Review of: Stellar Armada Skirmish from Jerason Barnes, by PaladinElliott Productions
Stellar Armada Skirmish
Game Design: Jerason Barnes
Game Artistry: Jerason Barnes
Published by: Self Published, copy was printed by Ad Magic
Reviewed by: Jason Elliott
Edited by: Stephanie Elliott
Number of Players: 1 to 4,
Time of Play: 10 to 20 minutes
Age recommended: 13 and up
Year of Release: 2017
The story so far: You enter this microgame of space combat by commanding a space battle cruiser. You will have to monitor your ship's shields, armor, engines, and repair systems, while at the same time using your energy beams and missiles to destroy enemy player's battle cruisers. You will need to balance your resources, while making sure to commit the right amount offense and defense to win this all out space brawl.
Our final thoughts on the game: This is a quick game, with easy to learn rules, packed into pocket sized boxes, that let you avoid getting into large hex based space campaigns. We found that we had the rules down in about 10 minutes. We have played games that run about 20 minutes, so this plays quick, serves as a filler, and makes it easy not only to jump into, but to pack up and take with you.
You will have to deal with the luck of dice rolls, but they are mitigated by how much energy has been spent by the reactors on shields. You will always be faced with the issues of over committing versus under committing your resources. Everyone is presented with the same battle cruisers, but it will be everyone's personal playing style and strategy that will separate what happens in the game.
We are currently teaching the children to learn how the play this game, which we suspect that it will take a little bit of time for them to grasp the nuances of resource management, but once past that, they will be able to blow up other people's ships. We would rate this a 10 out of 10 in the category of quick games, it is a filler that easily can be inserted in between larger and longer games. We would give the same score if you are looking for easily transportable games. If you are looking for meaty games, looking for more in depth space battle games, this will not be it, and the score becomes more in the area of 5 out of 10 if that is what you are looking for.
All in all, this does not pass itself off as a deep game, it knows exactly what type of player it caters to. If you want a game that is light on time, easy to transport, and puts you right into a space battle then look no further. If you are looking for more in depth battle, where you are building up your ships, or dealing with fleets, this may be less to your liking.
Mechanics and concepts found in this game: First and foremost, you have a space battle taking place among battle cruisers. You have elements that you see with almost any space battle; missiles, energy beams, and using your engines. You have combat between the ships, and you are seeking to completely destroy the other players. You have resource management, as you will have to decide how you spend the energy from your ship's reactor. You have dice rolling for the combat, where you will have some addition taking place due to modifiers from how many engines you are using (the faster your ship is moving, the harder it is to hit). You will have action management, as you can decide how far to push your ship, possibly leaving yourself wide open for your opponent. You will need to always balance risk versus reward.
The game components: We purchased the Kickstarter Exclusive Edition, so this list is based off of that.
-1 Stellar Armada Skirmish Box
-1 Stellar Armada Skirmish Kickstarter Exclusive Edition Box
-12 six sided dice (3 red, 3 blue, 3 green, and 3 black)
-28 cubes (12 red, 4 blue, 4 green, 4 yellow, and 4 white)
-4 Skirmish Cards (these have rules on one side and the battle cruiser mats on the other)
-2 Four Player Instructions Card ( on the other side is Artificial Intelligence rules so that you may play against bots in the game (explaining how you can have one human player games)
Please note: We printed out larger rules to make it easier to read, and we needed two boxes to have up to four players.
Winning conditions of the game: You simply need to be the last ship that hasn't been destroyed, or has surrendered. Other considerations are an enemy ship's reactor is reduced to zero, so their power core is destroyed, or other ships are simply unable to fight.
Game setup: Be sure to hand out a Cruiser Play mat card to each player. They will need at least one cube of each color to denote how much they have or are using of a system, weapons, and so forth. An example of this would be assigning a red cube for your reactor, blue for your armor, green for your shields, yellow for your engines, white for repair, and red again for your missiles, and your energy beams. You are given enough cubes for this. You will need to choose a color of six sided dice to use. One player could take red, and another could take blue. Finally determine who will go first, by whatever method works, and you are ready to play!
How to play: Each player will spend Reactor cubes as Action points. You can choose from the following until you have exhausted your cube spots for the turn for the turn (as long as your Reactor isn't damaged you will have 6 Action points per turn because your Reactor replenishes each time you take a new turn):
Each one of these choices is from spending one Action-
-Fire a Missile. With no modifiers you must roll a 2 or higher. If it hits an enemy ship they must adjust their cubes downward by 5 across their ship. Shields must always take damage first, after that, you can allocate the remainder of the damage across your ship. You are limited to a maximum of launching two missiles on your turn.
-Fire a Energy Beam (Maser). With no modifiers you must roll a 2 or higher. If it hits an enemy ship they must adjust their cubes downward by 2 across their ship. Shields must always take damage first, after that, you can allocate the remainder of the damage across your ship. You are limited to a maximum of firing three Masers on your turn.
-Armor. This is what protects your Missile Batteries. If you lose all of your Armor, your Missile Batteries go off line, and your Reactor becomes exposed. You must repair your Armor to at least a value of 1 to bring your Missile Batteries back online. If the Reactor takes damage through a gap in the Armor, it is limited to taking two damage per turn through this gap.
-Shields. These always start the game at maximum (5). All damage to a ship must first be routed through the Shields. Once the Shields collapse, then you must decide how to allocate further damage. Choose wisely, as you spread out damage other systems become hindered and/or knocked offline.
-Engines. You can spend up to 3 Action points here to set your Ship's speed until your next turn. This is very important as each 1 point of speed acts as a +1 modifier against someone attacking you. It is harder to hit a moving target! If I have spent 2 Action to increase my Engines to value 2, then you have to add +2 to try and hit me. So, instead of rolling 2 or higher to hit, it is now 4 or higher to hit. For the first round of the game all players except the player going first have their Engines set to value 3, to offset the first active player. Any damage taken to Engines reduces the overall speed you can have. You must repair your Engines to bring yourself back to the possibility of having higher speeds. If your Engines go offline then you have a gap. If the Reactor takes damage through a gap in the Engines, it is limited to taking two damage per turn through this gap.
-Repair. For each Action point spent for Repair, you can raise the level of a System by 1. You can't raise Missiles for they are limited to 10. You are limited to the number of Repairs through your Repair System, and the Action cubes you have. The maximum amount of Repairs you can perform with a full Repair System is 3. If you take damage to your Repair System, then you will lower the overall maximum number of Repairs you can perform. You can raise your Repair level, and then perform a Repair for that level as long as you have the Action points to spend. If your Repair System goes offline, then you will no longer be able to repair any part of your ship. If your Repair System goes offline then you have a gap. If the Reactor takes damage through a gap in the Repair System, it is limited to taking two damage per turn through this gap.
-Reactor. This starts at value 6, and provides you Action Points to use each turn, this and the Repair System are the most critical to shield from damage. If your Reactor is damaged, you are then limited by that damage for subsequent turns concerning how many Action Points you will get to use. You can only damage the Reactor by having a gap in a surrounding system. One possible way to lose is having your Reactor hit zero. You could consider this your Energy Core exploding, or that you are completely adrift. Choose whatever Sci-Fi framework that feels appropriate to describe what is happening at this point :)
Endgame: This is one of those games that really doesn't have an Endgame. In multiplayer battles, players may decide to gang up on a ship that is weak, and take them out of the game. It could also be that players decide to keep the game going as long as possible so that many weaker ships are easier to deal with then one strong ship.
Overall, this was a great pick-up game that is easy to transport and play on the go.
Thank you so much for reading my review of Stellar Armada Skirmish from Jerason Barnes!