When it comes to open-world board games, players have a few options. Some of the heavy hitters in the sci-fi realm are Xia: Legends of the Drift, Firefly, and of course Star Wars: Outer Rim. And for me, if I had to pick one to get to the table right now, It would definitely be Outer Rim. Not just because I’m a huge Star Wars fan (ok, that’s a big part of it), but the gameplay is really well designed. Start off as a no-name pilot seeking to make your mark in the galaxy. Cargo hauler, smuggler, fighter pilot, bounty hunter… any of these are legit career paths.
Yet since its release in 2019, gamers have been clamoring for an expansion. Finally, 3 years later their wish was granted in the form of Star Wars: Outer Rim – Unfinished Business. Was this expansion worth the wait? Let’s find out!
Unfinished business can be summed up with one word: “more”. Much to everyone’s delight, all of the encounter decks have been doubled in size from 10 to 20 cards and every market deck has been beefed up as well. There are also 8 new playable characters, with highlights such as Black Krssantan, Chewbacca, Dengar, Cad Bane, and Maz Kanata (well maybe I wouldn’t call Maz a “highlight”). To go with these new pilots are 6 new ships. These range in cost from a 5,000 credit Porax-38 to the 25,000 credit VCX-100. Players will get a new set of contacts for the planets in the form of Orange-level ones. These are the toughest and most expensive contacts you’ll meet.
In addition to the above variety, come two new core worlds to replace the end caps on the board. They have their own encounter deck, but the main feature of them is to allow you to travel from one side of the board to the other.
Also new are ambitions, which help give your fledgling pilot a direction to start with. Each player is dealt two at the start of the game and must choose one. Ambition cards are a series of tasks that players must complete to win the game. No longer can you win with just 10 vps. Now you need 8 vps and must also complete all the steps on your ambition track.
Finally, the expansion comes with a set of favor tokens. You can give one of these to an opponent to help you with a job or to sneak past a patrol. However later in the game, they can cash them in to force you to help them out of a tight spot.
Gameplay With the Expansion:
From the realm of “what took you so long” comes Unfinished Business. Much like Forsaken Lore for Eldritch Horror, Unfinished Business is a must-have expansion. Take away all the new stuff such as favor tokens, characters, ships, and ambitions and I’d still buy this game. It’s no secret that the decks in the original game were a tad thin for most people’s liking. Our games would sometimes go on long enough that we’d cycle the deck, and after a couple of games, you’ve definitely seen every card at least a few times.
Doubling the encounter decks in size adds a bit more narrative and surprises to the game, and beefing up the market decks was an easy decision. All in all this in itself provides a nice boost to the game’s replay value. But they didn’t stop there either. The new character and ships give players many more options for both starting the game and also upgrades.
As you might expect, each of the new characters has their own roles and abilities. For example, Black Krssantan is basically a bounty hunter-focused Wookie, while Dengar is great in a firefight. Interestingly, only 6 of the characters have their own thematic ship. As the Millennium Falcon is already in the game thanks to Solo, Chewbacca doesn’t have a signature ship. The other is Maz Kanata, which is not surprising as we never saw her leave Takodana in The Force Awakens.
But for those looking for something new in this expansion, the ambitions hit the mark. These are great for new players who might not be totally sure what they should do at the start. Each ambition will nudge you in a specific direction of who your character will be. Some will have you focused on bounty hunting, some collecting powerful gear, while others will have you trying to be the best smuggler in the rim. While I enjoyed these, I’m not sure I’d play with them all the time. They were cool in that they gave the end game a climactic feel. However, you are definitely pigeonholed by the kind of character you play during the game. If you drew the Crime Lord ambition, then you won’t be wasting time hauling cargo or hunting bounties. So if you’d prefer to keep the open world feel and make your way as you go, then you’d probably leave the ambitions in the box.
Finally, there are the favor tokens. These were fine, but we didn’t use them that much. They do encourage a little bit more player interaction, but they are really only useful in a 3-4 player game. If you are playing with two players, I can’t fathom why I’d ever help out my only opponent. But since they are modular, you can take them or leave them as you see fit.
Star Wars: Outer Rim – Unfinished Business is a fantastic addition to an already amazing game. If you are buying Outer Rim for the first time today, I’d recommend picking up this expansion as well. This is definitely one of those “required” expansions that I’d never play the game without it again. It injects some much-needed variety into the base game and also gives the players a few new options in the form of favors and ambitions. Unfinished Business makes a great game even better.
• Game takes a big longer now with the ambitions and removes some of the flexibility