How to build a Death Star
Last summer at my school's May fair I had devised a game based on the popular eighties quiz show "Play your Cards Right" It was good and we had lots of fun doing our "Brucie" impressions, however this fell quite flat due to our School although being British, is located in Spain. After the day was over I started to think of a new game that would be more attractive and draw the "punters" in but use the same type of mechanics of using the playing cards to give the choice of higher or lower to progress along the game.
Being a Wargamer I thought about the type of scenarios that we could use that I had seen before at conventions. There were some on the short list, Dambusters, Charge of the light Brigade for instance but then I realised I could combine my interest of the original Star Wars and the wargame rules "X Wing" by building the trench run from the Original film.
I've always thought that "X wing" were a good set of rules, but the models were quite expensive. In the summer I was over in Montanna, U.S.A and found in a shop Hot wheel models of the X wings and tie fighters at a very cheap price around 5 dollars each. They are a little bit bigger than the Xwing models but with a little paint job they come out really well.
I looked on the internet for some inspiration and decided on using some spare ceramic tiles I had lying around due to ordering too many to make a mosaic a few years earlier and got my milimetres and centimetres mixed up.
I used quite a few things including unused bases, broken up coasters and the grey is a type of cheap foam material which has the advantage of being easy to cut into different shapes. This tile below was my first test tile.
After I sprayed it matt meduim grey. it came out as below which looked pretty good, however there was a problem with the foam sections because the paint just soaked in. Luckily I used a grey foam so it wasnt much of a problem.
As well as the spare tiles I also had some spare wooden beams, so I could raise the tiles up and make the trench in the middle.
Once I was happy with the first tile, I began my mass production line, making around ten tiles of the same design to spread around the table.
Once these were sprayed grey I felt that the Deathstar surface was begining to take shape and gave me the incentive to carry on.
My next batch of tiles had spare plastic sprues glued on to act as some type of pipe.
After getting permission to cut up her newly bought planter I fixed the turret with magnets to the base so it can easily being turned or removed.
The turrets were then covered by the grey foam.
I designed 6 tiles that had a large square in the middle for the turret to fit in.
Finally all the top surface was complete, now to work on the sides.
The X wing models that were going to go down the trench were mounted on seperate bases, that meant during the game that they would have to be moved individually by hand each move. I wanted to try putting them on wires so it looked like they were actually flying. However the models were too heavy and after a few days of messing around I decided to go back to the drawing board.
After a few weeks I came up with the idea of putting the x wings on a piece of perspex on a track that is glued to the sides. Therefore the side tiles had to be fixed on permantely.
To pull the perspex tile, I used fishing wire that was put threaded through the end of the trench to the side
I also made another perspex tile for Darth Vader and his tie fighters,
Soon as the moving mechanism was working correctly, the sides were then glued with parts especially pipes parts (sprues) and then sprayed. Also the last tile was the infamous exhuast port, for this I drilled a hole in the tile to give it extra depth.
To give the actual surface more depth, I painted the base of the tiles a darker grey. With just a week to spare for the May fair at the school, all the painting was finished. To finish off the outside of the board, I used some spare grey wooden floor panels. With all the cutting and drilling, this seemed to take longer to do than building the Deathstar.
During the morning before the game, we stuck the Imperial and Rebel Isgnia on each side of the table.
My original idea was to use the cards to advance the X wings up the trench, however early on in the development stage I decided to change to a large 12 sided dice rolled down a ramp. Basically to advance to the first square you need to roll 2 or more, each square you need a higher number until you reach the exhaust port when you need a 11 o 12. Each time you roll less than the aquired score then you lose a X wing. However Luke Skywalker in the last X wing may "use the force" and have one reroll.
These pictures were taken at the start of the day (didnt get chance after the first hour), the game was so popular we didnt get a break all day with a constant supply of rookie Rebel pilots (I managed to get two mouthfulls of paella for my dinner). We kept a record of everybodies dice score plus whoever actually destroyed the Deathstar got an extra 100points. During the day we had about six people who completed the mission and recieved a Certificate, but also the top three winners recieved a X Wing model.
Im looking forward to playng this with the X wing rules with my friends in the summer and also repeating this hopefully at the summer fair next year with a few small improvements. Im trying to to think of a way of incorporating the dice rolling into the actual trench. Watch this space...