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Shadowstar Corsairs» Forums » Reviews

Subject: First and (unfortunately) last game rss

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Kristian Bak
Denmark
California
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I had a first session of Shadowstar Corsairs, and was expecting an engaging, multilayered gameplay, despite the dull graphics. By the end of the session, I was baffled by most of the rules, and the experience felt much like watching a "so-bad-its-good" B-movie.

I won't go into details of how to play the game, this is a very subjective retelling of my experience with the game.

The main aspect of the game, that I just don't get, is that the transfers are unlimited and ships can instantly transform resources, while the main ships seem to put some sort of value on cargo space. Unlimited transfers might speed up the game, but I mostly ended up setting a single shuttle between key points and ships, building a pretty dull machine of card, money and crew generation. This just felt like it worked against the exciting idea of moving bold ships around and transporting cargo. I never had to actually move a fleet or anything, save for a few contracts that "rewarded" me for it.

Other elements I just don't get, is the multitude of cards and the discrepancy between action tiers and their requirements. The cards were mostly dull, and the fact that the minelayer- and interdiction cards were single use, while the tokens were many, didn't make sense. Sure, you could grab the card again from the top of the discard pile, but it would eventually disappear and... I don't see the point here.

When taking actions within a category, the different actions didn't seem balanced, and didn't add what I hoped to the game. The first tier, generating resources, should feel more like a mass production action than as a necessary first step, towards the intended second and third step. The tokens somehow lost their weight, and we never had a situation where one player could grab tokens from a lightly defended planet for example.
I would rather see a tiered cost associated with the actions. Lowest tier should cost 1 action, second tier 2 - and separate rules for 3rd tier. The fact that all politics and tech cards cost one action but some required a tier to be achieved seemed like a missed opportunity - the heavier cards should cost more actions to signify their worth I think. Likewise, purchases could require more actions (1 pr kC or something) while crew transportation could work as is.

I did however like the concepts, and I felt like the game must have gone through an unfocused range of playtesting, which resulted in too many hasted revisions of the core gameplay, and the game is worse for it. Just a speculation, but the game just feels like it didn't get the refinement it deserved.

And for the graphics - the fonts used are either random or Ariel, which is seriously a weird decision, and layout of cards and mats are gnashing at my eyes. I get it that Ryan Wolfe did the art himself, but I feel he probably should have hired a consultant to go through his ideas. The comment in the rules that the shape of the forbidden and hazardous sections were made for "aesthetic purposes" was comical to me.

I didn't really minds the wait for the Kickstarter (though Ideaspatcher is now marked as a clear no-no for further campaigns I might support), and I am glad I've tried the game. However, I think the only merit the game has for me going forward, is as a set of pieces to play with if I want to setup alternative rules - the ships are cool, but the rest is a bit too meh.
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Rob W
United States
Arizona
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It sounds like there was not enough conflict in your game. Did the players each set up a little kingdom of resource generation without trying to deny or steal resource production from each other?
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Brian Torrens
Canada
Toronto
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I know in my first game, it took my friends a turn or three to see what was going on in the game. It is certainly not your average 4X-type game. In our game it did not take long before there was a lot of conflict! The winner of the game managed to score two public "pickup and deliver" contracts which put him in the winners circle. We played three players on a 2x3 tile map and it was just the right amount of distance to create a lot of conflict. We only played to 3 commendations, but my next game will be the full five.

I'm actually curious how the game would work if you played to more than five commendations... to have a longer, more epic game?
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Kristian Bak
Denmark
California
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Yea, there weren't much conflict. How does conflict change the way transportation work?

The Kickstarter exclusive contract "pacifist" (or something like that) came in, and conflict didn't really seem like it had a point to it, other than if my ships were better outfitted for shooting and I just felt like it. There was enough conflict, however, for me to just steamroll and grab all but one planet, which also seemed weird.

We played 2 people on a 4x4 board, but I think my concerns would apply in general. I really don't see the point in having a large hold for transporting anything but crew (and then only rarely), which is really odd to me.
 
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Rob W
United States
Arizona
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Conflict doesn't change the way transportation works, but it makes it more difficult to pull off, because you've got to protect your supply lines and shuttles from your opponent. This adds another layer of strategy to the game.

Hang on, how did you have a 4x4 board since there are only 12 tiles (or 13 for Exclusive Edition)?
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Kristian Bak
Denmark
California
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Heh, sorry, I meant 2x2
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Francois Bedard
Canada
Quebec
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I urge you to try my variant:
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1586875/my-set-house-rules

You raise many of the same concerns i have with the game.
 
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