Its the original Star Wars trilogy in a box. Dependent on the level of excitement that generates in your excitable areas is probably in direct comparison to how fast you should race to buy this.
A Star Wars game of you ruling the galaxy as an evil tyrant who didn't want to do that as a youngling.
Its predominately a 2 player game, although does scale quite well to the four.
It doesn't come cheap but then you do get three Death Stars for your money.
It doesn't completely deliver on the promise of you rewriting Star Wars history, but it does come close.
Casting a shadow over the gaming table larger than a star destroyer chasing down a Corellian Corvette at full throttle Rebellion’s box is no moon its a well it’s a colossal box. Considering that Star Wars fever is at full froth are its contents strong with the force or have FFG given us a bait and switch and left us with a pile of Gungans in a clown car.
Since FFG acquired the rights to the Star Wars license and begun pumping out with wallet alarming regularity X-Wing, Armada and Imperial Assault trinkets there has been a persistent murmur that maybe, just maybe TI3 would be returning but with a serious Star Wars buff. And while Rebellion does share some similarities with that stately gentleman of intergalactic tabletop domination in truth this is not that game. Instead, it’s a big toy box stuffed with the opportunity to reenact childhood adventures in that beloved galaxy far, far away.
Rebellion’s DNA is spliced with that of the PC game of the same name released back in ’98 by LucasArts, and indeed, Corey knicza the designer has stated for the record that that title was responsible for inspiring his design. Rebellions timeline sticks to the original trilogy with all of its overblown Ameritrash thematics sensibly avoiding the dry Euro feel of the prequels and their taxation of trade routes. Rebellion is a dudes on a map game that see’s the Rebels involved in an intergalactic game of hide and seek as the Empire doggedly attempts to find the location of their hidden base and destroy it.
The rules are supplied via FFG’s now trademark two books with a handy let’s get going guide and the deeper ‘oops! So this is where we messed up’ reference book. As seem’s to be the new MO at FFG, this is a very rules light experience, and if I were going to paint this on a broad canvas, then I’d say it’s the love child of a worker placement game and Risk. Wait… Come back.
Featuring asynchronous play each side has plenty of tricks up their robes and playing as either is equally satisfying and involve very different strategies.
The Rebels total focus is on keeping the bases location a secret from the Empire, and while it can and potentially may have to be moved this is usually a last ditch effort to extend the rebels life force enough to bring in a win. Their game is all about deception and sabotaging the Imperial players plans, direct conflict is not an option relying more on running skirmishes with the intent of drawing the Imperials away from systems or slowing them down, it’s all a game of misdirection and bluff. Thematically it’s on the nose imbuing the Rebel players turns with a sense of desperation and a distinctly terroristy vibe to their shenanigans as they sneak about sabotaging production facilities and muddying the loyalties of planets via diplomatic missions. Their overall goal is to survive long enough for the games time track (round tracker) to catch up to their score marker, they can manipulate this by completing various missions from Blowing up Death Stars to less glamorous bothering of the imperial player and hiding Grand Moff Tarkin’s slippers.
Playing the Imperials is a different game entirely to distil it down it’s a two-part strategy of building a table hogging fleet of miniatures in a vain effort of spreading itself across the galaxy for preparation in cornering the rebels. Their ace in the hole is the Probe deck containing a card for each planet in the game which they slowly draw from allowing them to check off systems on their big galactic domination spreadsheet as it slowly reduces the possible Rebel base locations. While they go about this process, they can entertain themselves, rather like a cat with an unusually large ball of twine by pounding upon the rebels keeping them always on the run. These involve increasingly nefarious schemes like capturing Rebel leaders followed by a spot of the old interrogation or building a Death Star which is frankly problematic for everyone the Imperial player is never short of something delightfully evil to do.
All of the main actions are completed via worker placement taken in turns, you pick one of your leaders and assign them to a mission in a system. These come via cards that consist of a core hand of 4 with additional ones drawn throughout the game, each offers richly thematic and familiar situations from the holy trilogy. These allow players to tailor their own version of events whether it’s sending a confused Solo to be trained as a Jedi or an equally baffled Luke turned into a carbon popsicle. It’s fanboy nirvana for sure getting to dabble with the possibilities of rewriting the saga and on the whole hugely satisfying although occasionally it feels railroaded. Take Luke’s training as an example any of the rebel characters can undergo this path but only Luke can unlock his true Jedi potential, thematically it’s bang on, but if we were indeed being allowed to rewrite our own trilogy then I would have loved if they’d completely embraced this notion.
One area where we encounter some of the old FFG clunk is the combat, it’s a halfway house between the simplicity of Risk’s dice rolling and Forbidden Stars convoluted and deeply strategic card and dice assignments, being neither of these entirely instead it feels all a bit unsatisfying. Fights go on a bit, nearly always result in what you thought would happen and leave you avoiding getting into a scuffle too often as it drags down what is otherwise a nippy experience.
So is this really just a two player game? I will say that yes it’s undoubtedly the most fun when savored as just that a mano a mano duel in the stars, however, I would be remiss if I didn’t also congratulate it as being a lot of fun as a multiplayer experience. Much like its combat mechanics, the actual process of playing as four isn’t entirely that intuitive with teams working at times against each other with what they control, and it does lead to a somewhat disjointed experience when played with the rules as written. We’ve played it a few times merely adapting the two player variation with four and opening it up to a discussion between the teams and allowing them to kind of do as they want and for my money is the most satisfying experience.
There are already many Star Wars games now on the market, but this manages to successfully fill a niche that’s yet to see much love, its closest licensed competitor are the Risk games, but they fall far short of capturing the grand operatic sweeps and daring do that Rebellion caters in.