Star Wars: Rebellion
A long time ago at a computer far, far away, a younger, and already Star Wars obsessed, version of myself was frantically playing a game called Star Wars: Rebellion. While my 9 year old self couldn't quite grasp every detail of the game, I was engrossed in sending my characters on mission, rescuing them from capture, and either running from the terrifying Empire or hunting the Rebel scum. When Fantasy Flight announced a board game with the same name last year, I was beyond excited. Could this board game possibly measure up to the PC game of my childhood? Let's take a look.
Rebellion is an epic-scale Star Wars game for two "or four" players. One player takes command of the heroic Rebellion, who must keep their base hidden, turn public support to their side by completing missions and run the clock out to win the game; while the Empire builds up powerful armies and armadas to comb the galaxy and find and crush the Rebel base before they run out of time.
I won't go too far into how to play the game, but the core of the game is centered around your assigning your leaders to various tasks. These tasks can include sending leaders on missions represented by cards in your hand, opposing enemy missions, moving your armadas around the galaxy, or leading troops in battle. There's a real balance that must be struck here, as mission can do much for you, but if you send out to many leaders you'll be helpless to defend. Sure, the Rebel player could send Han and Chewie out to sabotage a key Imperial planet, but then who will stop Darth Vader from capturing Luke or turning him to the Dark Side? Moving also requires leaders, and will help spread influence. During production phases, you'll start to produce new ships and troops based on what planets you control, with powerful planets taking longer to produce.
The missions and maneuvering around the board is a ton of fun. Battles, on the other hand, are the games weakness. If a leader is involved in the battle you'll draw a few cards, but battles are really little more than rolling dice and seeing what happens. The battles slow the game down and offer few strategic choices, but still occasionally have flairs of excitement, especially when the Rebels have a chance to destroy a Death Star.
One more thing to mention is the four player game. It..... isn't great. If you have played other Star Wars games like The Queen's Gambit or Star Wars Risk, it work the same way, with each player on a side basically playing half of a game. A few more mechanics are thrown in that muddy the game up, and it adds to the downtime as the sides whisper and plot their moves together. It's functional, but not great.
If the game was mechanics alone you would have an above average game of space hide-and-seek, but the theme elevates this game. Star Wars oozes out of every bit of this game. Fantastic little miniatures breathe life into the board, Fantasy Flight's brilliant Star Wars artwork graces every card, and the feeling of an awesome armada of ships hunting down a ragtag group of Rebels all make it feel like you're playing out an alternate version of the original trilogy. You can have Chewie train with Yoda, have the Death Star blow up Tatooine, or turn Mon Mothma to the dark side. Each game plays out differently, and it always feels great. If you want a game that really feels like Star Wars, Star Wars: Rebellion is the best game out there, and more than lives up to the legacy of its namesake video game.