So, what do we really know about the actual campaign system?
- 2-6 players (teams of 1-3)
- 25 locations on the map (with varying abilities)
- 400 point battles appear standard
- It includes stickers!?!
- 8 Campaign specific objectives
- Winning is based on a set number of Campaign Points
- Includes 2 team rosters and 6 fleet rosters
- Dust Cloud obstacles
- Armed and unarmed stations
So, there is quite a bit there even if we don't know the actual mechanics of the campaign.
The best place to start with a campaign is usually the end. How does one side or the other win. In this case we know that there are a set number of campaign points required to win based on the number of players in the game. We also know that each team can only score a "couple of campaign points each round". So, this implies that we can expect the campaign to take several rounds.
You could also presumably shorten or lengthen the campaign by altering the number of points required to win. It also implies that if one side gains an insurmountable lead that the other can try to catch up through an All-Out Offensive. Likely a final battle involving all 6 players/fleets.
Teams & Fleets
The campaign looks designed around teams of 3. It says you can have fewer, but I would speculate that even if you did have fewer you could just have players double up on the fleets that they control.
The team rosters appear to have lots of details on them. (on the right in the above picture) It looks like there are spots for the team name, the players on the team, number of points scored, and other details on the top. Below that is a list. I am guessing this list is of the various unique cards and their status in the campaign. The top 6 lines are shaded green. Admirals maybe? Beyond that you might have ship titles or unique squadrons. The preview implied that unique squadrons and crews could gain veteran status, become scarred, or meet their demise. That is likely tracked here on the team roster. It's interesting that only unique ships/squadrons can become veterans. That will certainly make them a resource to manage. One question will be if the destruction of a unique asset in game means their automatic removal from the campaign or if there is some form of randomness to that.
The fleet rosters look pretty standard. There are spots for objectives, ships, and upgrades.
The map looks really interesting. Each system has a couple of numbers. They appear to be yellow and green on the map itself. There's a name with a keyword underneath it that gives a special ability. There's also a blank circle. I would imagine that this is where the control markers go. In the components picture it looks like there is a token sheet with discs about that size. I imagine those circles show control of the system. There are some other features on the map including the Corellian system being outlined, a couple of hyperspace routes, and even an explosion.
One fault other map based campaign systems have had is that the same few territories on the borders end up comprising most of the conflicts. With the Star Wars hyperspace technology that should be less of an issue and fleets may be able to attack/move anywhere each round. The hyperspace lanes may provide some kind of chokepoint for that however.
A big question which will likely be cleared up in our next preview would be what makes up a round. With potentially 6 fleets on the map and 25 locations it seems possible that fleets could go to locations and not actually interact with each other. So, I don't expect that the number of rounds will be equal to the number of battles.
It is interesting that there are spots for the standard objectives on the fleet rosters. Perhaps the campaign objectives are tied to specific systems?
Really, stickers? But what for? This is the big mystery this point. I have played A LOT of FFGs games, but this is the first I can recall having stickers. That there are 3 sheets of them implies that they are important.
Are they permanent? My toddler has some sticker/decal books where the stickers go on and off pretty easily. This could be like those, but I kinda doubt it.
So, if they are permanent what do they show. They could be an alternative to using control markers. That would make it easier to pack up and not have to reset the board each time.
Recently there have been Legacy games like Pandemic where stickers are used to modify the board based on what happens during games. That seems likely here as well. What is interesting is that this campaign doesn't include any event type cards. Many FFG games have events that pop up and change things, but not this one. Perhaps there are events in the book based on the round number?
Then the question becomes how do I feel about permanently stickering my game board. Initially I really hated the idea, but I am growing to like it. The campaign is relatively inexpensive and pretty much everyone in my play group plans to pick it up. If my board gets stickered during a campaign, there will be plenty of options for the next one. Also, it makes for a fun trophy/visual record of the campaign. Assuming the campaign ends up being fun, having the board around could be a good way to tell the story of the campaign.
If you play at a regular store or club, have everyone chip in $5 and buy the campaign for the group. The contents can be prizes at the end. I also don't expect this to be the only campaign that we see. I may want to eventually have a stickered up version of each campaign map.
One of the tough bits of playing a good campaign is the dreaded real-world. What do you do when a player isn't there. Presumably, of all of the fleet/team rosters are kept with the map then as long as a member of each team is present the turns should be able to progress. You could likely enlist a stray player to fill in on some weeks as well.
My guess is that we will get a campaign going at the FLGS right as soon as we can. Maybe have the two most reliable players be team captains or something. Then the materials would need to be left at the FLGS from week to week. We have a local Facebook group that we could use to post results, etc.
A lot of this will be based on how structured or loose this system ends up being.
Anyways, that's enough speculation. It will all probably be pretty pointless once FFG gives us a rules preview. I am hoping I can pry some information out of someone from FFG next week at GenCon.
As always, thanks for reading.