The Bothan Method

The Bothan Method

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Writer_smallerImperial Assault

We’ve been talking a lot about giving roleplaying games a try. Our group has not managed to get anything organised though, which has led to a lot of thinking about DM-ing.

The ideal scenario is an experienced player takes on the mantle of DM and runs the game, allowing us to try roleplaying without spending ages struggling to find our feet with a type of game that has so many differences to board games. But neither myself or Aileen have that experience, so lack a good place to start.

After some research, I decided to order an RPG called ‘Fiasco’. Games of Fiasco are done in one session, and are run without a Games Master of any kind. It’s only just arrived, but it looks great, so hopefully more on that in weeks to come.

Imperial Assault, which this week’s comic is about, is something of an odd halfway house where the issue of a Dungeon Master is concerned. While it’s obviously a board game, and not an RPG, it does fall to one player to ‘run’ the game, and the campaign.

But that player is also the Imperial player, and is not just running things, but playing competitively against the Rebels. Levelling up the same way, rolling the same way, fighting in the same battles, just on the side with all of the Stormtroopers.

More than one review I watched or read of Imperial Assault mentioned this issue: It’s a tough balance for the Imperial player to strike, and one that can make or break the game for the entire group. If they are too aggressive there is the risk that they can run rampant over the Rebels. But obviously they too are looking to win in any given game, so it falls to the Imperial player to get that balance right, in the same manner it falls to a Dungeon Master to create the best experience for their players.

Pertaining more directly to the comic, the game also creates a weird situation where it is 4 players against 1, where planning is really important. If the Rebels don’t work together and plan their assault, they don’t stand a chance.

But you’re effectively left planning things in front of the Imperial Officer who is trying to stop you. It’s a bit much to get up and leave the room in between every turn (and that would be pretty crappy for the Imperial player), so it’s something we’re still figuring out. Hand signals? Time will tell.

For now, I will say that Imperial Assault is an absolutely cracking game. It’s an excellent co-op (for the Rebels) it’s tense, and seems as well balanced as Pandemic. All of our games have come down to the last actions of the last moves of the last turn.

8 Comments on The Bothan Method
  • Paul Gillibrand

    It’s an interesting dynamic. We’ve definitely had a lot of instances of one of the rebel players starting to outline a plan at the beginning of a turn and being cut off with “Quiet! Wait until the imperial player has decided what to deploy!”.

    In the final mission of the Twin Shadows expansion (where I was playing imperials) the rebel players did actually go off to the other side of the pub to discuss the strategy for their final turn for about 10 minutes and came back with plans A, B and C depending on what I was going to do. In the end it came down to the final dice roll and I scraped the victory.

    • I think how games are so often so close speaks to how good the game is. I think it’s a good idea to rotate who is the Imperial player as well when we get to the expansions. Wouldn’t mind giving it a crack myself.

  • Emily

    Ah Fiasco. It’s ok as a ‘gateway drug’ RP game I guess, very story focused. But then, I have the luxury of a good group of RPing friends who will try pretty much any system your throw at them.

    I remember the game we played I ended up setting one of the others on fire then trying to catapult her into the local tavern. (She wanted to fly, I wanted to kill her and somebody happened to own a catapult…) Unfortunatly she ended up setting fire to the herd of Hippos which then stampeded through the town, exploding and set EVERYTHING on fire. Oops?

  • wr00t

    Maybe you should have a set of headphones (really sound proof) with some pleasant music to listen, which imperial player will have to put on every turn 😀 Still feels weird.

  • Omer Hertz

    Nothing much to add here (I’ve only played Imperial Assault once thus far, as the Imperial player) but I have to say that that is the thinnest box of Imperial Assault I’ve ever seen 😉

  • Zorblag

    I don’t know if you’re terribly interested, but Table Top did have a two episode Fiasco session. You’ve already got the game so it might be more fun to go in without seeing how others play it, but if you’re interested the first episode is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXJxQ0NbFtk

    Enjoy no matter what!

    -Zorblag R`Lyeh

  • Rene

    Ha! “If they are too aggressive there is the risk that they can run rampant over the Rebels. ” Hahahaha! Maybe I just suck but I play aggressive as hell, and my rebel players steamrolled me our first campaign. And on our current I’ve lost 2 of three missions. It’s enough to make me flip the table. I can’t count the times we’ve gotten in to shouting matches over rules. (What happens at the table stays at the table, still scared our wives, though! ) In any case, I can listen to everything they say and it’s still like playing chess with Deep Blue for me. It is a game that brings me so much freaking anxiety, I have actually lost sleep over it. I literally tense a bit when my friend says “QuickDraw” after I move a piece EVEN IF WE’RE NOT PLAYING IA!

    I still agree the game itself is balanced and I enjoy playing every single time! Recommend it to any one 10/10!

  • Ben Thorp

    I bought Fiasco too, after watching the TT episode mentioned previously, and having attended a murder-mystery party that was fun, but a little unsatisfying as it felt like everybody was ready to play their parts but hamstrung by the system.

    Sadly, it’s never been played 🙁 But I still plan to run a dinner party around it at some point….