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The Starfarers of Catan
 
 
 
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The Starfarers of Catan

English language edition of Die Sternenfahrer von Catan


List Price: $60.00
Your Price: $48.00
(20% savings!)
(Worth 4,800 Funagain Points!)

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Product Awards:  
International Gamers Awards
Best Strategy Game Nominee, 2000

Ages Play Time Players
12+ 120 minutes 3-4

Designer(s): Klaus Teuber

Manufacturer(s): Mayfair Games, Kosmos

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Product Description

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.

Product Awards

International Gamers Awards
Best Strategy Game Nominee, 2000

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Klaus Teuber

  • Manufacturer(s): Mayfair Games, Kosmos

  • Year: 2001

  • Players: 3 - 4

  • Time: 120 minutes

  • Ages: 12 and up

  • Weight: 2,186 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are printed in English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.

Contents:

  • 4 Plastic Mother Ships
  • 108 Mother Ship Expansion Pieces
  • 38 Resource Chips
  • 12 Spaceport Rings
  • 12 Transporters
  • 36 Colonies
  • 28 Trading Outposts
  • 4 Friendship Chips
  • 4 Game Overview Cards
  • 4 Victory Point Markers
  • 32 Encounter Cards
  • 100 Resource Cards
  • 20 Friendship Cards
  • Rules
  • Almanac
  • Plastic Trays
  • Illustrated Game Board
  • 2 Dice

Product Reviews

 
 
 
 
 

Average Rating: 3.6 in 37 reviews

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by SciFi
SciFi Catan
May 04, 2008

Best Catan game ever... I'm a big fan of catan and scifi so it's my game!

 
 
 
 
 
Starfarers of Catan
May 23, 2006

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!

 
 
 
 
 
by Ernie
A really fun game
December 22, 2003

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) !!!

 
 
 
 
 
My friends are hooked on this brilliant game!
March 31, 2003

Beautilfully detailed for a settlers game, and so many stratagy options. There is no one best way to win. We have played over and over and over again, the game just gets more exciting.

I own and play tons of differant games and ALL my friends agree that Starfarers is a top-notch product. Please give it a try!

 
 
 
 
 
A deeper Settlers
January 11, 2003

I love this game. I always disliked settlers as it always came down to the starting positions and the role of the dice. But in Starfarers luck is minimized somewhat and one feels like they have choices to make that affect the game. There is much more to do then in settlers and stratgy plays more of an important role. There are a few things I dislike such as the steep cost and the rather childish motherships. I also find that trading is not as important as in settlers but a few house rules can fix this easily.

 
 
 
 
 
The biggest misconception is this is 'Settlers in Space'
February 23, 2002

The biggest misconception is that this is 'Settlers of Catan in space'. While the two games definitely share some mechanics, Starfarers adds so much more to the game that you must use entirely different tactics.

Starfarers adds more player interaction too. When someone rolls an encounter, another player reads the results of the card. Usually it results in the active player competing against another player's Boosters or Cannons. So as soon as one player gains a lot of boosters, everyone quickly races to catch up to his quota. This makes Starfarers a race game on so many different levels.

I have heard from quite a few people that they thought the game was 'broken'. I have found no evidence of this at all. In fact, the amazing thing about this game is how balanced it is. For 5 weeks in a row I've brought Starfarers to our Friday gaming night. Each time we played with a new person who has never played Starfarers before. And 4 out of 5 games the new player won!

If you are a fan of Settlers of Catan, Starfarers is a must have!

 
 
 
 
 
It's not the original Siedler, but it's still awesome!
January 06, 2002

For those of you who are looking for a new, great game to buy, but are overwhelmed with all the choices, STOP HERE!! Sternenfahrer (or Starfarers in English) is an easy-to-learn game that is challenging with great playing pieces and will take up most of a night with your friends.

Our German-speaking family started a while back with Siedler von Catan (The Settlers of Catan), moved quickly onto the expansion, bought Seefahrer (Seefarers) and its expansion, and then Staedte und Ritter (Cities and Knights). This is, by far, our very favorite. Not only does the game have the trading and numbers of Siedler, but the event cards and the trading posts add a whole new element.

If you have children and are concerned about the age requirements, don't worry. My 8 and 10-year-old boys don't have any problems playing it.

I know Starfarers is missing the wooden Siedlungs and Stadts from Siedler, but plastic works too!

 
 
 
 
 
Settlers PLUS!
September 20, 2001

After all of the expansions, it's hard to believe that, looking back, one could only buy 4 things on a tiny island in the original Settlers game. You now have lots of stuff to buy, and a lot of options to chose, with a lot of little plastic pieces to fly around space with. After a bunch of games, I've found Starfarers to be pretty engaging and very balanced. Let me count the ways...

Some of the things that have been improved over the original Settlers are: while the places to build diminish over time, you never find yourself trapped like you do by the mad land grab of roads; more and different ways to score victory points; and various rules that help people who have fallen behind the pack--low VP charity, wear and tear of ships, and a couple of the diplomat cards that are useless to people in the lead. However, a string of bad dice rolls still leaves you pretty stranded doing nothing.

Of course, with four people, I've yet to play a game in under 2.5 hours, whereas with four people, 45 minutes was easily managable. So you'd better have some time on your hands if you want to play more than one game.

A lot has been mentioned about the encounter cards, basically stating that they are too random. This is not really the case. Since a majority of the actions taken by the cards require the player to roll their ship (not the dice) versus another player (not an arbitary number), keeping ahead in the arms race between the players will give you a steady stream of good results, since, in general always doing the honorable thing pays off most of the time.

In the end, SF is a great game if you've got the time and if you are familiar with the original.

 
 
 
 
 
I don't like Settlers; I love Starfarers!
September 09, 2001

I have never been a Settlers fan. Each time our play group would play, they would literally drag me into the game. Not so with this one. I bought it for the toy factor... I couldn't resist. But I didn't anticipate playing at all. Well, my wife and I had a couple of friends over a while back, and they wanted to play one of those strange games in my strange gaming room. I pulled out some possible choices that were good for non-gamers: Acquire, Vino, History of the World, etc...

Then my friend sees this big box. 'What's this,' he asks. I open the box and explain the basic concept, and then he sees the ships... 'Woah! I wanna play this.' I was now looking at a boring evening, but what I will do to introduce newbies to gaming...

Well, you know what? We all had a blast. This game is fun, the production value is incredible and, somehow, I like playing the game. Do not ask me why I like this one and not Settlers. I don't know. I just do. We have now played 3 times and my friends have now told me that they have devised this game-winning stategy they want to try next week... something about doing the opposite of everybody else.

Oh, I also bought the alien figurines. The set-up is out of this world with them on the board.

Go buy this game. It's just plain fun.

 
 
 
 
 
lost in space...
September 07, 2001

I've played the game a few times with some friends who had decided that the game needed some spicing up: they allow ships to attack one another. The first time we tried this, it seemed hugely unfair to lose an entire colony or trade ship based on a single die (marble) roll. It also gave those inclined towards armament a devastating advantage on the field. The subsequent times we've played, the losing ship on the battlefield merely goes back to its spaceport of origin. Either way, I think that this variant creates much animosity and unnecessary hostility.

I think that one of the strengths of the [page scan/se=0041/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Catan series (including the Starfarers edition) is the non-combatitive nature of the games. Although combat is optional (with space pirates), those who choose the way of the pacifist can contently pursue their conquest of the galaxy through other means. I think that the game is simple yet creative, attractive to both newbies and to advanced gamers. This makes it a terrific game.

 
 
 
 
 
Great game from a Great disigner
July 18, 2001

I've been designing games for years and the hardest tasks are balancing gameplay and simplicity, yet still creating complexity in strategic options. This game defines balance.

It is brilliant in all aspects, from the design through to quality. The encounter cards are a great innovation, reminicent of those 'choose you own adventure' books. It uses the basic mechanics from the original Settlers and adds tons of other options.

 
 
 
 
 
This Game is AMAZING.
July 11, 2001

I dont get sucked in by hype, so I was able to view this game for what it was: A GREAT GAME.

Everywhere I go, I hear people complain about this game being 'overly slick' and 'overly produced'. I say you are mistaking it for QUALITY!. If the ship were cardboard (like the Castille in [page scan/se=0040/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]El Grande--I would pay more for a nice plastic Castille), I would be disappointed. Yes, this game is more expensive than a lot of other games, but it is worth it.

Now that thats out of the way, I think the bar was set too high for this game. People were expecting the same experience as the first time they played Settlers. Yes, there are a lot of similarities in game play, but this game EXPANDS on the Catan theme and adds a lot of really nice parts to the game. I love how you can get Victory Points in so many different ways. If someone is dominating in a certain resource, try another avenue... this is great stuff here.

One of my favorite aspects of this game is the encounter card. These cards give you choices of what you can do, which could be good or bad. Nice. This game went over big in my crowd. We will be playing it as much as we have played the original Settlers (best game of all time, mind you). If you can let go and forget all expectations of the Catan moniker, you will find a fine game.

Pros:

1. Great production (you will forget the price when you open this box)

2. Lots of ways to win.

Cons:

1. There is only one I could come up with: if you are sick of the Catan style of play, this game won't change your mind.

 
 
 
 
 
FYI: How NOT to Break Your Motherships!
May 24, 2004

Starfarers of Catan is a fantastic game. However, it seems that more than half of the new owners of Starfarers end up breaking one or more of their motherships, within the first couple of times playing the game. Which is a crying shame, considering the price of Starfarers (around $40-50, depending on where you but it).

The problem with the motherships is mostly due to the poor design and the brittle plastic of the brackets that hold the booster rockets onto them. Customer support at Mayfair Games says that (I quote), 'this truly is a rarity and only occurs in 0.4% of all ships'. But this appears to be a gross falsification on Mayfair's part when you consider the many, many complaints on websites such as Board Game Geek, FunAgain Games, and Amazon.

The brackets on three out of my four motherships broke, and this happened to me the first time I tested putting the booster rockets on and taking them off. (And I have fairly nimble fingers!) I was able to get replacements for my broken motherships from the guy who sold me the game, and when I did, I thought hard on how I could possibly fix this problem, before I ended up breaking my replacements as well.

The problem is that, most of the time, the brackets fit too tightly around the boosters and the plastic of the brackets is too brittle. So, the solution is to loosen the brackets before you snap the boosters into place, the first time. To loosen them, use a metal file; one that is small and preferably has a round head.

First, test a bracket on a mothership. Chances are, the bracket will be too tight, and the booster will not easily go into place. But be gentle, applying hardly any pressure. And do NOT try forcing the booster into the bracket, because more than likely you will break the bracket.

Then, gently file the inside rim of the bracket, especially at the bracket's outer prongs. Do this carefully! File away just a little bit, then test the bracket again with a booster. Eventually, you should be able to press the booster into place with just a gentle pressure. If you file away too much of the inside bracket, the fit will be to loose, and the booster will not stay in place. If you don't file enough, the bracket may break when you try pressing the booster in or taking it out.

Do this with all six brackets, on each mothership. (Yes, this will take at least an hour of careful, meticulous work.) Once you're done, load up all four motherships with six boosters each, to make sure you've gotten all to fit right.

There! Now you can play your Starfarers of Catan game with relative ease. (You and your fellow players still need to be gentle with the motherships, for they are delicate in other areas as well. Despite appearances, this game is not for kids! Heh.)

 
 
 
 
 
by Bob
Great game, but...
January 15, 2004

I bought htis game yesterday, and played last night with friends. We all loved the game. My complaint is that the Motherships; when you put on the boosters the spot were you place the boosters kept breaking. I tried everyway to try and make the boosters fit on with out them breaking. once they where on, I was able to get them off with out breaking by pushing down on them. Since it is on an angle, they slip off easily. So my big complaint is you spend $90+ for the game and expantion, you don't think that it would start breaking right away. I will be writing to the company and explaining my problem.

 
 
 
 
 
less of a purist's game, but more fun...
November 26, 2002

First up, about the manufacturing problems: mine had them too, so back to my local game shop I went, they opened up a Kosmos copy and gave me the motherships from there, and they've been fine. Since it appears that the actual source is the same it looks like some Mayfair ones got a brittle batch, so if that's the case then a replacement isn't bound to break as well as the basic design is actually sound.

Bits aside (though they're so fabulous it's hard to ignore them), how's the game? In terms of being an exercise in mental challenge I'd say it's not as good as the original Settlers, but on the other hand I find it more fun. Part of that is the combination of theme, components and mechanics and partly it's the way you get to actually move stuff around the board turn to turn, so it's more dynamic in play.

As well as making the game more dynamic, the movement (and associated encounter system) adds more luck to the pot: if you dislike too much luck in a game you'll probably dislike this, though again it's the case that the encounters add more colour and enhance the theme.

If you graphed style against substance for the Catan board games, Starfarers would blow the other titles out of the water on the first but trail by varying degrees on the second. That's not a bad thing, sometimes lighter fare is what's called for, and it's my favourite of the Catan board games because of it (I'd sooner play, say, E&T than Settlers if I wanted more depth).

 
 
 
 
 
Great game, but it eliminates a key ingredient...
November 12, 2001

Like the other [page scan/se=0041/sf=category/fi=stockin.asc/ml=20]Settlers games, Starfarers offers the player several choices of actions, and building options, but the trading element of the original Settlers has been virtually eliminated.

You collect an extra resource every turn at the beginning of the game (until you hit 9 points), you can collect extra resources through encounters, and it turns the game into multiplayer solitare. There's really nothing you can do to hinder an opposing player unless you beat them to an alien trading post, but that's not a big deal because there are 5 posts to each alien race.

The production quality is outstanding (although one of our mother ships broke during our second game), but it's still not as good as the original Settlers. Trading was key in the original game, and there was hardly any trading going on in our games at all. People asked for resource trades when their roll and their free draw didn't give them what they needed, but no one was willing to deal because they were working on building their own strategies. Plus, it really wasn't a big deal if no one traded with you because you could always get an encounter that would let you choose a resource.

The encounters seemed pretty novel at first, but during our second game, a pattern of responses was forming. You always came to the aid of a ship being attacked, and you always gave merchants your resources. During the middle of our second game, the newness of the encounters had already worn off. They should sell expansion packs of Encounter cards to keep the game from really getting old.

Overall, the game is better than the Cities and Knights expansion of Settlers, but still not as good as the original game.

 
 
 
 
 
Settlers with a different spin...
July 23, 2001

My rankings:

Cities & Knights of Catan: 5 stars

Settlers of Catan: 4.5 stars

Starfarers of Catan: 3 stars

Seafarers of Catan: 2 stars

I still play all for variation, but Starfarers doesn't have the variability of Settlers.

The plastic mother-ships are cute, but they easily break (5 minutes after opening the box). A cardboard flip board, like in Cities & Knights, and a specially marked six-sided die would be more robust. This would also reduce the cost considerably and make the box smaller.

The number counters are difficult to read amongst the background of cresent moons and the star filled board. I would have preferred the standard Settlers-style number counters and a plainer playing board.

 
 
 
 
 
So much better than Settlers...
July 18, 2001

Let me preface this review with the following: I hate Settlers of Catan.

I'm starting to warm up to it a little, after many plays, when that's what everyone else was up for. But to me, the game has always had two problems:

1. Too much is determined in the initial setup.

2. Too much luck is involved.

As far as I'm concerned, Starfarers rectifies both of those problems. There are so many ways to score that any starting set up can be worked with, and the 'Choose Your Own Adventure'-style encounters help tone down the luck factor to a level I'm happy to tolerate. Give it a try.

 
 
 
 
 
A nice break from the normal Settlers
April 23, 2000

I should preface this by saying that Settlers of Catan is the best game I've learned in YEARS. So I had high expectations of Starfarers, and jumped at the chance to play a game. Many of the basics are still there, the trading, the development choices, the race for production. There is a much higher level of chance however--the cards which are forced upon you often will make or break most games. But the lesser level of strategy doesn't lessen the game. This game is harder to play as a German edition however, so you may want to wait for an English edition.

 
 
 
 
 
Enjoyable Stand-alone Variant to the Settlers' Family
March 21, 2000

This is a stand-alone game based in the Settlers of Catan series of games. It is easy to learn, features quality components as you would expect from a German game (or a Kosmos game for that matter) and has several new features that make it worthwhile for someone who is familiar to the game series.

The rules are short and well illustrated with both pictures and examples. The game play is tight and it is hard for a player to break from the pack in terms of victory points early on without an extraordinary amount of luck.

For players familiar to the original Settlers of Catan there are several significant changes. The board is 'fixed' (no tile laying). Number chits are distributed in a quasi-random pattern and are discovered as the game progresses (similar to several of the Seafarers of Catan scenarios). The vagaries of production rolls are evened out by a supply deck, which gives each player a free resource card at the beginning of his/her turn for the first half of the game. The upgrade to the basic unit (the Colony) does not provide an automatic doubling of resources gained from adjacent areas. Upgrades to your civilization have a more incremental feel than with Settlers or Seafarers, but not as much as in the Cities and Knights expansion. Civilization upgrades are accomplished through the establishment of Trading Posts with one of four alien races. Each alien race has a specialization: the Green People permit an additional resources of a specific type to be gained during the production phase, the Traders allow the equivalent of ports, the Diplomats diminish various game effects (like the loss of cards when a '7' is rolled) and the Wise People who provide additional accessories to your fleet. There are no roads, just movement along 'space points' with the provision that two pieces may not end a turn on the same space.

The pieces are 'flashy' compared to the original game. One of the players when playing for the first time said 'Plastic pieces in a German game? - I thought that Germans put wood in everything.' But plastic they are and purpose built with a Jules Verne/Flash Gordon feel. The 5 1/2 inch (about 15cm) Mothership is the only piece that really takes some getting used to. It is a proxy for how your fleet on the board is kitted out and serves to 'roll' random numbers as needed. I was torn on whether there was a case of over-production, but could not come up with a better way of doing what the pieces do with less of them or if they were made differently. With respect to translating the Encounter cards and other written material, the cross-indexing is less than in the Cities and Knights expansion and is aided by a few numbered stickers applied to the respective type of cards.

I was a bit skeptical when I saw that the box had a two-hour playing time listed on it, but that on average has proven to be true. The first game took about 3 1/2 hours including rules explanations; more recent ones take about an hour and a half from set up to completion.

I would recommend Die Sternenfahrer von Catan to anyone interested in purchasing a Settlers game--for those who are new to Settlers as this is a stand-alone game, and for those familiar with the series for the new twist on the rules.

 
 
 
 
 
Interesting and enjoyable variation on Settlers
December 19, 1999

Die Sternenfahrer von Catan is a game that has been generating considerable play interest in my gaming group, with both its impressive array of pieces and some of its variations from the Settlers theme.

The pieces to this game are a strong draw, with the bulky mother ship randomizer/upgrade host and the various components generating considerable attention. In fact, the game verges somewhat on the line of overproduction, but the general sentiment has been that the line wasn't quite crossed.

Game play is markedly different. In Sternenfahrer players traverse a preset board to establish space colonies. Production values of potential colonies are learned by exploration with various colony and trade ships. Pirate bases and ice planets provide hurdles which must be overcome to make a world productive, and offer bonus victory points to the players who do so. Random event cards offer additional variation to game play.

One key improvement Sternenfahrer offers is the addition of the supply deck. Players who have fewer than 9 victory points (out of the required 15) may draw a card from the random supply deck on their turn. This goes a long way towards mitigating resource blocks which frequently occur during Settlers.

Another interesting innovation is the addition of the four 'friendly' alien races. The first player to establish a trade station in an alien system gains two victory points. Further, any player that establishes a post may select one of the advantage cards conferred by that race. Advantages vary: trading bonuses with the Galactic Bank, production bonuses, increased ship speed/armaments, etc. Icons on the cards help speed recognition of which advantage each race's card confers.

The game is simple to learn, though the process of indexing translations for the German event cards can be a bit tedious for players versed only in English. Visual aids both on the board and in the reference cards assist greatly in game play.

The concept of upgrading one's mother ship with more ship drives or cannon has led to some interesting 'arms races' in game play. While direct player-to-player combat is not within the game's scope, the event deck frequently requires a player to check characteristics of his own ship (i.e. drives or cannon) against a neighboring player. This can force players to waste time beefing up their mother ship in favor of building more colonies. Likewise, the boost in ship speed gained from attaching additional drives onto the mother ship has made for some exciting races to the various alien trading systems.

According to the box, play time is expected to be around two hours. In practice this game tends to take about three hours to play, not including setup time.

On the down side, Sternenfahrer does have some substantial drawbacks.

The event deck offers only 32 different cards, many of which offer the same initial scenario but lead to different results. (E.g. 8 out of the 32 cards start with 'You encounter a merchant. How many raw materials will you give him?') This may negatively impact replay value.

Further, some of the random events can be game breakers early on, such as the free acquisition of a trade ship or a jump thru a space rift. Expansions to the event deck would be most welcome, as would revisions to the cards that too easily grant a free Trade ship or a jump through a rift in space.

Players versed only in English who do not have the patience to index translations for card text may wish to make up their own English cards, or wait for Starfarers to be released by Mayfair. Indexing translations can be particularly tedious on random events, due to the multiple variations on most of the cards.

(NOTE: As of this date, Mayfair has not made a final determination as to whether it will be able to sell English rules and English cards separately for Sternenfahrer.)

Unlike Settlers, Sternenfahrer offers few mechanisms for working against a player who has taken a commanding lead. In Settlers one may move the robber onto a player who is producing too quickly, or work to take away his claim to the longest road or largest army. In Sternenfahrer, the only ways to thwart a player with a commanding lead are to refuse to trade with him and to deliberately try to beat him to various colonizable points. However, trade with the Galactic Bank and the bonuses from alien races tend to minimize the effect these strategies have on a runaway leader.

The rules should explicity note that the blue and yellow worlds always have production values, while the red worlds are the only worlds likely to have pirate bases or ice planets. This observation comes very quickly to the game's owner and those who have played it, and confers somewhat of an advantage over those unfamiliar with the game parts.

Some of the players who have looked at the game feel that the 'overproduction' line was crossed. However, in the game's defense, the number of people I've shown the game to who like the way it was produced outweigh those who object to its production by about 5-1.

At least a third of the people in my gaming circle who have played this game plan to buy copies of their own sometime after Christmas.

In conclusion, Sternenfahrer is a game which has yet to have a shortage of eager players, nor has it failed to generate a request for me to bring it again. It may eventually wear thin on game play, but my friends and I are certain to get our entertainment dollar's worth out of it before that time arrives... and even when Sternenfahrer finally does fall out of favor, it will still have the intrinsic value of its pieces to fascinate game lovers at a later date.

 
 
 
 
 
Great Variation on the Settlers theme
November 29, 1999

Great game, very much like Settlers of Catan, but different in many significant ways. The production has been ramped up for everyone, so runs of the dice are less problematic. Without roads, the players have more options and are less constrained in their expansion. With a few more options for stuff to buy (and without the constant pressure for wood and bricks for roads and settlements), and with all the special abilities that come from establishing trade outposts, the game is a little more strategic. Unlike Settlers, the game remains interesting until the end; whereas in Settlers the winner is often obvious for much of the endgame, in Starfarers players seem to have options right up until the last turn.

The Encounter cards are also clever and add some good flavor to the game.

There is a lot to like here for the Settlers fan, and for people who thought Settlers was a bit too dice-driven or constrained. The game is fun to play and while the luck element has been reduced somewhat in the production area, it still retains much of the chaotic feel that is uniquely Settlers.

The game is a bit longer than Settlers and is a bit more involved. One of the great things about Settlers is that it is immediately accessible; people pick it up and can play it right away. Starfarers is a bit harder to pick up, as there are more things you can do that affect the game. It'll take once through just to get a handle on how the game plays, I think, aside from developing a sensible strategy.

So, perhaps not quite as highly reccomended as the original Settlers, but a very fine game if you would like the feel of Settlers of Catan and would enjoy somthing with a bit more opportunity for good (and bad!) play throughout the game.

 
 
 
 
 
Good game yet disappointing manufacturing
October 20, 2002

I had several of the motherships crack where the boosters clip in during play.

Pretty disappointing for a $60 game. The initial cost was rough enough and then the quality of the components causes a failure?

As for the game itself... the play isn't bad but it's quite slow. Sort of similar to all settlers games in that a lucky roll can make all the difference. There actually isn't tons of strategy going on here. Basically, dump a colony down where ever you can to get the next victory point. Scoop up a friendship token or two and the game is yours.

Cities and Knights is so much better. I'd suggest buying that instead.

 
 
 
 
 
by Jeff
To Boldly Go Where No Settler Has Gone Before
March 20, 2002

Settlers meets Star Trek. This is a game that starts out very fun, but after the first hour and a half begins to lag a bit.

Mayfair has added a lot of bells and whistles to their darling Settlers franchise. It is definitely not an 'elegant' game, but that is not a criticism IMHO. I love those big plastic rocket ships, and groovy plastic bits!

I think this game has a very strong theme. And can you name a board game with higher production value? Huh, well, can you?...

But the problem for me is that it drags, unlike the more modest and 'elegant' Settlers of Catan. It's always fun to play, though. But I'm still bitter about paying 60 bones for a board game!

One cool variant: If you want a less-than friendly game you can introduce combat. Blast your opponents' ships out of the solar system. Here's how: If your colony ship or trade ship catches up to your opponent's you can attack them by both parties rolling the dice and adding your cannons on your rocket ships. The loser must go back to his or her starting base. It's a new element to the game but makes it less friendly.

 
 
 
 
 
sub-par manufacturing
February 07, 2002

Just as a warning...

I bought the starfarers and the expansion pack and played for the first time. To my surprise, many of the clips that hold on the boosters on the motherships began to crack and several have broken off. This has happened on both the motherships from the basic set and the motherships from the expansion pack. There is not a single mothership that doesn't have at least one clip that has developed a crack. These clips hold onto the boosters much looser than the others and from my experience will eventually break. This isn't a part that I have been able to glue back on either.

I take great pride in keeping my games in good condition. I was very careful when clipping in the boosters. I wrote Mayfair three emails in three weeks only to be ignored. I called the company where someone leveled with me that it is a design flaw and they have been getting a lot of complaints about this. They advise 'not to twist the boosters *AT ALL* while clipping them in and out of the ships.'

The game is fun. But personally I expect a little better manufacturing than this. So be warned, the motherships are very fragile in this regard and should be played with accordingly.

 
 
 
 
 
Another long luck-based game, but some nice innovations
July 04, 2000

This game is very cute with all the high-quality plastic and a space theme. Also, I preferred the gameplay to Settlers classic in two ways...

First of all, you don't get into a situation like in Settlers where you have no room to expand because of being blocked by roads. Your colony and trade ships can move through those of your opponents, so you just need to be able to find a good colony that you can reach before your opponent does.

Also, I like the fact that you get 1 extra card when you have less than 9 points. This tends to make up for some initial placement imbalances and some of the 'rich get richer' problem. I think it would be interesting to try upping the bonus to 2 extra cards initially and then 1 extra card at 6 points and then 0 extra cards at 9 points, but this might shorten the game somewhat so you might need to extend the winning point total.

The German cards are a little bit of a challenge, but some friends who have a set made up for this by placing small numeric labels on the cards, so it is easier to index into the English translations. The event cards are more of a challenge than the trader cards, since the trader cards are pretty much self explanatory once you've read through the English versions once.

My main complaint is that the game is just as random as the original settlers (possibly moreso because of the event cards), and since it tends to still make rich players richer, you often know early that you're behind and are forced to endure another couple of hours anyways. In one game I played, the dice rolled 8 about 20 times, and 6 only twice throughout the game--it's impossible to come up with a coherent strategy to counter in these situations. Perhaps it would be useful to use a program to generate the dice so that you get a more even long-term distribution.

 
 
 
 
 
by Lloyd
Pretty, but over-complicated version of the original game.
June 25, 2000

Die Sternenfahrer von Catan, I think translates to something like 'Starfarers of Catan'.

This is one of the latest and most expensive variants of the tremendously successful [page scan/se=0041/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Settlers of Catan series. In this, the settlers of Catan have settled the whole of the Earth, and are now ready to move out into the rest of the galaxy.

Justifying the cost, are the bits. This is a 'bit-intensive' game. The board is big and stout, and shows the home/start planets at one end, and a scatter of unexplored planets elsewhere on the board, and four species of aliens to be encountered, two on each side of the board. All of these are linked by the familiar, large, hex-grids of all the Catan games.

Each player has a large space ship, in which one could easily imagine Buster Crabbe flying with gritted teeth. With this, a player keeps records of his people's technology and achievements, by adding or subtracting various plastic moulded add-ons. The number of extra engine pieces determines how quickly his people's ships can travel over the board, the number of guns how well they will fight if they need to (space is full of pirates), cargo rings around the belly of the ship tell him how well his people will survive on cold planets, and how much he can offer to the aliens in trade. The ships also act as dice. Each has a few coloured balls which rattle around inside, before two come to rest in a transparent cup at the bottom end of the ship.

The game starts like other Catan games, with players placing their colonies on the home planets, next to planets which offer one of the five resources: carbon, technology, food, energy, and good old-fashioned rock. Every turn, a player rolls 2d6 and the effects of this are the same as in other Catan games: players next to planets with the number rolled get the resources produced by those planets. Players also shake their space-ships and consult a little table to see what they have rolled. The coloured balls determine how far ships can be moved, and whether a black card is to come into effect (which often they do).

Black cards are read out by another player, and they have on them flow-charts. These are all in German, and English translations have to be pasted over the top. These say things like 'You receive a distress call from a ship about to crash into a sun, do you go to its rescue?' For doing good things, like rescuing ships, players get glory points, and these are lost for doing bad things. There is usually a risk in doing good things, however. Usually, the risk is resolved by pitting one player against another, so a particular set of choices made in the flow-chart might lead to a box saying 'Make a movement roll and the player to your left should make one too', then lines lead from this box labelled 'faster than other player' and 'slower than other player', which lead to the outcome.

Players send out ships to visit other planets, and when they get to them, they get to see what resource numbers the planets have, and then they can choose whether to colonise them or not. Resources are needed to build ships, and to upgrade them.

Another way to get ahead, is to trade with aliens, and to befriend them. It takes a while to get to them, though, and later in the game, other players might win the aliens' affection from you. Mind you, the rewards are great.

The game is Settlers of Catan at heart, except that the board is very big, and so it can take a while to get anywhere, and each turn is a bit more complicated, especially if a black card is to be played. This is its downfall. It is pretty much the same game, only slower, longer, and more frustrating. Once one player has started to do badly, he has very little chance of catching up, and, in a game as long as this, this is a big frustration. If the other players have more engines, then they can zip across the board faster, colonise more planets, do more trade with aliens, and become faster still. Catching up becomes harder and harder. Another problem is that the game is likely to be won long before players are strong enough to do some of the more interesting things, such as colonise pirate planets (one needs a LOT of guns to do this). Once one player has the required number of victory points, the game is over for all.

Overall, I'd say that this game is a good way to appreciate how good the original game of Settlers of Catan is. Starfarers looks interesting, and fans of Catan will like giving it a try, but I doubt that they'd choose to play it very often.

 
 
 
 
 
Space, the financial frontier.
June 12, 2000

If you are looking for a Settlers type game, dont look here. If you want to play a fun space game with lots of quality bits, this is the place. Sternenfahrer has a lot going for it, but unfortunately, it has a lot going for it! There is just so much stuff to consider, and with all of the variables, you don't feel much in control of your destiny. Movement, events, and colonies are all randomly influenced, thereby making victory feel somewhat hollow. But, there are many decisions to make that effect each turn, and, I do have to admit, it is fun to play. I think that this one will grow on you the more you play it, and when an English version of the event cards come out (are you listening Mayfair?) the turns will move much more smoothly.

If you want the best of Settlers, get Seafarers. If you want great space trading, get Merchant of Venus. View Sternenfahrer as a diluted synthesis of both.

 
 
 
 
 
Too many pieces and rules
May 01, 2006

My friends and I loved Settlers of Catan and we own all of the expansions for it. The genius to that games is that you have some simple rules and it all just fits. It took us about an hour just to figure out how to play Starfarers. There are just too many pieces and too many rules. My motherships also broke about 50% of the time we put an engine on them. It seems some engines are thicker than others. It's not really a big factor in the game, but it makes the price tag that much less appealing.

If you haven't played any of the Catan games, go for the original first. If you've been playing the Catan games and are looking for something new, I recommend trying Elasund. I think it's much better done than Starfarers (and 2 - 4 players).

 
 
 
 
 
Redhead Stepchild of the Settlers Series
July 06, 2003

Starfarers has too many pieces, too litle player interaction, costs too much, is a little too long and has poor production values (the ships break too easily, and a few extra, blank chips to replace lost ones would have been nice). Despite these flaws I want to like Starfarers, I just don't.

I have liked to some degree all the games in the Settlers series, and anticipate buying more variations as they come out. This one doesn't get played as much as the others in the series, but I will play if someone else wants to. I keep thinking I will like it, it just never happens.

I have played Starfarers many times and will likely play it more (unless more chips get lost making it unusable), it is not a bad game, but not a crowd pleaser either.

 
 
 
 
 
by Edd A
A disappointment right out of the box!
December 30, 2002

Don't get me wrong ... I generally love everything Mayfair and Teuber do ... and after reading the rules and playing the game, my initial take was 5-star all the way. But, right out of the box, the motherships began breaking when we tried to attach the booster modules. What started as an attractive way to enhance the gaming experience soon became a major source of frustration. At $60 retail (or even at Funagain's much better price), this is too expensive for a game with such poorly constructed components.

I'd like to recommend it, but can't until Mayfair does something about the workmanship.

 
 
 
 
 
by Ron
Don't blast off, stay at home in Catan.
July 19, 2001

As a lover of all things Catan and also of games with lots of bits, I thought this was a shoe-in.

Nope. It takes the worst aspect of the Catan games (the dependence on luck) and magnifies it to the extreme.

The cards would be as easily resolved as a die roll, because the 'choose your own adventure' stuff gives no clues as to the 'correct' response. The same setup is used for many of the cards, and either answer could be right. Is it really a ship crashing into the sun, or is it a pirate in diguise? Who knows?

I don't mind the 'exploration' aspect, which was first introduced in one of the Seafarers variants, but when you find a planet you can't settle on because you don't have enough rings or lasers, you can suddenly be down a few turns with nothing to show for it. (At least in Seafarers, if you stumble on a desert, you can build on it to get a point if you have to.)

I've given it two tries to win me over. Maybe I'll give it one more chance after some time, but for now, I'll stay earthbound on Catan.

 
 
 
 
 
Several improvements to Siedler, but less deep
May 03, 2001

The game is a very nice 'Siedler in space' with a few innovations to cancel out the luck factor often seen in Siedler. But the game isn't infinitely playable like Siedler is. The boardgame is 'fixed' and this reduces the longevity of it. I've played the game four times and am already tired of it. If they made the game around a changable planet distribution, it would have been great. But as it is now, it's just not fun anymore after several times.

Play it at least once, just to see the innovations involved.

 
 
 
 
 
Great production values, poor gameplay
June 20, 2000

Well, played The Spacefarers of Catan for the second time last night, me and three other members of the Tuesday Night Gaming Club. I have to say I didn't have a lot of fun. The game suffers doubly from the main problem of its predecessor, The Settlers of Catan: too much random luck. But it also fails where Settlers succeeded, in the area of strategy and tactics, of which it has virtually none.

I have to agree with the reviews I've read elsewhere of Settlers that the players who experience early success will have that success multiply exponentially, with no opportunity for the trailing players to bring them down or overtake them. Spacefarers addresses this inequity somewhat with the transfer of Alien Friendship discs, which helped a player in last night's game to score 6 points in a single turn (in a game that goes only to 15 points), going from 7 to 13, from last place to first, and go on to win the game. This player had been producing well the entire game, but found himself continually vexed by the discovery of Pirate's Nests and Ice Planets, so was unable to establish any colonies or spaceports.

Me, I was producing okay, had the lead for most of the game, but found myself raped and raped again both by seven rolls, thereby losing half my cards, and other players stealing cards from my hand by various means.

Both times we've played we've used the beginner's setup, where the initial placement of the pieces is determined by a diagram given in the instructions. Settlers had an equivalent mode of play, which we soon abandoned in favor of choosing where to place your initial settlements and roads, and we will definitely be doing the same the next time we play Spacefarers.

Gameplay aside, there is both considerable expense and preparation that goes along with ownership of Spacefarers. When purchased from the Funagain website, the game comes with an English translation of the German rules and the 32 Event cards (which one must copy, cut out, and laminate). But no translation is provided for the Quick Reference cards or the Alien Friendship cards, so one is left to one's own devices to either get by without them, or create translations oneself. Me, I did the latter, and managed to produce some beautiful Quick Reference cards, by scanning in the German originals, modifying them using Paintshop, then printing and laminating the results. I also created four Alien Friendship Card Indexes, using Alta Vista's Babelfish translation tool.

Speaking of translation, the translated rules and Event cards suffer somewhat from what I call the post-translation blues, where the translations were done too literally, without much imagination or consideration for how they'd sound in English. So it's "Wandering People" instead of "Space Gypsies", "Knowing People" instead of "Wise Ones", "revered in the entire galaxy" instead of "revered throughout the galaxy", etc.

In summary, I would not recommend this game, and will probably not play it many more times myself.

 
 
 
 
 
Shining example of overproduction. Blech!
December 12, 1999

I feel the game fails on several levels. The basic mechanics of the game are fine, even good. Instead of settlements and cities, you build colony ships or trade ships. Colony ships are used to set up bases in other systems, and the trade ships are used to 'trade' with four off board alien races, all good stuff.

Now on to the negatives. Obviously, the designers tried to add depth with the encounter cards, but even after one game the ridgitity and repetiveness of the cards began to wear thin. How many times can the wandering people have their ship plummet into a sun? Basically, there are four or five encounter types (space pirates, space traders, the (sun seeking) wandering peple, etc.). For each encounter type a basic question is asked; (e.g. 'You're beset upon by space pirates, do you flee or fight?'), and the results while randomized to some extent are centered around one basic set of results. Blech... The cards are a gorgeous, expensive way to simulate die rolls.

The other major complaint I have is the overproduction of the game. The space ships onto which you attach your advancements are downright silly, and a large reason for this game's hefty price tag. I wonder if the space ship idea started out as a simple idea which snowballed into the absurd.

Overall, get rid of the space ships, and overhaul the encounter system, and this game not only costs half the price but becomes a game I can recommend. By all means play this game, but let someone else buy it. Maybe Kosmos can come out with a Starfarers Lite?

 
 
 
 
 
NOT for casual gamers
March 31, 2005

I'm a bit new to gaming, and have played mostly gateway games -- Settlers of Catan, Lost Cities. I tried to play Starfarers with my Settlers group and it was a disaster. No one had fun, it took literally hours just to comprehend the rules, and so much of it seemed arbitrary and time consuming. There are simply too many random parts of the game for me.

I'll stick with the entry-level games, where the play is faster and simpler and in my experience, more fun.

 
 
 
 
 
by Jim
Have you ever heard of recall?
January 05, 2003

I bought the Kosmos version of this game because it was on sale, and I heard (see previous review) that the Kosmos version did not have the brittle pieces. This was WRONG!! The Kosmos ships broke as well. This makes me so mad that I give this game 1 star. Also, this game does not have much more to offer than Settlers...in fact, without a configurable board, it offers less.

If I am offered replacement ships that don't break, I might consider revising my rating. Until then, I hope everyone drives the rating on this game down as far as they can. Don't settle for shoddy expensive games from some name brand designer...it ain't worth it...

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