We have something a little bit special for you all today. A review of Star Wars: Imperial Assault from Fantasy Flight Games, by guest contributor Paul.
We are planning to bring you more reviews and articles like this in the future from ourselves and from guest writers, so please leave a comment and let us know what you think.
Without further-a-do, over to Paul, enjoy.
After hankering for Fantasy Flights Imperial Assault for ages I was lucky enough to get a copy for Christmas.
So I put out a call to my long suffering gaming partner, my brother, who in his own words is a casual gamer but a long time Star Wars fan ready to try this bad boy out. With as many Star Wars Quotes as possible; cue countless cries of “It’s a Trap!” and “Laugh it up fuzz ball”.
First off the quality of the box set is everything we have come to expect from Fantasy Flight the tiles are chunky and full of interesting details, the tokens and game cards are clear and great looking, but man are there a lot of them it would be helpful if you had a monopoly style way of organising the cards using the box. The cards include character profiles, upgrades, items, and missions which all add to the tactical aspect of the game. The game is based on the Descent board game, so some of the mechanics may be familiar to those who have played it.
The models are fantastic considering that this is not a miniatures game as such, the details especially on the Wookies just cries out for a paint job although even unpainted the minis are full of character.
So, to the actual playing, there are two options to play, Campaign and Skirmish. Campaign sees you take on the role of Rebel agents sticking it to the Imperials while the Skirmish sees two equal forces go at each other.
We decided to play through the campaign tutorial to get to grips with the mechanics. This saw a choice of two Rebel heroes take on Storm Troopers, an Imperial Officer and a Probe Droid. Adam chose the Rebels and picked the Wookie ‘Gaarkham’ and the Jedi ‘Diala Passil’, both heroes excel at close combat. The basic mechanics of the game are fairly straight forward, characters move the number of tiles according to their speed, between 4 and 6, so with this we began the cat and mouse game of bringing each other to combat . . . or queue Adam charging towards the Storm Troopers making Wookie noises! Fairly convincing ones if I’m honest.
Combat is interesting; all combat is resolved using different coloured dice. However there can be up to three different actions per dice face. The different coloured dice (red, yellow, blue and green) recreate different weapons and abilities.
With ranged combat you have to see if you have the range to hit, on the dice you add up the numbers to see if you have the acuracy, then you add up the number of hits to see how much damage dealt, with me so far? These can all be modified with the abilities of the characters, special effects stated on their cards. While you’re doing this your oppenent is roling defence dice (black and/or white) to try and beat the number of hits dealt by the attcker. To add to the fun there is a lightning bolt action on the dice which allows you to spend these on special actions such as extra damage, healing, etc. This takes a bit of time to get your head round but once you have this combat moves along really quickly.
So with this information and a huge wedge of cards we played through the tutorial. At first we thought that the two sides were horribibly unblanced but the Rebels are very powerful and have far more hit points than the Imperials, plus Storm Troopers have rubbish accuracy, so it does balance out in the long run. During this game Adam split his heroes and sent the Wookie into the Storm Troopers and the Jedi towards the probe droid. The proble droid was dispatched with ease even though this was the most powerful model in my team. The wookie barrelled into the Storm Troopers and hacked his way through them. Suffice to say the Rebels made short work of the Imperials even with myself getting to a support crate and getting an extra hero, an Imperial Officer. There is a good amount of interaction with the enviroment with terminals, crates and doors all adding to the depth of the gaming experience.
I will say the game is not difficult to pick up. The dice mechanism takes a couple of turns to click,but once it does the game moves really quickly; and even when it’s not your turn you still feel part of the action. The only difficulty is the vast amount of information that each character has to play with and while you will be introduced to the different aspects of your characters as the campaign progresses, the learning curve is a little steep.
We did play through a Skirmish game with the added fun of two ally/villain packs to spice up the teams. Adam took Darth Vader and IG88 and I took Luke and Chewie. The great thing about the add-on packs other than the price is that each pack comes with a new mission! So every time you buy a new mini you have a new game to play through.
This game was enjoyable and a real close run thing again the Rebels are outnumbered and this time it may have been a bit unbalanced although Adam is convinced that it was more down to my rubbish tactics rather than the game. The great thing about being able to use the Star Wars Characters is that you get moments of pure epic-ness. Such as Darth Vader striding through the hanger section force choking Chewie flanked by two Royal guards or a desperate last stand with a Rebel hero sacrificing themselves for their team (so that they can walk into Darth Vader – Adam).
This is a game that cries out to be played by as many people as possible as it’s such as good co-op as technically there are three factions, the Rebels and Imperials and the Scum and Villainy faction of bounty hunters an ne’er-do-wells who can side with either faction or be an independent faction on their own.
You could even scale up to a full tabletop war game with a bit of dice tweaking (Anyone for playing the Battle of Endor?) or use X Wing and Star Wars Armada to fight through the entire original trilogy!
Would we play again . . . Yes absolutely! As we were playing through we were getting excited about the campaign and where the story would go. One of the nice things about the core set is that the heroes are not from the films as although being able to play as Luke of Han is fun when it comes to forging a narrative it’s nice to be able play with other characters steeped in Star Wars awesomeness. We had so much fun so that Adam and I are already planning our next foray into the Star Wars Universe. Probably with added Boba Fett.