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Title – Star Wars: Battle for Endor
Ages – 12 and up
Players - 1 (solitaire)
Maker – West End Games
Designer – Peter Corless
Folded paper terrain mat/game board
62 stand-up playing pieces – denoting Ewok warriors, Ewok leaders, Ewok catapults, Imperial security forces, Stormtroopers, ATt-ST walkers, Imperial speeder bikes, Rebel troopers and Rebel heroes
2 decks of cards – action and event cards
Six special fire dice
2 standard six sided dice
Casualty container for the box
Simply put, you are attempting to replicate the ground battle at the end of “Return of the Jedi”. You are in direct control of the rebel forces and are attempting to breach the Imperial shield bunker and blow up the shield generator. At your command are Ewok warriors, Ewok leaders, Ewok catapults, Rebel troopers and Rebel heroes. Overall the good guys are pretty weak both defensively and offensively, so their main tactic is hiding in cover and combining fire to buff up their damage rolls .
Attempting to stop the good guys are the nefarious imperial forces. Imperial forces include Stormtroopers, Imperial security forces, AT-ST walkers and Imperial speeder bikes. Now since this is a solitaire game and you have to “control” the opposing force, the rules tell you how the Imperials will move, fire, and react and that is both good and bad.
The game ends in victory when the Rebels are on the Imperial bunker hex when a special card is pulled and also roll a hit on the fire dice. The game is lost if the Imperials kill all the rebel forces or if five “Rebel Cruiser Destroyed” cards are pulled from the event card deck.
This is a star wars game so I give it a lot just because of the theme. However it is almost 20 years old, so its components and game play won’t be on par with today’s standard. With that caveat, though, I think that a good point is the fact that it is a solitaire game. It’s pretty cool to be able to play a Star Wars adventure when you can’t pull some friends together for a regular game-night.
The turn sequence is done by pulling cards, so it makes difficult to plan strategies for the Rebels. I think this is a good point because it simulates the whole “fog of war” unpredictability thing. The card pulled might be “Imperials move”, “Rebel troopers fire” ,“Heroes fire or breach” or “draw event”. So if in a game the rebels have just moved, the next card might be Imperials fire (thus killing a lot of good guys) or it might be pull event (which might be reinforcements for either side or it might end the game by being a “Rebel Cruiser Destroyed” card) or it might be “Rebels fire”. So you can see that it makes predicting very difficult.
The “Imperial Priority” factor is both a good and “nitpicky” thing (see that below). It think it is good in concept so that it gives a mechanic that tells you how the imperials move and who they fire at. I really like the fact that some event card modify these priorities so even though there is no human player for the bad guys, the tone of the Imperial forces changes as the game progresses.
I also liked the reinforcement aspect of the game. Occasionally when the pertinent event cards are drawn, all sides get some reinforcements place on the board. This again helps change the tone and flavor of the game as you sit there and worry that the next card might give the Imperials two more AT-STs while at the same time you are hoping that the rebels regroup giving you some troopers back.
First off, there is a lot of set up to do. You need to set up almost 50 stand up cardboard counters by rolling a die to determine which zone or “macrohex” they go in. Then in that zone they can’t be too close to an opposing force, but also not in a certain type of terrain, etc………. It’s a decent amount to do just to set up the board. So when you are done it leaves you with a crowded board that leads to……
It is kind of difficult to see where a particular piece is since the pieces are flat cardboard chits stuck in plastic base holders. If they had been plastic figures it would have been easier to find them (not to mention cooler). But I think that this gets back to when the game was manufactured and back in the late 80’s most games didn’t have the cool miniatures that we get in out modern games.
Imperial priority as I have stated is a cool thing….in theory. In practice however it can lead to some amusing, if head scratching, situations. It is entirely possible (and fairly probable) that a situation will arise that when firing, an Imperial will ignore a close group of 4 Rebel troopers (because there are four they are a much greater threat realistically because of their combining fire ability) only to fire at one lone Ewok, even if it is far away. Even worse is movement. According to the rules, if Imperial priority states that they are gunning for Ewoks, an Imperial will leave cover, run around a wall of Rebels to again get at that one lone ewok warrior. So in practice, it seems a bit silly.
Also on the issue of priority is how the Rebel heroes are handled. Because there are never a priority unless the “breeched priority” is in effect the heroes are virtually ignored. This pretty much gives them impunity to run around and not worry about getting shot at.
I have to say that this game is just okay. It’s not one that I am dying to play on a daily basis, but it is one I will pull of the bookcase, blow the dust off and have a go at it. Because of (or maybe it was designed that way???) that “Imperial priority” hiccup the game has a real cinematic feel, with the heroes running around and doing fine while all the grunts are dropping like flys. So all in all it’s a nice way to capture the fun and adventure of “Return of the Jedi”, but seeing as how this was developed in the days before the internet, I think other, better ways of playing solo-play games now exist. Anyone wanna join me on a World of Warcraft raid?
That’s my .02
Imperial Priority provides the method of determining ambiguous targets.
For movement, Imperial units will move to the closest targets, where priority breaks ties. If an Ewok and a rebel unit are equidistant, it will move toward the Ewok at A priority.
For combat, the same applies. Troopers will fire at other rebel units if they are closer than Ewoks (again at A priority).
It is important to place/move ewoks such that the heroes can open the bunker unhindered. Unfortunately, this often exposes the primitives to vastly shorter life-spans (and often causes the heroes to become targets of subsequent fire anyway). This tactic is counter to coordinated attacks from tightly grouped Ewok bands (and leader) needed to kill the heavier Imperial units.
I suggest that all AT-ST's, and 10 troopers are used; remove the rebel reinforcements and lose the game when three battleships are destroyed. It's not supposed to be easy.