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Great Games In The Star Wars Universe

Star Wars Armada

Star Wars! Not just an epic story of good and evil but the opening of an enduring universe filled with complex characters, majestic space vessels and xenogenic species displayed across a galaxy-wide backdrop of strangely beautiful planets, asteroids and moons. For nearly half a century we have been drawn in to an evolving story that has encaptured millions around the world.

Who hasn’t wanted to play a role in that universe themselves? To pilot an X-Wing, thwart the Emperor, defeat the clones or (spoiler alert!) have a light sabre battle with your own father! Well with these Great Games you can. From mighty Armadas, through tactical TIE battles and planet side Legions. From single-person level adventure through to space wide strategic plotting it is all there so read on and….

May the Force be With You!

Star Wars ArmadaGeoff D

Armada is the cousin to the X-wing miniatures game. On a much larger scale you are no longer dogfighting but commanding an entire navy complete with capitol ships, frigates, and attack squadrons. It is also a slower game. Moves are planned in advance as you position orders that take several turns to come into play for the larger ships. Tiny fighters nip around and screen the larger vessels while bombers and heroes attack amid the heavy, ship to ship, armaments being fired. It is a game that requires patience and a head for gauging your opponents moves so that you can position yourself in the best location for a decent broadside. There is also a massive amount of customization as each ship can take a number of various upgrades from different commanders, first officers, offensive retrofits and more. These allow you to create several viable strategies and tailor your fleet to your preferred play style.

It is also joyous to see the huge ships of Star Wars make their way onto the tabletop. Star Destroyers feel huge and unwieldy with massive forward salvos making them deadly in their front arc. The rebels can take classic film ships such as the Corellion corvete and Home One. The latter being able to go toe to toe with the larger Imperial ships. You can also get the absolutely gigantic Super Star Destroyer that easily takes up the entire table (and most of your points allocation). The separatists and republic are also present although with a smaller range than the original two factions but each come with their own unique play styles.

Star Wars Armada is a fantastic game for someone who wants to experience the whole battlefield experience in space combat from individual squadron heroes up to the lumbering behemothic ships.

Star Wars X-WingPete Bartlam

Star Wars X-Wing, then, is for those who want to close in on the tactical dog-fighting level. Here you are flying individual fighters: X-Wings and TIEs, or many others, as they wheel and turn, trying to outmanoeuvre each other, to get their enemies in to the all-important front firing arc. Here moves are also plotted, using the individual manoeuvre dials, but only one turn at a time. All moves are plotted simultaneously and then revealed in Pilot Initiative order with the weaker Pilots having to go first. This is followed by the firing phase and now the stronger pilots go first potentially damaging, or even destroying, the lower skilled before they can retaliate.

Game turns are quick and the combat exciting. Each ship has its’ own characteristics and Pilots have their own abilities and Initiative level. Many modifiers can be applied from special features on the cards through to using the Force. There’s enough to think about, especially trying to calculate your manoeuvres, without making it over complicated.

The ships themselves are beautiful and, for once, come ready painted which means you can bring them to table straight away. Indeed in the excellent Star Wars: X-Wing – Second Edition Core Set you get everything you need to start: an X-Wing starfighter with various Pilots to fly it including Luke Skywalker, two Twin Ion Engine (TIE) fighters and all the rules, rulers, dice, cards and tokens you need to launch into space combat.

Of course, that is only the beginning of your Star Wars X-Wing universe. There are dozens of extra ships you can get, all finely crafted with their own unique abilities – who wouldn’t want their own Millenium Falcon? These can all be grouped in various factions and engage in your own campaigns or ones in the specially produced Scenario Packs.

Star Wars Legion Pete Bartlam

Star Wars Legion, next, takes you down to the planet surface, be it the icy wastes of Hoth or the Forest Moon of Endor, where your individual troops can slug it out, hand to hand or light sabre to light sabre. Yes, even the excellent Core Starter set gives you both Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader as Commanders to lead the forces of the Rebel Alliance against the Dark Side of the Empire. They can duel with their light sabres and use the Force whilst their troops fight on with more prosaic, but equally effective, Lasers, Flamethrowers, Blasters, Rotary cannon, Ion rifles, grenades and heavy weapons. There are both ground and repulsor vehicles, too, with the core set giving you 2 x 74-Z Speeder bikes and an AT-RT “Chicken Walker”.

All these can be extended, for whilst the core set has 33 miniatures plus 8 terrain barricades, Star Wars Legion, lives up to its’ name in that there is a galaxy of further Troops, Commanders, Vehicles and whole themed armies that can be added. When Star Wars legion first came out in 2018 it centred on events and characters from the early movies but subsequently it has released a further core set for the Clone wars era in 2019 and a starter set for Darth Maul’s Shadow Collective Mercenaries in 2022.

All the miniatures have to be assembled and some can be fiddly. The combat system, on the other hand, whilst innovative is straightforward and action packed with games lasting 6 rounds. Troopers and Vehicles are grouped into Units that are given orders by Commanders. Cards for each unit detail their weapon capabilities and there are additional Upgrade Cards and Command Cards that give special effects.

If you're looking for a very good and accessible ground-based, miniatures wargame, in the Star Wars World then Star Wars: Legion is what you want.

Star Wars: ShatterpointMatthew Morgan

Thanks to Atomic Mass Games and the release of Star Wars Shatterpoint this year, there’s a whole new way to recreate famous battles on ground level. As a fan of skirmish games, I was interested from the second this was announced and wasn’t disappointed when I got my hands on it.

Featuring a whole range of characters from the Clone Wars and classic films, Shatterpoint focuses on pitting smaller crews of miniatures against each other to claim objectives and gain the high ground to overpower your opponents.

My favourite part of this game by far is the simplicity, and it falls into the easy to learn and hard to master category of miniature games. Priority, damage and defense are randomly generated by cards or dice, which means strategic movement and positioning are more important than ever. Knowing when to push an objective or focus the enemy will reward you with valuable struggle points that you need to win the round, and in turn the game.

As charming as the whole game is, it’s also hard to look past the stunning scenery that’s included in the base game and separate box kits. Looking as if it was plucked straight out of the Jixuan Desert, the platforms and buildings pay homage to the scenery design and go to show how instantly recognisable the setting style of Star Wars is.

Thankfully, the release of Star Wars Shatterpoint is in full swing, and you can pick up your own copy of the starter set or small boxes right now. And if the first wave of miniatures and scenarios wasn’t enough for you, heaps of new Shatterpoint sets have just been announced by Atomic Mass Games, which means that this is only the beginning for the Shatterpoint range.

Star Wars Imperial AssaultGeoff D

Imperial Assault is a game that will be familiar from a certain angle. It was the spiritual successor to FFG’s Descent first edition with a Star Wars theme and a good deal of polish and refinement. You have the classic dungeon crawler setup with several players controlling various classes of heroes including Jedi, strategists, soldiers, and Wookie berserkers up against one player controlling the insidious imperial forces able to call upon varied troops from the humble storm troopers through to Darth Vader and the towering AT-ST.

As a dungeon crawler it is competitive for both sides as Dungeon Master and Players can upgrade between matches using various cards and equipment, usually through the course of a campaign. It also features a head-to-head mode where two players build forces then fight a skirmish over a preset map. This is an interesting addition and offers a very different game to play, to the point where it feels like you get two games in one. Three, if you want to count the app controller DM variant for complete cooperative play.

There is also a vast amount of extra content that can be added: individual unit packs, skirmish maps and big box expansions offering new playable characters, campaigns, and enemies. It is a very expandable game that can easily become the dominating force on games night as you play through the various missions. Most importantly though the core gameplay is solid and feels engaging for both rebel and imperial players which is often a rarity for a many vs one type game where one player feels more like a narrative element than an active player.

Finally, of note, are the centerpiece models. The core set comes with an AT-ST and it is a dominating figure that sells the game the second it hits the tabletop. But it is an ideal game for capturing the feel of a small rebel squadron sneaking in and taking down an Imperial stronghold.

Star Wars Rebellion Neil Parker

Why I like Star Wars Rebellion, what a great game!

I like conquest type games anyway and I like the theme of Star Wars. But with this gem you have a dudes on a map game, with excellent miniatures and asymmetrical gameplay which gives you an epic experience.

As the Empire, you have a big edge when it comes to system presence, you have better ships and more of them and the capacity to outbuild the Rebels, unless you’re doing something wrong. The Empire wants to find the Rebel base, and this is the issue for the Empire. It has the choice of spreading its fleet or concentrating in pockets. Either way, I have felt good playing the Empire, as I flex my military muscle and squeeze the Rebels, as I try to deduce where their base must be. Once I have an idea, I can move a fleet in and deploy some troops to try and seize possession of a system.

As the Rebels, I have certainly felt under the cosh with all the Imperial presence across the board, but a strength of the game is that the Rebels do have a realistic chance to win by completing their objectives. There is an element of luck in the game, but good strategic and tactical choices will usually make a difference.

I have won both as the Empire and as the Rebels and although the game, I think, is slightly in the Empire’s favour, the Rebels do have a chance and regardless of the Imperial might, the Rebels can force the Empire on the back foot and take some initiative.

As a result, this game is a great asymmetrical but balanced game, with great miniatures, a real Star Wars theme and flavour to gameplay and it’s a good challenge.

Star Wars Dark Side RisingDan Butterworth

If you are looking for a fun dice rolling Star Wars game then this may be the one for you. Beware though this is by no means an easy game!

In Dark Side Rising each player takes on the role as one of 4 iconic Star Wars heroes (Luke, Leia, Cassian Andor or Hera Syndulla) who each come with their own set of cool thematic dice. Each player starts off by rolling 4 dice each turn but this can increase during play.

On your turn you decide where you are going to place your team token, roll to see what Darth Vader is doing and then roll your own dice to either attempt to beat an Empire villain or to free another helper to join your team. The dice are rolled in a Yahtzee style; if you want to re-roll you must discard one of your dice and then roll the rest. Either you place your dice successfully or you fail and your turn passes to the next player.

Sounds easy, well it isn’t!! When Darth Vader moves on his turn wherever he lands he will damage the heroes there, as well as damaging all of your heroes if you chose his new location, and/or activate all of the villains on his side. He then adds cubes to the Death Star plan board which is off to one side and every time one section is complete (full of yellow cubes) there is a negative effect. Darth only moves between 3 zones so you will be hit quite a lot.

The game ends if 10 rebels die (including ones not in your teams), one players team is completely wiped out or if all sections of the Death Star are completed. The only way to win is defeat the set number of Imperials for your difficulty level; 7 for Easy or you can add in more up to 11 for an Expert challenge.

May the Force be with you for this one!!

Pandemic: Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Craig Smith

One of the most loved movie franchises and one of the most loved board game franchises should be a match made in Heaven, right?

As soon as its release was announced, I knew my partner would be keen to get a copy. Between us, we had five games which used the Pandemic gaming system and love each of them in their own way. However, as I’m someone who has never seen a Star Wars film, I think, he also knew, that convincing me we needed this version would be a hard sell.

There’s a lot of similarities between The Clone Wars and original Pandemic. The concepts of threat tracks and player powers remain, as well as the hand limit of seven cards. However, there are several differences too. Firstly, instead of trying to create cures, you’re attempting to complete missions on various planets across the board. Doing so leads to the ultimate face off against your chosen antagonist. Secondly event cards have been replaced by allies, and there’s a greater amount of variability. Not only in the number of events you play with, but also the villain you face.

The miniatures which come with the game are excellent. The villains, heroes, droids, and blockades all being at a very good quality for the price.

If you have a Star Wars fan in your life, then consider this game an absolute must buy. Credit is certainly due to Alexandar Ortloff, who has designed a game instantly recognisable as a “Star Wars Pandemic,” but different enough from versions we’ve seen before. There’s also a solo mode (my partner did try explaining why it wouldn’t be called the “Han Solo” mode, but honestly the joke was too funny for me to listen) for anyone who wanted to take on the adventure alone.

Star Wars Villainous: Power Of The Dark SideRachael Duchovny

A long time ago on a gaming table far, far away a game was laid out featuring 5 villainous fiends from the Dark Side. Their opposing heroes trying valiantly to use the force and thwart their ambitious plans of galactic domination. Star Wars Villainous takes on the mechanics of the popular Villainous series to pit familiar characters of Darth Vader, General Grievous, Asajj Ventress, Moff Gideon and Kylo Ren against each other. If you’ve played any of the ‘other’ Disney Villainous versions before and enjoyed them, then, “I suggest a new strategy” when taking on Star Wars characters.

This game is an absolute must have for any fan of the Star Wars franchise who wants a quicker, less rule heavy, gaming experience. There are some unique game elements to this version, such as having an area of deep space in your sector, where you add vehicles of the space faring variety, to provide an extra space to visit and gain actions from, as well as engaging hero vehicles which could help you win objectives.

However, if you’re familiar with other games within this range, unlike the Marvel versions, this one maintains individual fate decks during gameplay. There are 5 characters available, who each have their own unique sector board and unique playing piece. The playing pieces are quite cool, little, resin figures where flecks have been added to try and make them a little more stand outish. Kylo Ren, in particular, has quite a cool playing piece linked to his light saber that should excite any Star Wars fan.

Help me Ravensburger, you’re my only hope. Only hope in that you simply NEED to buy and play this game! Fan of Star Wars? This is the game you’re looking for.

This is the way!

Star Wars UnlockMatthew Morgan

With so many Star Wars miniature games appearing on this list, it’s time for me to focus on something entirely different For those who prefer role playing elements of tabletop games and like to get stuck into the story; Star Wars Unlock will be right up your street.

Consisting of a deck of 60 cards, and a mobile app, Unlock gets you stuck into the action as you make your way through three exciting adventures. Starting with a location card containing random numbers, players retrieve the numbered cards from the deck and turn them over to reveal items, mini games, and puzzles. All of which are enhanced by the app which provides a mesmerizing soundtrack, visual aids, clues and digital puzzles to solve.

But what adventures will you face? Well, Unlock Star Wars has three challenging adventures of varying difficulties for you to take on. The first is ‘An Unforeseen Delay’ which sees players taking on the roles of smugglers in the Outer Rim as they transport expensive cargo and avoid the clutches of an Imperial Star Destroyer.

For the second adventure, ‘Escape from Hoth’, players experience a routine patrol turned bad as atmospheric interference breaks contact from Echo Base. Only by exploring the frozen planet of Hoth will they be able to make it to safety; but will they make it in time?

In the final adventure ‘Secret mission on Jedha’, players take on the roles of Imperial Spies and infiltrate the holy city of Jedha to retrieve a valuable crate of kyber crystals. Unfortunately, the presence of local rebel scum and the imperial command means their mission won’t be an easy one.

Cloaked in Star Wars themed goodness, this is a must for anyone wanting to get stuck into the Star Wars universe.