Cardboard Children: Star Wars – Imperial Assault Expansions

Hello youse.

You might remember my review of the skirmish game for Imperial Assault. If you don’t, you can read it right now by simply pushing your finger down on the button on your mouse while pointing the arrow on your screen at this link.

I want to revisit the game now, one month later, because I’ve been digging much deeper into the skirmish game, and I have gone ALL IN with every expansion. Yeah, like, I bought everything. I went all in, just for you! Well, and me. For me too.

IMPERIAL ASSAULT: WAVE 1 EXPANSIONS

All in, baby. All in. First of all – why did I go all in?

I kept playing Imperial Assault’s skirmish mode after my original review went out, and it just kept getting better. The campaign game remains untouched – I will get to it, once I get the people together to make a run at it – but the skirmish game is more than enough for me right now. I think I actually undersold it a fair bit in my piece last month. This game is mad strong.

With each expansion pack you buy, you get a new miniature or miniatures, a set of cards that can be shuffled into the decks that come with the base game, and a sheet that details a campaign side-mission and two skirmish scenarios.

Now, first of all, the miniatures – they’re of the same high quality as those you find in the base game. They’re unpainted, sure, but man are they nice. Han Solo looks like Han Solo, Chewbacca is a big ol’ bastard, and the Royal Guard Champion just looks super cool. I mean, his cloak is billowing like he’s the coolest guy in town. And he just might be – we’ll get to that.

The skirmish scenarios are the exciting thing, for a guy who has fallen in love with the skirmish game (I’m that guy). You’re given a map, allowing you to construct a new location from the base game’s tiles. Two skirmish scenario cards pertaining to that match are shuffled into your skirmish deck.

Here’s where I’m surprised. Here’s where this game has really grabbed me. The skirmish scenarios each introduce different little ways to play the game. So, one of the scenarios in the Han Solo expansion – “Local Trouble” – gives you a little cantina brawl, with NPC thugs attacking both teams while they try to take each other out. It turns the skirmish into a lovely, chaotic rumble pit, with players trying to avoid or eliminate the roving thugs while ducking each other’s attacks. The other skirmish in the same set – “Sabacc Standoff” – lets players gamble with victory points to an extent, with the Sabacc Table in the cantina increasing in value as the match goes on, but with the speed of that increase in value under player control. So, that’s two scenarios in one expansion, both giving a very different gameplay experience.

The IG-88 expansion has a couple of really great skirmish set-ups. “Most Dangerous Game” lets players secretly choose one of their deployed figures or groups to be a bounty hunter. These bounty hunters become the focus of the game, with their survival netting points, and their kills being worth double the normal value. “Mind Of Its Own” is set in a junkyard, where a massive killer laser has activated at the foot of the map. This laser starts to move up the map, destroying everything in its path. Now, skirmish matches can often be these cagey, tactical affairs. But this scenario pushes both players together, squeezing them into a smaller and smaller area – which is a nightmare for any player trying to avoid Darth Vader, believe me.

Chewbacca’s “Prison Break” is exactly that. A prisoner is placed on the map, and dominance of the prison area frees him. This moves the prisoner into a player’s control, and that player starts ringing up points for every round the prisoner stays alive. Battle lines drawn, the other team gets a big point bonus for killing the prisoner. Now, this is an interesting one. Releasing the prisoner into your care when it’s likely your opponent will be able to quickly eliminate him is a bad idea. But stand off the prisoner until you’re in a better position and your opponent might take the prisoner first, flipping you into that execution role.

And, you know, it’s fantastic how much variety these scenarios bring into the skirmish game. These aren’t simple little throwaway things. There’s clearly been some work done on making the skirmish scenarios interesting, flavourful and sufficiently different from each other. With the base game and the expansions combined, there will be 20 potential skirmishes in the deck. Whether you choose a favourite or just deal one out randomly, it’s going to affect how you build your team, how you build your command deck, and how you play the game.

As for the characters themselves – I’ve found all of them worth the purchase price. But hey – I’m a fan now. A proper fan of this game. IG-88 is a brilliant addition to a team, with all his robotic gubbins making him very versatile (he has a special ability that lets you choose which dice to roll every time he attacks, simulating the vast array of weaponry he can call upon at any time). Chewbacca is an absolute beast. His abilities allow him to, as we say in Glasgow, fling guys about like a wet trackie. He hits hard and can soak up a lot of damage. He can pick up and throw people and then fire a bolt at them. He’s a terror. And it’s great the way Han and Chewbacca work together – when they are side-by-side their defensive capabilities are boosted. It means they tend to pal around together on the map like old buddies, which is nice, right? That’s what Han and Chewie should do in a fight, no? It’s yet another element that proves how much work Fantasy Flight Games has done to make this game feel like Star Wars.

I am terrified of the Royal Guard Champion. He’s a monster. He’s like a ninja. He has these flurry attacks that just chop everybody up. I played a game where I had to deal with a Royal Guard Champion and Darth Vader at the same time. I was running around like my arse was on fire.

It was brilliant.

ALL-IN BABY. ALL-IN.

I thought it was important to go back to Imperial Assault now that I have a complete overview of Wave 1. And remember this is still only the skirmish stuff. Only one of the two games in that box. And I’m loving it. Really loving it. I’ve even bought an extra dice pack. I didn’t even need them! I just bought them because god help me I don’t know why.

And what’s coming next? Oh, loads of stuff. Boba Fett. R2-D2. Some stormtrooper guy who is like a special stormtrooper or something. He even has a name. I dunno. I’m buying him anyway. Because these expansions are great. This line is great.

This game is great. And I’ve only played half of it.

How cool is that?

13 Comments

  1. latedave says:

    I’m actually a little disappointed in this review. Enthusiasm for a topic is fine but there’s virtually no critism of the negative aspects. Some characters are very underpowered , expansions are generally over powered to encourage purchase. The skirmish game is interesting but it’s very slow to play. Don’t get me wrong , I like the game but this review is not balanced

    • Hensler says:

      Nah, brah. You’re tripping.

    • Fuligin says:

      Has Cardboard Children ever been anything but a booster for terribly balanced Ameritrash flavor of the week?

  2. latedave says:

    I guess to back up the above I expect something a bit more rounded from Rab or maybe I’m being harsh!

  3. jomurph86 says:

    I too, expect a reviewer to put their personal opinions aside and instead share MY opinion!

    ;). I know that’s not what you’re saying

    • latedave says:

      Hopefully it doesn’t read like that!:) I’m just saying that a bit more positive / negative balance would be good. It’s potentially quite a bit of money to fork out.

      I’ve played both modes and we seem to have stuck with the campaign by common consensus which everyone broadly enjoys but there’s still certainly some issues with it. ie for newbies its quite possible to stitch yourselves up against certain opponents (crimson cloaks is a good example!) . the mission times also feel ‘off’, some of them basically involve a non stop sprint and some of them allow a complete butchery of the imperials before completing the mission.

      It’s a great game and I’d still recommend it but there will definitely be things that frustrate you about it.

  4. thekelvingreen says:

    You make the skirmish game seem like great fun in a way that the older, scenario-based versions of Warhammer were. There’s some irony there.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    There are days where I wish FFG hadn’t got the Star Wars licenses, because they have made too many good games with it. I’ve spent an embarassing amount of money on X-Wing, and then they released this, and now Armada is out (and excellent). Yikes.

    • StarkeRealm says:

      Yeah, I’ve been sticking with the card game and deliberately ignoring everything else they’ve been putting out.

  6. Blackcompany says:

    I find myself losing interest in games as soon as I see the FF logo. Fantasy Flight has reached a point where they cherish complexity. Not necessarily depth, mind you; just complexity. Edge battles, blindly tossing cards away for very little “extra” effect…a small measure of asymmetry no matter how off it feels…they try and cram as many mechanics into a game as possible, regardless of how well they fit, and many of these mechanics are recycled or barely changed from one game to the next.

    Meanwhile, you’ve got companies such as Smallbox games and other smaller groups doing far more interesting things with a smaller budget and fewer cards. I’d take Star Realms or Omen: Reign of War or Valkyrie or Hemloch over anything FF puts out these days. There’s a difference between complexity and depth and its something FF desperately needs to learn, in my opinion.

    • Hensler says:

      All sorts of fools tripping in these comments.

    • Walsh says:

      Their Star Wars games have the easy to pick up, long time to master vibe.

      Some of their board games did get needlessly complex, and required erratas (Android, Mansions of Madness looking at you) but they’ve been on a hot streak for the past year or so; providing cleaned up, faster playing games like Eldritch Horror, X-Wing, Descent 2nd Ed., Imperial Assault.