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Star Wars: Shatterpoint Review



The dust has settled on the initial release of AMG’s latest Star Wars venture, and now that the hype has died down, it’s time to take a look at it in detail. And, what a thing of beauty it is.


I need to stress quite how much you get in this box, because some will find it off-putting. For starters, you get a LOT of terrain – that might seem a strange thing to begin with, but it’s important to emphasises what a complete experience this game is. The terrain has a proper grungy spaceport vibe, is on clearly labelled sprues and goes together well… mostly. The narrow towers are fiddly, and quite challenging to get to line up, and there’s about a mm out on the ladders which is mildly irritating. But it looks superb once built, and gives you modular, multi-level terrain that lends itself to dynamic gameplay. Extra sets are available, or if you’re looking to mix it up with other game systems, Deadzone terrain is ideal (and, bonus, DZ cubes are Shatterpoint R2 in height, which means they’re climbable), though 40k is a bit grimdark (still, all those skulls work for the Sith I guess). You also get plenty of extra ladders, to prop up against and make access on other terrain if you wish, as well as scatter terrain and of course measuring sticks and tokens galore. I’d love a paper playmat, but you can’t have everything I suppose (full disclosure, we used one of our own).


As for the miniatures, they are nothing short of stunning. Now I know that the aesthetic, sitting somewhere between Clone Wars animated and Live action – much like Star Wars Unlimited – won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s a very happy medium and lends itself well to the 42mm-ish , 1/43 scale (cowardly 54mm, maybe?). Assembly is easy with dynamic poses (and tiny, tiny lightsabres) – everything we’ve come to expect from the more recent AMG products. The fact that out of the box you’re also getting 4 full squads is very, very impressive: you have a huge range of Clone Wars era content to play about with from the outset. Particular highlights are the various jetpacking Mandos, the intricately detailed Maul and Ahsoka (I’ve tried painting those laiku freehand before, no fun) and the surprisingly poseable Battle Droids on their clever bases of 3. And once you’ve painted your lovely minis, the box even comes with backgrounds for you take pictures of them against, along with a mini (mini) photography guide. They know how to work those socials.


Gameplay is very much about the skirmish and scoring objectives over a number of rounds, but with some very clever twists. First, though, you have to build your squads. For your team, you have two squads (which must each be internally consistent by Era, though can be from different time periods to one another): a squad is first set by your Primary, who sets the number of points you have to spend on the rest (typically 6-8, the more points being less powerful) as well as your Force counters (3 or 4) which are used for various special actions; in the starter, Anakin, Ahsoka, Asajj Ventress, and Maul are the primaries, though they don’t have to be force users per se (for example, in the Bad Batch set, it’s Hunter).

Your Secondary is often a potent unit that triggers keywords and other linked abilities: Captain Rex works well with any Galactic Republic or Clone unit, for instance, whilst Bo-Katan makes all Mandos better - to be fair, so does Gar Saxon – whilst the Droid Commander Kalani makes droids work more efficiently. Then, your support will be a one or two character unit that does the grunt work, provides back-up, covering fire etc. It’s overt synergy that makes list building clear and straightforward, though that’s not to say it dictates your team entirely: you could decide that you want to run just Mandos out of the box against an unlikely team-up of Clone and Clankers – hey, it’s your story.

The two squad design means there’s plenty of variety from the outset, and all of the units feel highly thematic: Clones are all about Hunkering down, using cover to steadily advance and pick of the enemy, whilst Saxon’s Super Commandos are a melee machine that like to double-team their opponents in a barrage of flamethrowers. Similarly, Maul is a combat menace, and whilst Anakin is no slouch, he’s happiest bouncing around the high ground (ah-ha!), using the force to his advantage.


The best thing about this game, you see, is that it’s all about controlling the High Ground – or more accurately, controlling objectives, and staying on top of them. The game is played over the best of 3 struggles, whereby as you control more objectives, the tracker moves towards your side. You can make your side move towards the tracker by wounding enemy units, though this tends to be much later in the game. However, the scenario itself changes constantly. At the start of the game, once the mission is revealed (there is only one in the base game, though that’s really not limiting at all), the first set of objectives are revealed for the first struggle from a deck of 7 possible set ups; this then resets for the remaining struggles, each with a further 7 unique set-ups, meaning 21 different individual objective layouts and a whole lot more variety than my maths-phobic brain can calculate. Not only that, but with all the terrain it’s a constant push-pull of objective control, with height giving dominance – particularly when Shove is so much a part of combat.

Combat is of course integral to any skirmish game, but Shatterpoint handles it in a very unusual way. Each unit has a Stance card with a combat tree, a set of results that they progress through depending on the number of successes rolled (broadly, their hits minus the opponent’s blocks). Shove is an integral part of this, the ability to knock back enemy units as part of a hit (ranged or melee) so that they can no longer contest an objective. Not only that, but some characters (primaries, particularly) have double-sided stance card, for example Jedi switching between aggressive and defensive lightsabre duelling. So, yes, whilst the game is about damage output, it’s much more than that: it’s a genuinely innovative spin on a (fairly saturated) genre, with tactical combat decisions to be made that impact so much more than just wounding the opponent.

We haven’t, though, touched on what a “Shatterpoint” actually is. Apparently, it’s a key moment, a turning point – a canon event, as it were. However, in the game, it’s indicated by a Shatterpoint card: and this card deck is perhaps my favourite aspect of the game, yet for many people, it’s the biggest turn-off. This is not, I should add, a game with a plethora of “extra” cards – upgrades, tactics and the like that you might expect from experiencing MCP or Legion – but rather, your units activation cards. Because in Shatterpoint, activation is random, or at least semi-random: players take alternate activations, but the unit activated is determined by the card revealed. Reveal your Shatterpoint card, and you can choose any unit, but otherwise, it’s in the hands of fate – unless you choose to spend one of your precious force points, and reserve the unit for later, accepting whatever comes up next from the deck. Now I absolutely understand why this might be a source of frustration to some, but it eliminates (or at least diminishes) action paralysis, making for a much more dynamic game: you are constantly reacting to your opponent’s choices, and cannot plan too far ahead. It makes for a constant to-and-fro with true interaction between the players: there’s no sitting around in your turn in this game. For me, it’s the game’s biggest selling point, as it keeps the action fast and furious – as exciting as an on-screen lightsabre duel or clone force mission.


I was sceptical, initially, about Shatterpoint. But I hold my hands up - I was wrong. This is a really excellent, accessible skirmish game with deep tactical strategy and huge amounts of cinematic wargaming fun. Highly, highly recommended.


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