One of the things that makes Star Wars so much fun is the vibe that many of the characters are always in some sort of trouble with someone. Various rogues, mercenaries and working-stiffs are jaunting around the galaxy, hauling cargo and avoiding Imperial entanglements in order to make ends meet. Fantasy Flight Games' latest board game Outer Rim let’s you step into the boots of a spacefaring adventurer like Lando, Han-Solo or Doctor Aphra.
Each character has a different special ability. For example, Boba Fett is more suited to Bounty Hunting, gaining fame and fortune for every poor sap he hunts down. He’s also great at figuring out who’s hiding on each planet. Jyn Erso is great at sabotage and Han Solo finds it easier to recruit the best ship and best crew.
Everyone begins play with a basic ship and a starting set-up relevant to their character. Each turn you’ll move your ship around the galaxy, earn cash or heal up. As you jaunt from planet to planet, you’ll be picking up jobs and avoiding patrols. Different characters are ‘in favour’ with different types of patrols. For example, if Jyn Erso bumps into a patrol of TIE fighters, she’ll have to fight them whereas Boba can avoid them, unless he goes out of his way to annoy Vader and chums. The game is very flexible with what you can do on your turn. On the face of it all you’re doing is drawing cards and taking jobs, but there’s more to it than that. For example, figuring out where key players are hiding on the board is very important. Say you need to slow down another player – you can locate Bib Fortuna and use him to damage your opponent's standing with the Hutt Clan. Which if they happen to be in Hutt-space can cause problems. You can trade information, get into fights with each other and take on impossible challenges such as the Kessel Run . In short, you can grift, gamble and swindle your way across the galaxy. Become the most famous scoundrel and you win!
It’s also a very pretty game, but that’s to be expected. FFG have a load of custom Star Wars art now, and their game design is very good. Also this game uses shiny dice in the X-Wing style, which is a nice touch for fans.
Space trading games like this are nothing new. Unlike the Firefly game, however, Outer Rim is well-paced. Set-up is easy, encounters are rapid and because you can rip-off or assist your fellow player, there’s always something to do even when it’s not your turn. It’s also complicated than the likes of Xia, but still as elegant and engaging to play. It’s easy to get into Outer Rim, it’s easy to understand and it’s fun and quick to play. FFG have captured one the most charming bits of the Star Wars universe and have created a classic.