Friday, May 13, 2005

Master toy licenser Hasbro takes younger “Star Wars” fans on an amazing hands-on adventure as they become part of the world of Attacktix.

Reminiscent of the days when children used toy soldiers to wage war, the game blends the maneuverability of action figures with the surprises of a collectible-miniatures game to deliver a play experience geared to the 6-to-11-year-old crowd.

Attacktix uses durable and multiarticulated, 33/4-inch representations of heroes and villains from the current trilogy of “Star Wars” films, mounted on bases that click when they are moved.

The figures look like design amalgams of Cartoon Network’s “Clone Wars” animated series (all 25 episodes will be rebroadcast tonight, starting at 7 p.m.) and Dark Horse Comics’ current lines of “Star Wars”-inspired comic books.

The object of the game is to use a kinetic attack on an opposition’s forces by shooting a missile or twisting a figure at another to knock it down. The player having the last piece standing wins.

To take part in a battle, a pair of opponents, working on any level surface, put together armies of familiar characters determined by a total point value agreed upon before the engagement.

Each figure’s base has a number that indicates the figure’s worth on the battlefield. Adding up the numbers determines how many warriors can be on each squad. Obi-Wan Kenobi, for example, is worth 30 points, Neimodian Guard, 20; Jedi Master Plo Koon, 40; and a Super Battle Droid, 20.

Once figures are placed on the battle area, a player can move as many as he wants per turn by referring to the speed label on each (another number printed on top of the base), which allows him to click his figure as many times across the table.

When the player gets in range of an opponent’s forces, he can attack twice per round and perform such actions as twisting the torso of one of his Jedi Knights to swing its light saber, launching a translucent plastic piece (representing a Force power) from Palpatine or blasting a projectile from a Clone Trooper holding a missile launcher.

Each figure has a varying-size base, slightly different weights and differently sized missiles and launcher weapons to incorporate a variety of mathematically strategic options into the action.

More experienced players can use the Master Battle rules, which use special powers (revealed underneath the figures’ bases). These instructions come into play once a figure has been knocked down and require players to have the foresight to select complementary teams of characters (also designated on their base) in the classes of Sith, Droid Army, Separatist, Wookiee, Republic and Jedi to take advantage of the powers.

For example, Anakin Skywalker is especially strong with Republic forces, as he is able to come back to life and take the place of any Clone Trooper active on the table.

Owning a robust team in Attacktix is where the collectibility angle and cash outlay get involved.

Initially, players buy a Starter Set ($11.99) to get a quintet of characters (Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Wookiee Commando, Clone Trooper and a mystery figure) to play very short games. The set also comes with a PC-friendly CD-ROM that clearly explains the rules through multimedia presentations.

However, to really amass a collection, which currently contains 35 types of figures, players will need to buy booster packs ($8.99). Each contains a trio of game pieces concealed in closed packaging.

Additionally, for even more intense Attacktix contests, Hasbro has put out extremely powerful pieces called Battle Masters, which include Obi-Wan Kenobi atop a Boga lizard with a deadly slashing tail ($11.99) and a Clone Trooper riding an AT-RT (All Terrain Recon Transport) that can fire four missiles ($11.99).

Each will add another level of complexity to the standard fight along with forcing parents to drop a bunch more money for those booster packs to contend with the almost unstoppable game pieces.

Of course, Hasbro promises the introduction of some of the other classic film characters, such as Han Solo, Darth Maul and Luke Skywalker, in the near future to make Attacktix attractive to almost 30 years’ worth of “Star Wars” fans.

More games from a galaxy far, far away

Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) continues to get into the spirit of the Force with expansion sets to its pair of “Star Wars”-inspired challenges tied into the new movie, “Episode III — Revenge of the Sith.”

First, lovers of trading-card games get the 10th release of WOTC’s “Star Wars” brand, which incorporates more than 100 images from Episode III (not in theaters until next week).

Players follow the light or dark side of the Force in a game combining lucky dice rolls with being able to read the fine print and demanding the brains of a gaming-savvy 12-year-old to actually understand.

A starter set ($9.99) includes two decks of cards (light and dark), a paper playing mat, dice and instructions. Booster packs ($3.49 for 11 cards) further complicate matters and should be avoided by beginners at all costs.

Next, the new “Star Wars” Miniatures collection, “Revenge of the Sith,” includes 60 pre-painted, 1-inch-tall plastic characters from Episode III that use trading cards and a die to move around a gridded game board to battle.

Geared to the 12-year-old and older fan, the starter set ($24.99) allows two players to compete immediately and comes with Obi-Wan Kenobi and General Grievous figures along with a pair of support troops for each, matching play cards for all characters, a game board, 20-sided die and instruction book.

Of course, booster packs ($12.99) are also lining store shelves, and each contains seven random figures concealed in a cardboard package.

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