Game designer Alexandar Ortloff-Tang takes StarWars.com behind Z-Man Games’ new release.
Have you ever wanted to have a team of clone troopers at your fingertips, awaiting your next command? Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a collaborative strategy game that puts you in the well-worn boots of one of your favorite Jedi from the animated series of the same name. Deploy troopers alongside Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and more to iconic locations featured in The Clone Wars stories. Complete all of your missions by waging battles against Separatists and Sith before they overwhelm the galaxy. Can you save the Republic before it’s too late?
Lifelong Star Wars fan Alexandar Ortloff-Tang, who served as game designer on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and is now senior game designer at Fantasy Flight Games, sat down with StarWars.com to chat about the development of the board game, nods to the animated series, and what it means to bring inspiration from a galaxy far, far away…to the tabletop.
How to play
Star Wars: The Clone Wars can be played with one to five players ages 14 and up. During game setup, players choose the Jedi they’ll play and the Clone Wars-era villain they’ll face. Each character is represented by a gorgeously detailed miniature.
“The art team and sculptor did an incredible job with the minis,” Ortloff-Tang tells StarWars.com. “They add so much visual appeal to the board, and really help you connect to the character you have chosen to play or fight against.”
To finish setup, squads of clone troopers and vehicles are assigned, missions are selected, and the invasion starts. Begun, the Clone Wars have. Rolls of the die determine the amount of successes and damage you take on with each turn. Deploy your squad to complete the parameters on your mission card, and the Separatists lose their ground on that planet. If all players can finish their missions before the invasions overwhelm the Republic forces, everyone wins!
Ortloff-Tang and the game design team wanted the rules for the Star Wars: The Clone Wars to be easily accessible; Z-Man Games even makes them available to download and read over before you pick up the game. While veteran board game players will likely be familiar with the Pandemic system Star Wars: The Clone Wars is based on, Ortloff-Tang has some advice for new gamers learning the ropes in the galaxy-spanning war.
“Different players learn better in different ways,” he says. “There are some great videos online that teach the game quickly and clearly, so those can be a great resource. And if you’re lucky enough to know someone who has played before, having them teach you is always the easiest way.”
The Clone Wars on the tabletop
Naturally, basing a board game on The Clone Wars animated series required research for every area of gameplay, from the planets on the galaxy map to the details of the players’ missions. “The first thing I did when I started on the project was to watch the whole series from start to finish to make sure it was fresh in my mind,” Ortloff-Tang says. “Over the course of the project, I ended up rewatching it a bunch of times, both for inspiration and just for entertainment. It was fun to immerse myself in that era.”
“We tried to include a lot of little nods to the source material. Much of the art is based on particular moments from the series -- I love the idea of seeing a favorite character and having the art take you back to a specific moment in their story.”
The team also gave thoughtful consideration to each location that appears in the game. “Some planets felt obvious from the start because they are so integral to the Clone Wars, like Coruscant and Kamino,” he says. “Some were the sites of memorable and evocative events, so we included them as locations for mission cards; Umbara comes to mind, as does Lola Sayu. And some were fan-favorite planets, like Tatooine and Corellia, which we knew we wanted to appear even if we didn’t set a mission there.”
Take on the whole galaxy yourself
Responsibilities in the real world all too often get in the way of game night. Star Wars: The Clone Wars includes rules for playing the game solo for those times when you can’t get the squad together in person. One-player gameplay is virtually identical in scope and time to playing with friends, which was important to the design team.
“Solo rules are becoming more common in board games, and I see it as a great trend,” Ortloff-Tang says. “Solo rules give you the option to engage with the game even if no one else is around. They can also make it easier for a single person to learn a game before introducing it to others. And some people just really love playing board games solo on their own time at their own pace. All good reasons to make the game playable [for] one.”
For Ortloff-Tang and the entire team behind Star Wars: The Clone Wars, creating the game has been an unexpected and wonderful adventure.
“I never expected my name to show up on a box that says Star Wars,” he says. “I’m so glad we were trusted to bring these stories to the tabletop. I’m really proud of the result. I spent about a year and a half playing with all these characters, watching and rewatching the show, adapting the Pandemic system, and working with an incredible team to get everything just the way we wanted it. Seeing fans play and get excited about the game is the perfect way to cap off that process.”