I visited the old On The Tabletop team recently and we decided to do an OTT Legacy Team article. So this On The Tabletop report is on Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars Outer Rim. Outer Rim is an adventure management board game where players take on the roles of famous mercenaries and outlaws from the Star Wars universe and attempt to gain fame and fortune before the other players.
Off The Shelf / On The Tabletop articles come in two halves. In Off The Shelf we will look at what’s in the box along with covering how the game plays. This is followed by On The Tabletop where we talk about our first playthrough games and finish with feedback from the On The Tabletop team.
The On The Tabletop playthrough articles catalog our initial experiences with a game; as a result, mistakes will be made. On The Tabletop should also not be taken as a full review. These articles are simply our first impressions of a game.
Off The Shelf
Star Wars Outer Rim’s components are all cards and counters. Players each get a character card from the 8 available, with their character’s stats, and a card stand-up to represent them on the clip together star system playboards. Players also get a player board, where they track their fame and influence values. The player boards have a space for players to put their character card, along with their chosen starter ship of choice.
Star Wars Outer Rim has double-sided ship cards. There is a starter ship on each side of one card, and players get a choice of either speed with the G9 Rigger, or attack and a higher health value with the G-1A Starfighter. All of the other ships have the generic ship on one side and the famous named ship of the same type on the other. The named ship can be unlocked if players meet the goal of the ship. Characters also have a goal to meet, and achieving it flips the character card over to unlock better stats and abilities.
Gear, Jobs, and Cargo which is what most of Star Wars Outer Rim is about, can be found in the market place. There are six different decks in the market, and the top card of each deck is revealed to show which cards can be purchased.
Star Wars Outer Rim has a very structure turn sequence, in which only a limited amount of things can happen. For example, during the Planning Phase, players can either repair all damage to their character and ship, move, or earn a limited amount of credits. Your options are usually between moving and repairing damage, with earning credits giving you something to do, should you wish to remain in the same location and have no damage to repair.
The next step is the Action step, and during this phase, players can perform each available action once. Actions are buying cards from the market, which also includes the option to discard a card from the top of the market deck, trading cards with other players on your space, and delivering cargo or bounties. There are also actions printed on some cards that can also be used in this step. Every action can be completed, but only once each turn.
The final phase is the Encounter step. During this step, if you are on a space with a patrol, with which you have a negative reputation for that faction, then you encounter that patrol and fight against it. Otherwise, you get the choice of either fighting a patrol in your space, taking the top card from the encounter deck for your system, encountering a personality from a planet you are on or using an Encounter action from a card you have.
The reputation and patrol movement mechanics are very well done. There are three stages of reputation. Negative, neutral and positive. If you have a positive reputation with a faction, you can move freely through spaces with their patrols. If you have neutral or negative, then you have to stop your movement if you move through space with a patrol. With a negative reputation, you will then be forced to encounter the patrol during your next encounter phase.
There are 4 stacks of patrol tokens. These increase in power as a patrol is removed, and the next one leaves the stack and begins moving across the system. The patrols increase in strength up to a Level 4 patrol, which cannot be removed and always wins combats. Patrols move through some card actions, but mainly through purchases made in the market. Some market cards have a faction symbol and a number of spaces moved, and if revealed through a purchase from a market deck, that patrol moves that distance towards the player who revealed it.
There are 2 types of dice tests during the game. Combats, which are rolled using an amount of dice equal to your combat skill. The amount of hits you roll is compared to the roll of your opponent and the highest amount of hits wins, but both sides still take the damage dealt in hits, so it’s possible to win, but still be defeated with your health reduced to 0. There are also skill tests, which require you to roll 2 dice and show a symbol depending on the number of times you have the Skill being tested on your character or crew.
On The Tabletop
Because we had 6 players interested in playing, we decided that rather than have 2 players sit out, we would split into 3 teams of 2. James and Sam chose to play as Bossk, Lizi and Virginia picked Doctor Aphra and Anna and I decided to play as Jyn Erso. We played a low fame game (normal games are to 10 fame, but we went with 8) for our first game.
Due to the standard turn phases and events, everyone picked up the game quickly. Within a few rounds, everyone knew the main rules of the game and we only referred to the rulebook when more complicated issues arose. There was some initial confusion between tests and encounter rolls for attacks, but only for the first few turns.
It was interesting to see each team pick their own style of play for the game. Lizi and Virginia quietly went about their business, taking jobs from the market and setting off on them. James and Sam played very aggressively, heading after any players with crew members they had bounties on and aggressively hunting patrols. Anna and I made some money early, and also achieved our Character’s Goal by bombing a couple of Imperial worlds. We cycled through several ships, eventually upgrading to the Firespray-31. We planned our plays and made sure to double up on jobs when we could and took several jobs across nearby systems.
Jyn’s character ability meant, which l doubles your chances of getting a crit once per turn, meant that we could face off most encounters with a little luck, and we made steady progress with fame because of this. We were targeted by James and Sam for one of our crew members and also struggled with some early negative influence with the Imperial faction, meaning that we had to avoid Imperial patrols in our routes around the system.
Everyone made steady progress with fame, and we were all on or around 5/6 fame towards the end. Anna and I managed to get an upgrade for our ship that meant we gained an extra fame whenever we gained a fame and our ship allowed us to force a ship encounter against another player, gaining us a fame if we won. If we lost, we would lose the fame boosting upgrade. As all teams, including ourselves, were within a couple of turns of winning, we decided to take a scoundrel’s risk and attempt the attack against Lizi and Virginia. We won the roll by 1 and took the game.
Adam – Star Wars Outer Rim took me by surprise. Having read through the rules before the game, I expected it to be interesting, but the good-natured competitiveness that it brings out in game is a lot of fun. You can be evil in game, but Same and James proved that it doesn’t always mean you’ll win.
It feels very similar to FFG’s Fallout board game and if you’ve played and enjoyed that, you will enjoy this. Likewise, Star Wars fans will find a lot to like here, as there are a huge amount of nods to the setting. Most importantly for me, it didn’t feel like a Star Wars skin over some mechanics. It felt like you were in the setting and the different characters do offer varying playstyles with their personal goals.
The components are solid, the gameplay is tight and easy to teach and it’s a lot of fun to play. Star Wars Outer Rim is a keeper and I will definitely be looking to get some more games in soon.
Adam is the righteous leader of the On The Tabletop Team and is an experienced tabletop gamer. He has played physical and online CCGs to a very high competitive level. He also has a background in roleplaying, board and wargaming and has playtested and produced content for several companies. A veteran tabletop writer who’s favorite games includes Dark Souls: The Card Game, The Legend of the Five Rings LCG, Shadespire, and Bushido. You can read his work here on TechRaptor and follow his exploits on Twitter – @StealthBuda.
Lizi – This was a good game. We played so there was 2 of us on each team which I think made it more enjoyable because there was a lot of reading and tactics to decide upon and so it was nice to do that part in whispers instead of in our heads.
Our team played as Doctor Aphra. Once we had completed 2 jobs we got her extra power which allowed us to have an extra skill of our choice whenever we needed. The more skills we had made it easier to complete fights and challenges, though I didn’t fully figure out how we got into those fights. I think once I play it again a few times I’ll be able to make better decisions and include more tactics as I’ll be more used to the board and cards.
It seemed complicated to start with but once I saw other people playing I think that helped a lot. My advice would just be to make sure you remember all your cards because they can help boost your play.The board and cards were good quality and the gameplay and intricacies were well thought out.
Lizi is a mathematician, the closest she’s ever been to being a gamer is almost completing Lego Batman on the PS2. Her favorite games are Codenames and Zombicide.
James – There’s nothing quite like being at the center of a hive of scum and villainy, so it was great fun to once again meet up and try ourselves against a new game of backstabbing, bounty hunts, and ship envy. The Outer Rim game we tried out lead to all of this and more, as I teamed up with Sam to take on some of the most threatening individuals to grace the galaxy – Lizi, and Virginia, and Adam and Anna.
I really enjoyed this game. Once the initial learning turns were over, Sam and I went for full Bossk bling – amazing armor, Lando’s cloak. We looked great and it gave us a victory boot, but we then spent ages trying to get any kind of weaponry! What was good about the game was that it seemed there were multiple paths to victory. Blasting things apart, shuttling cargo or more rpg-test style missions were all ways to win. All the elements were callbacks and characters from Star Wars (as you would expect), and the feeling of trucking around the Outer Rim was evoked by the game board. We all seemed to enjoy it and really get into the fun of bounty hunting.
If there was a problem or downside, it was that turns were for the most part self-contained. Unless you are purposefully interacting with other players, your entire turn is just interaction with the game. This means you can effectively play the entire game without playing ‘with’ others. As long as the players are aware of this they can play well and in character, but if they aim to win at all costs it could make for a staccato game.
Overall it was great fun, and any group of friends should enjoy it.
James is a long-time tournament wargamer (but he’s not as horrible as all that), RPG and board game player. He works designing and producing games of all types, and is launching his own company Black Cats Gaming in 2019. Follow him on twitter @Guilensturn and @followblackcats and check out his company at Black Cats Gaming.
Anna – I had my doubts about playing a Star Wars board game. I’m not sure why but I’ve always been a bit hesitant but Star Wars Outer Rim turned out to be pretty good fun. We started off by playing it in teams since we had too many players and I teamed up with Adam. The first few rounds were a bit slow as players were figuring out what they needed to do and how to play and I honestly thought that I would find myself not enjoying the game.
After two or three rounds as people were starting to pick up missions, bounties and upgrades I found the game picking up. While the boys’ team were running around hunting bounties, Adam and I had decided it was in our best interest to upgrade ships to be faster and faster so we could outrun everyone. It was also our own way to disrupt the boys, who insisted on turning themselves into Boba Fett in game, so we naturally bought Boba Fett’s ship.
Adam and I had some fun playing as Jyn Erso, space terrorist and smuggler. She had her own mission on her card for us to complete and we aimed to complete it immediately. Her character perk was that she was able to change some of the dice rolls in our favor, which you can be sure we used!
The only thing that I think I would prefer would be to have more options with the opposing factions than just being in positive/neutral/negative influence with them. I found it took some of the risk out of the game. Why would you care about angering the Empire more when you’re already out of favor with them? Having a few more options to annoy the Empire and more dire consequences would have been fun.
I genuinely had so much fun playing this game, but I’m not sure if I would have found it as fun if I wasn’t teamed up with Adam. It meant that in the downtime while waiting for others to take their turns, we were able to plan what we wanted to do. Unfortunately, I had to leave the game early, however I really didn’t notice the time passing. It was so much fun and I would love to play the game again some time!
Anna is a cosplayer and photographer. She started roleplaying a few years ago and now runs several of her own games. Her favorite games are D&D, Betrayal and the Witcher series. You can follow her gaming exploits and see her cosplay work and photography here.
Sam – I had a lot of fun playing Outer Rim. A nice mix of Star Wars meets the Gale Force 9 Firefly board game, where you go round in your ship and complete jobs.
While the board and the trademark Fantasy Flight “piles o’ cards” looked a little daunting at first, the gameplay was actually pretty easy and intuitive for us. The board’s design too was brilliant, the half-circle shape evoked the Outer Rim of the galaxy while making you think about where and when you were going–several times each of us had objectives or plans to travel pretty much the entire board’s length.
And most importantly for me, even though James and I had the worst ship for ages, and little crew to speak of, everyone was really close to winning when the time came for Adam to make his winning move. I appreciate that balance because similar games can sometimes leave the runners up really lagging behind with no ability to catch up.
10/10 would be a scummy villain again.
Sam Webb is a role-playing game developer and Twitch streamer. He has been playing games of all types for years and is now the head of RPGs at Modiphius Entertainment. He is also the Creative Director at Black Cats Gaming. You can find him @RPGwebby on twitch and twitter, and @followblackcats.
This copy of the Star Wars Outer Rim was provided by Asmodee UK.
What’s your favorite Star Wars Tabletop Game? Have you played Outer Rim? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.