At this year's GenCon, the big announcements on the floor were that two major franchises had just found new homes as tabletop games: Fantasy Flight Games scored a wide-ranging license for Star Wars products, and Margaret Weis Productions will be making a Marvel RPG. I got a chance to swing by both their booths, and get the skinny on their titles.
Fantasy Flight's new license grants them rights to all card, miniature and RPG Star Wars titles, and they had two demo games on the floor. I was lucky enough to play a demo of X-Wing, a tabletop miniature dogfighting game that proved quick to learn and quick to play. In a 3-on-3 battle my squad of three X-Wings took on six of the Empire's finest TIE fighters. We lost in record time, with our leader being destroyed in the first turn thanks to some dark side trickery of the dice rolls. Even in the short time I had to play, you get the feeling that there's a lot of strategy hiding under the surface, especially for the unique movement mechanics.
The other title was simply called Star Wars: The Card Game, a cooperative game for 1-4 players. Rather than setting up a Rebel/Empire or Light Side/Dark Side player battle like other games have, this new game puts all the players together as a band of Rebel Alliance members, fighting off the Empire. You have to complete various sub-missions in a story arc, with each failure making the rest of the game harder — while fending off Empire attacks on your home base. Since it's cooperative, it makes it very easy to introduce new players to the game. Fantasy Flight's Steve Horvath called it "something very uncommon" and a whole market that no-one knew existed.
Both games are planned to debut in early 2012 with core sets available for $40, and enough content for two players. For X-Wing, that'll probably be a single X-Wing and two TIE fighters. Neither game is collectible, so when you expand your collection, you'll know exactly what you're getting.
Horvath was tight-lipped about the RPG, except to say it's in the works.
And yes, these games are original trilogy only — but might not be forever.
Meanwhile, Margaret Weis' publishing company will be releasing a new Marvel RPG in early 2012. The publishers of the Supernatural, Smallville and Serenity RPGs will add another tie-in to their stable, again utilizing their Cortex System. The publication for this setup is extremely ambitious: 16 titles are in the pipelines.
Taking a cue from Marvel's history of enormous crossovers, the system will be based around events mirroring the comics world. Each even will come in a premium and an essential version. The essential edition comes with the characters, the plot and all the campaign information. The premium edition bundles the rulebook in with that, so you can start with a premium edition, and then for further campaigns only buy the essentials. The first event will be based around Marvel's Civil War, with a number of supplements available with additional information, most likely ones for the X-Men, the Fifty States Initiative and Young Avengers/Runaways. The next two events will be based around Annihilation and the venerable Age of Apocalypse.
If you're a bit hesitant to jump on board with one of these big events, then a basic game set with just the rules and mini-event (covering New Avengers 1-6) will also be available. Weis is pricing these titles extremely aggressively: $40 for the premium edition, $30 for the standard, $30 for supplements and the core game.
The trick with these titles is going to be marrying the action of Marvel's titles with the more story-oriented nature that the Cortex System is known for. Weis Production's Editor & Developer Cam Banks emphasized that the system needs to have meaningful choices, and that "combat has to have context!"
Look for both these franchises on shelves in early 2012.