By Sébastien Gigaudaut, David Rakoto
No. of players: 2 Play Time: 60 mins Age: 10+
Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion is a re-implementation of another Fantasy Flight game called Cold War: CIA vs. KGB so you could say that the Star Wars theme is pasted on, I feel that it fits well enough with the mechanics, so this wasn’t an issue for me. SW: Empire vs.Rebellion is a blend of light deck building, hand management and variable powers. With the object of the game being the first person to 7 victory points, let’s take a look how it’s played.
Each player gets a deck of cards 24 resource cards, 8 of which are character cards, specific to both the Rebel and Imperial sides. Additionally, each side has 5 strategy cards also themed accordingly. Both players will then select 4 out of the 8 character cards and shuffle them into their resource deck, leaving the other 4 character cards face down to the side; this is your reserve deck.
Resource cards come in four different categories; Diplomacy, The Force, Recon and Military. They are the same for both sides in the way that they function the only difference is the artwork.
Character cards have a higher value and more powerful abilities.
Once your resource deck has been made you are then ready to start battling it out over iconic events featured in the Star Wars original trilogy. Each round begins with drawing one of the event cards.
The bottom left-hand side is the number you are trying to match. In this case, it’s 17. The hexagons symbolise the maximum number of cards you can play in front of you, 5. The text on the bottom right is the conditions for this particular event. The big number in the top right is the amount of victory point the event card is worth if won and the red number is the number of influence tokens you receive if you win the round.
Once the event has been revealed each player will then secretly choose one of their strategy cards.
The balance token is flipped and the side it lands on is the side that goes first. You can do one of four things on your turn; Play a card, activate a card’s ability, renew a card’s ability by paying one influence token or pass. Every card you play takes up one slot of capacity, and you can never play a card if it takes you over the event card’s capacity value. The Resource cards and character cards will also have a value, the object of the game is to get the total value of the cards you have played in front of you to match the objective value in the bottom left of the event card. When both sides pass, one after another, the round ends. The strategy cards are revealed, resolved and then discarded. The side that wins the event takes it and put’s it in their play area collecting any influence token if applicable. If there is a draw the side of which the balance token is on, wins. The balance token is set to the side with the least amount of victory points, and then all used cards are then placed back in your deck and shuffled, any discarded cards remain in the discard pile until your deck is empty, and then you will reshuffle these to form a new deck. Continuing until one side reaches 7 victory points or more.
If you are a fan of blackjack style card games, then you will most definitely enjoy Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion, as it is blackjack with extras. The resource and character powers give this game it’s back and forth competitive edge, which for me is a must in any two player game.
I thought the trade-off between the character cards being worth 6, but once their ability has been activated and the card is turned it is then only worth 1, it’s a simple mechanism that worked well and ups the anti as you can use abilities to “tap” your opponents character cards, and then if they haven’t got the influence to un-tap them, you have more than likely cost them the round.
All though the game, in theory, should be fairly repetitive the special conditions of the event cards prevent this, by not allowing you to use certain types of resources or even specific character cards the event makes you change your strategy, keeping Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion feeling fresh and adding replay value.
For me, the Star Wars theme neither added or subtracted to the level of my enjoyment, but asking my opponent, who is a huge Star Wars fan, the theme made it more enjoyable for her.
The one thing that I think lets the game down is the strategy cards, it’s not that I dislike them it’s the fact I feel the game should have more. 5 just wasn’t enough. Most of the time we picked the same strategy card as one another which meant they canceled each other out before affecting the game in any way, it was like baking a cake, it looks great while it is in the oven then you take it out too soon, and it just sinks!
All in all, I liked Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion it was a fun back and forth 2 player game with some simple mechanics that work well together. It didn’t knock my socks off, and it isn’t without its faults, but if your other half is the Han to your Solo then give this a go.
Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion has an RRP of £11.99 and can be found at these retailers.