Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Forbidden Stars

Adrian, fg and I played a game of FFG's Forbidden Stars on Sunday.

I quite enjoyed the game, even though I came up last. The gameplay itself is a mix of 4X and "capture the flag": to win the game, you must capture a number of objective tokens equal to the number of players in the game - the catch is, each token is in a tile controlled by another player. It is easy to lose sight of the aim of the game and go on a traditional build-invade-conquer-build cycle, but while combat is necessary (and fun), in our game most of the time the objectives were captured because they were lightly-defended as the owning player had shifted his forces to invade another sector.

There are two noteworthy features to the game. One is the placement of the order counters. Players take turns placing order counters on the map sections to indicate the command they wish to execute during the turn; if there is already a tile on the section, you place your tile on top of that tile. The twist here is the orders are resolved from the top of the tile, so if you wish to gather resources from a sector and then build forces, you need to place the build tile *before* the gather tile! Also, as the tiles are resolved essentially in reverse order of placement, it is often better to place your order *after* your opponent has done so. For example, if you foresee an invasion on your sector and you wish to gather resources and then build up your forces, you should let the enemy place his invasion order counter *before* you place your tile - if you place your order before him, then the invasion order will be revealed and resolved, before you have a chance to build your forces.

The other interesting feature of the game is the combat, which utilises a combination of specialist dice and cards. Players draw a random hand of five combat cards and choose three to fight three rounds of combat, with each card played having some effect on the results. This adds strategy to the combat, making it more than just a dice fest.

As usual, the game components are excellent. The map art is especially impressive and captures the mood of 40K.

The game is excellent as it is, but I can easily imagine it being reskinned for a historical naval war, either for the age of sails, or even WW2. Hopefully we can get a 4-player game in in December.

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