Star Wars: Outer Rim First Play (with Actual Humans)
I played Outer Rim with my game group last night. Below are some of my thoughts, including a brief synopsis of the game itself. The gameplay info is to help illustrate what can happen in the game, and why some players may not have enjoyed it as much as I did. This is a rather scattered thought-piece, so no judging. Gotta pump it out quick. :) Here are my thoughts on Outer Rim:
Spoilers: I really, really like it. Others in my group? Well, according to one, he was simply "whelmed" by the game. Not in love, but not in hate, either. I think the general consensus was we could all play it again. Me especially.
With four players, the game took just under three hours. That included teaching the rules.
I played as IG-88 and somehow managed to acquire his IG-2000 ship, so that was quite thematic! The various character abilities are wonderful, and each one points your game in a different direction...if you so desire.
What I really like about Outer Rim is the thematic gameplay. Each character starts off with a job/bounty/cargo/etc. they're trying to deliver or accomplish. They start on a different location depending on their starting scenario, and you take it from there. There are so many different things at play. Your starting ship can only hold so much cargo and crew, so upgrading to a bigger, better ship is a must. We found that upgrading earlier on is far more beneficial than waiting.
Finding bounties is enjoyable, as you kind of know where they are (because of their color-coded character token), but since there are a handful of each color of token spread out throughout thee Outer Rim, it becomes a game of hide-and-seek. I started off as IG-88 with a bounty on Ponda Baba (aka Walrus Man). Since I started near one edge of the board, my first move was to hit up the edge-most planet and search for him there. Alas, no luck. So, with meticulous detail, I visited each planet in turn that could possibly have my bounty. As fate would have it, Mr. Baba was hiding out on the complete other side of the Outer Rim from where I started. So by the time I found him and delivered him to Takodana for my first Fame point, the other players were already buying new ships and collecting lots of Fame. But, I did pick up a cargo to deliver to Takodana as well which also gave me lots of credits, so that helped, as I was able to deliver the bounty and cargo in the same turn.
This is a prime example of what can make the game slow down. Going from point to point looking for something and coming up empty handed each time was annoying, but liberating once I finally finished the job. Another player tried to capture Maz Kanata, but she kept winning their fights, so the bad rolls (on his end) made for some less-than-enjoyable moments. But, he eventually caught her (after leaving to do some other jobs and coming back with more firepower), and became a wealthy man for doing so.
Following my Rim-long escapade to find Ponda Baba, I then attacked patrols and made some money to buy a new ship. I was going to by the Slave I, but someone got there the turn before me. Then I was going to by the Modified YT-1300 (aka Millennium Falcon), but again, someone beat me to the punch (it, Chewie!). But, it was Han that bought it, so I couldn't be too upset. Then the Moldy Crow came up for sale, and there was no way I was buying that heap of debris, so I replaced it with the next card in line. Lo and behold, it was IG's ship. I bought it and life was good.
I won't go into much more detail about my actual gameplay, but I wanted to show some things that happened so we could all get a better feel of the game and to illustrate other points. For example, I mentioned I went on a killing spree of patrols. This was to get money to buy a ship (at first), but each time I destroyed a patrol, my reputation with that faction decreased. By the end of the game, I was only neutral with the Rebels and negative with everyone else. That made moving quickly from planet to planet difficult, as various patrols got in my way and I had to stop and, therefore, fight them. So yeah, it slowed me down from my cargo runs. But! Something good did come of it. Because I was forced to fight, and with my new ship and a quad-laser cannon upgrade, I was rolling 6 attack dice and with IG's re-roll ability, I never lost a patrol fight That also meant I started earning more Fame. My luck was complete when I was able to purchase proton torpedos, which not only gave me a seventh die to attack with, but gave me an additional Fame point for defeating patrols with Fame rewards. It is with this combo that I ended up winning the game. After starting off super slow, I felt it was a nice comeback victory.
Delivering illegal cargo also has its downside. Instead of just delivering, the player must roll a hit in order to successfully do so. A different player tried many times to deliver one piece of cargo, but simply couldn't do it. That probably stopped him from winning, to be honest.
And the fourth player? Well, after I stole his droid crew member after one of the first few turns, he never got another crew for his ship, which certainly didn't help him any. Of course, if I hadn't won the game when I did, his turn was next and he would have done so. So despite slowing him down some, he still finished quite ahead of the pack.
One of the main complaints from the other players was that the game felt like it dragged on. In the beginning, things seemed to go faster, but slowed down near the end. I think that had to do with their strategies, as I felt the beginning of the game dragged for me but escalated near the mid- to end-game. Still, I feel like after playing a game, the second game would play much faster, since we won't always have to double check what actions we can take, what certain rules mean, etc. I was expecting three hours going into it, and that's about what we got. There is some down time between turns, but there are sometimes ways to engage with other players, which is always nice.
In the end, I really loved it. I love the theme and how the mechanics and pretty much everything help milk the theme for all it's worth. All that was missing was the soundtrack playing in the background. I'm sad the others didn't like it that much, but hey, at least it's got a solo variant. :) I'll be looking forward to playing again soon!