Star Wars: Rebellion – Rise of the Empire

2-4 players, Competitive, Epic Space Warfare, Expansion

Designer: Corey Konieczka

Artwork: Justin Adams

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Purpose of Expansion

Adds more stuff to the base game, replaces some stuff and tweaks some rules. This expansion basically makes some fundamental changes to the base game that will completely change the way you do combat, which is a pretty big part of the game. Besides the combat alterations you will see new heroes for each side and a few new objective and project cards for the Rebels and Imperials respectively. There are also 2 completely new decks of mission cards for each faction. Along with the new combat mechanics there are 3 green dice that work in cahoots with the new minis each sides gets. All in all this expansion opens up a ton of new options. 

The Additions

There are new heroes for both sides mostly from the Rogue One movie and Jabba the Hutt. These new heroes all have a small change to the way they work with the addition to “minor skill icons”. These little guys are tiny versions of the regular skill icons on each hero standee. The way they work is when you roll dice for completing a mission let’s say for example Jabba has 2 of the blue icons and 1 of the tiny minor skill icons. You would roll 2 regular dice (the red or black) and 1 of the new green dice. Now you can use the minor skill icons to attempt a mission that needed let’s say, 3 of the blue icons. So Jabba with his 2 regular and 1 minor could attempt a 3 skill blue mission. 

The 3 new green dice are another addition. These dice are used in multiple ways and are tied in with the new heroes minor skills as mentioned above as well as the new mini combat units. The difference between the green dice and the red and black is pretty simple. The green dice have two sides with the explosion icon that allows you to assign damage to any color and the rest of the sides are blank. Whereas the red and black dice only have a single explosion side on each of them. This makes the game even more strategic considering the new addition of healing. Since the green dice cannot heal your units you want to make sure to properly plan out just what units you want to create and deploy as the new units only roll green dice for attacks. 

There are two new mission decks as well, one for each side. These are denoted with a little Darth Vader mask on the side of the card so you can easily tell them apart from the originals. The instruction manual says to completely remove the originals and combine the new cards with the cards that have the hero portraits and shuffle. Also it says both sides can choose at the onset which deck they want to use, the original mission cards or the new mission cards. I’ve played with both and I can say I’m not a big fan of the new rebel mission cards. Perhaps it was the particular game I was playing but It seemed like most of them were geared towards battle and typically as a rebel player I always lean more towards the sneakiness and delaying the Empire whilst I complete objectives. However I can see these new mission cards working out great in conjunction with the combat objective cards that are randomly shuffled in. The new Empire mission cards are pretty cool though but honestly I didn’t like them anymore than the original ones, about the same. I’ve been toying with the idea of just shuffling ALL the mission cards together for each side and seeing how that plays out. It would dilute the deck tremendously but it would also give it a ton of variation. 

Another addition are the new Target Marker tokens. These are used in a variety of ways and basically give more things to do for each side. They add a ton of theme and make the game more difficult/strategic than it was before, especially taking down the Death Star. Speaking on that a bit, used to the Empire would start the game with a fully functional battle station. Now they start with one in construction. Also there are many new strategies involved with destroying a death star. I mean personally speaking I thought the base game version was super epic and thematic as it was. Now they go even further to make it more interesting. There is an empire card that can be drawn that places one of those Target Markers on a remote planet, which is basically the plans to the death star. Once that is placed the death star is invulnerable until that marker is removed by the Rebels, a thematic shout out to Rogue One. But even on the Rebels side there is a new space unit that can actually absorb some damage when its tactics card is played, this is very useful when attacking the death star en mass after you have the plans. 

The last bit of additions are the new minis (units) for each side. The Empire now has access to some cool structures that protect the death star in a system and allow for some easier deployment of troops. Both sides have a nice new array of units that round out each side perfectly.

The Changes

As I mentioned earlier the biggest change is to the combat. In the base game when battling whether in space or on the ground, you and your opponent would draw a number of tactics cards based on your specific systems hero number. Then you could play those during the battle to add more damage or block damage etc. It wasn’t a terribly exciting combat mechanic but it did add some flavor to the battle where just using dice would be far too light. They tweaked combat in more ways than one with the addition of these new tactics decks. First of all each player now gets their own 2 decks, 1 for ground and 1 for space battles. These cards are also regular sized and not the mini cards like the old tactics cards which I suspect had to be done in order to fit all the new text on them. You see each card has a specific action listed on it for a specific military unit AND a separate action below that for general use.

The way battle works now is both players CHOOSE which action card they want to play (no more blind draws) and play it face down. This all happens before the dice roll so the effects will take place and then you resolve the dice battle. In my opinion this makes combat much more simple rather than the randomness that the old tactics cards had. If you have a particular unit in the battle that matches one of your cards then you can use the, usually, more powerful unit ability. Or if not you can opt for the more basic ability on any card. Either way you both will flip the cards over and resolve them adding damage to units or preventing said damage from the coming dice rolls etc. Then you do your typical roll of the dice to try and finish units off. 

Another big change with this is that you WANT to go last in the battles where in the base game going first was almost better. The reason for this is because now you can actually heal your units from damage. Going first you, probably, won’t be damaged right off the bat so going second allows you to kind of see what’s up and shoot for a heal. There are also some tactic card abilities that allow you to go second which is pretty neat. The way healing works now is actually really clever. In the base game when you rolled those twin lightsabers on the dice you could trade em in for more tactic cards draws or to use a tactic card with that emblem. In the expansion those are heals! Of course if you don’t have anything to heal they are kind of a waste right? If only there was a way to re-roll them……Oh? Yet another change that was implemented since there is no need to draw up tactic cards are the numbers listed on the hero standees. No longer do they show how many tactic cards to draw, now they show how many dice can be rerolled once per combat. That’s pretty awesome so if you happen to roll a wad of blanks or heals that you don’t need you at least get another shot at it. 

Final Thoughts

Overall I am impressed with this expansion. I really like the variation the new units bring to the table along with the new combat rules. Not completely sold on the new mission cards and still wanting to try mixing them to see if that makes the game more variable without sacrificing strategy. That said I don’t think they are bad but the new rebel mission cards in particular seem to try and employ a different strategy than I typically enjoy. 

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