Out of the box, the game seemed a bit complicated, but once we got through the instructions and started playing the turn orders become very simple and rather quick.
Be the first player to achieve Galactic Fame by colleting fame points.
Starfarers is an interesting blend of Dice rolling, card/resource managements, miniature movements, and expansion.
Each turn the player starts by rolling two D6. Each planet that has at least one base on it has a number assigned that all players can see. If the dice equal that number, that planet produces a resource for any player with a Colony or Starbase in orbit. In this way each players turn there is a random distribution of resources to some players.
Following this, the player chooses a random resource (up to a certain level of fame, so as you get better and move along the fame board, you lose some perks)
The player now has the option to trade these cards in for upgrade to their ships. The upgrades include Blasters, Thrusters, and Cargo Rings. You can also build new ships and outposts for your expansion into the galaxy
Once complete you roll your Ship! Yup, you roll the actual 8 inch model ship which have colored balls inside. Two balls come out and the color combo determines your ship movement and whether an encounter takes place.
Encounters are little random cards that ask you to make a decision about a scenario, and may reward or damage you based on your answer. What makes the cards work is that some read exactly the same scenario, but the choice you make have different consequences so just cuz you heard the card before does not mean the results are the same.
Movement allows you to move your trade or colony ship to the other planet systems setting up new outposts, trade agreements with various races, and work your way to ultimate fame.
The mechanics work well and the strategy comes into play in deciding what to build and how to travel the board. Each of us had a different strategy. In the end it was a close game showing there is not clear easy winning strategy (as of yet)
Some chose to just spread out into the galaxy and setup outposts while others focused on building fast and strong ships for encounters to earn fame rings (Several encounters give you fame rings for your ship which add to your score)
Even after several times played, the final winning combination has been unique so the random aspects of the game help balance out all strategies to an even playing field.
The game is a winner take all, however there is some interaction with other players. Even through there is no combat, there is trading between players as well as the shared roll for resources. A little more interaction would have been nice since the only “combat” is when an encounter has you pitted against a pirate and another player assumes the role of the pirate using their ship and upgrade against your own.
While a fair diversion, these are rare and not very exciting.
One great aspect of the game is the large starship models used to determine movement. It’s just fun shaking them each time and not knowing if you will get an encounter before you can move. Best of all the encounter cards read very similar (or even the same) to start, but your decisions alter the outcome, and the outcome may be different on a card that opens the same as the last so the random nature makes for exciting game play. The encounters themselves are a bit dry and repetitive almost always having to do with sacrificing a number of resources to a traveler or trade guild member and then getting the result based on how many you gave. This proved funny to us as after a while we would roll our ship, get an encounter, and just announce “3!” before the card was read as all the encounters that ask for resources have a max of 3 you can give.
Game play takes about 1-2 hours depending. The advanced rules do not add much to game time or even a big change to the game, except you can choose your starting planets and location in the “Core System” vs the games generic pre-set locations for beginner games.
The only big gripe I had with the game is the large starships, cools as they where, all broke to some degree when trying to place the thrusters on. (They snap on the sides) Every other add-on worked fine, but each of us broke the ships trying to get these things on. I did learn you can send an Email to the manufacturer and they will send a snap on part of al the ships to correct this problem. I did and had mine in about a week. There was no charge for this and to date I have no other problems with the parts.
Really fun 50/50 strategy/luck game that is less “offensive” against other players making it a good time even for a longer game (2-3) hours