Mad Max In Miniature

MadMaxOriginal Just as my early-1980s adolescent brain was feasting on a steady diet of Dungeons & Dragons, comic books and all things Star Wars, Mad Max raced out of the Australian wastelands and into my world. I caught The Road Warrior at a local theater, only to realize there was an earlier film which I tracked down on video cassette. In the years to come, the Mad Max movies and their sequels tucked in nicely with my other adventure film mythologies. The Conan movies held the sword-and-sandals spot, Star Wars filled the sci-fi niche and Indiana Jones was the retro heroic adventure serial.

It was the the Mad Max films which brought the genres together in a barbaric, sci-fi tale led by a charismatic hero who always seemed to be losing right up until the final moments of the film when you realized he’d just won. The Mad Max movies also held a certain raw immediacy to me, especially in the final dangerous decade of the Cold War where a Road Warrior-esque post-apocalyptic future seemed like a possibility. Thirty years after the third film, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, I (thankfully) am not surviving in a souped up car on a murderous desert highway, but I did get another new Mad Max film that thrilled my inner teenager while satisfying my now more adult brain with story and message.

I’m also thankful for being a part of Metropolitan Wargamers which is filled with passionate, creative gamers who put together stunning games like the Road Warrior miniatures event this past weekend at the club. IMG_6151 The game was based largely on a modified set of rules available at the Third Point of Singularity website which have been popular during late night games at some conventions the past year or so. The basics of the rules were maintained with simple sticks for movement, and combat and damage results resolved with D20s and D6s cross-referencing tables. The tabletop itself  used an extra large canvas desert mat, rocky outcroppings and some custom blacktop roads made from roofing material. Dust, smoke and fire markers all come in handy as the carnage builds rapidly. The pics below give a pretty good feel for what the game looks like as the cars race and battle across the table. IMG_6156 IMG_6150 IMG_6162 IMG_6160 IMG_6161 The really wonderful aspect of the game is the cars, made for the most part from Hot Wheels and Matchbox toy vehicles. Cars are tricked-out using bits left over from other military models plus a lot of special 20mm parts and figures made specifically by Stan Johnson Miniatures for post-apocalyptic gamers. Each of the unique cars gets its own stats card and name, as shown in some of the examples below. IMG_6159 IMG_6153 IMG_6152 IMG_6154 IMG_6155 IMG_6158 IMG_6157 With a couple dozen cars, trucks and vans, bunches of good guys and bad guys, and a raucously absurd game, there’s going to be a lot of Mad Max-style roadside carnage in the weeks to come in Brooklyn.

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A Gamer’s Guide to Manhattan’s Hobby Shops

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I’ve mentioned here more than once that my childhood was full of hobbies including model rocketry, model railroading, plastic kit building, Dungeons & Dragons, comic books and miniatures wargaming. Like generations before me, hobby stores and the now-vanished hobby areas of large department stores and five-and-dimes were where I felt at home from an early age.

I moved to New York City in the mid-1990s when much of Old New York started breathing its last gasps. Along with the closings of many storied NYC bars, restaurants, clubs, book stores, comic shops and movie theaters, hobby shops of all types are becoming more and more a thing of the past here in the Five Boroughs. The causes of the decline of hobby shops in the city are many, including rising rents, loss of customer interest, the growth of online hobby retail and many owners simply retiring or passing away.

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The New York Times recently did a great little story on Rudy’s Hobby and Art in Astoria, Queens, and I’ve also become a semi-frequent visitor to Trainworld just a few subway stops away from my apartment in Brooklyn. These outposts in the outer boroughs hold on, but many of the classic shops in Manhattan have not. At the top of many city hobbyist memories is Polk’s Hobby Department Store which once occupied five floors at 314 5th Avenue. Like many businesses, Polk’s was a family-run affair headed up by two brothers beginning in the 1930s. The iconic store carried radio controlled boats and planes, slot cars, plastic model kits, trains and all matter hobby supplies which fueled the imaginations for generations of kids and adults. For the observant nostalgic, a quick glimpse of Polk’s survives in a scene from 1972’s The Godfather (photo at top).

Like Polk’s, most of Manhattan’s other hobby stores, like Carmen Webster’s on 45th Street and America’s Hobby Center on West 22nd Street, have likewise vanished from the city’s streets in recent years. At the same time, Brooklyn has seen a surge in gaming-specific stores and play spaces such as Kings Games, Brooklyn Game Lab, Twenty-Sided Store, The Brooklyn Strategist and Nu Brand Gaming. In Greenwich Village, The Uncommons now sits along the old “Chess Row” south of Washington Square, and a Games Workshop can be found a few blocks away well stocked with Warhammer and 40K players on any given weekend.

For the dedicated scale model hobbyist and gaming enthusiast, a few remnants of the traditional densely stocked hobby store of the past still live on in Manhattan. In almost all cases, online suppliers are a more economical option than purchasing from a local hobby or gaming brick-and-mortar store. However, it’s still hard to beat the experience of browsing a shop in person and having conversations with fellow customers and proprietors who share a passion for a hobby. I recently spent a sunny late summer day poking around in a few of my favorite NYC hobby shops that tap into that unique experience that still lives on.


Jan’s Hobby Shop

1435 Lexington Avenue

(212) 987-4765

IMG_4284Way up on Lexington Avenue in the East 90s,  Jan’s Hobby Shop is just the kind of store that fired my youthful imagination. Plastic soldiers, model kits, model rockets, paints, brushes, videos, books and hobby magazines are stacked floor to ceiling in the tight space of this classic hobbyist’s paradise. Kits from hundreds of manufacturers from around the world, from the common to the obscure, cover all eras, skill levels, scales and price ranges. Ships from the Age of Sail sit across from Star Wars X-Wings, ancient siege weapons are just down the aisle from Cold War artillery and all manner of cars, tanks, ships and planes fill every bit of space between. For the more advanced scale modeller, a handy selection of balsa, plastic styrene, brass tubing and specialized glues and construction materials sit at the ready.

IMG_4286Plastic soldiers from a variety of manufacturers, eras and scales at Jan’s

IMG_4287Paints and plastic model kits line the walls at Jan’s

IMG_4285Fred Hutchins’s WWII era experimental aircraft models

At the heart of the store on any given morning, store manager Fred Hutchins sits behind his workbench working away on his latest project. In my short visit with Fred, I learned of his lifelong love and work in aeronautical engineering. His ongoing project, at the rate of 30-50 models per year, is to build to scale every experimental aircraft built during World War II. In the cases nearby, much of Fred’s exquisite work is on display, and if you are a polite and patient visitor, he is more than happy to engage in a brief history lesson. Conversation with Fred, modeller-to-modeller, is just the kind of experience only found in a hobby shop and makes a visit to Jan’s worth the trip.


The Red Caboose

23 West 45th Street

(212) 575-0155

www.theredcaboose.com

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For a hobbyist like me, basements are portals to secret worlds of play hidden away from the normal world above. That’s where you’ll find The Red Caboose, tucked at the end of an easy-to-miss entry hall and then down some narrow stairs to a subterranean hobby wonderland. Focused largely on N and HO scale model railroading, The Red Caboose is lined with glass cases of rolling stock and engines from the steam era to today. Tourists may also find their way here to buy up some authentic scale New York MTA subway cars which may be special ordered to reflect specific routes past or present.

IMG_4283Cases of trains and row upon row of model kits at The Red Caboose

The Red Caboose is a place beyond trains, too.  Rows of shelves are devoted to kits for all sorts of buildings, bridges, industrial complexes and natural scenery, some of which have made their way to my wargaming tables over the years. Rotating racks of scale scratch building plastic, metal and wood parts, along with paints, brushes and other supplies provide a solid inventory for miniature modellers. A decent selection of military and civilian plastic kits and pre-built die-cast scale models can likewise by found, making a stop at The Red Caboose about much more than just trains.


The Compleat Strategist

11 East 33rd Street

(212) 685-3880

www.thecompleatstrategist.com

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As a budding role playing gamer in the 70s and 80s, I was fortunate to live near a college town where the local bookstore and five-and-dime each stocked a handy selection of Dungeons & Dragons books, miniatures and magazines. Tucked in the pages of later issues of those magazines, I occasionally saw ads for The Compleat Strategist with an inventory which sounded like a dream for my hungry gaming appetite. As a resident New Yorker today, a quick visit to “The Strat” over a lunch hour or on a weekend is an amazing escape for a quick purchase or just time spent browsing the latest in gaming.

IMG_4281The Compleat Strategist is NYC’s destination for serious gamers

The store is long, narrow and deep, with shelves of games, books, miniatures and accessories piled to the ceiling. Boardgames, chess sets and puzzles occupy the rear half of the store. A massive selection of boxed historical strategy games stretch down one wall toward an inventory of paints and miniatures ranging from Games Workshop and other fantasy lines to collectible games like Heroclix. RPG books and reference materials fill out the front of the shop along with buckets of dice, stacks of collectible cards like Magic: The Gathering and two large racks of gaming periodicals. Downstairs, the Compleat Strategist also hosts mini gaming tournaments most weekends, rounding out the total experience for the city gamer looking to stay connected to a vital hobby community.


Gotham Model Trains

224 West 35th Street, 13th Floor

(212) 643-4400

www.gothammodeltrains.com

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Down a generic block just north of Penn Station, the tiny and well kept Gotham Model Trains occupies a thirteenth floor space in a building housing a jumble of small businesses and professional offices. The shop is mostly about trains, and the tight inventory offers a well-edited counterpoint to the sprawling warren of shelves at The Red Caboose. I like the nice selection of Woodland Scenics ground cover, shrubbery, trees, gravel and other scratch-building materials in plastic, metal and wood on the walls and racks.

IMG_4279The well-curated inventory of Gotham Model Trains

But trains are the thing at Gotham Model Trains, and over the years this has been my local go-to for a few pieces of track needed in getting a little circular railroad running under my Christmas tree. Multiple scales, controllers, buildings, scale figures and a small selection of railfan books round out the inventory surrounding the sweet little N scale layout greeting you at the shop’s entrance. Stopping in at Gotham Model Trains, like a visit to any of Manhattan’s surviving hobby shops, you can’t help but have the irreplaceable experience of a living breathing hobby.

Retro Gaming The 70s & 80s: DC Heroes Role Playing Game

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Households tend to gravitate to fan divisions. There are Star Trek people and Star Wars people. In New York City, you’re a Mets fan or a Yankees supporter. With comic books, divisions have fallen for decades between Marvel Comics and DC Comics with endless nerdy debates of the pros and cons for each.

In my home growing up, my brothers and I were Marvel guys. Our cardboard storage boxes were chocked full of bagged and boarded books from the Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Captain America, The Uncanny X-Men, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Alpha Flight. The occasional Batman or Justice League story grabbed our interest, but superheroes who dwelled in the real-world embattled streets of New York City always won our hearts over the denizens of Gotham, Metropolis and Star City.

When we got around to superhero gaming we likewise threw our fandom (and dollars) behind TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes Role-Playing Game. While role-playing our favorite Marvel characters never took off with the passion we had for Dungeons & Dragons, we loved the modules and expanions chocked full of great art, stories and cut-out scenery and foldable heroes.

In 1985, a year after TSR’s comic-themed release, Mayfair Games answered with DC Heroes Role Playing Game. The game was released just as DC’s monumental Crisis On Infinite Earths series hit the comic racks garnering wide praise from long-time fans and the straight press alike. For a tepid DC fan like myself, Crisis was a crash course in DC lore and injected significant emotional realism to the character storylines mimicking much of what Marvel had been up to for a couple decades. The one-two punch of Crisis and the new game had me running to the store to add yet another RPG system to my shelf.

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Like the Marvel role-playing game, the DC system never became a big part of my gaming time but its mechanics had some merits which retain a significant fan base to this day. At its root, the game used a unified “attributes points” design from which all manner of super powers, skills, wealth, time and distance variables could be calculated. Within this single framework, the game could contextually handle normal human characters such as Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen side-by-side with epic heroes like Superman and Shazam.

Similar to TSR’s Marvel game, Mayfair’s DC game box came with a group of manuals for the players and gamemaster as well as a gamemaster’s screen, starter character cards and a manual of powers and skills. While the primary color design was more spare, the DC game’s mechanics and information offered a quicker start than wading through the uneven and occassionally frustrating complexities of the Marvel game.

Despite the surface comic book character interest in the DC game and the earlier Marvel one, my interest in superhero gaming waned pretty quickly. With positives and negatives to each RPG super hero system, what I always walked away with was a feeling of constraint within the boundaries of massive established narrative comic universes. While both games offered rules for creating new characters and scenarios (more effectively in the DC one), my mind inevitably drifted back to known caharacters and storylines I couldn’t imagine breaking into new realms and threads. With plenty of more satisfying fantasy RPG and historical miniature gaming options available to me, one thing I could always reconcile about Marvel and DC alike was that I preferred my comic heroes on the page rather than the tabletop.

Collector’s Note: Mayfair’s DC Heroes Role Playing Game and its expansion modules can be easily found online in the non-heroic $10-30 price range at eBay and elsewhere.

Retro Gaming The 70s & 80s: Talking Football

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I was never a sporty kid, on the field or off. My playtime in the 1970s and 80s was much more apt to be spent gluing-up Airfix models, battling with Kenner Star Wars action figures or campaigning through the latest Dungeons & Dragons adventure. One of the few memories I have of a game I loved as a kid that didn’t involve dank passages, spellcraft and random encounters with wandering bugbears was Mattel’s Talking Football game.

First released in 1971 and then re-reissued in 1977 as Talking ABC Monday Night Football, this semi-obscure classic was the alternative to the electric football games a lot of my friends had in the 1970s. The electric football games looked great with their customizable football player miniatures vibrating all over the little field in random directions but those never really added up to much of a game for me. Talking Football was in a league of its own.

talkingfbcontentsTalking Football had a pretty conventional football field playing board with sliding plastic clips to show yardage progress and first down markers. Other plastic components included a little scoreboard and a place to mark downs and quarters. The nifty mechanic of the game was in the tiny plastic records that made the game “talk.” Play began with the offensive player selecting from one of the ten “standard” play or three “special” play records. The chosen record was inserted into a little handheld player and then the defensive player rotated the record to a defensive play. Once plays were selected, a lever was pressed and simulated audio recordings of announcers calling the play would play in combination of the offensive and defensive selections. The result of the play would be recorded on the field and the next play would be set.

To a kid living in the pre-videogame era of the late 1970s, Talking Football was a blast and a bit of a technological wonder. Over time, players got used to the hundred or so combinations of plays and the game would repeat itself a bit at times. This became part of the strategy, as the game was basically one of picking the right play you thought would best defeat what you predicted your opponent would pick. To answer the repetitive standard set of 13 records, Mattel also offered expansion packs for the game with celebrity player voices on picture disc records, including Merlin Olsen and O.J. Simpson.

I didn’t own a copy of Talking Football, but one of my good friends did. Flash forward more than three decades, and that friend is an on-air radio personality at a rock station in Northern New York State. I don’t know if the hours we spent playing Talking Football and hearing those recorded announcers call plays had any effect on my friend’s future career choice. That said, I think of how games shaped me into the person I am today and like to think that maybe those scratchy, plastic voices still reverberate with my old friend today.

Collector’s Note: Mattel’s Talking Football can be found for sale from special sports memorabilia companies and on eBay. The standard game can run anywhere from $40-200, depending on condition. Buyers should beware that many collectors indicate the original players haven’t always aged very well due to their cheap, dated technology. The individual player records go for around $10 apiece.

Retro Gaming The 70s & 80s: Marvel Super Heroes Role-Playing Game

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Way back in the late 1970s, well before we had summers filled with superhero movies, I was a comic book collector. Those were the days when my younger brother and I bought our weekly fix of Marvel and DC superheroes off a squeaky rotating rack in a corner store, all for under a dollar each. Eventually our collecting graduated to visiting comic book shops, flea markets, yard sales and small regional comic book conventions in Western New York. As our collection grew into thousands of books by the mid-1980s, my brother and I were receiving weekly warehouse wholesale shipments and were bidding on lots of older books through auctions by mail. Both of us sold-off the majority of our collections in the late 1980s and early 1990s before the market became glutted, eBay arrived on the scene and CCG-graded comics became the new collecting norm.

timetrapI still have a significant, albeit more scaled-down, interest in comic books to this day. Yet as I recall those peak collecting years in the early 80s, my mind eventually takes me to memories of 1984 and TSR’s release of Marvel Super Heroes: The Heroic Roleplaying Game. The game arrived during big expansion years for TSR as the popularity of their flagship Dungeons & Dragons franchise continued to grow in player fandom and pop culture infamy. Winning the Marvel license allowed TSR to launch a new game with a built-in base of players which had a lot of cross-over interest in comic books and gaming (like myself). Despite the promise of the total package of the Marvel Universe delivered in a RPG by the makers of D&D, the Marvel Super Heroes game never really delivered.

murderworldThe core box came with a quick start “Battle Book” and a more detailed “Campaign Book.” Also included was an introductory scenario, “Day of the Octopus,” plus a fold-out map, character reference cards and some rudimentary markers. TSR quickly expanded the game with a number of accessories including a couple sets of poor quality metal miniatures and quite a number of game adventures following the module model which had proven so successful with D&D. An eager collector, I snapped up a bunch of adventure books, including “Time Trap” featuring the Avengers and “Murderworld!” starring the Fantastic Four. Expansions also included a number of adventures which featured “adventure fold-up figures.” Unable to help myself, I happily bought the Hydra-themed “Pit of the Viper” edition along with a few others.

pitofviperDrawing on the stable of established Marvel characters, the game looked great. Mechanics borrowed broadly from D&D with “Attributes” establishing the primary strengths of a super hero on a scale of 1-100. “Superpowers” defined unique abilities while “Talents” were a set of skills a character could draw upon. A system of “Karma” (similar to D&D Experience) allowed for character upgrades. The problem I quickly found with the game was that you played characters within an established set of backgrounds and relationships. Spider-Man, Thor or The Human Torch carried enormous backstories, robbing players of the opportunity to create and grow a character from the ground up like in the more pure RPG realm of D&D. Eventually, I was buying the expansions simply to read the text and assemble the little cardboard figures and terrain pieces.

Despite the mediocre quality of the game overall, TSR went on the release a revised version of the game in the late 1990s. More than anything else, the second edition of the game was probably an effort to retain the license from Marvel. Even so, Marvel and TSR eventually parted ways by the early 2000s.

So much of my generation was defined by the first modern wave of toy licensing with Star Wars that I can hardly fault TSR for jumping on the brand-extending bandwagon with Marvel. It’s amazing to me the game lasted so long given my memory of its lack of interesting play. This is one game I can’t foresee ever returning to. Its true superpower lay in how deep the marketing of those characters was a part of me then and stays with me today.

Collector’s Note: Most probably owing to the low quality of the game, the original TSR  Marvel Super Heroes game starter box set and most expansions can be found on eBay for under $20 each.

Retro Gaming The 70s & 80s: TSR Minigames

              

Alternatively known as “microgames,” “pocket games” or “minigames,” a number of companies created a fad in games in small packages in the late 1970s through early 1980s. These compact games came in a variety of historic, sci-fi and fantasy themes. Rulebooks, maps, cardboard chips and dice were usually packaged in hardshell cases or even simple zip-lock plastic bags. A very few of these games, like the post-apocalyptic Road Warrior-esque Car Wars from Steve Jackson Games, would see a long life fueled by supplements and expansions. More commonly, these minigames were stand-alones of vastly varying quality which faded into obscurity in a few short years.

TSR, the makers of Dungeons & Dragons, entered the minigame market late with a total of eight games released in the first couple years of the 1980s. This was a big growth period for TSR as they continued to diversify beyond their core D&D products into other boardgames, role-playing games, toys, computer and video games, and even an animated TV show. Already investing a ton of our time and money in TSR products, my brother and I snapped four of their minigames:

  • Attack Force was a simple Star Wars rip-off with one player’s force of small star fighters attempting to find the weakness in the other player’s monstrous space station to destroy it. As a fan of Luke’s attack on the Deathstar, I gave TSR a pass on the lack of originality for the chance to do some space battling myself.
  • They’ve Invaded Pleasantville was also a two-player game, this time set in a rural village where the townspeople try to fend off alien invaders infiltrating the local populace. Each player used identical chips representing such local folk like the minister, sheriff, plumber, checkout girl and others. The trick of the game was the alien invader bluffing their way toward taking over the bodies of the locals while the town player sought to uncover who was really an alien.
  • Revolt on Antares was a much better sci-fi-themed game and offered play for 2 to 4 players. The game presented a Risk-like map of a fictional world where six ruling “houses” with names like Andros, Dougal and Serpentine fought to rule the planet through three different scenarios. Each house had its own personality and strengths, adding a lot of variety and replay value. The ability to recruit new troops, move across varied terrain and use seven special alien weapons or devices made this little gem seem a lot more like a real wargame.
  • Vampyre was two games in one set in the realm of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” The first campaign-map-style game took 2 to 6 players in the roles of Stoker’s hero characters questing to find and destroy the coffin safe-havens of Count Dracula hidden throughout Transylvania. Turning the map over, a detailed floorplan of Castle Dracula allowed another game to be played as the characters sought to track down the Count himself and destroy him.

As a kid, I loved these games as a break from the longer hours spent bent over the table with my D&D campaigns. Each minigame offered its own varied mechanic, but rules were simple and limited to just a few pages for each game. The booklets, game maps and cardboard playing chips contained some wonderfully intricate small-scale artwork, much of it by popular fantasy artists of the day. While I don’t recall the exact cost of each game, I remember them being under $10 apiece and quite a deal for the hours of play we wrung out of each.

These four TSR games still sit in a closet packed full of my childhood puzzles and boardgames in the house where I grew up. At the time, there was an outsized amount of fun in each little mingame package. Today, there’s still a lot of memory in each, too.

Collector’s Note: Many of the TSR minigames can be found frequently on eBay selling in the $10-30 range. Steve Jackson Games makes much of their Car Wars and other microgames back catalog available for digital purchase online.

New Game Weekend: Star Wars X-Wing

One of the big instant hits to come out of last year’s huge GenCon gaming convention was the new Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game from Fantasy Flight Games. I finally got a chance to play it a few times in the past couple weeks with members of the Metropolitan Wargamers club in Brooklyn. Then, my brother brought me a starter set of the game over this past Easter holiday weekend. As both a lover of all things Star Wars and well-designed games, I’m hooked.

SWXW is the one of the latest fan favorites to appeal to both experienced and new gamers wanting some gaming right out of a box full of easy rules, well-designed components and beautiful pre-painted miniatures. The starter set offers two Tie Fighters and a X-Wing model, rules, movement templates and dials, cards, specialized dice and scenario markers for about $30-40. A few beginner scenarios are also included with the starter set, allowing two players a pretty solid and varied intro to the basics of the game.

In a nutshell, SWXW is a dogfight game where ships chase and fire at their opponents while maneuvering to avoid their own destruction on a typically 3′ x 3′ playing area. Play starts with each player pre-assigning movement to each of their models with a special movement dial. The dials are particular to each class of ship and allow for combinations of straight and turning moves. Since movement is planned in secret from your opponent, guessing which way the enemy will move and how you should react is key to the strategy of the game.

After ships move, firing lasers and other specialized secondary weapons occurs using special dice. Modifying “focus” or “target lock” actions increase the ability to hit enemy ships while “evade” actions increases a ship’s ability to avoid damage. Ships take damage to their hulls or shields, and destroyed ships are removed from the table. The game moves fast, and a basic game can be accomplished in well under an hour.

While the starter set allows for some fun intro games, players will soon want to grow their fleets and options. Like the Star Wars Universe itself, SWXW soon proves to be as expansive as players (and their bank accounts) allow. Single ship expansion sets of Tie Fighters, Tie Advanced Fighters (pictured below, right), Tie Interceptors, X-Wings, Y-Wings (pictured at right) and A-Wings retail for about $15 each (cheaper online). With these, players gain greater choice in fielding larger Rebel and Imperial fleets.

Each ship expansion comes with specific cards indicating pilots, astromech droids, secondary weapons and other special abilities which may be used in combination with that model or, in some cases, other ship types. So, an X-Wing can be fielded with Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles or Biggs Darklighter at the helm and R2-D2 or some other astromech droid along for the ride. You can assign Darth Vader to the controls of a Tie Advanced ship and then assign addition weapons and abilities to the ship. The latest expansion wave offers two large-sized ships — the Millenium Falcon and the Slave I — which are certain to be a huge hit with fans anxious to pit Han Solo against Boba Fett in an intergalactic duel.

Players wishing to get into SWXW will do well by themselves to get a couple of the basic sets plus some expansion ship packs. Once you’re quickly beyond the beginner stage, games are typically fielded with 100 points of ships on a side. Points are assigned according to ship class, pilot expertise and other add ons, allowing for lots of replay value and experimentation with combinations of forces. While the game is still new to me, I can see this one coming out of the box and onto the galaxy of my gaming table pretty frequently in the months ahead.