Designers:Howard Barasch, John H. Butterfield
What you were doing for much of 1977? If you were like me, you were spending an inordinate amount of time waiting in line to see Star Wars. A lot of ink has been spilled over the years, saying that George Lucas should have sued SPI over the similarities between Star Wars and SPI's game Freedom In The Galaxy. I heard James Dunnigan speak on this at a lecture in the mid-90's.
FotG was submitted for Feedback in the Strategy & Tactics #63, the July/August 1977 issue. There being a sizeable intersection between Star Wars fans and wargamers, it got good ratings, and was placed on the schedule. SPI had just concluded successful negotiations with the Tolkein lawyers to publish The Games of Middle Earth, and was hoping to repeat their coup. Unfortunately, Lucasfilm decided to go with more conventional, more boring board games instead. SPI reverted to Plan B, filed off the serial numbers, and published anyway.
FotG shares with Swords & Sorcery and Middle Earth a novel (to hex gamers) card-based system. These games included the usual square cardboard counters representing armies, dragons, or starships. They also included a 2x3" card, with a black and white drawing on one side. The other side contained a lengthy list of statistics and modifiers.
SPI continued its habit of allowing somewhat inappropriate humor and whimsy into their games. (The worst example is the Nattily Woods in Swords & Sorcery.) Character names are anagrams of SPI employees and playtesters, and some writeups not swiped from A New Hope are downright bizarre.
The game is complex; there is a 32 page rulebook and a 16 page booklet containing player aids like CRTs, planet summaries, and in one of the few pieces of chrome in an otherwise tight ruleset, a biographical paragraph for each character.
FitG is one of those delightful games where different gaming groups will have different opinions about play balance. One group will say that the game is a cakewalk for the imperials, while the other insists that the rebels have a sure-fire winning strategy. Then players from the two groups meet at a convention, and fun things happen...
I'm not going to outline these strategies; I'd suggest a quick google search of rec.games.board. Here's an outline. The map is not hex-based, but represents over 30 solar systems. Hyperjump dotted lines connect stars, and concentric boxes surrounding the stars represent planets. The Empire owns everything, but sedition and treason are stirring. The Rebels starts with few units, but can choose to attack where they wish.
The two sides have very different playing styles. The Imperial Player has vast resources, powerful military units, and the ability to squash any rebel foolish enough to show itself. If only they knew where to do the squishing. The Rebel Player must play a careful game of subversion, misdirection, and sneakyness.
After SPI Died For Your Sins, the title was picked up by Avalon Hill in 1981.
http://patriot.net/~townsend/fitg.html (for PBeM support)
Moves #51 - Moves in English: Freedom in the Galaxy: P.H. Bolton and W.M. Orr
my personal copy (NFS)