Druid City Games
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Board Game Spotlight

 

Stellar Leap - A Kickstarter Preview

Leap Log TK421: Preparations have begun for our voyage through space. The Elders warned of this day but we did not heed their stories. The Great War has forced many species to look to the stars for survival. It’s time to embrace our ancestry and explore the infinite universe of space. We toil, day and night, gathering intelligence, testing our mining equipment and informing High Command of our progress.

Leap Log NCC-1701: The time has finally come and we are ready. High Command has issued their order and it’s time to travel to infinity and beyond; to take our Stellar Leap!

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PUBLISHER: weird giraffe games
DESIGNER: carla kopp
PLAYERS: 1-4
TIME: 40-80 MIN

Introduction to Stellar Leap

Stellar Leap is a light-weight 4X (eXplore, eXploit, eXpand, eXterminate) space game of competing alien races who are vying to complete missions, increase their population and gather various resources to become the most prestigious alien species in the galaxy! Players will travel among the stars to discover new worlds in order to become the greatest civilization in the universe!

 

Overall Gameplay

Each turn consists of the same 6 phases, though the steps in phase 5 can be executed in any order the player chooses.

Phase 1: Recover exhausted population.

Phase 2: Roll two dice.

Phase 3: Apply one dice manipulation power. 

Phase 4: Planets now generate resources if they are in the columns matching the die values and the sum of the die values (up to three columns). 

  • Every player with at least one population on the portion of any planet located in the chosen column(s) receive the resources noted on the planet card.  Planets containing at least one population from all players are considered overpopulated. Overpopulated planets generate less resources as stated on the card’s Overpopulated section. If both die are the same value, planets in that column generate twice as many resources.
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Phase 5: In any order, activate High Command Actions, Divisions or use population movement.

  • High Command Actions:
  1. Populate: Spend two food and one water to add one population to the  of a planet that already contains one of your population.  
  2. Tax: Receive two resources of your choice.
  3. Discover: Draw two cards from any planet deck, choose one and return the other to the bottom of the deck, then choose a column.  Place the newly discovered planet or asteroid, along with one of your player markers, in the solar system closest to the chosen column's dice card. When you discover an Asteroid, place an Asteroid die on any newly discovered asteroid with a 3 as its starting value.
  4. Attack an Opponent.  Choose a planet to attack and move more population than the sum of all other species’ population to that planet to launch an attack. This may include movements from multiple planets. The defeated populations must scatter and retreat to any planet in the same solar system as the attacked planet. If no applicable planet exists, they retreat to a planet of their choice in the nearest solar system. You may never attack a player’s home planet.  Gain a player marker from every player that was successfully attacked.
  • Divisions:
  1. Intelligence Division can complete one mission, gaining the player who completes it resources and prestige points at the end of the game.
  2. Mining Division can mine one asteroid for large amounts of resources.
  3. Labor Division gathers resources from a planet that you inhabit.  
  • Population Movement: You may move any of your populations from one planet to another by spending 1 Oxygen per population moving and Fuel equal to the threat level of a planet + one per solar system traveled. 

Phase 6: Check for Events

Certain galactic milestones trigger galaxy-wide events that affect all players.  Immediately draw an Event card and apply its effects if any of the following occur:

  • The last planet in a Solar System is discovered.
  • All players reach a total of three, six, or nine population.
  • After three, six, or nine asteroids have been discovered.
  • A tier of missions is completed.
  • A Planet deck is depleted.

How to Win the Game

The last round is triggered after the 6th event.  At the end of the game, tally your Prestige  from completed Missions cards, Trait cards, and player board achievements. The player with the highest prestige wins! In the event of a tie, tied players share the victory.

 

What Did I Like?

I really enjoyed the theme and setting behind Stellar Leap. I think the execution of the mechanics work well in conjunction with interesting and fun player interaction. Players are given a healthy dose of choices on their turns and the game flows well from action to action. I like that you can choose how and when you activate High Commands, Divisions and population movement. I really like the art style in Stellar Leap. It reminded me of Calvin & Hobbes, Space Man Spiff. I enjoyed the mechanics Stellar Leap utilizes in helping contain the randomness of dice rolls with not only player dice abilities, a community ability but also allowing players to move and populate various planets to increase their chances of generating resources each turn. Mining Asteroids was a fun way to gain a lot of resources. Traveling throughout the galaxy provides strategic decisions for players, as they must weigh the costs of traveling versus consumption of valuable resources. The event deck injects interesting game altering rules into play and oftentimes grants bonus resources to players. Each players Hidden Trait card gives them a goal to work toward but does not lock you into a specific path to victory. The solitaire rules worked well and the AI was very difficult. The game becomes more of a space race and I really enjoyed that. 

What didn’t I Like?

Stellar Leap provides opportunity for players to mitigate the randomness of the dice, unfortunately, it feels as though there are still small traces of luck involved. On your turn, the dice you roll may not help you at all, depending on which planets you’ve populated and the outcome of your roll (this is not common, but it did happen a few times). In addition, adding the sum of the two dice, there is a 50% chance a third planet will not generate resources, and it feels underwhelming when you generate on 2 planets and your opponent generates on 3. Attacking opponents also felt underwhelming in 2 player games, as the risk vs. reward is far less than with 3-4 opponents.

Final Thoughts

Stellar Leap is an exciting, fast-paced, light-weight 4X space game, that incorporates dice rolling, action selection and variable player powers in a small footprint that plays in roughly 60 minutes. Overall, Stellar Leap is an enjoyable experience into the space exploration foray and I look forward to seeing the final product!

You will like Stellar Leap if: you like space themes, dice rolling, variable player powers, action selection and small amounts of player confrontation.

Stellar Leap launches into Kickstarter on September 18th!
Don’t get left behind; Reserve your spot in space!

Druid City Games and the Board Game Spotlight were paid to advertise, market and preview this game. Our opinions are our own and we remain objective as we play and preview our games for the board game community.  We reserve all rights to reject games that do not meet our standards.