Friday, April 24, 2015

Imperial Assault Part II: The Game

Imperial Assault comes with standard Fantasy Flight excellent components, but how does it play? First let us define what this game is. It is a tactical combat board game with two modes of play: Skirmish and Campaign.

Game mechanics wise, it is straightforward and quick. Players activate a character or a deployment group(i.e. a unit of three Stormtroopers). Each figure gets two actions on their activation: Move, Shoot, Interact, or Special. Character Heroes may also rest/heal. Play alternates in this way until both sides have activated all units, then the turn ends.

Combat is done with colored six sided dice for attacking and defense. The dice all have special symbols on them.  The only real tricky part of the game is learning to use them, and that does not take long at all. Using the gridded map makes moving, range and line of sight quick and easy.

The Campaign game is for 2-4 players, one person taking the Imperial Forces and acting as GM with the other players being the plucky Rebels. In this mode the games acts like a light Role Playing Game. The Imperial player doing typical GM stuff, revealing the missions, throwing surprises/events  at the players, and playing the Bad Guys. The players keep the same characters for all ten missions of the campaign and increase their skills and gear while doing so. The Rebel player's characters are also cinematically heroic, and they need to be, normally facing large number of Imperials.

The Campaign lasts ten missions, but they are many different side missions that can come into play and the main story missions are branching so you can play the campaign a number of times without it becoming repetitive. The Rebel player has six different characters to choose from, so again another chance to make subsequent plays unique. You do not get to play as any of the iconic Star Wars characters (Luke, Han, Chewie) but there are mission to play with them as allies to your team.
Campaign missions are no walk in the park for the Rebels. All the ones we have played so far have been very challenging to the players, most of which came down to the last turn. After the mission both sides get experience points to spend on new skills and upgrades. The Rebels get Credits, which they can spend on shiny new gear and weapons. The Imperial player may receive Influence points to buy fun cards that will make life a bit harder for the heroes.
Skirmish mode is a battle between two players. Each player buys 40 points worth of forces and they fight in a randomly picked mission. No super-heroics in Skirmish, the six Rebel characters from the Campaign have "normal" cards for them. Each player also gets a 15 card deck of Command Cards which give bonuses to your team. Skirmish plays very quickly, and the missions are well thought out.
In one mission I took Darth Vader (who is almost half of the 40 points you get) and a had a great time slaughtering rebel scum, but I did not have enough other troops to achieve the objectives faster than my opponent,  I lost the mission quite badly.
Coffee or Death? Death it is!
On the flip side of that, in the next mission I had Han Solo, Chewie and some Rebel troopers versus Bounty Hunters led by everyone's favorite Evil Cappuccino Machine, IG-88. I got almost everybody killed (mostly from a pair of Nexu) and only had Chewie left. I pulled out a win by completing the objectives, and a bit of bloodlust on the Hunters part. Skirmish mode is fast and a lot of fun.

Imperial Assault is a winner. Great if you like tactical combat in the Star Wars universe. Doubly great is you want a RPG-ish narrative campaign. FFG already has more expansions on the way, and I'm sure this game has a fun, bright future ahead of it.

Go Roll Some Dice
Exeunt, Pursued by a Nexu

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