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A miniature Jango Fett, blasters raised as in his final moments in the prequel films. The brushwork is invisible, and the higlights are sharp and crisp. Photo: Charlie Hall/Otto Mankitap

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Star Wars: Shatterpoint lowers the FOMO, amps up the RNG

Bigger minis — and fewer of them — mean less time painting, more time playing

In the world of tabletop gaming, miniatures are both a blessing and a curse. Entire franchises have been built on the backs of tiny plastic heroes, giving sizzle to countless crowdfunding campaigns and holding down an attractive bit of shelf space at the friendly local game store. But often the scale of a publisher’s ambition for a product line far outstrips consumers’ willingness to pay for it — much less to spend time painting it.

Star Wars: Shatterpoint, the latest offering from Atomic Mass Games, is an attempt to reconcile that conflict. It’s the most recent entry into a hot sector of the tabletop landscape known as miniature skirmish games: highly thematic games of tactical combat that only require a handful of miniatures to play. So, while Shatterpoint may share the same cinematic universe with Star Wars: Legion — one of Atomic Mass’ several Star Wars-themed miniatures games, and one that requires dozens and dozens of minis to play — the experience of buying, painting, and playing Shatterpoint should be something else entirely.

A collection of black-and red-miniatures, including Darth Maul and Gar Saxxon, among others, for Star Wars: Shatterpoint. Photo: Charlie Hall/Otto Mankitap
Anakin Skywalker and Clone Commander Rex miniatures, flanked by a few more 501st Clone Troopers for good measure. Photo: Charlie Hall/Otto Mankitap

“Tactically, strategically, it’s a very different experience,” head of product development Will Shick told Otto Mankitap during a demo at this year’s AdeptiCon. “In Legion, what you’re doing is you’re building an army that is going to have synergies and tactics. You’re choosing your command cards. You’re choosing your units. You’re making a battle plan. And then your goal in Legion is to execute that plan as well as you can, while your opponent influences you by force.”

“Instead of it being on how your army works together and synergizes, and how you build the perfect Rube Goldberg machine,” Shick continued, “the focus [in Shatterpoint] is heavily on the characters and what the character is doing. And part of that is the fact that you have a lot less strategic control.”

In Shatterpoint, each player will come to the table with two squads — around eight miniatures total — in a single group called a Strike Force. Each Strike Force has a primary unit — generally a named character, like Anakin Skywalker — that gives the group its personality. There’s a secondary unit, which is often a lesser hero like Clone Captain Rex. Finally, there’s a support unit — in this example, something like a pair of Clone Troopers fits the bill nicely. Each of those units has a tarot-sized card, which all get shuffled together. Play moves forward from there, with players pulling cards from the top of that shared deck and activating their units as they go.

Gantries and towers, painted and ready for play, from Star Wars: Shatterpoint Core Set.
Star Wars: Shatterpoint Core Set will include 16 miniatures and the assortment of modular, multi-part plastic terrain shown here.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Otto Mankitap

Instead of the rigid back-and-forth turn order of a traditional wargame like Star Wars: Legion or Warhammer 40,000, each phase — called a Struggle — is therefore much more random. You could find yourself taking turn after turn in the first Struggle of a best-of-three match, only to find yourself on the back foot, unable to take a swing for most of the next. The central tension of the game, said Shick, is in what you do with the limited options presented to you each round.

“The game is going to ask you a lot of questions through its randomness,” Shick said. “How can you make the best of what fate has given you? And that’s the ‘shatterpoint.’ That’s the whole theme of the game.”

To allow players to execute on these inflection points, Atomic Mass has given its various characters loads of powerful abilities. Working closely with Lucasfilm, Shick and his team have been able to imbue Shatterpoint’s gameplay with unique Star Wars combat — including moments inspired by The Clone Wars and other animated series. For instance, your Anakin miniature doesn’t just stick itself to the nearest Battle Droid and start rolling dice until one or the other falls down. Anakin slashes and parries with his lightsaber, leaps over the top of the droids with a flourish, and then Force pushes them right off the table — all during a single attack in a single turn. The combat interactions, as described to me, seem more complex, more vigorous, and more cinematic really than anything I’ve seen in a skirmish game to date.

A card featuring unique rules for playing Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Shatterpoint.
Primary characters have multiple stances...
Photo: Charlie Hall/Otto Mankitap
Another side of Anakin’s card, showing defensive and offensive skills. From Star Wars: Shatterpoint.
...and can switch them each time they activate.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Otto Mankitap

While other miniatures games might avoid these kinds of elaborate, flashy moves, Atomic Mass’ Shatterpoint leans in. Getting blown out in the first round of combat only to fight back to a stalemate in the penultimate round right before the climax might feel a bit swingy, but it’s great for storytelling.

“It’s chaotic,” Shick said. “It’s not very clean. There’s a lot of individual heroics or initiative. It’s the point where Obi-Wan’s like, Anakin! No! and he runs off and he goes and does his thing anyway. [...] It’s a little bit of crisis management, because you don’t have complete control, you don’t have perfect information. Instead, it’s up to you to figure out how to maximize the opportunities that you get out of your draw.”

Another key feature of the game is its modularity. Players are encouraged to mix and match units to build out the Strike Force of their dreams. As a side effect, each of the units that players invest in — both monetarily, and with the time spent painting them — becomes more valuable. Shick said that fans will be able to mix and match primary, secondary, and support units easily, trading Mandalorian Supercommandos for Battle Droids with ease. In fact, the core set launching in June is built with that kind of flexibility in mind. Multiple combinations of characters and support units will be available right out of the box, thereby offering both sides plenty of options as they learn the game.

And the miniatures? They’re absolutely spectacular, with thin, lithe silhouettes and screen-accurate proportions. Where the characters in Star Wars: Legion appear slightly stretched, with enlarged heads and hands to show detail, Shatterpoint minis look more like action figures. That’s because each multi-part, hard plastic miniature is rendered in 40-millimeter scale — far larger than the industry standard 28-millimeter scale found in most wargames. As an added benefit, the larger size should make them much easier for beginners to paint.

“You want the miniatures to evoke the experience that you want the players to have,” Shick said. “For Star Wars: Shatterpoint, the idea always was to lean into that more heroic, that more — I want to say childhood-like — but the more serialized things that Flash Gordon did.”

Sounds like just the kind of approach that fans of The Clone Wars, The Mandalorian, and The Book of Boba Fett have been waiting for.

Star Wars: Shatterpoint Core Set will ship with 16 miniatures and an assortment of plastic terrain, in addition to all the cards, dice, and tokens needed to play. Pre-orders are available right now, both online and at your friendly local game store, for $164.99. Fans should expect even more hands-on demonstrations of gameplay soon as Atomic Mass heads to Star Wars Celebration ahead of the game’s June 2 launch date.

Update: We’ve further clarified how many miniatures are commonly included in a Strike Force.


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