Rebellion has a couple of things going for it for me.
1- The theme makes it easier to bring to the table in my circumstances.
2- It being 2 player only helps bringing it to the table.
Other than that, for me it does not devolve into a taxi service. As the empire I normally do one or two moves per round tops, and focus on a lot of politicking, probing and capturing of Rebel leaders so as to gain a long term advantage without leaving myself too vulnerable. You do get Rebels sometimes disrupting a system or two behind your lines, but as long as I have the probe card for those systems I do not care.
I only have 6 plays or so, so I’m not an expert, mind you, but I find it very fun and tense, except for the combat. I think it’s a pretty good but very involved design with a lot of mind games regarding which missions and strategies to defend against.
I think taking out tactics cards, using the tactic leader values for rerolls, and using the lightsaber die icon to block damage instead could make the combat faster and leaner, even if a bit more predictable (this is basically what the expansion does but without the expansion tactics cards).
Edit: @divedivedive Forbidden Stars is a great design, but it feels very different to Rebellion. There’s more of a tech curve and a boom economic strategy very reminiscent of RTS (which it’s trying to get the feel of). But everything feels much more impersonal than Rebellion, which feels, for lack of a better word, more epic and mindgamey.