PAX Australia 2017 Focus – The Stars Align

I was a lot more organised with my planning for PAX this year.  I made sure that my appointments towards the later end of the day involved sitting down, preferably playing a game.  So with that in mind my final meeting for Friday was with Matt and Sean from Savage Yeti Games.  I spent some time looking at their iOS video game (which you’ll see some content for soon on our sister website Pixel Pop Network) before heading over to the tabletop area with Matt to take a look at The Stars Align.

The Stars Align

The Stars Align is a strategy and thinking game that shares the token flipping mechanic of Reversi (also known as Othello) and blends it with the shapes and line clearing of Tetris.  Of course, it’s a bit more involved than that and the game involves a few other mechanics, but essentially what you get is a deeply satisfying strategy game that is very easy to learn but hard to master.

Play begins with an empty board and players take turns revealing the top card of the deck and then placing stars on the board to match that shape.  Think Tetris in this aspect although the shapes can be placed anywhere on the board and you can rotate them to fit.  At this stage of the game you cannot interfere with your opponent’s stars.

Once you flip a card and cannot place the shape anywhere on the board the game enters the next phase.  Now you can flip your opponent’s stars to your side, however you can only ever do a maximum of three at one time.  Considering all the shapes have four stars you’re either going to create a new star (or two or three) of your own colour or in certain situations flip one of your stars over to your opponent’s side.  Once you’ve entered this second phase of the game you remain in it, even if you manage to clear enough of the board to start placing shapes that don’t impact your opponent.

The object of the game is to control an entire line on the board.  Once that happens you remove the line and obtain a piece of the bigger star (top-left of the top picture in this article).  Get all five pieces of that star and you win the game.

The game I witnessed between Matt and fellow ATGN contributor Lin took about 25 minutes and was very close.  You could see control of the board swing back and forward between the two players as they moved to secure lines but at the same time thwart their opponent.  I have no doubt that strategies will be developed playing this game where perhaps corners are a strong point or holding the center of the board is key to victory.

I also feel the game will be a big success with players of all ages.  There is no math or language involved, the entire game is logic based and fairly easy to understand. I can’t see why younger players as well as old wouldn’t enjoy the game.  Obviously Breaking Games feels the same way as they’ve already snapped up the game for publishing and we should hopefully see it early next year.

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