In a golden age of Star Wars board games, these are the best options

Always in motion is the future of the Star Wars universe… at least when it comes to movies and television, where well more than half of the projects currently in development still have no publicly available release date. The world of Star Wars tabletop games, on the other hand, is a bit more predictable. Both this year and last, it seems like new releases have been coming down the Pyke just about every few months. Taken together with some excellent older titles still in print, it’s clear to me that we’re living in a golden age of Star Wars board games — especially if you roll in card games, TTRPGs, and miniatures games as well. Here are the very best ones.

Y-Wings and X-Wings line up on a Executor-class Super Star Destroyer backed by a Death Star and TIE fighters. Admiral Piett looks on. Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Corey Konieczka has had a hand in loads of great Star Wars-themed board games, including the Star Wars: Imperial Assault dungeon crawler and the popular Star Wars: Destiny dice and card game. But his crowning achievement with the license is the epic strategy game called Star Wars: Rebellion. For fans of the original trilogy, it simply doesn’t get any better than this.

Cracking open the big, square Fantasy Flight Games box, you’ll first encounter more than 150 tiny plastic miniatures, all cast into the shapes of familiar Star Wars vehicles. Next come the 25 character standees, representing everyone from Princess Leia to Grand Moff Tarkin. The gang’s all here and ready to rock, and the setlist contains nothing less than the greatest space battles in franchise history — fleet-cracking engagements like the Battles of Yavin, Hoth, and Endor.

At its core, Star Wars: Rebellion is a high-stakes game of hide-and-seek. One player takes on the role of the evil Empire, searching relentlessly for the hidden Rebel base. Meanwhile, the Rebel player builds up their strength while launching daring hit-and-run raids on Imperial interests all across the galaxy.

Just to give you a sense of the scale involved in these battles, the game contains not one, not two, but three miniature Death Stars, all of which can be brought to bear if the Empire plays their cards right. It’s a knock-down, drag-out fight for galactic domination with a delicate ruleset that all but promises a blowout fight at the end. Just be prepared to spend two or three hours at the table.

An assortment of cards from the Luke Skywalker starter deck near several kyber crystals and a lightsaber. Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Star Wars: Unlimited surprised me when I first played it at Gen Con in 2023. The trading card game is quick and punchy, with two lanes for combat — one in space and one on the ground — that provide for interesting player choices. Do you go all-in on vehicles to wear down your opponent, or do you strike quickly with powerful character abilities? Ultimately the choice is yours, both in the development of your custom deck and in responding to the random cards that show up in your hand once the game begins.

But where Star Wars: Unlimited truly showed its mettle is inside its booster boxes filled with packs of random cards. I find TCGs to be extremely intimidating, both in their theming and their rules. But this game excels at graphic design, yielding cards that are easy to read and easy to organize into winning decks. Toss in a smattering of gorgeous alternate art cards to chase, and it’s one heck of a compelling card game.

Note that because the game was only recently released, stock is fairly limited at this time. If you simply must shuffle up and play a Star Wars-themed card game, you can’t go wrong with Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game, another excellent yet mechanically unrelated offering from Fantasy Flight.

A miniature Jango Fett, blasters raised as in his final moments in the prequel films. The brushwork is invisible, and the higlights are sharp and crisp. Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Atomic Mass Games, a newer imprint of Asmodee’s ever-growing stable of development studios, was lucky enough to inherit Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game just after its 2.0 relaunch. While that larger fandom continued chewing on its adjustments, the studio also began cooking up a high-concept miniatures skirmish game called Star Wars: Shatterpoint. The result is a smash hit, one supported by a laundry list of excellent expansions.

I first encountered Star Wars: Shatterpoint at AdeptiCon 2023, where the team at Atomic Mass was just getting ready for Star Wars Celebration in London. The gorgeous game features larger-than-average miniatures, meaning they’re a lot easier to paint. Better still, a viable squad only requires a handful of little plastic figures — around three to five on each side of the table. That means you’ll spend less time clipping, gluing, and painting and more time playing matches with your friends.

And the gameplay itself is excellent, with thematically distinct units from all across the history of the franchise. From the Bad Batch to militant teddy bears, masters to apprentices, there’s something here for everybody.

Best Star Wars tabletop role-playing game — Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game

Cover art for Edge of the Empire shows some scoundrels in a speeder taking down stormtroopers on the move. Image: Fantasy Flight Games

The current iteration of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game can look pretty intimidating from the outside — especially given that it uses custom dice and a uniquely story-focused system that won’t play nicely with standard math rocks. But by far the hardest part of getting started is making sense of the game’s more than 50 sourcebooks. Those run the gamut from the Age of Rebellion series, which details settings and plot hooks from the original trilogy, to the Force & Destiny series, with lots of resources for building high-powered Jedi and other Force users.

For new players, however, the clearest point of entry is the Edge of the Empire Beginner Game, a boxed set with a simplified core rulebook, pregenerated characters, a set of those funky dice, and a starting adventure. The Edge of the Empire product line is my favorite subset of the SWRPG. They give games a feel more in line with the gritty, localized personal stories of The Mandalorian rather than the chaotic, galaxy-wide adventure of movies like The Phantom Menace. Those sourcebooks lay out stats, abilities, gear, and so forth for games centering on bounty hunters, smugglers, explorers, mercenaries, and other fringe-dwellers. They give you plenty of details on playing all those scum-and-villainy types who don’t fit into the pat, standard Jedi-versus-Sith or Rebels-versus-Empire dynamics.

In other words, it’s the area of the game where you get to play the most colorful characters, with the most variety, the most personal stakes, and the most room for creative play in all the corners of the Star Wars galaxy that the movies and TV shows have mostly ignored until recently. Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game is a very simplified introduction to that product line, but it’s a good launch point for understanding how the Star Wars Roleplaying Game works, and why its system is easy to pick up and full of story-generating nuance that goes far beyond the usual “succeed or fail” game mechanics. —Tasha Robinson