Once the game is set up, 2-4 players can engage in a battle that really does feel like the struggle going on in A New Hope. Each side will go about building armies based on what planets each side controls. Each planet can contribute different troops or ships to the battlefield, but do not expect this to be a game where the Rebels can go toe to toe with the mighty Empire. Where this game excels is that the Rebels are a small group struggling to win planets to their side and build forces while keeping their base hidden. One planet, only known to the Rebels, is deemed the Rebel base. The Empire is on a timer to find the rebel base. If they finds it before the time runs out, they win. If the Rebels remain hidden when time runs out, the Rebels win.
The Rebels will be at a severe disadvantage with forces. Troops, snowspeeders and cruisers just can’t keep up with walkers, star destroyers and deathstars. However, the Rebels have ways to move their base around the board. Each move does narrow the number of choices for the Empire, but moving from planet to planet is not very easy for the Empire.
You also recruit semi-random heroes on both sides. Each hero, spanning both the original trilogy as well as Rogue One (from a booster), the main characters help you move fleets around the board as well as activate different abilities, or block an opponent’s abilities.
Forces may not balance, but the game mechanics do a great job of keeping the game balanced for both sides. Playing Empire versus playing Rebels are very different, so that helps replay value a lot. The speed of the game can also depend on the random starting planets for the Empire. If the Empire ends up clustered in one corner of the galaxy, they are going to have a hard time. If the Empire is lucky enough to be spread out across the map, they will have an easier time. Expect games to take awhile. The box says 3-4 hours and this will usually be correct barring a lucky start for the Empire.