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Have You Played... Star Wars: Rebellion

Rebel rebel

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

This is a rare example of a ‘Have You Played’ entry about a game that I had completely forgotten about until RPS readers sent me messages saying, “haven’t you played Star Wars: Rebellion?” Yes, is the answer, but I’d entirely forgotten it until you asked.

The catalyst for those messages was a comment I made when we published Rab’s review of…Star Wars: Rebellion. The boardgame. It sounds like the Star Wars strategy game I’ve always wanted , with rule systems that encourage roleplaying, whether you’re on the light side or the dark side.

See, here’s the thing I love best about this game – it’s not the game it looks like. You set it up on the table and it looks like one of your standard big 4X conquest and development games. You instinctively build a picture of what you’ll be doing in the game – building troops, researching new tech, expanding across the galaxy. But it’s not that. Rebellion doesn’t so much use Star Wars as the setting for its gameplay as use “galactic conquest board game” as its setting. Because it’s really all about those leaders, and the dynamic of how they’re used across the span of the game.

Naturally, I expressed hope that there’d be a digital adaptation one day. Who wouldn’t want to see a big ol’ Star Wars game about diplomacy, espionage and fleet combat rather than lightsabering people in the kidneys?

Well, it turns out that game already existed. And it has exactly the same name as the boardgame. Released in 1998, Rebellion is the closest thing to a grand strategy Star Wars game that exists and even though it sounds ideal on paper (and indeed on cardboard), I’d managed to entirely erase the PC version from my memory.

It isn’t identical to the boardgame but it’s close enough that I feel faintly embarrassed to have forgotten it during a discussion of that boardgame.

As to why I forgot about it, I couldn’t say for sure. I recall a terrible interface that failed to teach me what was possible and the few times I played, combat seemed to be more important (and more tedious) than any other option.

So, in a reversal of the usual formula, I’m turning the question around. I have played Star Wars: Rebellion but should I play it again, or try to forget it one more time.

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Adam Smith

former Deputy Editor

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