Although Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit was not designed by Richard Borg, it's basically a Star Wars themed version of Commands & Colors. The purpose of this review is to compare SW: Queen's Gambit to the Commands & Colors system and to also make recommendations to players who would potentially enjoy this game.
Would Tom Vassel enjoy this game?
I recommend Queen's Gambit to anyone who has enjoyed BattleLore, Memoir '44, or BattleCry. There are two armies worth of plastic miniatures and a few Jedi/Syth that run around using lightsabers. This game is about as tactical as Memoir '44 or BattleCry, so it isn't just about rolling dice. However, if you do not enjoy dice-based combat then this game is probably not for you.
I also recommend this game to anyone who has enjoyed Heroscape, for Queen's Gambit was designed by non other than Craig Van Ness & Rob Deviau! If you hate Heroscape, Tom Vassel endorsed games, or prefer the wooden blocks of C&C: Ancients, then this game is probably not for you. However, I will do my best to win you over to Jar Jar Binks and the rest of the cast of Episode I.
This game is out-of-print... so who cares?
If you hate Ebay, BBG marketplace, or trading on BBG, then you probably should stop reading this review. However, you could ask your parents to get you this game for Christmass if they are Internet savvy.
Commands & Colors Gameplay
The Commands & Colors system is the driving mechanism behind Richard Borg's BattleCry, Memoir '44, Ancients, & BattleLore.
If you are familiar with the C&C system feel free to skip this! For everyone else, I will do my best to describe the system for you:
Each game takes place during a different era. However each game shares the same theme of 2 opposing sides engaging in battle.
Each game features various scenarios that have different units/terrain setups and victory conditions for the opposing armies.
Each army features units of varying sizes and abilities. These units act as one and always move and attack as a group.
The gameboard is divided into three separate sections or flanks. Units placed on the left section of the gameboard are considered to be of the left flank, units in the center are part of the center flank, etc.
Gameplay is card driven. A player may only move/attack with a particular unit if the card says so. An example card would be something like 3 Infantry units on the left flank may move/attack.
Combat is resolved with dice. Each die has symbols for the different types of units. Each time a player rolls the corresponding symbol, 1 member is removed from the defending unit.
***Now that you know the basics... it is time to Compare Queen's Gambit to the C&C system.
Star Wars: Queen's Gambit Theme & Scenario
The Theme of Queen's Gambit is the end battle in Episode I with the opposing armies of the Naboo and the Trade Federation. You not only get to play as either the Jedi or Sith, but you also get to move troops up a 3-story palace AND Jar Jar Binks does not appear in this game!
This game has only 1 scenario, but it was well play-tested! Both sides are evenly balanced so the outcome can swing either way depending on card management, tactics, and die rolls.
The scenario is actually four different battles between the opposing sides that takes place simultaneously. The first battle is an epic duel that features Qui-gon and Obi-won vs Darth Maul. The second battle is Queen Amadila and her squadron infiltrating the palace. The third battle is the Gungans vs the Droid army. The last battle is Anakin flying his starfighter to the Command ship in space.
The winning conditions are as follows: The Naboo wins if all droids are destroyed and they also have a majority in the Throne room of the palace. The Trade Federation wins if all but 2 Naboo and/or Jedi are alive in the palace.
PROS: This scenario is highly replayable for players can switch sides and try out varying strategies and tactics amongst the 4 battles. Each battle has its own style of gameplay, which makes the game more interesting! Players also have to strike a balance between gaining in 1 battle at the expense of losing units in another. IMHO Queen's Gambit is the Die Macher of the Commands & Colors system!
CONS: This scenario takes longer to play than a typical C&C system scenario so players will probably not have time to switch sides and play back-to-back sessions. Gungans and Battle Droids are probably not as cool as American Soldiers, Elves, and Civil War cavalry!
Only the Battlefield actually features the C&C type units. The 3 other battles have individual characters that are more similar to Herscape.
Although the Trade Federation has more powerful units than the Naboo, the individual characters of the Naboo are collectively stronger, such as having 2 Jedi compared to 1 Sith! They also have little Anakin in his yellow starfighter!
PROS: The plastic miniatures are well-designed and are color coded so that they are easy to identify! There is a variety of units and individuals. The Trade Federation has Darth Maul, Destroyer Droids, Battle Droids, Armored Attack Tanks, and Multi Troop Transports. The Naboo have Qui-gon, Obi, Anakin, Queen Amidalla, Decoy to the Queen, Captain Panaka, Palace Guards, Gungans, Kaadu Riders, and Catapults. The winner of the Jedi Duel can join the battle in the palace! It can be highly enjoyable running up staircases and attacking with a lightsaber
There is little to no terrain as in the C&C: system! The battlefield does have a shield that inhibits the Armored Attack Tank movement... but there are no sandbags or hills.
Flanks and Command Cards
Instead of having one board with a left/center/right section, Queen's Gambit has 4 different playing areas. Players in Queen's Gambit also do not share the same Command Card deck as in the C&C system. Instead each player has a Theed Palace/Jedi Duel Deck and a Battlefield/Space Battle deck.
Each card usually has more than one option, so a player has to decide which of the 4 battles to play. An example Theed Palace/Jedi Duel Deck card would be either to move/attack with a Jedi or move/attack with the Queen and 3 palace guards.
Each player begins the game with 5 cards from both decks. The player then chooses 4 of the 10 cards to play per round by placing them facedown as one draw pile. These cards are then played in sequence with players alternating turns by playing the top card one at a time. At the end of the round, players draw 2 cards from both decks and the starting player changes. Players can also earn additional cards by defeating certain individuals or units!
PROS: I feel that there is more card management and long-term planning that takes place in Queen's Gambit than in the other C&C games. Players have to determine the sequence of cards for the entire round 4 cards at a time!
Queen's Gambit does not feature the Battle Dice of C&C, but the overall outcome is the same. Basically the more powerful units roll better dice. The attacking dice have hits or misses, the defending dice have blocks, and Anakin rolls 2 6-sided dice for flight movement.
CONS Although the dice battles were well designed... the randomness of the die rolls can make or break the game. IMHO I prefer games without dice-combat.
I have played Star Wars: the Queen's Gambit 7 times. I have enjoyed each session and it is my favorite game that features dice-based combat.
It really is unfortunate that certain die rolls basically determine the winner! However, this game is really enjoyable for what it is and players do make meaningful decisions throughout the entire game, so there is some skill. There also are plenty of tactics and strategies to discover for the Naboo and Trade Federation.
My ratings for Star Wars: Queen's Gambit are as follows:
The 3-storied palace looks awesome on a table surface. The plastic miniatures are easy to distinguish and the Jedi are fun to play with.
I prefer the gameplay in Star Wars: Queen's Gambit to Battle Cry and Memoir '44. I have not playe BattleLore, nor Ancients so keep that in mind. Queen's Gambit is my favorite C&C game! It probably would be more popular if it had some expansions.
I prefer games without dice!
I would rate this an 8 if it were not for the dice. So my overall rating is a 6.
For people who want a more detailed account of gameplay, tactics and strategies... keep reading.
1. Each Player chooses 4 of 10 cards to play.
Place the cards face down so that the card to be played first is on top. Keep the remaining 6 cards face down for possible play next round.
2. Move all cards from Bonus card pile under 4 chosen cards.
Do not look at Bonus cards.
3. Player with Go First piece flips over top card and plays it.
Players alternate playing cards until all cards and bonus cards have been played. Place used cards on top of either Battlefield or Theed Palace discard pile. If either deck is depleted, shuffle the discard pile back into deck.
Move and Attack
Move and attack with any Character or Group listed on card in any order.
If card specifies an action for more than 1 Character or Group, Player cannot select the exact same Character or Group to perform multiple actions. Character or Group cannot move after attacking. (exception: Jedi and Sith)
Players roll attack and defense dice when applicable. Remove 1 Character in a Group for each unblocked hit. Major Character is removed once Damage Counter reaches red space on track.
Earn Bonus Cards
When earning a Bonus, draw Bonus cards from either deck in any combination. Player does not look at or use Bonus cards until next round.
4. Pass the Go First piece to the other Player.
5. Each Player draws 2 cards from each deck and forms hand of 10 cards.
Space Battle Strategy and Rules
The Naboo should play as many Anakin cards as possible in order to reach Final space. The Trade Federation Player should play all 8 Starfighter cards to defend space.
If Anakin reaches Final space, remove all AAT, MTT, Droids, and Destroyers from game. Choosing the other action instead of playing Anakin is not recommended.
Play Starfighter action from Battlefield card
1. Trade Federation Player draws the top Starfighter card from 8 card deck.
2. Trade Federation Player places card face up on top of any space on board. May place any number of cards on top of any space on board.
Play Anakin Card
1. Trade Federation Player rolls designated number of gray dice.
2. Trade Federation Player chooses an open grid for each die that rolled a “hit.”
3. Naboo Player rolls the 2 numbered Dice. Turn ends immediately if grid is blocked. If roll is successful against Starfighter card… (Remove Starfighter card from game.) Continue rolling against additional Starfighter cards and against the Board space.
4. Anakin moves to the next Board space. (Move only 1 Board space per Anakin card)
Keep in mind that the Battlefield is secondary. However, a lot of Bonus Cards can be earned from the Battlefield. Players receive 1 Bonus Card for destroying Character or Group completely from hex.
Trade Federation Player should play cards to move Droids and Destroyers to Palace. He or she may consider destroying a Fambaa in order to better use AAT. Make sure to maximize attacks by playing AAT.
The Naboo Player may consider putting some effort into protecting the immobile Fambaas. Once either Fambaa is destroyed the shield goes down.
Make sure to maximize attacks by playing Catapults. Catapults may fire over occupied hexes in order to attack targeted hex.
Play Card to Move Droids from Battlefield to Palace
Droids must be moved as an entire Group when moved to the Palace. Place Characters on any unoccupied red space next to the stairwell. (10 spaces)
Players can only attack a Character or Group on the same side of shield. A Character or Group directly on shield hex is considered to be on both sides of shield. MTT and AAT cannot move onto a Shield hex.
Gungans, Kaadus, Catapults, Droids, and Destroyers can move through a Shield hex.
Play Card to Activate Droids back into play
Place activated Droids in open hex next to MTT. Must use supply of previously destroyed Droids.
Jedi Duel Strategy
The Winner of Duel has a significant advantage when Jedi or Sith enter Theed Palace. The Naboo Player receives 5 Bonus Cards if Darth Maul is defeated. The Trade Federation Player receives 3 Bonus Cards for each Jedi defeated.
Jedi and Sith Movement and Attack
Jedi May move any number of spaces and attack any number of times in any combination. Jedi may only attack an adjacent Character. Defender will always roll the full amount of defense dice per attack.
Only Jedi/Sith are allowed to move through the red force fields inside Generator Core. Players may attack or fire at Characters through red force fields if Character is in line of sight. Jedi and Sith are not allowed to leave main Generator Core area until Jedi Duel is over.
Theed Palace Battle Startegy
Trade Federation Player should play Battlefield cards to move Droids to Palace. Try to eliminate Palace Guards first if attacking with Droids. You may consider attacking Queens or Panaka with Destroyers. You receives 1 Bonus Card for defeating Captain Panaka. You also may consider moving Droids/Destroyers into Throne Room. The 2 Viceroys do not move and cannot be attacked. Consider moving Characters to block 3rd Floor window spaces. This blocks Naboo Player from moving Characters easily to the Throne Room.
Naboo Player should eliminate Destroyers first. You may consider moving Characters to Throne Room by window movement. The Throne room is easy to defend with only one entrance for Droids or Maul.The Naboo Player may consider moving characters to the 10 red spaces next to stairwell. This prevents the Trade Federation Player from moving Droids to Palace. For an alternative strategy, the Naboo may consider moving Characters to Generator Core to protect from Droids.
Movement and Attack
All Characters may move up to 4 spaces in Palace. (exception Jedi and Sith.) Movement up or down a staircase costs 1 movement. The Throne Room door and Generator Core door does not obstruct movement. Characters that are both adjacent to door can attack each other through the door. Character on staircase may attack above or below if Opponent is on same staircase. Target in line of sight is in range. Doors, pillars, and Characters block line of sight.
Play card for Window Ledge Movement up or down
Moving between floors costs 1 movement. (Even if movement covers 2 floors.) A Droid on a 2nd Floor window space does not block movement from 1st to 3rd Floor. Characters cannot attack a Droid above or below with Window Ledge Movement. Characters may continue regular movement after moving up or down and may attack.
End of review................
Basically this is like one scenario of M'44?
Although M'44 has lots of dice rolling and your hand drives your strategy, I didn't find that any one or two luck dice rolls make a big difference - things tended to average out and bad play could get your units totally slaughtered.
Is this similar? Or does your fate depend on more on luck and less on strategy, in terms of what I've read on Anakin's space track and the Jedi duel?
Was George Orwell an Optimist?
Van Morrison and Joey DeFrancesco - You're Driving Me Crazy
Is this similar? Or does your fate depend on more on luck and less on strategy, in terms of what I've read on Anakin's space track and the Jedi duel?
I don't think you want to go too far with the C&C analogy, but thinking in those terms, Queen's Gambit has 4 battle zones instead of three. Anakin's track on the far right is very important, as is the Jedi duel on the right center. The game is eventually won or lost in the Palace, left center, and the battlefield on the far left feeds units to the palace and cards to the other battles.
So while there is luck in card draws and dice rolls, it is spread out a lot and a good player will win regularly by managing it better than his opponent. I'd guess that if you had similarly mismatched players in terms of skill, the stronger might win 75% in C&C and 70% in Queen's Gambit. Maybe a hair more luck, but not enough to bother players that aren't put off by dice in the first place.