Cooperative games are all the rage nowadays. This is understandable as it can be great fun to work as a team against the mechanics of a game. Board games such as Pandemic have shown that cooperative games can be challenging and provide a dramatic narrative. But while a new generation of wargames has adopted several principles of Eurogames – especially when it comes to resource management – it seems that it hasn’t yet taken the plunge into full-fledged cooperative mode.
It was with great interest therefore that I went to Virago’s place for a game of Heroes of the Arturi Cluster. Strictly speaking, this is not a game but a campaign engine for the X-Wing Miniatures Game. Even more, it offers rules for playing X-Wing fully cooperative.
Despite being a fan-made product, it has extremely high production values and looks just like an official FFG release. The campaign pack can be downloaded for free and offers all the information you need to play.
Virago and Sigur had already played a couple of games, but we decided to repeat the introductory mission so I could familiarise myself with the rules. Basically, each of the players gets his or her own Rebel fighter, while a clever AI moves the Imperial ships. A D6 is rolled for each ship and cross-referenced with a table. According to the position, direction and distance of the nearest Rebel ships, the fighter will take a certain manoeuver. This is much easier and quicker than it sounds and works astonishingly well.
Having survived the first mission, we proceeded to the second. Our job was to rescue and escort a damaged HWK-290 while waves of TIE-Fighters were closing in. Virago (callsign ‘Mr X’) had already earned the position of squadron leader with his X-Wing, while Sigur (callsign ‘Goose’) flew as his wingman in an Y-Wing. As the rookie, my Mon Calamari pilot (callsign ‘Snackbar’) also took an X-Wing.
We decided on a rather aggressive strategy and headed right towards the TIEs. Those in turn darted for the poor lonely HWK. We could have protected this guy by escorting it, but we thought that killing off TIEs might be more efficient – and also give us experience points, which can be spent to upgrade the ships.
Unfortunately, our shooting was atrocious! Despite blasting away at the Imperial scoundrels, we didn’t hit a thing. To crown it all, an Interceptor TIE entered and stuck to my heels.
However, despite taking a couple of hits, the HWK survived the ordeal and reached the other end of the table. Job done, we immediately hit the hyperspace lever. Mission accomplished!
This was a fun game and it breathed new life into X-Wing. The people behind Heroes of the Arturi Cluster did a tremendous job. This is a very well thought-out and balanced game. The AI works great and the enemy ships’ behaviour is plausible and challenging. It also shows that cooperative wargaming has great potential – let’s hope we’ll see other experiments along this line.