Updated: Sep 6, 2019
Imperial Assault is one of my most played games of all time, hitting the table 80 times since it’s release in 2014. Imperial Assault is a retheming of the popular dungeon crawler Descent 2nd Edition (which in turn is based on Kevin Wilson’s original Doom, which takes a lot of inspiration for MB’s Heroquest), so when Descent received an app based cooperative campaign system via Road to Legend we all held our breath and hoped that Imperial Assault would get the same treatment.
And in 2017 we were finally rewarded for our patience. Despite being super excited about the app integration it would be nearly two years before I would actually, finally, got it to the table. The reason for that is two fold. Firstly we had physical IA campaigns to play, i.e. Heart of the Empire and secondly, at this point, Imperial Assault is enormous! I have two figure cases, a card case, a small figure bag and of course to play the app I also need to pack my laptop bag! This makes Imperial Assault rather unportable so I’m less inclined to play it.
Anyway, recently I’ve been working on painting up Descent and that got my juices flowing for some dungeon crawling, so while I’m painting one system, why not play the other. So we gathered up the metric ton of plastic and cardboard and we strapped ourselves into the Millenium Falcon and blasted off to a galaxy far far away.
The app ships with a tutorial mission which then unfolds into a five mission campaign. The app will handhold you through the first play, but after that you are on your own. The tutorial takes a fair amount of time to get through because it is teaching you the rules as you play and as such there is a lot of reading. After that though you’re free to have an encounter which might unlock some new items, credits or allies for you to use on future missions. The more content you have available the wider the options range for your encounters.
Our encounter led us into the heart of a battle where we boarded a damaged corvette and rescued some Rebel Troopers who agreed to join us on our next mission. These encounters (so far at least) have all been text based encounters with a choose your own adventure, point and click conversation tree feel to them. The app served up a variety of options for us to choose from with our encounters, which makes the decision difficult, knowing that whichever choice you make, you are giving up the other possible side quests. Some of the text trees felt a little redundant, like the system was on rails and was only giving us a choice of text to move the mission along, to essentially arrive at the same outcome. However other occasions felt like we actually had a role to play by using our skills and making clever choices.
Our second mission was a rescue mission and it began with a social encounter. This is where the app has the advantage over the physical game. A social encounter where players need to move about the map and talk to NPC’s would give the Imperial Player nothing to do for turn after turn except read a few text boxes and ask players to make skill checks. The app however won’t get bored of you talking to the bar keeper for 3 turns in a row (although it may penalise you with Peril Effect for taking too long!).
I was playing the ex-convict Onar Koma, a large imposing Aqualish with a quick temper and a gruff demeanour. I decided that whatever Onar asked it would sound intimidating so whenever I spoke to someone I chose the Threaten option. Dave, playing the more level headed Ko-Tun, chose to have a bit more tact, still when it came to getting what we needed he proved he could still be quick on the draw.
We discovered the whereabout of our captives who were being guarded by a ragtag band of mercenaries, a jawa, two rodian hired guns, a clawdite shapeshifter and an ugnaught tinkerer. The app randomised these guards, choosing from our vast collection of minis meaning that if we replayed the scenario we might face entirely different foes.
Once we had rescued the captives we needed to escort them to freedom, however the app was not about to make that easy, dropping in not one but two unique villains, plus a bunch of stormtroopers and probe droids to block our path.
Acting as an escort Onar soaked up as much damage as he could while Ko-Tun took on the job of rearguard. Onar fell to blaster fire from the Heavy Stormtroopers, becoming wounded. If Ko-Tun took another hit we’d lose. Fortunately she shrugged off two more attacks, making it to the console in time to open the hangar bay doors, allowing our rescued crew to escape.
This was a close one, it came down the wire and it was not without a little luck that we escaped. The mission felt quite long, maybe because we were still learning the system, but I was hoping the app might speed up gameplay allowing us to knock out a campaign in fewer sessions.
The AI is okay. It has the problem that the players are making a lot of decisions for it, i.e. where to place the models but they act largely in a way that makes sense. A lot of models have had their rules changed, removing any “can” or “may” statements, which can lead to some odd behaviour, like the Hired Guns eliminating themselves and awarding us 6 fame in the process.
Overall though I enjoyed our plays and I finally got to play as the heroes. The app works well and aside from a few esoteric choices when it uses its randomiser I think it tells a good story and one that is different from any campaigns presented in the physical boxes. I’m certainly looking forward to finishing the starter campaign and moving on to one of the full length ones.
I like the fact that all the content for Legends of the Alliance has so far been free to play, as long as you have the corresponding physical expansions, this really adds some extra value to buying the physical products. That said, I’d definitely be interested in a Delve style scenario generator similar to Road to Legend that offered a one off randomised dungeon crawl. I don’t know how they’d do it, but that would offer a lot of replayability.
If you own Imperial Assault and haven’t given Legends of the Alliance a whirl you really should, after all it’s more content and it’s free. Let us know how you get on and may the force be with you!