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Imperial Assault - Explain the Product Line

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10 Aug 2016 09:18 #231709 by Mr. White
My son is into Star Wars now. I like the sound of the RPG, but should give IA a look as I'm a minis guy. I've read Thrower's recent articles, but I need someone to lay down a road map to the line.

* Obviously, there's the base game. Do you play as movie heroes or are there new characters?
* There look to be two types of expansions with one larger than the other. Why is that? Does every other expansion simply have more figs or is one for campaign and the other not?
* There's death to a wallet with the thousand paper cuts of all those little fig packs, but they say villain or ally. Are these NPC packs that an overlord player runs? Are there any character packs for the players?
* How does one buy the above character packs? Are their rules in an expansion and you have to buy the fig separately? Just buy what you want and plug them into any scenario? For pts based skirmish only?
* Skirmish mats - are these printed on rubber or a set of tiles?
* Campaign or Skirmish play?
* What would be the 'key' products in the line? Is there a 'Talisman + Reaper'-like combo?
* It's been out for awhile...your overall thoughts on the line?

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10 Aug 2016 10:18 #231715 by san il defanso
- All of the playable characters in the core set are new ones. There are some scenarios where the heroes might have the opportunity to play as Luke Skywalker or Chewbacca, but unless a particular event happens in the campaign it's usually a one-off for that scenario.

- The size of expansion is indicative of how long the campaign inside is. The core set and Return to Hoth are both longer, while Twin Suns and Bespin Gambit are shorter. The figs inside are just characters or common enemies. Any major character (Lando or Boba Fett, for example) will be represented by a cardboard token, which can be replaced by a seperately sold figure.

- "Villain" and "ally" imply which side they play on. They all can be used in both modes (campaign or skirmish), but I believe they are used to differing extents. If you use them in the skirmish game, one side plays the villains. In the campaign villain packs are usually common mooks (if they are osmehting like stormtroopers) or a big bad who is represented in the expansions by a cardboard token, and can be replaced by the figure.

- Certain characters are built into campaigns and you can use the figures there (though you aren't supposed to add them mid-campaign). Each figure is purchased seperately, and can be used in either version. They all come with a "side mission," which can be folded into a campaign, and a skirmish mission. Note that some of those pack-in missions require the expansions. The outside of the packets say if that's the case or not.

- Can't speak to the skirmish map. I only play campaign myself.

- I don't play many 1v1 games as a rule, and if I wanted to do it with Star Wars I have friends who play X-Wing. The campaign in the core set (which I've completed) is a little on the long side, but the branching narrative is actually really well-conceived. I would recommend playing with four heroes, regardless of the number of actual humans playing. The balance seemed really off for our campaign, with only two heroes.

- Barnes would tell you to get the mini-campaign expansions. I've only completed the core campaign, and I thought that provided plenty of gameplay. I could even play it over again, actually.

- I mostly like the game a lot, though I think it'd be better if it just decided if it would be a campaign game or a skirmish game. It's not quite as much of a money sink if you only play campaign, since you don't really NEED to buy figures for that. It's probably, at best, the third best FFG Star Wars game, after X-Wing and Rebellion, but I think it's a really good tactical experience. The big thing they need is some one-off scenarios, as right now it's campaign, skirmish, or nothing.
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07 Jan 2017 14:28 #241957 by RabidWookie
I own and have painted everything in the line (up until the recent wave 8 anyway) and highly recommend you print up a copy of Redjak's Automated Imperial Variant. It's a set of cards that allows you to play a campaign cooperatively or solo, and it's been a godsend for me. Most of my gamer friends just don't enjoy the level of depth and fiddliness/stuff to track in Imperial Assault, but I adore it.
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08 Jan 2017 19:06 #242019 by Sevej
The core box is a load of game. Just be prepared for loads of card decks. Small, different card decks. It works best if you can run a campaign. I've tried skirmish. It's ok.

It's my preferred game for Star Wars. I mean, the action I like in Star Wars the most is what's depicted in IA. Sure, space ships are fun, but characters made Star Wars what it is.

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09 Jan 2017 04:28 #242041 by Matt Thrower

Mr. White wrote: My son is into Star Wars now. I like the sound of the RPG, but should give IA a look as I'm a minis guy. I've read Thrower's recent articles, but I need someone to lay down a road map to the line.


Sorry I didn't do a better job of explaining things. I'll have another go

* Obviously, there's the base game. Do you play as movie heroes or are there new characters?

The base game can be played both as a campaign game, a series of linked scenarios with players growing stronger between sessions (like Descent), and in skirmish mode which is a one-off battle with a roster of troops chosen by each player against a points value (like X-Wing). In the campaign game, players play new heroes: they will occasionally encounter a movie character depending on how they progress through the campaign. In skirmish you can choose as many movie characters as you have models for. That's one reason I prefer it.

* There look to be two types of expansions with one larger than the other. Why is that? Does every other expansion simply have more figs or is one for campaign and the other not?

It's just more stuff. Bigger boxes have longer campaigns, more figures and more board tiles.

* There's death to a wallet with the thousand paper cuts of all those little fig packs, but they say villain or ally. Are these NPC packs that an overlord player runs? Are there any character packs for the players?

* How does one buy the above character packs? Are their rules in an expansion and you have to buy the fig separately? Just buy what you want and plug them into any scenario? For pts based skirmish only?

Each campaign comes with more characters on *both sides* than there are miniatures in the box which only feature in one or two scenarios. These are represented by cardboard tokens included in the box. If you want to buy the miniatures to replace them, you can. The figures are far more important in the skirmish game because each comes with additional skirmish scenarios and cards for your skirmish deck. Plus, since skirmish games tend to have a lot more movie characters in them, they look a bit crap with tokens. So: there are expansion packs for both sides but if you're just playing the campaign they're mostly eye candy.

* Campaign or Skirmish play?

I prefer skirmish, as you'll have read. I'm in a minority, I think. But the original game campaign goes on *forever* and has a power curve problem later on where the players will probably outstrip the overlord unless they're playing like morons. The shorter small box expansion campaigns are better if you want to go this route IMO. Skirmish is much more open ended (and thus replayable), easier to fit into your schedule and you get to play with as many movie characters as you like. But you will need more of those expansion blisters.

* What would be the 'key' products in the line? Is there a 'Talisman + Reaper'-like combo?

Not that I'm aware of. Personally, for skirmish, I'd stick with base game plus a selection of favourite movie characters and a pack each of Rebel Troopers and Rebel Saboteurs. When picking characters be aware that, like x-wing, there's a difference between imperial and scum - you can tell from the symbol of the expansion blister. For skirmish, you might want to avoid Scum as they don't shoehorn well into rebel lists. For campaign get the base game plus one expansion based on your favourite movie setting and play the expansion campaign.

* It's been out for awhile...your overall thoughts on the line?

It's a high quality board-based tactical miniatures game. But there are several better entries in that genre (Claustrophobia and Space Hulk leap to mind). It does have the whole Star Wars thing going on, though, and it's hugely replayable.
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09 Jan 2017 09:07 #242049 by Gary Sax
Wow, Matt, awesome contribution. Thanks.
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09 Jan 2017 10:54 #242068 by RabidWookie

MattDP wrote: It's a high quality board-based tactical miniatures game. But there are several better entries in that genre (Claustrophobia and Space Hulk leap to mind). It does have the whole Star Wars thing going on, though, and it's hugely replayable.


That's not really a fair comparison. Imperial Assault isn't just a tactical minis game, it's also effectively a Star Wars RPG in a box and as such offers a much richer experience. It's also a lot deeper mechanically than the games you named, which for some people is a huge advantage. For the people that really love Imperial Assault's unique strengths, it has no competitors.
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09 Jan 2017 10:57 - 09 Jan 2017 10:58 #242069 by Matt Thrower

RabidWookie wrote: That's not really a fair comparison. Imperial Assault isn't just a tactical minis game, it's also effectively a Star Wars RPG in a box and as such offers a much richer experience.


Quite right. It does indeed offer a richer experience although I'd stop short of the RPG label. Likely I'm selling it short on that front because I prefer skirmish.

RabidWookie wrote: It's also a lot deeper mechanically than the games you named, which for some people is a huge advantage. For the people that really love Imperial Assault's unique strengths, it has no competitors.


But I don't agree here. There are plenty of other great tactical games around with as much or more depth than IA. Arguably even Space Hulk. Its "unique strength" is its cool Star Wars branding, which has been used with great style and effect in the title (and most of FFG's other Star Wars branded games too).
Last edit: 09 Jan 2017 10:58 by Matt Thrower.

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09 Jan 2017 11:14 #242072 by jpat
If you're thinking RPG, maybe go RPG instead of trying to find an RPG substitute in board game format. Any one of the three SWRPG starter boxes is 30 retail (instead of 100 retail for IA). I have IA, have played it just the once (though recently) and would like to play again, but it does feel to me kinda like just another exercise in mechanics and wallet depletion.
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09 Jan 2017 11:59 #242077 by san il defanso
My interest in Imperial Assault has waned since getting into RPGs. It might be easier to put together, but it does not provide remotely the same level of narrative, which is mostly what I want out of this kind of experience.

If you've played Descent, it's basically a polished version of that in Star Wars form. Nothing wrong with that, but an RPG it is not.

I also think that it's a far cry from Space Hulk, but most games are.

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09 Jan 2017 17:26 #242127 by RabidWookie

MattDP wrote:

RabidWookie wrote: It's also a lot deeper mechanically than the games you named, which for some people is a huge advantage. For the people that really love Imperial Assault's unique strengths, it has no competitors.


But I don't agree here. There are plenty of other great tactical games around with as much or more depth than IA. Arguably even Space Hulk. Its "unique strength" is its cool Star Wars branding, which has been used with great style and effect in the title (and most of FFG's other Star Wars branded games too).


Space Hulk offers plenty of tactics (for the marine player), has superior components, plays faster, and offers more thrills and intensity. It doesn't come close to the depth of an Imperial Assault campaign. It doesn't try to. It's strength is it's simplicity. Halfway through an Imperial Assault campaign each character has as many as 10 interlocking abilities to use in concert with managing strain, wounds, multi-layered mission objectives vs crates, the Imperial threat meter, terrain features, the nuances of line of sight, the probabilities of each weapon's unique dice combo and features, surge management, it goes on and on. Many players in my groups have bailed on Imperial Assault's campaign mode because they think it's too deep and mentally taxing.
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09 Jan 2017 17:38 - 09 Jan 2017 23:05 #242128 by RabidWookie

san il defanso wrote: My interest in Imperial Assault has waned since getting into RPGs. It might be easier to put together, but it does not provide remotely the same level of narrative, which is mostly what I want out of this kind of experience.


It's like a video game RPG, in that you have characters that tackle challenges as they choose and level/gear up between missions. No board game could possibly replicate the freewheeling narrative and storytelling of a real pen and paper RPG.

I just discovered Star Wars REup, it's a fan-made update of the old West End Games Star Wars RPG (which I grew up playing weekly) with all of the best content from all of the expansions and fan content folded into one professionally laid out full color 508 page book. I'm having a hardcover color copy printed by Lulu, can't wait to play it again!

The FFG Star Wars RPG(s) are a massive splatbook treadmill, and after 3 core game lines still only cover a limited portion of the Star Wars universe. I'd suggest tracking down Star Wars Saga Edition (the best iteration of D20 ever produced, and a great Star Wars game). Or, if you prefer simpler more freewheeling games, grab a free pdf copy of Star Wars REup and bask in the glow of a classic RPG that literally wrote massive parts of the Star Wars canon itself and has been beloved by gamers everywhere for 30 years.
Last edit: 09 Jan 2017 23:05 by RabidWookie.

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09 Jan 2017 20:55 - 09 Jan 2017 20:58 #242135 by Gary Sax
I bought a hardback excellent condition revised and expanded west end games core book like 4 years ago for like 20 bucks. At the time I thought I might be getting ripped off given that FFG was coming out with their system, but now I feel like I have the last laugh.
Last edit: 09 Jan 2017 20:58 by Gary Sax.

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09 Jan 2017 23:04 #242147 by RabidWookie
Check this out and get ready to fill your undies with swimmers.....

www.d6holocron.com/downloads/books/REUP.pdf
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10 Jan 2017 06:52 #242152 by san il defanso
I just began a PBF game of the WEG Star Wars game. Like, my first post was yesterday. Really looking forward to digging in to it. I have a copy of the original second edition, but we're playing revised. That pdf with updated content looks great. Can't wait to dig in.
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