Star Wars Extended Game Universe

Fantasy Flight Games has created an ever expanding array of licensed Star Wars board games.  Here’s a quick guide to explain the various board games and how they all fit together.

Star Wars: the Card GameStar Wars: The Card Game (2 players original)

The Star Wars: Card Game (SWCG) is initially a 2 player living card game which expands to multi-player games with the Balance of the Force expansion.  In Star Wars: the Card Game each player takes control of either the Empire or the Rebellion, attacking and defending various objectives that they’ve chosen to place in their deck.  As a living card game, each chapter pack introduces new objectives, new events, locations, characters and equipment allowing for a wide amount of replay ability.

Star Wars RebellionStar Wars: Rebellion (2- 4 players)

Star Wars: Rebellion has players take control of the forces on a galactic level.  Players control the forces of the Empire or the Rebellion using cards and leaders to take actions, with the abilities of the leaders affecting the results of each card.  Star Wars: Rebellion is an asymmetric board game that is best played with only 2 players and is best played by dedicated players who can explore the various strategies of the game over a series of games.

 

sw-armadaStar Wars: Armada (2 players)

Taking a step down from the galactic level, Armada has you controlling fleets of spaceships and squadrons of fighters in a miniature battle on a 6′ x 3′ area.  Players command capital ships and squadrons using command stacks which indicate what actions they can take while the  maneuver tool is made of a hinged ruler, with each segment indicating the turning circle for a capital ship.  The Star Wars: Armada Core Set gives you enough ships to begin playing immediately, but really to develop and experience the game fully, players will need to either purchase individual ships or a second pair of the Core Sets.

sw-x-wingStar Wars: X-Wing (2 players)

While Armada lets you command capital ships, X-Wing puts you in the seat of your ship, dog-fighting other planes in a smaller 3′ x 3′ area. Players choose their ships using a point system which includes both the ships and the pilots while movement and shooting arcs are chosen using pre-made rulers, simplifying the entire fighting system compared to traditional miniature games.  Like Armada, the initial core set gives you a taste of the battles you can have, but you will quickly need to expand your fleet significantly.

Star Wars: Imperial AssaultStar Wars: Imperial Assault (2 – 5 players)

Star Wars: Imperial Assault has one player as the Empire and the other players as the Rebel troops.  Each game of Imperial Assault has the rebel troopers attempting to complete specific objectives to win while the Empire attempts to stop them.  SWIA is a campaign game that runs over a course of missions with both the Imperial player and the Rebel heroes gaining new experience and skills, allowing characters to evolve as the story unfolds.  Using FFG’s Descent system for adventure games, SWIA comes with various map tiles that allow players to create unique adventures each game.

 

Star Wars: Empire vs RebellionStar Wars: Empire vs Rebellion (2 players)

Star Wars: Empire vs Rebellion is a fast-paced card game for two players which re-implements the Cold War: CIA vs KGB card game. In the game, you and your opponent match wits and resources over key events.  Whether you seek to triumph through military might, or use diplomacy to achieve your ends, the fate of the galaxy rests in your hands.

swd01-03_boxesStar Wars: Destiny

Recently announced, the Star Wars: Destiny is a collectible card and dice game where each hero has it’s own dice whose roll indicates you may be able to spend to enhance your side or deal damage.  You also have a thirty-card deck of cards that you’ll draw throughout the game. 

 

The Outcast Heroes Review

The Outcast Heroes
The Outcast Heroes

So we picked up copies of The Outcast Heroes in Essen and because of the pitch and my recent trip to Poland, I was rather interested in playing it. The game centers around the Polish resistance to the German occupying forces and players must together or against one another over the years to win. However, instead of playing to a final ‘win / lose’ proposition, players are attempting to score Glory Points.

Rules

I am not going to go too deeply into the rules-set but need to explain some of the rules to explain the game.

Each game is played across 3 stages with 4 rounds in each stage.  Players at the beginning of a stage are given secret mission cards which indicate if the player is a traitor or not.  Successfully completing a secret mission gives bonus victory points.

During the first 3 rounds of each stage, a new mission is revealed.  In addition, at all times a 4th mission (Free the prisoners) is available for players to run.  Players during each round only have 2 actions – they can recruit soldiers from the headquarters, play a soldier to a mission, take over a spot in a mission to receive the spots benefits or if they are the leader, begin the mission.  As such, each round goes pretty quickly and with only 12 rounds a game only takes about an hour or so.

When you run a mission, the leader draws and distributes the glory points that are available for the mission before government cards (bad cards that increase the difficulty of the mission) are drawn and then orders are given to the soldiers.  Orders to soldiers running the mission can range from ‘running away’ to getting injured or dying or being thrown into jail (potentially adding strength to the mission though).

Any missions not started by the end of round 4 automatically start too and if 2 out of 3 of the missions succeed, the rebels win.  If not, they lose and the traitors stand a chance to win additional points.

Appearance

At first glance, the artwork is very, very good.  There’s a lot of good artwork for the wolves and the design and it looks like the art is actually done in period style. However, the biggest problem with the artwork is that it is all in shades of black and grey, with mostly washed out tones.  Cards and card backs aren’t done in a manner that is significantly different (which wolf feature was it that was the Government card?) that can slow down the game itself as you try to remember which card goes where.  Block text on the back of the cards would have helped a lot instead of relying purely on graphical design.  Once you start learning the bits though, it’s not bad.  Still, those with colour blindness and who aren’t that good at quickly memorising the backs of the cards should be warned.

Gameplay

Overall, I have to say the game play quite well but it feels a bit clunky with the number of moving pieces / rules involved.  There are a lot of cards that need to be dealt each time a mission is played – glory points, government action cards, order cards, order cards have to be played and then finally, all cards resolved.  Compared to say the Resistance, the game definitely feels much more involved – though the cards themselves add a little bit more uncertainty and strategic options to the game.

I definitely like how managing your soldiers and the additional ‘free the prisoners’ mission added to the game.  You have to decide who to send, where to send them and what kind of cards you are willing to sacrific for the greater good.  One player had the majority of their characters thrown into jail by the third stage while I had only 1 character in jail (and 4 dead!) which meant I was more inclined to focus my efforts on the main mission.  It also meant that I could get to the leadership positions first, ensuring I had the best victory points if the mission succeeded.

I should also note that I have only played one game so far and I did it with non-gamers.  The non-gamers definitely had fun, but thinking back to the game, I think we missed a lot of the strategic / meta-gaming possibilities involved.  It’s easy to tell who is a traitor or not during the game, so one potential option a leader has is to bribe potential traitors with glory points to successfully allow a mission to succeed.  Since a traitor only gets 2 glory points if 2 / 3 mission fails (and 1 more if all 3 fail); it might make sense for a traitor to help at least 1 mission succeed (and potentially both if he gets 3 glory points a mission).   It’s something I think a ‘gamer’ crowd, or one that has been introduced to something like the Resistance or Werewolf would catch much faster earlier on, rather than ‘after the fact’ with non-gamers.

Which  I guess indicates that this game has definite replay possibilities – you want to try at least a few more games to see how it plays out, with both different number of players and with the same group as you learn the intricacies of the game.

Conclusion

So, would I consider this game a definite buy? I’m not sure.  The Resistance is a much tighter game, and the betrayal mechanic is done in a much shorter format in One Night.  On the other hand, the Outcast Heroes hits on a unique historical theme (or at least one that isn’t as explored) and seems to have a decent amount of replay value with a higher amount of complexity than either of the above two.

 

 

 

Top 10 of 2014

Well, here’s our annual Top 10 list of 2014. As always, it’s a list of great games that are releasing (or have released) that we think most gamers will love. It’s a pretty broad range this year, with a few games currently out of stock though we expect there to be restocks for most of them before XMas.

In addition, don’t expect there to be many business posts coming up to the holiday season, it’s already beginning to be pretty busy as it stands. My job right now is mostly support and ordering, so I’ll be helping deal with e-mails, adding new products to the site and just getting the backend caught up.

Outside our Power

As a retailer, we have certain advantages over publishers.  For one, we generally aren’t reliant on any one product or even a single company for our existence.  Sure, some companies are more important than others (it’d suck if FFG went out of business tomorrow) but overall, we can spread our risk around a lot more.

In addition, we are the end-seller; the last business entity before the product enters the hand of the customer, which sometimes gives us a very good view of demand in the market compared to publishers or distributors.

Out of Control

Unfortunately, that also means that there’s more than a few things that are out of our control.  Stock, and stock shortage is the major one.  This year in particular has been particularly bad – it seems like 50% at least of FFG’s product line is out of stock, Pandemic and it’s expansion was out of print for a while this year, King of Tokyo and Smash Up the same.  Almost all the hot games that have been released in the last year and a half or so seem to have gone in and out of stock.  It’s incredibly frustrating and bad for business.

Worst are the constant delays in production – slipped deadlines, bad information, price increases or stock shortages.  Luckily, most customers don’t blame us for this – but it does happen.

Planning for Others

They say no plan survives contact with the enemy. Well, in business, no plan survives reality.  Like in the army, the only thing you can really do is build flexibility in  your plan and your business and keep a reserve for when things don’t go right.

Oh, and have a little Luck on your side.