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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Imperial Assault: Unboxing

It's pretty rare that I find myself waiting for a game to come out. Generally speaking, I can't keep up with the pace big games are released at. Imperial Assault, by Fantasy Flight Games, was the exception; and I finally got my hands on it. Care to have a look inside the box?
This game was a big deal for me, and certainly thousands of other gamers the world over. I have always enjoyed everything about dungeon crawl type games except the dungeon part - fantasy just hasn't done it for me in a long time. I asked the fine people at The Enchanted Badger to order me a copy months ago, and they did, without asking for a dime in deposit. The credit card was out and ready in a flash, but the proprietor refused to take any payment up front. Maybe this is because she knew Imperial Assault was going to sell whether I bought mine or not. Maybe it's because the stink of excited nerd was on me, and she knew I'd be calling daily for status updates throughout the "fourth quarter of 2014". Regardless, she let me know the day before it arrived that it would be in. I mention this because the customer service there is fantastic, and if you're ever in the Ithaca (New York) area you owe it to yourself to stop-in and check the joint out. There is so much mediocrity in the game store business, some people just expect it. Not The Enchanted Badger, though. It's a hidden gem.

The long awaited moment had finally arrived! With the large, heavy box in-hand, I returned home. If you happened to be driving in the area and noticed someone else driving, hugging a game box, with a silly, excited grin on their face, that was me. I would finally be able to play a dungeon crawl in my favorite intellectual property universe. Of course, any number of successful I.P.s have been tarnished with a periodic gaming stinker. Star Wars had been one of the industry leaders in firing off less-than-stellar games in all mediums. This time, though, Fantasy Flight Games had a hold of that beloved galaxy far, far away. Everything was right in this universe as I peeled the plastic wrapping off the big box.

Have I mentioned the size of this box? It's basically a twelve by twelve box with enough depth to it that I couldn't comfortably carry it in my banana hands. I didn't bother putting it on a scale; not because I didn't want to know how much it weighed of course, but because I didn't want my precious game in the bathroom. Anyone who has read my stuff on BoltAction.Net can attest to my, let's say sanitary concerns. Before you ask why I didn't bring the scale elsewhere, the answer - or rather the question - is, "am I seriously going to bring the scale somewhere and clean it up so that I feel comfortable setting my precious on it, only to affirm that the game is, in fact, heavy?"

Heck no, I've got a game to open!

Once gently opened, the opener is greeted with some advertising. If the desired effect was to get a  player with no idea whatsoever how to play the game excited about future game purchases, mission accomplished Fantasy Flight Games! This double sided insert shows off upcoming "Figure Packs". We'll cover those a bit more later, but for now just know that FFG sells these so that players don't have to use the cardboard tokens for special characters. As an added bonus, these also include extra rules and cards to use in the game. Upon learning this, I dutifully emailed them my social security and account numbers.

Next up is the obligatory miniature catalog of Fantasy Flight products. I dig it when companies do this because, as I mentioned earlier, I'm less than diligent in keeping up with releases. Then we get to the meat: The rule books! Yes, you read that correctly. There are multiple rule books - four to be exact. Most important amongst them is the "Learn to Play" manual, which helpfully commands "Read This First" along the bottom of the cover. It consists of about fifteen art-filled pages of the game's core mechanics. This one's the rule book. Next up is the "Rules Reference Guide" which, "addresses questions and special exceptions that are not answered in this (Learn to Play) booklet." Then there is a "Campaign Guide" which is, of course, massive, and provides the missions or scenarios players go through during game play. Finally, there is a "Skirmish Guide" which adds to the rules to allow players to play Imperial Assault as a skirmish game, rather than a campaign game. All this is obviously made to Fantasy Flight Games' industry-leading standards and is of very high quality.


Below the booklets are sheets filled with fifty-nine double-sided map tiles, a threat and round dial, stickers, doors, and tokens. These are also made of high quality materials - whatever that cloth/cardboard stuff is called - and the artwork is fantastic. This is nothing new for Fantasy Flight, but I can't say enough positive about the artwork and graphic design in the components and books.


Underneath the card sheets sat several bags of cards and dice.

Yes. There are a lot of cards in here.

There are also six hero sheets inside. As I've mentioned before, the art direction is fantastic and absolutely drips that Star Wars feel. I dare you to pick up the Wookie character card without attempting to make some sort of Chewbacca sound. 

One of the baggies included the "bonus" figure packs of Luke and Vader. Like any good dealer, Fantasy Flight knows it has to convince us we need to buy all the expansion figure packs they're coming out with, and they've completely hooked me. Both Luke and Vader come with double-sided rule sheets describing how their character pieces and the rest of these components are to be used in the game. They've even got bonus scenarios on each sheet. How cool is that?

And hey, this is the WWPD Network after all. What would any discussion about a game with a miniatures be without a side-by-side for comparison's sake? This picture is worth a thousand words, allegedly, but I'd put these Imperial Assault models at the "heroic 28mm" scale. These babies scream for a paint job!

It's not really a negative, more of an observation really, but what's up with the proprietary dice Fantasy Flight Games kicks out for all its Star Wars lines? I'm not complaining about it at all - this is a $99.99 US game so they should probably reinvent the die for it - but it strikes me as amusing. No, I haven't read the rules yet, so I don't know why you'd need a blue colored die with a number and some symbols on each side rather than a pip or six. Future articles will undoubtedly talk about how the game works.

If you're anything like me, you've always wondered why the Rebels stationed a guy on top of an extremely tall pole on Yavin IV during the attack on the first Death Star. This game box finally solves the mystery - for cellular signal. Dude had no bars underneath that gnarly Yavin jungle canopy - pretty sure he's screaming, "Can you hear me now?"

It's not much of an unboxing without some more box pictures, right? This is what you get inside, after pulling out the tile sheets and rule books.

I really dig the attention to art on the inside of the box as well as the outside. Hopefully, you're seeing the inside of it a lot because you're playing it a lot. There are two helpful tabs in the center portion you can grab a hold of and pull the divider piece out with. 

Doing so reveals the thirty-four figures that come with the game! In case you hadn't already heard, that baggy on the right contains one suh-weet AT-ST figure. I believe Luke and Vader bring the total to thirty-six figures. Feel free to count below, add two, and correct me on the forums if I'm wrong!

Here's a group shot of the opened contents. Obviously, some assembly is required on the AT-ST, but if you hang around the WWPD sites, you will certainly have no trouble piecing it together. If you do, there are assembly instructions on the first page of the rule book. As the picture shows, one of the probe droids broke free of his base in transit. Luckily, the bonds to the base itself were simply quite delicate. Nothing is actually broken on the model, and all these figures are designed to stand up on their bases, unlike some of the models we're used to assembling.

I like the detail level on these models. Not that I noticed the metamorphosis, but apparently I've become a bit of a miniature snob. There is some clean up necessary on these, if like me you plan to paint them. It's nothing too significant, but certainly worth noting. I have no idea, however, how I might base these figures. If you've got any suggestions, let me know! Maybe they deserve some scenic resin bases?  Of note, they're made of a soft-ish plastic. I don't own another game with plastic of the same exact feel. It's not the softest plastic I've handled, but it's definitely not brittle in the least. I think that will help them when it comes to survival, but the verdict is out on how straight I can get things like lightsabers if they're slightly bent; and some of the figures here are.

The big fella' is pictured above. I have no idea what it'll be like in the game to face it, but compared to the other figures, it definitely has the dragon-type feel to it the big minis give you in all the other dungeon crawl games. We're going to have to come up with a different term for Imperial Assault, though! Corridor crawl? Trench run crawl? Both terrible - let me know a better idea on the forum!

Here's a shot of more or less all the components together. Note they're splayed out on a thirty-three inch square card table. Let me tell you now that you're not going to play this game comfortably on a card table. It was difficult to find ways to fit everything into these shots while still capturing details.

Overall, I'm a terrible person to review Imperial Assault. I've been waiting for the game for what seems like years, it's finally arrived, and I am very excited to get some games under my belt, but I'll try to be as objective as possible. For ninety-nine bucks, I don't see how anyone could be disappointed by what's included. The miniatures have great detail, and are begging me to paint them, regardless of the fact that I'm not yet positive if I can straighten a lightsaber here or there. (I suspect the old "leave them in really hot water" bit will do the trick, given the feel of the plastic.) If you're a big-time Star Wars fan then you probably knew about this game long before I did. Maybe it even made it into your hands earlier than mine. If you're not a big fan, let me tell you the components are top notch. The box will absolutely not help me once the miniatures are painted, as far as storage goes, but that's okay with me. If you don't plan on slapping some white onto those stormtroopers, the box insert is more than enough to safely store and transport your game so long as you're mindful of those probe droids.

Interested in Imperial Assault? Let's talk about it on the forum!

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