A Long Time Ago…
Victory! With the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebellion has given hope to a galaxy living in fear. Having lost their ultimate weapon, the Empire scrambles to recover in the face of this crushing defeat.
As the scattered fragments of the battle station rain down upon the Rebel base on Yavin 4, the Empire sets in motion a plan to seek retribution against Rebel forces stationed on the small moon.
Not long after, when an Imperial beacon begins to broadcast from an outpost some distance away from the Rebel base, a small team of elite operatives is dispatched; their mission: to silence the signal at all costs…
In Imperial Assault, 2-5 players join forces in an epic Star Wars adventure based on the Descent 2.0 system of combat and dungeon exploration. One player will control the Galactic Empire, pitting the Rebel Alliance against squadrons of Stormtroopers, deadly beasts, and even Darth Vader himself. The other players take control of Rebel Alliance Heroes, going on missions to continue their fight against the Empire. Can the Rebel Alliance work together to accomplish their missions, or will the Empire bring its forces to bear and squash the Rebellion? Find out in Imperial Assault!
MSRP: $99.95Lowest: $74.95
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After reading over all of the recommendations from @Skurvy5 @lanista @R0land1199 @Courageous Bob @theDL @lievendv @nealkfrank @sdirrane @Marshwiggle92, I watched one video for each of the three games mentioned: #Star Wars: Outer Rim, #Star Wars Imperial Assault, and #Star Wars: Rebellion. Here are my first impressions/my first gut reactions:
I was actually a little surprised that this is the newest game amongst the three. Maybe it's because of all of the cardboard but it had a dated look to it. At first glance, the gameplay doesn't seem as gripping or fun as the other two games. And most of all, it's the least attractive in terms of theme because bounty hunters, mercenaries, and smugglers are so far removed in the latest sequel trilogy (which is what got my wife interested in Star Wars). I can't imagine my wife liking the theme and I also don't feel much connection to it either.
To me, this looks like the best game for a "surface level" Star Wars fan. The gameplay looks the most fun in a way that is more lighthearted and adventurous, and comes with great minis that evoke the theme. But it also comes with several concerns:
1. I'd only want to play this co-op and while there is an app for that, I'm not sure how compelling it will be going against a bot especially since this wasn't an original part of the game.
2. I'm not sure how fiddly this game could come off to us while handling all of the different units, tokens/modifiers, app, etc.
3. My wife and I typically play games at a slightly slower pace than average estimations. Add to this the fact that it's a longer setup game than most games in our collection, it might be a stretch on our preferred time limit (under 2 hours). But, at least at first glance, the experience seems worth it and that's how I feel about #Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated too.
Seems like a great game but three things stood out:
1. Too long (as many of you pointed out)
2. The way combat is resolved seems rather disappointing/anti-climatic (apparently this is addressed in an expansion)
3. I see that this game was marketed as telling your own Star Wars story. And it seems to accomplish this by having players make decisions that lead to events that are completely jumbling up the known Star Wars timeline. I really like this idea but it also made me think that it would be nice if there were a Star Wars themed #Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated. Clank! Legacy features a scenario book that players will constantly reference whenever an event is triggered, and the event presents players with a number of choices that will impact that game session which will then trickle down to influence all future sessions. It's lighthearted yet great at building up the world and I liked that a lot.
Imperial Assault seems to be the right call for us. I don't see this happening for at least a year, but there's potential and that's the furthest any mini game has ever gotten in my book haha
For me Aesthetics is a huge part of gaming, and there is something that is so satifying when a game gets it just right. For me the following are my top games that really bring everything together.
5. #Star Wars Imperial Assault - One of the few games that I actually prefer minis for, the changing landscape and the character cards add a lot of Star Wars theme to the table. I love the ability and weapons cards as well. We also usually have a lot of fun playing Star Wars soundtracks while we play.
4. #Western Legends - I love the Wild West as a theme and on the table this game doesn't dissapoint. The board it great and the poker cards (which drive most of the game), are top notch qaulity. While the General Story is a bit flimsy you don't touch it too much so it does still look really cool with the theme. I also love seeing a lot of players and NPC's on the board.
3. #Viticulture: Essential Edition - I love the art and meeples (especially the rooster) in this game. It looks so great on the table and makes me feel like I've escaped to Italy for a couple of hours. It also caused my gaming group to have a wine night when playing (and I never drink wine.).
2. #Clans of Caledonia - Such a solid game on the table. The components feel and look so nice, and the simplistic map looks great (esepecially when it starts filling up with pieces). The market board with the glass tokens looks so nice, the export board looks so nice, the player board are awesome, the clan pieces are perfect, and the player aids are small, simple, and high quality. Really everything is the game is great.
1. #Root - Duh! I'm sure anyone here who has seen me post is not surprised to see this at 1. The art fits the theme so well. The cards feel so nice to hold and play with. The boards are awesome, especially when the fill up with those awesome screen printed minis. The player boards are top quality. I really feel like I'm diving into the Root Woodland when I play this game.
What about you?
Two of the biggest, grandest board games ever made. Two of my all time favorite board games. Two games occupying a similar space in a collection- at least from afar. This article will attempt to compare and contrast these two behemoths, as well as hopefully demonstrate why they are both so beloved by the board gaming community (and by me!).
Darth Vader with a squad of elite Stormtroopers and an elite Deathtrooper chase down some Rebel operatives.
I’ll start by painting a broad picture of how the two games are similar, before diving into what makes the two games unique.
At their very most basic level, Imperial Assault and Gloomhaven are both party-based dungeon crawlers with an overarching story campaign and scenario-based gameplay. Both games feature player characters that earn experience and level up over the course of the game, earning new abilities and becoming more powerful. Both games have extensive amounts of items for players to acquire and equip, further enhancing and specializing their characters.
Scenario set up and management of special scenario rules are also very similar between the two games. In each case, one player is allowed to read the scenario book and is responsible for set-up and reading the rules to the other players. Most scenarios in both games have special events that take place after certain triggers are met (End of Round 1, this door opened, etc) furthering the story of the scenario and the overall campaign.
Our valiant mercenaries escorting a warrior on his quest for vengeance.
The two games even utilize similar modular map boards that fit together to form unique maps for each scenario. The map pieces are interesting and varied and combine to form a multitude of exciting places to adventure.
Unfortunately, both games also share a penchant for loads of tokens and components. Damage counters, item cards, skill cards, enemy tokens, traps, doors, etc. The amount of things to keep track of can definitely be overwhelming. Fortunately Gloomhaven has numerous third party apps to help manage the AI, health, experience, and money. And Imperial Assault has its own app-assisted campaign too.
So, we’ve examined the facets of the two games that are similar and now we are all convinced that these are the same games. Right? Wrong! Let’s dig into what separates the two games.
One of the most visually obvious differences between the two games: hex-based maps in Gloomhaven versus grid-based maps in Imperial Assault. A simple difference, but a fundamentally important one, especially when it comes to gameplay.
Hex-based maps in Gloomhaven present interesting tactical combat possibilities.
For games that feature tactical combat, positioning and the shape of the map have a large impact on the game. I’m not here to argue about which system is better - frankly, they both work well - but it’s a significant difference with a dramatic impact on how the game plays.
One of the largest differences between the two games is how attacks are calculated. Imperial Assault uses a tried and true custom dice solution to determine accuracy, damage, and special abilities. Gloomhaven uses attack modifier decks to determine damage. Both systems are excellent.
The cool part of the Gloomhaven approach is that you can add or subtract cards from your attack modifier deck as your character grows more powerful in order to manipulate the odds in your favor.
The cool part of the Imperial Assault approach is that each weapon you acquire lets you roll different combinations of dice. Some weapons deal more straight damage while others are more likely to produce symbols that let you use special abilities. This approach gives characters a great chance to specialize and feel more powerful as the campaign progresses.
Beyond obvious physical differences are some significant differences in how the games actually play. Imperial Assault is a free-wheeling thematic game that encourages you to take risks and - for lack of a better way to put this - play out cool Star Wars stories using your characters.
Gloomhaven, on the other hand, rewards careful, thoughtful play of your cards each round. In Gloomhaven, each character starts with a hand of cards. This hand represents your abilities but it also represents your stamina. As you use abilities each round you either discard or lose these abilities. Discarded cards can be recovered by resting but even resting still forces you to lose one card. This puzzle creates many interesting and challenging decisions. Do you use that powerful loss ability to escape a tough scrape early in the scenario, knowing that it’ll be gone until the end? Or do you try and save it for an even worse situation? It’s this rewarding hand management aspect that sets Gloomhaven apart. This puzzle part is also something that leads many to declare that Gloomhaven is actually a Euro game hiding in a dungeon crawler’s clothes. I don’t necessarily agree with this sentiment.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I failed to talk about a few extra factors. Imperial Assault is a Star Wars product. Something about moving these minis around just calls to me and my inner child. Fantasy Flight really did an amazing job with this game. Just look at how cool it is:
If those awesome minis don’t get you excited... go watch Clone Wars Season 7 or The Mandalorian and get back to me.
Also, the legacy aspects of Gloomhaven are incredible. The thrill of opening one of those new character boxes is sublime. Progressing the story is a wonderful feeling of uncovering a mystery. Fighting against so many different enemies keeps the game fresh almost every time you play. Leveling up unlocks new cards to mix and match and makes you excited to dive back into your next scenario.
At the end of the day both of these games are incredible and I am so happy to have them as part of my collection. They are similar in many aspects but also totally different. And totally worth your time!
Thanks for reading!
Star Wars: Imperial Assault – A Single Player Review
Dr. Brian Fisk, PharmD, RPh
Star Wars: Imperial Assault is a board game for 1-5 players published by Fantasy Flight Games and originally released in 2014. Imperial Assault offers numerous play modes in the base game. Players are able to play head-to-head as Rebels against Imperials in a campaign mode, co-operatively against the AI in an app-assisted mode, or single player with the aid of a fan-made print and play expansion. A skirmish mode is also included that allows two players to pit their collections against each other in battles. Fantasy Flight Games has provided significant post-launch release content with the addition of numerous expansions, updates, and content updates.
The game is played on gird-based modular map tiles that are configured to specifications from the scenario book or from the skirmish map. Play takes place over a series of rounds where Rebel and Imperial players alternate turns until every character or character group have had a chance to activate. Once every character has activated, the round ends and a new round begins. Play continues until one side achieves the objective of the scenario.
Figure 1 - Start of a mission
Combat is resolved using custom dice – and these dice are used for everything from determining accuracy for ranged attacks, to the amount of damage your attack will do, to activation of special abilities.
This review is written from a single-player campaign game of Star Wars: Imperial Assault using the Tyrants of Lothal Mini-Campaign as well as the RedJak’s Automated Imperial Variant (RAIV) print-and-play expansion. Other components at the time of the review included the “large box” expansions Return to Hoth and Heart of the Empire, as well as the “small box” expansion Twin Shadows. The campaign was played over a series of game sessions. The reviewer controlled four rebel heroes, as well as following the instructions from the RAIV cards. The Tyrants of Lothal Mini-Campaign consisted of 4 story missions. The reviewer did not own the ally and villain packs necessary to expand the campaign to a total of 7 missions.
Figure 2 - The miniatures add a significant amount to the experience
The campaign played for this review concluded with a total rebel victory – each mission was successful for the rebels. The AI controlled Imperials did put up a fight – particularly in the first and last missions. The RAIV cards performed as expected – especially when used after learning the rules Legends of the Alliance application.
Imperial Assault is an amazing game straight out of the box. The “primary” method of play – the competitive mode where players control Imperial or Rebel characters - is fantastic. The Star Wars theme drips from the game and players are immersed in the fantasy of controlling Star Wars characters. The core campaigns feature branching storylines, thematic side missions, and the thrill of leveling up and unlocking new abilities as players progress through the campaign.
Figure 3 - RAIV Cards
The app-assisted campaigns, which were released after the original game was released, provided another layer of game to enjoy. Players still progress through a campaign, level up, and unlock additional abilities as the story continues, however the main difference is that app controls the Imperial characters and handles many of the bookkeeping aspects of the game. This app assistance leaves players free to enjoy the story and work together to defeat the Empire. The biggest problem with the app campaigns is simply that there aren’t enough of them – currently there are only 3 app campaigns. This lack of app content led this reviewer to seek alternative options to experience more Imperial Assault content.
Browsing the venerable BoardGameGeek website’s Imperial Assault page eventually led the reviewer to the discovery of a print-and-play variant called RedJak’s Automated Imperial (RAIV). RAIV combines the core experience of the game with elements of the app to enable solo play. Think of RAIV as a set of Automa cards to control the Imperial player – but with more. In addition to AI cards for Imperial units, RAIV also includes mission objective cards (one card specific for each campaign mission!) and round by round modifier cards. When combined with the base game campaign missions, RAIV enables players to get the full Imperial Assault experience as a solo player, or as cooperative players working against the AI.
And the full Imperial Assault experience is glorious. The branching missions with varied objectives, the tough choices when leveling up your characters, combined with the pure Star Wars theme make for a truly memorable experience.
Setting up the game and picking your Rebel operative is a great experience by itself. The core set includes a varied cast of characters, and that group of characters only gets more interesting as you add in the expansion content. For example – one of my favorite Rebel operatives is a powerful Wookie with a major destruction streak. His weapon creates rubble on the map, causing movement penalties to characters attempting to walk through it.
Each round of gameplay brings interesting decisions – do you go for the crate in the corner that might contain a healing item? Or do you charge in and hope for a big roll to take out a threatening Imperial Stormtrooper? Or do you ignore both and make a break for the mission objective? Each choice you make will have lasting consequences for the rest of the scenario.
Playing with the Automated Imperial variant definitely takes more effort than perhaps most players would care to expend on the game. The reviewer found that being familiar with how the app played was useful in learning how to run the Automa cards, as well as learning what priority Imperial units will place on accomplishing different tasks in the game. Playing as 4 unique Rebel operatives, controlling all the Imperial characters by following the AI cards, and tracking all the round effects creates a lot of bookkeeping. Bookkeeping that can and will detract from the experience of Imperial Assault. But is it worth it?
Figure 4 - A lot to keep track of!
Imperial Assault is fantastic. Imperial Assault using the app is beyond fantastic – until the content runs out. Imperial Assault using the RAIV is one step below fantastic. Still definitely excellent, but with some major caveats. This reviewer would recommend controlling only 2 rebel operatives when playing solo, as the sheer amount of bookkeeping will overwhelm even the most veteran gamers. Another potential drawback to RAIV is the amount of table space the game will take up - when playing I actually had to roll dice on top of other game components, which caused problems from time to time. Familiarity with the app will make learning to use RAIV significantly easier.
All those caveats aside though – if you want more content past what the app offers, and you struggle getting a consistent group together to play a core campaign, then a solo campaign utilizing the Automated Imperial Variant is the way to go. RAIV unlocks all the missions in the game and enables you to play them solo, or with friends against an AI controlled opponent. Just be ready to keep track of many different things as you go along.
This reviewer highly recommends Star Wars: Imperial Assault and recommends RAIV for experienced players looking for more ways to enjoy Imperial Assault.
In order to avoid taking away from @Marshwiggle92’s thread I have decided to create my own post for my Top 5 solo games. Without further preamble:
1. #Gloomhaven - This game is extraordinary. Sublime. So much content to see and experience. Every scenario is a tough, tense adventure that usually goes down to the last minute. I’ve only played 4 of 17 character classes but they’ve all been so interesting and unique. Every time I play I can’t wait to unlock something new or progress the storyline further.
2. #Star Wars Imperial Assault - Playing this game solo with the app is incredible. It really feels like you are in a Star Wars story. The theme pulls you in. The miniatures are great and add to the experience. The app does a fantastic job telling a story as you play through the various campaigns. Highly recommended.
3. #Paladins of the West Kingdom - Something totally different than what I’ve listed so far. But so much fun. The engine building, worker placement, and upgrading is so much fun. There are so many different strategies to try and all of them seem viable. The AI plays like you are competing against a real player. Crunchy, deep, and compelling. This is a good one.
4. #Scythe - another great game with a great AI system. The Automa cards are fantastic. It really nails the experience of playing against a real player. The expansion content takes this game to an entirely new level. You do need to learn the “language” of the AI but once you internalize the rules the game plays great.
5. #Everdell - from extremely humble beginnings you build your woodland village and by the end of the game you have an amazing engine that you didn’t think would be possible at the start of the game. This game gives you a fantastic sense of progression as each season shifts. The first time I played this game I didn’t think it would be possible to get anything done and the game seemed so short. But then I played the game. Your engine hits it’s stride and you start churning and wow. It’s so much fun trying to squeeze in every possible action you can. Great game.
Bonus! This is actually a Top 8!
6. #Star Wars: Outer Rim - this is another great, thematic Star Wars game. The AI in this one does a great job of making it feel like you are competing against another player. The different story beats and multiple paths to victory make this a great game.
7. #A Feast For Odin - mmm Vikings. So many options to explore. Tons of different paths to victory. The system of putting items in your longhouse is really quite challenging and fun. I really wish I had the expansion for this one.
8. #Spirit Island - I would have thought this one would be higher on my list. But here it is down at the bottom. Is it because I’m really bad at this game? Maybe. Is it because I really think it would shine with multiple people working together? Yes. This gets tons of love as one of the best solo games and I can see the potential but it just isn’t clicking with me the way I thought it would initially. I haven’t given up on this one yet but I’m surprised by how much I struggle to play this one.
[Star Wars: Outer Rim, Star Wars: Rebellion, Star Wars Imperial Assault]
[Viticulture: Essential Edition, Clans of Caledonia, Western Legends, Root, Star Wars Imperial Assault]
[Gloomhaven, Star Wars Imperial Assault]
[Star Wars Imperial Assault]
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