There are many movie-related traditions connected to Christmas – strange as that may sound – and they probably vary from country to country. In Poland the top franchises during this period were always Kevin HOME ALONe, Die Hard and… Star Wars! I still remember as a young kid watching, over and over again, year after year, the wonderful adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princes Leila and many more valiant characters struggling against the evil empire. Today almost every movie-streaming provider have those in its library but in 1980’s that was not so common (except on the pirated VHS 🙂 )
So I sit down to the Star Wars: Rebellion boardgame with great sentiment, especially during that part of the year. I heard a lot of good about this title and my experience fully confirmed those statements. I am fan of well-designed asymmetric games and that position definitely is one of the best examples of such. Before going into more details of very exciting session I had with Jakub – fan of all Fantasy Flight Games – let me tell a little more about the game itself.
(below text in large portions comes from official FFG page)
Star Wars: Rebellion is a board game of epic conflict between the Galactic Empire and Rebel Alliance for two to four players. I played two-opponents variant and it seems to me this is the most interesting option.
Experience the Galactic Civil War like never before. In Rebellion, you control the entire Galactic Empire or the fledgling Rebel Alliance. You must command starships, account for troop movements, and rally systems to your cause. Given the differences between the Empire and Rebel Alliance, each side has different win conditions, and you’ll need to adjust your play style depending on who you represent:
- As the Imperial player, you can command legions of Stormtroopers, swarms of TIEs, Star Destroyers, and even the Death Star. You rule the galaxy by fear, relying on the power of your massive military to enforce your will. To win the game, you need to snuff out the budding Rebel Alliance by finding its base and obliterating it. Along the way, you can subjugate worlds or even destroy them.
- As the Rebel player, you can command dozens of troopers, T-47 airspeeders, Corellian corvettes, and fighter squadrons. However, these forces are no match for the Imperial military. In terms of raw strength, you’ll find yourself clearly overmatched from the very outset, so you’ll need to rally the planets to join your cause and execute targeted military strikes to sabotage Imperial build yards and steal valuable intelligence. To win the Galactic Civil War, you’ll need to sway the galaxy’s citizens to your cause. If you survive long enough and strengthen your reputation, you inspire the galaxy to a full-scale revolt, and you win.
Featuring more than 150 plastic miniatures and two game boards that account for thirty-two of the Star Wars galaxy’s most notable systems, Rebellion features a scope that is as large and sweeping as any Star Wars game before it.
Yet for all its grandiosity, Rebellion remains intensely personal, cinematic, and heroic. As much as your success depends upon the strength of your starships, vehicles, and troops, it depends upon the individual efforts of such notable characters as Leia Organa, Mon Mothma, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Emperor Palpatine. As civil war spreads throughout the galaxy, these leaders are invaluable to your efforts, and the secret missions they attempt will evoke many of the most inspiring moments from the classic trilogy. You might send Luke Skywalker to receive Jedi training on Dagobah or have Darth Vader spring a trap that freezes Han Solo in carbonite!
First things first. We rolled for sides and I took command of the rebel forces – controlling 3 systems at the beginning – while Kuba was in charge of Empire – having support in 6 sectors:
The beginning was tough for me. Kuba quickly attacked 2 out of my 3 systems, taking control of them. Well, in that game the player commanding rebellion really has to have steel nerves, disregarding to some extent what is going on the map and meticulously working on reputation.
Now, that is a really neat mechanics which I appreciate highly – how to win as Rebellion. The reputation of revolutionary forces starts at 14 and decreases each time they perform some valiant feats; turn marker starts of course at 1 and grows in traditional way – by one after moves of both sides. When those both values meet, the game is finished. In theory, you could disregard the reputation at all and after 14 turns the game will finish in Rebellion victory. But the Empire will then have plenty of time to find and destroy the revolutionary base – which in effect will give them the victory. So work on how people in the galaxy perceive you!
In my game I tried to balance – on one had working hard on the Rebellion standing, on the other – taking control of some systems. But you need to be very careful with the latter as you might encounter something like this!
Kuba and his Empire was developing and spreading very quickly. I was performing various missions, sometimes suicidal, only to get the reputation points. Han Solo joined me, but in the end Went Over To The Dark Side. I got great admiral but he also was turned. Well, it was really hard and you need a lot of internal resilience to endure such hardships. Turning of your leaders is worst thing which can happen – if they die, they simply disappear but if the work for Dark Side – all their abilities are now directed against you.
I was also investing into the defenses of my main base. That is another cool game mechanics; Empire is conquering and subduing the worlds one by one, only to find that place:
The longer we played, the denser situation was – literally, on the map but also as far as atmosphere is concerned :). We now were receiving very powerful missions. One of them allowed me to lure and kill Emperor Palpatine, getting 3 reputation points!
As turn 6 started, there was only couple of free words on the map and Kuba was close to find my base – and with the forces he built, he would crush it easily. But it was my move now and I performed a successful mission to free one of the words – and at this moment, the Turn and Reputation markers meet at 6. Victory for Rebellion!
It was high time! The whole galaxy was saturated with Death Stars & Super Destroyers and Empire production was so huge that there were not enough miniatures to build more forces! Still, the rebel base – as it occurred, hidden on Tatooine – survived!
The game is very interesting and have fantastic bluff mechanics. True, when playing Rebellion you need to immediately throw away and hopes for an even fight in the space and focus mainly on reputation and defenses of your base. Sometimes survival is more important than glory 🙂 As Empire, you need to choose wisely your axis of advance and be careful with spreading your forces too thin (see what happened to Palpatine). All in all, great asymmetric game!