Beginning With The Box
So, how does the EotE Beginner Box hold up compared to some of my other favorite starter sets? Well, it's a bit of a mixed bag. First, the rules are in fact nice and slim but still complete and robust. Really there was only one rules question that I had that I couldn't figure out (which was more of an advanced sort of question and one for a later post; perhaps an upcoming "Things I Learned About EotE" post is in the offing). Some things from the main rules are glossed over, which is totally fine since they really aren't needed until your players & characters become sufficiently advanced. Yes, the fact that character creation rules are missing is a bit of a bummer, but those would swell the rules well beyond starter set size, so I'm not too upset. Besides, the pregenerated characters represented a really great cross-section of Star Wars archetypes and in-game roles that serve to provide a balanced team to all players, newbies and veterans alike. Also, the dice were fairly high quality. Sure, they're not my GameScience precision dice, but they're alright and seem to be on par with the quality of Q Workshop dice (these may actually be Q Workshop dice, I honestly have no idea) which are pretty good, just not as great as GameScience ones. The maps are nice, if a bit small (of course, we're all used to traditional battle mats and minis, so we're spoiled) and the tokens are better than average (they feel board game-quality, which is really nice).
|Worst. Box. Ever.|
Under The Hood
The dice themselves, once you get used to them, are easy to read and figure out. We quickly went from "what's that symbol mean?" to mentally adding up dice results and interpreting them (yes, interpreting the dice in EotE is a real and important thing). Even the player who tends to not dig on the dice math seemed to not have any problems sorting out her dice rolls. It took us a little bit to sort out what counted as an Advantage or a Threat and what you could (or had to) do with them, but once we re-read the section of the adventure that teaches how to read the dice for the second time, we were confident enough in what we were doing to rock it out.
The included adventure was really well-done. Not as in "it was a compelling story that had us in tears and on the edge of our seats in suspense," but as in "does exactly what it sets out to do." And what it sets out to do is to put the characters in an exciting environment where each one gets to do his or her own thing and teach the rules to the players and the DM as the game progresses. Which means I don't actually have to crack open the rule book before playing (but I totally did), which is nice. On-the-job training, after a fashion, and it worked. So, mission accomplished, FFG! For your next mission, may I suggest teaching your team to order boxes for your games that don't completely suck? Sorry, sorry, I'm still bitter about the box.
In PlayTo get this party started right, I cued up the Star Wars intro music and read the opening crawl from the starter adventure. Geeky and fun. Only a few laughs. The opening crawl as written is evocative and very much in the feeling of the originals; since I've run about six bazillion Star Wars RPG sessions (of various editions), I know a good crawl when I see one (as well as a bad one; if you want examples if bad, I'd be glad to provide any of the tons I've written that always get too long or miss their mark somehow). So, everyone was keyed up. The team got to working together nicely, playing to each others' strengths. It was nice to see the players pair up differently than they normally do for D&D.
The session ended with the inevitable jump into hyperspace with the players wondering why I even bothered to give them experience points. "Surely this was a one-shot?" they asked.
"Why?" I asked in return. "Wouldn't you play this again?"
"Oh yeah, you bet we would," they said something approximately like what with my memory of the conversation being significantly less than perfect. "But we've got D&D & ShadowRun already. We don't want to lose a night of either of those games."
"Well," says I, "How about Edge of Empire as our 'we're three men down but still want to game' game?"
The gleam in their collective eyes was all the answer I needed. I think the fact that they ended up with a rust-red YT-1300 was the defining factor.