For the however many years I have been playing modern day board games I have always been a fan of 4X & worker placement games. There is something really satisfying about playing any number of games with these mechanics. But there is definitely something extremely satisfying about playing a game that uses the worker placement mechanic & is a 4X game.
In Stellar Leap players will compete in collecting resources to grow their population, mining asteroids, & discovering newer planets. Players will also be able to attack their opponents forcing them to retreat to other worlds.
At game setup players will receive a player board, population figures, chits to match their race, two trait cards, two player dice powers, action cubes, resource markers, & their matching homeworld.
Each player will choose one of each of the traits & dice powers they receive. They will then reveal their dice power. The trait remains as their hidden objective that will give bonus prestige points at the end of the game.
The galaxy is set up by placing a line of six dice cards in a line. These cards represent the dice that will be rolled by a player on their turn. These cards are also markers for the various solar systems.
Two planet decks are shuffled & put to the side of play. These decks represent safe & dangerous planets. Safe planets are planets that may have fewer resources available but are easier to travel to while dangerous planets have a higher resource number with higher fuel costs.
The Event cards that are included are also placed to the side. The Event cards will mark certain milestones. The Event cards have effects that will need to be resolved. After the sixth, fourth in a first game, Event card is drawn the game will end.
As play begins, each player will place their homeworld with a chit of their race & a meeple under one of the six dice cards. This will start a solar system. Some players may choose a card that was taken by another player. Players will also start off will three of each resource.
At the start of a player’s turn they will recover their exhausted population, if they have any. Recover allows the meeples to be freed up to be used again.
Next, that player will roll two dice. Then using either a dice power they have received or the community dice power, that player can manipulate the dice that were rolled. Planets in those columns that the dice represent, along with the sum of the dice, now generate resources.
The player may then move their population from one planet to another. They can do this by using the oxygen & fuel resources they have gathered. The player may move their population from planet to planet or from galaxy to galaxy. The more they move, the more resources they spend. A player may never move onto another player’s homeworld. And when a meeple is moved to another planet they must be placed into the habitation icon on that planet.
After population movement a player will use their High Command actions. This will allow a player to populate a world that already has their population, tax to gather any two resources, discover new worlds, or to attack. Each player will get two High Command actions to use on their turn.
When populating a world, a player will spend food & water to place a meeple on a planet they already have populated. Players must be aware that if a planet is overpopulated fewer resources will be generated.
When discovering new planets a player will draw two cards from one of the planet decks. That player will choose one card & place the other at the bottom of the planet deck they drew from. That planet card will be placed, along with that player’s chit, into one of the dice columns & must be placed closest to the dice card in that column.
If an asteroid is discovered in this way then an asteroid die will be placed on that card. The asteroid die will be used during the mining action.
Finally during the High Command phase, that player will be able to attack another player. That player will have to move a sum of meeples higher than the sum of the population that is already there. The player or players that were attacked must scatter their population to any open planet. If this isn’t possible then they may move to the next solar system down to send their population. Scattering does cause those moved populations to become exhausted.
The next phase a player will have actions in is the Divisions phase. In this phase players will be able to complete mission cards, mine one asteroid, & collect resources from a planet by laboring one of the meeples on a planet by exhausting it. Players do not need to use all of their Division actions.
As the game is played special milestones will activate events that I mentioned beforehand. The Event cards activate when all players activate three, six, & nine population. When the last planet of a solar system is discovered. When three, six, or nine asteroids have been discovered. A tier of missions have been completed. Or one of the planet decks have been completely depleted.
When the sixth Event card is resolved the game will end when all remaining players take an equal amount of turns. It is recommended that four Event cards should be used in a beginners game.
All players will count up their prestige points by tallying up their population, discoveries, & attacks. Then players will tally up any bonuses given to them from the trait cards received at the start of the game. And then they will add up any prestige points given to them from the missions that they completed during the game.
The player with the most prestige points wins the game.
There will also be a solo variant included in the base game. This allows a solo player to play against an AI. The solo variant will basically run the same way as a regular game except that the solo player must follow the special rules for the AI. There are three different difficulties for the AI ranging from easy to hard.
Now Stellar Leap is a different type of 4X game. I enjoyed how instead of building a galaxy from different geometrically shaped tiles that you just use regular cards in a standard six by three grid. Each line of six cards represents a solar system which is pretty original.
As a lover of both 4X & worker placement games I will say that Stellar Leap hit that sweet spot for me. Stellar Leap is a game that you can leap right into & head to the stars.
I really liked how everyone starts with the same population number but it was up to each player to decide how & when they would populate.
Carla Kopp & her team at Weird Giraffe Games really worked hard in developing Stellar Leap. Everything is well thought up from the different traits to the really wild events.
I have noticed that with each time I played the game I sought a different way to win. Because each trait allows for a different strategy each game. And that various dice powers, especially the community dice power could really change the aspect of a game even before the first player rolled their dice..
Stellar Leap is an awesome 4X game that can be found on Kickstarter here: Stellar Leap! It can be backed for as little as $39, not including shipping. For an additional $10 a person can back Stellar Leap with the Frontiers expansion. And of course there is much more listed on the Kickstarter page such as the Kickstarter stretch goal for a fifth player.
Don’t wait too long to discover Stellar Leap as it will be on Kickstarter until October 19th, 2017.
Stellar Leap can also be played on Tabletopia here: Stellar Leap Tabletopia
Get ready to discover new worlds, mine asteroids, complete missions & game on!
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