Star Eater Preview

I was only mildly disappointed there wasn’t a weapon to literally eat a star.

I’m not entirely sure how to explain Star Eater to you. I sat down for a few games with different friends, and the way I settled on was this. “Awesome spaceship combat where momentum will betray you when you most expect it.” It doesn’t quite do the game justice, but play even one game and you’ll understand the sentiment perfectly.

So the game’s developer (Jason) sent me a prototype copy of the game to see what it was like so I can tell you wonderful people what to expect from it. The kit was awesome, hand made cards, boards and even a full lore document! This little bit here isn’t part of the preview/review of the game, it’s just me pointing out how much passion for this project the developer has. He printed dozens of tiny hex lables and glued them onto the right sized hexes. That takes dedication. Big thanks to him for the hard work he put into this.

Look at this, the thing is PACKED! I can’t wait to see how crisp the real components are.

Mechanically, Star Eater is unlike any game I’ve ever played before, in a strategically rewarding and emotionally punishing way. See, being in space, once something is in motion it kind of stays in that motion until an opposing force cancels it out. That’s the key to Star Eater. You are in space. If you go forward, until you reverse your thrusters you will continue going forward. Turn, and you will continue to turn until you turn the other way. This can be incredibly useful, movement starts slow but with careful pre-planning you can zoom into action and get a critical shot on your enemy. It can also betray you. Actually no, I take that back, it WILL betray you.

See, the game board has finite hexes to move within, push too far and you end up crashing into the board edge for potentially catastrophic damage. Have a genius main cannon shot lined up? Be a real shame if that rotation you played two turns ago was going to spin you in the wrong direction at the last moment. Movement is also simultaneous, everything on the board moves one hex at a time. This means not only must you take your own moves into account, but those of your opponent as well, if you want to land a fatal blow. (I have never hit with a main battle cannon).

If it looks hectic, it is. But that’s what makes it so fun.

Your ship, the capital ship, is a customisable beast of a thing. With all manner of cannons, torpedoes and lasers to choose from, there’s a lot of ways to tweak the gameplay to suit your style. I love the high speed high impact Lamais cannons (even if I can’t use them to save my life) and my opponents found more fun (and success) launching homing torpedoes at me. You also have a small fleet of corvettes, tiny ships that can really pack a punch if used carefully. Two of my three games were won by a lone corvette hammering one spot over and over when the opponent’s movement was hamstrung by the board edge. They’re so fun and satisfying to pilot around when your massive capital ship spins endlessly into the void because you are terrible at planning. (The you in those sentences is me…)

The game is won by destroying the opposing capital ship, and this is done by landing blows on the external components, breaching their armour so you can land shots on their hull and defeat them. Ships are covered in armour, and breaches only allow access to the hull through the breached section. Blowing a hole in their main cannon doesn’t allow you to hit the hull from any other angle. This means not only is momentum conspiring against you, but you also need to aim and plan your blows to strike the same spot over and over, as multiple shots to various sections is an inefficient waste of resources.

And in general, these sections are pretty heavily armoured. I’ll point out there’s red numbered cross hexes that are probably for marking damage, but we found counting armour down easier for some reason. Sorry Jason.

You begin the game with a hand full of action cards. Things like firing your cannon/broadsides, powering up your engines or turning on your shields. Together with movement, this is how you play the game. By carefully managing the cooldowns on your actions and where you go, you can pull off some really crazy combinations. You can even, in an act of desperation or grand strategy, steer right into your opponent and deal crushing damage to both ships. It’s a mad move to pull, but if you can follow it up with a cannon shot back into the hole your crash tore, you might just find the sweet taste of victory within reach.

The explosion symbol is damage, you can see why a main cannon hurts so bad when it hits. That’s over half a ship gone in one blow!

And really, that’s what Star Eater is. A customisable stellar battle game where prediction and strategy are king. I had so much fun with this game, and my friends who didn’t get to play it are keen to sneak around and give it a shot too. No one who has heard about this game isn’t excited about the ideas in it. I sincerely hope this hits all its goals on Kickstarter and gets out to a deserving fanbase. There’s just so much to love here. I hope some of you get your hands on it and can see the same fun I found in Star Eater for yourselves.

Star Eater is currently live on Kickstarter, so jump on in and back this incredible project!

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