Star Wars Shatterpoint. What is it? Is this podracing? Is this where the fun begins? We are about to tackle all this and more.
Over the last month or so AMG has been doing a slow trickle of articles giving us little nuggets of information into how the game plays.
Now that we have most of the articles and the Adepticon demos, let’s dive in.
As with most miniatures games, the game actually starts long before you reach the table. In Shatterpoint you build a roster which is referred to as a Strike Team and it consists of 2 Squads.
To build a squad a player just needs to select 3 things, a Primary Unit, a Secondary Unit, and a Supporting Unit. When you choose your Primary Unit, they have a Squad Point limit associated with them and this tells you how many points you may spend on your other units. Your Secondary and Supporting Units have a point cost associated with them which when added together must not exceed your Primary Unit points limit.
There are no “factions” in Shatterpoint so players are free to team up enemies to their heart’s content. One stipulation when squad building though is that all the units in a squad must be from the same era. This is not the case for the whole Strike Team though, so this means you can have one Clone War era squad and one Galactic Civil war era squad in the same Strike Team.
An example squad from the Shatterpoint core box is Ahsoka Tano as your Primary Unit with Bo Katan as a Secondary and Clan Kryze Mandalorians as a Supporting unit. Ahsoka has a Squad Point limit of 8, because Bo Katan and the Clan Kryze Mandalorians are each 4 points our squad costs 8 points matching the limit set by Ahsoka.
Unit cards in Shatterpoint have two sides. On the back is the unit’s name, point limit or cost, force points, and model count. Force points indicate how strong the will of the force is with your Strike team. Units have a Force Points Value as seen on Anakin’s cards. These force points are totaled across all your units into a single pool to be used by your strike team on abilities and other things. These points are refreshed every time you have to reshuffle your order cards (more on those later). On the front we can see the unit’s abilities, stamina, durability and tags. Once a unit takes damage equal to its stamina, it takes a wound, once a unit suffers wounds equal to its durability, it is dead. Tags are simply labels to help identify a unit for the purpose of supporting abilities. An example for tags is the Mandalorian tag on the Clan Kryze Mandalorians. Bo Katan has an ability to allow these Mandalorian units to jump at the start of her activation. Maul’s Mandalorian Super Commandos will also have the Mandalorian Tag allowing them to capitalize off of Bo Katan’s abilities. This presents a great team up opportunity, what if Ahsoka did team up with Maul to take on Anakin?
Now let’s take a look at some of those abilities. There are 4 kinds of abilities explained here.
Some of these abilities cost force points and that cost will increase by one force point for each wound on the unit. As an example, Anakin’s Force Jump costs one force point normally, but will cost two when he has one wound and cost three when he has two wounds.
Primaries will all come with an identity ability which will help make each character feel unique and help you drive your list building. From the cards we have seen so far it seems that Tactics abilities are common on Secondaries to help them command and support the supporting units in the army.
Now I know what you’re asking… where are the attacks? I was told there would be fighting.
Now for probably the most unique part of Shatterpoint and what makes it stand out from other miniatures games: the Stance Card. Every unit in the game comes with a unique stance card and in some cases (mostly with Primaries) these cards are double sided to give the player options.
Let’s start with the most simple part and work our way up to the most exciting.
On the right side of the card are the unit’s ranged attack and defense as well as their melee attack and defense. With Mauls card as an example, we can see he does not have a ranged attack but rolls 5 defense dice against Ranged Attacks. In melee, Maul throws 7 attack dice and keeps the same 5 defense dice.
Here are what those dice symbols look like.
Note: Defense dice have two of each side, Attack dice have three strike, two expertise, two failure, and one critical.
Let’s talk about expertise for a second because that is what the Charts at the bottom of the card are used for. By itself, an expertise symbol doesn’t mean anything, but we count up how many expertise symbols we rolled and go to the row in the attack or defense chart to match that count. We then add those results to our attack or defense rolls. Sometimes it adds more successes, crits (which cannot be canceled), or in Maul’s case it can even add straight damage.
When a character attacks, they tally up how many hits and crits they have between what they rolled and what they earned via the expertise chart. The defender tallies up their blocks they have rolled and any they have earned from the expertise chart. The total successes for the attack is how many crits and unblocked hits they have but this does not tell us damage yet.
Now for my favorite and most flavorful part of the game, the combat tree. Based on the total successes from the dice, the player gets to advance along the combat tree that many spaces and going down whichever branch you see fit. Each node you advance to on the tree resolves adding damage, conditions, pushes, or abilities to the attack. Looking at Anakin’s card on the Shien side, a single success will deal two damage and shove the enemy. If Anakin got two successes he can choose to follow the upper branch to deal two damage, shove, and heal or the lower branch to deal two damage, shove, deal two more damage, and shove again. This all culminates to what feels like a fighting game combo where your heroes will be having engaging battles where they dish out and have to defend against flurries of blows.
Activations are mostly random in Shatterpoint, controlled by an order deck which consists of one card for each unit in your whole roster plus a Shatterpoint card which functions as a wild card. At the start of your turn you will draw a random card from the order deck and activate that unit. You also have the choice, if you did not like your draw, to spend one force point and place that card in reserve allowing you to draw a new card and activate the new unit. The card that was placed in reserve can be activated instead of drawing a card on future turns.
When your unit activates you can perform two of the following actions with that unit.
Move – Each character in the Unit may advance, dash, or climb.
Focus – The next attack made by each character in the Unit on this activation adds one die to its attack roll.
Combat – Each character in the Unit may make an attack.
Ability –The Unit may use an ability that requires the use of an action.
Recover – Each character in the Unit may Heal. When a character Heals, it may remove one Condition or 1 Damage from itself or another allied character within Range 2 of it.
Take Cover – Each character in the Unit is Pushed and gains a Hunker Token which improves its defense against Ranged attacks.
Sometimes a unit has more than one model or “character” in it. Most examples we have seen have this in a supporting unit but we may see single model supporting units or dual model secondary units in the future. Units that have more than one model like this share health and actions but do not need to maintain cohesion on the table. This means your two Clan Kryze Mandalorian models can go off to contest two different objectives if you would like but when they activate you still only get 2 actions that they each perform.
On release it appears the game will have a single Mission where players compete for control of various control points on the board. The placement of these points are determined by random struggle cards which are selected at the start of each of three struggles. The player to win two out of the three struggles wins the game.
But what is a struggle and how do you win? At the start of the game the players flip a random Phase 1 card which shows which objectives are active for the first struggle. By controlling these objectives you will be playing a sort of tug of war with your opponent on the Struggle Tracker. If you are able to pull the struggle cube all the way to your end, you win the struggle. Various abilities and in-game effects allow you to stack momentum cubes on your side of the struggle tracker to make it easier for you to win the struggle.
Once a player has won the struggle, the struggle tracker is reset and the players draw a random Phase 2 struggle card. The Phase 2 Struggle cards present two map options and the loser of the previous phase is the player to select which map is used. If the game continues to phase 3 then these steps are repeated.
An important thing to note is that the struggle tracker is the only thing that resets between phases. Players will need to be careful not to overextend in order to win a phase as they risk putting themselves on the backfoot immediately going into the next phase.
What Do You Think?
A lot of players were concerned when AMG put Shatterpoint up for pre-order without showing any sort of gameplay, and rightfully so. Now that we have gotten the rundown of how the game works, I personally have gotten over a lot of those reservations. Shatterpoint to me seems to be shaping up to be a very approachable miniatures skirmish game that will be a great entry point for people new to miniatures games. I personally will be playing it a lot with family members and friends that have very little experience with these kinds of games. That isn’t to say that Shatterpoint will be boring for more veteran players. Shatterpoint has the elements to present players with interesting choices between character selection, branching attack choices, and objective based gameplay. On top of all this it appears to be a great immersive experience where players can execute masterful duels between iconic and beloved characters for a universe we all have a strong attachment to.