GAME REVIEW: STAR WARS: IMPERIAL ASSAULT / DESIGNER: JUSTIN KEMPPAINEN, COREY KONIECZKA, JONATHAN YING, PUBLISHER: FANTASY FLIGHT GAMES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Skirmish-style board games tend to come in large boxes these days; the likes of Sedition Wars and DeadZone tend to be stuffed full of models, scenarios and interchangeable boards to create an immersive adventure experience. Star Wars: Imperial Assault not only comes in a very large box, it’s also quite possibly the best game of its kind we’ve seen so far, and not simply because you get to re-enact the various duels between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.
The game has two modes; the straightforward skirmish game pits two players against each other. The set contains enough pieces to cobble together Rebels versus Imperial Forces games with plenty of bad guys but less selection for the goodies. Like most well-designed skirmish games, half the game is won before a single shot is fired; tactically selecting the correct place to start and the right forces is a key component here. In the skirmish game, each player also selects 15 command cards, and these provide an interesting set of advantages. This ability to tinker and refine the game to suit your play style makes this version of the game stand out from its competitors, and also injects a fun Star Wars feel.
The key appeal of Star Wars: Imperial Assault is its scenario-based strategy mode. The game comes with a highly detailed, story-driven campaign book that allows five people to play through a series of Star Wars-style adventures. One player takes the role of the Imperial hoard, whilst everyone else picks a brave Rebel to play. After you’ve stopped squabbling over who gets to play the Wookiee or the Jedi, play begins. Those who’ve played Fantasy Flight Games’ Descent will be on familiar ground here; lots of baddies to kill, a goal to achieve, and an enemy determined to stop you. Each successful mission leads to the winning side getting rewarded with a ‘level-up,’ making each game as compelling as the last.
It isn’t perfect. The large number of components makes set-up a little bit fiddly and, though the board pieces are made out of solid card, each scenario requires the players to slot together a new layout. Though this is quite cool, the guidebook could be a little bit clearer, detailing exactly which numbered piece should go where. This is easily worked around, but can slow down an evening’s play. Rules-wise, this is a game for people willing to put in the effort to learn rules. If Risk is beyond you, stay away. Everyone else should be able to grasp the game after they’ve played through the tutorial scenario.
The models are very well made, with the quality being most obvious with the large models such as the AT-ST and the nexu monsters. The sculpts are a little weak on the more generic models, but still of a very good quality all round. This is an FFG product, so it comes with loads and loads of counters and markers, making tracking damage and special attacks quite easy. Of course, the dice are specially marked for ease of use. The game comes with just enough dice for normal play, though if you’re going to play this game a lot you’ll probably end up investing in more of the specially marked dice made by the manufacturer.Overall, Star Wars: Imperial Assault is a highly addictive board game, and likely to delight gamers who can’t wait for The Force Awakens to come out.
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