Friday, 16 January 2015

Star Wars Imperial Assault

Pretty interesting descent-like game that has very nice miniatures and a fair bit of replayability. 

So what is Imperial Assault about? It's basically a Descent-like game that's set in the Star Wars universe, with one player taking the role of the Dungeon Master; AKA The Empire, and the other players (up to 4) taking the roles of the rebel alliance.

The Empire player has his own special campaign book that he is not supposed to let the other players see. Using this campaign book, he will set out various maps for the rebels to go through, each with different win conditions. Depending on which side wins, this will lead to a different scenario. For example, if the empire wins on the first scenario; Aftermath, it will lead to a different scenario than if the Rebels won. As such, there is a fair amount of replayability as there are many scenarios that the players will not be able to go through the first time around. 

The gameplay itself is fairly simple. Each player has 2 actions during his activation, with Empire and Rebels taking alternate activations with the Rebels activating first during any round. This is followed by the Empire activating one of his models/units and then the Rebels again. Once all models have been activated, the round ends. Each model can only be activated once per round so if either side doesn't have anything to activate, they skip their turn and the opponent may continue with his next activation. 

Like many other FFG games, Imperial Assault uses its own custom dice. They're fairly easy to understand though. Each starburst is a hit and each triforce triangle is a block. Hits rolled minus blocks rolled = damage done in most cases. Then there are the squiggly lines, which can be used to activate special abilities for both Rebels and Imperial players. 

And then there are the minis, which I admit are pretty decent for boardgames. I mean, they're no Knight Miniatures TM but then again, they are a lot cheaper then Knight Miniatures and they do come fully pre-assembled. As it is, I've been painting quite a few of them and my aim is to finish them before the end of this month. There are quite a few flashlines on the miniatures though so I recommend scraping them away with a small penknife before you prime and paint them though. The stormtroopers are especially egregious at this though. Another issue would be the probe droids, which are only stuck to their base by 3 small points, which means it's insanely fragile. In fact, I had one that came broken off its base. And they're not easy to glue back on either because there are only 3 small contact points for the glue to work on. 

One thing I will mention though is that when you're painting the miniatures, you probably want to differentiate between the various squads of similar miniatures. For example, the stormtroopers? I've separated them into 3 visually different groups which makes it easier for me to tell which model belongs to which unit on the board. Same for the Imperial Officers, one of which is differentiated by a redstripe because it's an elite Imperial Officer. 

One thing that annoyed me about the base game though, was the fact that the cards come in a fairly strange, non-standard size. In fact, one might say it's almost a standard FFG size...What do I mean about that?

Well, if you look at the picture above, you'll understand. The card below is a standard sized playing card, ie. Magic the Gathering sized, as is the card sleeve. However, the cards in Imperial Assault however are much smaller than the standard card size. So much smaller that I would say it's impossible to use the standard card sleeve for them, which is a pity since I do have quite a lot of them on hand. However, luckily for me, FFG conveniently sells special sized card sleeves that just happen to be the correct size....Yeah, that's sarcasm. 

Another thing is the way they present the extra scenarios in the core box. While most scenarios are in the campaign book, players will get the option of expanding their scenario list by buying future expansions, which will include a miniature as well as some extra scenarios/cards. Luckily for the core game, players will get the Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker expansion for free. 
However, the extra scenarios are given in folded up A4 pieces of paper, which just seems kind of tacky to me. Those things hardly seem like they're going to last for very long. 

I ended up laminating mine just so I could store them easily while having them be more durable as well. 

I think the last issue I have with regards to this game is the fact that the game seems very very biased towards the Empire player. Granted, the Empire models have a lot less health per model and generally a lot fewer and weaker special abilities, but they are able to summon a lot more models. An ordinary Stormtrooper can roll an average of 4 damage per attack which means on average, player characters will take 2 damage per attack (assuming average of 2 block per roll). However, there are THREE stormtroopers per unit so that's probably 6 damage, which is about 50% of most player characters initial health. But again, this seems to depend heavily on the player. I've played games where the Empire player died horribly in most missions and I've played games where I'm the Empire player and I've slaughtered my players horribly. Granted, I think that the Empire player will have a bit of an advantage if they ever play miniature wargames, such as Warhammer or Warmachine or Infinity. Or really, anything that teachers positioning. 

Overall, I'd say this was a pretty interesting and fun to play game that I enjoyed playing. Both as Empire and as Rebels. I look forward to the upcoming expansions as well as any future ones since I think having more scenarios is really the way to go into making this a long-lasting franchise. 

P.S There is a Skirmish ruleset included with the coregame but since I haven't played that yet, I have not included a review of that in this review.