Forbidden Stars

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Forbidden Stars

Post  DaveB on Sun 27 Sep 2015, 00:20

This has been sat on my shelf for a few months now, been itching to get it to the table but it never quite worked out - til today Smile

Its an area control and resource management game set in the Warhammer 40K universe - each player controls one of four factions seeking dominion over the galaxy. This is represented by goal tokens - for each race there are 2(n-1) tokens in play (where n = number of players) and each player needs to capture n of them. If this hasn't happened by the end of the 8th round then whoever has the most tokens wins.

Each round starts with you placing four orders (there are two each out of "build stuff" "buy cards" "collect resources" and "advance units/combat") in areas of space you control (or the ones that are next to areas you control) this is done one player at a time in turn and all orders for a given area of space are placed in a stack with the first order issued at the bottom and the most recent at the top.

The next phase is order resolution - starting with the starter player, they flip over the top order on one of the stacks that corresponds to their faction (if there are no orders at the top of any stack they miss a turn) and then take that action. Most of it is fairly straightforward but if one player advances into an area that is controlled by another player then combat happens which is where things can get a little tricky...

Combat runs for (up to) three rounds and is a mixture of dice rolls (based on certain unit attributes) and card effects (some aspects of which are effective for the entire combat while others last only for the round in which they are played). If both armies are still standing there is a tiebreak based on the morale of the remaining forces.

Once all the orders are resolved is the clean-up phase - you collect certain base resources, if you hold a planet that has one of your goal tokens you can claim it and so on.

Just to add a little extra confusion into the mix are warp storms - impassible (mostly) barriers between systems that move at the end of every round...

It looks daunting but its mechanically fairly simple - but there is a lot of tactical depth there too.

I *loved* it, thought it was fantastic - was a really interesting game (although the first few rounds were fairly clumsy as we got the hang of it) and came down to a properly tense finish - Paul was mobbing a planet that I controlled for his final token and while I was fighting a pretty doomed-looking holding action in the hope of denying him that I was also throwing a hail-mary play in another area of space as I tried to capture my last token for the draw...

As it turns out he kicked my ass and got his last goal, but my hail-mary also paid out allowing me to also claim my last goal. The tie-break condition was the number of worlds we controlled and... well honestly at that point it was just a formality, the game was over and it was for me a cracking good time, really look forward to playing it again Smile

The one complaint I would level at the game is that the combat is a bit clunky and unintuitive compared to the rest - that and any combat only involves two of the players and can take a little while to resolve, which can be a bit of a pain for the un-involved players (good time for the loo or to freshen up their drink though).

Not one for a club night though - it was about 4.5 hours from placing the first order token to the victory speeches.
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Re: Forbidden Stars

Post  DaveB on Mon 12 Sep 2016, 10:26

So, having played this again on Friday my general feelings up there stand - the combat is a bit clunky but flows well enough once you have the basics steps down.

In fact the only real complaint I have about the game is it's length - including the setup and rules it was about 4.5 hours to play again (four players) - which makes it quite hard to get to the table. This was only the third time I've played and while I've hugely enjoyed every session, it is a bit of a mission to get it to the table!
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Re: Forbidden Stars

Post  paulyg on Mon 12 Sep 2016, 11:18

I really enjoyed it. It reminded me quite a lot, in some ways of TI3 but with a bit more focus. The order system is great, and working out what you want to do when is really important. The focus on objectives is also really TI3-like. You can build up a great fleet, or be massively defensive, but it won't help if you don't go and get your objective tokens pretty quickly. On top of that you have the warp storm movement which adds a whole extra layer of strategy.

We didn't really do any negotiation on Friday when we played (I guess because two of us were new to it and just trying to figure out what we were supposed to do) but I could see some quite rich possibilities around that aspect too - agreeing to non-aggression in certain areas, promises about where to move the storms, etc.
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Re: Forbidden Stars

Post  DaveB on Mon 12 Sep 2016, 11:25

paulyg wrote:I really enjoyed it. It reminded me quite a lot, in some ways of TI3 but with a bit more focus. The order system is great, and working out what you want to do when is really important. The focus on objectives is also really TI3-like. You can build up a great fleet, or be massively defensive, but it won't help if you don't go and get your objective tokens pretty quickly. On top of that you have the warp storm movement which adds a whole extra layer of strategy.

We didn't really do any negotiation on Friday when we played (I guess because two of us were new to it and just trying to figure out what we were supposed to do) but I could see some quite rich possibilities around that aspect too - agreeing to non-aggression in certain areas, promises about where to move the storms, etc.

I think the two "special sauce" aspects of the game are the asymmetric race abilities along with the order mechanism - the latter alone really "makes" the game for me.

Definitely screwed up my play though - At the start when I was cut off from everything with the warp storm - I should have used that time to really double-down on building up forces - the big advantage the Orcs have is to building up an overwhelming onslaught and just steamrollering the opposition...

But I was glad the game was ultimately so close - On the turn Evan claimed his fourth and therefore game winning objective everyone else grabbed their third. I'm not sure about you two, but I was only one turn away from grabbing a fourth too (well, probably, anyway Smile ). Both the other games I've played have been very close too - down to a tiebreak in fact.
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Re: Forbidden Stars

Post  swilbur on Tue 13 Sep 2016, 12:04

I'd love to play it sometime. I've read the rules and it looks like my favorite genre: highly asymmetric, interactive, tactical, and thematic. BGG says it's 2-3 hours (probably only true if everyone is already familiar with it) so it's not entirely out of the question for club night. I'd definitely be up for it.

I've been writing up Forbidden Stars for an asynchronous board gaming website I'm making, but I figure I should play it in person first to make sure that my layout makes sense.

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Re: Forbidden Stars

Post  DaveB on Tue 13 Sep 2016, 12:17

swilbur wrote:I'd love to play it sometime. I've read the rules and it looks like my favorite genre: highly asymmetric, interactive, tactical, and thematic.  BGG says it's 2-3 hours (probably only true if everyone is already familiar with it) so it's not entirely out of the question for club night.  I'd definitely be up for it.

I've been writing up Forbidden Stars for an asynchronous board gaming website I'm making, but I figure I should play it in person first to make sure that my layout makes sense.

I suppose so long as everyone knows what they're doing and is on the case it is probably just about doable... probably? Smile

Certainly sounds like a game you'd enjoy though. Shame the FFG/GW divorce means that such an excellent game won't go any further. Although odds are FFG will keep the mechanics and reskin it a few years down the line Smile
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