Star Wars: Dark Side Rising is an excellent cooperative game that holds true to the real Star Wars franchise. It is simple and accessible, yet it is very challenging.
Publisher: The OP Games
Designer: Andrew Wolf
Designer: Patrick Marino
Game Type: Cooperative
Game Type: Dice Rolling
Initial Year of Release: 2019
Age Range: 10+
Expected Playtime: 45
Number of Players: 2-4
Theme and What is it?
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
A small band of half organized rebels decided to take down the galactic empire. No sweat right? The only problem is that the right-hand man of the empire is one of the most powerful practitioners of the dark side to ever exist. OK, this might be tougher than we thought. But we have already started down this path, we might as well see where it goes. Most of us are wanted anyways and we know we won’t be shown mercy if we are captured.
Star Wars: Dark Side Rising is a cooperative game for 2-4 players.
In Dark Side rising each player picks a starting character and location which determines the dice they begin with. There is a Death Star board that can fill with cubes, and if it becomes fully operational then everyone loses. There is also a main board which has a menacing Darth Vader watching over it. Cards are placed around this board in three different locations. Darth moves from location to location trying to hunt down the rebels.
The cards that are placed here can be rebel cards, which players can try to recruit with corresponding dice and Empire cards. The Empire cards are the targets of the rebels. With the dice, players try to damage and eliminate the Empire one card at a time. If they are able to destroy seven cards, then they win the game. Be careful, because Darth is always searching and when he finds rebels, he makes them pay. If 10 rebels are eliminated by Darth, then all players lose.
The dice in Dark Side Rising are used to recruit and give damage. Each card has a certain dice face criterion that must be met to either recruit or take damage. Players roll their dice and use their team’s special abilities to manipulate the outcome of the dice. They must decide how to “spend” their dice on the cards available in their location.
Once an end game condition is met, players will win or lose based on that condition (described above).
I really wanted to try Thanos Rising, but Marvel is not really my thing. Well, modern Marvel isn’t. But…original Star Wars is totally my thing. I was a little hesitant at first because I was not sure if it would include characters from the new Star Wars movies. I am pleased to let you know that except for Rogue One (which is amazing) all the other Disney created Star Wars nonsense was not included. That made me even more excited for this game.
The game was very easy to learn and set up. It only took a couple of minutes to explain to the other players and then we jumped right into a game.
The game moved at a great pace right from the start. At the start of the game there are not too many things happening so downtime is minimal. Once players have more characters on their team with different abilities, it takes a few seconds longer to check everything but it does not affect the flow of the game.
We got totally crushed the first game. It was bad. Darth Vader was on point and our dice rolls were not. That is always the risk with dice games. We started another game and did much better once we knew how brutal Darth could be.
Game Build Quality
The OP has done a great job with Dark Side Rising. I really enjoyed the Death Star board and how it interacted with the game. Also, the dice were awesome and the faces are right from the movies. The giant Vader in the middle of the board is ominous and a great reminder that he is going to crush you.
The box, insert and cards were all very standard with what you expect in a quality production. Overall, I give it two lightsabers up.
The art direction for Dark Side Rising is very true to what we have come to expect from the original films. It has a classic feel that will make fans of the franchise feel right at home. The illustrations on the cards are wonderful and ended up being one of my favorite parts of the game. I feel like long-time fans will be very happy.
I was pumped to build my dream team of Star Wars characters. When Chewbacca was turned over, it almost felt like the game switched from cooperative to competitive because everyone wanted him on their team. It makes building your team so much fun to see who you are able to assemble by the end the game.
I also love the giant Darth Vader, always hovering over everything and doing a great job at wrecking strategies and game plans. You can never get away from him, but you might just get a lucky break.
Age Range & Weight
Dark Side Rising has an age recommendation of 10+. I played with my seven-year-old and he loved it. He may not have had a clear strategy and only wanted to get his favorite characters (we all did), but even though we got destroyed by the Death Star he ate it up and thought it was the best. He has been asking every night if we can play again.
The game is pretty light on mechanics but is very difficult to actually win. It all comes down to how the dice fall and how well you are able to adjust those outcomes.
Star Wars: Dark Side Rising is an excellent cooperative game that holds true to the real Star Wars franchise. It is simple and accessible, yet it is very challenging. I can see it providing hours of entertainment for me, Ally and the kids. It seems like it is a bit more luck based, because of the dice, than some other co-op games we like but that is not an issue. It adds a uniqueness to the game that I enjoy.
If you are a Star Wars fan and looking for a great co-op game from that universe, I would suggest you give Dark Side Rising a try.
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