1-4 players, Competitive, Fame Gathering Sandboxy
Designer: Corey Konieczka
Artwork: Borja Pindado Arribas
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Overview of Gameplay
Outer Rim, a game I was admittedly looking forward to as I love these sandbox style games. What I mean by sandbox is in these particular games you have a plethora of choice. A multitude of different avenues to try and collect Fame, which is basically your standard Victory Point. So players begin with a character of their choice from Han Solo to Boba Fett and others from the extensive Star Wars lore. There are no Sith or Jedi here though, these is a game dedicated to just the bounty hunters and scoundrels. And as much as I love Star Wars there are, admittedly, some characters I don’t even recognize. I assume they pulled them from the novels or perhaps the animated series that I didn’t watch much of. In any case those super Star Wars fanatics will love the variety of characters.
Everyone starts with their selected character and a base ship, there are 2 to choose from although the only difference is one is a tad bit faster whereas the other is a tad bit more powerful. After that you are off to the races so to speak. Moving around the connected board you will land on different planets hitting up the marketplace to upgrade your gear, pick up bounties or jobs, possibly get a new ship etc. Then you can encounter a unique contact token on the planet or draw a card with a bit of story that will usually have something for you to do. There are also patrols zooming around the map which hinder your movement and allow for some sweet space battles.
Doing all these things will result in either money, reputation with the 4 factions in the game and/or that delicious, delicious Fame. The first player to get to 10 Fame (in a standard game) wins. You can however choose to play a shorter game or even a longer game but adjusting the amount of Fame needed to win at the onset. The track goes up to 12 for an extended game but I have also played it to 8 and it worked well.
The biggest standout here by far is the unique game board. The thing is broken into a few different pieces that all piece together in the shape of a “u” to connect all the different planets of the outer rim. I could see how repeated plays might flay the edges of the pieces as well as some of them are rather snug fitting. Other than that all the cards have a nice linen finish and the dice are a really nice gold color with the custom symbols for successes. The player boards are double layered (squeeee!) to hold the little peg to track your Fame and the tokens to track your reputation with the four factions of the game. It also has cutouts to place your character card and notches for your ship card, gear and jobs/bounties. Frankly speaking the player boards are fantastic. There has been some talk concerning the character standees included and I have even went so far as to ordering some tiny little Star Wars ship minis to use in their place but honestly the standees work really well and I think I prefer them over the ships. The ships are cool and all but mostly just a cosmetic upgrade than anything.
Nothing new on the Fantasy Flight front with their boxes or storage solutions. Prepare to have some extra baggies ready to store all the tokens and dice. They pack the game to ship and that is it with no consideration given to storing the game afterwards. That said I do love the artwork on the front of the box.
Visual Appeal /Theme
I love thematic games and this one isn’t a slouch in the theme department. I mean having the entirety of the Star Wars license to work with gives you lots of options. And if there is one thing Fantasy Flight has proven is that they can take a license and do wonders with it in the board game world. The Star Wars theme is deep in this one as well with characters I’ve never even heard of making appearances and even other characters from ALL the movies showing up on character tokens. I am impressed by the amount of lore they were willing to dig through to find some of these.
There isn’t any artwork on the cards other than the backs with the planets displayed and the symbols for the different kinds of market cards. The only real artwork you will find in the game is on the character cards and ship cards and these do look really good. One downside that I could find was some of the text on certain cards is very faint and sometimes hard to read.
This has to be one of the worst Fantasy Flight rulebooks I’ve laid eyes on in a long time. They do the same thing as the rest of their games including 2 rulebooks, a “learn to play” and a rules reference. Now I usually love this from them as it makes the game so much easier to just hop in and play and then brush up on the finer details as you go along. However in this game there are so many omitted rules possibilities and tiny little details that are basically game changing that it just doesn’t work at all. I went through the “learn to play” manual and started playing but was instantly confused by the movement. And not just the player movement but the patrol movement. More questions arose concerning bounties and crew and when exactly you had to decide on when to either murder them for credits or take them hostage. Then even another issue came up with encounter cards as it basically says you have to either collect the bounty on a character token or encounter the card for the contact. But what if you don’t have the bounty and don’t have the ability to complete the card? It was a struggle to make it through and I had all kinds of questions to say the least.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
This one kinda depends on how much interaction you are willing to give. I had a ton of fun reading each of my encounter cards out loud and getting into character a bit. There isn’t much player interaction to be had though as each player will have particular jobs or bounties to collect. That’s not to say there is zero player interaction, for example if you have Greedo as a crew member and another player has a bounty for Greedo.…..well he could track you down and try to take out your crew to collect the bounty. Also whenever a player goes up against patrols it’s up to the player next to them to roll the dice for the patrol. So the player interaction is there but it’s very minimal, which honestly is about par for ANY sandbox game that I’ve played.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
Hmmm probably three players on this one. I could see four players getting a little crowded and possibly extending the game out a little past its welcome. Three player’s plays really good even with a short game to 8 Fame with lots of actions and things to try and accomplish before someone nabs the win. The game was also reallllly close as I was going to get the last two Fame needed to win on my turn but the player before me got it.
Solo play is also an option with this game as it includes a dedicated Solo A.I. deck to draw from on the A.I.’s turn. Play is much the same, you still take your turn normally and then on the A.I.’s turn you draw a card and follow the directions which usually have it moving towards its goal if possible with other options if it’s not. I have played three games now solo, I won the first game by a couple Fame and won the second by 5 Fame and then tried out playing against TWO different A.I.’s using the same deck and LOST miserably by 6 FAME to the winner and lost by 3 to the second A.I. The solo game is super fun.
So the encounter and market decks are pretty thin. However don’t let that scare you into thinking you will see everything really quickly. Each Encounter deck house story information for 2 different planets so you end up only seeing half the card per encounter and then it’s to the bottom of the deck. Considering you won’t likely visit the same planet more than a couple times per game AND there are 11 different planets not to mention the many nav points all over the tiles, it’s highly unlikely you will experience everything the encounter cards have to offer quickly at all. Now that said, the market decks are flipped through pretty quickly. Every time you land on a planet you can take a market action which lets you discard the top market card to the bottom of the deck and then you can buy one from any deck. Most games I see a lot of cycling through these cards and since each deck specializes in certain areas such as gear or cargo, you will pretty quickly start seeing things that you remembered before. Luckily I’m sure Fantasy Flight already has an expansion in the works as they do with most of their games so there will probably be an abundance of variety in the future.
Positive Final Thoughts
I figured I would like this one before I played it as I love sandbox style games however I never expected it to unseat my favorite sandbox game, Xia. It was a close call but Outer Rim managed to slightly edge Xia out due to the easier setup and play. Xia is great no doubt but if I’m wanting to play a quick sandbox game solo, then I will for sure reach for Outer Rim. I love the situations that arise from the game as well and I think any fan of Star Wars would agree. In one situation a player was playing as Han Solo, ended up picking up this evil Wookie as a crewmember and then getting a bounty for Chewbacca. Found Chewy and also took him on as a crew but then ended up claiming the bounty on Chewy to get the last bit of Fame to win the game. This dark turn of events is just a splash of the thematic fun that can be had in Outer Rim.
Negative Final Thoughts
Such a disaster of a rulebook with the confusing and sometimes missed explanations. The storage solution for this and ANY Fantasy Flight game is always going to be a negative for me until they start accepting gamers enjoy good storage for their games. Or at LEAST ship some baggies to store all the tokens.