Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit
Reviewed by Nigel Buckle, Copyright ©2001
Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion
This game recreates the
climatic end of the film Star Wars - Episode 1: The Phantom
Menace and gives you the chance to change it. Can the Trade
Federation be victorious? Can Darth Maul defeat the Jedi?
In the box:
155 "soft" plastic figures
2 game boards
4 Reference Cards
90 Battlefield Cards
90 Threed Palace Cards
There are four areas of
action, all occurring simultaneously, and all requiring your
The battle on the plains of Naboo
between the Gungan army and the Droid army.
The duel between Darth Maul and the
Jedi (Qui-Gon & Obi-Wan).
The battle at the palace between
the Queen with her guards and the Droids.
The attack on the Droid Control
Ship by Anakin.
This is really a two-player game (although there is a 4 player
version, with players sharing the action on each side) and the rules
are fairly simple - after a couple of games you can play by just
referring to the reference charts. At the heart of the game are the
Battlefield and Palace cards; both sides have a deck of 45 cards of
each. You start the game with 10 cards, 5 from each deck, and you
have to pick 4 cards and then decide the order you want to play
them, each turn. Four replacements are drawn at the end of each
turn, 2 from each deck. These cards allow you to move/attack with
certain forces in one of the four areas (battlefield, duel, palace
You have to decide which cards to play.
Do you concentrate on one area? Can you afford to ignore any?
The Naboo player wins if they can get at least 3 characters into the
throne room of the palace after Anakin destroys the Droid Control
Ship. The Trade Federation Player wins by eliminating enough
characters in the palace to stop this happening. Once the Control
Ship is destroyed all the droids are removed from the game, leaving
the Trade Federation with just Darth Maul.
Why bother with the duel, battlefield or space battle if the palace
is so crucial to win the game? The Naboo player has to move Anakin
through 5 grids of starfighters to reach and destroy the Control
Ship, and the Trade Federation player can slow Anakin down by
playing additional starfighter cards. Once the Sith/Jedi duel is
resolved the survivor(s) can move into the palace, and these
characters are very effective fighters (destroying up to three
opponents a turn). Finally advances on the battlefield give you
bonus cards to play in the following turn, which can prove crucial.
The longer the game lasts the more the advantage swings to the Trade
Federation. Eliminated droids can be reused, and surviving droids on
the battlefield can be moved to the palace to reinforce the
defenders there, but losses the Naboo player takes are permanent.
Is the game worth the high price tag? I think so; it is very
attractive with the plastic pieces and the 3 tier (3-D) palace (see
the pictures on Avalon Hill's web site www.avalonhill.com), it is
playable in around two hours, quite balanced (I've played 7 games
and the Trade Federation have won 4 times) and fans of Star Wars
will love it. There is a nice mix of luck and strategy, with the
depth being the choice and play of the cards. However this mechanic
makes the game less suitable for younger players (under 10) unless
they are playing the four-player game with adult help.
If you like relatively simple war games with lots of plastic figures
and rolling buckets of dice, such as Axis & Allies, or
you are a Star Wars fan you will want this game – otherwise
I suggest you try before you buy.
Cost (UK) around £50. USD
equivalent is roughly $75.
Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit is published by Avalon Hill (a Hasbro affiliate)
who can be reached at http://www.avalonhill.com.