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Dark Side Rising Star Wars Review

star wars dark side rising

Those familiar with the OP Games may have come across their Rising series which includes games such as Thanos Rising and The Batman Who Laughs Rising. Star Wars Dark Side Rising is a popular Star Wars edition of the game where 2-4 players work together to build up their team with Rebel heroes to defeat the Empire and hinder the construction of the Death Star. The game is set before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and features characters from the era seen across the movies and animated TV shows.


As a simplified overview of the gameplay, players must roll dice which match with the required symbols shown on the hero and villain asset cards. In this game, there is one way to win. You must defeat at least seven villains as a team (this number increases with difficulty). However, the villains can also win by one of three ways: power up the Death Star until it is operational, defeat a total of 10 heroes or defeat all heroes on any one player’s team.

The game is set up with the figure of Darth Vader placed in the centre of the board that has the three sectors (Scariff, Eadu and Jedha). Next to this, the board of the Death Star and the individual components used to power it up are placed. Players then choose one of four planets to play as with their associated leader: Tatooine with Luke Skywalker, Alderaan with Leia Organa, Yavin 4 with Cassian Andor and Lothal with Hera Syndulla. The four planet cards show the base dice in which the associated player can roll. Shuffle the asset deck and place it to the side along with the dice, counters and Alliance tokens. Then, place the top nine cards in the Asset deck around Darth Vader with three heroes or villains in each sector. The game is now ready to begin!

The first player starts by placing their deployment token in a sector of their choice. This means that the player can only interact with the cards within this sector unless stated otherwise. Yet, before any recruitment is made, it is the Empire Strikes First rather than the Empire Strikes Back. The player has to roll the Death Star die. This die corresponds to the various components of the Death Star which will power up throughout the game. Place a yellow counter on the first spot of the rolled colour. Then, roll the Darth Vader die. This determines which sector Darth Vader will attack in and which villains are activated. Darth Vader will either rotate left, right or stay where he is. If he stays where he is, he will either activate all villains present in all sectors or make you roll the Death Star die again. Whichever location Darth Vader is in, all heroes in the sector take a damage which is done by placing a red counter on their health. If the active player is in this location, all heroes in their team also take a damage. Then, any villains in this sector activate and the effect shown on their card occurs.

That’s the scary part done. Now time for the hard part. The player then rolls their starting coloured dice shown on their planet card in an attempt to either recruit a rebel or attack a villain. There are four colours of die with a range of symbols on. Once rolled, the player MUST assign at least one of the dice to one of the Asset cards in the sector. (Tip – keep a mental note of the text at the bottom of your planet card. This can give you a benefit if you roll the criteria stated first time). If a die cannot be assigned, then the player must forfeit one. Then, they may roll the remaining dice again and must assign at least one other die to the same or another card in the sector.

Then, they roll one final time and finish assigning them. If, at any point during the rolls, the dice match all the symbols shown on a card then the player can damage or recruit. Remove all damage from recruited heroes. There is no limited on how many cards can be recruited or attacked on a turn but each villain can only be damaged once. When damaging a villain, the player can collect an Alliance token for each damage dealt. This will help the player later on in many ways such as adding a one-off extra die to their hand or a freebee symbol to be used alongside later dice rolls. Replace any recruited or defeated characters with the next card on top of the Asset deck. This concludes their turn and play continues to the next person.

As the game progresses, adding more heroes to your team will make you stronger and help you to damage more villains. Some heroes require a certain symbol for their benefit to activate which can be assigned when the coloured dice are rolled. However, it is important to keep an eye on their health as only 10 heroes need to be defeated to lose the game. It is also important to keep an eye on the Death Star components as, once one is fully charged, a negative effect will apply as soon as that colour is rolled.

Overall Thoughts

This board game quickly became one of my favourites of all time. One of the many strengths of this game is that at no point do you ever feel so far ahead nor does winning ever feel so far out of reach. One bad roll on the Darth Vader or Death Star dice or a perfect roll with the symbol dice can change everything. When activating a villain, they will be damaging one way or another and this ranges from manageable to catastrophic. It has happened where I have had six heroes killed in one go and the game instantly switched from promising to over in one dice roll. There are opportunities to protect your team with Alliance tokens or hero abilities but these must be used wisely. One character, Chopper, has the ability to heal a character once per turn but only has three health. He is an important character if you want to keep other heroes in the game so I would recommend protecting him.

One thing Dark Side rising excels at compared to any other board game I have played is maintaining suspense from start to finish. Once your turn is over, other players’ rolls may very much impact you and the suspense of watching your teammates attempt to roll successfully is thrilling. You are not left sitting board until your turn comes back around. If you prefer games that are a bit calmer then I certainly do not recommend it. This game is also heavily luck based and if you prefer a bit more strategy then this may not be the one for you. There is an element of strategy, such as placing yourself in the sector where you may have a better chance at succeeding, but this is still very much dependent on the outcome of the roll.

However, the rules are very simple to learn and it is extremely fun for all ages. Trust me when I say that. My Dad in his 50s and teenage sister have never been interested in board games but always ask to play it. If they like a game then it must be a good one! Even if Star Wars is not for you, there are plenty of variations covering a range of franchises that may suit your interests.

That concludes our thoughts on Star Wars Dark Side Rising. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames. To buy Star Wars Dark Side Rising today click here!