Star Wars: Outer Rim is a game about nameless smugglers and mercenaries building up their reputation and infamy to become the greatest outlaws of the far corners of the galaxy!
Brief Overview of Star Wars: Outer Rim
Star Wars: Outer Rim is best described as a “pick up and deliver” game with added elements of dice rolling, player powers, and progression. The game was designed by Corey Konieczka and Tony Fanchi and published by Fantasy Flight Games.
Outer Rim is not a very complex game, but playtime of 120 to 180 minutes is unusually long for a game of this type and may not appeal to everyone. However, if you’re a fan of the Star Wars universe, there’s plenty you’ll love in this board game.
Unboxing Star Wars: Outer Rim
Beneath the box cover depicting the Millenium Falcon dodging shots within an asteroid belt, there’s plenty of components to take a look at:
- 12 Ship Sheets
- 4 Player Boards with 4 Plastic Fame Markers
- 16 Reputation and 22 Contact Tokens
- 16 Patrol Tokens
- 8 Character Standees with 8 Plastic Stands
- 60 Credit and 40 Damage Tokens
- 1 Rules Reference and 1 Rulebook
- 70 Encounter and 70 Market Cards
- 53 Databank and 10 AI Cards
- 8 Character and 4 Reference Cards
- 6 Map Tiles
- 6 Dice
- 12 Goal Tokens
- 2 Map Endcaps
Starting from the top, we’ve got an FFG catalog, the rule reference, and the rulebook. I won’t go into the details regarding the rules, but the two books are well printed and have clear and sharp font text.
Next up, you’ve got the punch-out cardboard pieces. The artwork direction combined with the color palette makes very vibrant and eye-catching imagery, but the cardboard is a bit on the thin side.
It’s not as noticeable on the smaller pieces, but the game and player board feel somewhat flimsy. I don’t think it’s going to affect the long-term durability of the components, but it’s something I’m not a fan of nonetheless.
The player progression boards have a 3D design so sliders and pegs fit into their spots and won’t slide around. I’m a huge fan of these, to the point where I started 3D printing my own overlay pieces to place over slippery progression boards.
Cards have a reflexive glossy finish but are otherwise well made and designed. The dice are custom made and look really cool, and aside from the artwork, there’s nothing else that stands out within the components.
Overall, I would rate the Star Wars: Outer Rim components as serviceable. There are no significant faults with them, but there’s certainly room for improvement, especially in the choice of material for the punch-out components.
How to Play Star Wars: Outer Rim
The goal of the game is to gather enough fame points to become a new legend of the galaxy. Being an FGG game, the rulebook contains more exceptions than rules, but I’ll explain the main concepts so you can get a better of what the game is about.
Rather than being a square, the board creates an arc that represents the Outer Rim of the galaxy. Combine the six pieces of the board and create the board, then place the patrol tokens on their designated positions.
Roll to determine the first player. They’re also the first person to choose a character and a ship, with the rest of the players drafting in clockwise order.
The available characters are: Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Boba Fett, IG-88, Bossk, Doctor Aphra, Jyn Erso, and Ketsu Onyo. Every character has a specific setup, so follow the instructions on the character cards to determine the starting location and standing with different factions.
Starting with the first player, the game proceeds clockwise, with everyone taking three steps (actions) on their turn.
The planning step lets you do one of the following: gather credits, move on the map, recover damage or use one of the special card abilities. You’ll use the move action often to reach the smuggling or bounty destinations.
The action step can be used to trade with other players, buy cards on the market, drop the bounty or cargo you’ve collected on the way, or resolve an action. Trading is an interesting concept that allows you to exchange bounties, jobs, and even crew members.
To complete the trade, both players have to be in the same space, trading currency is not restricted and relies on non-binding verbal agreements.
The encounter step leads to a story-based situation where you have to resolve one of the available encounters:
- Encounter a patrol – engage in combat against a patrol. If you have a negative standing with the faction that controls the area, you have to fight them.
- Encounter your space – draw an encounter card matching the space you’re currently occupying.
- Encounter a contact – an action that typically gets you a new crew member.
- Resolve an encounter ability – as the name implies, simply resolve the ability written on the encounter card.
A player versus player battle is a rare occurrence, as most of the combat involves fighting to earn a bounty or against a patrol. Ground combat depends on your character’s attack and health, while ship combat uses your vessel’s stats.
Combat is resolved through simple dice rolling, and both the attacker and the defender can take damage. The attacker rolls a number of dice equal to their attack value and sums up the score. The defender does the same, followed by the distribution of damage.
Some battles end after a single roll, while others require a winner to be declared before they can end. If both players roll the same amount of damage, victory goes to the attacker.
Star Wars: Outer Rim has a lot of skill checks your characters to pass. At the bottom of the character or crew card, you’ll find what skills your crew is good at.
When you encounter a skill check, you perform it even if you don’t have a specialized crew member, although your chances of success will be lower. The levels of skill are: unskilled, skilled, and highly skilled.
Bounties & Jobs
At its core, Star Wars: Outer Rim is a ‘pick-up and deliver’ game, which means you’ll do a lot of travel between planets to deliver the cargo.
The first step towards a bounty quest is taking a card out of the market deck. Then the player has to find and fight the target to complete the quest. Jobs work in a similar fashion, but instead of combat, you’ll have to pass a skill check. Like bounties, there are several steps to successfully completing a job and earning fame.
As soon as one player earns their 10th fame token, the game ends and they’re declared a winner. Apart from completing bounties and jobs, fame can be earned by completing personal character goals, ship goals, winning high-level patrol combat, smuggling, and using luxury market cards.
Your First Game of Star Wars: Outer Rim
Getting all the rules pinned down is going to be a problem for first-time players, but if you take things slow and patiently, everyone will get a hang of things by the end of the first session.
That being said, it’s better to start with just two players and introduce the 3rd and 4th players in separate sessions to reduce the amount of downtime. Outer Rim is a long game, to begin with, and a group of four players will spend over 4 hours on their first session.
Star Wars: Outer Rim is not an on-rails experience, but somehow, it will always take you in a certain direction. The best way to enjoy the game (and win) is to play to the strengths of your character. Boba Fett is your bounty hunter, Han Solo excels at smuggling, Jyn is more versatile which is great for completing jobs.
Pros & Cons
- Roleplaying Aspect
- Well-Used Theme
The biggest strengths of Star Wars: Outer Rim are the theme and ability to roleplay your character.
Some games use the theme to its fullest, others slap it on for a boost in sales, but Outer Rim sits in the middle. The good part is that playing the role of your character will help you win the game. A smuggler isn’t good at combat, so if you attempt to fight patrols and bounties, you’re setting the odds against you.
On the other hand, I wish that the gear cards were character-specific, as it’s just weird to see Han Solo use Boba’s jet pack or Han’s pistol in the hands of Bossk. Still, there’s plenty of interesting lore in the game that can be appreciated by a serious Star Wars fan.
- Gameplay Is Too Long
- Anticlimactic Ending
- Reliance on Luck
We’ve all played board games that you just wish would end, and they’re usually the ones that have only personal goals as game-ending criteria. Without some form of a time limit, an inexperienced group of players will have sessions that are way too long with ends nowhere in sight.
Playing up to 8 fame points does help to an extent, but it’s not how the game designer intended for the game to be played past the first session.
There’s also the matter of RNG in regards to just about anything you do. Passing skill checks depends on dice rolls, combat depends on dice rolls, and drawing any card depends on luck. Put it all together, and as a player, you can only improve your general chances, but never have guaranteed success.
Star Wars: Outer Rim is not a perfect game, but if you’re a huge Star Wars fan and want to play another board game inspired by its theme, Outer Rim is a solid option!
The game encourages you to play your character rather than yourself, and while luck has a lot to do with your success in the game, playing to your character’s strengths should lead you towards victory.
Rules may seem daunting at first, but Outer Rim is actually a fairly straightforward game that won’t burden you with too many mechanics. With 2-3 hour playing time, it’s a perfect evening game to enjoy with friends that are also fans of the Star Wars universe.
Through the review sections, I tried to be as neutral as possible and find aspects that will appeal to most players and fans of the universe. Star Wars: Outer Rim is not a bad game by any standards, but it’s also not great either. Considering how generous the community is when it comes to rating board games, the 7.7 community rating seems about right.
Why am I not a fan? I’m not a huge fan of Star Wars, but theme aside, there’s a lot Outer Rim does that doesn’t fit my preference.
First, there’s the sheer amount of RNG and very little in terms of mitigating luck-based elements. The fact that you can’t near-guarantee an outcome with enough preparation can quickly become frustrating.
Few will find a problem with the scoring system, but I’ve all but completely lost patience for games that have the “reach X victory points” as the only game-ending scenario. Some games can just drag on as luck isn’t on anyone’s side, and gathering fame goes slowly.
To reiterate – Star Wars: Outer Rim is a decent “pick-up and deliver” game, with a lot of content fans of the universe will enjoy, but I’m just not sold on it.
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We hope you enjoyed our Star Wars: Outer Rim review. What are your thoughts on this sci-fi space exploration game? Have you played any other Star Wars-themed board games? Drop a comment in the box below. We would love to hear from you!