Star Wars: Imperial Assault Review
Published by: Fantasy Flight Games(https://www.fantasyflightgames.com)
Distributed by: Esdevium Games (http://www.esdeviumgames.com)
Players: 2 to 5
Star Wars Imperial Assault is a bold attempt to make a board game that fuses a miniatures skirmish game with role-playing elements, all wrapped up within the board gaming bundle and settled nicely under the Star Wars universe blanket.
There are two ways to play Imperial Assault. The first as a table top battle game where you and your opponent construct armies of equal points values and go at it, or second as the board game with one player taking on the role of the Empire and up to four players each taking on the role of an individual rebel hero and playing as a team against the Empire.
Playing the second way has the role-playing game elements to it, the Empire player effectively becomes the games-master (GM) and knows secrets about the missions as he leads you through them. Characters can upgrade using experience gathered if you play a set of joint missions as a campaign, or you can just play one off scenarios.
The rules, in essence are very simple. Character cards detail how far the models can move, how much damage they can take, special abilities and what dice to roll when attacking and defending.
To make an attack, you roll a combination of dice as indicated by the character sheet and/or weapon. There are several different colours of dice, each varying in strength. The attack dice have various results depending on the roll, symbols indicate damage, or surge, which allows access to special abilities. Defence dice allow you to cancel damage, or surge, depending on the roll and the symbols displayed. Anyone who has played Descent will recognise this system of play. (Continues after pic)
But let’s take it from the top. When you first hold the Star Wars Imperial Assault box, straight away you realise just how big it is. It’s solid box and it will really stand out in any collection. There are hundreds of game components, 34 figures, 59 double sided map tiles, 295 cards and reference material, 4 rule books and other assorted counters and dice. All game components are of a very high quality, but some of the figures do have thin elements which might have been damaged in transit and will need to be taken care of to avoid damage.
A ‘Learn to Play’ guide takes you through your first game. To test it, I read through this twice and took four players through their first game. The rules are slightly dumbed down and options limited during this first play through and you will find that after opening the box and setting up the first game things will flow well once you’ve played a couple of rounds.
After this, you will want to slide straight into the campaign, but whoever takes the roll of the Empire will have to take some time to read through the campaign rules, which are fairly complex if you try to go straight in to it. Our group’s usual Games Master took the mantle of the Empire after I ran the introductory game and we had several rules confusions and missed options identified after the first couple of games.
Once everyone is settled on the rules, which can take a few missions, you will find that everything flows quite nicely. A bit of time will be spent setting up each mission, finding map tiles and putting them together, but the game itself is very fast paced and you can rattle through the post mission campaign structure in no time at all.
Line of sight comes up a lot and can cause confusion and in the first couple of games we found ourselves house-ruling several events so we could look at it later on. (Continues after pic)
There are also, as stated before, a lot of components. You need a big space or have someone very tidy/organised to make sure everything you need is easily accessible. If you want to play multiple campaigns, you’ll have to keep notes of everything as after campaign set up, some mission cards are set to the side until the next campaign. If you’re playing across multiple days every player will have to make a note of the cards he has or separate them in the box when everything is packed up.
Every game we played was extremely enjoyable, and the teamwork discussion does make it a very tactical board game. As there is no set turn sequence, other than a Rebel player taking a turn, then the Empire activating one of his figures or units, you will find you to spend a lot of time discussing each player’s options in advance, working out who it benefits most to go first each turn.
It’s very easy to get in to Star Wars Imperial Assault, especially if you’re a Star Wars fan. The appearance of major franchise characters and the chance to take them on is incredible. You don’t play the major characters themselves, but this adds to the fact that you are operating with them as they make their cameo appearances. Non Star Wars fanatics will find much to enjoy in the tactical element of the game and campaign. (Continues after pic)
Star Wars Imperial Assault is a very enjoyable tactical board game and the Skirmish game is very competitive challenge. The product itself is of a very high quality. The game can be extremely complicated for beginners to the system or for anyone without prior gaming experience, but only for the first few missions. I found myself wanting more character options for development, but this can easily be opened up if Fantasy Flight Games offer more characters or more options for the existing characters along with their plans for mission, ally and villain expansion packs. It is a very detailed game with lots of components and the high price tag reflects this. It’s not a quick pick up and play, but if you’re after a board game/skirmish game with depth and you love the Star Wars franchise, then this is a purchase for you.
4 out 5 Nerds