Imperial Assault - Campaign Playthrough Review

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away... OK no more Star Wars lines I promise. So Imperial Assault, this is going to be written from the perspective of playing this game for two players. We also have an ongoing game with 4 players which is going well but I wanted to review this as an option for couples or two friends. To start with, the game is beautiful, the tiles are rich, the cards are gloriously printed, the model casts are some of the best I have seen in a board game (even comparable to cheap skirmish games) but how does it play? Well without giving the game away... Brilliantly!

It is worth pointing out we are both big Star Wars fans and I am trying to write this from an anti Star Wars perspective but I just don't think that is possible. If you take out the Star Wars fluff, you have an elite group of operatives and you have to complete missions, the missions are very well written and the way a campaign progresses means there is loads of re-playability. My wife who usually is the person who plays on the opposite side of the DM screen decided she wanted to be Imperials... OK, I thought, lets see how this goes. Much to her (and the games) credit she took the role on superbly, the missions are well written, clear and concise boiling down into one page in the campaign book. This means everything is within a short distance during the game to keep the pace fast, we had played two tutorial games prior to this but adding the extra campaign rules such as threat, hiring or recovering units only took about 20 minutes to get down.

The initial campaign setup which involved building the side mission decks, setting up heroes, choosing the agenda deck for Imperials etc. also took a further 20 minutes. I imagine in future campaign starts this would be quicker still. Once ready we were straight into the action and this is where it shines, the game plays very quickly but has a lot of tactical options with regards to your heroes, positioning and using stressful abilities. For the first campaign mission my wife took the approach of "I'm going to bludgeon you to death" being the Imperials finest the Storm Troopers of course failed, but the droids are nasty beasts that can take a beating. I didn't really keep an eye on the round timer for the first 3 rounds and once I opened up the complex the E-Web Engineer gave my rogue a good pasting with two rounds of firing (ouch). Time against me I quickly set about completing the mission end conditions (I won't spoil them) but suffice to say the Rebels won on the very last round with one activation remaining. A very very close Rebel victory. This bodes well for future missions as I was a bit worried that my wife might get bogged down and struggle with Imperial strategy but seeing how close this was (I broke a sweat) made me a happy gamer.

After this mission I ended up with a good chunk of credits to spend and managed to get a decent blaster rifle upgrade and a nice ability for my rogue allowing her to move after being damaged (giving her even better movement buffs). My wife sneakily purchased an agenda card and a faction upgrade card. This process is really quick and easy to complete, you just need to log how many credits, influence, XP you have remaining after. I really recommend the android app Log Imperial Assault Campaign, it does a really great job of tracking it all. With all this set we moved on to the next mission, without giving any spoilers away this is a bigger map with more turns and more tactical thought as you need mobility to get around quickly and not get bogged down just shooting things. Again my wife was brutally throwing droids, big cats, E-Web Engineers and Storm Troopers in my face even managing to wound my rogue, but my commando came through and managed to steal the victory again on the last turn. Post game we can see where she could have made better choices which would have sealed an imperial win, but this is the hallmark of a good game. Having those narrow victories, those story telling moments where a storm trooper fails to cause a single wound (being the finest marksmen in the galaxy), dodging behind a table and throwing a stun grenade to paralyse a droid and a big cat. Then looking back on these choices and being able to say "if I had only moved one more space to block you?!?" or "why didn't I use my imperial ability card?!?" We can already see that re playability with the side missions thrown in is pretty big, even with just the sets we have. I did a little research and found that the general consensus was for campaigning Chewie and Han expansions are a must as well as the Royal Guard Champion. These just mix up the missions even more and make stories unique and compelling.

This year being the year of Star Wars (again) we don't see how we will put this game down, it is really fun, quick to play once you have purchase on the rules and is a unique experience every time. With the release of the big box expansion Twin Shadows and a new Hoth expansion mentioned in a press release it really looks set to become the Descent 2 beater. I wont be divulging how our campaign story played out as it could spoil someone's day but suffice to say each mission has been vividly exciting and has kept us both hooked. A real good job on Fantasy Flight Games behalf in the production value and ruleset for this truly awesome game, coupled with Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures game you can connect up your space battles with skirmish narrative to create truly immersive experiences. That's all from me but this is definitely one to pick up if you like RPG, dungeon crawlers, character development, tactical/co-op board games and of course Star Wars!

Craig McNicholas

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.