Last night we broke out Star Wars Risk for a game between myself, Paul Palpatine and Brendan the Hutt. It’s the version released last year which the East London mafia and myself played but I cannot recall if I logged or not. So here’s the game again: 

Right – it’s set around the original trilogy but pre A New Hope as Alderaan is yet to be an asteroid field. There are two ways of playing the game; the regular way and the campaign mode. Regular mode only supports five players (I guess six player games are too frustratingly tight so they dropped a mode). And in the campaign, there are three factions, Rebel Alliance, Empire, Hutts and all three have different missions: Rebels need to capture/kill Palpatine, Empire need to wipe out the Rebels and the Hutts need to capture ten of the thirteen resource planets on the map. If played with 3/5 players then one or two respectively will control the factions whilst the Hutts are a third team. In a 2/4 player game, the Hutts are neutral.

So a little more about the campaign. Players need to work together and work against each other in order to further their goals. Both the Rebels and the Hutts start at a numerical disadvantage in terms of starting systems and troops so need to chip away at the Empire. But the Empire and the Rebels want to ensure that the Hutts don’t claim too many resource planets. And the Empire and the Hutts might find themselves disadvantaged by the Rebel’s special cards. Also in the game is the “Force Meter”. As the campaign progresses, the Force will favour the light or the dark side which will affect how many cards Rebel and Empire players can draw (Hutts are immune to this). This also affects the ability when attacking the Death Star.

Yes, I said Death Star. Everyone’s favourite grey orb makes an appearance in the game. Its principle use is to act as a deterrent; the system where the Death Star is placed cannot be attacked and that doesn’t even have to be a system owned/occupied by the Empire. And of course with the right card, the Death Star can obliterate a system, making it totally impassable and impossibly to occupy. Both the Rebels and the Hutts can destroy the Death Star but it’s quite difficult as they need a roll of 18 (typically) with 3 D8s. Depending on the balance of the Force, this could be reduced to 15 or increased to 21.

Also in the mix are ships: at the start of each turn, one reinforcement may be exchanged for a support ship. There are fighters, bombers and Capital ships, three of each (so a maximum of nine can be floating about the game. Up to three can be used by each side in battle (depending on whether the player is attacking or defending): each fighter means that one dice cannot be a 1, each bomber adds one to the highest dice (then the second highest dice, then the third) whilst each Capital Ships allow the player to swap D6s for D8s. Ships can be reinforced separate to ground troops which allow more versatility in the game.

What’s this about capturing Palpatine? Empire player(s) have up to six Imperial bases they must play at the start of their turn(s). Five of the bases are manned by decoys, the six is manned by Palpatine. When attacked, the Empire player will always use D8s to defend. So if all troops protecting the base are wiped out, the base falls. Rebels “keep” the base, Hutts can choose to show the base to the Rebel player(s) but the tokens are returned to the Empire pool for redeployment. Destroyed bases by the Rebels affect movement of the Force Meter.

And finally, the principle amendment for the campaign are the cards. There are three decks, one for the Imperials, one for the Rebels and one for the Hutts. When planets are conquered in the normal way, cards are drawn (with possible bonuses depending on the Force Meter, or the number of Resource Planets owned in the case of the Hutts). Cards can be traded in for sets as per usual or the ability described on the card which might be “add one to all dice after a roll” or “when attacked, roll a dice and add that many extra troops to the planet where you are being invaded”. All interesting stuff and prevents the game from being stale.

The map broadly corresponds to the classical Risk Map although the connecting lines between planets and sectors are balanced a little differently. Both “Australia” and “South America” have two links to other continents (rather than the single line for Australia). But Risk veterans will feel more or less at home in the game even though there are weird and wonderful planets and sector names. The pieces are typical of the newer Risk pieces: units representing one troop and three troops (which are needed as the map feels a little small and can get very crowded.

As you can tell from the first paragraph, Paul was the Empire, Brendan was the Hutts whilst I was the Rebel Alliance. I [would have] won but we ran out of time. I managed to clean the Hutts from the board and was poised to go all out on the Empire. I got lucky breaking the back of the Empire in one attack thanks to cards which allowed me to add 1 to all dice and simultaneously have 2 D8s when I was faced with a tonne of Imperial reinforcements challenging occupation of a sector. The Empire never recovered from this loss, I had unquestioned control of “South America”, “Australia” and “Africa” so kept stockpiling the reinforcements until armies could be unleashed in a massive blitzkrieg.

Dinner was a combo of leftovers from the Raclette session together with some Bulgar wheat and a spare Tortilla that was doing nothing in the Freezer. Was kinda going for a “Southern Breakfast” feel with the Bulgar Wheat subbing in for Grits. Kinda. I know calling something else grits is a blasphemy but allow me a little creative licence. Following dinner, there were Belgian waffles & ice cream for after. That’s good eating.