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Star Wars: Rebellion Review

Star Wars: Rebellion Review

Star Wars: Rebellion Review

Welcome to our review of Fantasy Flight GamesStar Wars: Rebellion. This review is fascinating for us. We have been unable to sell Star Wars items from Asmodee as Disney had restrictions in place that they recently lifted. Lifting those restrictions means we can review this game and offer it for sale on our site!

We at Detective Hawk Games are huge Star Wars fans, and we’re very excited to play this game. Star Wars: Rebellion is a 2-4 player game for ages 14 and up. We should warn you it does take 3-4 hours to play. Still, the time goes quickly. This game is excellent for an afternoon of gaming with a significant other or family! We will be reviewing a two-player game here. The four-player game has a few different rules as two players control the rebels and republic each.

Game Overview – Star Wars: Rebellion

In Star Wars: Rebellion, you take on the role of either the Rebels or the Imperial Empire. The game’s objective is different for each, and you directly oppose each other throughout the game. If you are playing the Rebels, the game’s goal is to get the time marker on the same space as the Reputation marker (as the rebels gain more reputation in the galaxy). The Rebels gain reputation by completing Objective cards from an objective deck. These can range from destroying a star destroyer to infiltrating the Galactic Empire. 

If you are playing the Empire, your goal is to figure out which system has the rebel base and destroy all troops and ships in the system. 

At the start of the game, the Rebel player takes one probe card for the system they want the Rebel base to be. Then, the Imperial player draws probe cards from the remaining deck at the end of each round, which progressively eliminates the rebel base’s systems.

Both the Rebels and Empire can complete missions or activate systems among these two objectives. The actions move ships and ground troops to a new planet to battle their opponent. 

A Quick Note

Before we get into our central review of this, we feel that it’s essential for anyone interested in this game to know that this is a “heavy strategy” game. That means it’s the type of game you need to make many decisions that directly affect the game’s outcome. We would not recommend this game as a quick weeknight game unless you have a table where you can leave it set up and play over multiple nights.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into what this game is about, along with our thoughts!

Game Components

Overall the components are excellent. The game is co-created by Fantasy Flight Games and LucasFilm, so you know everything has their approval. The game comes with over 150 miniatures with everything from Tie Fighters, Star Destroyers, Death Stars, Storm Troopers and AT-ATs on the Imperial side, Rebel troopers, air speeders, X-Wings, and Corellian Corvettes. These are all highly detailed and are paintable if you decide to do that!. We especially like the Death Star Under Construction, which you can put in play while you build one of the two Death Stars.

Star Wars: Rebellion also comes with a super-sized 4×3 foot board (two boards placed side by side). This board has 31 planetary systems from the Star Wars universe with a ton of detail regarding the strategic decisions you need to make in the game. There are spaces to place cards, a time tracker, and spaces to build new ships and troops for each side (Rebels or Imperials). Each planetary room has enough real estate for you to place your ships in the space area and your ground troops on the actual planet. This board is very impressive and right on theme.

The game also comes with Leader Standees. These can be anyone from Luke Skywalker to Han Solo or Princess Leia for the Rebels and Dark Vader and Emperor Palpatine for the Imperial player. The standees have iconic imagery for each character and skill icons needed to play the game. As we get into the gameplay section below, you’ll understand that leaders are how you complete missions, oppose the other players’ missions and move ships and troops around the board.

The rest of the components are your standard fare with custom Star Wars dice (5 red, 5 black), objective cards for the Rebel Player, mission cards for each player, action cards used to recruit new leaders, and probe with battle tactic cards.

Game Setup

Not going to lie; setting up for Star Wars: Rebellion is a bit of a task. Mostly it’s organizing and shuffling all the different card decks and setting up the initial troop locations. It is incredibly lopsided towards the Imperial player if you play the first game setup. The objective cards, probe cards, and Imperial Project cards are on the board in their respective spaces. The rebel player chooses one probe card (from the probe deck with 30 of the 31 planets) and decides where their rebel base will be. Coruscant can never be the rebel base, so it does not have a probe card. Then each player finds their four starting mission cards, puts them in their hand, and shuffles the rest of the mission cards into a deck next to their faction sheet. The faction sheet shows all the different troop types your specific faction can have. Repeating this with the action deck and the imperial player shuffles the missions marked as projects.

Both players lay out their units and loyalty tokens onto the planets. In the first game, the “Learn to Play guide” that’s included shows you how to set everything up. In future games, you draw probe cards and place units on the planets you draw.

This setup takes about 20 minutes; you are ready to play after that!

Game Play

As mentioned in our note above, this is a “Heavy Strategy” game. In Star Wars: Rebellion there are decisions to be made throughout the game that affect how the game flows. These decisions are what make this game so engaging and exciting. The simple fact is that both players have different goals to win that align with the characters’ purposes in the movies. 

The game plays out in rounds. Each player starts with the Rebel player choosing any number of mission cards from their hand to complete with the leaders in their “leader pool.” This pool begins with four leaders but grows as you play each round. You must be careful, though, not to use up all your leaders at this stage; you may need them later.

We loved the leader choices to start, including Leia and Han and Darth Vader and Emporer Palpatine. The game even has other leaders such as General Ozzel and Mon Mothma. Each provides different skills to you when selecting missions.

The missions themselves are on theme with Star Wars. With everything from “Infiltration” to “Sabotage” for the Rebels to “Trade Negotiations” and “Rule by Fear” for the Imperials, they help you achieve your ultimate goals. You always feel like you are moving towards the movie’s end goal, which is incredible!

An excellent example of a card on the theme is the “Interrogation Droid” card. If the imperial player has already captured a Rebel leader, they can interrogate them. 

If successful, the Rebel player must name three planetary systems, one of which must be where the rebel base is located. This card came out in our game, and unfortunately, the Imperial player failed it. If they had been successful, all is not lost for the rebel player. 

The Rebel player could have then played a “Rapid Mobilization” mission card to abandon the current rebel base and pick a new one in the next round. This detailed description of a game mission shows that missions are indeed on the theme and reflect how that player is trying to achieve their goal.

After the players choose missions, they one at a time either reveal a mission or activate a system with the leaders in their leader pool area. Missions can either be attempted (where the opposition can oppose) or resolved

When attempting a mission, your opponent may choose a leader to oppose you. In this case, you each roll the custom Star Wars dice and count the various symbols as successes. The player initiating the mission must roll more successes than the other to win the mission. 

The other action you can take is to Activate a system. Activating a system means taking a leader from the leader pool and putting them in a planetary system on the board. They then move space and ground units from adjacent systems. Basically, this is how you move your units around the board. If you move into a system with your opponent, you start combat. At the start of combat, the player gets tactic cards equal to those numbers on the leader marker. These help you later in the battle. The tactic cards add an extra layer of strategy to the game.

Combat entails looking at your units in the space area of the planet, comparing those to your faction board, and selecting the correct amount and color dice to roll. For example, the Tie fighter takes one black die, so if you have three Tie fighters in the space around the planet, you roll three black dice. Each hit icon that shows up lets you apply one hit to a unit of your opponent’s health of the same color (black or red). In our Tie fighter example, if they roll a regular hit, they can only damage rebel ships with a black health number (in this case, the X-Wings and Y-Wings only). The Tie Fighters can not do regular damage to the capital ships, such as star destroyers, as they have red health meters. 

If you roll a direct hit icon, this rule changes, you can apply it to any ship. Blanks, of course, don’t count for anything. 

If you roll the Jedi lightsaber icon, you can play a space tactic card with that symbol, which adds damage or blocks an opponent’s damage. You can also use the Jedi lightsaber icon to take an additional tactic card. 

Then you repeat this whole process with the ground units, selecting dice, rolling dice, applying hits, and playing or drawing ground tactic cards. 

You can retreat at the end of the round by moving to an adjacent planetary system. If you choose not to, you start a new combat round. 

The goal of combat is to remove your opponent’s units from the board, which Star Wars is all about, am I right?. If you are the rebel player and are fighting with the Death Star on the same planet, you can also use the objective card “Death Star Plans” to try and blow up the Death Star. 

Completing objectives is one way you gain reputation points, moving the Rebel player closer to their goal. There are additional objective cards that the rebel player can complete in combat.

The balance is between the Rebel and Imperial players are on point, in our opinion. It may seem lopsided, as mentioned above, but when you dig into it, it’s actually on par with how the game should be compared to the movies.

Combat is a bit of the luck of the dice, and we usually aren’t big fans of chance games. That said, there’s enough strategy around all the other aspects of this game that rolling dice to see if you hit a ship seems sort of on theme in the heat of battle. We liked it!

The game moves to the Refresh Phase after each player has completed all the missions they want to complete (note: they may choose to assign more missions than they decide to complete after seeing what the other player is doing in the round) and also activated all the systems, they want to

This phase is about setting up for the next round. 

Each player collects their leaders and two additional mission cards. They return any used “starting missions” back to their hand. The Imperial player takes two probe droid cards that reveal two additional planets containing the rebel base. Then the Rebel player selects the next objective card, so now they have a further objective to gain reputation points. They then advance the time marker towards their reputation marker. The Rebel Player has won if the marker now appears on the same space as the rebel reputation marker. 

If not, the players look at the time track and, depending on what symbols appear at the time marker, either recruit additional leaders to their leader pool (choose two action cards and select one leader pictured at the bottom) or build more units or do both. Building units is pretty cool. It’s where you can get better ships on the board. 

To build units, first, note that each planetary system is either populous or remote. Remote systems don’t build units and don’t have loyalty to the rebels or imperials. Populous systems have both, and they have icons that represent different unit types based on if the planet is loyal to the Rebels or Imperials. Units get placed on the board’s build queue area, and each round advances their build from three down to one. Once units move off the one spot, they deploy to the board. 

We mentioned this before, but there is a project mission that the imperial player can take that adds the Death Star to the 3rd position in the build queue. We think it is remarkable that while it’s being built, the imperial player places the “Death Star under construction” miniature on the board. While it can’t attack, the rebel player can try to destroy it while it’s being built.

After the refresh phase, you start a new round.

This overall process of gameplay then continues until either the Rebel Player has received enough reputation points to have their marker meet the time tracker, or the Imperial player has discovered the Rebel Base and destroyed all the units there. 

Overall Impressions

Star Wars: Rebellion is a fantastic game. We loved it. It is a bit stressful (hence our note above). Don’t play this if you want a casual game night. Still, if you’re going to play an excellent strategy game based on Star Wars that LucasFilm created with Fantasy Flight Games, then this could be the game for you.

If anything could be better, we’d love to see a streamlined version that we could play in an hour. I’m sure there are ways we can preset what the imperial player knows and what objectives the rebel player already has along with leaders and units. The game is exceptionally well thought out and would work well to modify the setup to streamline the play.

This game is not your typical movie tie-in game and deserves its current #8 overall ranking on Board Game Geek.

If you enjoyed this review and want to get your copy, we offer it for sale in our store!