Stats at a glance
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
As a massive Star Wars nut, I was so excited to explore Star Wars: Rebellion. What could be more exciting than living out the greatest trilogy of movies ever made on the tabletop?
No Jar-Jar Binks. No trade negotiations. Just pure, sweet original trilogy.
So, sit back. Grab yourself a pint of blue milk. And let’s see if it manages to stay on target!
Read the full Star Wars: Rebellion review below.
Brief Overview of Star Wars: Rebellion
Star Wars: Rebellion is a big-box wargame that pits the Rebels against the Galactic Empire. Designed for two players, it is possible to play with up to four by dividing into teams.
Each side’s winning conditions are different. The Rebels must drum up enough support across the galaxy to lead to a full-scale revolt without being quashed by the Empire. The Galactic Empire must keep a handle on any uprisings while searching out the Rebel base and then destroying it.
Gameplay takes place on two levels. First, you can send your key leaders on missions to achieve strategic objectives. At the same time, you must command your individual armies as you battle for control of the galaxy.
The result is a tense game of search and destroy. During this, you’ll introduce all your favorite Star Wars characters and act out most of the key events from the first three films.
Versions & Expansions
Star Wars: Rebellion – Rise of the Empire
The only expansion for Star Wars: Rebellion, Rise of the Empire introduces a host of characters and cards to take account of the new additions to the universe from the Rogue One prequel movie.
This includes the likes of Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, U-wings, TIE Strikers, Nebulon-B frigates, and the Interdictor. All in all, it adds eight new leaders, thirty-six plastic miniatures, and more than one-hundred new cards.
Unboxing Star Wars: Rebellion
Star Wars: Rebellion comes in an extremely large box to fit in all the miniatures. The components you will get are:
- 153 Plastic Miniatures (89 Imperial, 64 Rebel)
- 2 Game Boards
- 2 Faction Sheets
- 25 Leaders with Plastic Stands
- 68 Mission Cards
- 15 Objective Cards
- 30 Tactic Cards
- 34 Action Cards
- 76 Markers (Destroyed System, Subjugation, Imperial Loyalty, Rebel Loyalty, Damage, Time, Reputation)
- 10 Custom Dice
- 1 Rules Reference
- 1 Learn to Play Booklet
The miniatures are the stand-out component here, of which there are many – from TIE Fighters to AT-ATs, Snowspeeders and X-Wings, Star Wars fans will not be disappointed. Especially daunting are the three whole Death Stars (or are they moons?)! Three! I mean that’s just not fair…
The quality of the miniatures is astounding, each one with lots of little detail to bring it to life. Particularly impressive are the individuals themselves, such as the stormtroopers, which an impressive amount of attention went into. Some will need a little bit of assembly, but it’s nothing too difficult.
Then there’s the game board, which is covered in different systems that your units can control. It’s so big they had to split it into two halves. So, it goes without saying, you’re going to need a lot of room to play. On top of that, there is a huge number of cards and markers to manage, too.
On an individual level, the miniatures and components are all fantastic to look at. However, where Star Wars: Rebellion really shines is when you have the game fully set up. It is absolutely colossal and is quite something to take in.
How to Play Star Wars: Rebellion
To begin, players pick sides between the Galactic Empire and the Rebels, and take the relevant swathes of components.
Then, place the objective, action, and tactics decks on the board, before giving each player their mission cards. Players should now place their units as described in the rulebook (this applies to your first game only).
The Rebel player then secretly chooses a card from the probe deck, identifying where they want their rebel base to be hidden. They place the card under the side of the board, shuffle the remaining probe cards, and place them back on the board.
Phase One: Assignment
The first phase sees players assign their Leaders (EG. Princess Leia or Darth Vadar) to missions they have in their hands. To do so, they place it face-down in front of them and put the figure (or figures) on top of it, providing they have the required skills.
You don’t have to assign all your Leaders to a mission – those remaining in your Leader pool can be used in the next phase.
Phase Two: Command
Now players take turns resolving one of the following actions:
- Move a non-assigned leader to a system and then move adjacent units to them. If moving into a system with an opposing player’s units, resolve a combat.
- Resolve one of the mission cards.
In some cases, the opposing player may oppose a mission being resolved. This means they can move a Leader to the system it is being resolved in and must roll dice to determine if it is successful. Some leaders will have skills that grant them extra dice for certain missions. Princess Leia, for example, has the ‘intel’ skill, so is granted extra dice for any mission with that symbol. If successful, they will get to perform a special action.
Phase Three: Refresh
This is the clean-up ahead of the next round. All Leaders are returned to the Leader pool and new ones are recruited. Players replenish their mission cards. The Imperial player draws two probe cards, showing two systems where the rebel base is not located. The Rebel player draws another objective card (explained below). And the time marker is advanced.
At this point, players may also be able to recruit and/or deploy new units into their controlled systems.
The Rebel player has objective cards that they must try to fulfill throughout the game. Should they meet its requirements, it is discarded and its effects resolved. This is the primary way that the Rebels can gain reputation and advance the reputation marker.
Finding The Rebel Base
If at any point Imperial troops move to the system where the Rebel Base is hidden, the Rebel leader must make it known. The Empire can then attempt to conquer it to win the game.
Winning The Game
The Rebels win the game if they manage to advance the reputation marker to the same level as the time marker. This means they have gained enough support for a full-scale rebellion.
The Galactic Empire wins the game should they find the Rebel Base and conquer it (i.e. knock out all the Rebel units based there).
Combat isn’t so straightforward. It takes place both on the ground and in space, with a dice deciding the success of each individual attack. The number of dice is affected by the attack values of the units involved, and you can also use tactics cards to enhance your attack. The power of your tactics cards is determined by the Leaders (if any) you have sent to join the battle.
You have the option to retreat your units if things aren’t going well. Otherwise, combat ends when no units remain on one side.
Your First Game of Star Wars: Rebellion
Star Wars: Rebellion is a complex game. Therefore, it’s strongly advised you use the Learn To Play manual provided to guide you through your first game. This provides a prescribed set-up and walkthrough that is intended to make getting to grips with the gameplay more quickly.
On top of the simplified version I have outlined above, you should be aware of some other mechanics and features in Star Wars: Rebellion (of which there are many), including:
Each system in the galaxy has a loyalty marker, which will show either Rebel, Neutral, or Imperial. You can win loyalty from a system by completing diplomacy missions. Once you have won a system’s loyalty, you can then use its resources to build units.
The Galactic Empire can also subjugate a system, overriding its loyalty to the Rebels. It does this by placing a ground unit there.
The Rebel Base
Despite the Rebel Base being hidden, the Rebels can still move units there using the Rebel Base space on the game board. This allows the Rebel player to build their forces to defend the Rebel Base without giving away its location.
During the game, the Rebel player may draw the ‘Rapid Mobilization’ mission card. This allows them to move the rebel base, should they wish to do so.
Pros & Cons
- It’s very Star Wars
- An interesting twist on area control wargame
- Built for two players (although can be more)
- Fantastic miniatures
- Lots of rules to learn
- Perhaps over-complicated in some areas
- Confusing rulebook
As games go for Star Wars fans, the concept of Star Wars: Rebellion couldn’t be much sweeter. After all, it isn’t just Star Wars. It’s original-trilogy Star Wars!
You are essentially carrying out your own version of the first three films (in order of release), and there’s plenty of meaty Star Wars content in here to keep fans happy, in addition to the fantastic miniatures. There are numerous characters that get introduced as Leaders, while the missions and events let you live out and strategize for many of the main plot points in the films.
But does it stand up as a decent wargame in its own right? The answer: yes it absolutely does.
A twist on a typical wargame
It’s a fantastic twist on a typical wargame. Rather than a standard area command-and-conquer approach, it’s a game of cat and mouse on galactic levels, and it can get incredibly tense.
I really liked how it emulated the movies with a focus on both the individual missions of the main characters and the large-scale galactic battles between the opposing armies. It added an extra level of strategic thinking to the game.
I was impressed, too, by the balance of the two factions. On the one side, the imperial behemoth that is the Empire, and all the mechanical and military might that it brings with it. On the other side, the plucky Rebellion, nibbling away at the Imperial forces through guerilla warfare. The disparity in resources is, of course, huge, but the different winning conditions and special abilities make it very evenly matched.
A massive game of cat-and-mouse
Another big plus is that this is designed as a two-player game. It’s rare for a game this comprehensive to play best as a two-player, and it’s a fantastic option for those that enjoy a chunky strategy game but that might struggle to get a group together.
You should bear in mind, though, that this is not an easy game to play. Don’t let the relatively concise description of gameplay above fool you. There are lots of little mechanics and rules to learn for each individual Leader and mission, which can lead to you spending a lot of time with your head buried in the rulebook. Combat, in particular, has so many knobs and levers, it left me wondering if it was really necessary to make it that complex.
This perhaps wouldn’t be such a problem if the rulebook was written more intuitively. Instead, it is a bit of a struggle to find the information you need. And even when you do, you’re never quite 100% sure that you’ve got it right.
Star Wars: Rebellion is an area control wargame in which the Galactic Empire must hunt down and destroy the Rebel Base before the Rebels generate enough support for a revolt.
It’s an interesting twist on the genre that manages to generate a real sense of energy throughout. Both sides, while looking to achieve different objectives, will have to be hugely strategic in how they go about achieving them.
There are a lot of rules for players to get their heads around – and a confusing rulebook doesn’t make things any easier – but it makes for an incredibly rich, thematic Star Wars experience.
Star Wars: Rebellion is a vast and complex game of search-and-destroy that will keep any strategy and wargame fan happy, regardless of if they’re a Star Wars nut or not (it’s definitely not a trap).
I found it to be a tense and chaotic race against time as players chase each other around the galaxy. One waging a campaign of guerrilla warfare, and tactfully dodging in and out of battle. The other hunting down the Rebel Base, one system at a time.
Despite the huge difference in tactics required, both factions are just as fun as each other to play. By the end, you’ll both be wanting to swap sides and give it another go.
Had this not been a Star Wars game, the mountain of rules could be accused of being a bit overbearing and unnecessary. And don’t get me wrong, this is certainly not an easy ride. However, the extra richness that it brings to the theme, for me, makes it more than worth it.
Have you tried Star Wars: Rebellion? Drop a comment below! We’d love to hear your thoughts on this massive game of cat-and-mouse.
Looking for more Star Wars board games to play? Check out our video guide below:
A passionate traveller as well as a gamer, Joe is trying to play board games in as many countries as possible. No surprise, two of his favourite games are travel-friendly Tiny Epic Galaxies and Coup. But when in his home town of London, Libertalia and Secret Hitler are currently top billing.