Freedom in the Galaxy - Board Game Box Shot

Freedom in the Galaxy

| Published: 1979
12 3 3

Freedom In The Galaxy is a medium complexity strategic and tactical game of galactic conquest. Can a small band a valiant rebels withstand the oppression of the mighty galactic empire?

The map board schematically represents over 30 solar systems. Unit types include armed forces, spaceships, imperial characters and individual rebels. The rebel play must start insurrections on various planets hoping to cause a domino effect and topple the empire's power base. The Imperial player must garrison planets, quash rebellion and conduct diplomatic missions to maintain a high loyalty factor. There are three levels of complexity to the game

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“Solid Science Fiction Wargame design from the late 70's ”

Overview

Freedom in the Galaxy (FitG) is a two player science fiction wargame from SPI published in 1979. If the game reminds you of Star Wars that’s no accident. It clearly aspired to be Star Wars: The Wargame. The scope is quite large and consists of the struggle of the Rebellion to topple the evil Galactic Empire.

There are 51 planets spread among 25 different star systems grouped into 5 provinces. To win, the Rebel Player must control a number of planets with certain value that will trigger the downfall of the empire within a set number of rounds. The Imperial Player must prevent this from occurring and may win by capturing/killing all the rebel characters. Controlling a planet is a two-step process. The rebels must win the hearts and minds of the population. Planets have a loyalty level that can be in one of five different states describing their feelings towards the Empire. They range from Patriotic to Unrest. Once the rebels have convinced the planet to rise up in arms against the imperials then comes the next step which is the military conflict. Controlling the planet requires destroying any imperial forces on the planet.

Gameplay

The game can summarized as two systems. The character game and military conflict. Military units are generic. There are no specific types of space ships or troops. They have just two values: one for combat on the surface of planets and the second for space battles. The higher the value the stronger the unit is. It’s both the strength and number of hits it takes to eliminate it. They can use only one value at a time so you have to decide where the unit is most needed: in space or on the planet.

Military units can travel between planets, engage in space battles, attack planetary defenses from orbit and invade the surface of a planet to fight opposing forces. Combat resolves like a standard hex and counter wargame. Add up the combat strengths of all units and calculate a ratio between the attacker and defender totals which determines the column used. Roll dice to see how many hits you score against the opposition. Unless your ratio is high (at least 3:1) there won’t necessarily be a lot of carnage unless the forces are of low combat value. This can lead to WWI style stalemates in backwater areas where neither side wants to commit enough troops to overwhelm the other, or when very strong individual units fight unable to damage each other. There are various modifiers that can shift the odds. The most significant are characters as military leaders. They can provide a significant boost.

Characters consist of a counter to mark their physical location on the map and a card with a portrait on one side and the other describing their attributes. Characters can be part of the military conflict as leaders their big contribution is their ability to perform missions. Any group of one or more characters can conduct missions to achieve different goals for the player. Diplomacy is the primary mission to sway the local population of the planet to the rebel cause or the Empire’s. Some planets are susceptible to coup so that mission can also sway the planet in your favor (by replacing the local government with a friendlier one). Intelligence missions can help you discover the enemy’s secrets (rebels are hiding a secret base the imperials want to find, the imperials hold planet secrets which may benefit the rebels if they uncover them). Once a planet hates the Empire the Start Rebellion mission can trigger an uprising. The imperials can use the same mission to convince the population to submit to imperial rule. There are other useful missions: Sabotage, Assassination, gain Possessions, Subvert Troops, Gain Allies (more characters), etc. Characters fulfill missions by drawing action cards from a deck and surviving the events described in the cards while looking for the letter that indicates a successful mission. The more cards you draw the more chances of success but also more dangers. Events range from attacks to your characters from creatures, military patrols and unfriendly locals to civil wars, riots, accidents, diplomatic blunders and the like. Failure happens more often than not so it’s important to persevere and take the long view.

Structure

The game can last twenty rounds, consisting of a galactic phase and four player turns: two rebel and two imperial. The phase is an administration routine when galactic events occur, the empire collects taxes and both players spend to build military units and strengthen planetary defenses. Each player turn involves moving friendly military forces and characters, resolving combat in space and on planets. The opposing player can search for enemy characters to capture/kill. Then the current player assembles his characters for missions.

Both sides are asymmetrical. The Empire has a dozen characters spread around the galaxy and a large military force. Rebels start only with characters and no military. But the rebel’s main strength is its large cast of characters that can conduct many more missions than the Imperials. Fomenting rebellion allows the player to raise troops to take the fight to the Empire. The Empire’s strength is its military and strong leaders. Judicious use is required to defend valuable planets and know when to let go of the expendable ones to stave off defeat.

Wrap-up

The game has far more detail than can described here. As an old school war game it’s a product of its time when 20 hours or more of game time was not unusual for the hobby. It definitely rewards long term play for both sides. While the Empire is more heavily favored the Nick Palmer variant balances the game. Today’s environment favors shorter games measured in an afternoon or evening and FitG does have smaller scenarios covering a province or star system but are nowhere near as meaty as the galactic game. Ultimately you have to decide if a long term game time investment is your cup of tea.

 

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