I was finally able to get Star Wars Rebellion from Fantasy Flight Games to the table. In this game each player takes one side of the galactic struggle to rule the galaxy, or free the galaxy from rule.
As the Rebellion, my forces were no match for the Empires sprawling fleet. As such, it is my job to gain reputation in the galaxy through intel and diplomacy. As the rebels complete objectives, randomly drawn from their deck, they decrease the turn counter quickening the end of the game.
The Empire uses its forces and probe droids to search the galaxy for the hidden rebel base. Once found, the Empire will need to destroy it before the turn counter runs out.
This game is listed as three to four hours play time, and knowing this was our first play we scheduled plenty of extra time to figure things out. We needed every minute of it too. The rulebook is well written and broken down into parts. The first part describes everything you need to know to play your first game, leaving out a few of the more advanced rules. Both my opponent and I had read this portion of the rulebook prior to game day, and he had set up the first game before I showed up as well.
The first round went slow. I’m not going to go into much of the rules here, because I feel the rulebook does such a great job without needed intervention. If you’re interested, they are available here.
The first step in each turn is to assign some of your leaders from you leader pool to missions. Good sense also says to save at least one leader back, to counter a mission of your opponents. We took turns assigning leaders to missions, and before long it was clear that neither had good sense. No leaders were left in either pool to oppose each other missions.
Next you complete the missions, one at a time alternating Rebels, then empire until all missions are revealed and resolved.
After mission resolution players get to move troops from an adjacent system to a system that currently has one of your leaders. This was the first error that we made, not realizing you could do this. We were holding a leader in the pool to place on this step just to move our fleets. We figured it out about turn three. If, after any move there are units from both sides at one location, BATTLE!!!
This is where my opinion is vastly different from most that I have heard from the interwebs. I was expecting to get bogged down in the mechanics and have battles, especially at the end of the game take way too long. This was not the case. These battles were fast-paced, thematic, and smooth.
Finally you go into the refresh stage of the turn where you can build ships, recruit new leaders, and deploy troops.
After the first turn I was thinking the game was AMAZING! The rules were simply to understand, but the depth of strategy was so great that it felt like every game would be unique. What I didn’t expect is that every round for the first four or five rounds I had an epiphany of more efficient ways I could use and place my leaders that increased the depth of the strategy. Sometimes my opponent and I would have this epiphany together, sometimes one use us would have it and share with the other. Once, we each had a separate Ah-ha! moment and shared our new outlook. And this was just the intro game. I have not read the advanced rules yet, that’s my plan shortly after I post this. I can’t wait to try playing the Imperial side of the game, but right now I just want to play the Rebels again. And again, and again…
I’d like to share a few big moments in our game. On turn two my opponent looked at me as he assigned his first mission and said, “Well, I don’t know if this is any good, I guess it all depends on where you go…” As soon as I placed my first leader on the board, Leia, at the same system that the Death Star was in, he smiles, not paying any attention to what I was trying to accomplish. He could try to capture Leia at the Death Star. This was our first movie thematic moment. Throughout the rest of the game he tried to freeze my leaders in Carbonite, which failed, turn my leaders to the Dark Side, which was successful! Mon Mothma of all people was working for the emperor! He blew up Kashyyyk and Toydaria, and Finally destroyed the Hidden Rebel Base.
As the Rebels I constantly sabotaged his loyal planets, built loyalty on the outer worlds (which he then subjugated), and when I got the mission to send someone to train on Dagobah with Yoda to become a Jedi I thought it was time for a departure from the movies. I’d like to welcome Jedi General Madine.
Near the beginning of the game, maybe round five, I moved my whole fleet to a sector adjacent to the Death Star. Since my opponent didn’t have many ships with the death star at the time, I figured it would probably be safe. Then he moved the Death Star and four tie Fighters into my sector. It’s a TRAP! I had the Death Star plans in my hand! All I had to do was have one fighter survive the first round of combat and I’d have a chance to blow up the moon-sized weapon. He got cocky and I show him how I rolled.
He killed my entire fleet in the first round. But I still think it’s a chance I had to take.
Two player games of this weight are difficult to get to the table for me. We’ve had this game since it’s release date and this is the first time I’ve played. It was so good though I’ve already started to negotiate with my wife to get another day to run off and play this game. Thank you Fantasy Flight for many, many plays of happiness. It’s rare that I lose and then am this excited to do it all over again.