Gaming: It’s an expensive hobby; very expensive.
Trying to keep up with latest releases, new figures, new decks, it can get a little much and in some cases can really put a downer on your gaming experience. It’s how my best gaming bud Gavin and me have been feeling the last couple of months. With not much time to play due to work and family commitments, it’s like we’ve fallen behind with the newest releases to our favourite games; the road back seeming too much effort and too much money.
So when Fantasy Flight Games announced the release of a new board game called Star Wars: Outer Rim, we were both very intrigued. The game wasn’t one where we needed to buy any add-ons, make forces or spend any extra money to play. A big plus! So when it was released at the start of the month, Gavin very quickly picked it up, both of us eager to play. It says something when it’s taken us so many weeks to find time to play, but find the time we did.
My son (Charlie) and I went to Gavin’s to embark on a play test to see what we made of this new game. I should note that Gavin had played the game by himself a couple of times by himself (and enjoyed it) and had played with some friends the week before. When we got there the board was set up ready to go. There were a lot of different card decks, different tokens and an incredible board. The board is a semi-circle and shows the routes you can travel in your ship. Different planets from the Star Wars universe we’re dotted all around. Before we even started playing, I was impressed by the selection of planets. Of course, as the name suggests, these planets are all ones located in the Outer Rim, yet the selection in taking from both the films and the TV shows. So we would be travelling to places such as Tatooine and Kessel as well as Lothal. Although the board is impressive, I was a little worried how complex this game was going to get looking at the sheer amount of cards and tokens.
After we had sat down, we were given our player boards, which is how we’d organise ourselves and the cards we’d be collecting. Then it was character selection. Having not played the game, Charlie and I were somewhat at a loss as to who to choose, there’s quite a selection! From Han and Lando to Doctor Aphra and Ketsu Onyo, there’s something for everyone. Each character has their own abilities and personal goal to help make them even better in the game. After much deliberation I settled on Lando. Although not as powerful as other characters, his ability is to be able to reroll die. For anyone who has seen my awful dice rolling, you can hopefully appreciate why I went for this! Charlie went with Bossk and Gavin went for IG-88. After this we had a choice of two ships, all of opting for the slower (but more powerful) G-1A Starfighter. Finally, we each had a numbered card that would tell us what planet we would begin on.
With nothing else to do, we began. Guided by Gavin, the process was surprisingly simple. The aim of the game is to gain fame, the first player to get 10 fame, wins. Gaining fame, this is where the game really comes into its own. Fame is gained from doing a variety of different thing: delivering cargo, completing jobs, finding and collecting bounties or even taking on the different factions in space battles. There is a lot to choose from, and it’s up to you what you do or don’t do. You could spend the game delivering cargo or just collecting bounties. Your character’s personal goal usually helps to give you a direction. For Lando, it was to deliver two illegal cargo shipments, so that’s what I focused on. I started travelling around, trying to find the cargo, while picking up crew members, upgrading my ship (I ended up piloting a Fire Spray by the end of the game) and having a run in or two with Imperial patrol ships. On the way, I tried to do the odd job and bounty. By itself this was fun, but with Charlie and Gavin it added another dimension. The crew you pick up can also have bounties on them, causing you to have run-ins with the players who try to capture your crew. At one point, Charlie picked up Greedo, who Gavin was trying to capture as a bounty. Needless to say, Charlie dashed to the other side of the board quite promptly!
There is a lot going on, yet somehow the game runs smoothly and effortlessly. After a couple of initial rounds, Charlie and me were zooming through the game, realising when we needed to be careful or when we could take a few more risks. As soon as certain cards came up (and they themselves tell the story of what your character is doing) we found ourselves quoting the movies again and again, with me trying to put on my best Lando voice. Lando definitely has a quote for everything! We were laughing, smiling and having a huge amount of fun. Lando’s ability saved my hide several times! By the end, Gavin had won with Charlie and me rather far behind but a lot more knowledgeable of what we needed to do. All in all the game took us two hours, not bad for a first game.
Then, and I’m sure every parent can relate, Charlie turned to me, looked and, “again!” What was I to do? We quickly reset the board and picked new characters. This time I went with my favourites, Doctor Aphra. Charlie chose Boba Fett and Gavin went with Ketsu. Straight away the game was completely different for me. Rather than delivering cargo, I was aiming for completing jobs. And after my first game, I focused almost entirely on jobs, only considering cargo deliveries and bounties if I was going via a certain planet. With us all now knowing the game, it went a lot quicker; Charlie and me a lot surer of ourselves. Before I knew it, I had won the game, only just beating Gavin. The second game had taken less than an hour and a half to play.
So having played just two games, what do I think? The game is a huge amount of fun. You get to play in a galaxy far, far away with characters, ships and locations from across the entirety of the franchise, from the movies, to the television shows and even the comics and books. Although it looks daunting when first opening the box, when you actually start playing, the game runs very easily with not a lot of waiting time for players. Having so many choices within the game, allows for a very wide variety of gaming experiences, which instantly makes me want to play again and again. From just changing characters, the experience is different and the choosing of characters was one of the longest processes for us, as there are just so many we wanted to play.
Charlie, being twelve, also loved the game, already wanting us to have more games. It was simple enough for him as well, meaning we can play as a family. And I say simple, yet there is a very clever depth to the game. There are ways to thwart your opponents, ways to deceive, things we only started to skim the surface with in our first two games. But there is a lot of potential there. One of the biggest advantages to this game is the fact that all you need is the base game. In the future, I’m sure there will be expansions, it’s inevitable; I’m sure I’ll be first in line for them! However, there is no need for them to play. The buy in cost is extremely cheap and for anyone who just wants a game they can pick up and play in the Star Wars universe, this is perfect. I think this will be our go to Star Wars game and Fantasy Flight Games should be congratulated for making a fantastic game that satisfies the casual gamer. I have been worried recently about trying to keep up with the other Star Wars games I play, now I have no worry, as I think I’ve found a game that is perfectly suited for me, my son and Gavin. Now, do I want to play as Jyn or Han next?