Growing up, I loved Risk. It was the most sophisticated board game I knew, and all who played it seemed to belong to this semi-exclusive gaming society. There was almost an aura of coolness that exuded from each opened box. Whenever two Risk players locked eyes, they’d share a knowing glance. Sometime around high school, the facade crumbled. The “coolness” became pretentiousness and the glance felt more like a douchey, bro handshake. Every so often – if the right people could be found – I’d get pulled into a game. Sometimes I even had fun. And then came The Great Risk Game of 2013. Get a few drinks into me and I may regale the memories of that fateful night, but suffice it to say the single session destroyed Risk for me ever since.
Four years later, I got my hands on Risk: Star Wars Edition. Were it not for my devotion to the galaxy far, far away, I would’ve passed. Was this version able to sway my opinion of the Risk brand? Let’s see…
Overview: Do you remember the final forty-five minutes of Return of the Jedi? Well, here is that as a board game. As the Rebellion, disable the shields on the forest moon of Endor, use Luke Skywalker to fight and hopefully redeem Darth Vader, and pilot the Rebel fleet against the second Death Star in a tense space battle. As the Empire, kill everything.
Playtime: The box says 30-45 minutes. That time is spot on.
Rulebook: Hands down, this is the clearest set of instructions I’ve ever read. While they may not be the most concise, I had no questions when it came time to play. Publishers, take note.
Components: Marketed as a collector’s item, the Black Series version never lets you forget it. From the slick, clamshell box to the embossed cards, the production value is phenomenal. This is the type of game you’re proud to bring to the table.
Gameplay: Fast and fun! While the three mini games may seem like a lot of keep track of at once, they work together seamlessly. Players use action cards to program their moves each round. Unlike some programming games, R:SW allows for plenty of mitigation against potentially wasted turns. You never feel like you can’t accomplish anything. The only issue I found was in balancing. After a few plays, it seemed playing as the Empire was much more difficult than playing as the Rebels. That’s not to say Imperial success is impossible; although, we never saw it. After giving it some thought, I wonder if it was done intentionally to follow the movie.
Final Thoughts: I won’t bury the lede, I LOVE this game. Everything about it assures me I spent my money wisely. And the best part is, this isn’t even “kind of” Risk. So why include it in the title? The answer is easy. During gameplay, the famous quote from William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ came to mind: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.” Sure, the game may have been just as sweet, but it wouldn’t have brought in the same kind of $$$.