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Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit» Forums » Reviews

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Ken B.
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Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit








Okay...I'll admit it. I am a bits fiend. A junkie even, if you will.


Alright...I'll also admit that I am an unabashed Star Wars fan.



Even if you don't qualify as either, hear me out--there may still be something in here for you.



Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit is a board game depicting the events that took place at the end of the movie The Phantom Menace, and was published by Avalon Hill (think Hasbro Avalon Hill rather than the Old Schooltm incarnation.) The game is divided up into four parts: the battle on the plains between the Gungan army and the Trade Federation army; the invasion of the palace by the Queen, Panaka, her decoy, and the Palace Guards; the Duel in the core between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, and Maul; and Anakin's flight towards the Trade Federation battleship.



There are two decks for each player, both having distinctive backs, and each deck contains cards that activate units in two of the four theatres of battle. Just like other card-driven battle games such as Battlelore or Memoir '44, each card can be played to "activate" troops.




An example of some of the cards in the game.





Each character/unit has a movement allotment, which is printed right on a reference card. These cards can be used to activate one of the units/characters listed, and is discarded. When "activated", you can move them up to their allotted points and make one attack.


It's a little different from other similar games of this ilk in that you "program" your cards for the entire turn at the very beginning of each turn. In other words, you place four cards from your hand in order face down. One player is "first" in a turn (this alternates from turn to turn, and you pass a marker back and forth to know who this is) and you take turns flipping your cards and carrying out those activations that you want.


To move, you simply consult how many move points a particular unit has and move them up to that many spaces on their portion of the board. To attack, you simply roll dice. There are three different colors of dice, some more lethal than others (more hit results). The Jedi for example toss several dice at once and these include the strongest dice that feature the most hit results (designated by little icons--misses are "blank").


The characters shot at can defend by tossing their defense die. Most grunts (Palace Guards, Battle Droids) don't even get defense dice, so one hit and they're toast. Destroyer Droids, Tanks, Jedi, they all toss different defense die and any shields rolled are subtracted from the hit total. Major characters (Panaka, Jedi, Queen, etc) have a hit point track right on the board and you subtract any damage that they take--when any character reaches zero, they are of course removed from the board.


The Jedi who duel in the core cannot leave the core until one side is defeated. You activate them just as you would any other troop but they must do battle in the core first. They are FAST and toss massive amounts of dice at each other. The victor(s) may emerge from the core and go into the palace to help mop up...and the Jedi are so powerful, they literally cut through Palace Guards (if you're Maul) or Battle Droids (Quiggy/Obi-Wan) like butter.


A lot of the times Maul will take down one of the Jedi and the other will prevail, but sometimes Maul will defeat both (he has a LOT of hit points and tons of strong cards in the deck).


If somehow both Qui-Gon AND Obi-Wan make it from the core (I've never seen this happen), the Trade Federation player should probably concede. They aren't immortal (I killed a marauding Obi-Wan in one game with some concentrated Destroyer Droid fire) but two of them would seem to be too much to overcome.


The Naboo plains battlefield is interesting because it is just like the movie--a diversion. Neither side will win the game by defeating their opponent on the battlefield (in fact, during one game I completely mopped up the entire Gungan army...it felt GOOD). However, the Battlefield is one of the few ways in the game to get "Bonus" cards. If you completely kill a square's worth of army (four Gungans usually are in each square and move together, for example) then the Federation gets a Bonus card. The Bonus card is put face down into a new stack for NEXT round. Next turn, you add your normal four cards on top of it, but as you can see, you will get a bonus activation the next turn (five cards played during the next turn instead of just the four). You can really get a leg up on your opponent with Bonus cards that can give you killer turns that they won't have as many activations to respond to. Of course, to do that, you're devoting your attention to the Battlefield, which again won't win you the game directly.



However, the Federation can divert/move troops from the Plains to the Palace to help out there, particularly if the Gungans aren't doing anything to attack them. That means that the Republic player will at least need to harass them a bit (wasting precious activations) to keep them from just dumping tons of troops into the palace. Of course, if the Gungans wipe out a square, they also can score Bonus cards, but they don't have nearly the firepower that the Federation does, so it's an uphill battle.



They do have the Shields going for them. There are two Faambas on the board, two stationary units that keep the shield up. So long as its up (and the squares where the shield ends are marked on the board) the Federation has to "march" under the shield to attack, just like in the movies. If, however, one of the Faambas fall (they have hit points like characters, kept track of on the board) the shield is down and it is open season on the Gungans...and this is nasty as the tanks can just unleash ridiculous amounts of firepower on the poor Gungans. It isn't pretty.


Lastly is Anakin. The Republic player can play cards to attempt to move him forward on the space track. Each square on his path have a numbered grid; some have Trade Fed starships in them, some don't. If you then roll two dice and don't get a number with a ship in it, you can move forward to the next square. The Trade Federation player may play cards that add additional ship cards to the grid which must be overcome before he can actually move forward.


If Anakin makes it to the ship, BOOM...all droids on the board shut down and are destroyed (this is everyone but Maul). This doesn't win the game directly, but if Maul is already dead, the game is essentially over.




Yeah, This is All Well and Good...But How Do You Wwin?


There are two fixed pieces on the third floor of the Palace portion of the board depicting Nute and Rune, those dastardly Trade Viceroys who are overseeing the invasion of Naboo. If the Republic ever gets a majority of units into the top floor AND Anakin has shut down the Trade Federation battleship, the Republic wins. However, if the Trade Federation makes this impossible (by killing down to only two Republic characters in the Palace, meaning it's impossible to have a majority on the top floor, as Nute and Rune "count" as two though they never move.)



There are a few other cool touches. At the start of the game, the Republic player chooses which is the real and fake queen. They are colored differently (one red and one purple):






The colorful starring cast





There are two hit point markers for the queens. One of them is marked on the bottom to show which is the "real" queen. Whenever one of the queens is killed, you have to reveal the bottom of your hit point marker. If it's not the real deal, no effect. If the real queen was just killed, however, all Palace Guards have their movement halved for the remainder of the game (a pretty severe penalty). That means you have to be careful...the Queen pieces are decent fighters but will need some protection, but you also need their firepower as only Panaka and the two Queens are really anything close to strong; the Palace Guards are pretty much canon fodder and don't roll a ton of attack die. Since the Destroyer Droids have "shields" (defense die), you will probably need the extra hits to bring them down.



Also cool is the "Window Ledge" movement cards that allow your units next to a window space on one floor move up or down the palace so long as the window above or below you on that floor is not occupied. That means that the Queens and Panaka can zip to the third floor from the first with one of these, and that can come in handy. Otherwise, you have to slog your way from floor one all the way to the third floor (there are stairs at the far end of each floor that can be climbed up or down).





Anyway...this is one of my favorite games by far. It took me forever to hunt down a copy, and I finally bought a shrinked copy from a guy right here on BoardGameGeek. It was worth every penny.


I'll warn you, it is out of print--copies on ebay will fluctuate wildly but I have seen it go for over $100 (though $60-80 is more common). However, that's not really a bad deal as it originally retailed for $45, I think...it is FILLED with plastic bits, the 3-D palace, two game boards, lots of cards...





A veritible buffet of plastic goodness





VERDICT: It's not just a good Star Wars game (which is in itself a rarity), it's a GREAT game period. It recreates the last part of the Phantom Menace movie better than the movie itself did. It can run long at around 2-3 hours, and it does take about ten-twenty minutes to set up to play, but it is absolutely worth it.


Big thumbs up from me. Great components, great theme, fast and furious action, lots of strategy as you try to balance the different portions of the game...


Do yourself a favor and find a copy of this game NOW. It's out of print and due to being an Episode I licensed product it will likely never again be reprinted.




FINAL SCORE: (9.0/10.0)

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Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur
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Agreed!

This is one of the best, if not the best, game based on a movie - you can actually feel as if you are in the movie!!!

I also think Dune (OOP as usual) is awesome, and although I haven't played War of the Ring, reviews seem to indicate that it may be another.

Good news is that someone from USA bought out our last remaining new Star Wars units recently (8 or 9 units), so I'm sure it will be surfacing somewhere, sometime soon ;0
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Patrick Sullivan
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this is clearly the best Star Wars board game out there. So any fan would do well do grab a limited copy of these while they still can be found.

Very well written article. I suspect the author has some type of mental handicap but it's good to see that he's able to still deliver fairly eloquent written communication. Huzzah!
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Ken B.
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Black Barney wrote:
this is clearly the best Star Wars board game out there. So any fan would do well do grab a limited copy of these while they still can be found.

Very well written article. I suspect the author has some type of mental handicap but it's good to see that he's able to still deliver fairly eloquent written communication. Huzzah!



Oh Patty McSully, you're the McSulliest!





Thanks!
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Benjamin Maggi
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Loudonville
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franklincobb wrote:
I'll warn you, it is out of print--copies on ebay will fluctuate wildly but I have seen it go for over $100 (though $60-80 is more common). However, that's not really a bad deal as it originally retailed for $45,


Oh were this prices still the going rate for the game! Great review though.
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