The Meeple’s Eye View is an in depth review of one of the many games in our board game library. We recently launched Professor Meeple’s Game Lab in an effort to uncover the world of indie games and designers, and share it with you, our guests. This post is a combination of the two, as we review one of our recent Professor Meeple Game Lab entrants – a game we personally are really excited about!
Take to the stars! As a daring Star Trader you must travel between the stars to deliver cargo and build space stations in an attempt to amass fortune and glory! If you can accomplish all this and appease the Emperor, you can earn the title of Star Tsar, the Master of all Traders!
Theme: Merchant, Sci-Fi, Risk-Reward
Number of Players: 2-6
Game Time: 20-180 minutes
Age Appropriateness: 7 and up
Game Type: Star Traders is a sci-fi Pick-Up & Delivery game with strong elements of Negotiation and Risk-Reward.
Game Play: In Star Traders, players take on the role of daring star ship captains who traverse the stars, picking up and delivering goods across the stars. As they cross the stars they will have the chance to build space stations, play traders luck cards, deliver cargo, and petition the emperor for the title of Star Tsar! The game offers a variety of difficulty – from the kid friendly Super Nova to the epic Black Hole version!
On their turn, players have 5 action dice that they can spend to accomplish different tasks. Players can spend a die and 5 Star Bucks, the currency of the game, to build a station. On certain worlds, players can spend dice to pick up cargo. They can also roll the dice to attempt to “jump” between worlds. Players can also earn 1 Star Buck by spending a die to “Conduct Local Business.” Finally, the player can petition the Emperor in an attempt to secure his Imperial Mission. If he completes this mission before any other player he will win the game.
Players spend most of the game trying to amass three things: Prestige, Star Bucks, and Stations. In order to earn Prestige and Star Bucks, players must fulfill contracts by picking up cargo from one planet and delivering it to another. The further the worlds are apart, the greater the reward. Two players may attempt the same contract, but only one player may complete it! Under normal circumstances, you must roll the die to jump from world to world. The longer the jump, the higher the roll you must make. The advantage of a station is that you do not have to roll the die to jump to the world. And you can even bribe other players for the privilege to use their station!
Once a player has enough Prestige, Star Bucks, and Stations, he can petition to have the Emperor grant him an Imperial Mission. If he completes this mission before any other player he will be declared the Star Tsar and win the game!
Component Quality: The primary components in Star Traders are the galaxy map board, player mats, cards, cardboard tokens, paper Star Bucks, plastic ships, and dice. I should begin by stating that the copy of Star Traders that I currently possess is a prototype and may not reflect the final product. With that said, all of the components are of good quality and the many tokens are made from high quality cardboard. The Trader’s Luck/Contract cards are full of fun references to popular sci-fi television shows and movies. My only concern with the components is the paper money. If players are not careful, the money could become damaged with repetitive use. However, this is only a minor quibble and it is worth mentioning that one of the stretch goals of the Kickstarter campaign is upgrading the money to a higher quality.
My Take: As a fan of sci-fi, I really enjoy the not-so-subtle references. It is worth noting that all of the worlds in the game are named after famous science fiction authors! The game is easy to learn, but offers plenty of variation so it won’t go stale. Players must make calculated risks in order to make the best use of their actions. As with any game with dice, there is a degree of luck involved, but there are plenty of ways to modify dice rolls using the Trader’s Luck cards. I also love the variety of the Trader’s Luck cards, these cards are very powerful and add a great degree of player interaction. However, you can only ever have two at a time. Therefore, you have to choose carefully when to use them. One of my favorite aspects of this game is negotiating with other players to use their stations. Sometimes the threat of playing a bad card on someone else is enough to secure a free ride to their station. Star Traders blends negotiation, pickup and delivery, clever strategy, and risk-reward seamlessly. It will be a true pleasure to add this game to our game library.
Expansions and Replay-ability: There are currently no expansions for Star Traders; however, the game offers five versions of play. One variant offers the addition of Personalities. If the players agree they can choose a Personality which gives each player a special advantage, such as a second ship, extra actions, or a discount on building stations. The variation in the Contract/Trader’s Luck cards and Personalities keep the game fresh play after play, offering near unlimited replay ability.
Editor’s Note: Star Traders is currently on Kickstarter, with five days left in the campaign. Check it out, and see if this might be a game for you!
Karington Hess is a lifelong gamer whose passions for hospitality and all things game-related led him to Ravenwood Castle, where he served as an Innkeeper before joining The Malted Meeple. When not pouring beers, crafting milkshakes, or teaching boardgames, Karington can be found behind the DM’s screen, weaving intricate stories for his fellow gamers.