Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit - Board Game Box Shot

Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit

| Published: 2000
41 14 4

Based on the four battles at the end of Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace -- the battle on the plain between the Gungan forces and the droid army; the attempt by Naboo forces, led by Queen Amidala, to storm the palace and capture the Trade Federation viceroys; the fight between Darth Maul and the two Jedi Knights; and the space battle in which Anakin's starfighter destroyed the Droid Control Ship.

The forces are represented by 155 plastic miniatures on three separate boards, including a three-level palace. The action is driven by two decks of cards for each side. Each turn, each side simultaneously chooses four action cards from a hand of ten, and places them in order. The actions are then carried out one at a time, alternating sides. Combat is resolved using special attack and defense dice.

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“Down to the Basics Review”

This is my first review ever. My main goal with this kind of review is to show what the game is about, getting down to the basics, the bare minimum necessary to captivated the reader.

So, about this great game:

1) What it is?
A battle between the Republic and the Federation, it simulates the last 30 or 40 minutes of the movie Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Each side plays in 4 different areas: battlefield, pallace, space above Naboo and the site where the jedis and sith are fighting.

2) How do you play?
Buy cards, decide the order to play the cards, play one card at a time, move a miniature or miniatures based on the card you played and attack the other player´s miniatures. It has few similarities with the Command & Colors system used by Memoir 44 and other games.

3) What are the decisions that you make?
At the beginning of the turn, decide the order of the cards. As you reveal your card, decide wich of the 2 or 3 possible actions you will execute. Finally, decide wich miniature, or group of miniatures you will move. As a federation player, there is one action that allow you to add cards to the space above Naboo just to make things more difficult to Anakin Skywalker.

4) What is good about it?
It has great components, a nice 3D board, it is assymetrical, each side has different winning conditions. It is very thematic, you really feel like you are in the movie, participating in all battles.

5) What is not so good about it?
Setup time, although simple, is long ranging from 15 to 30 minutes. The game has, obviously, only one scenario, so it may have replayability issues. It is the kind of game that you do not play often, but when you play, it is a great experience. Also, as it has a high lucky factor, some players may not enjoy it.

6) What it feels when you play it?
At the beginning of the game: awe, the game is really beatiful: dozens of miniatures, four different areas and the 3d pallace makes you wish for the start of the game.
After the game ends: a sense of epicness, even if you lost the game.

 
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“A Gem Neglected Until It Had Gone”

There are two axioms which have prevailed in modern culture: first, that games based on franchises are slapdash low-quality cash-in products, and the Star Wars prequels were a shadow of the former glory of the mythos. And so it was that games like Epic Duels and The Queen’s Gambit languished on store shelves at discount prices, and eventually faded as the films ran their course. Now out of print, these games have enjoyed a resurgence among gamers who realized too late that there was quite a bit of charm in these titles. I purchased both through secondary markets and consider them “holy grail” items in my collection.

Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit re-creates the multi-layered climactic battle of Episode I, with Gungans battling droids on the open plains, the Queen staging an assault to take back her palace, and two proficient Jedi crossing sabers with the sinister Darth Maul, while Anakin weaves his way through spaceships and plot devices to power down the droid army.

Anyone familiar with Richard Borg’s Command and Colors system (employed at the time in Battle Cry) will see a strong resemblance in this design. The board is divided into sections representing each battle, with the novel second and third floors of the palace rising above the table on supports, and the game pieces are all placed in pre-assigned positions. Each player – one as the Republic forces, one as the Trade Federation – has two stacks of cards, one to manage the Gungan battlefield and space battle, and one to manage the palace battle and Jedi fight. From your hand of ten cards, you select four and place them face-down in a pile, then each player takes turns resolving them from top to bottom. Resolving the card means moving and shooting each of the units listed on the card, for one battlefield or the other. Shooting is done with custom-faced dice with hits and misses, and for the defender, blocks.

Most of the pieces in the game are generic droids, gungans and palace guards. The palace and Jedi sections have named characters from the film. Destroying any of these major units, or clearing an entire hex of Gungan battlefield units, gives the player bonus cards to play on the next turn. This tends to favor the droid army, since only Darth Maul gives a bonus to the Republic player, and the droids have a significant advantage in firepower on the Gungan battlefield. On the other hand, the space battle section consists only of Anakin rolling dice to move along several spaces to the droid control ship, with the droid player throwing up roadblocks when he can. This section serves as a timer of sorts for the game, since all the droids shut down when Anakin reaches the ship. That means everybody but Maul, and that means the game is over if Maul gets destroyed. The game ends for either side when the field gets whittled down to the last three units standing, including the two Viceroy pieces who just sit there doing nothing.

The components are a major factor in my affection for this game. Molded plastic droids and palace guards piled so high I had to get a box to keep them all organized. All the important spaces are clearly marked on the board(s), including where to pre-set all the pieces. Each side has “helper” boards showing the relevant stats for each type of piece. And of course, all of it is docked out in official Star Wars artwork.

I find this works quite well for an asymmetrical game. The droids have superior force of arms and benefit from drawing out the game. The Republic army can double-team Darth Maul and push Anakin to knock out the droids and turn the tide. When each player replenishes his hand at the end of turn, he can take from either or both of his decks, to shift his focus as he chooses, but they both must still keep an eye on all four battles taking place. Dice battles always have the chance to go horribly wrong for you but it tends to balance out over the length of a game, and certainly over multiple plays.

While newer games have come along with more sophisticated or more polished mechanics, this game has all the right ingredients to be a favorite in my collection. If you can get it to the table, or find a copy of your own, it certainly has my recommendation.

 
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120 of 131 gamers found this helpful
“The Climactic End of Phantom Menace”

I’ve always been a fan of Star Wars. A child of the 70’s, I waited with my family in long lines to see Star Wars A New Hope. I used all of my allowance to buy the original action figures, the Death Star Space Station play set and Luke Skywalker’s X Wing with battle damage from the Empire Strikes Back. I had the Marvel Comics, the Schoolastic Storybooks, the paperback books… on and on. When it was announced that the prequels were coming out, me and my circle of friends were so excited! We had even played the West End Games Star Wars RPG and the Decipher Games Star Wars CCG, so going to see Phantom Menace was a must. I sat in the theater with some friends and here’s what came of it:

There seem to be 3 types of modern Star Wars fans
* Those who will not allow any modern Star Wars product to be held as fondly as the classics
* Those who may not have liked every single thing about the prequels but who don’t give up on their fandom because of a few little things
* Kids too young to have an obsession with the original saga

I’m of the 2nd category. Jar Jar Binks doesn’t make me want to have a fit. The Star Wars Special Editions didn’t make me scream out at Lucas for making Greedo shoot first instead of Han Solo (though I prefer the more scoundrel image that Han previously had).

I still think of the epic light saber duel between Darth Maul and Obi‑Wan Kenobi and Qui‑Gon Jinn as one of the great events in the history of the SW Universe. It was well staged, told an excellent and thrilling story, and made Darth Maul shine, even though he bought it at the end. (oops… spoilers! LOL)

On the other hand, I think Anakin could have been a little older, a little less cute and a lot less annoying. Jar Jar might have been an attempt to give the kids a marketable image to purchase but he generally irritated most people too much. On the other hand, it wasn’t my story to tell, it was Lucas’ and I appreciate his vision even if I would have done a few things differently.

In this board game depiction of the climactic, multi-layered battle to decide the fate of Naboo, we are once again given the same situation. The system is fluid though not deep. There is the same tendency that other Star Wars games at that time suffered; a fear of complexity.

Anakin performed incredibly in the Pod Race (not in this game) but was like a scene out of a Laurel and Hardy movie once in the cockpit of the Naboo fighter. Thankfully, his participation in this board game is done as a end game timer. No cute comments like “Left is good,”! The ground battle between the Gungan and Battledroid forces is actually done pretty well, despite the really easy system to play it out. The Light Saber Duel is also given fewer rules than it probably should though it seems to keep the whole game balanced and flowing well.

This game is all about balance. Concentrate on any one or two aspects and the other two suffer, with potentially dire consequences. The assault on the Royal Palace is just as important as the Saber Duel. The Ground Battle is just as pivotal as the Anakin race to the finish. In this way, Queen’s Gambit is a fun game with a lot of drama, if played with a fan of the setting or a board game lover who isn’t adverse to easy systems.

I would warn people from inviting someone who hate all things related to the prequels, though. They’ll endlessly pick apart the whole affair which is never fun.

One last note, while the pieces are all well done, there is set up time to consider and the three level palace at the heart of the game can be a little wobbly.

Overall, this is a great game to play once in a while. Its balanced and fun though not terribly deep. The replay value is moderate though due to the fact that the setup is always the same. If you can find this game on sale in some dusty, backwater store shelf or FLGS and its not too expensive, it would be a worthy addition to most any board game collection. Just don’t invite prequel haters!

 
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31 of 59 gamers found this helpful
“cool minis in a fun game”

There have been good versions of the Star Wars movies in boardgame forms before. My previous favorite was Epic Duels. This one has what I look for in such a game. Thematic miniatures instead of generic pawns. Novel playing system and innovative boards. You will face an opponent battling simultaneously on 3 boards. You each have a deck of cards and from that have a hand of 10 cards. You assign 4 of them to the boards and then reveal them. Each board has separate goals for each side. Can you win for the Light or the Dark sides of the force? With over 150 miniatures in the game this game is fun to play and looks great when set up. My only caution is that this game was released several years ago and is popular for all of it’s miniatures and so the demand has led to it’s being fairly expensive so good luck finding a copy.

 

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