A Look at the New Action Cards from Rise of the Empire
"Your father… He said I could get right by myself. He said I could make it right, if I was brave enough and listened to what was in my heart."
–Bodhi Rook to Jyn Erso
In Star Wars™: Rebellion, your main characters—your leaders—are defined largely by their names, art, skill icons, and tactic values. At least, these are the aspects of your leaders that you and your opponent can see on the table, and they speak to your leaders' potential as they sit atop unrevealed mission cards or lurk within your leader pool, waiting for the right moment to thwart an enemy's mission or lead your fleet to battle.
But the Star Wars films are full of heroes who surprise us by rising to the challenges they face, and they're full of villains who surprise us with their depth, cunning, or cruelty. The movies force characters into situations that leave us room to be surprised, and we find stunning instances of courage and compassion and betrayal.
Similarly, the leaders of Star Wars: Rebellion—and the new Rise of the Empire expansion—can surprise us with their hidden depths. There's more to these characters than you can find on their standees. You'll also find them given life by the missions with which they're associated, and you'll find their unique talents represented by their action cards.
Make a Fresh Start
In Star Wars: Rebellion, you start the game with four leaders. As the game progresses, however, your leader pool will change. It's possible that your leader pool might shrink as some Rebel leaders are captured and frozen in carbonite or turned to the dark side, or as an Imperial leader is defeated in an epic Confrontation .
However, it's more common for your leader pool to grow—at least as the game moves through its early stages and both sides are focused on amassing their forces for the battles to come. At the end of several predetermined rounds, both the Rebels and Imperials are able to recruit new leaders and add them to their leader pools.
Whenever you have the chance to recruit a leader, you draw two action cards and can select any one of the leaders shown on those cards. You can then take the selected leader from your supply and add him or her to your leader pool. And the action card's text then reinforces that leader's impact on the game by introducing a unique effect.
Some of those effects are Immediate, meaning they're resolved as soon as you add the leader to your pool. This is the case with such action cards as Saw Gererra's Rebel Extremist card, Cassian Andor's He Means Well , and Director Krennic's card, Lord Vader's Orders .
These abilities tend to reflect aspects of the character inherent in his or her background. Their impact can be significant, but they tend to be less surprising. After all, they arrive to the table between periods of activity, rather than in the heat of combat.
Other action cards, like Trust in the Force , play during the Assignment phase and present new ways to make use of your leaders. Since they fall outside the standard back-and-forth of the game's standard framework, these abilities may be somewhat surprising, but when you're using a leader like Jyn Erso or Chirrut Îmwe to trigger your action card's effect, that leader is no longer able to attempt a mission, oppose a mission, or move your fleet.
In the end, you trade one surprise for another, and you'll need to make your decision whether to trigger the action card or assign the leader to another task based upon the information available.
Other abilities, however, are marked by the Special or Start of Combat keywords, allowing you a whole range of options to lay traps or avoid them, to win combats, or to place bounties upon the enemy leaders who have thwarted your ambitions.
These action cards generally require a little more effort to trigger since you need to have the matching leader in the right place at the right time, but the effects of action cards like Post Bounty and Baze's Loyalty are well worth the effort.
Similarly, Special action cards like Something to Fight For and Ambitions of Power can change the game at critical moments—even if they don't directly interfere with your opponent's plans. If Jyn Erso participates in a winning combat, she can play Something to Fight For to reclaim an objective that you've already scored and will be certain to score again. And given how important your leaders are to the whole of your strategy, a card like Ambitions of Power can make a huge difference in the number of systems your Imperials can subjugate in any given round.
No matter the type of effect, though, you need the matching leader to play an action card, and that means your actions are always rooted in the personal narratives and cinematic dramas that evolve over the course of your games.
Well, almost always…
Full of Surprises
If an action card has a leader icon on it, you need that leader in the appropriate situation at the appropriate time in order to play it. And in the core game, every action card either had a leader or an attachment ring to which it was keyed.
In Rise of the Empire, however, this changes. Each side gains a single action card that doesn't require a specific leader.
The Rebels gain False Orders , which can be played at the end of the assignment phase. It reads, "Choose 1 Imperial leader that is on a mission by itself. Return that leader to the leader pool and return its mission card to the Imperial player’s hand."
Since you play False Orders at the end of the assignment phase, the Imperials are, therefore, prevented from both attempting the mission to which they had assigned the leader and from using that leader to attempt a mission. The leader can still oppose your mission or direct fleet movement, but there are times you'll gladly allow those possibilities in order to deny a mission.
For example, if you draw False Orders early in the game, when the Imperials are likely to send Darth Vader to Capture Rebel Operatives , you might return Darth Vader to the leader pool in order to prevent him from capturing Jyn Erso as she goes on a Heist to remove the target marker that is preventing your ships from using their Death Star Plans to destroy the Death Star.
Darth Vader would then be available to oppose Jyn, but since he doesn't have any intel icons, he wouldn't roll any dice. Jyn would only have to roll a single success.
Alternatively, you might play the card at a time you fear a dramatic, game-changing play. Perhaps you suspect the Emperor intends to use Lure of the Dark Side to convert a captive Saw Gererra to the Imperial cause. If so, your False Orders could serve as a distraction, allowing you an additional round to free Saw Gererra before he caves into temptation.
The Imperials, however, are not to be outdone, and they gain a powerful, predatory ability to counter the Rebellion's elusive stall tactics. Track Them is playable whenever a Rebel unit retreats from combat, and it allows you to choose an Imperial leader in the combat's system and return it to your leader pool.
At its very minimum, then, Track Them effectively grants you the use of an "extra" leader to oppose enemy missions or move your fleet. You might be able to pull Director Krennic back from a combat to oppose the Rebellion's Reconnaissance . Or you might recover the use of Admiral Piett and send him, fresh from one victorious space combat, to lead another fleet to battle.
More than this, if Admiral Piett was your only leader in the battle he just won, Track Them would allow you to use Piett to pursue the retreating Rebels. While you cannot normally move a fleet twice, this is only because you cannot move your fleet away from a system in which you've placed your leader. Once Piett has returned to your pool, if there's no other leader in that system, the fleet is free to continue its pursuit—and complete destruction—of the Rebels!
Scour the Galaxy
Even as the new action cards from Rise of the Empire provide us with a greater sense of the characters they enhance and surprising new tactics, they reinforce the ways your leaders involve themselves in the larger Galactic Civil War.
After all, whether you play Rebellion as an Imperial or a Rebel, you have a goal, and that goal is in some way related to the Empire's search for the Rebel base. As the Imperial player, you want to find the base as quickly as possible, probing system after system for signs of Rebel activity, so that you can destroy the base and the Rebellion in one fell swoop. As the Rebels, you want to elude the Empire's detection and hinder Imperial search efforts wherever possible.
Either way, the game brings this hunt to life as the Imperials move their fleets from system to system—and through the use of the probe deck.
When you're the Imperial player, the probe deck helps you narrow down your search. Each system you draw from the probe deck is a system that doesn't house the Rebel base. And since the Rebels don't know which cards you're holding—and which systems you've probed—the probe deck provides you a bit of hidden information that you can use to power your bluffs or lure the Rebels into your traps.
However, in the core game, the cards, themselves, do very little once you've drawn them. And this leads to one of the opportunities that Director Krennic and Krennic's Finest can exploit in Rise of the Empire.
These leaders come with a pair of new action cards that allow you to put your probe cards to new uses.
Secret Facility allows you to place one of your probe cards facedown beneath it, then reveal that probe card later to gain an assault tank or Stormtrooper unit along with a shield bunker. And you can then use these new Imperial units to lead your surprise assault against the Rebels who just stumbled into the system. You don't even need Director Krennic or Krennic's Finest to be there. In fact, you don't need any leader at all. The card's effect is triggered—and your trap is set—as soon as you recruit Krennic or his Finest. From then on, it's up to you whether or not you spring the trap.
Similarly, Sweep the Area triggers Immediately whenever you recruit Krennic's Finest and requires that you place a probe card facedown beneath it. Instead of triggering the production of new units and the initiation of a combat, however, the card allows you to capture a Rebel leader. Whenever you spy a Rebel leader in the system associated with the action, you can reveal your probe card to capture that leader and move it to the closest system that has an Imperial unit.
These powerful effects help the Empire maximize its use of probe cards, but the Imperials aren't the only one to benefit from action cards that relate to the probe deck. The Rebels gain their own set of tricks with Under the Radar , which allows them to steal a probe card from the top four of the probe deck. Not only can they steal the one probe card, but they can manipulate the other three they viewed, placing them on the top or bottom of the probe deck as they see fit.
The result is that Under the Radar allows the Rebels to create a new degree of uncertainty. Now there are two systems the probes will never find. And only one of them is the Rebel base. If you're lucky, as the Rebel player, you might be able to create a tension that leaves the Empire torn between two possible bases—at opposite sides of the galaxy.
And there's even one more benefit hidden in this action. It reads, "At the start of your turn in the Command Phase, you may return the probe card to the top of the deck." But if you can keep the Empire torn between two mysteries, why would you ever return the probe card to the top of the deck? The reason is that once the Imperials have sent their fleet to the system, they'll no longer wonder if that's the one in which your base is hidden. At this point, then, the ability to return the card to the top of the probe deck is a stall tactic that prevents the Empire from drawing another, more useful probe card.
And if you're lucky, that one beat of misinformation might be the last you need, allowing you just enough time to gain your last point of reputation and incite open rebellion through the galaxy!
The Search Draws to a Close
After our explorations of the expansion's missions, leaders, units, combats, target markers, and actions, we've nearly come to the end of our previews for Rise of the Empire. Only the rules have managed to elude us!
Help us widen our net and track down the Rebel base by sharing this article on Facebook or Retweeting it @FFGames. The Rebels can't hide forever, and once we get 500 shares or Retweets, we'll uncover the expansion's hidden rulebook, making it immediately available for download. Otherwise, you'll have to wait one more week…
In the meantime, make sure you've pre-ordered your copy of the Rise of the Empire (SW04) expansion. Talk to your local retailer today!