I was recently able to sit down and play ‘Stardraft’ a game by the Silver Bull Games (Link). It is a game for 2-16 players and takes less than 15 minutes to play.
Bottom Line Up Front:
Pros: Simplicity, Many Players, Quick to play
Cons: Rock-Paper-Scissors Mechanic, Too simple / Needs more mechanics, Player Elimination, Broken ‘Pass mechanic’
You are a star fighter set in some future time when everyone has a starship battle cruiser. And guess what? It’s a dog fight to the bitter end!
Components: 16 cards. 1 box. Oxygen with trace amounts of Nitrogen. End of list. Dust. Hopes. Dreams. Fairy Dust.
The deck is shuffled.
Each player is dealt 1 card.
Players place their cards out in front of them for all to see. There are 16 different cards, but really only 2 different types of battle cruisers.
Battle Cruiser 1
Abilities: Attack, Strong Attack, Evade, Pass (left or right)
Battle Cruiser 2’s abilities:
Abilities: Attack, Strong Attack, Evade, Attack
On a players turn, you hide your card, reorient the card to show which action you are performing and then choose an opponent to attack. At the same time they choose a card’s direction to use. Then each player flips over their cards.
The players then resolve their cards.
Attack defeats Evade.
Strong Attack defeats Attack.
Evade defeats Super Attack.
“Wait… what about Pass Left or Pass Right?” you ask cleverly.
Well my dear, what you have there is an instant get out of trouble free card. Say a player plays a super attack on you. You have pass card, you would ALWAYS play the pass card. Then the attack goes in the direction you are sending it around the table. If the player you directed it to also has a pass displayed, then the attack is a draw. You will see the flaw in this later.
Our play went down like this:
Brian Super Attacks Sean.
Sean Passes Left
Aaron Passes Right
Aaron attacks Eric.
Eric loses 2 points.
Eric attacks Aaron.
Aaron passes right.
Brian loses 4 points.
Sean Super Attacks Eric.
Eric loses 2 points.
The game can be fun, don’t get me wrong, but the mechanics are essentially rock paper scissors where certain characters have a strong advantage over others. I do agree that the players who are unable to pass left or right, do have increased weapons and increased health points, but it became clear that the ability to pass left and right everytime a player was defending became an instant out. The players who didn’t have that ability became weak. Also, Brian was stuck between two players who both passed to him. That means that everytime Eric attacked any player… Brian was forced to defend. He was at a disadvantage from the start. Now consider this, after Brian is eliminated and Eric gets eliminated, how does the game end? Sean attacks Aaron. Aaron passes left. draw. Aaron attacks Sean. Sean passes right. Draw. The game couldn’t end.
Overall, I would say this game would work with house rules limiting how often a ‘pass could occur’. The theme worked for the game. The artwork reminded me of a 2d scroller video game which I enjoyed. I would have liked to have seen more mechanics. Can players upgrade? Can players modify their ships by reallocating their points? That would be something to marvel at. Obviously that is not easy to do on such a limited budget. The game retails for under $5. That said, it is a great choice for a stocking stuffer as is advertised on the site. But if I were looking for portable games, I think there are probably better out there.
Quality of Components: 0-2 (1)
Fun 2D side scroller artwork.Minimal cards keeping the card deck small and packaged in a blister pack. I myself thought about using the blister pack for some games, however, it’s reuasability is minimal. I would highly recommend this designer opt for the clear plastic PVC card case. Cheaper and reusable.
Good Balance of Skill to Luck 0-1 (0)
It’s a caste system rock paper scissors. Random choices, but some at a great disadvantage. This is where the game really got hurt for me. Again, as stated up above, if players had some more choices on their ship’s abilities, that would greatly increase the replay value and the skill aspect of this rubric.
Analysis / Paralysis 0-1 (1)
Not a whole lot of choices here therefore it is paced well. Though, I have some issue with playing this with 16 people. The rounds would take some serious time. It may make more sense to have a hierarchical approach when playing with more than 6. For instance split into partners, attack. Winners go onto attack the other winners in groups of two. Winners go on again, until there is one winner who suffers no damage. rinse. repeat.
Theme 0-2 (1)
Side scroller made it enjoyable. Would have liked to have seen more to this. Why are we attacking each other? Are we alien species? Do we just really like not like each other? Did their mother ship impregnate my baby momma? Any details would be great.
Thrill / Competitive 0-2 (0)
Since I was passing 3/4 of my turns, I wasn’t too excited with the results. Then when it came down to the two passing ships, it was stalemate.
Was it fun 1-2 (1)
Not really. At first I was into it, then I realized that I could thwart the excitement of the whole game by passing every defense, thus passing the buck onto Brian who would ultimately be eliminated. Brian was having no fun either. He had no way to win. The odds were heavily stacked against him being attacked 3 times per round. Eric had no fun as yes he was able to attack Brian everytime, but the fact that once Brian was gone, he could never land a hit on Aaron or I.