Avatar: The Last Airbender has a brand new board game that sees players step into the shoes of Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph and Zuko in their battle against the fearsome Fire Lord Ozai.
The latest in the Rising series of co-op board games that includes The Batman Who Laughs Rising and SpongeBob Squarepants: Plankton Rising, Avatar: Fire Nation Rising pits the heroes and their allies in a dice-rolling throwdown to prepare for the Day of Black Sun and defeat Ozai before the Fire Nation is able to complete its nefarious plans.
By rolling dice to recruit characters, activate their special abilities and damage villains, the players will be able to successfully complete the three Final Battles once the Day of Black Sun arrives and restore balance to the world.
Avatar: Fire Nation Rising is full of fun references for The Last Airbender fans to spot, from the 40 heroes and more than a dozen villains in the game’s deck to the Pai Sho tokens that can be discarded for helpful effects.
With so many familiar faces and loads of ATLA lore to spot in the board game, we’ve put together a list of five Avatar: The Last Airbender episodes you should watch before you play.
From important background on the Fire Nation and Ozai to epic battles, these episodes are the perfect way to immerse yourself in the world of ATLA before you take on the Fire Lord himself.
1. The Storm (Episode 12, Book One: Water)
Coming just after the midpoint of Avatar: The Last Airbender’s first season but fairly early on for the show as a whole, The Storm gives us some vital background on the relationship between Fire Lord Ozai and his son, Prince Zuko.
In a series of flashbacks, Uncle Iroh tells the crew of Zuko’s ship how the young prince vocally criticised the military decision of his father’s general during a war meeting, leading Ozai to accuse Zuko of disrespect. This leads to the challenge of an Agni Kai, a traditional firebender duel used to settle matters of honour. Rather than facing the general, Zuko finds himself duelling his own father, Fire Lord Ozai.
In a tragic scene, a tearful Zuko apologises and asks his father for mercy. Ozai refuses, replying coldly: “You will learn respect, and suffering will be your teacher.” In keeping with the rules of Agni Kai, the Fire Lord uses his firebending to burn his son - providing us with the heartbreaking story behind Zuko’s scar - before adding insult to injury by banishing Zuko from the Fire Nation as the result of his refusal to fight.
By displaying Ozai’s callous nature - even toward his own soon - and Zuko’s motivation for trying to capture Avatar Aang, in order to recover his honour and return to the Fire Nation, The Storm is a pivotal episode in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
2. Zuko Alone (Episode 7, Book Two: Earth)
As its title suggests, Zuko Alone is an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender focused on the Fire Nation prince, providing insight into Zuko’s childhood; his relationship with his mother Ursa and sister Azula; and the story of how Ozai came to be crowned as Fire Lord.
Following Zuko’s decision to leave his uncle Iroh and travel alone under an assumed identity, he helps defend an Earth Kingdom family from criminals. While working to repair a barn roof in return for a meal, Zuko reminisces about the caring nature of his mother Ursa and the sadistic behaviour of his sister Azula, who will grow up to be a major antagonist to Aang and his group.
As part of the same series of flashbacks, we also learn how Ozai replaced his own father, Azulon, as Fire Lord. Azulon demanded that Zuko should be killed to punish Ozai for suggesting his older brother, General Iroh, was unworthy of the title of Fire Lord after the death of Iroh’s son Lu Ten led to a failed attempt to capture Earth Kingdom capital Ba Sing Se.
Azulon subsequently passes away during the night after the argument - revealed in comic ATLA book The Search to be the result of a poison created by Ursa in order to spare Zuko’s life - and his supposed dying wish to see Ozai crowned Fire Lord is executed.
Giving us a look at the differences between Zuko and his sister and father even at a young age, along with the villainous journey Ozai took to become ruler of the Fire Nation, Zuko Alone is another key Avatar: The Last Airbender episode when it comes to understanding the characters of Zuko and Ozai.
3. The Avatar and the Fire Lord (Episode 6, Book Three: Fire)
When it comes to episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender that delve into the history of the Fire Nation and its hunt for the Avatar, few are more important than The Avatar and the Fire Lord.
The episode plays out between a series of revelations experienced by both Aang and Zuko, who respectively learn about their predecessors: Avatar Roku and Fire Lord Sozin.
As Zuko reads a hidden diary written by Sozin, Aang speaks with Roku in the Spirit World. The two accounts interweave, revealing the childhood friendship between Roku and Sozin before the Avatar was forced to leave the Fire Nation in order to master the remaining elements of air, water and earth.
Roku and Sozin eventually reunite after many years apart, but Sozin’s aspirations to expand the Fire Nation into the Earth Kingdom cause a rift between the two. Sozin accuses the Avatar of treason and the two have a fierce battle, before going their separate ways for several decades.
Things come to a dramatic head when Roku’s island is struck by a volcanic eruption and Sozin arrives to help. In a devastating betrayal, Sozin is rescued by Roku only to leave his former best friend to die moments later, knowing that without the Avatar in his way the Fire Nation could revive its plans to conquer the other nations.
With Roku’s death came Aang’s birth and The Hundred Year War, setting in motion the pieces that would lead to the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
4. The Runaway (Episode 7, Book Three: Fire)
While not quite as lore-heavy as the previous Avatar: The Last Airbender episodes on this list, The Runaway has a direct connection to Avatar: Fire Nation Rising.
The opening scenes of the episode see Toph fleeing guards in Fire Fountain City, before being captured next to a large statue. That statue is of no other than Fire Lord Ozai, and served as the inspiration for the impressive (and very shirtless!) figure that takes centre stage in Avatar: Fire Nation Rising.
The board game’s figure rotates each turn to signify which area of the game board Ozai will attack and activate villains in, potentially dealing damage to the players’ heroes and allies.
Despite the whole city being named after its striking monument, the Ozai statue in The Runaway doesn’t have quite as major a starring role as it does in the board game, only appearing in a few quick shots. Even so, the episode is a fun story centred on Toph and Katara - and fans who play Fire Nation Rising should enjoy seeing the statue pop up, knowing its link back to the original series.
5. Sozin's Comet (Episodes 18-21, Book Three: Fire)
Okay, we’ve cheated a little bit for this last one. Sozin’s Comet isn’t a single episode but an epic four-part finale to the whole of Avatar: The Last Airbender. In other words, how could we not pick it?
Sozin’s Comet sees Avatar Aang finally confront Fire Lord Ozai - now self-proclaimed as the Phoenix King - while Zuko and Katara duel his sister Azula in the heart of the Fire Nation capital.
The four episodes are exactly as thrilling as you’d hope after dozens of episodes leading to the ultimate showdown, as Team Avatar and their formidable opponents showing their mastery of earthbending, waterbending, firebending and airbending in explosive duels to save the world before Ozai can use the power of the comet to destroy the Earth Kingdom.
The battle between Aang and Ozai serves as the perfect inspiration for players before they take on the Fire Lord themselves in Avatar: Fire Nation Rising. And with Sozin’s Comet coming right at the end of Avatar: The Last Airbender, it’s also the ideal excuse to rewatch the whole series from start to finish.