Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion game review

Star Wars Empire vs Rebellion card game

Star Wars isn’t limited to a galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars!

Need I say more?

That’s usually all it takes to get someone’s attention.

With the Force Friday a couple weeks ago and Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming out in 3 months, Star Wars is definitely on the minds of a lot of people. It’s safe to say you’ll be hearing Star Wars chatter for quite some time.

Of course, that shouldn’t be any surprise because Star Wars is so deeply engrained in our culture that it’s never far, far away.

There are an absolute ton of Star Wars games available. Sure there are a lot of Star Wars tie-ins to popular games like Monopoly, Risk, and Sorry. But there are also a lot of other unique Star Wars games on the market…and even more to come.

Today we’re reviewing a Star Wars card game that we got last Christmas called, Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion.

Star Wars Empire vs Rebellion card game

Here’s what you get in the Star Wars Empire vs Rebellion card game.

Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion is a 2-player card game where players square off to seize control in military and political battles of the brewing galactic civil war.

It’s a light card game that’s easy to pickup and play with your child, parent, sibling or buddy. They don’t have to be Star Wars fans, but it’s much funner when they are.

(And, yes, I am listening to the Star Wars score while writing this review.)


How to Play Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion

As with many Star Wars games, the first matter at hand when sitting down to play is deciding who will take which side. In Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion one player will play as the Rebel Alliance and the other will play as the Galactic Empire.

Each player gets their unique decks of cards. The Rebel player gets 24 Rebel Resource cards and 5 Rebel Strategy cards while the Empire player gets 24 Imperial Resource cards and 5 Imperial Strategy cards.

Star Wars Empire vs Rebellion card game

Battle over a wide range of key Star Wars events.

Players also shuffle the central 24 Event cards and place the deck face-down along with the Balance token and 16 Influence tokens near the central play area on the table.


The main objective of the game is to claim the Event cards (worth differing Victory Points) until one player has 7 or more Victory Points at the end of a round.

Game Play:

Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion is played in rounds. Each round players compete for an Event card by contributing resources to the battle for that Event.

Before the game starts, players set up their Resource decks. Within each player’s 24 resource cards are Character resource cards. Each player selects 4 of their Character resource cards and sets aside the remaining Character cards. (Character cards are easy to identify because they have a number 6 in their top left corner.) They then shuffle those 4 Character cards with their standard resource cards to create their Resource deck and place it face-down in front of them.

Star Wars Empire vs Rebellion card game

The Rebel player’s Resource deck.

Each player also starts with 2 Influence tokens from the supply and the Balance token is flipped to see which faction will go first.

Then players are ready to being the first round.


Each round consists of 3 phases with each phase being completed by both players before going on to the next phase.

Phase 1 – Planning 

The first thing that happens in a round is to discover what Event is being fought over. The top card of the Event deck is flipped over and placed face-up in the center of the table.

Star Wars Empire vs Rebellion card game

Players each have 5 Strategy cards to use for their faction.

Each Event card indicates an few things on it: Event Name, Victory Point value, Influence value, Objective value, Resource capacity, and its Special Effect.

After the Event is revealed, players secretly choose 1 of their Strategy cards to use for this round and place it face-down in their play area. The selected cards will be resolved at the end of the round during the Dominance phase.

Phase 2 – Struggle

Star Wars Empire vs Rebellion card game

The Imperial player’s Resource deck.

During the Struggle phase, players take turns playing and using their resources to win the battle over the Event. On each player’s turn they can do one of the following:

  • Play a Card by drawing the top card of their resource deck and placing it face-up and ‘ready’ in their play area. A player cannot choose this action if it would cause them to have more Resource cards in their play area to exceed the Event’s capacity (number of hexes shown in the lower left corner of the Event card).
  • Use a Power of one of their resource cards already in play. To do so, the player turns the card 90 degrees clockwise and resolves the power described on the card.
  • Spend Influence to ‘ready’ an exhausted resource card. To do so, the player returns one of their Influence tokens to the supply and turns the exhausted card back upright (90 degrees counter-clockwise).
  • Pass by doing nothing on their turn. A player who passes can do another action on a following turn (provided that their opponent doesn’t also immediately Pass).
Star Wars Empire vs Rebellion card game

Fighting over the Evacuation of Echo Base.

When both players pass in succession, then the Struggle phase is over and no more Resource cards can be played or used.

Phase 3 – Dominance

Once the Struggle is over, both players reveal the Strategy card they selected during the Planning phase and resolve its effect. If a player’s total Resource Value (number in the upper left-hand of their resource cards in play combined) exceeds the event’s Objective Value (the number at the bottom left corner of Event card), their Strategy card’s effect is not resolved.

The player with the greatest total Resource Value without exceeding the event’s Objective Value wins the event! In case of a tie, the face-up side of the Balance token determines the winner of the event.

Star Wars Empire vs Rebellion card game

The winner of this Event gets 2 Victory Points and 1 Influence token.

The player who wins the Event, claims the Event card and places it face-up in their play area. It is worth the Victory Points listed on the Event card (indicated in the upper right corner in a white circle). The player also gains Influence tokens worth the Influence Value (upper right corner of Event card in red circle).

If the Event has a Special Effect, it is then resolved.

If a player has reached or exceed 7 Victory Points, then that player wins the game!

If no one has reach that point yet, get ready for another round by doing the following.

Prep for Next Round:

After that Event is claimed and resolved, players gather their Resource cards and shuffles them to create a new Resource deck and again places it face-down in their play area.

The Balance token is placed so that the faction of the player with the fewest victory points is face-up. (Thus, future ties will go to the player behind in points.)

Each player than discards their used Strategy card. If a player has no unused Strategy cards remaining, they then retrieve their 5 used Strategy cards, which can then be used in later rounds.

Then a new round begins with Phase 1 – Planning.


Our thoughts of Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion

Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion isn’t a very complicated card game. And for a $13 card game, we never expected it to be anything more.

As you can tell from the straight-forward game play we just described, it’s a simple game of playing a prescribed number of resource cards and adding up their value vs. your opponent’s resource cards value. Everything is open information (except the Strategy cards chosen), so it’s always easy to see how you’re doing against your opponent.

But it’s that bit of hidden information of the Strategy cards that keeps both sides guessing. Not knowing which Strategy card your opponent played creates a bit of tension.

Each set of 5 Strategy cards have the same 5 abilities. They have different artwork based on the faction, but each player has the same options for Strategy cards to play in the first round.

In subsequent rounds, remembering which Strategy cards your opponent has previously played, will help you better plan your next moves.

And that’s what we like about Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion.

We like the head-to-head guessing of what your opponent will do.

Each round plays really quickly, so you’ll soon find out if your figured correctly or not. Then the Strategy cards are revealed and you can claim the Event card or lick your wounds and move on to the next battle round.

The part we don’t like is when you Play a card, you’re blindly drawing from the top of your Resource deck. So which Resource cards you commit to play are up to chance and the luck of the draw. But we know that luck comes with the territory in light card games. That’s part of the experience you’re in for.

The good news is that the Powers of the cards let you maneuver your cards (and your opponent’s cards a little bit).

We’ve found that keeping Influence tokens handy is definitely a good thing. Because ‘readying’ exhausted (used) cards can come in very handy when you’re trying to get the balance of the battle in your favor.

Another element of the game that we really like is the artwork. As you can see from the photos, the cards incorporate actual images from the Star Wars movies. So when you play a card like Han Solo, you can do so with the same swagger that Han Solo portrays. Or when you slap down the Darth Vader card, go ahead and glare at your opponent.


How does Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter? 

Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion board gameStar Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion scores in the middle range on our “let’s play again” game meter. It’s not a game we’re reach for if we’re looking for a meaty, Star Wars-immersed experience. But if we’re looking for a simple head-to-head, light card battle, it’s a fun one to reach for.

And because the game plays rather quickly, once it’s out, we’ll play a few times in a row. It’s also a game that’s so small, it’s easy to toss in a travel bag for playing in any galaxy.

So if you’re looking for a quick-playing, light Star Wars card game, and you’ve got $13 floating around, go for it! Pick up a copy of Star Wars: Empire vs. Rebellion.



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