Games are to geeks like air is to humans and Star Wars games are no exception. Below is a small sampling of the Star Wars–related tabletop games we enjoy and why. Which of the myriad Star Wars games do you like best?
Star Wars Edge of Empire (Samantha Fisher)
Because we really are as geeky as the titles of our sites indicate, is it any surprise that a band of merry bloggers from GeekMom and GeekDad found themselves compelled one dark and stormy night to start a Star Wars Edge of the Empire RPG group? See that amazing collage above? We are in order: Jamie “Disguise Kit” Greene, Mike “Maple Flavored GM” LeSauvage, Anthony “Eyebrows” Karcz, Ryan “Locked in Storage Compartment” Hiller, Samantha “Smuggles and Snuggles” Fisher, Rob “Cuddles” Huddleston, Will “The Droid” James, Shiri “Walking Carpet” Sondheimer, and Dr. Gerry “Med Kit” Tolbert.
We try to play monthly, with as many of this band of merry nerds as we can gather, and oh my goodness we have so much fun. If I had to tell you in a sentence or two the difference between Star Wars EotE and an RPG like Dungeons and Dragons I’d have to say it is all about the storytelling in EotE. We have our most fun when we are coming up with unique and funny ways to screw with each other and especially our GM, Mike. there is nothing more fun that stumping him with our response to his campaign! I must say, though. a group this size and all of us are writers can really stretch out a campaign session but Mike has adapted admirably to our style.
Star Wars Imperial Assault (Anthony Karcz)
Star Wars Imperial Assault blasted its way into the miniature board game market back in 2014 with all the subtlety of the Death Star turning Alderaan into Shake and Bake coating. Fantasy Flight Games took their experience with their fantasy “tactical RPG in a box,” Descent, sculpted a metric ton of Star Wars miniatures, and created a game that every fan this side of the galaxy knew they had to own.
Instead of battling dragons or finding treasure, now players use one of several pre-rolled original Star Wars characters to battle against a game master (playing the Imperials) and steal plans, face down overwhelming waves of Stormtroopers (and the occasional AT-ST), and just try to stay alive as they pick their way through forest moons, desert planets, and space stations alike. Despite being highly technical in nature (for combat you have tons of dice to roll and you have to worry about things like line-of-sight), reaching your goals and surviving battles where the odds are stacked against you is thrilling in a decidedly Star Wars way. There’s never a battle you walk away from where you don’t give each other a grin, just happy you pulled it off.
Plus, once you’re done with the campaign (which will take a while, there are four expansions, with more on the way), you can use your minis to create squads and face off against other players in skirmish battles (that also have their own objectives and scenarios). It’s substantial enough that the skirmishes could have been a separate game on their own.
There’s also the fact that the miniatures are gorgeously sculpted. They’re what convinced me to finally try my hand at mini painting (which has tossed me so far down the Sarlacc Pit, I may never emerge). You don’t have to paint them to enjoy the game; but if painting is already part of your gaming hobby or you’re looking to try your hand at it, Imperial Assault will satisfy (make sure you check out Robin Brook’s excellent article on how Imperial Assault helped him rediscover the hobby).
Star Wars Armada (Anthony Karcz)
Star Wars Armada is for when you find you have money left over after buying all the expansions to Imperial Assault and X-Wing and decide that you hate the idea of ever having cash again.
Star Wars Armada takes the squadron dogfight concept and expands it to fleet-wide tactical combat. Using impressively detailed and painted miniatures, you gather your forces and deploy support ships and fighters while your Imperial or Rebel capital ships wade into the fray and blast everything apart.
What I enjoy about Armada (besides the minis, they’re prettier than just about anything Fantasy Flight Games has produced) is that it’s a contemplative game, you have to think several rounds ahead of your opponent or you’ll find yourself hemmed in and trying to blast your way out. FFG has done a great job of making the Empire and Rebellion play differently. Star Destroyers are bristling with firepower and shields, but they’re about as effective at making quick turns as Jabba is at scratching his back. Rebel corvettes are comparatively agile, but disintegrate quickly under concentrated fire.
The only Achilles’ heel to the game (other than it will devour your entire gaming budget for the year in under 12 parsecs) is that it takes a long time to play. Once you start planning out movement, determining range and firing arcs, and resolving damage and status conditions for over half a dozen ships and fighter squadrons, the fact that you only play three rounds seems like a blessing rather than a limitation. The first game my son and I played using character upgrades and equipment cards (which allow you to beef up your ships or give them special abilities), we finally called it quits after two hours and as many rounds of combat (something about not wanting to fall asleep at school the next day, sheesh). It is a decidedly chewy strategy game where X-Wing is more of a tactical snack. It doesn’t make Armada better, but depending on how deep you like your vehicular combat to be in games, Armada is a decidedly different (and fun) choice.
Carcassonne: Star Wars Edition (Jonathan H. Liu)
Carcassonne was one of the games that got me into modern tabletop games over a decade ago, and it’s still one of my favorites (though these days I’m more likely to play the app on my iPhone than break out the physical version). However, a couple years ago when I had the chance to get an imported version of Carcassonne: Star Wars Edition, I splurged … shortly before the announcement that Z-Man Games actually did manage to get the rights to publish in the US (making the price much more reasonable for the US).
The cities have been replaced by asteroid fields, the cloisters are now planets and moons, and the roads are trade routes. However, what I love about it is that it’s not just a simple reskinning of the original game; it actually uses a modified set of rules that allow you to battle (with dice!). Any time you place a tile adjacent to a moon or planet, you have the option of going to the moon/planet instead of your own tile, in which case there’s an immediate roll-off to see who gets to stay (and the loser gets some points as a consolation prize). And to encourage battling, there are a lot more moons and planets than there are cloisters in standard Carcassonne.
The five player colors now represent characters: green Yoda, red Luke, white Stormtrooper, black Vader, and orange Boba Fett. You can play in free-for-all mode or a 4-player team variant. If you like Carcassonne and you want to throw in some space battles, I recommend giving it a try.
Loopin’ Chewie (Gerry L Tolbert)
Based on the cult classic Loopin’ Louie, Hasbro’s Loopin’ Chewie was released in 2015 to capitalize on the upcoming The Force Awakens. Players take control of a red, yellow or green “lightsaber” and bounce a cartoonish Millennium Falcon up and over their team of three stormtrooper discs. If Chewie and the Falcon knock a player’s troopers to the ground, that player is out. The last player with any troopers remaining wins! The game is for 2-3 players, takes about 10 minutes, and is seriously fun for all ages.
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game (Gerry L Tolbert)
Released in September 2012, the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game arrived on the scene. The first kit included one X-wing, two TIE Fighters and all the kit needed to play the game. The game has no board, but players delineate a 36″ square as the play area. Each player takes on the role of a famous Star Wars pilot and places their miniatures in the play area. Players then select a direction and speed and then reveal and resolve their moves. Measuring sticks with preset angles and distances facilitate movement. Weapons are directional and based on line-of-sight. As long as the distances and angles measure up, ships take damage, handicaps are assigned, and then you do it all over again.
The 2-player dogfights can take as little as 20-30 minutes and there are currently more than 50 ships available with more being released every month. Check out Fantasy Flight’s Webpage or visit your FLGS.
Star Wars Home Brew Toddler RPG (Will James)
So this isn’t a game you can buy because it’s one I created (based on some RPG rules Cory Doctorow created), but on the bright side, all of the rules are available free online, are very flexible, and will work with just about any Star Wars toys you may have (and I’m certain you have at least a few if you’re reading this.) This RPG is very simple and is a great way to introduce some basics of RPGs to young kids. You can use as much or as little of the rules as you want to, depending on your kids’ familiarity with things (like die rolling, hit points, etc.). I started playing this a year ago with my three-year-old son, and we still play it now. We started with a minimal set of the rules, and I’ve increased the complexity ever so slightly over time. My favorite part though is after creating a few “scenarios” for us to play, my son picked it up and now does most of the scenario creation. For example, in the game pictured, his team was defending a castle as my team lay siege (no, he did not include a princess that needed rescuing). If you want to read the full details or get the full rules, check out my full write-up.
Star Wars: Rebellion (Rob Huddleston)
Without a doubt one of the most fun Star Wars games I’ve ever played, Star Wars: Rebellion hits all of the right notes: it’s got the depth and strategy serious gamers want but is easily accessible to those new at the hobby. It’s expansive, covering the entire galactic war with characters and scenes from the original trilogy, without getting lost in minutiae. Oh, and it comes with 153 incredible miniatures, including a Super Star Destroyer, two original Death Stars, and the Death Star 2. Check out my full write-up for more details.