Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Star Wars Imperial Assualt Unboxing and Review from Fantasy Flight Games

Its a very special week this week, as we get to take a look at Star Wars Imperial Assault.  This is a monster of a game, or really I should say 2 games in one, the Campaign game, and the Skirmish game, and it being FFG is going to be full of cards, tokens and models.

Imperial Assault is a strategy board game of tactical combat and missions for two to five players, offering two distinct games of battle and adventure in the Star Wars™ universe!
Imperial Assault puts you in the midst of the Galactic Civil War between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire after the destruction of the Death Star over Yavin 4 with two separate game experiences. The campaign game pits the limitless troops and resources of the Galactic Empire against a crack team of elite Rebel operatives as they strive to break the Empire’s hold on the galaxy, while the skirmish game invites you and a friend to muster strike teams and battle head-to-head over conflicting objectives.

In the campaign game, Imperial Assault invites you to play through a cinematic tale set in the Star Wars universe. One player commands the seemingly limitless armies of the Galactic Empire, threatening to extinguish the flame of the Rebellion forever. Up to four other players become heroes of the Rebel Alliance, engaging in covert operations to undermine the Empire’s schemes. Over the course of the campaign, both the Imperial player and the Rebel heroes gain new experience and skills, allowing characters to evolve as the story unfolds.

Imperial Assault offers a different game experience in the skirmish game. In skirmish missions, you and a friend compete in head-to-head, tactical combat. You’ll gather your own strike force of Imperials, Rebels, and Mercenaries and build a deck of Command cards to gain an unexpected advantage in the heat of battle. Whether you recover lost holocrons or battle to defeat a raiding party, you’ll find danger and tough tactical choices in every skirmish.

As an additional benefit, the Luke Skywalker Ally Pack and the Darth Vader Villain Pack are included within the Imperial Assault Core Set. These figure packs offer sculpted plastic figures alongside additional campaign and skirmish missions that highlight both Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader within Imperial Assault. With these Imperial Assault figure packs, you find even more missions that allow your heroes to fight alongside these iconic characters from the Star Wars saga.

The back of the box sure says it comes with a ton of things, so lets begin by seeing what comes in this monster sized box.......
 the first thing that greets you as you slide off the lid is the traditional Fantasy Flight Games catalogue, and  a nice big advert letting you know there are expansion figure packs out there, and that the core game comes with the Luke Skywalker, and Darth Vader figure pack. not in the blister packets displayed, but bagged separately so you can se what you are getting.  Its a great idea to include the two most iconic characters of the films in the game in model form, and a great showcase for other expansions.
 There are four rules books.... FOUR! that may seem a tad overwhelming at first, but when you break it down it becomes a lot easier and makes more sense.  As in most of their releases recently FFG have included a learn to play booklet that gently guides through learning the game without bombarding you, and a rules reference guide that works like a rules encyclopaedia, you go there search the rule you want and read the resolution.  This has been a great system and worked for well for their other games, and it does again here, it guides you in softly without overwhelming you.  The Campaign guide lists all the missions you play, and setups, but it is a secret book, only for the Imperial player, which it makes clear in the beginning.  Yes its large, but then its crammed full of missions with background stories for your core campaign.
The Skirmish guide though Is nice and thin, and easy to digest, it just adapts the game into a 2 player skirmish game, completing missions and objectives whilst your opponents team is trying to do the same thing.  IT provides you all you need in point limits, and how you build your deck with command cards as well.
I wont show you the Campaign book, so as to not give away any surprises, but I can tell you that all the books are full colour, quality paper productions, with plenty of examples and diagrams to get you through.  Above as an example is the set up for the Tutorial mission from the "Learn to Play" book. It guides you through how you set up, and then the basic rules to play after.
 Once you have got over the shock of 4 rulebooks, you next find a huge slab of card tokens all needing punching out.  This is one game you wont be playing straight out of the box in minutes, as you will need to learn it, and spend time getting all the tokens prepared.  Luckily I have  a pretty good supply of baggies from various games, so used a selection of them to keep the tokens separated out when punched or it would have got messy in the box.
 You can see they have filled every available space with token goodness.
 Its all high quality card, and the map tiles are double sided as you can see giving you a huge variety of environments.
 Once you have popped out your tokens, and game board pieces you get to the next layer of the box.....
And this is full of miniatures cards and dice!  Yes that is an AT-ST at the back, he did come unassembled, in a few clip together parts, but I could not resist building him straight away.
You get a ton of different decks of cards in this game, all with their own purposes.
 We have the hero cards.  These are for the playable characters you can use in your campaign, it gives you their stats, and what coloured dice they use for various tests, along with speed and wounds.  When a character has received the amount of wounds specified on their card it flips over.....
And becomes wounded, which may change your abilities.  Jyn Is Olivia's favourite hero so far.
 The decks are all easy to separate due to the art on the back.
The Rebel deck has cards in like Han Solo, Chewbacca and Rebel Troopers
 that may be usable by you as an ally in the campaign (if you complete their side mission) It also has versions of the main games Heroes that can be used in the Skirmish game should you wish.
 You have a deck that's the same for the Scum and Villains deck, in that it contains some agendas you can use in skirmish mode, and the cars for the campaign, as the Imperial player (who can hire in scum) has only basic cards like these to use
 Then one for the empire, in that it contains some agendas you can use in skirmish mode, and the  campaign, including everyone's favourite Sith Lord who is of course suitably brutal.
 These are cards the Imperial player can play in the campaign for bonuses, or to introduce new side missions to the game.
 
 You then get 5 handy cards that have some rules reference cards on them to make things a bit easier in game.
You get two Skirmish missions in the Core box, the cards tell you any rules, and how to earn Victory Points. Both of these have their  map layouts in the book, though future missions will come in individual figure expansions on a single sheet.
 A deck of cards for the main mission, I am not showing you all the cards, again its good not to ruin things, also the side missions too, which may bring in familiar faces, or old enemies.
Then you get a big selection of the mini cards, which are the same as the upgrade from X-wing if you have played it.
 The condition cards are rule reminders for effects like stunned, bleeding or focused.  Very useful as again it stops you flicking to the manual, and is also a nice reminder you have the effect on your character.
 you can three different level decks you can try to buy items from, ranging from armour, to upgrades for your weapons, to in some cases some new beastly weapons.
 A deck for things you may find laying around in crates, its always nice to get a surprise that way.
 A deck with Rewards which are earned by completing missions or side missions.
 Each character have their own deck as well showing you their starting weapon, and the upgrades you can buy as you gain experience in game.  There are plenty to choose from so you can really tailor your character to your style.
 The Imperial player still gets choices though, you can choose from 3 different style decks at the start of the game.  Military Might, subversive tactics and technological superiority.  These allow you to spend the points you earn as the Imperial player to increase your forces, or bring in some sneaky tactics to tip the tide.
Lastly we have the command card deck, these are used for the Skirmish mode of the game.

While playing a skirmish mission, you and your friend muster your own strike teams of soldiers, drawing on Imperial, Mercenary, or Rebel units. Command cards give your warriors unexpected bonuses, and since you build your own decks of Command cards, you can specialize your deck to support your team, whether you focus on troopers, brawlers, or hunters.

In every skirmish mission, you clash with your opponent in a battle of tactical skill and combat. Both players alternate activating a single deployment card and taking actions with the associated figures as they battle to complete conflicting objectives. Whether you’re competing to steal a valuable T-16 Skyhopper, or collecting contraband on behalf of the Hutts, the skirmish game offers tense, tactical battles in the Star Wars universe.

Got to say Skirmish mode is pretty fun, but its Campaign mode where the game shines, so having this extra mode as well is just icing on the cake.
You get a selection of different dice for attacks and defence.  the starbursts are wounds, the numbers are accuracy, you must roll a number combined up to or exceeding the distance your target is away from you.  The lightning symbols are Surges, these can be used to do extra things depending on your character, and are clearly displayed on your character sheet how you can spend them.

Now onto the models......

You get a large haul of plastic in the box, Beige coloured for your heroes, and grey for the Imperial forces.
 The models are extremely well detailed, with dynamic posing for all the heroes.
 The AT-ST.... its simply stunning
 From all angles it looks perfect, just like it should out of the movies.  The detail is excellent, and it clipped together with no glue in a few seconds.
 Imperial Probe Droids..... again full of detail.
 Stormtroopersthey are all the same pose, but such cool models I don't mind, and besides everyone knows Stormtroopers are faceless clones anyway right?
 The Royal Guard, painted up in red these would look suitably terrifying.
 Keeping charge are the Imperial Officers.
 The E-web gunners are there to lay down some heavy firesupport
 The Nexu are in the scum and villainy, but can be recruited by the Imperial player to chase down the hero's.
The same with the Trandoshan bounty hunters.

 Then a quick a look at the Expansion packs of Luke and Vader.  You do get the rule cards and tokens for them in the core box anyway, but having the model makes the board look that much better.
 With Luke you get some command cards to add to the command deck for skirmish, including one specifically for him, you also get two more missions for Skirmish, with a sheet giving the contents and layout, and also a side mission for the main campaign.
 The model is the classic "A New Hope" farmboy Luke and it looks great.
 Then the Dark Lord himself.... The Vader pack, again more command cards including one specially for him, 2 more skirmish missions, and some side missions for the main campaign.
 The model is great, the pose looks a little odd, but the movement makes up for it.
Its really nice to get an idea of what comes in the expansion packs, as it means knowing that we are more likely to add more for all the added value it does bring to the game.

Olivia and me got set up to play the tutorial mission for the campaign.  When you play its a game that works from 2-5 players.  One player always takes the role of the imperial player, and space dungeon master, trying to thwart the rebels, but also giving them the story for the missions, and trying to make the experience as fun as possible.  The other players can then control a number of heroes relative to the player count, or like above Olivia can run all four of them!
Each game of Imperial Assault takes place during a cinematic mission. The objective of your mission can be nearly anything: recovering a critical data core, working with Chewbacca to steal crates of lucrative spice, or escaping bounty hunters eager to collect the price on your head. Whether you’re infiltrating an Imperial base or helping Luke Skywalker escape Imperial entanglements, every mission offers more danger and excitement.

The boards for these missions are constructed using over fifty double-sided, interlocking map tiles that combine to construct a massive variety of Star Wars environments. You may find yourself bushwhacking through the jungles of Yavin 4 or sneaking into a dusty cantina on Tatooine. Whether you stride through the gleaming corridors of an Imperial base or make your rendezvous in a dirty factory on Nar Shaddaa, you’ll need to consider the terrain and the lay of the land as you play your missions in Imperial Assault.

Once a mission begins, players alternate activating a single figure or squad of figures. Each figure receives two actions to move, attack, open doors, investigate crates for useful supplies, or rest to recover strain and damage.

When you choose to move a figure, it gains an amount of movement points equal to its speed, and can spend them at any point during its turn, allowing your figures to open doors and keep running, or fire a blaster before ducking behind a corner. In addition to gaining movement points, heroes in campaign missions can exert themselves by taking strain. Taking strain allows your hero to move additional spaces or trigger special abilities.

Positioning is crucial, but decisive attacks lie at the heart of both campaign and skirmish missions in Imperial Assault. Figures attack and defend by rolling attack dice and defense dice and comparing the amount of damage rolled against the number of blocks rolled. Surge icons on the dice represent impressive feats of combat prowess that allow you to trigger your figure’s powerful surge abilities, but these surges can be cancelled by your opponent’s evade icons. An attack might even miss entirely if you roll the dodge result! Different weapons allow you to make ranged and melee attacks, and roll different attack dice.

As you move and attack in the campaign game, crates located around the battlefield can provide your heroes with a variety of helpful items. You may find grenades to throw at encroaching Imperial squads, bacta infusions to heal your wounds, or comlinks to radio false alarms. If you can’t find the healing equipment you need in crates, however, your heroes may need to rest. Resting removes strain and damage, but it takes precious time away from battling Imperial soldiers and attaining your objective. You must balance the necessity of rest against the need to push on before the Imperial player brings new squads of enemies against you.

As you complete campaign missions, your options for future missions change based on the outcomes of past missions, ensuring that you’ll never play the same campaign twice. You may be forced to take unexpected side missions when your ship is impounded, or if you’re captured during a raid on an Imperial base.


Wherever the heroes battle in Imperial Assault, they must take care to not become distracted from their objectives. The resources of the Galactic Empire are truly limitless, and every round the heroes delay increases the Imperial player’s threat dial. As the Imperial player, you can spend threat to replenish your squads or summon reinforcements, overwhelming the small team of Rebel operatives if they fail to accomplish their goals quickly.

In campaign missions, the Imperial player also has the advantage of knowing every secret that awaits as the mission progresses. The Rebels know only their next objective, and any number of surprises may lie ahead. Rebel Intelligence agents may discover Imperial codes behind a door, for example, but you won’t know if the codes are unguarded or if the open door will reveal a squad of stormtroopers.
The campaign also invites both the heroes and the Imperial player to gain new skills and abilities. The Imperial player can focus on maximizing the Empire’s strengths, such as military might, technological superiority, and subversive tactics. The heroes, on the other hand, can learn new skills and abilities by spending experience to gain Class cards. Your heroes can also invest in powerful weapons and equipment with the credits they collect. You can battle with a vibroblade or an A280 blaster rifle, and add modifications to give your weapon a personal touch.


Working out the damage versus dodges, it seems my poor stormtrooper wont survive long against the wookie Gaarkhan, or as Olivia calls him "Chewies Dad".  It did not matter how many times I said there where other wookies, she stuck calling him that, so in the end that's how we played it, and why not, as this game is all about YOUR story in Star Wars, what you make it, how it happens, yes the main stars may drop in from time to time, but you are making whole new stories, and legends in the Star Wars world.
Things are tense as Olivia rolls some attack dice, though not really tense, as she is carving her way through me!
 Things did not end well for the last Imperial probe droid.
Though not everything went the rebels way, Fen took a lot of damage from the E-web gunner before Gaarkhan decided to cut it in half.

After the game exp is awarded, upgrades are bought, and stories told.  To Olivia it wasn't just rolling well to beat a stormtrooper before  moving to the next one, Gaarkhan was making according to her (insert your own wookie noises) as he chopped him in half .  It helps create the story in your mind, Fenn being caught in the doorway as a vicious blast from the E-web cannon wounded him, noticing it Gaarkhan charged over and cut the gun clean in half to help, growling he motioned to Fenn it was fine to come out.

I was daunted I admit at the amount of rules, tokens and cards in the box, but when you sort them out, and arrange it, it becomes a whole lot more manageable as you realise you don't need every deck in every game.  The components are as always from Fantasy Flight Games, excellent, good quality card stock, excellent cards, and clear and easy to follow rule books.  The models are excellent, and would certainly paint up really well if you where inclined to.
The game.... Campaign mode was good fun, of course Olivia is always the good guys, so I got to be the empire, and I had a blast watching her interact with her other characters in the same way she plays with her toys upstairs (no I don't mean trashing them, I mean telling stories with them)
Skirmish was fast and fun, as a light game and we will play it again of course, but campaign mode is where the meat is here, and where we will enjoy it most, and I feel where most people will enjoy it most.  The game plays smoothly too, once you know the symbols you are looking for you can fly through it, and simple things like Line of sight are well handled so there can be no arguments for rules resolution.

I asked Olivia's thoughts.....

I like Chewies Dad, and Jyn... I like girl characters, she is my favourite.  The dice looked different to ones I have used before, but after a few goes I knew the symbols I was looking for so Jyn and Chewies Dad could kill all of his puny stormtroopers.  I like hearing the story of the mission and then making up my own story about what happens when I am playing it.  It gets my imagination going, im not looking forward to Dad using Darth Vader though, I know he will be tough.


It comes in at the not cheap RRP of £79.99, but you do get a lot of plastic in here, and a huge amount of game too, campaign mode can be replayed so many times due to the amount of missions and side missions it wont be the same twice, then the Skirmish mode for quick throw downs in the Star Wars world.  Its worth the money for the hours of fun, stories and legends that will rise from playing it, and the future expansion of the packs as well. so go find your local game store and pick up a copy, side with the Rebels or the Empire and have fun creating your own tales in the Star Wars universe.