Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our new weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage right here—and let us know what you think.

This week Ars Cardboard dives into miniatures wargaming—but forget stereotypes of tiny Napoleonic soldiers walking across home-crafted terrain. We’re talking about Star Wars miniatures here, from capital ships to TIE fighters to Darth Vader himself. If you’ve ever wanted to command a squad of X-Wings, take control of an Imperial Star Destroyer, or experience a shootout with stormtroopers, the current trio of licensed Star Wars miniatures games from Fantasy Flight have you covered. And with the Force Awakens mere days away, there's never been a better time to dive in.

If you haven’t played a miniatures game before, know that these aren’t quite like traditional board games. Movement takes place not on a board but on a large, flat play surface covered with stylized miniatures that represent squads, fleets, or squadrons. Movement and range calculations are based on physical distance and angles. Miniatures can pack a visceral cool factor—these aren’t just cards or chips on a board—but they can also be intimidating for the new player.

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