Take 2

Second go at Rebellion, this time as the forces of order and the rule of law the Empire. Really, really interesting to play this a second time, especially against a more aggressive opponent. My buddy Robert Chilton pushed harder toward victory as the Rebels than my wife did as the Empire.

A few things jumped out at me, now having played both sides once:

* I think there’s more replayability than Shut Up & Sit Down led me to believe. Granted it’s just my second play, but the narrative was pretty distinctively different than the first time. Favorite moment: Han Solo went in to save Princess Leia from dad, then dad used his action card and imprisoned Han! And then the Emperor turned him to the dark side. Setting up the whole trap sequence and ending up with Darth Solo was extremely satisfying.

The place where the narratives diverge, I think, is in the highly variable setup as well as the highly variable approach the Empire can take. The Rebel side is probably kind of same-y, maybe more or less military depending on the objectives they draw early on. If you pull hearts-and-minds type political objectives, you’ll probably lay low. if you pull overthrow-your-oppressors type military objectives, then you probably go after a different subset of worlds and engage in fights in a different way.

But on the Empire side, man, you’ve got choices. The main split is running down the probe deck versus covering the map. I did my level best to cover the map this time, so that felt quite different than drilling down the probe deck. And since the Rebels weren’t pushing military, I wasn’t pushing Projects (i.e. build another Death Star, build a Super Star Destroyer, etc.). So there are probably a few buckets into which play might fall: low rebel military vs imperial probes, high rebel military vs imperial probes, and so on.

* The Rebels had totally run the clock on the Empire except for one terrible misreading of a vital card. Turns out the Rebels have to wait until the end of the Command Phase before they can set up a new base. Meanwhile, I had spent a couple turns steadily marching my military machine toward the discovered base and he was trying to finesse the timing. Ugh! Three hours of really intense cat-and-mouse, and the Rebels felt pretty screwed. Learning game! I didn’t know, either, because I had no time or need to move my base as the Rebels.

* Other interesting thing I learned: the “destroy a planet” cards are Projects! So if I ever see the Empire digging deep into the Projects deck, they’re probably lining up a system kill.

* Two plays in and, per the classic FFG experience, I’m still stumbling into dumb tiny rules with huge implications. The big one: you don’t get to use the production symbols on systems where an enemy has a unit. I mean it makes perfect sense, yeah? If you don’t control both ground and space, duh, that won’t be a useful world. That’s a big deal for the Rebels, I think, who want to strangle overwhelming Imperial production. Such a small little rule, but so important. That bugs me.

Anyway, I continue to be super-stoked to play this game. I feel like you could really dial in expertise and play Rebellion at a high level.


19 thoughts on “Rebellion”

  1. Your description for the Empire kind of reminds me of the Sauron forces in War of the Ring. I love asymmetric games like that.

  2. Yeah, it’s got that flavor for sure. The Empire is just overwhelming and stompy; the Rebels are fast and slippery and just running the clock as fast as they can. Excellent cat-and-mouse game.

  3. I’ve only played once and as the Imperials. It was a sound victory by turn 6 or 7. So much so that it felt kinda unbalanced. I’d like to play it again though to see if it was more of a fluke win then design. To me it does seem at least more straight forward for the Imperials to move forward and expand across the galaxy. You don’t really seem to even need to work that hard towards completing projects if you can just keep shutting the rebels down.

    The rebels on the other hand need to push forward with projects to shrink the time scale and dodge the Imperials the whole time. Which based on the Imperial rate of expansion seemed really hard. By round 6 we more then half the board covered or probed.

    It was a fun game though and I think covered the theme of Star Wars pretty well.

  4. Maybe, but it was his game.. Anyway some of it felt like good luck finding the reb base on turn 3 or 4 and then again by turn 6 or 7 after he moved it. But other aspects just looked like he couldn’t get any real momentum. I just kept shutting him down with most plans that he made if they looked to be significant at all. Any battle that happened were also decidedly on the imperials side.

    The guy playing rebels typically is a pretty good gamer. So not like this was his first big game or big strategy game, which is why the balance felt off. But yes I’m not discounting this off one game.

  5. It was wrong of me to suggest your rebel player needs to play better. I apologize.

    I’m trying to figure out how all these things can be true, though. If the Empire is stopping Rebel missions, they’re not moving troops around. If they’re covering half the board, they aren’t stopping missions. If they’re pursuing their own missions to dig deeper into the probe deck, they’re either not stopping the rebels or they’re not moving on the map. You only have 6 leaders by turn 3; you can’t do everything.

    Stumbling into the base on turn 3 tells me he put the base way way close to the Imperial front lines; you literally cannot get to the backmost worlds unless you beeline right toward them, ignoring everything along the way. Did you guys play with the starter map or set it up for yourselves?

    Finally, the Empire’s forces are split like 5 ways when the game starts (assuming you’re using the starter map). By turn 3, the Rebels will have had a round of production and should be have been able to trivially stop a ground attack.

    What I don’t know from personal experience is how moving your base looks. I suspect by turn 3 or 4 there should be plenty of map left to move to, but that’s definitely left to the draw of the cards (draw 4 to remobilize, hope they don’t have loyalty).

    So…yeah, I think several things could have gone just right: you could have beelined right into the right world with a very large ground force, not stopping to subjugate anywhere, and they could have drawn a truly terrible hand of new base options all of which are near ground forces equipped with transports, and then those guys could have immediately pounced on the new base. That’s a lot of things going right at the same time. There’s no beating bad luck.

  6. I believe it was just the starter setup, it wasn’t random. First few rounds I used our leaders to subjugate or make planets loyal and unless his plans were directly in conflict with mine I didn’t worry about it as the Imperial plans seemed pretty good at subjugating or negating rebel loyalty. I had a second death star up and running by turn 4 at the back of the board, which just happened to be right beside his base.

    So I probably gained 1 or 2 loyalty a turn, a few ships a turn to enforce our planets and 2 probes. By turn 6 we each had 8 leaders to expand actions too. I really just primarily concentrated on expansion and cutting off rebels and forced a few threats on a couple turns to capture Leah so that tied up a bunch of his heroes which also limited his expansion.

    Not saying either of us played brilliantly and it’s entirely possibly some rules were messed up. Just saying based on my experience the balance seemed off.

  7. So far (two plays!) the only real whoa is this right moment I’ve had is where the Empire can take Rebel leader. That’s a two leader delta and it seemed massively punitive. I had nine leaders to his seven, yikes.

  8. I had that card as well and attempted it, after capturing Leah. So I sent in Boba and Vadar to do the deed and he pretty much comited his whole force to stopping me. So I didn’t succeed but effectively wasted his turn. So then I basically bluffed that I was going to try that again with the carbonite card to take her out of the picture. So again he basically wasted his turn while I only used a couple of leaders on it.

    My one big disconnect is that there didn’t seem to be any risk at failing an attempt, other then a possibly wasted action. But since you only fail if you are opposed it nets out. Also some of the Resolve cards felt way more powerful then the attempt ones so I generally used them or just moved troops around since subjugating a planet seemed to prove really effective.

  9. Love this game. I was amazed how small the map seemed when I was the Rebels and how big the map seemed as the Imperials. Asymmetry at its finest.

    A little Rebel strategy I discovered in my last play was the placement of mission leaders to disrupt imperial movement. The Imperials really need to cover ground to find that Base. Lay down a mission that they want to oppose in a sector with a fleet they also want to move and make them decide. If they oppose the mission they can’t move. If they don’t oppose, they give you an unopposed mission.

  10. Brian Casey right exactly! Honestly you just can’t have enough leaders to do everything, and if you’re jumping into the imperial systems to run missions, they have to leave you unopposed.

  11. This was especially effective running a sabotage mission in one of their systems that produced Star Destroyers. The Imperial player was pretty torn about whether to oppose or not.

Leave a Reply