Star Wars: Imperial Assault Wave 3 Review


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Posted by Michael on Jan 28, 2016

The new Imperial Assault release promises us a “Return to Hoth” right there on the box, and as such you can expect not only a pile of new snowy/icy tiles to replicate one of Star Wars’ coolest (groan) settings along with Snowtroopers, Echo Base Rebel Soldiers, Wampas and one Princess Leia Organa. And Dengar,, who makes a nice companion for Boba Fett and IG-88 in the Skirmish mode. HK Assassin Droids are also included, which will certainly please fans of BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic video games and the beloved, hateful HK-47 from them. There’s also a new, non-canonical Stormtrooper tank along for the ride as well as a renewed emphasis on terrain difficulty- gotta have those snow trenches, right?

This is a big-box add-on with a bigger scope than last year’s Twin Shadows- it is a full-length campaign on par with that included in the base game rather than the short one from the previous expansion. I don’t like this. The new campaign is quite good- better once again than the original- and it takes us to Bespin and a couple of other familiar locations. There isn’t anything particularly novel or groundbreaking about the new story material (other than a couple of missions that actually allow for a little exploration) and the usual assortment of new class cards, upgrades and items. The two new heroes are reasonably interesting, particularly a Mon Calamari not named Admiral Ackbar.

My problem is that out of the box, Return to Hoth is a pretty big commitment for a group. I have a couple of friends that love the game and will pretty much be over in 20 minutes for a game, but for many I expect running another full-length Imperial Assault campaign isn’t really something they are in a hurry to do unless it’s been established as a favorite way to spend several sessions. I really liked the tighter, more compact campaign of Twin Shadows better. But what I would have liked best for the new set would be some standalone scenarios or an “official” way to run campaign scenarios as one-off adventures.

I suppose Skirmish is Fantasy Flight’s answer to those who don’t want to get involved in a persistent campaign. Although I’ve warmed up to the one-on-one, “tactical miniatures” side of the game quite a bit with the release of more deployment cards, command cards and figures for it, the mode still feels somewhat secondary. It’s like the game is constantly telling you “play the campaign to get the FULL experience”. But I don’t always want the campaign, and what we have is the Skirmish.

That said, the new terrain tiles are great, love the snow and so forth. The new units are all really good but I don’t care for the tank (I just don’t think vehicles work at the scale this game is in). The new command cards give even more options for building decks. So in general, this expansion feels definitely worthwhile even for the more casual player not interested in going all-in on a new campaign.

Of course, new Villain and Ally packs are available to once again replace the cardboard tokens included in the package. General Sorin is the big Imperial baddie, you’re probably going to want Leia (especially since she completes the set of classic heroes), and you’ll want the Echo Base Troopers because they look really cool. And if you leave out Dengar, he’s just going to get angry. Each of these comes with the usual assortment of cards and two scenarios. And once again, I find that the prescribed scenarios are really kind of dull. I’ve taken to just playing with random setups and made-up-on-the-spot objectives and I’m having just as much fun with it.

Thanks to new content like this Hoth-based set and its figure packs,I’ve grown to like but not quite love Imperial Assault after initially dismissing it and I think it’s come into its own as a quality, Star Wars-set dungeoncrawler. But it still isn’t quite what I want it to be in my mind, and I feel like Fantasy Flight has tried admirably hard to convince me otherwise. I appreciate that, and I appreciate that the game feels more like Star Wars today than it did a year ago. The question right now I have is where it does it go from here? An Endor set seems like a given, although Endor content has been in the past games. But we don’t have Speeder Bikes or Scout Troopers yet. I can’t say I’m excited to see how they work Speeder Bikes into it after the AT-ST and this silly tank, but I’m also wondering if the strategy is going to be to continue with these small box, short campaign expansions followed by a larger release. I’d love to see a set that just features one-off adventures- or a new core set with material from the excellent Rebels TV series. Or, of course, a Force Awakens set.