Space Fighters was an unauthorized Star Wars board game published in 1978 by M. S. Kurtick. Kurtick was best known for co-writing the Star Fleet Battle Manual (which itself was an unauthorized Star Trek game). Nothing about the game came right out and said "STAR WARS" but the game's premise, goal, and art work all featured strong Star Wars ties.

Space Fighters was a two person game involving combat between cardboard chits representing Imperial and Rebel fighters. The game was played out upon a hex map which overlaid a giant space station surface complete with trench and gun turrets. Production quality was low. It came packaged in a ziplock baggie. The map art was black and white. The thin chits were monochrome cardboard with black top-down silhouettes of fighters that looked remarkably (read exactly) like TIE fighters, Vader's bat-winged advanced prototype, and Rebel X-Wing and Y-Wings, and the Millennium Falcon. Solo's ship was called the "Pirate ship" in the game rules. And (spoilers!) it also makes an 11th hour appearance above the "Imperial Death Ship Station". The goal of the Rebel side was, not surprisingly, to maneuver a craft to the trench on the map and plop a torpedo down the exhaust port. The job of the Imperials was to stop this.

Each side also had one magic using pilot who could exert a certain "force" and receive combat and movement bonuses. The Rebel side's Red 5 fighter with a curious X-wing design got a bonus. The bat-winged fighter, ostensibly propelled by two (shit, I dunno) ionic engines, got the bonus for the Imperial side.

At the heart of the game was its tactical fire-and-movement rules. Combat and movement took place simultaneously. Each side had to write down on a program sheet changes in altitude, direction, and speed. Planned movements were then revealed and implemented. Different fighters had different speeds, climbing/descent ratings, and turn ratings.

The game was never sold commercially, no doubt owing to the legal troubles that might entail. However, for a summer or two it was a popular find at fantasy and science fiction gaming conventions, sold more or less under the table by various dealers.

Despite the cheap quality and the game's thematic fencing sitting (its unwillingness to just come and out and say "Okay, fuck, this is Star Wars and let Lucas sue me, cause I got nuthin' but a '68 Corvair in my assets column!"), the game was actually quite fun to play. Before Pentium chips, SoundBlaster and ATI, there were few games that captured the fun of Star Wars space fighter combat.

See it online here:

Curiously TSR copped Star Wars' final act with its own 1980 microgame called Attack Force.

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