Unpolished Gems: Star Wars: Rebellion

With my personal gaming, I’ve been on a pretty serious 4X kick lately. Started with Civ IV, then I rediscovered Master of Orion II. Yesterday, however, I hooked up a really old favourite, that I played the shit out of with my friends in high school- Star Wars: Rebellion.

Its such a simple premise- run the Rebel Alliance or the Empire and do battle in the Star Wars universe, vying for supremacy over the Galactic Empire. It’s a little shocking that more SW games didn’t do that- except for the one RTS and I guess you can count the Battlefront series?

The game is immense in scope to match that premise, though. Both the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance have over 30 recruitable characters and about 20 different starships each, drawing from both the orig trig and the expanded universe (and even adding a few new ships to the EU). There are potentially over 200 different star systems to colonize, woo with diplomacy or conquer with force (depending on the size of the game).

Events can play out in a rough outline similar to the trilogy (there are special events for Luke going to Dagobah to train, learning of his heritage and telling Leia she’s his sister, and having a final showdown with Vader and the Emperor. Similarly, if Han is captured he’s sent to Jabba Palace and Luke drops everything to go rescue him- including abandoning his Dagobah training!) but they all have different triggers and you can encounter these events in any order. More importantly is what happens when you off the rails- it’s entirely possible to win the galaxy through diplomacy, or blow up the Death Star with infiltrators, or start a new Jedi Order(!) by searching for force sensitives among your allies.

The game is not without it’s flaws, however. The resource system is shockingly complex for having to manage a single resource- you have to mine, then refine “resource points”, but every planet has only a limited number of buildings they can have, so you have to decide early if you’re going to have a mining planet or a productive one, and that is a harder choice than it sounds when there are three different kinds of production to choose from. The game is also pretty heavily unbalanced in favor of the Rebels, since they have a mobile headquarters, better starfighters, troop types that are more specialized to different roles, and quickly catch up in terms capital ships. About the only thing the Empire has in it’s favour is having to jump through far fewer hoops in order to start training new Sith warriors and having to build fewer kinds of mission specialists.

Speaking of which, the “Empire” starts out as anything but- only a handful of systems are under Imperial control at the beginning of the game, and the Imperial fleet is less than impressive. It would have been nice if they made the different sides more extreme in their differences, highlighting the Rebels’ reliance on guerrilla warfare and the Empire’s military and control dominance.

Still, if you like Star Wars, especially as it was before the prequels fucked everything up, Rebellion is pretty good. It’s not quite there in terms of the mechanics and GUI, there is not much animation, and the non-union Spanish equivalent of Anthony Daniels somehow makes C3PO even more annoying. But pretty good nonetheless.

13 Replies to “Unpolished Gems: Star Wars: Rebellion”

  1. could always try and put a lil more of that rts, or management style, in Harem. ive always wanted a game that allowed me to do the things your game does, like own and manage shops, while at the same time letting me own homes and adventure and do naughty things. maybe the only thing it needs is a ship, and more of everything else?

    1. Ah Civ IV and Rebellion. I loved these games. CIV IV had Leonard Nimoy narrating, and it was awesome. Rebellion does have a few more things going for the Empire though, you’re right that Rebels have those advantages, but in the early game, the Empire has the good stuff already, like Star Destroyers, where the Rebels have to research it. In the late game, the Empire has the best Starships, star fighters and troops to fight with. Nothing beats stats wise the Tie Defender, Super Star Destroyer, and the Dark Troopers on a 1:1 fight.

      The whole collaring mechanic in Harem Collector needs to be expanded upon. Once you collar someone, their personality is gone when you do. There should still be a way to develop the character though, maybe an alternate path to bring out their talents and bonuses. It might make it more interesting if this had a morality system as well, where one or the other leads to some ending or development in the game, with different character interactions.

  2. Have you tried Empire at War? It’s basically the same, although from what you’re saying it’s a bit more about the actual fight than the story than Star Wars: Rebellion. You’ll probably enjoy it.

      1. Might be. I’d describe it as an RTS with some 4X elements.

        There’s no diplomacy, so on the strategic layer you’re mostly just doing resource management and building up your planets and fleet. The ground battles are meh, the main focus is on having epic space battles.

  3. I always wanted a modern take on Moo/MooII and Starflight . The few rts that are spreadsheet like moo tend to be just large fleet number crunchers . And nothing every really hit the Starflight feel for me .

    1. The best part of MoO II is that you can number crunch your spaceships if you want, but throwing things together in ways that seem fun still works for single player.

  4. First let me say awesome game but I few minor grips but most I sure will be fixed before a final release. Frist Guild Quests Would like to see more the Love Quests are great and the Daily Quests are fine but the Guilds seem to be underused. Liked I said most likely fixed before a final release. Second I would like to see a way to change party members besides going in and out of one the hero’s houses if you can great if not oh well can’t win them all.

  5. The best 4X game has to be the Galactic Civilizations series, specially the 2nd one. GalCiv’s computer opponents are infamous for being really well programmed, and the game gives you lots of options to play it.

    I also want to comment that the Death Star in Rebellion is the epitome of “awesome, but impratical”. This thing takes a ton of resources to create, maintain, and crew, but can be taken down by a single starfighter that gets lucky and has good stats. It also is pretty much useless since using it to destroy a system make you lose diplomacy points from other planets, then you no longer get the resources from said planet you destroyed than if you just conquered it. The whole thing does give bombardment bonuses, but it’s better to just use the resources to churn out more ships to do the same thing. All in all, the only real use it sees is a large troop transport and carrier.

    Cool about the collaring thing being expanded. Maybe a slave trainer or a way to have them recover some skills?

    Also, anyone ever tried Star Trek Armada and Armada 2? Specially the fan made Fleet Operations expansion? That’s one well made RTS right there. Fleet Ops balances many of the glaring issues with the original game to make it far more enjoyable.

  6. Actually, a Death Star was very useful in that just bringing it into a sector made popular support swing a little bit your way in even the most hardened Rebel stronghold. I would park it in the sector and then use all my Diplomatic characters to essentially offer each planet the carrot while keeping the stick handy. I also made sure I had enough fighters in the fleet to make Death Star Runs a rare thing.

  7. 1st love your game and for me 1 of the main reasons i like it and most other like it – harem, Zaubers and more – is that they are not RTS but turn based. And that leads me to say Master of Orion II have to be one off the best games ever.

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