Star Wars and board game geeks ... not hard to imagine them as being one and the same crowd, eh?

Designers Craig Van Ness and Rob Daviau, who previously collaborated on the acclaimed Risk 2210 A.D. and Star Wars - The Queen's Gambit games have teamed up again to create another Star Wars themed game. Published by Milton Bradley, "Star Wars Epic Duels Game" (hereafter referred to as Epic Duels,) has received great critical acclaim. Board game fans enjoy it for what it is, a fast and easy board game with a small amount of strategy and a great deal of fun. The game can be played by anywhere from two to six players, as well, with no loss of entertainment value at either extreme, which is somewhat rare. Each player in Epic Duels plays a major character from the Star Wars series, as well as the character's supporting unit(s). A great deal of what makes the game fun is setting up "what if" scenarios. How would Luke have handled Darth Maul? Could Han Solo and Chewie have taken on the Emperor and his guards? There are eleven characters to pick from, spanning the entire series.

Each of these teams plays differently. For some, the extra characters are little more than cannon fodder, such as the Clone Troopers and Battle Droids, while others can be very powerful, or in the case of Chewbacca, even more powerful than his partner. Each team has its own deck of cards, customized to that team with their own attacks, power attacks, and special cards. Each of the teams truly feels different, and must be played differently to achieve victory. As a minor example, some characters have ranged weapons, others must close for light saber duels.

You can pit the battle on one of four arenas: the Cloud City Carbon Freezing Chamber, the Emperor's Throne Room, the Geonosis Arena, and the Kamino Platform. Features of the terrain can include pillars to hide behind, and pits that can be fired across.

Gameplay mechanics are simple and fun. You maneuver your units around a the battlefield, playing cards to attack and riposte. Most of the fun in this game originates from the variety of the decks. For example, Jango Fett zooms around the battlefield with his rocket pack, while his partner Zam fires powerful sniper shots from cover. Mace Windu sends his troopers up to guard him as he builds up his hand of cards for powerful combinations. Emperor Palpatine hides behind his guards, while using Force Lightning to hit his opponents from anywhere on the battleground, and force them to discard their hands.

Considering the low cost of this game and the quick play time (about 20 minutes for a two player game, up to two hours for a six player game), this is a great game for the casual gamer and/or the Star Wars fan. The rules are simple and concise, and the cards all are very clear and specific in their wording. We have yet to have a debate over any rule or card, because it's all so well laid out. Despite this, there is a lot of skill involved in playing this game. Positioning your units, knowing when to make your move, and bluffing your opponent are all important skills. I highly recommend it.

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