Tim Mirkes
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La Crosse
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Papa was a rollin' stone...
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A Night of Roll-and-Move Games:
#1 The Six Million Dollar Man Review
#2 Star Wars: Escape From Death Star Review
#3 Transformers Adventure Game Review

After punching through a 3-game match of The Six Million Dollar Man, my girlfriend and I grabbed the next game on the pile. Star Wars: Escape From Death Star Game was the next lucky box, so we opened up this well-worn copy to give it a try. I wasn't expecting much from this $4 eBay purchase, but being a fan of most things related to the original Star Wars trilogy, I was aiming to try and enjoy myself with this little time capsule.

The Good

Ability to chain card draws
When landing on a blue space, you're able to draw a Force card and follow its instructions. Sometimes these cards will move you forward or backward the proper number of spaces to allow you to draw multiple cards, so long as you continue to draw cards that move you to blue spaces.

While this might not be exactly in the spirit of the game, the rules do not expressly forbid it and do not provide any reason to believe that this is not possible within the rules. See below for more about the rule set.

The Force deck
The deck of cards from which players draw is composed of a good mix of effects that can harm or help, and the distribution is well balanced to keep things from getting too lopsided. If you're the card-counting type, it's possible to keep track of which cards have seen play already, thus making it easier for you to gauge when it is safest to push your luck and draw a Force card, but for your average player, there's enough of a distribution here between positive and negative effects that you won't find yourself dreading the Force draws.

Player interaction
Each player has a pair of pawns: one depicts Han/Chewie, the other Luke/Leia. If at any point one of your pawns lands on a matching opponent's pawn (for example, Red's Han/Chewie lands on the same space as Green's Han/Chewie), the piece that was there first is returned to its respective start area in the Trash Compactor. Between the Force deck and the ability to harrass other players' pawns in this way, the game manages to keep most of the players fairly even in the first half of the game. Once someone gets both pawns to the Millenium Falcon, on the other hand...

The Bad

The spinner
Just like The Six Million Dollar Man, this game relies on a spinner instead of a die, but where SMDM used it as circular six-sided die, this application of the spinner at least makes an attempt to use the nature of the spinner beyond generating a random number. The spinner is used to both generate movement distances, as well as results of the dogfights with TIE fighters in the second half of the game. My standard complaint with spinners (i.e. spins ending on a line and requiring re-spins or group voting to decide the result, as well as the fragility of the spinners) applies here, but with an addendum.

While the spinner actually feels like it was a reasonable choice for the randomizer, I'm mystified as to why it is in six sections. There are six segments, with two concentric rings. The outer ring lists the movement values, 1-3 twice, and the inner ring lists dogfight results, two "lose" and four "win." Wouldn't it have been easier, and more legible from across the table, to simply divide the spinner into thirds and list everything once? It seems like a petty gripe, but it's one of those overly complicated elements that slows things down while you try to figure out what results it's given.

Starting advantage for one player
The red player starts in such a way as to be able to draw a Force card no matter what is spun for movement. While this may be a minor advantage, a quick jump start or advantage from a lucky draw could push one of the red player's tokens into a fairly solid lead, if not directly complete one of the two objectives required for the first half of the game.

The Ugly

Fuzzy rules
The rule book is less than clear on a few points. For example:

1 Returning a pawn to the start space by landing on them with a like pawn is defined in an example, not in the actual rule text.
2 Cards can send you "ahead" and "back," neither of which is clearly defined. On a board where you can move laterally in relation to your goals and not just toward or away from them, these terms really are important.
3 It is not specified whether you activate the space you land on when you are moved by a Force card. Defining this would clarify whether the chaining of Force draws (detailed above) is legal. While such chaining is still a "push your luck" move, it can be very powerful on a lucky streak of draws and it would be nice to know if this was the designers' intention.

While common sense and a bit of logic answered these questions for us, a cleaner, more thorough rule book, perhaps with a diagram or two to help with movement examples, would be helpful to clear up ambiguities and omissions.

Conclusion

Well, for a $4 used game from the 1970s, I can't say I was expecting a whole lot. I got what I was expecting, and managed to have a bit of fun in the process. There's a pretty bland roll and move here, with minimal decision making to keep it from being Snakes & Ladders IN SPAAACE. Most of the game relies heavily on chance, and doesn't give opportunities for player influence to get in the way of good old random happenstance. If you're looking for an easy, luck based game with a Star Wars coat of paint, perhaps for some young enthusiasts of both Star Wars and board games, this will suit your desires just fine. It sure beats Candyland: Dagobah Edition.
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Paul DeStefano
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Long Island
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tlmirkes wrote:
I'm mystified as to why it is in six sections.


Its harder for a kid to cheat the smaller slices.
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Philip Lewis
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tlmirkes wrote:


I actually followed the linke and checked Candyland versions to see if this was real. I kind of knew it wasn't, but I just wanted to believe so badly.
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Neil Edmonds
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I had that game as kid. It was great fun (I was 6 at the time). I used to combine it with the Destroy the Death Star game from Parker Brothers. My friends and I would first have to escape from and then destroy the Death Star in order to win.

Thankfully I haven't played it as an adult so my happy memories won't be crushed by what I'd think of it now.
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David Reed
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Autoduelist wrote:
Thankfully I haven't played it as an adult so my happy memories won't be crushed by what I'd think of it now.


I actually came across this in an old box, and thought, "What the hell? I loved it as a kid, how bad could it have been?"

Be glad you can't play it. I still have very fond memories of it, they've just been tarnished a tad. It would have been better for the little 7 year old in me to not have played it.

Of course it's nothing to what Lucas did to him...
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Meesum Abidi
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Nice review!

tlmirkes wrote:

While the spinner actually feels like it was a reasonable choice for the randomizer, I'm mystified as to why it is in six sections. There are six segments, with two concentric rings. The outer ring lists the movement values, 1-3 twice, and the inner ring lists dogfight results, two "lose" and four "win." Wouldn't it have been easier, and more legible from across the table, to simply divide the spinner into thirds and list everything once?


I actually agree with doubling the sections to 6.
Imagine 3 fatter sections; with the heavily-frictioned spinner, it doesn't always move that much, so it may only cover each number (1-2-3) just once.
With doubled sections, the same movement will pass over each number twice.

This gives the semblance of:
-more randomizing (more fair)
-better spinner quality
-better player reaction. It's a lot easier to say "I was soooo close!" and "Aw man, you just Barely got that 3!" when the spinner's movement covers more numbers.

I agree with your assessment of the Fuzzy rules, and your identifying the Red player advantage.

Curiously, I enjoyed this game more as an adult than as a kid!

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Thomas Huff
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Two things,

1) the rules explictly state that moving back means taking the shortest path to the trash compactor, but yeah moving "ahead" really just meansmoving wherever you feel like.

2) with regard to the red advantage, I agree, even more odd since red is in the middle and has a quicker path to both objectives. Would have made more sense to give this ability to the two outside players. On the other hand, sometimes it might not be a good thing to be out in front and right where everyone else is headed, Nonetheless, here's a fun way around that, just say players can choose any path out of the compactor, not just the one in front of their own color. This will also get the game off to a wild start with a whole lot of people getting sent to Detention.
 
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