Friday, August 5, 2011

Fantasy Flight Games gets the Star Wars License

Tuesday it was announced that Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) now has the license for board games, card games, miniature-based games, and RPGs for Star Wars. This is pretty big news as, well, Star Wars is awesome. If you didn't see the announcement, you can find it by clicking here

Why this is good
FFG has been around for quite a while, like 1995 a while, and have been putting out games since '97. They've also have been publishing top quality games that people like consistently, which is very tough to do, and they have managed to do it with both original concepts as well as pre-established licensed products such as Battlestar Galactica, Call of Cthulhu, and both Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40k. As a result, they are currently (as of this week even) the 3rd largest publisher of games in the world. These people produce games they want how they want them, as well as how many others want them too.

While Star Wars has been around since the late 70s, it has seen very few good games come out. In fact, its actually seen shit for original games. Pretty much anything Star Wars and board games related that has come out has been a reskin of Monopoly, Risk, Stratego, or Trivial Pursuit. The only unique stuff that has come out worth mentioning is Star Wars: Destroy Death StarStar Wars: Yoda the Jedi Master, and The Queens Gambit, and even then they are worth mentioning because at least someone tried to be original. The Queens Gambit is considered to be a quality game, but I am pretty certain its because its a Star Wars game that isn't absolute trash.

While the board games are not worth talking about, the role play games certainly are. With the introduction of the West End Games Star Wars RPG in 1987, the game has exploded in awesomeness, and has since seen two additional iterations of the game, both from Wizards of the Coast.

With FFG having the license for Star Wars, as well as their track record for success, there is a very real likelihood that we will see a large variety of high-end, well thought out original games and miniatures in the Star Wars universe moving forward. 

Why this may be bad
So I'm not going to lie, I like FFG, but mostly in concept. Everything by them that I have played has been fun. Arkham Horror is the game that really drew me into board games in an otherwise RPG-stagnant gaming existence. The Battlestar Galactica board game keeps you on the edge of your seat trying to guess who the traitor is while also having to work together. Descent is the coolest dungeon crawl game I have ever played. Mansions of Madness is just bad ass.  But heres the problem:

They cannot write a rule book to save their lives.
The average FFG game takes about 2-4 hours to play. The average FFG Rulebook takes at least 3-5 hours to read and understand what it is trying to say, and the first game that you play will usually take 2-3 times longer than it should because you are trying to put the rules into practice. While I have loved every game I have played from them, they've also been taught to me. I gave up on Arkham Horror the first time I tried to play it because the rules were so terribly written. Going back and looking at them, they have improved the rulesets with second printings in some cases, but they are still not great.

FFG games tend to also be very complicated, which isn't a bad thing, but it really takes a commitment to play through any of their games due to this level of complexity that can be lost on those who are not willing to take the time or do not have the time to play them.

You may read this and say to yourself "ok, so why is this bad" If you have, then don't worry, these are the games you're looking for. But if you are the casual gamer who is an epic Star Wars fan, you might get easily overwhelmed by FFG, or their rulesets may be such shit that you won't want to even try.

Why I'm not thrilled with this yet
In recent times, FFG has been making Living Card Games (think Magic: the Gathering, but with non-random boosters) for everything, and this really doesn't appeal to me. I am not a big one for games that want me to be agressive towards other players, which is why I suck at Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.  Guess what type of game their first Star Wars licensed game will be? Yep, except it'll be cooperative, so you won't have to fight against each other and you can play up to four players (provided you buy two starter boxes) Their other first game to market will be a miniatures based starfighter game called "X-Wing" which has you flying X-Wings everywhere going "pew pew pew" and so on. Not really a big minis fan either.  So while the license is great, the products they are producing at current do not excite me, but that doesn't mean I won't.

Why I will be thrilled
I am very excited to see what they do with the RPG portion of the license. Currently FFG produces both the Warhammer Fantasy and 40k RPG games which are fantastic. They have some great character creation rules, as well as some very innovative ways for advancement which focuses on careers as opposed to characteristics. The most recent Star Wars games produced by WotC have been d20 based systems, and have fallen short in being able to produce a realistic, fun, and consistent experience from start to finish. 

Theres a lot of potential cool stuff that will come of this, but its still not slated to hit until early 2012, and a lot can change between now and then, especially with this company. Mansions of Madness was originally scheduled to be released October 2010, and it didn't make it to stores until late early spring 2011. All that said, I can't imagine there being a single Star Wars fan who won't be paying close attention to what will be going on with this.


  1. I'm not a minis fan at all. But when I read more about X-Wing, it seems like it's going to be real similar to Wings of War. And I love the simple pre-planned, but still semi chaotic gameplay of Wings of War. I just wish they called it X-Wings of War.

    As for the living card games... I feel like it's becoming a little overkill too. I have yet to understand how to play the LOTR game (rulebook issues), but Star Wars looks like a clone of it.

    And finally I don't want to cooperate. I want to destroy the empire all by myself.

  2. Let's hope FFG has better success at a Star Wars starship game than WOTC Star Wars Starship Battles.

    If they make a minis game with characters, I REALLY hope they can find a way to bring the WOTC Star Ware Miniatures pieces into the fold. 1. It would be awesome. 2. I have a shit-ton of those pieces.