There are a plethora of exciting and innovative Star Wars games on the market at the moment, most notably the five below. Unsurprisingly, all the five titles I’ve picked, belong to Fantasy Flight Game’s (FFG) range of Star Wars titles, understandable as they currently own the rights to produce Star Wars themed games.
5. Star Wars: Destiny
Star Wars: Destiny comes in at number five. Destiny is a fast paced, easy to learn, and low complexity card game, which incorporates an unusual feature, the game includes dice, which are used alongside your deck. Destiny departs from FFG’s normal model that the majority of their card game titles adhere to, i.e. the LCG format. Destiny is a CCG, so each booster pack you purchase has a random selection of cards (and one die) of varying rarities.
Destiny incorporates all of the Star Wars films to date, including the prequels and newer films, so you may well see General Grievous or Count Dooku up against K-2SO or Jyn Erso from Rogue One. Each deck is small and precise – you can include two copies of any named card, and the deck size of a complete and legal set is thirty cards. Cards come in a number of colours and affiliations. There are currently three affiliations in the game, Hero, Villain & Neutral. Hero cards cannot be used in a Villain deck, and vice versa. The three main colours represent respectively, the ‘Force Users’ (Blue), ‘Rogues & Scum & Villainy (Yellow), and the ‘Soldiers of the Empire or Rebellion’ (Red).
Destiny’s strength comes in its customisation. There is a huge variety of hero and villain characters to pick from, and as long as you obey the points restriction, you can mix and match to create the ideal team of your choice. Dice feature on a large number of the cards (characters, upgrades & supports), so when you activate the corresponding card, you roll their dice into a ‘pool’ from which you can activate the dice to deal damage, discard cards, gain resources or do a number of key things. Destiny is fast, furious, and a game can be completed in 20 to 30 minutes. It is an ideal game choice for tournaments, where each player can bring their own custom built deck to the table.
The game is also all about speed and economy – you want your deck to be doing the maximum amount of damage possible in the minimum amount of time – although there are alternative ‘mill’ decks which aim to slow the game down, depriving opponents of cards, dice and resources, shutting them down completely.
Destiny is accessible, fast and fun. One of the great aspects of Destiny is how the cards and dice interact with each other. Cards can be used to re-roll or manipulate the dice – and whilst there is a lot of randomness, this can be mitigated. On the negative side, there is the fact that it is collectable, so finding or purchasing those elusive legendary cards to perfect your deck, can be difficult.
4. Star Wars Legion
Legion, coming in at number four, is the latest entry in FFG’s Star Wars range to be released. Legion is an exciting, dynamic, miniatures game, featuring the ground based combat of the Star Wars universe, between the Empire and the Rebellion. The game is similar in format and style to Games Workshop’s 40K. Imperial disciplined Stormtroopers, and their imposing AT-ST’s come up against the Rebellion and their wily guerrilla troopers, and smaller, walker, AT-RT’s.
The game, like Destiny, is highly customisable. Picking a standard sized force of 800 points, you can mix and match different troop choices and leaders. At the moment there are only a few troop choices available for each faction to pick from, and only two leaders (Luke & Vader) – but a multitude of new units and leaders will be released soon – I believe as I speak the Veers Imperial leader, and Snowtroopers are becoming available.
Legion blends and balances the fog of war aspect, with direct troop selection, through the use of command cards during the game. They enable you to single out specific units which take priority on the battlefield. Each faction’s leader feels unique and atmospheric – Vader in particular can feel a dangerous threat on the battlefield, fully kitted out with his Force Powers.
Legion’s strength lies in taking the most cinematic and memorable moments from the Star Wars Saga, (such as the Battle For Hoth) and bringing it direct to your gaming table.
3. Star Wars Armada
Whilst Legion brings the ground combat of the Star Wars Saga to life, Armada does so for the epic space battles of the same universe. Having now been out for some time, Armada already features a plethora of ship types and fighter types for gamers to pick from. The game is unique in that it features fighters and capital ships. Capital ships can feel ponderous and slow – they are moved using a movement tool which restricts the angle at which the capital ships can manoeuvre, and fighters nimbly dart in and out, either protecting the larger ships, or launching bombing raids against their adversaries.
Armada is all about timing – timing when and where to use each ship, and which command order to pick from. It is a game about positioning and manoeuvring. There are a number of different operations that the larger ships can carry out, including Engineering (to repair and protect the ship) and Squadron (activating and using fighters in range, and out of the normal sequence).
The two sides are naturally asymmetric. The Empire has larger, heavier Star Destroyers to rely upon, which bring to bear heavier armaments at the cost of manoeuvrability. The Rebellion has smaller, nimbler ships, but Rebel fleets can be assigned the heavier, Mon Calamari capital ships. Each side also has a number of unique squadrons to pick from, so the iconic X-Wings, B-Wings and A-Wings can be brought to the battle.
2. Star Wars Imperial Assault
Ranking number two is Imperial Assault. Imperial Assault brings the dungeon crawling, atmospheric, dice rolling action that is found in Fantasy Flight’s ‘Descent’ range, to the Star Wars universe. One player acts as a dungeon master, taking control of the Imperial troops, who are antagonists to the Rebellion’s heroes. Similarly to FFG’s Descent Second Edition, an app has been brought out to automate the evil forces using AI. This enables all players to cooperatively work together against the game if they see fit.
Imperial Assault can be played over the course of a campaign, where the dungeon master, (or Imperial player) grows stronger and stronger, and the results of previous battles and encounters can influence the course of the game. Each of the hero characters also grow in strength, unlocking new skills, and picking up new kit and items along the way. Iconic characters from across the original trilogy also appear in the game, so you may unlock Han Solo in one mission to aid and help you through the course of an adventure.
Imperial Assault is superb in that it weaves and tells a story, a real narrative. Each of the heroes that you play has a unique back story, and they have specific missions which can pop up, relating to this back story.
The game can also be played in ‘skirmish’ mode. In skirmish mode you build a unique squad, based on points, and fight a single, one-off skirmish. I do however find this the weakest point of the game, as I prefer to play the game as an epic narrative, or campaign, building over the course of many adventures.
1. Star Wars Rebellion
Coming in at the top spot, is Star Wars Rebellion. Rebellion is an epic, innovative game. Where it really shines is in the way it tells a story, every game of Rebellion is unique and different, and the narrative that can unfold can be exciting and diverse.
The game is for two players, and both sides are asymmetric. Whilst the Imperial player relies on pure military strength and dominance, the Rebellion seeks to strike out and hit the Empire where it hurts – but has limited resources to do so. The Rebellion’s aim is to sow discord and ignite rebellion through the completion of objective cards. The Empire has one goal – to seek out and destroy the hidden Rebel base. It is a game of cat and mouse – many of the Empire’s cards seek to discern where the base is hidden, whereas the Rebel player wants to keep one step ahead, hiding or moving the secret Rebel base.
It has everything you want from a Star Wars game; epic space battles, ground combat, and sending your leaders on secret and covert missions. The iconic Death Star appears, and has the option of using its Superlaser – destroying an entire planet in the process! The game also currently has an expansion out, ‘Rise of the Empire’ which adds new units, new leaders and new ways of winning.
Rebellion follows in the footsteps of some of my favourite ‘narrative building’ games, such as War of the Ring. It is an ideal two-player game, and can easily be finished over the course of an afternoon. It definitely deserves all the accolades it receives.
Final Thoughts and Missing Games
Several games just missed out on my list, many of you will be asking why X-Wing has not received a place on the top five. This is purely because I have not, as of yet, tried out the game – although I have a few base sets and ship packs in my collection which I’m eager to try out!
There is also another Star Wars card game, called ‘Star Wars: The Card Game’ which is a pure LCG, so you know which cards you are going to get. I felt that Destiny edged this one out, just slightly, being the more innovative and unique game of the two.
There are also a few non-FFG Star Wars games that are excellent. Star Wars Risk in particular is an excellent and well produced game, although I believe it is fair to say that Rebellion eclipses it in its scope and epic nature!
My number one recommendation for the Star Wars Day (May 4) would be Rebellion. It is an excellent and well balanced game. I would recommend trying it out if you haven’t yet had a look at it.