Nick Capron - 2016-07-08

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Star Wars Risk, and Star Wars Rebellion, are both great board games. Which one is best for you? Come take a look at each game, to help you find out.

If you are a Star Wars, and a board game fan, there have been some excellent table top offerings recently released. Today, we are going to take a look at two of these games. Star Wars Risk, released by Hasbro in 2015, and Star Wars Rebellion, which was released by Fantasy Flight Games earlier this year.

Game Play

If you haven't heard about Star Wars Risk, you may think it is just a simple re-skin of Risk. Surprisingly, Star Wars Risk is actually a re-themed version of an old Star Wars game, Queen's Gambit. The only thing similar between Star Wars Risk, and basic Risk, is their names. I'm guessing Hasbro's marketing department figured they would achieve more sales using the name familiarity of Risk, then creating a unique title for this game.

So now that you know that Star Wars Risk isn't a cheap knock off, let's talk a bit about the game play. In Star Wars Risk, you take control of either the Rebels or the Empire. Once each player has picked a side, you will then take turns playing out the final battle of episode six, the attack on the Super Death Star. To win, the Rebels must destroy the Death Star, while the Imperials need to eliminate the rebel fleet.

The board is broken into three combat areas. One area is the space battle between the Rebel and Imperial fleets around the Death Star. Endor is the second battleground, where the Rebels are attempting to disable the Death Star’s shield. The final battleground is inside the Death Star, where Luke takes on Darth Vader and the Emperor.

During their turn, players decide upon an action, and then resolve the effect on one of the three battlegrounds. The gameplay is very straightforward, making Star Wars Risk an approachable game for all types of players. A full game, including setup and teardown, can be played in about 45 minutes.

One thing to note, is if you follow the basic rules provided in the Hasbro rule book, the Rebels have a large advantage over the Imperials. This may work well, if you are introducing someone to the game, or playing against your kid. So if you have a large advantage over the other player, let them play as the Rebels. If you're playing with someone who doesn't require a leg up, check out these alternative rules to provide a more balanced experience.

If you looking for a heavier Star Wars game, Star Wars Rebellion may be more your style. Compared to Star Wars Risk, its depth, rule set, and length are all much larger. This is a game for Star Wars and board game enthusiasts. If you fall into both of these categories, Rebellion, is likely a good fit for you.

Instead of focusing on a single battle, Star Wars Rebellion let's you play through the course of the classic Star Wars Trilogy of films. The Rebellion player will be spending their time hiding from the Empire, trying to hold on long enough to win. The Empire will be spreading across the galaxy trying to find the Rebellion’s hidden base, before time runs out to stop the rebellion.

The game is played out over a large galactic map. Each turn, players will use their characters to move their troops around the galaxy, or use them to attempt various missions. Successful missions either improve conditions for your side, or hurt your opponent.

A lot of the reviews/impressions I read about Rebellion called out its combat as a serious problem with the game. I frankly don't mind it at all. Battles can slow the game down a bit, but I've found them to be enjoyable for the most part. One game ended with a large battle at the hidden Rebel base, where the rebel player managed to sneak out a win, against the odds, which was quite dramatic.

One key recommendation, is if you are teaching or introducing someone to the game, let them play as the Empire. The Empire starts the game with a much larger military, and even if played poorly, they still should be in a position of strength throughout the game.

If a new player plays as the Rebellion against an experienced Imperial player, you are asking for trouble. The new Rebellion player is going to feel frustrated, as they will probably lose half of their systems to the empire on their first turn. Needless to say this will make the new player think the game is completely unfair. Mistakes as the Rebel player hurt a lot more, due to the lack of resources they are given compared to the Empire. If you play the Rebellion poorly, neither player is going to have a good time. A poorly played Empire will at least give the new player the illusion of strength as they learn how to play.

It’s just easier to coach a new Imperial player how to play. The Imperials have no hidden areas and no ambush actions, which enables the Rebel player the ability to suggest possible moves, and explain why to the Imperial player.

One area that concerned me, especially with being a new father, was hearing the average game length of rebellion was about three to four hours to play. This alone, is probably a major factor in eliminating Rebellion from people's wish lists. I would caution against passing on Rebellion for this reason, as is very easy game to walk away from and pick up later. My wife and I were able to get three games in over a weekend by sneaking in a few turns as we had time to play. Walking away and picking up from where we left off didn't hurt the enjoyment factor of Rebellion at all. In fact I prefer playing this was vs going through a full game in one sitting.

Fantasy Flight is a very expansion friendly publisher, and I can easily see expansions coming for Rebellion. One issue I can see a possible expansion touching on is the Rebel player always getting the same objective cards each game. It would be nice to see some additional objectives added to mix things up a bit. Currently there is an adequate amount of mission and project cards, but extras wouldn't hurt via an expansion. New characters and additional units, such as B Wings or TIE Bombers could be easily added to a possible future expansion.

Overall, Rebellion is an amazing experience, and one of my favourite games. I’d only caution that the Star Wars theme is a critical part of its excellence, so definitely pass on this if you're not a Star Wars fan.

Components

X-Wings

I actually prefer the detail on the Risk models, the only problem with them, is that they don't have separate wings. The plastic of the rebellion models is of a higher quality, allowing for the iconic split wing design. Unfortunately the overall detail of the rebellion models does not match up to Risk’s X-Wings.

Y-Wings

Quality wise, I think the Rebellion models have a better chance of holding up over time. I can see the stands on the Star Wars Risk models breaking easily if mishandled.

Detail wise, the Rebellion models seem to be cleaner and more distinct then their Risk counterparts. One thing to note is a number of my Y wings that came with rebellion are bent slightly(one quite noticeably) out of shape.

TIE Fighters

Rebellion wins easily here, the material and detail are much better than Risk’s offering.

Cards

By far, Rebellion’s cards are much better than Star Wars Risk. The artwork and quality of Rebellion’s cards make the game a joy to play. Star Wars Risk’s cards are pretty ugly, but functional.

Game Boards

There is really no contest on which game has a better playing surface. Star Wars Risk’s board is flimsy and somewhat unattractive. I also worry about it falling apart over multiple playthroughs, the durability of the board is questionable.

Rebellion’s board is gorgeous to look at, but the thing is huge! The length is about the same size of a regular board, but the width is double the size of one. Have a big table ready as this puppy is going to take up a fair bit of room!

Rebellion has some extra components that don't line up with anything included with Star Wars Risk, let's take a quick look at them now.

Play-mats

For the price of Rebellion I was a little let down that the player boards were not cardboard boards, but just cardstock mats. They are fully functional, but I was hoping for a higher quality play-mat, with Rebellion’s price point.

Leader Stands

God damn these are awful, the leader stands are cardboard killers! When you insert the cardboard leaders into them, it is very difficult to not permanently damage the leader as the clamps on the stand will tear and damage the leader easily. All my leaders are basically damaged, and some torn badly because of these awful things. Not impressed at all with them.

Leaders

The leaders are printed onto a double sided cardboard token. They look great, and work well. It's a shame that their stands are such rubbish.

Death Stars

Love these models, they are a fearsome sight on the board. Nothing will make you sweat more as the rebel player seeing one of these bad boys heading towards your hidden base. I've seen a few reports of these coming misshaped or difficult to put together, but I did not run into either of these issues.

Other Imperial Ships

The Imperial Star Destroyers and Super Star Destroyers are nice little models, I found the transport ship to be a little basic looking. Overall I'm pretty happy with the look of these.

Other Rebel Ships

The Rebels bring some fire-power to the table with their cruisers and corvettes. These models are excellent and well detailed. The Rebels have access to transport ships, which look good too.

Stormtroopers, Rebel Troopers

Nice detailed models for both sides. Look even better painted up!

AT-ATs , AT-STs

Love the AT-STs, was a bit let down the AT-ATs did not come attached to a stand. Both look good, but the AT-ATs fall over a lot due to them only being supported by their small legs.

Airspeeders

Another cool looking unit, nothing bad to say about these. The airspeeders feature nice detail and are a nice addition to the rebel ground forces.

Buildings

The Ion cannons are very nice little models, the shield generators are a little boring but match up well to the same design as seen in the movies.

Value

If you are on a tight budget, it's hard to beat the excellent value that Star Wars Risk provides.

I was able to grab a copy of the game on sale for $20 CAD, which was a steal of a price. Its regular price of $40, is a tad much for the game's boring playing cards, and flimsy board. Thankfully, the game has been mass produced by Hasbro, so sales occur frequently. If you are able to grab a copy under 30 bucks, the value for what you get is pretty decent.

Looking at Star Wars Rebellion, it is a beast of a game, with a high price, and a large amount of components. I was “lucky” enough to grab a copy for $90 CAD, but the cheapest I've seen copies for lately are around the $115 dollar mark. Hell at local stores, it is priced as high as $150. This is a large price to pay for a single game, as you could purchase two or three other excellent games for the same price of owning Rebellion.

Rebellion is a great game, but I'm happy I got in at the reduced sale price. I'd feel overcharged if I spent $120, or more. For a price this large, everything should be perfect. Rebellion’s lazy box insert(I tossed this immediately and replaced with custom containers and baggies), cheap faction mats, and terrible leader stands, do not support a $100 plus asking price.

Conclusion

If you are on a tight budget, or don't see yourself playing a four hour long game, then Risk is an easy choice vs Rebellion.

If you are looking for a deeper game beyond what Star Wars Risk offers, and you can stomach the cost, Rebellion is probably the best choice.

I'm pretty happy with owning both. It's nice to have a quick and easy Star Wars Risk, and the hard hitting Rebellion on my shelf. Both are nice additions to my collection, and provide a range of Star Wars games to play with others.

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