Star Wars Rebellion — Labor Day Fun and Freedom in the Galaxy

This Labor Day my brother and I finally got around to playing a game of Star Wars Rebellion. We had been interested in playing a game for a while. And we had two reasons why this game looked attractive.

Freedom in the Galaxy

First, the game is a new version of the old SPI game Freedom in the Galaxy. If you aren’t familiar with that game, it was released in 1979 and features a band of rebels taking on an evil galactic empire. The empire also has a “Planetary Stabilizer” by which it could destroy planets. The rebels had a secret base and tried to use subversive missions to unseat the dastardly empire. Sound familiar?

Freedom in the Galaxy was a thinly veiled Star Wars…but it couldn’t use that name or any other direct reference to George Lucas’ movie. But we all knew what we were playing, and Freedom in the Galaxy was a good game. It captured the fun of the Star Wars movie in a great board game.

— Freedom in the Galaxy. My copy is unpunched. My brother has the more well worn version that we used in our childhood

Fantasy Flight Reimagining and Star Wars

Second, Fantasy Flight was going to redo Freedom in the Galaxy. FFG had already reimagined the great Avalon Hill Game Dune. They updated the rules, board, and components and put out the new game as Rex. FFG couldn’t call it Dune because they had the rights to the game and rules, but not to Frank Herbert’s product. Thus, FFG set Rex in its Twilight Imperium universe. The game is good, but somehow not being set in the Dune universe took something intangible away from the game.

When I heard that Fantasy Flight Games had bought the rights to both the Star Wars license and the Freedom in the Galaxy game, I knew they would get it right this time.

Star Wars Rebellion

And this game is fun! FFG streamlined the rules, primarily by ditching the world environments and different ground units, upgraded the components, and added all the desired Star Wars elements. Now you have an actual Death Star miniature, along with all the other Star Wars personalities and units. The core of Freedom in the Galaxy is still there, hidden rebel base, missions, quick combat, so this is basically the same game…but updated from a 1979 game and made into a 2010s game with all the cards, minis, and chips that you expect from a FFG game.

— Star Wars Rebellion, the reimagining by Fantasy Flight Games

So things have come full circle: a game that was Star Wars that couldn’t call itself Star Wars is now called Star Wars Rebellion. The good game that Freedom in the Galaxy was is still there…but now you don’t have to imagine that Zina Adora is Princess Leia.

Now I can’t wait to integrate the Star Wars Rise of the Empire expansion. It has all the Rogue One content. I loved that movie!

Stew’s Rant Corner: Tannhauser

Welcome to the first edition of Stew’s Rant Corner. Today I will be covering a game that came out in 2007, put out expansions following that release, and has sat on my shelf ever since the first time the Toledo Tuesday Gaming Club played it: Tannhauser.

Tannhauser 01

The Box Cover

Tannhauser was first released by a French company, Take You On, translated into English by Fantasy Flight Games and then eventually the rights were bought by Fantasy Flight Games. It was released in the United States in 2007 as a squad-based action board game. The new, innovative, element of game play that Tannhauser promoted was its “Pathfinder” system of engagement. This consisted of the board having circles instead of spaces that the players moved their miniatures around on. Each circle was either white, for a perfect line of sight, or had an alternate color providing information on various degrees of line of sight.

Tannhauser 02

Note the color-coded circles used for movement and line-of-sight determination

As is typical of a great deal of Fantasy Flight Games, each player has a small board depicting their character and numerous markers to depict weapons, attributes, etc.

Tannhauser 03

Fantasy Flight at its finest!  Gazillion’s of tokens and player boards!

As you can see from the pictures, the game is quite involved, and keeps each player keeping track of multiple attributes and weapons. Tannhauser does offer different game modes, with basic, “wipe out your enemy” mode and a career mode where the players follow a story line and try to complete objectives (though the best way to complete your objectives is to wipe out your opponents).

Unfortunately, though Tannhauser’s artwork is wonderful, the production quality is top notch (which is a trademark of Fantasy Flight Games), and the board is beautiful, the gameplay is slow, painstakingly tedious, and for a game with so much record keeping, it all boils down to “whoever shoots first, wins”. During the gameplay I found that I was moving a single character, but keeping track of multiple traits and weapons. When combat ensued, the person who shot first often won, which is normal in real life, but in Tannhauser it takes five minutes to figure out all the traits and weapons stats necessary to roll the dice and discover whether you shot anyone or not.

For a squad-based action board game, both myself and the other players found that we never got to feel any real-time squad-based action, instead all we did was look up rules for different weapons, tried to reconcile that with all of our traits, page through the rules to see what rules and numbers applied when we were attacking, spent a long time arguing about the line-of-sight, and then eventually roll to see if we hit anyone or not. What could have been a fun game of run around and shoot your opponent (which is what a game of Tannhauser boils down to, regardless of whether there are objectives or not), instead was a painstaking crawl through the mud of numerous rules and attributes.

If you want to play a third-person shooter, many console games offer a quicker resolution to pulling the trigger than Tannhauser. One of the joys of playing board games, as opposed to console games, is the interaction with your friends as you play, once again, unfortunately when playing Tannhauser you will interact with the rules book and character cards far more often than you will with your friends.

For now, Tannhauser will continue to collect dust on my shelf, and hopefully, one day, I will be able to find someone willing to pay me some small pittance to take it off my hands.


Stew’s Rant Corner is a continuing series of blogs in which Stew highlights the worst aspects of a game.  For information on Stew, take a look at the TTGC About page (About).