Luke, i am your board game


Star Wars: Rebellion


First order for boarding Death Star  


Well, well, aged, Padawan, you have become, for a duel with your master ready you think you are? Then, opening the game box you are allowed to do - yes, this one here, nearly as big as a square Death Star. What you say? Lots of air in the box there is? Wrong you are - 70 percent of Dark Energy are present in it - exactly the same amount as everywhere in the universe that is. Obviously, lots still learn to must, paying me a visit on Dagobah you must. On both game boards, the planet in the right bottom corner this is. Then a bigger table to acquire you have. Because room for 150 playing pieces, heaps of markers and lots of cards needing you will, too.


Finally, we made it to Dagobah! Because, from now on we can continue grammatically correct. „Star Wars Rebellion“ is the game play implementation of the first trilogy of movies, nearly 40 years old, which already then was named „Episodes IV to VI“. If all this this doesn’t mean anything to you, you probably should not continue to read this, but whoever can at least muster a bit of sympathy for this story or at least was able to so a bit back in time, should really take (a long) time for trying out the game, because „Star Wars Rebellion“ has something to offer even to the know-it-all-already experienced player. The core mechanism of the game can be dubbed as a kind of „multi-functional worker placement“, which so far seems rather fresh and new at the moment.


Both players begin the game with four of their own “workers” and this number will be doubled to eight workers in the following rounds. Of course, in this game, workers are called “Leaders”, albeit, their functions in the game being, however, comparable to a worker. Each Leader, first and foremost, offers one action per round. The cases for the deployment of leaders are not only available on the board, but deployment is of leaders is also governed by the respective cards in hand. Those cards go by the name of “Mission Cards” and their effects are always connected with a positive effect for the player who uses such a card. In order to be able to play such a mission card, I must first assign a leader to the card - I play the intended card face-down on the table and place a suitable leader on it. Each leader, however, has varying individual characteristics, represented by four different symbols in varying numbers and combinations, and each mission card demands one of those symbols to be successful, necessary numbers of such a symbol vary from one to three. If my leader has not enough of those symbols at his command, I can deploy a second leader on the card for his support; this is also recommended if I want to have a higher probability for the successful completion of the mission at a later point in the game. The event of a mission card, that is, does not automatically happen, even if the parameters of the card are met by my leader(s) assigned to it, because my opponent often has the opportunity to intervene, provided he has - so far unemployed - leaders at his command, that is, if not all of his leaders are deployed on mission cards of his own.


An example could run its course like this: The Rebel player wants to try to complete a sabotage action with one of his leaders, on a planet controlled by the Empire. After the corresponding mission card has been revealed and the rebel player has placed his leader on the targeted planet, the Imperial Player can decide if he wants to try to counteract this. In case he wants to do this and can still do it with an available leader, he sends a leader to the planet, too. The final success or failure of the mission will be decided by rolling dice - the more necessary symbols the leader carries more dice you can roll. But even if the mission of the Rebel Player fails, the Imperial Player has, after all, lost an action for one of his leaders, because he has only achieved that the action of the Rebel Player failed, but was not able to achieve a mission of his own. So, in each round, each of the adversaries must consider well, if he would rather try to complete a mission of his own or tries to frustrate a mission of the opponent.


This permanent dilemma when taking a decision is further aggravated by the fact that you also need your leaders to move your own forces on the board and also for the purpose of conquering and defending of planets. A leader who is used to frustrate a mission of the opponent, is not only not able to complete a mission of his own, he is also unable to do any military attack action on the board. Basically, both players are concerned with this dilemma of choice; however, the aim of the game for the Rebel Player is “only” to make sure that he survives for a sufficient period of time, while the Imperial Player must find not only the secret base of the Rebels on one of about 30 planets and unveil it, but must also destroy this base. Therefore, the compulsion and necessity for taking the initiative is shifted towards the Imperial Player.


And, nastily, on top of this, a leader of your own on a planet prohibits the moving away of your troops from this planet. When, in the example mentioned earlier, the Imperial Player intervenes against the sabotage action of the Rebel player, his own troops on the planet are blocked for the duration of the turn. Furthermore, another, game-wise very nicely executed effect of the presence of leaders on a planet is, that you can roll dice for all leaders present on the planet if you want to try to complete a subsequent mission on the same planets afterwards. The more of your own leaders are present on a planet the bigger are your chances for the successful completion of your own mission there. Furthermore, several leaders on the same planet can also be of use in a skirmish that might have to be resolved in a later stage of the game - hence the description as “multi-functional worker placement”.


To make sure that the Rebel Player does not get too comfortable in his secret lair, he must cope not only with a dramatical military dominance of the Imperial Player that makes itself felt already at the start of the game and gets stronger with every round of the game, but must also know that a mission on a planet of Empire can also be countered by the Imperial Player with an attempt to capture the daredevil and foolhardy leader of the Rebel Player. This can happen surprisingly fast, so that suddenly the Rebel Player has one or two leaders and with them fewer actions available for the next round, so that he in turn must try to free the various leader from captivity, which of course costs him more actions. Furthermore, the Rebel Player must strive to repeatedly complete various other “minor” missions, with which the remaining number of rounds to play are reduced and with them the timeframe for options for the Imperial Player. Most of those missions are fraught with difficulties, often they even seem to be impossible to start with or can only be successful if the Imperial Player does not pay attention or takes unnecessary risks in his game play. But probably you will not be able to meet your own goal of the game if you do not take risks occasionally - and this goes for both factions in the game and provides a big chunk of the challenge.


However, the leaders are not the only components in the game, the really rather marvelously and in great detail designed plastic playing pieces need to be mentioned and favorably commended: Among them there are Ground Forces, AT-ST, AT-AT, Air Gliders, X-Wing Units, Y-Wing Units, TIE Fighters, Super Star Destroyers, two Death Stars and even one Death Star under construction.

As was to be expected, the skirmishes of those troops - and there are not that many of them that you would expect to happen - are resolved basically with rolls of dice. But, even here you find an interesting and elegantly resolved idea: „Small“ units can only do damage to „small“ units, so, for instance an X-Wing Unit can only hit a TIE Fighter, but not a Star Destroyer. With a chance of one sixth in a roll you can land a lucky hit, which allows you to ignore this rule, which, of course, can also backfire, so that an X-Wing can be randomly destroyed when the big laser cannon of the Star Destroyer is fired.


As we happen to be on the subject of destruction: How does that famous infamous Death Star work? The Empire has one of them at its command already at the start of the game, but it can at that point only be used to fire laser weapons against the bigger space craft of the Rebel forces - again with the possibilities of lucky hits targeting the smaller Fighter space craft. Only when drawing certain cards during the game will the “Super Laser” be ready for use and the Empire will be able to destroy a whole planet including flattening all that is on the planet, and this works in the true sense of the word - the components come with an impressive tile of eight cm in diameter, which is placed on the respective case of the board - nothing will grow here anymore. Okay, the Empire can do this only three times in a game and the Rebel Player can, anyway, score one victory point for each destroyed planet (this is not really logical, but works surprisingly well as regards to game play). To be able to destroy a Death Star the Rebel Player in turn needs one of two certain cards; after each turn in a space battle in which a Death Star is involved and which is survived by the Rebel Fleet, there is a nearly 50% chance for a dramatical demobilization of the Death Star.


The rule book, to start with, makes you really happy by offering „only“ the rather low number of ten pages of illustrated text; however, besides those rules there is a reference booklet, which is only meant to be that, a reference for looking something up quickly. However, without studying this reference booklet at least twice before you begin your first game, you will not be able to play a game using to the correct rules.

On 13 rather closely printed A4 pages you find numerous entries for nearly all relevant topics and everything is explained in an essentially easy to understand, however sometimes rather awkward form. Unfortunately, however, repeated explanations under different headings are used too sparingly, so that you do not find some topics (again) where you would suppose them to be mentioned. On the web, a FAQ of two pages (as of May 2016) is also provided, which has not been implemented in the German edition of the game. However, the texts of the various cards are formulated in a very understandable way, albeit with the necessity of being read very carefully and with maximum attention to be understood.

The Team Play version offered in the rules (two players versus two players) is, on the one hand, coupled with additional rules - regulating the distribution of responsibilities among the team members - and on the other hand probably intended only for those who like to play cooperative games regularly, because I do not see any other demand for that version.



After a game of Star Wars Rebellion you have something of a headache and you feel as if you had eaten a rather heavy meal. A bit unsatisfactory is the possibility that the Rebel Player is also able to win, when the Empire has taken control of nearly all of the universe, when one or two Death Stars are laying in wait to make space garbage out of unconquered planets and the two „top villains“ are still doing their jobs and, even that is possible, the hero of the Rebellion might have changed sides? Only the sufficiently long perseverance of a „small Gaul village“ will be able to bring the all-deciding turn of events?


And - maybe and possibly - the hour-long to and fro is only masking the fact, that in the long run and at the end all depends on an (un)lucky dice roll of the Rebel Players when he makes the attempt to destroy the Death Star. Altogether, the purpose is less to win or lose the game but more the joint influencing of a thrilling story. The concept therefore manages to stimulate your imagination and you will probably soon try to find time and opportunity to spend time in the Star Wars Universe with Star Wars Rebellion and a fellow enthusiast.

Despite the aim of the game and the respective starting position being essentially the same for each game, there is an astonishing range of variation within the storyline: The starting deployment can be different, the sequence and selection of mission and goal cards are different, as are the order and selection option for leaders, which can be entered into the game in future game plays with use-once-only action cards. Last but not least, the way your opponent plays decides how you believe that you can react best to his play.


Therefore, you might feel at the end of the game what you might feel when you watch the movies (again):


It’s fascinating, says nostalgia.

It’s implausible, says logic.

It’s incredibly cool, says your inner child.

It’s utter nonsense, says common sense.

It’s only a story, says broad-mindedness.

It’s what it is ... says the Force.


[Peace to the universe!]


Harald Schatzl


Players: 2-4

Age: 14+

Time: 240+

Designer: Corey Konieczka

Artist: Brian Schomburg + Team

Price: ca. 90 Euro

Publisher: Heidelberger Spieleverlag 2016


Genre: Worker placement, dice combat

Users: For experts

Special: 2 players

Version: de

Rules: cz de en es fr it pl

In-game text: yes



Wonderful, amazing components

Extremely harmonious implementation of the movie story

Coherent and interesting game mechanisms

Long playing time

Fan evaluation: one or two (Death) Stars more


Compares to:

Der Herr der Ringe Der Ringkrieg


Other editions:

ADC Blackfire (cz), Fantasy Flight (en), Edge Entertainment (es, fr), Asterion Pres (it), Galakta (pl)


My rating: 6


Harald Schatzl


Go, Checkers, Nine Men’s Morris, Chess: The eternal conflict between Black and White - „Star Wars: Rebellion“ continues this tradition asymmetrically, much more rules intensively and much more luck-driven, albeit not in an abstract way but in an extremely intensive and dense surrounding. After the first opening of the game box you really feel like that eleven years old boy, who sat with wide eyes in Gartenbau cinema, being lifted off his seat while visually flying along with an atmospheric glider. The concept, however, is not only good for nerdy fan boys, but can be an intense and satisfying experience for all frequent players willing to immerse themselves in those parameters.


Chance (pink): 2

Tactic (turquoise): 3

Strategy (blue): 2

Creativity (dark blue): 0

Knowledge (yellow): 0

Memory (orange): 1

Communication (red): 2

Interaction (brown): 0

Dexterity (green): 0

Action (dark green): 0