As the ongoing hype continues to build toward the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, It’s entertaining to ponder (as much as a very irregular gaming blog can ponder anything) the central Yin and Yang of what has become known as the “Star Wars Universe”. The second trio of Star Wars movies made a total hash out of the whole Force shtick, turning away from earlier hints of mysticsm while simultaneously introducing one of the worst ideas in the history of high-dollar space opera AND presenting a great argument against so-called Romeo and Juliette laws.
A lot of Star Wars fans, I think, have a misguided view of what it takes to turn to the Dark Side of the Force. Presumably, they’re the people who have a warped view of order and authority, but let’s stay focused. On the surface, it’s easy to think that Star Wars bad guys turn into bad guys because they’re basically assholes to begin with. I mean, clearly, The Emperor is an asshole. Anakin somehow manages to turn into an asshole, despite Obi Wan’s best efforts. All of those Sith Lord types (you know, the Darth-whatsit guys) are really assholes.
My own observation is that turning to the Dark Side (or not) has a lot more to do with family than it has to do with any latent (or overt, for that matter) assholery.
As much as I’d like to ignore the second trio of movies, it’s hard to ignore the arc where Anakin turns to the Dark Side because of his really screwed-up family life. Yeah, sure, he was already way down the road of asshole-ism — for reasons impossible to decipher because of excellent screen writing — and he generally made very bad choices in his friends. But the Amidala business pulled the trigger. In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke wigs out hard when he discovers he can call Darth Vader “Dad”. He goes so far over the edge, in fact, he tries to kill himself. That’s a major wig-out. In typical never-take-dad’s-advice fashion, he chooses not to turn to the Dark Side. Kids these days, I swear.
Personally, I turned to the Dark Side because my kid didn’t leave me any choice.
I’ve been wargaming since around the age of 14, which is long time. You don’t need additional details. It’s just a long time. Looonnnnng time. So, naturally, as Junior has gotten older and started to consume an ever-increasing share of the family food budget, I’ve started trying to get him interested in wargames.
He’s not yet developed into a deep thinker, so hex-and-counter games aren’t in his wheelhouse. Absent any sort of proximity to events like the Second World War (like I had), he hasn’t developed an interest in military history.
But Star Wars? Now there’s something to work with.
The instant he saw the big Millennium Falcon model from Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures, he was hooked. He was ready to load up the Falcon, throw in one or two of the Rebels’ alphabet-soup-winged fighters, and fly off to war.
That’s where my conversion to the Dark Side comes in.
It’s probably because of those danged propanda cartoons, but he absolutely refuses to play anything except the Rebels. Like only Rebels could be heroes. Pah. Regardless, that left my choices pretty slim. Especially since the Scum and Villainy faction hadn’t yet been introduced when he started playing. Up until then, I’d played mostly as the Rebels myself. Had some good Rebel lists, more Rebel models, boned up on Rebel tactics. But none of that mattered. If I wanted a short, always-hungry in-house opponent, i would have to create a disturbance in the Force.
So. Darth Daddy.
The Dark Side is a pretty good job, now that I’ve gotten a look at it. The Imperials have some really cool ships, even if they did update the rules to nerf the TIE Phantom. A lot of the ships look intimidating, instead of looking like they were designed by some bulb-eyed. fish-headed, teletubbie-looking alien thing. They don’t use some goofy alphabet soup nomenclature for the ships, either. They use manly-man names like Punisher and Decimator. Hell, they’ve even got Boba Fett.
There are a lot of advantages to this whole Sith Lord business. And while my rebellious son is neither coordinated enough nor un-silly enough to do serious yard work, at least he can put up a good fight on the tabletop.
He’ll probably never find his way to the Dark Side, though, mainly because — a lot like Luke — he just can’t take any of dad’s advice.