Small Star Empires: The Only Things Small About This Game Are The Components

Vaughn Reynolds

Update! Archona Games has agreed to do an official giveaway with the Leader Pledge of their funded Kickstarter! Entries close April 27th at NOON EST:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I had seen Small Star Empires by Archona Games up on Kickstarter, but hadn’t taken the chance to back it. It was very foolish of me. 🤣

If you love “Abstract Strategy” games with “Grid Movement” mechanics (think Chess, Go, Azul, Patchwork, Santorini, Hive, etc) then you’ll absolutely love Small Star Empires.

When I originally got a copy of the game, I checked out the rules and it seemed pretty straightforward. But you know when you’re tired after a day of work and want to play a game, you usually don’t try a new one. Well, I did it anyway, and my wife who’s quite the trooper (who had just gotten off a 12-hour shift) obliged me to play a round. Well, we had an AWESOME game (pictured below) that was very tight and easy to play… and our first game came down to THREE tie-breakers! My wife beat me by 1 point (more planets controlled) and we were hooked!

In addition to getting the core game in, Milan Tasevski (of Archona Games) was awesome enough to send me the upcoming Dawn of Discoveries and The Galactic Divide expansions! They will be live on Kickstarter TOMORROW (April 11th … update: ITS HERE!)!!!

“The Dawn of Discoveries and Galactic Divide expansions add incredible depth and variety of play styles to an already solid game!” – Vaughn, I’m A Social Gamer

 

Dawn of Discoveries

This expansion adds minerals, a technology deck and Research Stations! The minerals are placed in a cloth bag, shuffled, and 1 is randomly placed on each 1-planet system. The technology deck is shuffled and a number are revealed depending on player count. Each player also receives 3 Research Stations in their color.

There are 2 ways to gain minerals.

  1. When you colonize a system containing a mineral, you gain it and put it in your reserves.
  2. When you colonize a system, you may place a Research Station instead of a Colony or Trade Station. That Research Station then gets filled with 1 randomly drawn mineral from the bag. When someone colonizes adjacent to that Research Station, they take the mineral from within the station and the owner of the station takes a random mineral from the bag.

The Technology Cards are one-time-use powers you can buy during the game. I LOVE this aspect being added in. There will always be 1 card + the number of players worth of cards available for purchase. They cost a combo of minerals and you can’t purchase multiples of the same tech. Once purchased, they go in front of you face up. When you use them, you flip them face down. At the end of the game you get +2 VP per Technology Card you have (face up or down)!

There’s also a fancy new Score Tracker so you can count points as the game goes on, rather than at the end! Personally, I prefer the score sheet, but with some of the new features (cards/powers) the real-time tracker makes more sense.

 

The Galactic Divide

This expansion introduces “Variable Player Powers” through The Civilization Boards (pictured above) and a production mechanic through the new Battle Stations.

For the Civilization Boards you get to choose from:

  1. The Tollaran Republic (blue)
  2. The Hantal’ar Empire (red)
  3. The Ora’Nor Union (yellow)
  4. The Pern Conglomerate (green)

Each gives you a unique set of faction abilities that you may use once per turn. You have a Power Track (on the right of the board) to keep track of what you have to spend. When you colonize a system, instead of placing a Colony, Trade, or Research Station you can place a Battle Station! You immediately game 2 Power for each adjacent opposing Colony or Homeworld to that Battle Station and 1 Power for each other type of adjacent opposing structure. This power is what fuels your Civilization Board abilities!

As you use Faction Abilities over the game they become more and more expensive, but they also provide more bonus VP at the end of the game!

I can’t wait to back the Kickstarter and get these in their final form! They add a ton of depth and allow you to shape the game to the mechanic/style preferences of a lot more game groups! I know some people don’t like abstract strategy unless it has a little extra flair to it. This is perfect for them!

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