.



"Once you divorce yourself from the idea that one roll of the dice equals one pull of the trigger, your narrative descriptions are going to benefit drastically." Rikoshi, discussing how a single roll of the dice might kill more than one minon in a group.

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