I'm With You, Too
A Look at Star Wars™: Rebellion Team Play
"I'm with you, too!"
Throughout our previews of Star Wars™: Rebellion, we have explored the game's mechanics in great depth. We have also looked at how the game's rules work in conjunction with its various missions and the fantastically rich Star Wars setting to create game experiences that are rich with dramatic, narrative action. All this time, though, we have heard the fans who have been asking, "But how does the game work for more than two players?"
Well, ask no more! Today, as we draw closer to the game's debut and the galactic warfare of Rebellion: Week One, we take a look at how the game functions with three or four players. Moreover, our exploration of the team experience goes beyond a mere exploration of the adjustments in the rules, and carries us toward what is ultimately most important: how it feels to play Star Wars: Rebellion as part of a team.
How It Works
"Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy…"
In a multiplayer game of Star Wars: Rebellion, you and your friends become part of the Galactic Empire or the Rebel Alliance. You then assume the role of either Admiral or General—along with all of its powers and responsibilities. Additionally, all of the game's heroes and villains are divided between the two roles, and you start with command of two of your side's starting leaders.
For the most part, the game's mechanics remain untouched, and players are meant to work together through the different phases, alternating turns as the leadership roles dictate.
- During the assignment phase, the Admiral decides how to use the blue leaders, and the General decides how to use the orange leaders.
- In combat, the Admiral rolls dice and plays tactic cards for all space forces, while the General rolls dice and plays tactic cards for all ground forces.
- In the refresh phase, the General draws missions (and chooses which to discard, if any). Additionally, the Imperial General launches probe droids while the Rebel General draws and maintains the Rebel Alliance's objectives. Meanwhile, the Admiral recruits new leaders and builds and deploys new units.
The division of powers and responsibilities continues into the command phase, where the team game makes its main mechanical change from the two-player game. In the team game, the Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire do not alternate actions one-for-one. Instead, the multiplayer side of your faction sheet indicates your initiative order, and when the phase arrives at your initiative, you must activate one of your leaders or pass.
The multiplayer side of the Rebel Alliance faction sheet.
As a result, the command phase moves a touch differently in the team game than in the two-player version. The Rebel Admiral plays first, followed by the Imperial Admiral, the Imperial General, and the Rebel General. After the Rebel General takes an action, play goes back to the Rebel Admiral, allowing both sides the opportunity to take back-to-back actions. This is true even in a three-player game; in such a game, the solitary player plays the Rebel Alliance but still uses the team side of the Rebel faction sheet, dividing the leaders between the Admiral and General leader pools.
Finally, team members are able to consult with each other and share as much information as they wish. You can show cards to your teammate and discuss any topic you want—whether addressing it overtly, whispering, or even speaking in your own code. The only rule about the sharing of information is that it must happen in front of your opponents. This is not an arbitrary point; it is an important and deliberate matter as it leads directly into the idea of the experience of playing Star Wars: Rebellion multiplayer…
How It Feels
"Your overconfidence is your weakness."
"Your faith in your friends is yours."
–Luke Skywalker and Emperor Palpatine
The changes in the rules between the two-player and team versions of Star Wars: Rebellion are intentionally minimal, but the difference between the play experiences is immediately noticeable. Where the two-player game takes on a more calculating and strategic tone, the team game is far more a social event.
Star Wars: Rebellion team play is a highly collaborative experience. The different roles and division of labor exist less to restructure the game than to ensure that all players enjoy a certain set of responsibilities for which they have the final say. You and your teammate may discuss the missions to which you want to send your leaders, and if all goes well, you will reach a harmonious consensus. Sometimes, however, you may find dissent within the ranks of the Galactic Empire—or even among the Rebel Alliance's high command—and the fact that you have final say for each of your leaders means that you are guaranteed your own decisions, even though you want to be as unified a team as possible.
Meanwhile, the game's bluffing elements take on another dimension as you now have to succeed in your bluffs against two different opponents, not just one. More than that, you have the opportunity to bluff as a team. You can discuss matters with your teammate that are entirely fictional, trying to speak in a poorly worded code as though you want to keep your discussions secret from enemy ears. You can whisper to each other when you know your opponents are trying to listen. You can ask each other questions and watch your opponents' faces for any signs of tells.
Here, we begin to see how the Star Wars: Rebellion team game offers more than a slight revision to the basic rules; it combines two collaborative processes that tend to play to different individual's skill sets—the discussion of your team's best strategies and your team's efforts to bluff your opponents and call their bluffs. The former requires a more analytical mind, and the latter rewards a more intuitive mindset.
Finally, the division of labors and the collaborative nature of Star Wars: Rebellion team play boost your game's energy levels. Whereas you might not want to shout and cheer and clap in the two-player game, lest you offend your rival, these things are common in team play. You might cheer if your teammate can hold back the Imperial ground assault after the Galactic Empire stumbles across your hidden base. If you play as the Imperials, you might share a smirk as you draw Superlaser Online and whisper giddily about which planet you most strongly desire to destroy. Alternately, as the Rebels, you might high-five each other when your fleet somehow manages to destroy a Super Star Destroyer.
In short, because Star Wars: Rebellion is such an immersive and narrative game, it blasts you forward through a story that will often gain emotional resonance. In team play, these elements are heightened. You share your joys, sorrows, and surprise with another human being, and this sharing of your emotional reactions serves to amplify them. The two-player game may be the more calculating version, offering a play experience that might better appeal to an individual like Emperor Palpatine who prides himself on his foresight and wants to manipulate everything into position by himself. But the team version is for those who trust their friends, and like Luke Skywalker, you will almost always find your faith in your friends rewarded in the end.
Muster Your Forces
"I can’t keep the vision out of my head. They’re my friends. I’ve got to help them."
In the end, Star Wars: Rebellion offers rewarding experiences in both its head-to-head and team play variants, and you will want to explore them both. Will you play your first games of Star Wars: Rebellion head-to-head with one opponent or with a larger group? You will soon have the chance to decide, and your answer may depend simply upon how many of your friends want to join you for an evening of galactic warfare!