Star Wars: Imperial Assault - Twin Shadows Wave Review


What does this rating mean?

Posted by Michael on Sep 22, 2015

Twin Shadows Expansion:

Ally/Villain Packs:

Starting with the big release of this product wave, Twin Shadows is a mid-size add-on that features belolved bounty hunter Boba Fett on the box and represents him as a cardboard token inside it. I won’t get into my objection of how Fantasy Flight is parceling out the content in this space, but be advised that just like the base game there are characters that do not have corresponding figures in the expansion. You buy those separately in the aforementioned Ally and Villain packs. These include C-3PO and R2-D2, who work surprisingly well in a combat oriented game thanks to some clever abilities like Threepio’s ability to be distracting with his nattering about safety and R2’s technical savvy. Just keep them out of the line of fire. Boba Fett is just a must-have, but you know this. There is also a named Stormtrooper commander, Kayn Somos. Unfortunately for your wallet, you really want the packs to get the most out of the new characters.

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’s a reasonable package for the price, and it’s definitely a great value.

There are a couple of minor mechanical additions. One is the new Habitat keyword, which impacts deployment of some characters. So you can’t staff that Star Destroyer with Tusken Raiders, for example. There has to 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 definitely 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’ll 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’s a lot of fun story material, and because it is more compact it feels zippier and more, well, Star Wars.

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’m inclined to call Twin Shadows a must-own for Imperial Assault fans and for those- like me- that were lukewarm about the game, this may be an opportunity to give it a second chance. To be clear, nothing about this expansion radically changes the game or alters how it plays but what is on offer feels more refined, focused and fun to play.

But that’s all campaign stuff. Skirmish mode, I’m convinced, really needs variety and options in order to be viable. With every release in the Imperial Assault line, it has improved because there are more options for squad building, more command cards. But it should also be noted that Skirmish players in particular should get the additional Ally and Villain packs because each gives you a new Skirmish map and additional command cards. Sadly, the Skirmish scenarios remain as dull as they were in the last round of packs. The combat design, freed of objectives as in the campaign, tends to create football game-like scrums rather than running blaster battles happening over here with somebody doing some kind of mission-critical task over there and a lightsaber battle going around the corner. Which is really an idealized vision of what everybody wants out of this game rather than a “kill 40 points worth of groups” goal.

Regardless, I’ve been playing Skirmish more and more and I like some of the available options. You just can’t resist using the command card that allows you to deploy Boba Fett into a Rebel squad, I mean come on. He’s going to work for the highest bidder, right? Definitely looking forward to more to play with on this side of the game, and I’m hoping that the upcoming Hoth expansion improves the head-to-head objectives and scenario setups- and I’ve also got a Wampa on the wishlist.