Star Wars: Shatterpoint lowers the FOMO, amps up the RNG
In the world of tabletop gaming, miniatures are both a blessing and a curse. Entire franchises have been built on the backs of little plastic heroes, fueling countless crowdfunding campaigns and preserving an attractive slice of shelf space in the friendly local game store. But often a publisher’s ambition for a product line far outweighs the consumer’s willingness to pay for it — let alone spend time painting it.
Star Wars: Shatter Point, the latest offering from Atomic Mass Games, is an attempt to reconcile that conflict. It’s the latest entry into a hot sector of the tablescape known as miniature skirmish games: highly themed games of tactical combat that only require a handful of miniatures to play. So while Crush point can share the same cinematic universe with Star Wars: Legion – one of several Star Wars miniature games from Atomic Mass, and one that requires dozens and dozens of minis to play – the experience of buying, painting and playing Crush point should be something completely different.
“Tactically, strategically, it’s a very different experience,” studio head Will Shick told Polygon during a demo at AdeptiCon this year. “In Legion, what you are doing is you are building an army that will have synergies and tactics. You choose your command cards. You choose your units. You make a battle plan. And then your target Legion is to carry out that plan to the best of your ability, while your opponent violently influences you.”
“Instead of it being about how your army works together and synergizes, and how you build the perfect Rube Goldberg machine,” Shick continued, “the focus [in Shatterpoint] is heavy on the characters and what the character is doing. And that also means that you have much less strategic control.”
In Crush point, each player will come to the table with about four to six miniatures in a group called a Strike Force. Each Strike Force has a primary unit – usually a named character, such as Anakin Skywalker – that gives the group its personality. There is a secondary unit, which is often a lesser hero, such as 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, all of which are shuffled. From there, the game continues, with players drawing cards from the top of that dealt deck and activating their units along the way.
Instead of the rigid back and forth turn order of a traditional wargame style Star Wars: Legion or Warhammer 40,000, each stage – called a battle – is therefore much more random. You might find yourself playing turn after turn in the first Battle of a best-of-three match, only to find yourself on the back foot and unable to swing for most of the next one. The central thrill of the game, Shick said, is in what you do with the limited options presented to you each round.
“The game will ask you a lot of questions because of its randomness,” said Shick. “How can you make the most of what fate has given you? And that is the ‘breaking point’. That’s the whole theme of the game.”
To enable players to perform at these inflection points, Atomic Mass has given the various characters numerous powerful abilities. Working closely with Lucasfilm, Shick and his team were able to penetrate Crush point‘s gameplay featuring unique Star Wars battles – including moments inspired by The Clone Wars and other animated series. For example, your Anakin miniature doesn’t just stick 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 droids with a swing, and then Force pushes them off the table – all on a single attack in a single turn. The combat interactions, as described to me, seem more complex, more powerful and more cinematic really than anything I’ve seen in a skirmish game to date.
While other miniature games may avoid this kind of complicated, flashy movement, Atomic Mass’ Crush point leans in. Getting blown out in the first round of combat only to fight back to a stalemate in the penultimate round just before the climax might feel a little swingy, but it’s great for storytelling.
“It’s chaotic,” said Shick. ‘It’s not very clean. There are many individual heroic deeds or initiatives. It’s the point where Obi-Wan wants, Anakin! No! and he runs off and he goes and does his thing anyway. […] It’s a 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 odds you get from your draw.
Another important feature of the game is its modularity. Players are encouraged to mix and match units to build the Strike Force of their dreams. As a side effect, each of the units players invest in – both in money and with the time spent painting them – becomes more valuable. Shick said fans can easily mix and match primary, secondary, and support units, and trade Mandalorian Super Commandos 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 are available right out of the box, giving both sides plenty of options as they learn the game.
And the thumbnails? They’re absolutely spectacular, with slim, lithe silhouettes and screen-accurate proportions. Where the characters in Star Wars: Legion appear slightly stretched, with enlarged heads and hands to show details, Crush point minis are more like action figures. That’s because each multi-part, hard plastic miniature is rendered at a 40-millimeter scale – much larger than the industry-standard 28-millimeter scale found in most wargames.
As an added benefit, the larger size should make it much easier for beginners to paint.
“You want the miniatures to evoke the experience you want the players to have,” said Shick. “For Star Wars: Shatter Pointthe idea was always to lean into that more heroic, that more – I want to say childish – but the more serialized things that Flash Gordon did.”
Sounds like exactly the kind of approach fans love The Clone Wars, The MandalorianAnd Boba Fett’s book have waited.
Star Wars: Shatter Point Core set comes 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 now, both online and at your friendly local game store, for $164.99. Fans can expect even more hands-on demonstrations of gameplay once Atomic Mass heads to Star Wars Celebration ahead of the game’s June 2 launch date.