I had a chance to check Star Wars: Rebellion from Fantasy Flight Games. I must say it is a massive board game! The board is so large it comes in two pieces! The box also contains 153 plastic miniatures (gorgeous!), 25 leaders (with stands), 10 custom dice, Over 170 cards, and 2 Faction Boards.
Players (2 – 4) take the sides of the Galactic Empire or the Rebellion during the original Trilogy.
To win the Rebellion players must sway the citizens to your cause and keep the location of your Rebel Base hidden long enough to strengthen your reputation and inspire a full scale revolt.
The Empire players must snuff out the budding Rebel Alliance by finding its secret base and destroying it.
Playing with three friends for full effect myself and Greg took the role of the Galactic Empire, leaving the Rebel Alliance to Doug and Chris W.
The game is played in 3 phases: Assignment Phase, Command Phase, and Refresh Phase.
- Assignment Phase.
Players assign their leaders (characters like Darth Vader, General Tarkin, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Chewbacca, and a whole host more) to missions. Each player has a hand of mission cards of which to choose from. They are attempted by selecting one and placing it face down with up to two leaders on top of it. The chosen Leader must have the skill icon to meet the requirements of the Mission. Leaders not chosen for missions can be held in reserve to oppose opponent’s missions or move units to adjacent systems.
- Command Phase
Starting with the Rebel player, players alternate taking turns either activating a system by placing a Leader from their pool onto the game board to move unit and possibly start combat.
Combat takes place by taking turns rolling dice to deal damage to your opponents units. Each unit has a unique pool of Red and/or Black dice and health that can only be depleted by the proper colour dice roll. Combat starts with space combat, then moves to ground forces. After a round of combat the defender has the option to retreat to a friendly adjacent system. If they do not combat continues with a new round.
Or using a leader on a mission card to reveal and resolve the mission. Missions can accomplish a number of tasks like gaining loyalty in a system, capturing or rescuing a leader, sabotaging a system, or even activating the Death Star laser to destroy a planet. At this point your opponent has any Leaders in their pool they can choose to deploy them in an attempt to oppose the mission.
- Refresh Phase
During this phase players prepare for the next round by retrieving leaders back to their pool, draw 2 new missions cards (and if necessary discard down to 10), launch probe droid by drawing 2 cards from the Probe Droid deck. These cards each show one system where the Rebel Base is not located. The Rebels draw an objective card. The Time marker is advanced and players recruit and or build depending on what icon is shown on the Time track. Recruiting is done by drawing 2 cards from action deck and choosing one of the leaders shown and adding them to the pool. Building is done by adding units to the build queue that correspond to the resource and queue icons on the system. These icons match various units icons and allow to you build more units like Storm Troopers, Star Destroyers, Tie Fighters, AT-ATs, X-Wings, Y-Wings, Corellian Corvettes, Air Speeders, and Ion Cannons. Finally, units are deployed. All units are moved down the Queue track with units in the 1st place coming onto the board. Units can be placed in any controlled system but only 2 units can be placed in a single system.
The game continues by going back to the assignment phase with the Imperial players attempt to seek out and destroy the Rebel Base while the Rebels try to survive and play Objective cards that can move them along the Time Track towards victory.
The initial setup made it seem like the Empire players had a huge advantage. They controlled more system and had more units on the board. I almost felt bad for the pitiful Rebellion. As the game progress it became very clear that the Rebels would not go silently into the night. We would subjugate a system only to have the Rebels free it. We would make a system loyal to the Empire only to have the Rebels Sabotage it, denying us the build resources.
The whole game came down to a single turn, where the Empire would either discover the Rebel Base or the Rebellion would have lasted long enough to incite a galactic uprising throwing the Empire into defeat! Our final round was completely based around hitting two systems we thought might be the Rebel Base. Luckily, our first guess was right and the Rebel Base was found on Ilum, located a mere two systems from our own base of operations! The might of the Empire came crashing down and the Rebel scum were wiped out!
The game lasted 4 ½ hours so just slightly more than the 3 – 4 hours the box states, not bad for a first play by four people who had never played before. I think after another play or two we could easily drop it down closer the 3 hour mark.
The game play is complex, but the rules are simple. The board, cards, and miniatures are all of the highest quality that Fantasy Flight Games has become known for. I for one cannot wait to play this game again!