Posted on Monday, August 18th, 2014 by Peter Sciretta
GenCon is like the Comic-Con or E3 of the board gaming world. 50,000 gamers travel to Indianapolis, Indiana to attend the largest gathering of tabletop gamers in the United States. New games are released by popular designers and the major publishers hold presentations to announce new games, many of which no one was expecting. Someday I hope to go to GenCon, but for now I watch from afar via the interwebs. The biggest publisher at the con is Fantasy Flight Games, who take the stage with their yearly In-Flight Report where they announce games coming out over the next two plus years. Not only is Fantasy Flight Games one of the largest publishers, but they own the license to produce Star Wars-themed games, which helps make their yearly announcements even more highly anticipated.
At 2014 Gen Gen, Fantasy Flight announced two new Star Wars games, as well as a Scum & Villainy expansion to their popular X-Wing Miniatures games. Lets a take a look at the most interesting of the newly announced games, Star Wars Imperial Assault, which has tabletop geeks from around the world frothing at the mouth to get their hands on.
Star Wars Imperial Assault
The big surprise of the show, Star Wars Imperial Assault, a miniature-style board game inspired by the game system found in Descent: Journey’s in the Dark. While I’ve never played Descent, I’ve been a fan of other campaign-styled dungeon crawlers like Plaid Hat Games’ Mice & Mystics series.
How cool does that dynamic board set-up look? Imperial Assault offers two different game modes: An epic expansive RPG-style adventure campaign, as well as competitive, customizable 2-player head-to-head experience. The campaign game (which is what I’m most interested in) can accommodate up to five players.
One player commands the armed forces of the Galactic Empire, while up to four others play as heroes of the Rebellion, engaging in covert operations and missions. Both the forces of the Empire and the Rebel heroes gain new skills and items throughout the campaign, allowing characters to develop and grow as the story unfolds.
Here is a closer look at the miniatures from Dice Tower, Board Game Geek and Drive Thru Review:
Some more Imperial Assault. pic.twitter.com/QMGu4Chpoq
— Dice Tower News (@dicetower_news) August 15, 2014
— BoardGameGeek (@BoardGameGeek) August 15, 2014
Star Wars Imperial Assault is a Star Wars board game of cinematic adventure and tactical combat for two to five players. The game contains more than 34 detailed plastic miniature figures from 13 unique sculpts. How awesome does that AT-ST Walker look?
Victory! By destroying the Death Star, the Rebellion has given hope to a galaxy living in fear. The Empire races to recover from their crushing defeat and the loss of their ultimate weapon as the Rebel Alliance works to solidify their advantage. When an Imperial distress beacon begins to broadcast from an remote outpost on Yavin 4, a small team of elite Rebel operatives is dispatched. Their mission: to silence the signal at all costs… Imperial Assault casts you and your friends into the climatic events following the Death Star’s destruction above Yavin 4.
Imperial Assault’s campaign mode offers a narrative campaign with over thirty possible missions, constructed using some of the 59 double-sided interlocking map tiles which depict “a massive range of Star Wars environments, from the jungles of Yavin 4, to the dusty wastes of Tatooine, to the metallic corridors of an Imperial base.”
When playing a campaign, one player commands the limitless forces of the Galactic Empire, including stormtroopers, Imperial officers, AT-ST walkers, assorted mercenaries, and iconic villains such as IG-88 and Darth Vader. The power of the entire Empire is at your fingertips as you outwit, entrap, and exterminate Rebels wherever you find them. Whether you hunt down the Rebel scum with Trandoshan mercenaries, or defend strategic strongpoints with the Royal Guard, the forces of the Empire pose a dire threat to the Rebel Alliance.
Throughout the missions of the campaign, players gain experience, new skills, and upgraded weapons and armor. As the campaign progresses, the available missions can change based on the outcomes of past missions.
With the variety of side missions included in Imperial Assault, you’ll never encounter the same campaign twice. You may be captured while investigating an Imperial base, or an old friend may suddenly call in some favors. Whether your mission is stealing data from encrypted Imperial consoles, silencing an Imperial distress beacon, or helping Han Solo settle his debts, every mission puts you in the center of the action in the Star Wars universe.
Up to four players take on the roles of elite Rebel operatives, sometimes fighting alongside classic Star Wars original trilogy characters like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.
You might take on the role of a smuggler, a Wookiee warrior, or even a Force user as you strive to defeat the Empire’s schemes. Every hero also features his own Class cards, allowing your character to learn new skills and abilities over the course of the campaign. Campaign missions test your skills to the limit as the heroes and the Imperial player battle to dominate the mission with the figures they control.
I like that the game is creating some new characters in the Star Wars Universe. I feel like we’ve played as Luke and Han many times before.
Each character has two actions on each turn. Here are some of the many available opens: You can move, attack with melee or ranged attacks, open doors, investigate crates for useful items, or rest to recover strain and damage. When you 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.”
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 and allow you to trigger some of your figure’s powerful combat abilities, but these surges can be cancelled by your opponent’s evade icons. Your opponent’s attack might even miss you 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.
The Rebel players must coordinate their actions and work as a team to defeat “the superior numbers of the Imperial player, scorching the air with blaster fire as you strive to complete the mission’s objective.”
One of the cool things about playing the Empire is that your reserves are almost limitless. Every round increases the threat dial, and the Imperial player can spend threat points to replenish squads and summon reinforcements. Only the Imperial player has access to all of the mission’s information, which means that the Rebel players don’t know what traps await them in each room or “where the droid they’re looking for might be hidden.”
While all of that seems really cool, I wish Fantasy Flight Games could have figured out a way to play the game without an Imperial player. I love how Mice & Mystics created a programed adversaries so that all the players could remain on one team, cooperatively playing to beat the game. That said, I’m sure many people will love playing as a giant unstoppable Imperial army, taking on a team of Rebels controlled by their friends.
The skirmish mode is a head-to-head tactical combat game where one player commands a team of Imperial, Rebel, or Mercenary forces. Each side separately assembles a team of soldiers and builds a unique deck of Command cards from dozens of possible options.
Each skirmish mission has its own objectives. Whether you recover lost holocrons, or battle to defeat a raiding party, you’ll find danger and tense, tactical choices in every skirmish. … During the mission itself, you and your opponent battle over conflicting objectives. Whether you’re racing to escape with a deadly T-16 Skyhopper, or collecting contraband for the Hutts, you’ll find high stakes and tense, tactical combat in every Imperial Assault skirmish mission.
I’m a bit less interested in the skirmish mode as I already have a bunch of great two-player Star Wars games, including the popular X-Wing Miniatures game and the out of print but awesome Star Wars: Queen’s Gambit board game. I’m sure I’ll try it out, but I’m way more interested in the campaign mode.
Imperial Assault is expected to be released in early 2015. Fantasy Flight Games has also announced they will be releasing Ally Packs and Villain Packs, expansion packs which will add iconic heroes and villains to the game. Each of these packs will include a sculpted plastic figure, alongside a new campaign side mission, two new skirmish missions, and Command cards to enhance your skirmish missions.
Fantasy Flight is including the Luke Skywalker Ally Pack and the Darth Vader Villain Pack in the core game box. I’m not exactly sure how Fantasy Flight is considering this a bonus since the “packs” are included in every core game box, but I’m excited about the hint that they will continue to add characters and missions to the game with future small and big box expansions.
Team Covenant has an in-depth interview (embedded above) with Fantasy Flight Games Senior Vice President Steve Horvath, which gives a lot more information about the game, as well as some of Fantasy Flight Games other GenCon 2014 announcements:
Team Covenant also got a gameplay demo at GenCon, you can watch that video above. Be warned that while the game will probably be easy to learn, the gameplay demo video is not easy to follow for non-tabletop gamers.
Please note: Much of the information in this report is gathered from Fantasy Flight Games press releases thus far.