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Starship Battles

November 24th, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Raising shields and locking phasers never gets old, though I don’t get to do these things as often as I’d like.  “Starship Battles”, as the name implies, is all about the “pew pew” without the hassle of trying to talk things out first.  Each player commands their own starship with their ultimate goal being to destroy their opponents.  Oh, and there’s a drafting mechanic with regard to the ship’s compartments so you’ll almost never have the same twice.  Before I go any further, I’d like to thank Brian Schaeflein from Dwarf Cove Games for providing me with a press copy for review purposes.


Starship Battles

Starship Battles: 2-4 Players, Ages 12+, Average Play Time = 30 Minutes



The game includes 36 compartment cards (12 yellow, 12 red, and 12 blue), 30 red damage markers, and 40 black attack / defend / repair (ADR) markers.

In addition, I received a number of purple and orange cards, but they are not mentioned under the components section of the rulebook.  I believe them to be scenario and crew cards, respectively.  I’ll touch on this further in the review.

Setup & Gameplay

Each player will be allotted fourteen invisible resource points at the beginning of the game and will be dealt two crew cards & three cards from each of the three component decks (yellow, red, and blue).  Each player then selects two of each type of ship component to keep, passing the rest clockwise.  After that, players keep any number of cards so as long as the sum of their resources (the red number on each card) doesn’t exceed fourteen.  Any cards not chosen are discarded.  The components are laid face-up, preferably separated by color/section for ease of play.

It’s worth noting that the rulebook states that each player gets one scenario card, or special objective / challenge goal that they’ll personally try to beat.  I recommend doing away with this for your first few games until you get the basics down.  Additionally, the game can be played cooperatively against certain scenario cards.  To keep this all moving, I’ll opt to cover co-op briefly in the review.

The game is broken up across a number of turns consisting of seven phases:

1. Draw attack markers – Players count the number of attack symbols on their remaining ship compartments and draw that many ADR markers, keeping them hidden from opponents. For each command symbol on their remaining ship components, players may set aside ADR markers showing zero and replace them from the ADR marker pile.

2. Place attack markers – Players may divide their attack markers between any opponents they choose, face-down so that the numbers are hidden.

3. Draw defend markers – Players count the number of defend symbols on their remaining ship compartments and draw that many ADR markers, keeping them hidden from opponents. For each command symbol on their remaining ship components, players may set aside ADR markers showing zero and replace them from the ADR marker pile.

4. Place defend markers – Players may divide their defend markers between any attack markers they choose by placing them face-up in front of any attack marker, up to 2 per attack marker.

5. Take damage – Each player flips the attack markers in front of them.  For each attack, the players total their defend markers arrayed against it. If the attack number is greater than the defend total, the defending player must apply damage points to his cards equal to the difference.  The red damage markers track damage.

6. Repair – Players count the number of repair symbols on their remaining ship compartments and draw that many ADR markers.  They’ll then choose which ADR markers to use on which damaged ship components, removing that amount of damage points from that ship component.

7. Each player discards any compartment cards that have reached their damage limit (the red number).

The game continues until only one player remains…that person is the winner!

Editor’s Note: The above doesn’t cover all of the rules found in the manual, but should give you an idea as to how the game is played.




The Review

Firstly, I’d like to get the negatives out of the way.  The rulebook is half-baked in its current form and the tutorial video on the game’s store page (link below) is incomplete.  For example, the video nor the components section of the rulebook mentions anything about the crew & scenario cards. To be fair, there is a short section of the rulebook outlining the different scenario types.  The crew cards, on the other hand, are only mentioned briefly during game setup.  Most of this content is admittedly self-explanatory, but first time players may be confused.  Honestly, I feel like the scenario and crew cards were a rushed, last-minute addition to the game.  For that reason, I recommend doing away with them until you are comfortable playing with just the red, yellow, and blue component cards.

Scenario and crew cards aside, I enjoyed the art style and the overall simplicity of the game. There’s a healthy mix of luck and strategy, I feel.  In the case of the former, you’re at the mercy of those ADR tokens.  If you’re the type to draw zeros on a regular basis, then there’s not much you can do.  Well, I lied…you could opt to draft cards with command icons on them so that you can redraw those zeroes.  Still, there’s no guarantee that you won’t get another zero.  No matter how well you plan things out, those tokens may decide to turn against you resulting in a loss.  Fortunately, luck doesn’t seem to discriminate so it’s possible that your opponent will suffer the same fate the next time around.

My favorite part of this game was with the initial drafting process…that is, deciding what components I wanted to keep and thus, how my ship was ultimately built.  If I wanted, I could keep three blue defense cards in order to minimize damage or go all in with three attack cards and attempt to obliterate my opponent as quickly as possible.  Of course, it’s important to not forget about the command and repair icons either, as both will assist you in staying alive.  Being able to repair damage due to the whims of the aforementioned luck factor is quite convenient.

All in all, “Starship Battles” is an interesting and streamlined ship battler that’ll give you your “pew pew” fix in relatively short order.  The card at is fantastic and I especially like the colors on the card backs.  I do recommend that the developer spend more time on the rulebook, especially with regard to scenarios and crew cards.  The price of $14.99 (as of 11/24/15) is on par with other card games on the market, allowing me to give it a recommend.

Final Verdict: 7/10

Purchase: https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/starship-battles


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