I hit the Civitan garage sale for the first time this year. I scored the usual hot dog and cola snack, which always tastes better in the sale area than it would on the street. Don’t ask me how that can be so, since it’s generic cafeteria fare. It must be the yummy field generated by the Civitan charity goodness. Yes, I have received the sacred hot dog and cola vice snack from the elders of a local free market cooperative.  Go me!

I can never tell what I’m going to find there, because it’s both random and the usual regulars peddling the same junk they were ten years ago. You have to pay your dues by showing up and participating, and you never know how many points you have to save up before you dig up a treasure. You could pay ten visits and get a mediocre find, or pay two and get a unique magic item. Have a random!

Well this time I came across a real treat. Right out of a childhood desire in a manner that could only be described as an uncanny coincidence. A few months earlier to this garage sale discovery (I’m not sure how many months it was), I was gathering up some of my old magazines to study and go over for meditative contemplation. I came across the March 1980 Space Wars (Volume 4, Number 1) I got a long ways back from a newspaper shop in Athens, Ohio.

There’s an article I remembered reading as a kid, which reviewed a board game that had come out in the wake of the initial Star Wars phenomenon. The game is called Freedom in the Galaxy, and it allows two players to recreate an interstellar conflict between rebels and imperials in a galaxy similar in concepts to that portrayed in Star Wars. I read this review as a kid and remembered being wowed by the whole idea, wishing I could get a hold of this game and play it.

One player takes the side of the Rebels, who are trying to restore “Freedom in the Galaxy”, and the other player takes the side of the Imperials, who are trying to discover the hidden Rebel base and destroy it before the Rebels gain enough power and influence to challenge the Imperials. Each player takes turns running “missions” to advance their agenda and block the success of the other player’s missions.

The Rebel player travels through the galaxy trying to recruit characters to the cause, undermining the loyalty of planets under Imperial control, searching for resources such as ships or technology to strengthen followers, and sabotaging Imperial resources such as military installations. Meanwhile, the Imperial player tries to locate and trap Rebel groups, use brute force to crush unrest and restore loyalty, and search for the Rebel base.

The Imperial player has the advantage of overwhelming military strength and vast resources at the start of the game, while the Rebel player has only a few resources and a small group of characters to start with. However, the bureaucracy and inflexibility of the Imperials limits their ability to perform certain actions. The Rebels have no such restriction. The Imperial player, despite vast resources, does not have the ability to control the entire galaxy at once. Therefore, the Imperial player must be strategic and methodical in order to use the advantages available. Meanwhile, the Rebel player must be extremely careful and not confront the Imperial player directly. The longer it takes the Imperial player to find the rebel base, the better.

During the game, the Rebel base slowly gains in military power. At a certain point the Rebel player “cashes in” the base and receives a fleet of military ships capable of challenging the Imperial player. If the Imperial player has lost numerous planets due to unrest it will be unable to support it’s own military, while those same planets now support the Rebel player. Also, if the Rebel groups have grown in power by adding new characters and obtaining cool gadgets, they are able to perform missions that undermine the Imperial player’s special abilities just when the Imperial player needs them to fight the Rebel fleet.

For example, several planets in the galaxy are designated “Imperial Secret” planets, such as the Casino Galactica or the Mutant World. If the Rebel player finds these secrets they may benefit (the Casino grants extra goodies) or suffer problems (the Mutants can wipe out an entire Rebel mission). There are certain core worlds to the Imperial player’s control called “space faring” worlds, which if they go into revolt can cause major problems for the Imperial player. There is a Domino Effect in play, where certain worlds can cause other worlds to turn to the Rebels if they revolt.

The Imperial player can fortify planets with planetary defenses to make it harder for Rebels to land there and look for help. The Imperial player can also purchase “Atrocity Units”, which can destroy entire planets to keep them from helping the Rebels. This shifts other planets into disloyalty, however, so it must be used judiciously.

The game is broken into different levels of play, starting with the introductory System Level, the intermediate Province Level, and the ultra-huge Galactic Level, which can take 20 hours to play.

Reading about this as a kid really excited me. The Empire Strikes Back hadn’t come out yet, and Star Wars fever was still going strong. But alas, I didn’t have the resources available to locate and purchase myself a copy. It remained an unobtainable kid’s fantasy and faded into a cool idea floating around in the tidepools of my memory.

Back to the matter at hand. I put the old magazine aside for later study as I rearranged my assortment of materials for reading and meditation. I think about the old game that captured my young Star Wars imagination on and off for the next few weeks. Then I head to that garage sale.

So, when I came across a vendor selling a mint-condition, never been used copy I felt a cold thrill and my vision tunneled over to the box. I bought the thing for five bucks and took it home with me to read with savage glee for several hours.

Dreams do come true. Sometimes you just have to be patient.