On Monday I played my first run-through of the Star Wars: Imperial Assault tutorial mission with three players from the Tabletop Manchester group. This post sums up how it went and my thoughts so far…
With just three players the Imperials would have a clear advantage, so the tutorial calls for the E-Web engineer to be taken out of play. As the Imperial that was a bit upsetting as there’s some substantial firepower there. What wasn’t clear was where starting positions should be, so we just went with the illustrated start positions for the characters that the Rebels did use (Diala, Passil, Gaarkhan and Jyn Odan).
I did my best to explain the rules in simple terms, but ultimately the best thing to do was to just get stuck in and look up anything we weren’t sure about as-and-when it came up. A key thing for the Rebels is that any action (apart from special actions) can be performed twice, while the bonus abilities on cards are not actions – so are in addition to the actions. For Imperials the main thing of note is that they can’t attack twice in one activation (round).
The first round was extremely cagey; the Rebels quickly realised that as the Imperials were essentially assaulting their base spending an action on opening the doors wasn’t the best way to go. Rule one of base defence; don’t open the door to your enemy! The Imperials advanced while the Rebels went and picked up an item from the loot crate (I can’t remember what exactly – but it had healing abilities). I used the Imperial Officer’s ability to give the Probe droid an additional move so it was next to one of the doors, ready to open it and then shoot; which it did – doing some moderate harm to Diala. The squad of three stormtroopers advanced towards the other door.
Farewell fearless leader!
On the next turn Jyn took out the Imperial Officer – and damaged the Probe droid. With Diala not far away, the Probe droid retreated; I was hoping I’d get out of the reach of Diala. I would have too if I’d remembered I could use Move twice. As it was I moved and then attacked, doing some further damage to Diala; but crucially not enough to defeat her. Diala moved forward – damaged the Probe droid and stunned it.
Gaarkhan had yet to activate – but I figured the Stormtroopers might do some harm anyway. One opened the door while the rest stormed through (I assume that’s what they do, it’s in the name after all) and opened fire on Gaarkhan… barely touching him.
Gaarkhan charged forward into the Stormtroopers – swinging wildly but not managing to finish off his opponent thanks to a fortunate dice roll. His second attack did do the job though, and he managed to role a surge – allowing him to use Cleave and inflict a further two damage to another trooper.
Let the Wookie win?
As if there were a choice! Inevitably Gaarkhan activated first next round, and he started by finishing off the already-injured trooper before striking the remainder with pierce and slicing him in half.
The probe droid was next to activate – the first action was to remove the stun condition, leaving it with just one action; which it used to attack Diala. It wounded her, but that just meant Diala’s skills were reduced and she still had 10 more health points to lose, while the Probe had two.
Diala’s first attack damaged it once and stunned it again. The second finished it off.
The tutorial is a very simple version of the game and does a good job of getting the basic mechanics of the game across. There is a lot more involved in campaigns, but you need the basics in place first. This mission, to me, seemed biased toward a Rebel victory – however I made some mistakes which meant I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Having read BoardgameGeek it seems the opposite should be true and I’ve listed the mistakes which tipped the scales in the Rebels’ favour:
- Repeatable actions; I didn’t realise Imperials could repeat most actions, apart from attacks. That would have saved the Probe droid and possibly got me towards the terminal more easily which was one potential Imperial win condition.
- I forgot the Probe droid can recover health using surge – so I wasted a surge.
- “Defeat” is when a Rebel player is wounded, so they don’t have to be beaten through their first set of health and the second after being wounded. By that measure Imperials would have won when the Probe droid wounded Diala.
- Terminals; I only placed one terminal – the furthest away from the Imperials, there should have been two. The stormtroopers would have reached the second and been able to activate it, thus winning the game for the Imperials.
I think swinging the balance to the Imperials too much (as the tutorial is designed) would make for a less-enjoyable game, but perhaps just having one terminal (the far one, as I did) and correcting the other errors would make it a tighter game with a bit more jeopardy for both sides. I’ll be running the tutorial again with another group before seeing about starting a campaign, so I’ll give that a try next time.