Star Wars: Shatterpoint Core Set Review


14 May 2024
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Star Wars: Shatterpoint is the skirmish game of the Star Wars on tabletop universe, able to play in a shorter time than its vast miniatures counterparts. But should you play it? Our review finds out.

Written by Rob Burman

General Anakin Skywalker leaps from the ground and onto the rusty gantry, feeling it tremble beneath his feet. He sweeps his lightsaber through the air, the hum cutting out the noise of battle below. The blow severs the head from a nearby Battle Droid, which falls to the gantry with a loud clank. Anakin quickly summons the Force and pushes the remaining Battle Droids off the gantry. “I hate this jooooooobbbbb…” whines one droid as it falls to the ground below. Finally, Anakin uses the Force once more to leap to a higher platform where the true threat lurks: Lord Maul. This is Anakin’s final chance to steal the secret plans and return victorious to the Galactic Republic, but first, he must deal with Maul!

No folks, that wasn’t a scene from the latest Star Wars animated series. That was a single activation from a typical game of Star Wars: Shatterpoint - one of the most dynamic and action-packed miniature skirmish games we’ve ever played.

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What is Star Wars: Shatterpoint?

Shatterpoint is set in the Clone Wars-era of Star Wars and, if you haven’t seen the animated series, then you’re missing out on some of the best Star Wars action around. In this period, Anakin is still the courageous hero that hasn’t turned to the Dark Side, while awesome baddies like Lord Maul and General Grievous roam the galaxy, causing chaos wherever they go. The animated series is packed with high drama and fantastic lightsaber duels, which Atomic Mass has managed to capture perfectly on the tabletop.

However, before you get stuck into the action, just be warned that Shatterpoint isn’t playable from the moment you return from the shop like an excited Ewok that’s just found a new catapult. You’re going to have to build the miniatures and terrain before you can play. Of course, veteran miniature wargamers will be used to sticking their hands to the table with super glue but, if this is your first foray into miniature wargaming, then be prepared to be patient. It took us around six hours to get everything built and glued, let alone painted! It’s worth the work though, as these are wonderfully detailed and dynamic miniatures that are often posed mid-action, which really adds to the feel of the game. Be advised that the build instructions aren’t included in the box and you have to go online to find them. Mildly frustrating, but not insurmountable.

Once you’ve pieced together the minis, it’s time to start playing.

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How to Play Star Wars: Shatterpoint

Shatterpoint Struggles

Shatterpoint is based around the concept of ‘Struggles’. These are moments when the Light and Dark Sides vie for the fate of the galaxy. In order to win a game, you must be victorious in two out of three Struggles, which typically involve capturing shifting objectives. However, unlike a lot of other miniature games, which simply see you scoring at the end of each Round, Shatterpoint uses a tug-of-war style scoring mechanic. Between each player is a Struggle Tracker, with numbers either side going from one to eight. For any objectives you control at the end of turn, you move a token toward your side. If the token reaches a black cube on the number eight space, you win that Struggle.

What’s nice though is that Shatterpoint has an in-built ‘rubber banding’ mechanic to make sure that a player never feels like the current Struggle is a lost cause. You see, if you ever move the Struggle token but it remains on your opponent’s side, you add a black cube to your side of the Tracker. This means you don’t have to pull it all the way to the number eight in a future Turn. The shifting fight for power means you always feel involved in the events of the game.

In all fairness, the tug-of-war mechanic would be enough to keep Shatterpoint interesting, but Atomic Mass adds another element with the dynamic missions. That’s because once a Struggle has been won, you turn over a new Struggle, which completely changes the battlefield. Objectives that were previously inactive may suddenly be switched on and a character that was once out of the action, is now in a prime spot. This is a great way to stop powerful characters sitting on an objective for the entire game, ensuring you have to think on your feet and adapt to the battlefield conditions.

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Activation Mechanic

Talking of thinking on your feet, Shatterpoint has an activation mechanic that constantly forces you to adapt to the situation. At the start of the game, you take a card for each unit and shuffle them together. On your turn, you draw a card and activate whatever unit you choose. The downside of this is that you can’t really plan ahead, but it does ensure the game is never predictable. You can negate the randomness slightly by putting cards in ‘reserve’ and you’ve also got a wild card that allows you to activate any unit you want - even one that has been previously activated. We can imagine that some will hate the random activations, but we loved the way it simulated the chaos of battle and that feeling of things not quite going to plan.

Stance Cards

This sense of dynamism is even reflected in the combat, thanks to Stance cards. Each unit comes with a Stance card that shows their combat stats, as well as a Combat Tree. Depending upon how many successes you roll, you’ll progress along the Combat Tree and trigger any damage or special abilities listed. However, most characters have branching trees that allow you to choose what happens. For example, Asaji Ventress’s Jar’Kai card allows her to go for all out damage, or she can do less damage but disarm and expose an enemy, potentially opening them up for further attacks. If you’ve played Guild Ball it’s very reminiscent of the fantastic “Playbook” feature and you always feel like you’ve got options available to cope with whatever situation you’re in, provided that the dice go in your favour.

The slight downside is that a lot of the effects on the Trees are represented by icons that you need to, at least initially, keep referring to in the rulebook. In fact, that’s an ever-present problem in early games of Shatterpoint, because there’s a lot to take in. From symbols on cards that indicate different conditions to special abilities with unique complex, it can be a little overwhelming, especially for newcomers to wargaming. In fact, during our first games we only used half of the miniatures available, so we could learn the ropes before progressing to larger strike teams, which worked remarkably well. However, with more games under our belt, things flowed much better and the tactics of Shatterpoint really began to shine through.

How much is Star Wars: Shatterpoint?

Of course, all this in-depth gameplay, detailed miniatures and terrain does come at a price and we’d be remiss to not mention the quite considerable price tag (RRP of £164.99.) Although high, compared to similar skirmish-level sets from the likes of Games Workshop (see Warcry or Kill Team) or even AMG’s own Marvel: Crisis Protocol, there’s plenty of replay value in the core set thanks to the dynamic mission structure, but it’s certainly got to be a well-considered purchase.

Should you play Shatterpoint?

Yes. Shatterpoint is one of the most dynamic and exciting skirmish wargames we’ve played in a while, that keeps you engaged until the very last dice roll, if you’re willing to put the time and financial investment in. The Force is well and truly with this game.

You should try Shatterpoint if you liked Guild Ball – or at least if you liked Guild Ball’s team-focused play with unique characters offering plenty of tactical choices, then Shatterpoint is going to be right up your street.

You can buy Star Wars: Shatterpoint on Amazon

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About Shatterpoint

Designer: Will Shick (Lead Game Designer)

Publisher: Atomic Mass Games

Time: 90-120 minutes

Players: 2

Ages: 14+

Price: £165

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