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Monday, May 20, 2024

The Best Star Wars Tabletop and Board Games

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There’s no shortage of licensed products based on Star Wars. You've got Star Wars toys, Star Wars LEGO sets, comic books, Space Slug oven mitts… you name it, and it probably exists. And this is especially true in the world of board games. There’s a wide range of Star Wars board games for every age and experience level.

Tabletop miniature dogfights? There’s a Star Wars board game for that. Deck-building card game? Classic pen & paper RPG? There are tabletop Star Wars games for those, too, and plenty more. Below, we've hand-picked the best games in the universe, complete with links and descriptions. Better yet, they're all currently available to pick up and play right now.

TL;DR: The Best Star Wars Board Games

Short on time? Click the links above to check out each game on the list. Read on for details about each one.

Star Wars: The Deck-Building Game

Star Wars: The Deckbuilding GameStar Wars: The Deckbuilding Game

If you and a friend or family member want to duke it out in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game is an excellent choice. Rather than making you buy booster packs to assemble a deck, this standalone game comes with all the cards you need to pit the Reble Alliance against the Empire. It's a great pick for newcomers to deckbuilding games, but it has enough depth and strategy for diehard fans. Check out our Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game review for more info.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Board GameStar Wars: The Clone Wars Board Game

If you've played Pandemic (and not just by living through one!), you know the basics for how this game works. Set during the Clone Wars era of Star Wars, this board game pits the Jedi against Count Dooku and the Sith Lord's forces. It comes with four scenarios to play through, giving it lots of replay value.

Star Wars: Armada

Star Wars: ArmadaStar Wars: Armada

One thought everyone had when they saw how fantastic the X-Wing miniatures looked was to wonder what a Star Destroyer would look like. In that thought, Armada was born. It has the same great pre-painted ships, but the action has moved from tactical dogfights to epic fleet combat.

Along with the change in scale, the tone and feel of the game has also changed. Two players still pick a roster of ships and upgrades. But Armada is a more stately, strategic affair compared to the frantic dice-offs and cartoon action of its predecessor. What it loses in intimacy, it gains in depth.

Armada has another advantage: although individual ships are expensive, you need fewer of them. And there are fewer to choose from than X-Wing. So although the rules are more complex, the game as a whole is easier to get your head around.

Star Wars Villainous: Power of The Dark Side

Star Wars Villainous: Power of the Dark SideStar Wars Villainous: Power of the Dark Side

Following on from 2018’s very successful Disney Villanous, this amped-up version lets you pilot some of the most famous villains from the Star Wars franchise to succeed in their evil plots. You’ll need to shepherd resources and cards wisely as you pursue your character’s unique objective, such as Darth Vader turning Luke to the dark side. But beware: other characters can draw from your fate deck and play pesky heroes and deleterious events onto your board, setting your plans awry unless you can deal with them. With new resources and the potential to move into deep space, this is a more complex and challenging game than the original, but it pays off with crunchier strategy and more engaging theme.

Star Wars: Outer Rim

Star Wars: Outer RimStar Wars: Outer Rim

Star Wars games tend to focus on the epic struggle or the details of one battle. Outer Rim fills the wide gap between with a strategic story of the lives of the scum and villains who ply their trade on the galaxy's edge. Except since they're your scum and villains, it's up to you how villainous you want them to be.

As you fly missions and smuggle cargo from system to system, your choices will shape your character. The cleverly linked mission cards give each game a cohesive but unique narrative. You'll upgrade your skills and ship along the way. But whether you choose to be a heroic rogue or a sky bounty hunter is up to you. Why not both?

Of course, this being a board game there are numbers to juggle, dice to roll and resources to manage. It'll take both luck shrewd wits to be the galaxies greatest rascal. Much like real life, really. Also check out our rundown of the best strategy board games.

Star Wars X-Wing Second Edition

Star Wars X-Wing Second EditionStar Wars X-Wing Second Edition

The success of this tactical space fighting game has spawned imitations across the hobby. But X-Wing has two things its mimics do not. First, it's Star Wars. Second, the figures are pre-painted to a high standard, so you can have amazing-looking games for zero effort. And if you collected Star Wars toys as a kid, the nostalgia appeal is impossible to ignore.

The game became a victim of its own popularity, bloated with confusing expansions. But a second edition has cleaned things up and added a bunch of cool rules tweaks. Now, as well as the squad building and hidden movement tactics of the original, you can deploy force powers to aid your cause. Existing players can get upgrade kits with new dials and cards for their collection.

And the core game remains fantastic fun, a fast-paced snapshot of movie action. There are ship lines not only for Rebels and the Empire, but ones from the prequels and newer films, alongside iconic rogues in Scum and Villainy. Also check out the best war board games.

Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Star Wars: Imperial AssaultStar Wars: Imperial Assault

Spaceship combat in Star Wars is spectacular, but it's not where the real heart of the films is. That's in the unfolding story, the Jedi powers, the blaster battles. It's in Han and Leia, Luke and his father. If that's where you are with the movies, Imperial Assault is your game.

Borrowing heavily from the mechanics of dungeon-crawling game Descent, this is a grid combat game. You set up a map of interlocking tiles and play out a battle between Imperial and Rebel forces using plastic models of film characters. Turn by turn you need to position your models and use their abilities to best effect in order to win an edge over the opposition.

That's only half the story. This is two games using similar mechanics. One is a battle game where you pick your models and fight it out. The other is an ongoing adventure where one player controls the Imperial forces and the others Rebel heroes. Over the course of many sessions you'll see your own Star Wars saga unfold. Whichever way you prefer to play there are a vast number of expansions to extend your game.

Star Wars: Rebellion

Star Wars: RebellionStar Wars: Rebellion

If controlling Star Destroyers or AT-AT's isn't big enough for you, how about a Death Star? In fact, how about several Death Stars? That's what's waiting for you in this grand board game, which lets you replay the entire rebellion on your dinner table.

Of course, as befits the movies, the Rebel player can't hope to hold a holo-candle to the might of the Imperial navy. But they don't have to: they have to fight a clandestine war of insurgency and politics, swaying planets to join them while poking thorns in the Imperial side. The Emperor and his minions, meanwhile, merely need to destroy the Rebel base to win. Except they have to find out where it's hidden first.

Rebellion takes a long time to play, but it's engrossing, strategic and surprisingly characterful. Players do get to control a lot of popular film heroes and villains, albeit relegated to a single card.

Star Wars: Destiny

Star Wars: DestinyStar Wars: Destiny

In a move as bold as Obi-Wan confronting Grievous, Destiny resurrects the collectible card game. You begin with a fixed starter set, either Rey or Kylo Ren, and expand it with blind boosters. From this collection you build decks that span across space and time, featuring the likes of Count Dooku pairing up with General Hux.

The unique hook is that Destiny isn't only about playing cards – you’ll be tossing dice around, too. Each character in your deck brings custom dice to the fight, and rolling them partly dictates what you can do with your turn. While this might sound a strategic no-no, it keeps the game varied, fast and exciting, much like the battles it seeks to re-create.

Plus, the variety of the dice themselves help build tactical options. Dice that are more reliable are also less flexible, so it's up to you how you build your force.

Star Wars: Legion

Star Wars: LegionStar Wars: Legion

Legion is the ground-based equivalent to X-Wing, a miniatures title with troops and tanks instead of spaceships. The miniatures don't come painted or assembled for this. But don't let that put you off. Publisher Fantasy Flight has learned well from other popular miniatures games and put out a doozy.

At heart, there's the measuring and moving, estimating and dice rolling you'd expect from a game of this type. Two clever tweaks to the formula catapult the game to the next level. First is the activation system in which you have to balance moving what you want against when you want to move it: you won't get both. Second is the card-based scenario creation which puts a tactical twist on making each game unique.

There are sculpts of all your favorite characters and vehicles from the movies to expand your collection. The fact they make up a varied strategic challenge to build an effective army is just a bonus.

For more, check out our picks for the best '90s board games, as well as the best classic board games.

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