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The Imperial Star Destroyer evolved from the smaller Venator-class Star Destroyer, a mainstay of the Republic Navy during the Clone Wars. Known colloquially as Republic attack cruisers or Jedi cruisers, Venators proved exceptionally versatile warships. They were effective in ship-to-ship combat but also served ably as starfighter carriers and troop transports. The later Imperial-class built upon the strengths of these Republic predecessors.
After the dissolution of the Republic, the Emperor ordered a massive military buildup, crushing dissent and bringing systems that had been beyond the reach of Republic law under Imperial rule. For planet after planet across the galaxy, Imperial Star Destroyers became symbols of this new order. Citizens weary of chaos and war cheered the sight of these giant dagger-shaped warships, while pirates and slavers quailed at the thought of confronting them. But a few citizens wondered if the imposition of Imperial law was worth the freedoms lost.
Imperial Star Destroyers became the backbone of the powerful Imperial starfleet. Star Destroyers hunted down Rebel task forces, blockaded disorderly worlds and served as bases for ground assaults. And in secret, the Empire was adding even deadlier assets to its already formidable arsenal. The Death Star’s firepower dwarfed that of Star Destroyers, threatening to eliminate all resistance to the Emperor’s rule.
Alliance strategists developed starfighters designed to punch through an Imperial Star Destroyer’s defenses, and the biggest rebel capital ships had the firepower and defensive capabilities to slug it out with one. But the Imperial starfleet dwarfed the combined task forces of the Alliance. Rebel tacticians knew the best strategy when confronted by a Star Destroyer was to flee.