Star Wars Imperial Assault: Twin Shadows
Last time, I talked about the base game of Imperial Assault. Now, let's jump into the expansions! Starting with the big release of this product wave, Twin Shadows. This a mid-size add-on that features bounty hunter Boba Fett on the box and represents him as a cardboard token inside it. Fantasy Flight Games loves to make expansions, and Imperial Assault is no exception. While technically the game has already had expansions, those are miniature expansions, i.e. one or two figures in a box with a mission. That is not a real expansion. This expansion does have figure packs that are compatible as well. These include C-3PO and R2-D2, who work surprisingly well in a combat-oriented game thanks to some cool abilities like Threepio’s ability to be distracting with his babbling about safety and R2’s technical savvy. Just keep them out of the line of fire. Boba Fett is just a must-have, but that might be an obvious statement. There is also a named Stormtrooper commander, Kayn Somos. Unfortunately for your wallet, you really might want the packs to get the most out of the new characters that come with this set.
But what you do get in the box are two new Rebel heroes (a sort of engineer-like female character and a big dude with a big gun and big fists), a dozen new map pieces (including the Cantina and a Star Destroyer bridge), four each of the new Heavy Stormtrooper and Tusken Raider figures, and of course piles of new cards to add to every deck in the game. Skirmish mode is not ignored, and there are ample additions for those that enjoy the head-to-head battle option. It is a reasonable package for the price, and it’s definitely a great value.
The overall theme of the expansion is very Tatooine-centric, hence the name Twin Shadows, a 'dark' allusion to the Twin Suns of Tatooine. The boards are either interior boards of the same feel as the core set (i.e. the brownish buildings or the blueish Imperial buildings), or exterior boards but all of the exterior boards are desert-based, emphasizing the Tatooine atmosphere. There is even a new mechanic to help drive this point home, called Habitat, which impacts deployment of some characters. So you can’t staff that Star Destroyer with Tusken Raiders, for example. There must be at least one tile of the appropriate type (forest, desert, or core) that matches up with a group’s habitat. There is a new Device token concept, keyed primarily to the character Saska Teft. She can deploy helpful tokens that benefit her Rebel allies or harm Imperial foes. It’s a pretty cool touch that really distinguishes her as a character.
The biggest- and best- feature of the expansion is the new mini-campaign. You can use the new campaign material as a part of the core box campaign, but if your gang is done with that and doesn’t want to go back to it, you can run the missions as the Twin Shadows storyline. This is a great idea. I didn’t like how in the first wave of add-ons some of the story material and upgrades were too late to incorporate in our games but now players have an option to run a six to eight-hour-long mini-campaign. I also like that it fits into that timeframe, which makes it totally doable in one session at a longer get-together or at a gaming event.
It’s also a pretty good story overall with a branching outcome and some well-written missions- better than the ones in the base game. The players head to Tatooine to search for Han Solo, C-3PO, and R2-D2. And of course, Boba Fett is also on hand to come barging in with his jetpack, causing trouble for the Rebels. You will have to find and reactivate Threepio, battle Stormtrooper Patrols in the streets of Mos Eisley, dodge Gaffi sticks out in Beggar’s Canyon, and infiltrate a Star Destroyer. There is a lot of fun story material, and because it is more compact it feels more like Star Wars.
Is everything perfect in this expansion? Not quite. There are two things that are not so great in this expansion. This is the Same Old Imperial Assault. While the missions are dripping with Star Wars theme, the mechanics of the missions are terribly similar to the core set's missions. It's a bit "more of the same". The mini-campaign is different, but if you include these missions as Side Missions in the campaign, they will not seem innovative or special. They will be cool for the narrative of your campaign but feel like the other side missions.
Most seasoned players will feel that is a good thing. Nothing wrong with “don't fix what ain't broken.” I disagree. The game encourages a run-to-objective style of play that my gaming group never really liked. This comes from the never-ending spawning that the overly generous Threat level, allowing the Imperial player to constantly spawn (especially if he has low-cost Deployment cards). If the Rebels take time to 'clear' a room, they have wasted time they should have spent running past bad guys to get to objectives, since the Imperial player can just respawn most of the bad guys they just killed. So, if your group is like mine, you will not see Twin Shadows addressing this issue, at all.
The “biggest” problem with all the awesome goodness you have in Twin Shadows is that it's just in Twin Shadows. FFG does a good job at not using expansion components outside of that expansion, and what this means for this expansion is you will not see any other Boba Fett missions except the ones in Twin Shadows (and the Boba Fett expansion pack of course). Tuskan Raider missions? Nope. The Cantina? Only in the one mission! And the bridge of a Star Destroyer? It is unfortunate and this is a trade that you will continue to see in further expansions.
It is a minor gripe, but a sad one too. I really wish half of the core set's content was taken out and all of Twin Shadows made part of the core set, so we could see much more use out of these parts!
I find myself almost wishing that Fantasy Flight had released Twin Shadows as the entry point for the game- the smaller campaign, the tighter narrative, and the overall Star Wars-ness of it is a marked improvement. And it probably could have retailed for much less, at that. I am inclined to call Twin Shadows a must-own for Imperial Assault. Can’t wait to talk more Imperial Assault with you next time!
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