IN AUGUST 2011 (wow, that long ago?) I got the West End Games Star Wars Miniature Battles rulebook. At that time I mentioned needing the Star Wars Miniatures Battles Companion for vehicle rules. Last week, I was once again in Gamer’s Haven in Colorado Springs and searching the used game book section I happened across a boxed Star Wars Vehicles Starter Set as well as the scenario book Imperial Entanglements.
First off, I was amazed to even find the Vehicles Starter Set at all. Secondly, to find it COMPLETE is a real bonus to me. By complete I mean not only does it have the box (with expected wear) but the Companion Rulebook (mint condition – probably opened only a few times), five die, and unopened/unbuilt/unpainted Snowspeeder and Scoutbike miniatures! All for the cost of $6.99!
Like the original Miniatures Battles Rulebook, Companion is compatible with West End Games’ Star Wars Roleplaying Game Second Edition rules. Like the basic miniatures rules, Companion continues to be a stand-alone game; i.e. one doesn’t need the RPG to play Miniatures Battles.
The heart of this game are the vehicles. Vehicles rules are in Chapters One and Two (total of 24 pages). Additionally, there are six pages of Reference Sheets for vehicles, including two pages of actual vehicles. I am a bit disappointed here; actual vehicle descriptions are missing. Instead, the authors direct the player to other WEG Star Wars RPG products. Good if you are a Star Wars RPG collector; bad if you aren’t (or can’t anymore). On page 27 there are rules for “Converting Other Star Wars Vehicles” – as described in Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. The end result of all this for a player of today means that in order to expand the vehicle list one must either acquire the older materials or try to reverse-engineer the vehicles given to divine the design assumptions.
Vehicles cover only about 36 pages of this 96-page book. The balance covers new combat rules, equipment, and unit insignia and organization. Chapter Six, “Scenarios and Campaigns,” has one stand-alone scenario and one campaign. Interestingly, for a supplement focused on vehicles the stand-alone scenario specifically states the NO VEHICLES are allowed whereas the campaign limits the Rebel player to one landspeeder and two speeder bikes while the Imperial player is limited to a single speederbike.
When I first wrote about the basic Miniatures Battles I stated that the game was more of a wargame and less an RPG. Companion doesn’t change that. I am also disappointed that even though vehicle rules are here, they are not showcased in any scenario or campaign here.
Imperial Entanglements is a scenario book for Star Wars Miniatures Battles. Interestingly, the section titles “Rules Updates and Clarifications” starts out with the following quote:
“All rules-intensive battle games, including Star Wars Miniatures Battles, have a few oversights and ambiguities.”
After “clarifying” the rules, Imperial Entanglements has nine scenarios. Each scenario is a bit unique:
- Big Game is a solitaire safari hunt
- Terror in the Trees takes place in an Ewok tree village; beware the Ewok traps and falls!
- Hammer of Destiny uses a single vehicle as a terrain/objective piece
- A Bazaar Encounter is a swoop gang brawl
- To Hunt the Hutt is a bounty hunter ambush
- Who Goes There introduces a “fog of war” mechanic where the table as laid out is not a true reflection of the ground
- Scavenger Hunt is a take-the-booty-and-run scenario
- Rescue Run showcases the prisoner rules and variable night visibility.
- Surprise Visit is an ambushed ambush.
Taken as a whole, the scenarios bring home the point that Miniatures Battles really is a skirmish game.
For $6.99 (Vehicles Starter Set) and $3.99 (Imperial Entanglements) I can’t say I’m disappointed. Miniatures Battles is a decent set of rules, though I must say that other skirmish games do a better job of streamlining rules and creating a faster playing experience.