I got to play Forbidden Stars last week. It’s been on my list of want to plays for a while and I’m delighted I did. One of my gaming group bought it and it’s a cracker.
There’s a number of mechanics melding into this heady brew. I can see hints of a Game of Thrones BG, Starcraft, Armada, Chaos in the Old World and something all of it’s own.
Each player gets to choose between Chaos (fighty), Eldar (zippy), Orks (tough) and Space Marines (balanced) and after a very nice board setup round have to venture out and recover four objectives tokens that the other three players have gone out of their way to put as far away from your starting positions as human/eldar/ork/choasey possible.
Players get a mix of smaller ships and ground troops and like any good 4x (well this is more a 3x as you can see all the sectors before you head out) have to spread out and dominate sectors, gain resources, build more stuff and upgrade their tech.
A bit like Game of Thrones players place action tokens on sectors to build there, move there, upgrade their stuff or grab extra resources from. Unlike GOT players can stack multiple orders on a sector and the orders are resolved in reverse order. This MAKES the game. I might decide to build in a sector but another player after me, decides to move there and their order is resolved before mine, so they move in, knock seven bells out of me and take over my stuff at which point my build order kicks off but because I’ve lost my factory I can’t execute it…. It makes the game very tactical and timing and bluffing are key. (all orders are placed face down)
Battles are neatly done. Units produce a number of battle dice which can show either attack, defense or moral icons, these combined with attack cards give results that aren’t just bring more guns and you win dependent. Units act as you would expect from the 40k universe. Chaos are all out attack with little defense, Eldar are good at dodging attacks and so on.
Attack cards and event cards can be upgraded leading to some very powerful abilities as the game progresses again all race specific and all nicely thematic
Unusually for a 4x game there’s no rules for alliances. Simple because, well, there aren’t any. You don’t have time for such nonsense. It’s kill kill kill and if you have time, kill some more. You’ve got objectives to collect and so does everyone else. The objectives alleviate another issue with some 4x games. There’s very little turtling. Granted you can but you won’t win by staying at home.
Something I have to mention is the build quality. This is a very pretty game. It’s Fantasy Flight so you’d expect as much. Like Imperial Assault it comes in a big box with some lovely (aching to be painted) miniatures (not as much so as Imperial Assult but nice all the same).
Rules are straightforward. You’ll get it pretty quick. One thing I loved about this game was how easy it was to read the position of everything. You need to collect 4 objectives to win. That dude has 3 collected you have none, you’ve losing. Stop him and get your own game in gear.
I spoke about Eclipse recently. This is a very different animal. Whereas Eclipse is more about the economics and upkeep, Forbidden Stars ecomic model is simple and descrete. Get resources, Build stuff, get it out there, try to avoid getting it destroyed.
For what you get the game is relatively fast. we got our first four player done in under four hours, but we were learning bits as we went. Battles do slow things down a little bit but I suspect more play will see subtler actions, more posturing and less fights but on second thoughts I doubt it. One of the things I really like about the game is fighting is a positive. In too many others games, getting into a number of battles rather than avoiding a fight spells disaster. Not so with Forbidden Stars. It’s par for the course. I lost a number of battles but it was by no means the end of me. (As usual my old chum Hubris was the end of me)
I really liked this game. It’s one of the newer Fantasy Flight premium style games which cost a bit more but give you a lot more and are worth the extra investment. If I was to knock the game the only real fault is that it’s a max of four players. I can understand this as the game would drag on with more, but I fully expect to see an expansion just like Chaos in the old World that will add a fifth. You mark my words.
All in all, a fine game, well worth the entrance fee
Again well done Fantasy Flight, keep em coming