Recently I was given an opportunity to play test an advanced copy of Shadowstar Corsairs
by Ryan Wolfe, and after playing the game for a couple weeks I found myself in love with it, and felt compelled to share my thoughts on the game in this review and help spread the word.Overview
Shadowstar Corsairs (SC) is on the surface a sci-fi themed 4 X style board game, wherein players vie for control of various resources (metal, salvage, political influence and recruits) while using their starship and crew to fulfill contracts and eventually earn enough commendations to be granted a governor position in this new sector of space and thus win the game.
As one begins to play SC they will find the depth of strategy and variety of both starfield boards and starships, along with the wide array of tech and political cards provides for a challenging game where thought and planning will win the day rather than pure luck and aggression.The Good
One of the first things you’ll find is Shadowstar Corsairs is beautiful, from the detailed starboards to the (now fully painted) plastic ship miniatures, and starship cards using Ryan Wolfe’s excellent Future Armada & Codex
Gameplay itself is face paced, with a players turn allowing them to claim territory, harvest resources, and use game changing tech or political cars along with participating in combat, all in a single turn!
The variety of starships available as well as viable strategic choices help keep every session fresh, even after several dozen games and the number of strategic options only grows the longer a game lasts. The ability to add more ships to your fleet, as well as upgrade existing ones keeps things competitive even late into the game, and helps ensure combat is still an effective tactic no matter how well reinforced your opponents outposts may be.
(A more thorough explanation of game play and several videos of play are available on the KS page. )The Bad
Shadowstar Corsairs does have a few rough edges currently, such as the final game rules still being a bit of a work in progress, (which are coming along nicely thanks to feedback from multiple play testers) and the game itself having a bit of a learning curve.
Initially gameplay can feel a bit chaotic, with the vast open ended star map seeming daunting and the wide variety of choices available to a player each turn a lot to keep track of.
However, after a couple of games one quickly gets used to the progression of turns and easily catch on to way turns play out and can easily formulate strategies for victory and counter tactics to foil their opponents plans.
The version of SC I was provided with was a prototype test version, so I can’t comment on the final version quality with any accuracy, although I readily admit the test play version has held up well for several dozen games and had plenty of detail even if some of the typesetting and printing of the ship cards, icons and such was a little off center. (I am confident the final version backers receive will be without these minor issues.)The Ugly
It’s hard to find an Ugly side to a game as beautiful and fun as SC, although the current level of progress towards unlocking all of the stretch goals does come to mind.
At the time of writing this the fully funded KS project has reached it’s first stretch goal of painted starship miniatures and is making steady progress towards component upgrades.
Some of the high end stretch goals, (more starships, and even an alien incursion gameplay expansion) are still far out of reach, which is a shame given they offer even more game play options, and increase the depth of potential strategies.Conclusion
While the level of strategy and depth of play may not appeal to everyone, Shadow Star Corsairs is addictively fun, and is the first board game I’ve found that manages to bring the feel of 4x space strategy to the table top in such an engaging manner.
Even those who aren’t into board games might wish to consider picking up the game itself, or even just the starship miniatures for use in tabletop dice and paper gaming.
As I mentioned earlier each miniature also has a full color (and B&W) pdf of Ryan Wolfe’s amazing starship deckplans, (which are also available to all backers at the $1 level.) These deck plans are arguably the best out there for space faring scifi and are scaled to work with regular sized minis when printed out.
So what are you waiting for? Check out Shadow Star Corsairs Today!