Imperial Assault: Jabba's Realm
Let's start with an admission: Empire Strikes Back isn't my favorite Star Wars film. Return of the Jedi is. And one of my favorite scenes in Return of the Jedi is the beginning, in Jabba's palace and on to the Pit of Carkoon. I like it because of all the things in Star Wars it's by far the most alien and exotic of all and because it's full of huge, slobbering monsters. So, getting hold of the Jabba's Realm expansion for Imperial Assault was like getting to play with my childhood Star Wars figures all over again.
Much of the important stuff is right there in the box. There's a tile for the Pit of Carkoon festooned with gleefully horrid Sarlacc art. There's a massive Rancor figure which doesn't fit together at all well without copious amounts of pressure and hot water. There are Gamorrean guards and sail barge tiles, and all sorts of other scum and villainy all tied together by a full-length campaign. So, it's got the same number of missions as the one in the original box.
There are omissions, too, as you've come to expect from Imperial Assault. Even the expansions benefit from expansions. The box's namesake, Jabba himself, is a separate purchase. You may also want the Imperial Captain Terro, who shows up in a lot of scenarios, as well as Jedi Luke and some Alliance Rangers, who show up less. There are cardboard tokens for you to use if you don't have the figures. Several well-known characters like Bib Fortuna don't appear at all.
Instead, we get a bunch of new Rebel characters for players to use in this, or any other, campaign. They're a cracking bunch, which do a fine job of filling in the small holes in the existing line of heroes. We have a genuine tank, capable of soaking and healing massive damage. There's a Mandalorian Swiss Army knife, fast and capable of building flexibly depending on your needs. Rounding up the trio is a Rodian gunslinger, laying down light but frequent fire even has he dashes round the board.
You'll get to play with these guys in a fun, full-length campaign that does throw some curveballs to you depending on what choices are made. However, these are still done without breaking what makes the game fun. There are some cracking missions on offer. One sees the players joining in a hunt for a wild Rancor. There are several that use separate sail barge boards and let figures move between the barges and the landscape beneath. Indeed, they're good enough that it's almost a shame there's no option for a shorter, small-box length campaign. The commitment required will be off-putting to some players.
The Imperial player gets two new classes including the bounty-focused Hutt Mercenaries. This lets the Imperial player gain bonuses against heroes on whom they've put a bounty. It's a thematic idea that increases the social elements of the game. And as you might expect, it's scum like bounty hunters that get a big boost in this big box. There's a slew of new figures for the mercenary’s faction, making them a much more viable choice in skirmish.
One of the most interesting things about this range of expansions is how they evolve the skirmish game. There's even a 4-player skirmish scenario. Of note is the expanded range of command cards that anchor on figure traits. Indeed, there are some that can be used with multiple traits for maximum flexibility. This is a great idea: previously, building a command deck felt like an annoying afterthought to your list. And certain cards came up time and time again. There's now a greater range of powerful cards, usable in a much greater range of situations. It's bought a lot of fun uncertainty back into command card play without breaking the game.
Alliance Rangers and Jabba serve distinctive roles, as a long ranger sniper unit and scum support respectively. But it's telling that one of the expansion figures, the Jedi version of Luke, is a re-implementation of an existing character. He doesn't even have a separate character card for skirmish. Anyone who wants to use Jedi Luke in a game can just stand in the Luke figure from the base set. So, what's the deal here? But, for me, it is Definity worth having the Jedi version of Skywalker as he is my favorite character in the Star Wars universe. Aside from being a neat figure, the stats perhaps hint at it being a solution to the long-standing problem in skirmish of multiple cannon fodder troops working better than costly heroes. This version is more expensive. But he's got a lot of health and can deflect range attacks back at their source.
If you want an expansion to Imperial Assault, it's hard to see how you could go wrong with this. It expands on every aspect of the game with great components and novel ideas. Personally, I really do enjoy at how different this campaign is and what it brings to the table in comparison to the others. For all that it entails, this is my favorite expansion of all Imperial Assault. It has the most unique elements while keeping the game like what I know but adding enough new that makes me very curious as to what is coming next.
And that folks, is the end of the Imperial Assault reviews. That last expansion before the game was finished were all in the new canon, which is when I stopped buying the expansions. I just had no interest in using the new canon characters or locations. However, I have always wondered what other expansions we could have gotten. Maybe, an adventure on the forest moon of Endor where we could have teamed up with the Ewoks to destroy the shield generator defending the second Death Star. Maybe a Death Star expansion. Or maybe, a post Endor, New Republic campaign where we are fighting off the Imperial Remnant. It’s a shame that we didn’t get more, but with what we have and the variety you can get with the game, I believe that what is available should give you a satisfying Star Wars experience.