There’s going to be no attempt of some grand pronouncement for my love of board games. I don’t really have that. A couple of years ago I bought a few based on old television shows at a flea market – then we’d play those at a bar because I thought it was funny to play board game versions of The Fall Guy and Barney Miller at a bar. (For the record, the Barney Miller board game is very complicated. And you can plays as every Barney Miller character except for Barney Miller.)
Anyway, a bunch of Star Wars board games showed up at my apartment. My first thought was to give the away, but I didn’t know who wanted them. So there they sat in the corner, until I decided to play them. So now I will report, to you, about playing all these Star Wars-ized versions of popular board games and present it as a handy gift guide for people who love board games and Star Wars. (I know you are out there.) And as a bonus, I also played the original Star Wars game, Escape From Death Star. Here’s how all of that went.
(In other words, I forced my girlfriend and friends to play these games with me at bars, when in reality all they wanted to do is sip their alcohol in peace and temporarily make make the pain of what is 2016 fade away. I am eternally grateful to them and I am probably a monster.)
Star Wars Risk
Okay, first of all, this game is insanely complicated, but once everyone has the rules down, it’s pretty fun. Second of all, this game is barely Risk. I assumed there would be some sort of planets that had to be occupied, mirroring the territories in normal Earth Risk. Instead, it’s an attack on the Death Star. If you play as the Empire, the game is fairly straightforward: destroy all the Rebel ships by rolling the dice and hitting the predetermined high numbers needed to destroy them with either TIE Fighters, a Star Destroyer, or the Death Star.
The Rebels have a little tougher objective: they have to both get near enough the the Death Star to take a shot at it, and play a side game to take out the shield generator so that shot can be taken on the first place. Complicating things more, there’s another side game in which Luke and Vader are fighting. Whoever wins this fight gets to take four turns in a row, which can make a huge difference.
We played twice (yes, at a bar) and I was the Empire both times. I got lucky with a few Death Star strikes (rolling a high enough number to destroy a whole battalion of Rebel ships) and I’m proud to report that the Galactic Empire fended off the Rebel Alliance both times and is still in charge of the galaxy. You’re welcome.
Star Wars Trivial Pursuit
This is pretty straightforward: It’s Trivial Pursuit, only with questions about Star Wars — which now includes questions for The Force Awakens.
There were times while playing I felt the questions were too easy, basic level Star Wars questions mixed in with some a little more challenging questions like, “What is TIE short for?” (And, yes, of course I know the answer to that.) But here’s the thing about Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, when you get questions about the prequels, all of a sudden it’s really difficult. And I started to become ashamed at myself for how little I knew about the intricacies of the prequels.
Nope, I sure don’t know Queen Amidala’s eye color. In another moment of embarrassment I confused Nute Gunray with Rune Haako. Though, the people I was playing with looked on in amazement when I knew the name of the Chancellor before Palpatine. (This would be Chancellor Valorum, played by Terence Stamp, who I don’t think liked being in The Phantom Menace very much.)
I won this game by being able to answer a question about what group staged a protest during a senate vote by guessing it was the Trade Federation (those guys were always up to something no good) and I was correct. And this is your reminder that we used to have Star Wars movies about Trade Federations.
Star Wars Simon
This thing is actually kind of frightening. It’s Simon, but I’m playing on Darth Vader’s face while the breathing noise echos in the background the whole time. I am not very good at this game because I was too distracted by the breathing. In other fun news, I can still hear him breathing in the other room because I don’t know how to turn him off. I think I will just have to live with a breathing Darth Vader Simon head forever. Also, I like to think that Darth Vader’s real helmet had this feature, but people were just too afraid to try it. Maybe it made him happy? We will never know.
Star Wars Clue
Your enjoyment of Star Wars Clue rests a lot on your answer to the question, “Do you like Clue?” The board here is very elaborate (yes, we played this at a bar and were getting some looks), as you have to build a two story Death Star for the character tokens to move around in while trying to figure out: What room the Death Star Plans are in (with Rogue One, this seems outdated), what planet will the Death Star destroy next, and what vehicle can our heroes escape in.
Early in the game, all three of the people playing had drawn “detention block” cards, which meant the game was over and we all lost. This was not very satisfying. We had to continue playing, but we just ignored the detention block cards because it really screws up the game and there are a lot of these cards! If in the detention block, you just have to sit there until someone rescues you. If no one wants to rescue you, you sit there doing nothing while other people play. I was the first to lose (well, the first to lose for a second time) when I thought I had it all figured out, but I had been tricked and I was wrong. I am actively bad at Star Wars Clue.
Star Wars Monopoly: Open and Play Edition
This is a monopoly game in which the box itself folds out and becomes the game board. It’s handy! But it’s also a version of Monopoly in which what makes Monopoly fun is kind of taken away. The objective is to just own more properties. When all the properties have been purchased, whoever has the most wins the game. When I played, there was actually a tie for first – and the tiebreaker was just who had the most cash left. But, the travel size is nice and convenient.
Escape from Death Star
Okay, no, you can’t just by this in stores, but I thought it would be fun to play the original board game from 1977. The object is to get from the Death Star to the Rebel base, while on the way shutting down the tractor beam and stealing the Death Star plans (I guess Escape from Death Star isn’t canon anymore either).
So this game isn’t very good! A player spins a dial to see how many steps his or her token can move, while along the way picking up cards with specific instructions that don’t make much sense. There’s no one way to move on the board, the player has a lot of control where the tokens can go, so when it says, “move back four spaces,” it’s unclear what that even means. To get into the room where the plans are, or the tractor beam room, a player has to spin the exact correct number. So, it’s a lot of that: spinning and hoping to get the correct number. Then once these two missions are complete, the player heads off for the Rebel base. And that’s pretty much it. I won the game, but did I really? (If nothing else, the packaging does look cool.)
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