Star Wars: Rebellion
|Star Wars: Rebellion|
|Wargame published by
Fantasy Flight Games
|No. of Players||2 (With options to play in teams of 2)|
|Session Time||2-3.5 Hours.|
As Fantasy Flight Games continue their ongoing crusade against the existence of trees and oil, the company turned to our favourite Space Opera Star Wars, and the result is pretty fucking good. Star Wars Rebellion is one of the rare two-player games, pitting players against each others as the Rebellion or the Empire. The game is pretty much just all the coolest things about the original Star Wars trilogy. Luke can seek out Yoda on Dagobah, while Grand Moff Tarkin blows up planets for fun and Vader tortures Lando for information on the Rebel Base.
The game takes place on a fuckhueg galaxy map of 38 planets and players move fleets of star ships, ground forces and of course the great Death Star(s) around the map (And no, that's not a typo; you really can build two Death Stars). That's not the main core game-play though; both players alternate activating Leaders, many who are placed on Missions. Now, Missions can be anything from gaining loyalty in systems (which lets them build units for you), capturing Rebel Leaders to interrogate and/or freeze down, make stealthy attack runs on Imperial patrols to converting a Leader with promises of the Dark Side and blowing up entire planets. The thematically of the Missions makes them feel Star Wars, and the specific actions you take make it feel less like a war game.
How to Play
Each player start the game with four Leaders, who act as "Action Tokens". In the Assignment Phase, both players either assign one or two Leaders to Missions from their hand, placing the Mission card facedown with the Leader(s) on top of it. Any Leader not assigned stays in the Leader Pool and can be used to oppose enemy Missions or move units on the board. The Rebel player places Missions first.
In the Activation Phase, each player alternates choosing a Leader to active. If you activate a Leader on a Mission you flip it over, place the Leader where the Mission assigns it. If the Mission does not automatically "Resolve", the opposing player can choose a non-assigned Leader in their Leader Pool to oppose that Leader. If so, you roll dice against each other (with opposing Leaders winning ties). If successful, the Mission does not happen and both Leaders are stuck on the planet.
The player can also place a Leader on a planet on the board, which allows you to move units to that system from adjacent systems. In either case, you can never place a Leader somewhere where there's already one of your Leaders, regardless of how it got there. Units in a system cannot be moved if another of your Leaders are in that system. This is a system close to FFG's own Twilight Imperium, which uses Command Tokens in the same manner.
After both players pass, you go into the Refresh Phase where all sorts of shit happen: Leaders are retrieved, the Rebel player draws an Objective, the Empire player draws Probe cards (revealing two systems where the Rebel Base isn't at) and both draw two Missions. You also retrieved any Starter Missions (of which both players have four). The first four turns, each player gains a new Leader (and a corresponding Action card if you play with those) and every even-numbered turn, your planets produce units, which are placed in the building queue. Then, all units are moved one space down the queue, and any that leaves the queue is placed on the map.
It's then time to start the next Assignment Phase.
Leaders have two important values: Skills and Tactic Values. Tactic Values are numbers in the bottom, which is how many Space and Ground Tactic Cards you draw when you assign that Leader to a combat. A Leader also has to have Tactic Values to be able to move units on the board. Skills are used for Missions and come in four colors:
- Spec Ops: Red; How badass the Leader is in a tussle. Rebels use it to destroy Imperial units, sabotage systems and mess with their building queue. Imperials use it to capture Rebel Leaders and gain information from them, and occasionally to move units around. Examples: Darth Vader (Three Spec Ops, two Diplomacy) and Chewbacca (Three Spec Ops).
- Diplomacy: Yellow; the character's political and diplomatic might. Both Rebels and Empire use it to gain Loyalty in systems. Examples: Emperor Palpatine (Three Diplomacy, two Intel) and Mon Mothma (Three Diplomacy, one Logistics).
- Intel: Blue; how sneaky the Leader is. Rebels use it to gain Objectives and choose what Objectives you'll get over time. Imperials use it to gain more Probe cards and occasionally to interrogate Captured Leaders. Examples: Admiral Pett (Two Intel, one Logistics) and Obi-wan Kenobi (Three Intel, one Diplomacy).
- Logistics: Grey; how good at planning and overseeing the Leader is. Uniquely among Skills, Leaders never have more than one in Logistics and no Missions require more than one. Many of them are also Resolve Missions, meaning they can't be countered. Rebels use it to augment their Rebel Base, move fleets to and from the Base and, if needed, place a new Base somewhere. Imperials use it to draw Project cards and remove Sabotage. Many of their Project Missions are often Logistics Missions as well. Examples: Grand Moff Tarkin (One Diplomacy, Intel and Logistics) and Admiral Ackbar (Two Diplomacy, one Intel).
To assign a Leader to a Mission, the Leader has to have as much, or more points in the Skill the Mission requires (so a Mission that require two Diplomacy requires the Leader to have two or three Diplomacy). You can also add an additional Leader to the Mission, but that's generally not a good idea and slows you down. After you place the Leader, the other player may oppose it by placing a Leader of their own on the same system as your Leader (alternatively the Leader is opposed if there was already an enemy Leader in the system when you placed it). Both players then roll dice equal to the amount of Skill points their Leader(s) in the system has in the same color of the Mission. The opposing player wins ties. If the opposing player wins, the Mission does not happen; otherwise the player performs the rest of the Mission.
The identity of the Leader is important as well. Some Missions gives you two automatic "hits" when you activate it with the Leader featured in the top-left corner. In addition, some Mission just gives you a straight bonus if the right Leader performs it. If you play with Action cards, you draw two Action cards in the beginning of the game that can be used by some of your Starter Leaders, and every turn for the first four turns you draw an Action card and gain a Leader featured on it. Action cards can do a bunch of different things but almost always require a specific Leader to perform it.
The basic mechanics of the game are the same for both the Empire and the Rebellion. You use Leaders the same; you either move units on the map, attempt Missions or counter enemy Mission. Ships and Ground Forces fight the same (though the factions do get slightly different units, but more on that). Units are produced the same as well... And that's where the similarities end.
The Rebellion's main goal is to gain Reputation, which reduces the End Game counter. When the Turn Counter meets the End Game counter (which start at 1 and 14, respectively), the Rebellion Player wins as the galaxy is engulfed in total, open rebellion. Getting there is slightly more difficult, however...
The Rebellion are constantly the underdog, as they should be. You will have fewer ships, weaker ships and little coverage over the map. However, you also have the advantage of movement and knowledge. Your Rebel Base is somewhere on the map, hidden from the Empire Player and it is paramount that you keep it from being discovered from them! Your Missions allow you move units to and from the hidden Rebel Base to make raids on the Empire, discover Objectives, Sabotage the Empire's production base and stuff like this.
The Rebellion gains their Reputation from performing Objectives. Objectives are often risky, all-or-nothing moves that require you to destroy enemy units or gain Loyalty across the galaxy.
Unique to the Rebellion are Structures (Shield Generators that gives a Tactic card every combat turn and Ion Cannons that reduce the power of enemy ships) and the fact that their X-Wings and B-Wings don't require transports to move. This means that the Rebellion are great at defending themselves on the ground and better at making smaller, cheap fleets of fighters.
Tips and Tricks
- How to Mon Mothma: Of your four starting Leaders, Mon Mothma is the one the Empire Player will hate the most. With three Diplomacy and one Logistic Skill but no tactic values (which is what a Leader needs to be able to move units or do battle), she is a predictable diplomatic monster that will reliably give you Loyalty in Systems far from the Empire every turn or counter the Empire's two-three Diplomatic Leaders. The Empire Player knows exactly what Mothma will do every time you place her on a Mission and will hate you for it, since their only Leader that can reliably oppose her is Granddaddy Palps himself, and he's better used elsewhere. Use her ruthlessly, constantly and efficiently and she'll give you a fleet in no time.
- Don't play a wargame: Yes, you have fleets of star-fighters and ships but you are 1) hilariously outmatched in size and 2) you gain nothing from moving fleets. Your fleets are a bit like a Damocles' Sword; always dangling close to the Empire and threatening to attack them, but if need be you can retreat them into your Base to attack somewhere else later. Your fleet can sometimes give you the option to attack smaller Empire fleets and get an Objective point or two, which is totally viable, even if you lose a Cruiser doing it.
- Fighters and You: Your X-Wings and B-Wings are fantastic, and here's why: They don't require transport, and you get them as cheaply as the Empire gets TIEs, who function like X-Wings that has to have a carrier to move it. This means that you should get as many Fighter-producing planets as possible, since they can go anywhere and attack anything (B-Wings giving the crucial Red Die that can damage larger Ships). Your capital ships are fine but you have less than the Empire, so get them if you can but accept it if you don't.
- Place the Rebel Base away from the Death Star: The Rebel Base gets extremely difficult to crack really fast, even for the Empire's AT-AT's. You know what cracks defenses real fast though? That's right, green planet-destroying death-beams. So even if it's predictable, don't place your Base close to the Death Star. No need to make the inevitable invasion easy on the fascists!
- Don't Lose Hope!: You'll lose a lot of engagements. Missions you thought were in the bag will be countered, Leaders will be captured and tortured and your hard-earned fleets will be overwhelmed and destroyed. It will seem like the cards were stacked against you from the very beginning, and in many ways they were... But that's the nature of being insurrectionists trying to fight a ruthless militarist empire. You win with time; you just need to live that long. This is also why Objectives are so important since they reduce the time you have to survive. Even if you know you'll be dead in a turn or two, keep going and make the Empire pay for every step they take.
The Empire's goal sounds simple. Crush the Rebellion by destroying their Base!... And just like with the Rebellion, it really isn't that simple at all. There are 38 planets on the map and 6 of these are currently controlled by you, so 32 Planets may hold the Rebel Base; and once you get there, you need to have a force that can actually beat the Rebel Base, which is likely as fortified and closed-up as your closet.
To your advantage, you start out strong and only gets bigger and meaner after the fact. You can produce on planets if you have any Ground Troops on them (you can't make an omelet without breaking a few civilian skulls after all), your units are statistically better and you really don't have to take risks. Compared to the scrappy Rebellion, the Empire is a slow, pondering machine that requires a weird combination of finesse and planning to get to sing. Your Missions let you get Project Missions to build super-weapons, capture and torture Rebel Leaders and gain information to look for the Rebel Base.
The Empire's unique faction features are efficient units like AT-ATs, which the best Ground Force in the game and all ships have more transport capacity and you get super-weapon like Super Star Destroyers and the Death Star. You get Project Missions that increase production and let you build Death Stars, fire the Death Star beam and make Super Star Destroyers. You also draw Probe cards from a deck of all the planets that don't have the Rebel Base on it. Your Ground Forces Subjugate planets, letting you use a lesser amount of their production capacity without gaining Loyalty there first.
Tips and Tricks
- Learn the strengths of your Leaders: Compared to the Rebellion, Empire Leaders tend to be either high-skill powerhouses like Vader (Two Diplomacy, three Spec Ops) or Palpatine (Three Diplomacy, two Intel) or Moffs with only a few skills each like Grand Moff Tarkin (One Intel, Diplomacy and Logistics). This is at once a problem and a boon, but it requires that you know what you're doing. You mostly need to assess whether or not you can afford using your heavy hitters for simple things like moving fleets or one-Skill Missions that some poor shmuck could do instead. If you play with Action cards, keep in mind that your Moff Leaders can be pretty dang powerful as long as you know when and how to use those cards.
- Always have a Plan B: The Rebellion is gonna mess with your everything, that's just how it is. You deal with that by making sure that it doesn't matter even if they're successful. Sabotage on your Star Destroyer-creating planet? Whatever, you have another one rearing to go. Discovered that the Rebel Base isn't in the Region you thought it'd be? Well you are assembling a fleet somewhere else either way, so who cares. The Rebel scum took over a planet with a rebellion? Who cares, that won't save their Base from being Death Star-ed. Never, ever make a game plan that can actually be halted entirely by the Rebellion.
- Quantity is a quality all of its own: Your fleets and Ground Forces are area denial more than anything. As you expand and take more planets you gain more production, but crucially you make the Rebellion's life tougher. You box them in, deny them possible sources of production and make it more dangerous to move fleets around. Yes, your Star Destroyers fuck shit up and they can bring all the TIEs on the way to the keg party, but their main strength is that the Rebellion has to use way more planning and resources to do anything about it. Even just leaving two Stormtroopers on every Subjugated planet is enough to deter most attacks, and if the scum come knocking anyway? Who gives a Gundark's ass! Everything that is happening is transpiring according to your design!
- "Win-More" actually makes you win more: A "win-more" move is gamer-slang for any move that doesn't win the game for you, but just makes your win more likely. It's generally a bad thing in most games (it's better to make moves that help you win when you're behind rather than overdo you own win), but surprisingly, it's one of your strongest tactics in this game. "Win-more" moves as the Empire is many of the Projects (like the Super Star Destroyer) and capturing Rebel Leaders. You don't really need to do any of these, and if you do manage to get them it just means you're winning already. It works because the Rebel Player is so starved for options that if you manage to take a Leader from him or build an unassailable superweapon, it changes their position from "Cornered but not out" to "Why did I even wake up today".
- Don't do a Hitler: ... That said, don't keep overdoing Projects and Capturing Leaders. It's great and feels awesome when you finally do it, but they rarely actually help you finding the Rebel Base. You'll be halfway through the game and suddenly the Rebellion is three turns from winning and you have ten Probe cards. There's a reason the Research Division of Nazi Germany gave Hitler the finger when he wanted to make the Ratte tank; one big thing doesn't win a war.