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‘Star Wars: Battle at Sarlacc’s Pit’ is More Art than Game, But Isn’t Great at Either

4 Minute Read
Sep 5 2023

Star Wars is a great visual spectacle. And Star Wars: Battle at Sarlacc’s Pit is no different, so long as you don’t look too closely.

For whatever reason, Star Wars games often explore what it means to be a “board” game. Now, when it comes to artistry in board games, it’s hard to top Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit. It’s an interesting game to look at. I mean that literally. Visually, the game is very engaging to behold. But, as further evidence, Star Wars board games love that “wow factor”, today we are taking a look at another great example, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Battle at Sarlacc’s Pit.

Images via Board Game Geek

For a board game that was released in 1983, Parker Brothers did not have to go this hard on the visual aspects of this game. It very easily could have been a simple flatboard. But if it were, we probably wouldn’t be talking about it today. The game features a 3D pop-up Sarlacc pit with Jabba’s barge sitting atop. I almost don’t even want to get into the gameplay and just leave you with the wonderful enchantment of the spectacle of this game’s presentation. But alas…

Star Wars: Battle at Sarlacc’s Pit Gameplay

The objective of each player is to earn the most Jedi points by pushing people into the Sarlacc pit. These must be some pretty noble Jedi.

Well, from my point of view…

On each player’s turn, they play one of the cards in their hand and move that many spaces. The Force Card allows the player to choose how far they move. Additionally, there are some special movement cards that simply say how they work.

The goal is to run up to the Gamorean guards standing precariously on the edge of the barge. At the end of each player’s turn, they draw a card. If a player ends their turn next to a guard, that card also determines if they are able to defeat the guard.

Start Practicing Your Shoving

If they draw any number card, the guard is defeated and the player takes a point card worth 1 point. Plus, they get to enjoy the satisfaction of physically knocking the miniature off the barge into the pit. But, if the player draws anything other than a number or Force card, they are sent back to the start.

If a player ever draws a Jabba card, they can move Jabba to one of the gray spaces in his upper deck area. While Jabba is in one of his gray spaces, all players in that whole line running the length of the barge are Intimidated. While Intimidated, players can’t move toward Jabba unless they use a Force card. Otherwise, they have to move one space diagonally backward to escape the intimidating presence of this space slug.

Jabba’s never looked more frightening.

Once all the guards are defeated, the players can go after Nikto and Boba Fett, who are worth 2 points. Once they are both defeated, players can face Jabba head-on.

However, Jabba isn’t just some pushover. Literally. You can’t push him over. In order to defeat Jabba, the players will need to use a Force card. Defeating Jabba is worth 4 points and ends the game. Whichever player has to most points wins.

The game uses Nikto as a name, but it’s a species. Parker Bros shoulda checked Wookieepedia.

Final Review

Star Wars: Battle at Sarlacc’s Pit is clearly meant to be a spectacle more than a thrillingly engaging tactical game of epic strategy. It’s a kids’ game, and that’s fine. I can certainly imagine this being a permanent setup in someone’s Star Wars collection, just to have it as a set piece. Anyone seeing this game set up in your collection is bound to be incredibly whelmed.

Just check they don’t look too close at the minis.

Overall, it’s a fine children’s game but nothing thrilling. There are games with better gameplay and games with better visuals. And there are better Star Wars games that do both better.

Author: Matt Sall
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