The Starfarers of Catan
English language edition of Die Sternenfahrer von Catan
List Price: $60.00
Your Price: $48.00
(Worth 4,800 Funagain Points!)
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A brilliant and stunning foray into space, sometime near the year 2700 A.D. Compete for the prestigious post of Ambassador to the Galactic Council. To attain this lofty position, players must leave Terra and the known planets to explore and colonize the galaxy, while working to establish trade with alien cultures, encounter aliens and defeat pirates. Glory and victory to the brave and astute explorer who luck smiles upon.
The known worlds lie at one end of the game board where each of the 3 or 4 players begins from known solar systems, each with 3 planets producing raw materials needed for the travels into deep space. Each player begins with 2 Colonies and a Space Port (all components are made from plastic). The Space Port makes starships to transport your new colonies and trade posts to distant lands. Throughout the game all the colonies and spaceports enable the production of resources when the dice match the numbers of adjacent planets. Resources are traded for colony ships, trade ships, and fleet upgrades of freight rings, booster rockets, and cannon. Beware as you explore; some planets are covered in ice, and some conceal dangerous pirates.
This game contains a myriad of components. Each player has a 13 cm tall Mothership upon which your star ship fleet enhancements are placed. This mothership contains the traits for all of a players starships, as well as being the random generator of encounters and movement points. There are more than 200 other plastic components -- colonies, trading posts, and space port rings for all four players, booster rockets (to speed your ships on their way), cannons (to defeat pirates), freight rings (to assist in placement of trading posts and colonization of ice planets, and glory rings (which represent fame from acts of bravery). There are 4 Alien races and a assortment of Alien Friendship cards flavored to the individual races, 5 types of commodities cards, the wonderful Encounter cards deck, 4 player reference cards, 4 victory point markers, 4 alien tokens, 2 dice, 1 quick start rules sheet, a basic rules book, a detailed almanac, and last but not least, those wonderful Spaceships.
The mother ship features a random generator incorporated into the hull. This generator contains 4 colored balls, of which two are visible through a small dome on the bottom of the ship. The balls are red, yellow, blue, and black in color. The two visible balls will determine the speed of a player's star ships and if an encounter card must be enacted. The first player to reach the victory point level wins.
Best Catan game ever... I'm a big fan of catan and scifi so it's my game!
Starfarers of Catan
‘Starfarers of Catan’ by Klaus Teuber (Entdecker, Domaine and many more) is a ‘Settlers of Catan’ alternate that suffers more than benefits from its association with the original. Starfarers is a very different game to Settlers, where Settlers is very definitely a development game – and feels it; Starfarers feels more like a racing game.
Starfarers is bigger, brighter, better produced and longer than Settlers, yet despite it’s length is gripping, exciting, intelligent, enjoyable and gorgeous. This game has seemed to get a lot of bad press from people who bought it expecting something similar to Settlers, and if you buy expecting ‘Sci-Fi Settlers’ you’re in for a disappointment. If you take Starfarers as a game on its own, sit back and enjoy the ride, because almost more than any other game I own – this one evokes a great atmosphere.
At its core Starfarers is a development game, but through its various in-game systems it generates the feeling that the development is a race, a race technologically, and a race in terms of Victory Points.
Through clever reward systems for those players low on Victory Points Starfarers ensures that no one can end up well ahead of the pack, Starfarers is a battle until the very end of the game.
This game is great fun – especially when you have sci-fi or futuristic music playing in the background, I almost always play Daft Punk, the Planets or music from the Star Wars movies. The ‘Galactic Counsel for Welfare’ does a good job of keeping progress ticking over, and at the same time forms a neat way of ensuring that the player in 1st place can’t run away with the game. Trading doesn’t form as big a part of Starfarers as it does in Settlers, but players interact in other ways – technology is very important, and being as fast, or having as many cannons as the player next to you can be very important.
Starfarers feels like a racing game, falling behind technologically can be a fatal mistake, not exploring enough can be a fatal mistake, not building as many trading colonies can be a fatal mistake. There are so many areas of this game that can be explored, and that can provide the necessary Victory Points that every game is different.
Many things have been said about the quality of the pieces that come with Starfarers, in my experience the only problem has been with the booster clips (the little teeth that hold on to the yellow rocket boosters), which seem to break very easily. Not enough, however, has been said about the high level of customer service from Mayfair Games, if you e-mail their customer service people they will send you out a set of plastic rings, that fit very neatly over the Motherships, for free.
Starfarers of Catan is one of the best buys in my collection, a great game that is gorgeous to play and look at and that invokes the theme brilliantly. Almost every game I’ve played has been a close run to 1st place and some of the most enjoyable gaming I’ve had. Full congratulations must be given to Teuber for this fantastic creation!
I like this game alot. It is very different from the regular Settlers of Catan and has a different feel to it. The board itself is beautiful,and the space stations and commodity cards are all nicely done. There is no 'magic bullet' to win the game. There are many ways to do it. With the expansion set you get three extra stickable cluster planets, a new group of aliens to work with and the extra parts. As far as the booster tank problem, I filed them down a little with a dremmel tool the first day I bought the game and have broken no ships. Give this game a chance. It is a blast(off) !!!
Apart from eating well and having a few laughs, my ``Perfect Life'' doctrine would also include starting a franchise. Think about this for a minute, and tell me if you wouldn't be happy with a piece of, say, Burger King, Star Wars, the Sherlock Holmes books, Superman and, now, the Settlers package. If Klaus Teuber is not yet moving in the same circles as George Lucas, then he must be pretty damn close.
It may not be immediately apparent, but there is a common denominator found in all of the above creations, and that is that they are ``popularist''. Or, for the people. You simply cannot go on producing a product which hits a downward spiral or fails to retain mass interest. Remember, the Titanic can only sink once.
Teuber isn't, of course, the first designer to expand upon a single gaming idea. Trivial Pursuit, which transcended the hobby, and the 18xx games come immediately to mind. And there are any number of war and sports game linked by title or era. But what Teuber has done (or been persuaded to do) is take an idea and drop it right in the middle of successive releases, all of which are immediately identifiable as kin of the seminal Die Siedler Von Catan.
It was only a matter of time before the series found its way into space, although this has happened quicker than I suspected. There was also a degree of risk involved as well, because there are any number of critics waiting to flail their talons in the German designer's direction. You can most certainly include me out of the latter fraternity, because I found Settlers in Space invigorating, amusing and enterprising.
The fundamental premise of Settlers is firmly retained by its cosmic brother, because dice are still used to establish the fertile areas (planets). At this point, I hope it's safe to assume that Settler's mechanisms are sufficiently embedded in your noggin in order to break free of continual repetition. A quick word on the set-up should almost free us from the terra firma based game.
There are two possible introductory phases, one for beginners (illustrated on the heavy duty rule set), and the other for us ``experienced'' players. The latter are required to place two Colonies and a Spaceport (Colony + Spaceport Ring) on the starting planets after a random draw of chits. From this point, Transport vessels scour the solar system for Planets to colonise.
The driving force behind your expansionist policies is a superbly crafted Mothership. This is an Airfix-kit type plastic spaceship on which you can attach various gizmos to heighten your influence. The English rule translation describes the ships benefits perfectly: ``The drives increase the speed of the player's ships on the gameboard, the ship's canons increase their fighting ability and the cargo rings increase the trade capacity''. All of the appendages clip on to the model (nearly seven inches tall, and proud of it) providing an instant ready reckoner.
So, you're ready for liftoff and this follows the Production Phase, in which two die are rolled and the identified Planets subsequently spew forth raw materials. Like Settlers, the adjacent pieces earn their owners the goodies. If a `7' is thrown (sound familiar?), then those who retain more than seven raw material cards must discard half (rounded up). The player whose turn it is may also steal a card from any other participant. An additional card is also taken from the Supply Deck if your current Victory Point total is fewer than nine (15 to win). So, with goodies in hand, it is time to Trade and Build.
This element of the game is lifted wholesale from Settlers. You can trade raw materials with other players, and also exchange cards with the Galactic Bank on a 3:1 basis. Building is accomplished by checking the reference cards and paying the requisite amounts. You are looking to add Spaceports, Spaceships (both Colony and Trade), and also those elements which add to the power of the Mothership. As each player starts the game with only three Transports, their use is crucial. These Ships are attached to either a Colony or Trade base to aid identification.
Spaceships are launched from Spaceports (worth 2 VPs each). At the beginning of the game, these are limited to one per participant so, initially, expansionist policies are limited. Additional Spaceports are constructed by upgrading Colonies, which means paying the stated cost and placing a Starport ring over the Colony piece.
Mothership improvements are obtained in exactly the same way. Simply deliver the precise elements to procure Drives, Cargo Rings or Cannons, and attach where indicated. These machines can look quite formidable with a full complement of armoury, and steps should be taken to elude them. But the game has a significant luck constituent which makes their avoidance sometimes impossible. I will explain.
Once the Building and Trading phase is completed, and assuming you have Spaceships active on the board, then it is time for that old rock 'n roll favourite, ``The Mothership Roll'' (available on Rip It Records, catalogue number KT500). This involves ``Shaking The Ship'' (KT501), and allowing two (of the four) coloured beads at the piece's base to appear. Their role is detailed on the Aide-mémoire, and provide a Speed (red, yellow or blue) or Event (black).
The basic Speed is the sum of the two coloured beads, and this is augmented by any Drives attached. For example, red (3) and blue (1) plus two Drives would provide six movement points available to all Spaceships. Additionally, Friendship Cards from the ``Wise Race'' will also boost power. More of this later.
If a black bead has appeared, an event takes precedence. And here we enter murky waters, or is that a Black Hole, because this constituent of the game invoked quite disparate opinion.
Let's assume that Billy Bob has ``thrown'' a black and red bead. The player to his left (Rita Mae) takes the top Event card and reads out the first question. Billy Bob must respond (these are multiple choice answers, usually Yes or No or a number), and the result is implemented.
Whilst the benefits or penalties stated are unlikely to make a huge difference either way to your current position, they do appear too frequently for my liking. Forgive my maths, but shouldn't the black bead emerge only 25% of the time? In the games I've played, it's been at least double that. And, of course, the cards are in German, and ascertaining the right one can hold up matters significantly. My ``fix'' would be to act upon a black bead only when your own colour appears as well (the green player would need to nominate one of the other three colours available).
If you are thinking that this looks like a terminal problem, be assured that it isn't, even though I am banging on. The Events are fun, and often invoke another player's Mothership to establish the result. For example: You receive a distress call from a spaceship on a trajectory into a sun. Do you help? If you respond positively, then you must compare your Mothership's speed with the player to your right (a ``roll'' plus Drives) and hope for the best. You could lose an upgrade, but might gain a Trade Ship from the grateful Trader prince. Colourful, entertaining and a reminder to keep those Motherships full to bursting.
Sternenfahrer's final segment involves the exploration of Planets, and the founding of Colonies and Trade Bases.
When Trade or Colony Ships move onto a Spacepoint adjacent to a planet, the Production chit can be privately revealed. Spacepoints marked with a circle are Colony Points, and this enables the investigation of Production chits on both neighbouring Planets. The chits are returned face-down when their examination is complete.
If a player decides to end his flight at a Colony Point, the Production chits of neighbouring planets are surveyed. A Colony (one VP) can now be founded if the chit(s) were neither Pirates nor an Ice Planet (both are extremely difficult to overcome). The Transport is detached from the Colony marker and returned to the player's stock. The chits are then revealed, and will earn specific Raw Materials with a little help from the dice.
The heavy-duty gameboard illustrates four Alien Homeworlds which lie independent of the various Planet configurations (three in each). Each Homeworld has a surrounding trading area numbered from 1-5, and these can be breached by any player. The first Trade ship to arrive nestles on area `1' (assuming the Mothership has one Trade Ring). The Transport is now returned to base, and the enterprising player receives the Friendship Disc for this race, and also the choice of any one of five Friendship Cards which expound assorted benefits. The Disc (worth two VPs) is retained by virtue of holding more Trade Bases (at this Homeworld) than any other player. Subsequent visitors will need progressively more Trade Rings, so be first!
There is one worthwhile and obvious addition to the graphic representation on the nicely illustrated board, and that is a Victory Point Track which negates that popular Settlers phrase ``How Many Have You Got?''. And as most games are unlikely to produce a runaway victor, this prompt will act as a wake-up call if the mind begins a-wandering.
It goes without saying that Kosmos have done a magnificent job on the Sternenfahrer production. Every single component is top-notch and there can be no carping about value for money.
But, of course, the bits are redundant if the game becomes a table support. To buy or not to buy? That is the question to which these are the answers.
Not to buy:
I absolutely loved the game, and my fetishisms are strictly of the normal variety (so my psychologist tells me).