Star Wars Outer Rim – board games in a dangerous galaxy
Yeah, looking back on it now, it wasn’t a clean sweep. But what could I do? When it turned out that the new guy was wanted by bounty hunters in the crew and they were already on his track, I had to kick him out on Ryloth. The danger was too great to get attention where I didn’t need it. One little Imperial inspection and that would have been it with the large profit from the small smuggling business. Sure, this little deal isn’t exactly legit, but somehow I have to manage my life here in the Outer Rim. So it’s easier to send the new one on an errand and then just take off again as soon as he’s left the spaceport. Now he’s not my problem anymore, at least I hope not.
Star Wars: Outer Rim from Fantasy Flight Games is again a board game with the powerful Star Wars license. As pilots, smugglers or bounty hunters you try your luck and besides credits you are looking for one thing above all else – prestige! Because only the adventurer with the most prestige will be able to watch out for all dangers in a galaxy far, far away, at a time that has long passed. If the board game Star Wars: Outer Rim is doing well, you can read in the following review of the game.
Have fun reading it.
Star Wars Outer Rim the lawless rim
Before I dedicate myself to the review, I have to let the Star Wars Nerd hang out and throw around with useless knowledge. The Outer Rim is the area in the Star Wars universe that is not under the direct control of the Empire. Of course, there are imperial controls and storm troopers are nothing unusual on some planets, but only on the really important planets. And in the Outer Rim these are actually only a handful. So the real rulers in the Outer Rim are the crime syndicates. But the Outer Rim also offers enough space to hide in. It is said that the rebels also have one or two hidden bases in the Outer Rim.
In Star Wars Outer Rim, however, this gigantic area is rather limited to the above-mentioned handful of planets. For me as a big fan of course no unknown planets and the list of planets ranges from episode 1 to episode 8, including the two spin-offs Solo and Rogue One. But for those who don’t know anything about Star Wars, it’s just names without meaning.
But the most important detail in Star Wars Outer Rim is that I am finally the pilot of my own spaceship and I can choose one of the different professions. And I don’t have to go through this choice of profession in a forced way. At the beginning of the game, I don’t draw a card that says you are now a bounty hunter. In Star Wars Outer Rim I decide for myself which way I want to go. In one game, I’m just a simple freighter pilot who brings legal cargo from A to B. But in another game I’m the ruthless bounty hunter who is only looking for his next prey. And in another game I am a little bit of everything and I don’t say no to a more illegal freight order.
And that is already the greatest strength of Star Wars Outer Rim – the experience of a story of its own without being tied into a tight and confusing corset of rules.
A freighter please
I’ll start off very modestly. At the beginning of the game I randomly choose one of the iconic heroes from the Star Wars universe. As I said, it’s kind of random, because I can’t really say no to a player who wants to play Han Solo. Then I have to push the random aside and fulfill this wish. But even a Han Solo has nothing in the beginning except a shaky freighter and a few credits, which are not enough for anything. Luckily there is still a random starting order, which already steers you in a certain direction. Whether you want to continue on this way is up to you. In any case, the start order will earn you a few credits when you fulfill it, which will give you a little more financial freedom and allow you to start your story.
However, the story is quite simple from a game technical point of view. The first player to collect 10 prestige points wins the game immediately. And you can get prestige in Star Wars Outer Rim almost at every corner. Help out a gangster boss or shoot down rebels. Simple missions will give you a maximum of 1 prestige. However, the more challenging a task is, the more prestige you get.
So it seems to be quite difficult to get the prestige together at the beginning. But in the course of the game you not only get more credits, but also more and above all better equipment. And what would an adventure be without companions, who also enhance your skills. These can also be recruited in the wide open spaces of the galaxy. With their help and equipment, you will be able to complete difficult missions and earn great prestige points.
I like to think back to one game. I had five Prestige and my wife said in her last turn that it would take us quite a long time to get Prestige this time. But I had a plan and thanks to Boba Fett and a bounty mission, I was able to get 5 prestige in one round and win the game. The game was over and also shows how unpredictable Star Wars Outer Rim is. If I felt like the shining hero, from whom the victory can hardly be taken away, this can be over one heartbeat later.
Dice are also missing in Star Wars Outer Rim
The rulebook in Star Wars Outer Rim has been reduced to the necessary essentials. To help you play, each player has a corresponding overview, which I only have to work through when it’s my turn. Most of the time I fly to the place where I want to go to complete an objective. Then I have various actions to choose from, which I usually use to grab equipment or orders from the open market. As a conclusion in my turn only the encounter remains. Depending on where I am, nothing happens or I find myself in a fight.
The fight can happen in space or on the ground. The mechanics behind it remain the same. I try to get more hits than my opponent. The opponent is in most cases a non-player character whose dice are thrown by a player. If my opponent does not manage to score enough hits, I stay on my feet and win the fight.
Fantasy Flight Games typically custom dice are used, which should cover a certain range of possibilities. From sure success up to a lucky hit, which can already take care to destroy a death star, everything is available. This system of course also serves the different types of players. Perhaps I am more the scoundrel who relies completely on his lucky dice to get to the goal. But maybe I prefer to play it safe and have enough reserves to really face everything. The choice is left to me. Star Wars Outer Rim again gives me no limitations.
However, the number of dice is again typically limited in Fantasy Flight Games: In every game we come to the point where we simply don’t have enough dice because there aren’t enough in the box. One. two dice more would have been good for the game, because players and opponents could roll the dice at the same time and there would be no downtime because there are just a few cheap dice missing.
I have no problems with general tests, here I never get into the embarrassment of not having enough dice. If I have to do a test, I throw two dice and evaluate the result. This is fast and reduces the downtime for others during my turn.
Travelling alone in the Outer Rim
I can’t experience a great downtime anyway, because basically I play alone. Great player interaction is mostly impossible. Only if there is a bounty on a crew member, a fight between two players will occur. So I can actually plan my entire turn while it’s still the turn of my other players. But there are always a few little things to consider: How has the market developed and how are the enemy patrols arranged on the field? But something like that doesn’t cause downtime, at least not through the board game. The big downtime comes solely from the players. If they plan their moves as soon as it’s their turn, even the slim rules of Star Wars Outer Rim won’t help.
Even new players get into the rules very quickly and after a few turns they are already firmly in the saddle. Fantasy Flight Games has done everything right here. And new players also explore the far reaches of the Outer Rim. They take a close look at every new mission in the market and ask themselves what cool new equipment might be coming. However, the attraction of the new equipment fades quickly. After a few games, the individual decks of cards are played through quite quickly. Meanwhile I know which weapons and which armour are available. Also which bounty orders are in which stack is nothing new for me. I know that there is this one card with which I can get to a ship cheaply, which I cannot afford otherwise.
Unfortunately this reduces the replay stimulus immensely, as after a few games everything feels the same. Much of the board game literally screams for expansion. Be it new maps for the market or new areas in the Outer Rim. But it doesn’t change anything about the basic game and that’s actually just flying from planet to planet and collecting credits and prestige.
Of course such things can still be fixed in an expansion and Star Wars Outer Rim wouldn’t be the first Fantasy Flight Games game, which gains even more game depth with an expansion.
Star Wars Outer Rim a double-edged lightsaber
What will remain of Star Wars Outer Rim when I take away the Star Wars license? Actually I will have a Firefly board game. Both board games are very similar. Even at the first announcement Star Wars Outer Rim reminded me very much of Firefly. The space requirements on the table are almost identical. Even though I don’t expect much in the box for Star Wars Outer Rim, a standard board game table reaches its space limits quite fast.
And in the beginning I also thought that Firefly is the better game. But as always, the devil is in the details and it took a few games of Star Wars Outer Rim before I realized the differences. Star Wars Outer Rim clearly scores in accessibility. The rules are simple and quickly explained. Somehow everyone recognizes the Outer Rim and also discovering your own story is fun.
The bluffing and poker at the board game table, the fact that I have absolutely no luck in this match, but I do in the next one, is just fun. A lot of players are already satisfied when they have Han, Chewie and the Falcon in one game. And every game is different in contrast to Firefly. In Firefly I play the same starting mission over and over again at the beginning, so that new players come into play. In addition, the rules are even more unwieldy and not so easily accessible compared to Star Wars Outer Rim.
However, Star Wars Outer Rim weakens out to the back. After enough games I have seen everything somehow. Here Firefly scores with its different missions, which bring enough variety into the game.
Well, what’s the bottom line?
Very simple: I’m a Star Wars fan and I like Star Wars Outer Rim, even if it has weaknesses. I love it when I fly through the Outer Rim and can explain the Outer Rim to my friends and tell them a story about each planet. It’s also easier for me to bring a Star Wars Outer Rim to the table than a Firefly. And who knows, maybe there will be one or two expansions that will give the game a bit more depth. Maybe there will be a few scenarios in the far, far away galaxy after all.
By the way: If you already want even more game depth in Star Wars Outer Rim, you can also use your Star Wars Imperial Assault miniatures.
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