Licensed board video games current an extra problem to recreation makers. Along with crafting a compelling gameplay loop, nailing stability, and providing artwork and elements that cry out to be performed, the perfect video games constructed round current franchises should in some way converse to what makes that setting and fiction so memorable to its followers, and in some way loop these parts into the gameplay, presentation, and the texture of turn-to-turn play. If the franchise in query is Star Wars, years of different toys, video games, cartoons, films, comics, and novels should even be factored in, and every can both be a instrument for enriching the sport, or a path to feeling like a retread.
Whereas there are many causes to take a look at Fantasy Flight’s new Star Wars: Outer Rim, it’s the best way that the sport faucets into a really explicit nook of the Star Wars universe and nails the bullseye that’s most spectacular. That is the Star Wars anti-hero fantasy writ giant throughout the gaming desk, the place Han Solo may pull off a job to avoid wasting his conceal from the Hutts, Boba Fett might search out an escaped insurgent, and Lando Calrissian is prone to impress the women with the insane luxuries accessible aboard his souped-up ship. Full of emergent moments of narrative, fast-moving battles, and a galactic rim that grows extra harmful with every passing flip, the newest Star Wars board recreation has lots to supply devoted followers who just like the shadowy features of the lore.
Dripping within the underworld vibes of that galaxy far, distant, Outer Rim performs just like the counterpoint to Fantasy Flight’s earlier (and glorious) Star Wars: Rebellion. That was a recreation about retelling the sprawling Galactic Civil Warfare, with grand fleet battles, Dying Star planet-destroying, and heroes like Luke Skywalker turning the tide of the battle. In distinction, Outer Rim is a private recreation; the stakes are about whether or not you possibly can convey a personality like Boskk or Jyn Erso to notoriety, and maintain them alive lengthy sufficient to scrounge up a brand new ship. It’s about whether or not you’ve obtained the affect to speak down that syndicate thug, or the data to interrupt in and steal the products from an deserted underwater temple. It’s additionally a recreation about petty backstabbing and politicking, the place you may flip in your personal crew for a bounty payout if it means eking out a little bit of favor with the scrappy Rebels or the authoritarian Empire.
One to 4 gamers can sort out a recreation of Outer Rim in a single sitting. The included solo recreation guidelines are nice for studying the stream of play (pitting you in opposition to an AI card deck), and I’m impressed with the stability work on show in that mode. Nevertheless, the interaction of a number of characters is undoubtedly one of the simplest ways to go, and in case you have the three-plus hours to spare to get by a whole playthrough, a full four-person complement reveals the sport at its finest. With extra gamers, there’s extra competitors for the perfect ships, faction patrols are extra lively, and it’s simply enjoyable to see all these acquainted characters zipping between planets like Tattooine, Lothal, and Nal Hutta, as every iconic hero confronts new story moments, acquainted character cameos, and sudden battles.
The very first thing you’ll discover about Outer Rim is its board, which takes the sport title to coronary heart. The semi-circle arc of playspace depicts planets removed from Coruscant, and the hyperspace corridors that interconnect them. Taking a cue from different robust narrative-focused Fantasy Flight board video games like Arkham Horror, Outer Rim depends on a number of location-specific card decks to get throughout its storytelling. Zip right down to Cantonica, and also you’re prone to face an encounter on the identical on line casino we go to in Episode VIII. Drop off cargo at Mon Calamari, and your encounters are positive to take you into that world’s deep oceans. These read-out-loud story snippet encounters are normally resolved by easy ability assessments utilizing the included customized cube. Crewmates you’ve gathered convey their very own abilities to these assessments, dramatically growing your possibilities at success, and motivating you to drag enjoyable NPC characters into your journey, like Chewbacca or Maz Kanata.
Most of the time, these crew members be a part of up as you run into them throughout the rim, as every planet has a random set of contacts to uncover, represented by initially hidden tokens. Perhaps you wish to decide up Greedo so as to add his stealth ability to your bag of methods, however one other participant could have a bounty for Greedo. For those who discover his token first, is the slow-on-the-trigger inexperienced man well worth the bother he may convey you?
The placement-specific encounter playing cards and the mysterious identities and run-ins with contacts mix to speak a way of natural and emergent story, like an unfolding TV sequence with plenty of competing plots, the place the ensemble forged regularly faces their very own dramas, however sometimes crosses one another’s paths. The sense of funding within the fiction is accentuated by your alternative of character, every of whom brings completely different talents to the desk that evoke their traits within the canon. Boba Fett is best at monitoring down bounties, whereas Han Solo manages to eke out a bit extra velocity from each ship he pilots.
Outer Rim additionally depends on a number of market decks that symbolize every thing from the roles you may tackle to the luxurious gadgets with which you intention to impress the opposite bounty hunters. There’s a relentless ebb and stream between the necessity to full cargo deliveries (a few of that are lucratively unlawful) and different jobs so you may get some credit, and the need of repeatedly advancing your private fame by more difficult duties, as that’s the path to recreation victory. Fame comes from plenty of sources, together with bounty completions (which may be turned in lifeless or alive, normally), successful fight in opposition to patrols of Insurgent, Imperial, Syndicate, and Hutt ships, and even by buying particularly swanky gadgets like a Dejarik Holotable or a present for the illustrious Jabba. I additionally like that each your most important character and the ships you purchase have private targets which may be accomplished, each to achieve fame and enhance that factor of your character. It would begin as a modified YT-13000 freighter, however put in some work, and that hunk of junk turns into the Millennium Falcon.
Fame can also be acquired by jobs, which are usually extra elaborate encounters that contain a number of ability checks. I really like the brief mini-adventures that jobs entail, like stealing the Jewel of Yavin, pulling off a rescue from the mines on Kessel, or hijacking a freighter. However I used to be dissatisfied in a number of recreation classes that it’s so exhausting to truly full these jobs early on in a recreation. As a result of they contain a number of abilities, it’s awfully exhausting to drag one off within the early to mid-game, so these thrilling encounters usually solely develop into viable within the final third of a night of play.
As contacts are revealed, patrols race throughout the rim, and the tempo of the sport accelerates, identical to a Star Wars journey ought to. Fight encounters and ability assessments are easy and maintain the stream of play transferring at a brisk tempo, however in addition they make the entire affair really feel a bit swingy. In one other recreation, which may hassle me extra, however right here the enjoyable is extra about seeing everybody’s character tales play out on the desk than enacting and seeing some particularly grand technique lastly repay. The big variety of card decks and tokens are fairly par for the course from large Fantasy Flight releases; they give the impression of being nice, and contribute to a greater recreation, however it additionally implies that setup and teardown can take some additional time.
Star Wars: Outer Rim hits the candy spot for its theme of exploring the underworld of the Star Wars universe, and that’s what counts essentially the most. Many times, I discovered myself chuckling at intelligent appearances by minor characters, or delicate nods to explicit storylines hidden away in an encounter. The artwork is and presentation is high notch, directions are clear and neatly organized into separate “be taught to play” and “guidelines reference” books, and whereas a single recreation with 4 gamers can run lengthy, the easy flip construction retains anybody on the desk from experiencing an excessive amount of down time. If the Mos Eisley cantina, Jabba’s Palace, or Maz Kanata’s fortress have been a few of your favourite haunts within the films, this can be a recreation that nails the tone of these scenes with aplomb. I’d be exhausting pressed to think about a significantly better construction for bringing this explicit theme and setting to life, and I believe fellow followers will really feel the identical.
Star Wars: Outer Rim must be extensively accessible for buy within the coming weeks, however if you happen to’re on the lookout for different suggestions on your recreation night time, there’s no scarcity of concepts accessible on the Prime of the Desk hub, reachable by clicking into the banner beneath. As all the time, if you happen to’d like extra customized suggestions for board video games, let me know within the feedback or by e mail, and I’ll supply up some concepts.