Sunday, 8 February 2009

Risk: Star Wars Original Trilogy Edition

Han and I met up at Carcasean boardgame cafe on Mon 2 Feb 2009, and we played Risk: Star Wars Original Trilogy Edition with Chong Sean. This really is a game that should be played with exactly 3 players. There are 3 factions in the game, the Empire, the Rebels and the Hutts. Each has a different winning condition. The Empire needs to completely eliminate the Rebels. The Rebels need to find and kill the evil Emperor. The Hutts need to control 10 resource planets.

The basic structure is very much like standard Risk. You get reinforcements at the start of your turn, then you attack, and after you are done, you can do one strategic redeployment. If you have successfully conquered territories, you gain a card(s). There are a number of tweaks and additions based on the Star Wars universe. The cards have special one-time-use powers, e.g. allowing you to add troops when you are being attacked. Each can also be used to gain a spaceship (there are 3 kinds), which gives some advantage in battles. The cards add a lot of flavour to the game. There are other situations which let the players gain more cards, e.g. when the Force meter tilting is far enough to the Dark or the Light side, and when the Hutts are in control of enough resource planets.

And there's a Death Star.

The Death Star in this game is a super defender for the Empire. When the planet where it is located is attacked, the attacker needs to roll a total of 18 to destroy it first, else all attackers are killed. This means you need to have 3 attackers (3 x 6 = 18). There are ways to improve your chances, e.g. power cards and spaceships. Some spaceships allow you to roll using an 8-sided die instead of the standard 6-sided die. There are some cards that allow the Death Star to destroy a planet and all defenders on it. No kidding.

The green Hutts pieces. The bigger ones represent 3 troops, and the smaller ones 1. There are three types of spaceships, capital ships, bombers and fighter.

Some of the Hutts' cards. I happened to draw one of each type, for capital ship, bomber and fighter. The cards can be used to build a spaceship, or for their one-time-use powers.

Each faction has its own cards. The game comes with both 6-sided and 8-sided dice.

The Death Star, unfortunately out of focus.

The Empire's pieces. Unfortunately, out-of-focus too. I think my digital camera is a Rebel... a relative of R2D2?

In our game, I chose to be the Hutts, simply because they are green, my colour. Han played the Empire, and Chong Sean the Rebels. At the start of the game, we took turn to claim planets, and then reinforce the planets claimed. The Hutts could claim the least planets, the Empire the most. The number of troops is similar. The Rebels move first, followed by the Hutts, and lastly the Empire. The Empire, although in control of the most planets at the start of the game, is usually at the receiving end of aggressions, because it moves last, and it is also spread rather thinly. So I think the starting setup is quite balanced.

I played the game like how I watched the movies. The Empire is supposed to be big and bad, and all good people should attack it. Big mistake. In our game, Chong Sean (Rebels) was more like a big empire than Han (Empire). He expanded quickly, being the first to manage to monopolise a sector (i.e. continent) and Han was soon left with very few planets. What was very funny was Chong Sean drew a card that allowed him to destroy the Death Star on Round 2. Oops. Not a chance for the Empire to strike back.

I should have started attacking Chong Sean earlier. I should have played the balancing factor. In this 3 faction game, whenever one faction starts to do better than the other two, the other two should be cooperating, at least temporarily, to bring the leader back in line. I was enjoying the fall of the Empire too much, and a bit too greedy for my own gains, to do the right thing. So our game finished quite quickly. The Rebels won decisively, completely destroying the Empire. That was supposedly the Empire's victory condition.

Our first game played on 2 Feb 2009. This was the start of the game. Han had placed the Death Star in the orange sector in the upper right, to prevent Chong Sean from monopolising that sector.

By this time Han's Empire (grey pieces) only had 6 planets left.

The game is fast and fun, and quite thematic. Han said this game has fewer troops than regular Risk, which makes it shorter, and I think that's a good thing. It is not much more complex than Risk, and the different victory conditions make it interesting. In some ways it is still very much like Risk. It is hard to keep control of complete sectors (continents). Another player will always try to break through and break your monopoly. You still amass big armies at the start of your turn and try to wreak havoc and capture as many territories as possible during your turn, and that means you are spreading your forces very thin. I think the game should be played in a very light-hearted manner. Decisions can be made quickly, and the game can be played very fast. When we played, the attacker rolled dice for the defender as well, saving some time.

On Thu 5 Feb 2009 we played this again, all controlling the same factions. Han wanted a rematch after the very unfortunate Round 2 destruction of the Death Star. This time, the game was probably even faster. Firstly because we were now familiar with it, and secondly because we had a runaway victory again. Han and Chong Sean were so busy fighting each other, they didn't defend against me enough. I was the first faction to monopolise a sector (albiet the smallest one awarding only 2 troops). I had the opportunity to control a big sector but didn't bother to because I knew the monopoly could easily be broken. I wonder whether that let their guard down a little. I drew quite a number of cards, and using them to gain extra reinforcements, I managed to conquer 10 resoure planets and won the game.

This was our 2nd game played on 5 Feb 2009. This was the start of the game.

The Death Star placed on a resource planet (green outline), to prevent me (green) from conquering it.

Towards the end of the game. My Hutts were doing well, having control of two sectors in the lower right.


Cecrow said...

Wow, a Rebel win by conquest is unheard of in my gaming group. It'll be a while before you see that again. The Hutts are notorious for being ignored too long.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

The Rebel win was probably because all three of us were relatively inexperienced in this game. Also we were playing it in a pretty light and quick manner, without really thinking too hard. It was fun, but I guess results can be out-of-whack. The Death Star being destroyed in Round 2 didn't help the Empire at all.

Cecrow said...

The Death Star isn't often used aggressively in our games, but it can be a great way to protect the Emperor, demanding strong cards in the Rebels' hand to overcome. I guess they got those strong cards a bit early this time!

Dan Daly said...

While the game is fun with 3, I think it's also great with just 2 players, so don't hesitate to try it out that way.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

How does the game work with 2 players? I actually haven't found out. I assume it would be Rebels vs Empire, and the Hutts being neutral. Do the Hutts become a balancing factor in some way?

Dan Daly said...

Once the game starts the Hutts are neutral and simply sit there, rolling defense if they are attacked.

However, they do play an important part in the strategy of both players during the setup of the game.

The Empire and Rebel players each take turns placing the Hutts both during claiming planets and reinforcement steps of setup. So you might try using a strong Hutt presence to break up your opponents "continent" or to provide a safe front allowing you to focus forces elsewhere.

Also, each player still gets a card if they conquer a Hutt planet each turn. So you want some easily conquerable Hutts planets near your forces, but not near your opponent.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Thanks Dan for sharing. It seems to me the Hutts won't be a very big factor when it comes to 2P games, and much less interesting compared to 3P. I probably will still stick to 3P games if I get a chance to play it again.

Anonymous said...

Check this out have played over 250 logged games over pizza and beer!

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Now THAT is impressive.

Tim Moorehead said...

Hey guys been looking at getting a new game like this... Me and my friends have played risk for years. Need to spice it up.

So you recommend? Was looking at the game of thrones game and the lord of the rings risk as well. Any thoughts?

I am huge Star Wars fan so I think that's the primary reason I am considering this lol

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

This is quite a decent variant of Risk, and if you are a big fan of Star Wars I think you will like it. It has been quite some time since I last played. If I remember correctly this game is best played with three players.

The Game of Thrones boardgame is best played with 5 or 6. It is more like Diplomacy than Risk though.