Sometimes, one is just a board gamer, sipping white milk over a game of Catan, Scythe, or Gloomhaven. Sometimes, one is just a Star Wars fan, drowning the sorrows of the sequels in blue milk. However, more often than not, the nerdiness of board games calls to the nerdiness of Star Wars fans, and the two become one, in which case, a Star Wars board game fan is born.
If you, like me, share that fate, this article is for you. If you like Star Wars and have not yet succumbed to the power of board games, this article is also for you. We’ll Force-jump into some meaty games that could satisfy a rancor’s appetite, and we’ll fly through some games that even a womp rat could play.
A few things to be aware of before we get started:
- I have personally played all of these games, even the ones that I didn’t write the review for.
- Some of these games don’t have a review on our site, but that’s usually because it’s not really a game we want to tell our readers about (read: there are better games to review).
- I really enjoy Star Wars, so my affections will be slanted towards Star Wars-themed games, but if you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance yours will be too.
- I’ve separated this article into 3 sections: the first features in-print Star Wars games, the second features recommendations, and the third features out-of-print Star Wars games that I’ve played.
In-Print Star Wars Games
Star Wars: Outer Rim
“I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe.” – Jango Fett, Attack of the Clones
Star Wars meets and improves upon Firefly: The Game. Sandbox scoundreling for 1-4 players. Full review here BUT a caveat: before you read that review, know that this is a top 10 game for me, even though it is not for my friend Derek. If you’d like to know more about how I feel about Outer Rim, check out my review of the expansion, Unfinished Business.
In Star Wars: Outer Rim, each player controls a scoundrel, trying to make his or her way in the galaxy (“making way in the galaxy” = getting more fame than everyone else). There’s a lot of different ways you can choose to do that: smuggle cargo, both legal and illegal; hunt down bounties and deliver them, dead or alive; assemble a crew and perform jobs for the Empire, Hutts, Rebellion, or Syndicate; explore planets and talk to the locals; buy the most expensive gear; or upgrade your ship and dogfight anyone who comes near you.
Outer Rim is the closest thing I’ve found to a 1-session tabletop RPG set in the Star Wars universe. It has its flaws, as it’s not as strategic as some of the other games on this list, but it makes up for those flaws with exciting, storytelling gameplay. This is the type of game where I pay attention to other players’ turns not because I’m trying to outsmart them, but because I’m genuinely interested if they’re going to win their game of Sabacc, if they’re going to complete the Kessel Run, or if they’re going to outrun those TIE Fighters after delivering illegal cargo.
This is the Star Wars game I would recommend. It can seem like there’s a lot to learn at first, but once you start playing, the gameplay becomes quite simple. One problem is that you’ll occasionally run into the same encounter cards over and over, but the expansion, Unfinished Business, fixes that and enhances the game significantly.
Star Wars: Rebellion
“You would prefer another target, a military target? Then name the system.” – Grand Moff Tarkin, A New Hope
The Galactic Civil War as it was meant to be. Full-scale, galaxy-spanning gameplay for 2 players. Full review here.
Star Wars: Rebellion is to the Galactic Civil War what Outer Rim is to the scoundrel. Players will control the Rebellion and Empire and duke it out in a galaxy-spanning, asymmetrical conflict. Players can gain loyalty in systems, build all sorts of units, perform secret missions with their leaders, and play exciting cards in a game of cat-and-mouse where the Empire is seeking to find and destroy the Rebel base.
If it was done in the Star Wars movies, you can do it here: build a Death Star, use said Death Star to blow up a planet (or 2), destroy said Death Star with a 1-in-a-million shot, capture a Rebel leader, rescue said Rebel leader before he tells them where the Rebel base is, freeze someone in carbonite, convert a Rebel leader to the Dark Side, ignite an independent uprising on an Imperial system, etc.
The only downsides to Rebellion are the steep learning curve, the price, and the time it takes to play (though the combat can be a bit too luck-based if you don’t own the Rise of Empire expansion). While I like Outer Rim more for the story and choose-your-own adventure sandbox elements, Rebellion is the mechanically superior game, and the best Star Wars game to date.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
“A plan is only as good as those who see it through.” – The Clone Wars, Season 1
Star Wars meets Pandemic. Accessible and familiar co-op for 2-5 players. Full review here.
Imagine if you took the Pandemic system and made a Star Wars game with it. That’s what Z-Man Games did with Star Wars: The Clone Wars. They chose the perfect era for this, as the Clone Wars naturally fits the Pandemic vibe of “stop the spread!” Of course, there should be some wrinkles for this to be a true Star Wars game and not just a reskin. Wrinkles include: plastic miniatures of the heroes, battle droids, and villains to defeat once the objective cards are met. The city cards are replaced with clones and vehicles (each unique!), which your Jedi hero will carry around to assist in the mission-completion process.
Even though it still kinda feels like you’re playing Pandemic, Star Wars: The Clone Wars definitely feels like a Clone Wars board game. Running around the galaxy with clone troopers, completing missions based on events from the Clone Wars series, and hunting down Separatist leaders make this an excellent choice for Clone Wars fans.
Star Wars: Legion
“They are no match for droidekas.” – Nute Gunray, The Phantom Menace
Star Wars as a miniatures wargame. Accessible wargame with thematic, epic battles for 2 players. Full review here.
Legion puts players in control of a large (or at least sizeable, depending on what game mode you play) army from either the Clone Wars or the Galactic Civil War. It’s got all the miniature-loving for hobbyists (you must assemble each miniature with super glue or plastic glue) and the streamlined yet strategic gameplay for wargame newcomers as well as veterans. Customization is a premium here: paint your own miniatures and equip your squads with different loadouts and special troopers.
What’s really great about this game is that it’s essentially a sandbox for whatever Star Wars battle you can dream up (so long as it’s not from the sequel trilogy). I’ve used LEGO sets and castle walls for terrain, and other players have been much more creative than that.
Star Wars: The Deck Building Game
“Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design.” – Darth Sidious, Return of the Jedi
Star Wars meets Star Realms. Fast-paced deckbuilder for 2 players. Full review here.
Deckbuilding has been around for a while now (thanks Dominion), and Fantasy Flight Games recently released a deckbuilder set in the Star Wars universe. It borrows heavily from the beloved Star Realms, where players begin with a similar 10-card deck and use those cards to attack their opponent, defend themselves, and buy new ships to create a stronger deck.
One of the differences Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game introduces are bases that act as health. Once a player destroys 3 of their opponent’s bases, they win, and once a base is destroyed, you can choose a new one. This adds strategic depth and helps prevent snowball victories. Another less-exciting difference is that some cards in the market deck are only available to a specific faction (the Rebel can’t recruit Scout Troopers). This makes thematic sense, but sometimes it can feel like the market has no good options.
If you want the better head-to-head deckbuilding game, stick with Star Realms. However, since the gap between Star Realms and Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game is smaller than a baby womp rat, go with the latter if you like Star Wars.
Star Wars Villainous: Power of the Dark Side
“A friendly piece of advice: assume that I know everything.” – Moff Gideon, The Mandalorian Season 2
Star Wars in Ravensburger’s Villainous world. Villain-based action selection and cardplay for 2-4 players. Full review here.
Star Wars Villainous: Power of the Dark Side is what it sounds like. It takes the standard Villainous gameplay, inserts some thematically Star Wars mechanics like starships and ambition, and winds up playing very similar to the original Villainous. It retains the unique artwork of Villainous, and allows you to play as some of your favorite Star Wars antagonists (Asajj Ventress, Darth Vader, General Grievous, Kylo Ren, and Moff Gideon).
To me, Villainous is a good-not-great game, but that may be due to my lack of nostalgia for most things Disney. The Star Wars theme, on the other hand, enhances my enjoyment, as does the fact that Power of the Dark Side rarely runs longer than an hour. There’s something incredibly satisfying about collecting lightsaber after lightsaber as General Grievous and trying to turn Luke to the Dark Side as Darth Vader. Moreover, who doesn’t want a chance at playing as villains as cool as these?
Star Wars: X-Wing (Second Edition)
“Stay on target.” – Gold Five, A New Hope
Create and command a squadron of Star Wars starfighters in this dogfight simulator. Full review here.
Star Wars: X Wing (second edition) expands upon the first edition’s gameplay and adds starfighters from the prequel and sequel trilogy. Streamlined gameplay and an easier way to count up your squadron’s point value while preparing for a game are welcome improvements. While this is a miniatures game, the ships all come pre-assembled and pre-painted, so you can start playing right out of the box.
X-Wing allows players to recreate epic space battles through a programming mechanic. Each ship has a dial that shows the available maneuvers, and each player must place their dials face-down. Anticipating your opponent’s moves is the pathway to victory, and X-Wing provides a strategic experience while keeping things fairly accessible. Even though the box falsely advertises a 30-minute playtime, X-Wing remains one of the most prolific and beloved Star Wars games out there.
Note: there are a few in-print Star Wars games that we will add as we’re able, including: Star Wars: Shatterpoint and Star Wars: Unlimited.
Star Wars Game Recommendations
If you’re on a budget, Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion provides excellent bang-for-buck value. While it won’t blow you away with thematic gameplay, it’s a solid option for anyone looking for gameplay simple enough for kids to play, but still deep enough for adults to enjoy. You may have to do some digging because it’s out-of-print, although there are a couple copies available online (check out boardgameatlas.com).
If you’re just getting into board games or looking to introduce a Star Wars fan to board games, I have 3 recommendations for you, depending on your situation/taste.
- Star Wars Villainous: The Power of the Dark Side offers players a competitive midweight game that’s a tad more complex than Villainous, but still pretty manageable for newcomers. A great choice for 2-4 players looking to play as classic and recent Star Wars villains.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars does an excellent job of manifesting the Clone Wars theme into cards and gameplay, and the cooperative nature makes it easier to teach on the fly than a head-to-head game. It is based on the Pandemic game, but it has enough of its own little nuances to up the excitement while remaining a solid midweight for 1-5 players.
- Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game is the best choice for 2 players, but it’s restricted to only 2 players. Players will compete to buy cards to bolster their respective decks so they can destroy opponents’ bases. If you ever wanted a Star Wars version of Dominion or Star Realms, this is a no-brainer.
If you want a Star Wars game that’s as close to a 1-shot RPG and Choose Your Own Adventure as possible, without the need for a game master, Star Wars: Outer Rim is what you’re after. Deliver cargo, hunt bounties, upgrade your ship, recruit a crew, and complete jobs all in the name of fame. Star Wars: Outer Rim offers a sandbox for the scoundrel inside and is a favorite of mine because of the choices it offers to players as each tries to live out the best #scoundrellife.
If you want a Star Wars game with a campaign where characters upgrade and the outcome of each mission affects the next mission, Star Wars: Imperial Assault is the game you’re looking for. Imperial Assault provides excellent campaign gameplay in the base box and supports many expansions for campaigns on different planets. While not always thematically or canonically accurate, Imperial Assault is the Star Wars version of games like Descent and Gloomhaven, complete with cool miniatures and a skirmish mode for build-your-own-army, head-to-head play.
If you want the best Star Wars game, Star Wars: Rebellion with the Rise of the Empire expansion is tough to beat. It beats out the classic Twilight Struggle in both streamlined rules and components (over 150 plastic miniatures!), and it’s the most mechanically sound game on this list. Just be ready for a steep learning curve and 2-4 hour-long games.
Out of Print Star Wars Games
Star Wars: Imperial Assault
“Never tell me the odds.” – Han Solo, The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars as a campaignable dungeon-crawler and tactical miniatures skirmish game for 1-5 players. Full review here.
Of all the games on this list, I’ve spent the most time playing Star Wars: Imperial Assault. A couple skirmishes, three 12-mission campaigns, and one 4-mission mini-campaign later, I’m still excited about starting the next campaign. The designers essentially took the Descent dungeon-crawl formula, made some thematic Star Wars changes, and delivered a wonderful game that provides: head-to-head battles via skirmish; dungeon-crawling campaigns with character upgrades, stories, and even some choices; and an app that allows you to play new campaigns against an AI, instead of against a dungeon master playing as the Imperials.
The game design is really solid, and while sometimes really bad luck can ruin a mission or two, Imperial Assault remains the definitive Star Wars campaign game as well as a great dungeon-crawler in its own right.
So, should you get it? I would say it depends. Depends on what, you ask? In the words of Dexter Jettster: “On how good your manners are and how big your pocketbook is.” You’ll need the manners for hosting campaigns with 12 2-3 hour missions, and you’ll need the pocketbook because Imperial Assault is largely out of print (though you can score some used copies for cheap).
Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion
“The time has come to force their hand.” – Luthen Rael, Andor Season 1
Cold War: CIA vs KGB reskinned for Star Wars. Short, strategic Blackjack for 2 players.
Fantasy Flight’s Cold War: CIA vs KGB was a fine game that didn’t get the love it probably deserved. So they released a reskinned version of it in Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion. Players will go through their decks in a Blackjackish game to end the round with a total number of power closer to the current battlefield’s number than their opponent (without going over). Each card has an ability, and the players’ decks are identical (except for the art and a few of the heroes), which makes Empire vs. Rebellion a fun game of bluffing and double-bluffing.
What makes this game worthwhile is that it’s short, so you can teach it fairly quickly, and by the 3rd or 4th battle, both players can have a fairly decent grasp of the strategy, which makes it more exciting. Add in secret pre-round cards that can potentially alter your power or change the battle-winning condition, and you’ve got yourself an enjoyable time.
As one of the most affordable games on this list, Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion provides one of the best bang-for-buck values, despite the lack of Star Wars theme manifested in gameplay.
Attacktix Battle Figure Game: Star Wars
“And these blast points, too accurate for sand people.” – Ben Kenobi, A New Hope
One of the first move-and-shoot dexterity games, specifically designed for kids (and kids at heart).
Remember when LEGO made those Bionicle Gladatorians and you could play a game with them where you shot the spiky projectiles at each other? No? Just me? Well, if you don’t remember, here’s how Hasbro’s Attacktix worked: You assembled an army of figures to face off against your friends in a 30” x 30” play area. You then took turns moving your figures according to their speed “tix” and then attacking. Most figures had either a spring-loaded blaster or a melee weapon that you’d twist back and let go (like they were swinging a bat). Any figure knocked over is out, and the last figure standing wins!
Yes, it’s simple, and yes, it relies heavily on a gimmick, but I enjoyed the heck out of this as a kid. If you find any of these things for cheap at a flea market or yard sale, and you have kids interested in Star Wars, I would say pick these up and enjoy the chaos… the only thing is those spring-loaded blasters may not work as well as they used to now that it’s been 16+ years since Hasbro released this.
Risk: Star Wars – Clone Wars Edition
“Begun, the Clone War has.” – Yoda, Attack of the Clones
Star Wars Risk based on the events of Revenge of the Sith. Classic Risk gameplay with a few added wrinkles for 2-4 players. Note: this is not Risk: Star Wars Edition, which is a Return of the Jedi edition of Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit. If you’re confused, so are the rest of us.
Despite my admission of Risk’s strategic shortcomings and bloated playtime, it retains a soft spot in my heart due to many evenings spent playing it with friends during middle school. This is in my top 3 favorite versions of Risk (including the classic and Halo Legendary Edition) because it’s the only Star Wars version of Risk I’ve played, but also because it adds some fun thematic elements beyond the colored miniatures.
There are 3 types of ships that modify your dice as attacker and defender, which helps mitigate the luck factor, and the Separatists (CIS) have a special trick up their sleeve: Chancellor Palpatine can reveal himself as a Sith Lord, which allows the Separatists to place him on a Republic-controlled planet and convert all Republic troops to Separatist troops. This also changes the win condition for the Republic: if they can take control of Emperor Palpatine’s planet, they automatically win. There are also faction-specific cards that can give players special abilities, build ships, or recruit troops.
While being based on Risk is a gameplay handicap, Risk: Star Wars – Clone Wars Edition can still be a fun time for Risk fanatics looking for something different.
Star Wars: Han Solo Card Game
“We’ll let fate decide, eh?” – Watto, The Phantom Menace
Play Sabacc like the other scoundrels… sort of. A family-friendly game of Sabaac for 2-4 players.
Star Wars: Han Solo Card Game provides players with special, Sabacc-shaped cards and an assortment of Star Wars items (depicted on credits) for players to win throughout the game. There are special rules for which cards do what things, and you’re trying to have the sum of your cards be closer to zero than everyone else via swapping cards from the middle of the table.
I really wanted to like this game. I tried to find some strategic gameplay in here, but after multiple plays, I couldn’t. It was consistently a luck fest, which is nothing like the real Sabacc (“real” with claw hand quotation marks).
Note. There are many other out-of-print Star Wars games I have yet to play (and may never play), but here are a few that I hope to play someday: Risk: Star Wars Edition (2015), Star Wars: Armada, Star Wars: Destinies, Star Wars: Epic Duels, Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit.