Hi there, I’m Lee – I love to paint miniatures and play games involving them and have done for over 20 years now. I’m a part-time blogger over on http://2screens.wordpress.com and more recently have started a podcast at www.average-gamers.co.uk. I started out with tabletop gaming by playing Heroquest in my youth, then stepped into the Warhammer 40,000 universe before branching out about 5 years ago into many other titles.
Imperial Assault was released in 2014 by Fantasy Flight Games and is a dungeon-crawler board game set in the Star Wars universe. The game engine is an updated version of one of FFG’s previous releases; Descent: Journeys in the Dark (which had a more traditional fantasy-style setting). In late 2016 Fantasy Flight dropped some serious hints that they were working on an app for the game. After much anticipation from the community, the app, titled Legends of the Alliance was released in December 2017.
Legends of the Alliance takes over the role of the Imperial Player, allowing a truly co-operative way to play (or even solo-play) instead of the one-vs-many approach of Imperial Assault. For a less-competitive player such as myself, this is probably my favourite way to play games – overcoming challenges as a team excites me more than grinding my opponents into dust – your own mileage may vary.
Running on a phone, tablet or (ideally) a laptop, the app has a rudimentary, logic-based AI system to handle the enemy models behaviour. While it doesn’t track the exact positioning and condition of the models on the board (this is instead left down to the players to maintain the book-keeping), it does track the game-state (whether an enemy is alive/dead, and what state the board is in/any effects in play).
The app also has a ‘collection manager’ which allows players to select which of the many Imperial Assault expansions they own, giving the app more options to choose from when adding more enemies to the board.
Back over the Christmas period, myself and two friends played through the tutorial and campaign. At the time of playing, only the expansion heroes (ie: the players’ characters) had been added in, so we were limited to enemies or allies from the core box. Two recent updates in the past couple of months have now added these in, and we’re looking forward to trying the campaign again (on Hard difficulty this time) with a far bigger variety of enemies to face. We had a real blast playing through the app campaign – which, if other FFG board game apps are any indication, will be the first of many to be released. One great thing about the app is that the maps are revealed gradually, rather than the standard way of playing Imperial Assault that sees the whole mission area placed down before the start of the game. You lose that sense of exploration when playing ‘regular’ Imperial Assault. Enemy groups are also chosen by the app from your whole collection, rather than having the Imperial Player choose a set number of them.
For those wondering whether to dive in and pick up a copy of Imperial Assault alongside this app, my advice would be to also pick up a couple of expansions as well – if only to allow the app to give you more variation. The enemies contained within the core box can quickly become repetitive and sometimes turn up in illogical places. While certain enemy appearances are scripted, many instances of enemy deployments are resolved with a randomiser – when you face your sixth Nexu (a rather large cat-like beast) in a row, especially one assigned to guarding prisoners tied up in a back room (minor spoilers there, sorry folks!), it can break the immersion somewhat! That’s not to say that more variety of enemies is the perfect solution – reports from various places have shown that (at the time of writing at least), there’s no logic behind the selection of enemies, which has seen the likes of Wampas showing up in the jungles of Yavin or Emperor Palpatine showing up at a small-scale battle.
As well as the main missions on the table, the app also contains mini encounters between missions, introducing a very light RPG-elements to the gameplay, with certain outcomes awarding allies and bonuses for subsequent missions. These encounters were a welcome addition for a more narrative-focused gamer such as myself, and while it won’t be winning any awards for plot or writing, they added an extra little bit of flavour to the down-time between missions – something which I felt was lacking in the main game.
Overall, I’m very happy with the app in its current form. However, it’s not perfect – there are a few things I’d like to see in future as more campaigns are released. Minor things like an ‘Undo’ button for those times when you accidentally defeat an enemy or click ‘done’ on a figure’s activation etc would be very handy to clear up any mistakes made by the players. Another thing would be some kind of restriction on the randomiser that chooses enemy groups to deploy as the map is explored – if more logical enemy groups were selected in appropriate areas, to avoid seeing the aforementioned Nexu on guard duty. Bigger things I’d love to see would be branching campaign structures to aid in the replayability.
Of course, these things will need a fair bit of programming work, so I wouldn’t expect to see them added any time soon. The fact that we have an app at all is already a great thing, so I’d hate to look a gift-horse in the mouth, as the saying goes!
Here’s hoping that Fantasy Flight release some more campaigns very soon!
Legends of the Alliance is available on the Google Play Store, Apple App Store and Steam on PC and Mac.