Ayrphishin’ with Imperial Assault

Hello Ayrphish Phans! It has been a good long time since I have gotten to play or post anything, but I couldn’t be more excited about today’s topic, and that’s Imperial Assault. I plan on writing a couple of articles and reviews for Imperial Assault, covering both the skirmish mode and campaign play, as well as some strategies for both, and who knows what else. Today will be my initial review of the game.

Inside the box, you’ll find that Imperial Assault comes with four that’s right four different manuals: a learn to play guide, a campaign guide, a skirmish guide, and a rules compendium. I think I might be in the minority here in that I am not a fan of having a learn to play guide and another manual with all of the rules. I’d rather just learn all of the game at once, instead of playing it “lite” version once, then adding in all of the other stuff for a “real” play. The “mission” in the learn to play guide is really just an exercise in moving the pieces and rolling the dice; everything that gives the game any complexity and depth is left out. I skipped it entirely.

Including a tutorial mission makes the guide a little disjointed, because you have some rules, some setup, a map, then most of the rest of the rules, and actual setup. There are some parts that aren’t crystal clear. For instance, you’ll read in the campaign setup to add four green quest cards to your quest deck. Problem is, there are two types of green quest cards. (If you’re wondering, don’t add any of the main story quests to the quest deck; the green cards you should use are side missions for unlocking rebel allies.) The rules reference is OK, it does what it is supposed to do, though it’s frustrating to look up something, like “Bleed” only to be told to go to another page and look for “Conditions.” The skirmish guide, however, is very well done, and makes playing that mode of the game a breeze. The campaign guide is also well done, and as of yet, I don’t have any issues with it.

Imperial Assault comes with four rulebooks. Don’t let that scare you away from the game. Image from d12games.guru. .

Imperial Assault comes with four rulebooks. Don’t let that scare you away from the game. Image from d12games.guru. .

After the books are a bunch of tiles. If you’re familiar with Descent, you’re familiar with the tiles. They are pretty much exactly the same. There are some very cool looking tiles, a trash room, some ruins, ships, wilderness, desert type ground, and a couple interior textures.

Because they are made of cardboard, the tiles’ edges will eventually show wear from being picked up and put away over and over. If this is a concern for you, consider taking a black acrylic marker, or even a sharpie and going around the edges. That will make the game look even better on your table and hide the wear.

Imperial Assault uses tiles to represent the terrain the heroes and villains traverse during campaign missions and skirmishes. Image from www.fantasyflightgames.com.

Imperial Assault uses tiles to represent the terrain the heroes and villains traverse during campaign missions and skirmishes. Image from www.fantasyflightgames.com.

Alongside the tiles, you’re going to find a bunch of counters and punch outs. Most of the heroes you would expect in a Star Wars game are in the form of cardboard tokens, and not in miniature. The exceptions are the characters the Rebels control during the campaign, and Luke Skywalker, who is packaged as an included “expansion.” I would have preferred miniatures of all of the main characters, but I can understand why Fantasy Flight Games made the decision to use tokens. At $99.00, Imperial Assault already has an astounding price point. Putting more plastic minis in the box would have pushed the cost even higher.

The only real issue that having Han Solo or Chewbacca in token form presents comes up when you’re playing a skirmish. Without going into a lot of detail on skirmish, Vader is the meta to play around and beat if you are taking the side of the rebellion. You need the punching power that Han or Chewy can bring to the table, and it’s just less fun to push your tiny Chewbacca token next to the cool 3D Vader.

The game also comes with some doors, and as is becoming the norm with FFG, a dial to assemble. If you want to pimp your tokens and countless cardboard pieces, go around the edges of them with an acrylic marker or sharpie. You would only need a few primary colors, and it will make your game really shine.

Behold Imperial Assault’s cards, doors, dice, and tokens. Image from forum member Panic at community.fantasyflightgames.com.

Behold Imperial Assault’s cards, doors, dice, and tokens. Image from forum member Panic at community.fantasyflightgames.com.

Wait a minute… what are those… are those stickers next to the dice?

Yes.. Those are stickers. They are ugly. There are nine stormtrooper minis in the box, and when deployed, they will operate in groups of three. The stickers are to delineate which squad an individual miniature belongs to. I said “NOPE” to the stickers, and am painting my minis. You could use some of the colored tokens to mark your figures, but it gets to be clunky. You could put a dab of paint or nail polish on the base of your mini’s to mark them as well. Or you can use the dreaded stickers. If you’re going to use nail polish, less is more; if you go crazy, some polish might eat the plastic. You’ve been warned..

Speaking of minis, there are a bunch of them, and they are fantastic. As previously mentioned, you’ll get Luke and Vader as a pre-packaged expansion. I really think FFG did this so you can see what you’ll get if you buy some of the ally and villain packs scheduled to be released soon. In addition to a mini to replace your cardboard token, you’ll get some new cards, missions, and maps. I think this makes the expansions a much better deal, and I really don’t have a problem with it. Yes, it will make FFG more money, but I feel like I’m getting a lot more than “just a mini,” so I’m okay with that.

As far as other minis go, you’ll get the heroes that will be used by the rebellion in campaign play, a host of Imperial forces, and a few bounty hunters and other scum. The crown jewel of the miniature collection is certainly the AT-ST. It takes a little bit of assembly, and for me, the gun that goes on the front, was very difficult to snap into place. If you’re having that problem, do what I did: take a hair dryer and blast the front of the model. The heat will make the plastic a little more flexible, and then you’ll be able to snap the gun into place with no trouble at all.

The AT-ST is the most impressive miniature in the box, but the other miniatures look good. Image from koboldco.blogspot.com.

The AT-ST is the most impressive miniature in the box, but the other miniatures look good. Image from koboldco.blogspot.com.

Finally, you’re going to get a lot of cards. The cards have been the hardest part of the sorting and storing process for me. There are a lot of mini and standard sized cards that you’ll use in the campaign, as well as skirmish play. The learn to play guide will show a picture of all of the cards and their backs so you can sort them by function. Unfortunately, there are several different things that you need cards for, and it can get a little bit clunky using all of them, especially if you’re controlling the Empire in campaign play.

If Imperial Assault only required three card types, it would be much easier to manage. But alas, you need cards for the main characters’ items and abilities, the campaign’s side missions, the Empire’s forces, the Empire player’s special abilities, and conditions. Image from d12games.guru.

If Imperial Assault only required three card types, it would be much easier to manage. But alas, you need cards for the main characters’ items and abilities, the campaign’s side missions, the Empire’s forces, the Empire player’s special abilities, and conditions. Image from d12games.guru.

So, at the end of the day, what do I think of Imperial Assault?

Bottom Line

Gregg asked me once, aside from theme, why you would want Imperial Assault instead of Descent. Imperial Assault tries to fix some of the problems people have with Descent, mainly that it is very predictable and the only way to play campaign mode is to rush the win condition. I’m not entirely sure Imperial Assault succeeds in fixing that problem, but I don’t think it is really a problem to begin with. Of course you should try to win quickly… What game doesn’t encourage that? If you don’t want to rush an objective for a win, play skirmish and do the miniature combat you’re looking for.

Imperial Assault has quickly became one of my favorite games. It has consumed a lot of my free time, not only in trying to get it on the table to play it, but to really embrace the hobby aspect of it all. From pimping your pieces to sorting your cards and painting your minis, Imperial Assault can really grab you and keep you engaged. But if you don’t want all of that, it isn’t a requirement; pop out your pieces and play the game.

As much as I enjoy Imperial Assault, it isn’t replacing Descent for me. I have both, and will play both frequently. They feel different to me. I don’t especially like being the overlord in Descent, but I can’t wait to be the Empire in Imperial Assault.

Don’t let the price tag deter you. Save some dough and get yourself Imperial Assault. You want your own copy. You want to make it yours, and you’ll want to assemble your own skirmish team.

I’ll be back sooner than later, and we’ll go even deeper into Imperial Assault. Until then, may the force be with you.

By: Curtis Shephard
Published: 2015-01-10

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