Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars Rebellion

In the last few years, board games have had a real resurgence in american culture.

Ticket to Ride, King of Tokyo, and Settlers of Catan sit side by side classics such as Monopoly and Risk. It has created an industry that truly is willing to put money into these games and create some unique experiences.

In 2011, a board game company by the name of Fantasy Flight acquired the license to Star Wars. Disney acquired Lucasfilm a year later, and FF lucked into Disney’s want to make new media in that setting. It was obvious from the get go that FF had decided to go all in with this license with its first showing of Xwing miniatures in August of 2012.

From there we have had 5 other offerings. Imperial Assault, Star Wars CCG, Star Wars RPG, Armada, and now Rebellion. Each offers a tight, fantastic board game experience with unique play styles to appeal to different types of board gamers.

With Rebellion, its most recent release, FF has finally given us a game that gives the true feeling of a galaxy at war. With our inaugural article here at Tapcaf’s gaming section, I thought I would give some thoughts on the game, and show you what to expect from our little sector of the site.

The first thing that you notice when breaking open the game is the production values. Yes, the cardboard pieces are all very nice looking, with the heroes from each side looking especially fantastic, but it really is the 100+ plastic models that shine here. From the different Rebel Fighters, Mon Cal cruisers, Super Star Destroyers, and Death Star, every piece is excellently crafted. It really adds immersion to the game when you see so many models spread out across the galaxy map. Even the map board, a collection of planets and boxes that tell you where to place specific cards, is so well done that it is enjoyable to just stare at. Fantastic work, FF. You really nailed the look of this game.

With the aesthetic nailed, you have most of what a Star Wars fan wants in a board game. So much of what Star Wars is comes from the look, locales, and lore. The rest of course is the flow of the game, the rules as written, and how enjoyable the game is. After playing the game a few times since I got it last week, I can honestly say it is one of my favorite board games I have ever played. However, there are some problems with the rules in how they are written. Small things overall, but I will get into that as I explain the basic flow of the game.

The flow of the game is as follows. The Empire is trying to find the hidden Rebel Base and destroy it. The Rebels are trying to get enough galactic support via objectives before they are found. The asymmetrical nature of the game means that the play experiences are completely different between the two factions. Both sides however, use their heroes for almost everything they want to do. Want to move people from one
system to another? How about run missions? What about keeping your opponent from achieving his mission? All of it is done with heroes. You start with 4, and as the game progresses you get more, but it makes them a commodity that you have to truly think about.

Combat is done with 5 black and 5 red dice. The different dice denote who can hit each other; only people with the same color dice can score hits on each other. It’s my only gripe with the game, and that is the dice combat often slows the action down. The instructions on how combat works is also not entirely clear either, with some small rules only being vaguely talked about. When it comes to combat in these games, you have to make sure everything holds equal weight in the instructions. It’s a small misstep, and after a few times playing the game, my play group easily understood the rules. I do worry people new to these games might not do so well, though. Another problem has to do with destroying planets with the Death Star, and whether you can still use the missions in those systems. Fantasy Flight is saying that a ruling on that is coming, but for now you have to make a house rule.

With Rebellion, you get a Civstyle game set in the Star Wars universe, and it absolutely drips the setting. With only a few niggling rule clarification holding back the excellent pace of the game, I really cannot say enough good things about Rebellion. Fantasy Flight is also excellent in the support of their games, so I am sure we will see errata for the rules, as well as expansions to the game. With Disney helming such great projects, and making so many great allies in various companies, it really does look like only bright skies ahead for Star Wars fans.