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Star Wars Celebration

star wars (1)

With Star Wars Celebration in full swing (*vzhwing*), we thought we'd take a look at the gamut of the galaxy's greatest games with a rundown of all the Star Wars flavoured geekery we could get our hands on. The galaxy continues to spin onwards, and there's always something new to spend your credits on. We’ve tried to cover a full spread of types and complexities, so you should find something for every taste.

Card Games

Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game

We’re very fond of Deckbuilders in our house, be they competitive or co-op, standalone or integrated into a wider game – from as light as Transformers to as weighty as Lost Ruins of Arnak, there’s a rarely a week goes by that some sort of Deckbuilding game doesn’t hit the big table. So as colossal nerds (why deny it?) we were VERY excited for the new 2-player, fast-play Star Wars deckbuilder from FFG. This brand-new, fast playing card game uses familiar mechanics with a Star Wars twist: defend your bases from increasing threat from the evil empire or ruthless rebels with capital ships, hiring scum and villainy to limit your opponent's options, and tailor your deck to get the most efficient balance of resources, attack and - of course - the force.

Much like other deckbuilders, you start with a generic deck (troopers of your faction granting combat, transports of your faction granting resources, and a generic minor force user that acts like a wildcard) and try to improve your deck from the cards laid out in the middle of the table, whilst defending your base from attack. A really nice touch is the Balance of the Force tracker, and a number of cards depend on whether The Force is With you; when it’s fully at your end of the 3-step track, you also gain a bonus resource to spend each turn. A side note – I have been known to rant about FFG’s massive quantity of tokens, but here they’ve been replaced with handy generic cubes, which if nothing else saves on punching out time (though maybe raises some sustainability questions).

Fundamentally, in game you are aiming to destroy your opponent’s bases, of which they have 4. Bases can be defended with Capital Ships and (broadly speaking) get progressively harder to defeat as the game goes on. The Empire always goes first, which feels appropriate but does mean (rightly or wrongly) the Rebel player is always on the back foot. To compare with something as massive and heavy-weight as SW Rebellion might seem unreasonable, but in that the Rebel player always feels like a plucky underdog, with being asymmetrical not a disadvantage.

The game shares its DNA (or should that be midicholrians?) with other deckbuilders, and will feel familiar to fans of Cryptzoic’s DC Deckbuilding in particular: the Galaxy row is analagous to the line-up, the Outer Rim Pilots to Kicks, etc. However, this is in some ways the game’s main weakness: it’s both a little TOO familiar and yet not as well implemented in terms of the actual deckbuilding itself. Because you’re not really competing, mostly, for the same resources (outlaws notwithstanding) you’re always going after what’s available to your faction as a priority. Not only that, but as a result you’re not focused on deckbuilding a set archetype: for instance, it’s all very well, as an Empire player, to pull Admiral Veers and intend to go after Troopers and Vehicles, but you’re still going to go after the TIE fighters when they appear. That doesn’t mean you can’t pull off some good combos: the Falcon, when it turns up, pulls a Unique card of your choice out of your discard pile (which is very potent), but you’re almost never going to be able to set up Falcon + Han as the deck is both too dilute and you’re too focused on just grabbing what you can – especially Capital ships.

The game’s art and iconography will be familiar to anyone who’s played an FFG SW game: resources are the familiar crate symbol, and there’s a lot of art from IA in the mix, for example. As a result, the art is generally great if unsurprising, although it annoys me SLIGHTLY that the Luke art is RotJ Luke when mechanically he’s more ANH Luke. With most of the game drawing on the early part of the classic trilogy and Rogue One, you can see clearly where there will be room for further expansion (Palpatine frying Ewoks, for example), which may iron out some kinks. Don’t get me wrong: this is a really fun, fast, family-friendly game, so it does tick a lot of boxes. It’s not perhaps got quite the weight I was expecting, is all. Still, it’s already had a lot of table time in our house, and I’m sure there will be a whole lot more to come.

Dobble Star Wars Mandalorian

Dobble is one of those great games that draws in all ages and all levels of enthusiasm, crossing smoothly into the family fun, non-gamer space with ease. It's also surprisingly easy for non-SW fans to get into shouting "helmet", "frog", and even "MANDO", making it an enjoyably raucous time for all! Honestly, I am far too competitive to play it. Dobble has become ubiquitous, as much a part of the everyday family game landscape as Uno, Cluedo, or (shudder) Monopoly. But rather than the themed variants on the game feeling like saturation, they are genuinely refreshing: because you don’t immediately know what to look for, it levels the playing field. It’s most comparable to the Harry Potter version, where you still have to take a minute to figure out which bobble-headed wizard is which (witch), and as a result makes for hectic, noisy family fun. Another great addition for long journeys, whether in the car or on the Kessel run!

Star Wars Jabba's Palace: A Love Letter Game

Love Letter games are a game-night staple: portable, quick, and often a great warm-up to the main event. They also are great pub games being pocket-sized and minimal table space required. Jabba's Palace is my favourite iteration of the game, especially as a two-player (I like the Marvel version, but JP is smoother). It's a sure-fire winner and crosses all ages and levels of experience (and interest) I could, quite simply, write a love letter to this game. In this highly thematic reskin, the secret admirer becomes a hidden character (though R2 can peek at them); you simply draw a card each turn and essentially try to outthink your opponent based on what’s already been played. It’s very quick, retaining the charm of the original game's mix of luck and logic - but with 4 distinct game modes for victory, it’s never dull. Great component quality – chunky tokens, lush cardstock, lovely bag and compact rulebook – make it an absolute modern portable classic .


Pandemic: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

More than a simple reskin, the familiarity of the Pandemic engine feels fresh in this Clone Wars themed take on the classic game. With some interesting card/hand mechanics, and a heavy emphasis on co-op, can you defeat the Separatist hordes - or at least survive long enough not to meet your fate at Order 66?

First and foremost, it’s important to say that this manages to be both a satisfying game for Star Wars fans AND Pandemic fans. It’s pretty close to the World of Warcraft version, but playing as one of the Jedi, with droids spawning on planets, blockades to run and iconic villains from the show to take down, it feels like a very different beast.

Your missions are the key here: go to planets, clear out droids, but also complete a specific goal; these missions require to use Scout cards from your hand, which feels much like standard Pandemic EXCEPT your cards act as your Hit Points also, so there’s a balance to be struck which is really interesting.

The actions you can take each turn are very similar: Fly (move one system), Attack (roll a die – and you can be lent support from other players), Reinforce (draw a card), or Attempt Mission. Once you’ve dealt with all the missions, the Villain flips over and begins a Finale battle, which feels suitably epic and adds a real cinematic feel to the game. It should be mentioned that Villains all behave very differently, so each time you play the game it feels like a radically different experience – for example, Asajj’s impatience means she tends to come to you, making it relatively easy to tackle her – which helps capture the feel of playing “seasons” of the show.

After a Hero acts, the Villain reveals a card (each Villain has a different deck) and then droids invade worlds like spreading Contagion – although there’s no Outbreaks, Threat level increases quickly and as soon as it reaches the end of the track (advancing two spaces if ever a resource, such as droids, runs out), the players lose. It feels at once less hopeless than regular Pandemic can (my persistent problem with the classic) and more desperate – you’re less at the whim of a random outbreak, more racing against time as the threat track creeps up.

I will say that the villain decks are relatively small, so at higher player counts (4/5) you’re cycling through the decks very quickly, limiting the surprise factor. Playing against Grevious, one of the tougher villains, is genuinely nightmarish; sometimes, co-op games can feel a bit too easy to win, but this certainly not the case here: Order 66 was most definitely carried out, and the General got a new set of toys.

The physical product is really rather lovely. The board is good, heavy cardstock – maybe a wee bit generic when compared to the like of Rebellion or Outer Rim, but still fine – and the cards are of similarly good quality. Where it shines, though, are the miniatures. The face sculpts are fantastic, despite being 25mm, with the proportions spot on – definitely better than Imperial Assault (28mm) and at least as good quality as Legion (32mm). No bent lightsabers, dynamic sculpts, minimal flash – a really first-rate product. My only issue is that the droids (roger-roger) are closer to 18mm – it’s so you can have hordes of them in a space on the board, which is great, but it still feels a bit off to my eye. Even then, you do get a variety of poses, so it feels like a high-end product.

This is a great game that ticks so many boxes it’s remarkable. I can understand that some may still find it a bit too Pandemic-y, but it’s more than just a reskin: it’s a properly new game built on solid, pre-existing engine. An excellent product and a sure-fire hit, whether as a gift or for yourself.

Star Wars: Rebellion

The biggest, baddest game in the galaxy, Rebellion is a huge - and hugely satisfying - experience, fully immersing you in either the role of scheming, all-conquering Empire or desperate, scrappy Rebels, telling your own version of the classic saga. One of the very best games out there - of any variety, not just SW - although at the upper end of middle-weight, this is a tremendous game for the more experienced gamer or devoted SW fan.

There’s no denying that Rebellion is a big investment of a game, but there’s a reason: it’s a massive, expansive, asymmetric experience for 2-4 players that allows you to reenact the classic saga as an entirely new narrative, taking on the roles of a few plucky Rebels or a vast, implacable Imperial force. The Empire’s goal is to find the Rebels’ secret base, before the Rebels achieve their goal of bringing enough planets to their side.

Covering everything from skirmish to space battle to solo operatives, it manages to capture the scope and feel of the Star Wars Saga like no other game, with 32 planetary systems to explore across its two game boards (that’ll take over your dining table) and more than 150 miniatures – including, of course, a tiny death star or two to blow up planets that get in your way. The fighter models are roughly a quarter of the size of, say, X-WING pieces, but are definitely chunky and satisfying enough for board gaming. The combat system can seem a little random at times, though it allows for a few brave fighters to take on mighty capital ships.

Rebellion is a big time commitment: it’s at least half a day of dedicated play (our first play took 3.5 hours) but absolutely worth it. Although both space and ground battles happen (and matter), it’s more about trying to influence the loyalty of planetary systems (or, you know, crushing them), rallying to rebel cause or rooting out the scum, depending on your perspective. Fundamentally, it’s a remarkably straightforward worker placement game, with your leaders (iconic characters) giving you specific actions each turn, either moving fleets or performing an assigned action from a faction specific hand of options (4 that you have access to every turn, and 2 randomly drawn ones subsequently). So the Imperials will generally be sending out probe droids or building projects (Super Star Destroyer, anyone?)

Whilst you gain more leaders each turn, and so can do more, the galaxy gradually shrinks for the Rebel player, as each turn two probe droids scout out and eliminate base locations – in more mechanical terms, leading the game towards its end. So whilst having more time means more chance of the Rebels getting planets on side, the Imperial player is more likely to find them.

A criticism that could be leveled at the game is that it’s a political, scheming game at its heart – and is that truly the cinematic derring-do of the Classic Series? But with leaders doing key missions, like Han running to Kasshyk to help Chewie rally the Wookies or Boba Fett capturing Mon Mothma for Imperial Interrogation, it really does feel like you’re enacting your own, unique Star Wars Saga. Even at last gasp, down to your final few scrappy survivors, the Rebellion can win on a final desperate gamble – and if that’s not Star Wars, I don’t what is.

As if that’s not enough for you, Rebellion adds in a prequel element – or rather, a Rogue one (clever, eh?) where the burgeoning fires of the Alliance begin to come together before there’s any sign of new Hope (I’ll stop now, promise). It adds in elements from the Rebels TV series also, with some neat new objectives. The good and the ill of the expansion is it adds a layer of complexity to the combat system, which is perhaps one of the more frustrating elements of the base game (as mentioned, they can feel a little TOO random) but the self-same complexity adds more time to the gameplay of an already massive experience.

So if an afternoon of play isn’t enough, stick on the movies and work your way through an epic of your own making. It is without doubt THE ultimate game for the Star Wars fan, but this isn’t the only reason it’s won multiple awards and consistently sits in the top ten games on BoardGameGeek: it’s a rich, complex yet accessible experience for all.

Star Wars: Outer Rim

What might just feel like a simple pick-up and delivery game is given a very Star Wars feel as you navigate a path between the Hutts, the Pykes, Empire and Rebels, hunting down targets, upgrading your ship and even selling out your crew for the right bounty! Whilst it has echoes of GF9's Firefly, this is an altogether slicker, smoother package and a game - possibly even THE game - we come back to time and again. The first player to reach 10 Fame, either through Cargo Runs or collecting Bounties (or, most probably, a combination thereof) wins!

This is a much speedier play than Rebellion, coming in at a couple of hours (well, smugglers have to work fast), so it’s a more contained experience, though no less satisfying. Crucially, unlike Firefly (which I love) it is less dependent on resource combos and, whilst you are not directly in opposition to other players, still feels more interactive – although it can be played Solo (Koona t’chuta?) if you wish, which is another big bonus to it. Also, it requires less familiarity with the source material (or only a passing familiarity, at least) to be really enjoyable. It’s worth mentioning also that game board is quite linear, around the “edge” of the Rim rather than “through” space, so it’s less about working through a network and more tracing a path – although the Unfinished Business expansion, allows you to short-cut through the core worlds (though at greater risk of encountering Imperial interference).

Now although, yes, there are card decks and tokens, there’s not GIANT piles and piles of cardstock (a common complaint with Firefly, or Unfathomable/Galactica, from the same design team – or of course, Rebellion): it feels tight and self-contained, about playing to your Smuggler’s strengths, building (and occasionally selling out) your crew, and slowly working through little jobs and busy work (you can, in fact, herd nerfs) until you can go for the big scores in the second half of the game.

There’s a lot of lovely physicality to this game. The dashboard with your character is logical, as you slot in jobs, gear, your ship, its upgrades and so on – I particularly love the sliders for tracking your status with the different factions. It’s a fun, sneaky, nasty little game. You go down to planets, hire contacts, shoot at your opponent (or set the Hutts on them), do jobs and raise funds – will you rescue those poor rebels, or sell them out to the Imperials (or even jettison them into space?) You can be as devious as you like, with fan-favourite characters from Lando (woo!) to Dr Aphra all grubbing around the universe in search of the next score (and a sweet, sweet space cape). A highlight for me was taking out a Rebel Patrol ship, only to send out a distress beacon and have the lovely, trusting Rebels “save me” and repair all the damage for free. Overall, Outer Rim is a very satisfying way to spend a couple of hours and highly recommended; in the end I even prefer it to Firefly, if truth be told, as it’s so much smoother. It’s a very different game to Rebellion, it’s not as heavy – even in our first game, we didn’t even need to look at the main rulebook once – but no less enjoyable, or thematic, an experience.

Star Wars: Imperial Assault

A Star Wars dungeon crawl that can be played versus or co-op through an app? Heck yeah. IA is a tremendous, accessible, Descent-adjacent game of telling your own stories through the classic SW era (with a dash of Rebels for good measure), with a clever branching narrative and many, many expansions covering everything from the streets of Coruscant to the inside of a Star Destroyer.

Unlock! Star Wars Escape Game

Who doesn't love an escape room? Well, me, actually. Or at least, generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of the whole "Escape Room in a box" - however, Unlock! is an exception, and especially their Star Wars version, which integrates the app meaningfully whilst providing an entertaining set of puzzles whether you're Rebel, Scum (Mouldy Crow!) or Empire.

You get 3 escape room adventures in the box – one each thematically for Rebels, Smugglers and Imperials – which is fair for the price when you consider standalone, single-use Escape Room games such as EXIT tend to come in at around £15. In fact, with the game’s tutorial mode you’re effectively getting 4 Escape Rooms (granted, the first one is quick, but still, it’s great fun).

You have a notional hour to complete each adventure, with mistakes earning you time penalties (affecting your final score). This adds real tension and excitement to the experience, which is very satisfying. Beware that the final adventure has a marked jump in difficulty, though your skill cards that you gain at the start of the mission can give you extra help along the way – as well as really helping you feel like you’re a character in the story.

With the app running the game – which I often find intrusive in boardgames – it reduces the clutter and really adds to the whole experience. The use of Holst’s planets as background music works really well, with the addition of key sound effects from the Saga when they fit. The puzzles that are app driven make sense – there’s even a VERY clever nod to the original Professor Leyton on DS – and the hints are pitched just right.

We did have an issue with one of puzzles that was a phone screen size problem but we just sucked it up as a hint. Equally, there was at least one puzzle that we were just being completely dense about and the reveal was a glorious OF COURSE! Yes, the replay factor is obviously non-existent but at least you can pass it on once done – and you get a decent amount of playtime for your money.

What it comes down to is that even with minor niggles, we immediately felt we would buy non-Star Wars versions of this – and will absolutely be looking out for more IP tie-ups from them.



It's a great time to be revisiting one of the stone-cold classics of modern miniature gaming: X-Wing, home of a thousand memes. Now it can always be a bit intimidating to try to get into a game that's been around for a while, but luckily there's two new entry-level Starter Squadrons for the game coming which give you absolutely everything you need at a bargain price!

Time to start shooting down some rebel scum. I suspect that mistakes will be made once again...

Star Wars: Shatterpoint Core Set 

Well, now, I couldn't talk Star Wars without mentioning the game that's setting the Galaxy aflame: Shatterpoint. What do we know so far about Shatterpoint? Well, it’s a skirmish game set in the Clone Wars era. We’re looking at a fairly large physical scale for the models: around 42mm, hard plastic. Now Atomic Mass kits have gone from strength to strength recently, particularly in the most recent Hydra and Shield waves, with the gapping that plagued some earlier releases far less of an issue. This will make it far easier to justify the cost – let’s face it, going by MCP prices, it’s not going to be cheap, but you’re going to be getting your money’s worth I reckon. Also, I want those new bases for a bit of a MCP variety…

Obviously, we can expect dynamic poses and expressive, evocative face sculpts, but it’s interesting to see them really lean into the animated aesthetic of Clone Wars – I, for one, am a real fan of this. I also like that it’s not simply an up-scaling of Legion (their Star Wars 32mm mass-battle game) but rather a whole different beast.

Also, the very fact that SWS is a true skirmish game means it’s doing something we’ve not really seen before in a Star Wars game – yes, Imperial Assault is a narrative campaign with skirmish elements, but it’s far more a Rebellion-era board game than true tabletop gaming experience. Whilst they’ve said it is a very different game to MCP, battles are still going to be objective-driven, although it’s not yet clear if that will be traditional TT objectives or thematic, like MCP – but I suspect a mix of the two.

Let’s take a look at the starter set contents: 16 models, two sides each with two sub-factions. You’re getting an interesting mix with the focus being on Mandalorians – clearly channeling the Disney+ crowd, but that’s no bad thing, and the jetpacks are particularly lovely (though I don’t relish painting Bo-Katan’s helmet details!) The Ahsoka is great, classic pose albeit nothing new (it’s practically identical to the one we see in both Imperial Assault and Z-Man’s (excellent) Pandemic Star Wars), but having it at that scale will be a treat. The Anakin pose, with the hand thrust out using the Force almost carelessly is wonderful, and the clone troopers are suitably… similar 😀

In the villain half, the Gar Saxon is a real stand-out for me, though the Maul pose is great too. Asajj Ventress is a lovely sculpt but I’m not totally sold on the pose – blocking doesn’t scream impatient rage to me. I really, really like the droids being several to a base (roger-roger-roger) – but then I’m a big fan of grunts and the like in MCP. I’m a wee bit disappointed that it’s General Kalani not Grevious in the starter, but I suppose you have to save some big-ticket items for later, or at least separate release.

We’ve also had some amazing terrain previewed at launch: you can finally have the High Ground! Plus, straight out of Adepticon we have the news that we’re getting everything from Republic Era Rebels (Jabba’s Palace infiltrators), Vader (plus the 501st), the Crew of the Ghost (Rebel scum) and even EWOKS (Yubnub!) – oh, and of course, a certain ubiquitous space dad. This is the way.

PHEW! That’s a lot of content. But then, it’s a big Galaxy. Don’t blame me, I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe…