2nd edition box set
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There are several versions of this game. The earliest version was the simplest, and in my opinion, the best version. That was a cheap beer and preztel space wargame quickly played and was fun. Expanions came and the game got bigger, until the people at then owners Task Force Games (TFGs) came out with the second edition.
In the second edition the game was more thought out, but there were more rules. TFGs also broke up the game to a base tactical set and the galatical set. When I bought the tactical set, there wasn't much in the way of scenarios. To get that you had to also buy a scenario book called 'Stars at War' for an additional $15. In my opinion, this should have been included in the basic set. And to play this game in its full intersellar glory you need to also purchase the Imperial Starfire, which is not stand alone. You need to have the basic Starfire in order to use 'Stars at War' or Imperial Starfire. Then there was new rules published in a magazine called Skymarshal, and that includes various rules for even more modules that you can buy to enhance your scenario hunger.
I've played exactly two campains of Imperial Starfire. The first bogged down when all of our empires got too large to manage, and the second ended out of exhaustion. It took about a year to do those two games.
The basic element of this game is it is ship to ship combat in space. The good part of this game is that it is to be played either with one ship per side, or ten or fifty or more per side. The weaponry can be relatively low technology or very high technology. And the game uses frieghters for your wealth transfer, and a lot of infrastructure which is neat and cumbersome both at the same time. This is one board game screaming for a computer to run it. I had to use a spreadsheet to keep track of my finances. Actually, there are several softwares for ship development out there, in DOS, Windows, and Apple.
There are some serious problems with the combat mechanics of the game, such as missile fire that can outpace a beam weapon. And the game depends on a lot of house rules to run at all.
There is a 3rd edition, but one might beware, the new owners are working on a fourth edition.
Now having bashed it to the point that I've scared you away, there are some good points. It is still a neat tactical space combat game. And with a few good house rules it can be an ok game--it is just going to take a while to play. There has been a lot of time spent thinking rules out. The game has been around a while so you will have a good chance of finding an opponent in the wargaming circles. And the company is supporting it and has a good web site. Being a complicated game ironically means it is posible to play it solitare, which is likely how one might be playing it, and you can have as large a universe as you can handle. And the game is a good science fiction read. So good that there have been some science fiction stories written based on this game, (written by David Weber).
I still tinker with my copy, so the fact that I haven't gotten rid of my copy probably means something.