Ground Combat IV: Planets and the World of Star Wars

Hello everyone and welcome back to the Part 4 of the Ground Combat series! In this article we are gonna take a quick look at the various planets and terrains in the Star Wars Universe, as well as some basic world building!

Planet Basics

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What is interesting about the planets in Star Wars is that  most of them are made up of a single dominant biome. Although this may seem limiting at first, each planet does manage to bring their own uniqueness and identifying features that makes them stand out. For example, in the Films (so far) we see two desert planets in the form of Tatooine and Jakku. Although on the surface they are simply desert planets and one could be a rip-off of the other, that is far from the truth. Jakku is home to the last and decisive battle between the Rebel Alliance and The Galactic Empire, the planet’s surface is littered with wrecked capital ships and vehicles! Tatooine on the other hand, is a vast wasteland home to Gangsters and Farmers while the landscapes and sand dunes shelter certain creatures such as the Mighty Sarlacc!

Although you are limited to your imagination, it is always good to have a basis for what you may want. As seen in any Canon or Legends material, most Planets and Moons are represented as either:

There are still various planets and terrain type out there, which is why we will be introducing a new series called “Planet of The Week”! Each week we will be posting about a different planet or moon from the Star Wars Universe; each article will go into detail about the terrain type, what we can find there, and how to build props to translate it onto your Table! Some planets will even come with fun and thematic scenarios based on either existing content or simply fun new missions!

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An Atmosphere Match on Bespin – Photo by Rob Jedi

Building Your Own Star Wars World

Old and Worn Out

Star Wars has a very distinct visual aesthetic which sets it apart from every other Sci-Fi property. Star Wars has a very dirty and worn out feeling to it; every single vehicle, prop, and building looks like it has seen use for years, which in a way, gives us a much larger sense of realism. Little details such as grease stains, rusty patches, dirt, etc help sell the look and make it a little more identifiable. Some recurring visual themes usually range from “The years have not been kind” to “Broken and repaired” all the way to “a functional piece of junk”. In the end, if your props look dirty or look like they’ve seen hell then you’re on the right path.

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Keep it Retro

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Another important element of the Star Wars Aesthetic is “Retro Futurism”. In the simplest terms, Retro Futurism is a visual style where the future is depicted as it was back in the 40s and 50s. It tends to borrow a lot of elements from those time eras except adding a certain futuristic spin to it, usually it tends to be something circular. To better understand Retro Futurism, you’d be better off looking it up on google images or even looking at the old Ralph McQuarrie art for Star Wars.

Star Wars Ralph McQuarrie wallpaper

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Key elements would include large towers and pyramid like structures, domes and ball like structures on top a pillar or tower, tall glass windows and structures, etc. It would also be a good idea to adapt certain elements and themes used specifically during World War 2 when capturing the look.

Familiar Yet From Another World

For those who may not know, a lot of the props, costumes and set pieces in the original Star Wars movies were actually re-purposed equipment, weapons, and uniforms from World War 2. When designing your props, it is always a good idea to try and reference old WW2 material, be it from bunkers to weapons, it is always important to keep those roots there.

Hell, even the dog fighting in Star Wars is extremely similar to WW2 Dog fighting. 

When creating props that are Empire specific, it is always important to add a twinge of German or Japanese influence, for example you can use large red banners with a black and white Empire or First Order logo with little black and white accents.

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When creating props that are specific to the Rebels, you can either use Russian or American influences (either World War 2 or even Vietnam War) or you can re-purpose the Imperial props but you would want to add a lot more battle damage, burned banners and crudely painted Rebel Alliance logos. 1 key element to really sell something as belonging to the Rebels is making it look barely functional or old even by Star Wars standards.

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These are all examples of logos used by the Rebellion

Finally, we cannot forget the Scum Faction. For them, you would want to pretty much copy the Rebels except you need to take a couple of extra steps. You basically want to do two extra things:

  1. It has got to look Sketchy and Dangerous. So adding things like neon signs with Aurebesh (either Broken or Functional), crude spray paintings, and overall make it look like it was stolen from someone and not really well taken care of. Actually, taking a few visual cues from Blade Runner would be good!
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A Scum Space Station built by http://www.tanksandtrolls.co.uk

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2. You need to be associated with some sort of Gang or organization. In the game,                   there are already certain Gang factions such as the Black Sun and Binayre Pirates,             although you do not wanted to be limited to just those two since there are hundreds of different gangs.

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From Left to Right: Ohnaka Gang, Guavian Death Gang, Black Sun, Desilijic Hutt Clan, and Zann Consortium. For more ideas check out: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Criminal_organizations

Well those are the basics of bringing a little piece of Star Wars onto your table, next week we will start with Planet of The Week and dive in a little deeper!

Until then, Fly Casual!

 

5 thoughts on “Ground Combat IV: Planets and the World of Star Wars

  1. Have you played the EA Star Wars Battlefront 2 story mission? I’ve been thinking of a way to make the Beldons from the Bespin mission. I want to get the FFG Bespin mat, a 3D printed Cloud Car and some kind of refueling stations, similar to what you’re using in your Bespin atmospheric match, so I can recreate that mission on a mat. But, I’m having trouble thinking of a way to design realistic looking Beldons. The idea is, the Beldons would act as the asteroid tokens usually used in XWM matches. I tried to lobby some people on Shapeways into making some 3D printed Beldons but couldn’t get anyone to bite.

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    1. That would be awesome!! For Beldons I will try to collect some screenshots tonight but what I would do is create some 2D tokens (shaped as if we were looking at the Beldon from a top view) and then magnetize the tokens with the stand and sort of build the Beldon from scratch with paper mache/plaster and whatever materials I could find but I would de-scale since they were sort of huge. In general I would sculpt the whole thing, for the tentacles there’s these pens you can find that have articulated tentacles (bit of a pain in the ass to paint) and for their bulges of gas I would try to use clear plastic balls (or a light orange or whatever colour you wish to paint em) and fill them with orange painted pillow/teddy bear stuffing

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      1. I also thought of paper mache and clear plastic balls but it would be really awesome for someone with the talent to design a 3D print and drop it on Shapeways. But, yeah, they’d have to be miniaturized. I’d just call them baby Beldons.

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      2. Yeah that would be cool! I’m sure eventually Mel’s Miniatures will probably release it considering they have the hyperspace whales from Rebels in both Armada and X Wing Scale

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      3. He has those in XWM scale because I specifically asked for them on his Twitter account. He scaled one of his smaller Armada ones up, dropped it on there and I bought 3. I also asked him to make the Beldons and a Lancer-class Frigate in XWM scale but, so far, no luck. I’m 1 for 3.

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