First Hours in Imperial Assault are Promising
Recently, Fantasy Flight Games sent over Star Wars: Imperial Assault, one of their older miniatures board games centred in the Star Wars universe. Included in that package from Fantasy Flight was a copy of two of the many expansions: Return to Hoth and Jabba’s Realm. Over the weekend, I began my first long deep dive into the game, playing for about 5 hours in total. After just a few hours, can I recommend it?
The best and worst part about Imperial Assault is that it tries to be everything. I will ultimately do a lot of comparing to Journey’s in Middle Earth (link content) as I’ve written about that a lot lately, and played for over 25 hours. One of the downsides of Journey’s in Middle Earth is that there is only one way to play the game – using an application, cooperatively fighting the evil that has infested Middle Earth.
Imperial Assault takes a different approach, and probably tries too much. Remember, Imperial Assault actually came out before Journey’s in Middle Earth, and I think there have been some learning opportunities along the way. In Imperial Assault, you can play the game cooperatively with an application on iOS / Android / PC.
You can play the game cooperatively with up to 5 players, where one player controls the Empire and the others, the Rebels. No application is required for this mode. Finally, you can play Imperial Assault player versus player (PVP) in a skirmish mode.
I love the versatility in the box here, but it does create a small, somewhat significant problem, especially if you love Star Wars and the universe itself. See, because the game tries to be so many things for so many different kind of players, it can lead to some confusion.
When using the application, you are instructed (often, but not always) to ignore what’s written on enemy deployment cards, and instead use the app. The issue becomes, sometimes what is in the application and what is on the card match, and sometimes it doesn’t. The wording on the cards is required because it is needed in the non-application version of the game for the Imperial player. It’s not a big deal, but it can get confusing.
The other issue is brought about during application play, and solely because the game doesn’t seem to have proper AI. One of the missions we were given was to infiltrate a planet, enter a facility, and rescue a number of pilots.
It is worth noting here that since we had two expansions, the application can draw in enemies from expansions, even if you are doing a campaign based on the core set. When we entered the furnace room of the facility to rescue the captured pilots, we were met by a ferocious….Wampa? Remember those massive, yeti like creatures from Hoth? Ya, one spawned in a furnace room, on a planet that isn’t cold.
It was odd, and while it provided a moment of laughter, it was a bit off putting for long-time star wars fans. They could have programmed the AI to spawn any number of monsters in this room. The Wampa was probably the least likely to get in there.
I’ve harped on what I didn’t like off the top because it’s now time to get to what I do like. If you’ve followed me on social media, you probably know already – I love this game. Even with the few quirks that drive me insane (reread above if you forgot!), the entire system is still really well done.
Of course, I do wish I had more figure packs as using cardboard tokens for figures NOT included in the box can be frustrating, but there is still a ton of content and figures to use, so it’s not terrible. The missions seem to make sense, and have enough randomness to keep you on your toes, while not feeling too cheap. We found that completing objectives was easier than we imagined (we found 4 pilots, but only one had to survive), but making decisions as a group was still engaging.
Imperial Assault uses dice to resolve combat, and while I enjoy using decks of cards like Journey’s in Middle Earth better, this system still works. It is a bit more random, and there were times when I felt we got the raw end of the stick on multiple rolls in a row, but overall it still works pretty well.
I will have a separate article typed up about the game’s components, so stay tuned for that. But after 5 hours playing Imperial Assault, I’m still really impressed, despite the few issues that I have.