Yesterday I had my first opportunity to pay Star Wars Imperial Assault from Fantasy Slight Games with some friends. The game lets up to five players play a customizable tactical campaign set shortly after the Death Star is obliterated.

The first mission of Imperial Assault tasks you with breaking into an Imperial facility and destroying vital computers

One player takes command of the imperial forces, controlling an array of storm-troopers, oddly named machine gun units and pointy-hatted commanders. Up to four players take control of rebel heroes, playing as individual characters  tasked with accomplishing missions. With five players, each rebel takes control of one hero. The game also has a two-player skirmish mode, I have not had an opportunity to check it out yet.

The game includes glossy character cards, high-quality figures, three hefty rule books and about a million pieces.

Overall, my friends and I really enjoyed the game. Here’s a quick synopsis of our thoughts:

The Good: The core mechanic is easy and works well. You get to do two things on your turn, any combination of: move, attack, grab the loot, open a door etc. The maps a lot of fun, and it looks like you get a good variety out of the box. It looked like there are over 30 missions in the base game, including unique side missions for each character.

The opening tutorial gives you a good sense of the game and individual units will work. Characters have a variety of special abilities, and it looks like the post campaign level-up system will be very fun. After playing the first story mission, our group was plotting and planning what gear to buy, what to save up for and how we should allocate our experience points. For a group that seldom functions as a cohesive unit, we were really drawn together to fight for a long campaign.

Experience and gear accumulate and are used across the length of the campaign. For example, after our first story mission our random upgrade options included a melee component that added a special effect to one of our characters and a blaster rifle that was a big upgrade for one of our ranged units. I’m not familiar with the Imperial rewards, but it looked like they had several options for doling out more punishment.

The Bad: There are a lot of rules in this game. Someone needs to spend some serious time preparing. With all that goes into the Imperial side, make sure you or someone in your group is committed to running this side, because they will be committed.

Great game, lots of pieces.

Also, the rule books don’t do a great job of laying out how to set up the campaign for both sides. Setting up the first campaign mission, I didn’t realize that as a rebel player I shouldn’t be seeing the things in the campaign guide. Sure, it does mention on the first page of the campaign book that rebels should never view the guide, but it tasks the Imperial player with doing the entire setup on their own. We also missed that the Imperial player gets their own class, leading to a very lopsided first game.

The Verdict: Star Wars Imperial Assault is an amazing game. If you have the time and patience to dig into the rules and really get into the rules, it will be an incredible experience. Expect long play sessions, and make sure your friends are in it for the long haul.

The base game is great, and there are a variety of character and setting expansions available. Here are some of the expansions on Amazon, pick them up today!