I’ve just packed away Star Wars: Outer Rim and I’m still thinking about it. The funny thing is, I’ve been thinking about it since Monday, the last day I packed it away.
So, let me first share the basics of the board game, then I’ll share those thoughts with you around the categories of Components, Luck, Aesthetics, Interest, and Mood.
Star Wars: Outer Rim Gameplay
Star Wars: Outer Rim is a board game that explores the activities of the smugglers, bounty hunters, and scoundrels that live and do business on the edge of the galaxy.
It’s a game that is played in about 45 minutes per player once everyone gets up to speed, but I’d encourage you to take a little more time than that (more on this below). Sure, there is minutiae to take in but the basics of Star Wars: Outer Rim can be taught and understood in minutes. Plus, there is a handy rules reference book to go along with the excellent how to play guide.
Each player’s turn begins with the Planning Step. During the Planning Step each player can either 1) Move, 2) Remove Damage, or 3) Take 2,000 Credits. That’s it. Simple.
Then players move on to the Action Step where they can Trade, Buy a Card from the Market, Deliver Cargo, or Resolve an Action. This step, in many ways, is the meat and potatoes of the game.
Some of these like the Trade action are pretty free form. Sure, you can trade a ship upgrade or whatever but you can also trade promises. This is a place where a little role-play might break out. Like Han Solo having an encounter with a Hutt perhaps? More on this later.
Buying cards from the Market is great fun not only because this is not only where a scruffy-looking scoundrel like yourself can pick up a job, but also because it absolutely drips with the Star Wars theme. Want to buy a cape for Lando or Han Solo’s pistol? Yeah, me too.
The final step on a player’s turn is the Encounter Step. It’s in the Encounter Step where a player might interact with an Imperial, Hutt, Rebel, or Syndicate patrol, which plays with the Reputation tracker of the game. You can also land on a planet and resolve the action on that planet’s cards, but not before reading the flavor text (more on this in a minute).
There is also limited combat and other finer points but you get the idea. You play as a scoundrel on the fringes of the Star Wars galaxy, zipping around the outer rim planets in order to gain crew, ship upgrades, all while pulling jobs or collecting bounties. If that sounds like fun to you then you are wired up right.
Staking my C.L.A.I.M. on Star Wars: Outer Rim
There is a lot in the box and it all feels nice. The 200+ cards are a good weight and the graphic design is meticulous. The cardboard is thick and sturdy.
Star Wars: Outer Rim isn’t a “premium” game with miniatures and wooden tokens or what have you. But it’s beautifully put together with art work that whisks you away to the Star Wars galaxy.
The game board is no board at all, it’s a cardboard ring that is put together to form a “rim.” Honestly, I can’t decide if I like this or not. On one hand, a traditional game board would have allowed everything to be situated on the table more conveniently, but on the other, the rim is certainly more thematic and I want to applaud the designers for taking that risk.
There weren’t enough included dice and there isn’t a box insert, but Fantasy Flight is gonna Fantasy Flight.
There is a depth to the strategy in Star Wars: Outer Rim, but I was having none of it. To be honest, I didn’t care if each of my turn’s were optimized or not.
Star Wars: Outer Rim is a blend of several playstyles, which isn’t unusual. The sophistication of modern board gaming means that it’s rare a game is “just a tableau-builder” or “just a Euro” or insert your classification.
Outer Rim has a blend of lots of elements, but at the core it is a story-telling experience. I mentioned before that this is a game where you’ll want to take your time. But don’t spend that time differing over your actions in order to optimize a turn. Use that time to read the flavor text on each card.
Star Wars: Outer Rim drips with theme. I mean, this game is absolutely soaked in Star Wars. That is the delightful core of the game.
Nearly every action invokes a memory of a character that you’ve seen on the big screen or in a comic book. I wanted to acquire a Market Card not because it would help me win the game but because I knew every card had flavor text that would whisk me away to a scene from the movies.
In short, if you’re not humming “The Imperial March” frequently during a play of this game then you aren’t playing it right.
And it’s a re-playable game. You’ll want to play through as Han, then once again as Lando. I, of course, wanted to play as Doctor Aphra, a favorite character of mine from the comics.
I suspect you’ll sometimes want to play through it thematically, but then you’ll be in a different mind space one day and you’ll want to play it for optimization by exploring it as Boba Fett flying the Millennium Falcon or what have you.
The point is you’ll get your money’s worth out of the box. But just barely. It is also a game that seems set up for an expansion. For example, the Databank cards that deliver much of the story are numbered from 1-92. Cards 54-89 are conspicuously absent, which screams you just wait until the next expansion adds the other half of the Outer Rim.
Star Wars: Outer Rim makes you feel like you can be some of your favorite characters as you re-enact some of your favorite scenes from the movies. To be clear, the game is in no way a simulation. But all the flavor is absolutely there.
If you are the type of gamer that plays to win at all costs and your preferred play style is to diligently plan each move, then Star Wars: Outer Rim might not be the game for you.
This is the type of board game where you need to go with it and allow yourself to be engrossed in the theme. It would certainly be a step too far to suggest this is a roleplaying game in any way. But it absolutely is a story-driven game.
In fact, let’s call it an experience.
As a result, it occupies an odd category and I suspect lots of reviews for the game will struggle to capture the essence. Those who prefer Eurogames will be frustrated that some of the actions can feel a bit loose. Casual gamers may be frustrated that it feels a bit much at times.
But Star Wars fans? Oh, they’ll get it.
[Disclosure: Nerds on Earth was provided a copy of Star Wars: Outer Rim by Asmodee NA in exchange for an honest review.]