A Galaxy at War
A Look at the New Units and Cinematic Combats from Rise of the Empire
"Despite what the others say, war is inevitable."
After following its cast of characters through a web of events that spanned the galaxy, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story built toward its climactic battle on and above the planet Scarif.
With nothing less than the fate of the entire galaxy at stake, Rebels and Imperials fought in the jungles, in the heavy guarded Citadel Tower, in the skies, and even in space. It was the first major battle of the Galactic Civil War between the Galactic Empire and the fledgling Rebel Alliance, and were it not for the Rebel victory, the Rebellion—and the galaxy's hopes for freedom—would have been swiftly eradicated.
But the battle almost didn't take place. At an earlier council meeting, Rebel leaders voted against confronting the Imperials at Scarif. It was only because a few brave individuals disobeyed the council's wishes and risked their lives—sacrificed their lives—that the Rebel Alliance ended up with the Death Star plans and survived to continue in its fight.
Likewise, in Star Wars™: Rebellion, you won't find your Rebel Alliance eager to engage the evil Galactic Empire in military engagements. The Empire is far stronger. Its tools of war are far more devastating. But there are times that key individuals and key engagements can change the course of history.
In the long run, war is inevitable. Combat is inevitable. And with the new units and advanced rules from the Rise of the Empire expansion, that combat is far more nuanced, dynamic, cinematic, and dramatic than ever.
There are a total of thirty-six plastic figures in Rise of the Empire, and these are divided between a total of eight new unit types—four for the Rebels and four for the Empire.
Like the new leaders we explored more closely in an earlier preview, these units all use the expansion's new green dice, which notably only boast icons on two sides—but both are direct hits. In turn, this makes the new units less reliable and specialized in combat than core units like X-wings, TIE fighters, and Stormtroopers.
But it also makes them better able to perform some tasks that similar core units might find more daunting. A Rebel vanguard unit, for example, might not be quite as good at combatting Stormtroopers as a Rebel trooper unit would be, but it matches up better against an AT-ST or an Imperial assault tank.
Similarly, your TIE Strikers aren't quite as effective against Rebel X-wings as your TIE fighter squadrons may be, but they can adapt more readily to the challenges of downing a Rebel transport or Nebulon-B frigate.
But the new units' reliance on green dice isn't the only thing that's notable about them. Whereas the core game offers the Rebel Alliance a couple of units—the ion cannon and shield generators—with unique game abilities, the only satisfaction it offers the Empire is the one that comes from knowing you wield superior firepower. With Rise of the Empire, the Empire still claims the advantage of superior firepower, but it also gains a couple of units with unique abilities.
Even if they never hit their targets, the shield bunker and Interdictor can win you battles simply by being a part of them. So long as your shield bunker remains intact, it grants your Death Star complete protection. Even a well-timed trench run directed by a careful analysis of the Death Star Plans won't avail the Rebellion. And while the shield bunker forces the Rebels to commit to the ground, your Interdictor can trap the ships they'd hoped to retreat after dropping off their troops. Wherever you have your Interdictor, the Rebels simply cannot escape. Their efforts to jump to hyperspace are denied.
In addition to its new units, Rise of the Empire introduces new advanced tactic cards and rules for cinematic combat that can dramatically reshape your battles.
For starters, you remove the ground and space tactic decks from the core game and replace them with the four tactic decks in Rise of the Empire; both the Rebels and Imperials gain their own ground and space tactic decks.
The fact that these new tactic decks are divided by faction is important because each card has two different abilities—one above a dividing line and one below it—and most of the top abilities are associated specifically with one of that faction's units. This allows units to showcase their unique abilities as seen in the films. For example, the Tow Cables card can allow an air speeder to destroy an AT-AT, and TIE fighters can use their greater numbers and Swarm Tactics more effectively in space battles. Or if the Rebels have a transport in the same system as their ground battle, they could play Escape Plan to effect their immediate retreat.
But the changes introduced by these advanced tactic cards and cinematic combat rules go far beyond the additional tactical value they assign to specific units.
When you use them, the whole flow of combat changes. No longer do you draw a number of tactic cards associated with your leader's tactic values at the start of combat. Instead, at the beginning of each round of space combat and each round of ground combat, you look through your tactics deck and choose any one card to place facedown before you. Your opponent simultaneously places his or her own facedown card, and then the cards are revealed and their effects remain in play throughout the combat round.
These cards are then discarded and unavailable to you until after you’ve played the other seven cards in your deck, meaning that each of your choices in one battle will have repercussions in other, future battles.
Naturally, these rules changes necessitate further changes, as your leader's tactic values no longer function as they do in the core game, and the icon on your dice no longer functions as it does in the core game.
First of all, it's worth noting that the rules for advanced tactic cards and cinematic combat provide you tactical decisions at the beginning of every round of combat whether or not you have a leader in the battle. But the changes don't diminish your leaders' impact; they simply alter the role they play. No longer the key to all of your tactics, your leaders, instead, inspire your forces toward better results by allowing you to reroll a number of dice each combat round equal to that leader's ground or space tactic value, whichever is appropriate.
Accordingly, your deployment of three Rebel vanguard units can deal far more consistent damage under the direction of a leader like Saw Gerrera. And your Interdictor is more likely to be a force of destruction—and not just a key tactical instrument—when you have Admiral Motti directing the combat.
Meanwhile, since the icon no longer triggers your ability to draw or play tactic cards, it is repurposed with these new rules, and it allows you to remove damage from some of your more durable units. In fact, since units are not destroyed until the end of a round of combat, you could even use the to remove the only point of damage dealt to a Stormtrooper unit to keep that unit in play.
Finally, the expansion assigns greater stakes to each of your battles through the introduction of such far-reaching tactic card abilities as those on Support of the 501st , Deployment , Tractor Beam , Superlaser Blast , and Confrontation . By spiking targeted damage so severely—and by tying your leaders' fates to the consequences of your battles—these new card effects more fully center your combats in the game's overall narrative and cinematic appeal. And they add greater weight to the careful timing of the cancellation effects provided by Air Superiority , Outrun Them , and similar advanced tactic cards.
Signal the Attack
We haven't yet located the Rebel base, but we are closing in with every passing day.
Where should we look next? Where should we send the Imperial fleet? Head to our community forums to share your thoughts on the expansion's new units and cinematic combats.
Then be sure to keep your eyes open for our next preview of Rise of the Empire (SW04)!