Last week, my son (Charlie) and I were to have the house to ourselves, to do anything we wanted. Charlie looked at me, saying we could play on the X-box. In return, I looked back at Charlie and said we could do something even better. His eyes lit up and he almost cried out, “Legion!” By Legion, he was referring to Star Wars Legion by Fantasy Flight Games, a miniature game that was released a few months ago. Now I am sure I am not alone in saying that I wish my son spent less time on technology than he does. So how do you go from the computer console being the number one thing to do, to a miniature game and possibly the dream of most parents of not having their children fixated on a screen?  Let me take you on a father and son’s journey to a galaxy far, far way…

It was a year and a half ago that my daughter was born and like most babies, she took up my time… in fact, a lot of my time. Concerned that Charlie would feel somewhat abandoned and left out, I started to hunt around for something that we could do together, just the two of us. Obviously, it was going to be something to do with Star Wars. On a forum, I found someone selling something called the X-Wing Miniature Starter Game by a company I had never heard before called Fantasy Flight Games and thought it looked intriguing. Doing no research (there was a four month old baby to contend with after all) I decided to buy it and see what I got.

A few days later, the post arrived and like any ten year old, Charlie was wondering what on earth was in the parcel. Opening it up, his eyes went wide. We were greeted by a T-70 X-Wing and two First Order TIE Fighter miniatures. They were fully painted and I have to say they looked pretty awesome. At the first opportunity, Charlie and I were on the lounge carpet, figuring out how to play. It didn’t take us long, and soon we were flying ships around asteroids and debris, taking shots at each other and generally having a great time. Within two weeks, we had found that there was a whole array of ships out there and we each amassed a fleet of ships, everything from the Slave I, to the Millennium Falcon, to the E-Wing. Our games suddenly became a lot more strategic. You had to construct a squadron of ships with different upgrades and then try and outwit your partner. Charlie loved it, the math, the construction of squads, and the tactics. I could really see the benefit of this for him.

Before long, we found that there was a huge community who played X-Wing­ and that they had tournaments with prizes, both locally and nationally. To my huge surprise (and naive mind), I found that our town had a local game store that ran friendly games. Wanting to have other people to play, I popped down to give it the fatherly check over, to see if it was a suitable place for me and my son to play. The store was called Asgard Games in Walsall and I shouldn’t have worried. The owner, Vince, was tremendously friendly when I entered the store and introduced me to the people who played in his store. Not only that, but he actively encouraged me to bring Charlie in, age wouldn’t be a problem. Charlie and me were soon not only playing together at home, but discovering a new community that we could share together at our local store. Everyone we met was friendly and treated Charlie as part of the gang. What I really noticed, was the confidence that developed in Charlie. Although quiet at first, Charlie soon found his voice and I was amazed at the level of depth he could talk about different squadrons with other people and where he thought the game was heading.

It was great. Charlie and I had something that was just ours and we were playing several games a week. However, our family holiday was approaching and my first thought was what were Charlie and me going to play? Thankfully, one of the guys I met, Gavin, told me all about another game that Fantasy Flight Games made called Star Wars Destiny. Unlike X-Wing, Destiny was sold in booster packs and was a card and dice game. Watching a couple of games online, I quickly grasped the concept and brought a couple of starter sets to surprise Charlie with while we were away. As soon as Charlie saw them, his face was enveloped with a grin. So started our second foray into the gaming world. The game took a lot less time than X-Wing and didn’t need as much room. It meant we were able to play a lot more games, a lot more often. Suddenly, Charlie and I were playing games every night. What was also good for Charlie (although frustrating for me) was the ability to buy boosters to expand your deck. These were reasonably cheap so Charlie could buy some every week with his pocket money, whereas with X-Wing he had to save his money.

Within a few months, our lives had been taken over by these games. Charlie rarely spoke about computer games and instead was talking about the next deck he was going to try out, or the next ship he was going to buy. Every week we would meet up with friends and play X-Wing or Destiny at Asgard Games. And this is how it went, until Fantasy Flight Games announced that they were making a new game called Star Wars Legion. This was to be a miniature game that would require you to assemble and paint your own miniatures to create an army for either the Rebels or the Empire. Charlie looked at me, pleading for me to get it. Like any good parent I said no way! When would we have the time to play another game, let alone paint the miniatures? It took Charlie four months to whittle me down but whittle he did. The game itself was enjoyable, but it added a whole new dimension; painting. Charlie was soon enraptured by base coats, washes, highlighting and all the different techniques that were needed to make his growing army look good. And the games. Well, they took longer than X-Wing and Destiny, so we didn’t get to play as much, which meant for Charlie they were a real treat. Hence, for him, playing actual games with his dad is far better than playing a computer game.

So we come to present day. Charlie still plays on his computer games, but his real passion is for the Star Wars games produced by Fantasy Flight. For a boy his age, these games have really helped him grow as a person. He is able to think far more strategically than he ever use to and has developed social skills that are far past his years. And what’s more, I get to share it all with him. It has been a tremendous bonding experience for us both and one that I wouldn’t change. We have a close circle of friends who we now play with regularly, and some (the previously mentioned Gavin) I speak to almost daily! With Christmas fast approaching, if you are looking for something a bit different for your children, this maybe your answer. Do a search for your local gaming shop, they will be an invaluable source of knowledge for you and be able to guide you to the game best suited for you. I don’t know what I would have done without mine.

And please always remember when playing these games, that screaming about it won’t help you.

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