Review: Star Wars Imperial Assault boardgame

Since Star Wars appeared in 1977 and became a cultural phenomenon, several Star Wars games have been released. Top titles appeared in just about every field, for example Star Wars: Customizable Card Game from Decipher or the Star Wars Role Playing Game from West End Games. They lagged behind in one area: we had to wait a very long time for a good ‘Dungeon crawler’ type board game. However, in the summer of 2014, Imperial Assault from Fantasy Flight Games (who also released Star Wars: Armada, Star Wars: X-Wing, and Star Wars: RPG) was announced. Finally, after many years of waiting, there is now a Star Wars board game with good miniatures, beautiful cards and also important: excellent rules and fantastic gameplay.

Two variants 

Imperial Assault can be played in two ways: the ‘skirmish’ variant (in which two players compete against each other with their own army) or the ‘Campaign’ variant (which can be played with 2 to 5 players) in which each player has a character and competes against the Imperial player (who controls all the bad guys). I can’t say anything about the ‘skirmish’ variant for one simple reason: I’ve never played it and don’t have that ambition either. What I will talk about is the ‘campaign’ variant. Furthermore, I will not go deep into the rules here, but sketch a global picture of the game. This is on purpose because I don’t want to make it a very technical story and because many are unfamiliar with this type of game (the so-called ‘Dungeon crawler’) and it will therefore be difficult enough ;). 

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Campaign variant 

This game is played with 2 to 5 players. 1 player plays as a villain and has everything at his disposal: Stormtroopers, Probe Droids, Imperials, but also characters like Boba Fett, Dengar, IG-88 and even Darth Vader! It is his/her job to defeat the other players and make sure their mission fails. The other players each choose 1 (or 2; depending on the total number of players) character(s). Several are supplied in the basic set and each expansion contains new ones from which to choose. The characters vary greatly. Choices include a Wookiee, Bothan, and even a Medical Droid! All of them have unique properties and different weapons.

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When everyone has made a choice, it’s time for the mission. These follow a storyline (the story missions) and in between these missions you can also play side missions (which the players can often choose themselves). The missions take place on various planets and thanks to the expansion sets more can be added. For example, the Return to Hoth set focuses mainly on Hoth and the Twin Shadows set is all about Tatooine.

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In various missions, the players are joined by an ‘ally’. Sometimes because it is part of the mission, but after each mission you can also earn ‘allies’ (this means that you can also take the relevant character on other missions). Han Solo, Chewbacca, Luke, Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, Lando and other rebels, among others, can accompany the players.

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When the first mission has been chosen, the game board can be prepared. With the countless separate board pieces, various settings can be created, including Imperial bases, Tatooine (with the cantina!), Hoth, Cloud City, Jabba’s Palace, Coruscant or even a Stardestroyer!  

The Imperial player briefly explains what the intention is and the game can begin! The players must complete their mission within X number of turns. During each turn you can do anything: walk, attack, open doors or crates or equip if you are injured. The battles in particular play a major role in this game. For this, a pretty ingenious system has been devised with different dice and cards (for example of different types of weapons) that (just like the specific properties of the characters) can all influence the result. Players can get hurt and even die!

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When the mission (which takes an average of 1 to 2 hours) is over, there are 2 possibilities: the players have won or the Imperial player has won. The winner receives points for this that he/she can spend to purchase new cards (which of course make the player stronger). Also, weapons and other types of stuff can be bought by the players, provided they have enough credits! Then the next mission starts (and which one this is sometimes depends on the outcome of the previous one). 

The game is quite extensive, especially if, like me, you have all the expansions and there are tons of cards, board pieces and miniatures to use. Many cards are only intended for either the skirmish or the campaign variant, so you should put them aside. Furthermore, there are many rules, more than an average board game has. I haven’t mentioned all the rules by a long shot (which I mentioned earlier). 

It is also possible to play the game without an Imperial player thanks to a downloadable app. The app takes on the role of Imperial. Please note: this app alone is not enough and you still need the physical game. With the app (available in the Google Play store, Steam etcetera) you can also play Solo. 

On the leading board game site Boardgamegeek.com, it currently ranks 58rd overall (which includes thousands of games ranging from Backgammon to Catan and from Dungeons & Dragons to Chess) and 20th in the thematic ranking. 

Sets and Expansions 

As mentioned earlier, there are now various expansions in the form of complete sets to smaller packs. Below is a list of all sets and expansions. Note that the last expansion was released in august 2018 and Fantasy Flight Games won’t be releasing new expansions.  

Core set    

  • Imperial Assault

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Expansions (include new board pieces, various miniatures, maps, missions and playable characters)    

  • Twin Shadows
  • Return to Hoth   
  • Bespin Gambit
  • Jabba’s Realm 
  • Heart of the Empire
  • Tyrants of Lothal

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Ally & Villain packs (each pack contains 1, 2 or 3 miniatures, some maps and missions)

  • Luke Skywalker (this one is included in the core set!)   
  • Darth Vader (this one is included in the core set!)   
  • Han Solo   
  • Chewbacca   
  • Rebel Troopers   
  • Rebel Saboteurs   
  • General Weiss   
  • Royal Guard Champion   
  • IG-88   
  • R2-D2 & C-3PO   
  • Boba Fett   
  • Kayn Somos   
  • Wookie Warriors   
  • Hired Guns   
  • Stormtroopers   
  • Leia Organa   
  • Echo Base Troopers   
  • Dengar   
  • General Sorin   
  • Alliance Smuggler   
  • Bantha Rider   
  • Bossk   
  • Lando Calrissian   
  • Officer Blaise   
  • ISB Infiltrators   
  • Obi Wan Kenobi   
  • Greedo   
  • The Grand Inquisitor   
  • Luke Skywalker – Jedi Knight   
  • Jabba the Hutt   
  • Captain Terro (with Dewback)   
  • Alliance Rangers   
  • BT-1 & 0-0-0   
  • Jawa Scavenger   
  • Hera Syndulla & C1-10P ‘Chopper’   
  • Darth Maul   
  • Emperor Palpatine   
  • Ahsoka Tano   
  • Hondo Ohnaka   
  • Thrawn   
  • Ezra Bridger & Kanan Jarrus   
  • Sabine Wren & Zeb Orrellios On Youtube you can watch several demos of the game.. More information can of course also be found on the official site of the publisher Fantasy Flight Games.