Monday, January 2, 2017

Rogue Stars: Initial Thoughts

With all the fun I've had with Frostgrave, when Osprey announced they were publishing a sci-fi skirmish game, I was there. Sight unseen, I was there!The months of teasers of art and minis that were shared on the facebook group didn't hurt any either!

From the initial bits that I was hearing, it sounded like the perfect game for me to pull out a bunch of the cool character minis I've got kicking around from my 40K days, especially the inquisitors and their retinues!

Seriously, these guys look like they're the crew of a 40K rogue trader ship! And it's completely fitting to have them playing against the crew of the Serenity, or Judge Dredd and co., or the crew from Farscape, or even Captain Kirk, Spock, and some red shirts. Insectoid/Crystal/Reptilian aliens? Sure, those too!

Where things start to fall apart in reading the rules is that it's dull. In Frostgrave you get a bit about the setting, most of it implied or hinted at through the various quotes sprinkled throughout the book. In Rogue Stars you get charts... lots and lots of charts. While charts are great for conveying complex information in an easily readable format, they don't make for easy/fun reading.

There's also a lot to keep track of. Each character is a character with their own stat lines, equipment, modifiers, etc. My impression is that once the characters are made, it'll play smoother than it appears, but setting up those characters? Gonna be a bit of work.

As far as actually playing the game, in addition to the various modifiers, you need to keep track of 3 different elements using markers (glass beads?): stress, pin, and wounds. Oh, and wounds aren't just hit points, you can take various levels of damage to various body parts, which add additional modifiers to keep track of...

I really want to like this game. I really wanted it to be Frostgrave in Space. It isn't, and while it certainly isn't the most complex game I've ever seen, it feels more complex than it needs to be for what it is.

Another issue I've got with the game is that a month after it's release, there's a 7 page long errata.

There are a few things I do like about the game. The themes for your warband are a nice way to group things together without it being limited to a specific race or "Space Wolves" type thing. The initiative/activation system is different from anything I've used before. Rather than back and forth, you roll to activate characters, giving them stress for each activation. You keep that up until you fail, or your opponent uses your stress to take the initiative. Interesting...

The method for picking the mission is neat too. One player rolls the mission type, while the other rolls the location and the twist. So for example...

Mission roll: 3
Bodyguard work: defend an NPC with no combat skills. The attacker tries to assassinate the NPC, the defender tries to stop them.

Location roll: 11
Irradiated Wasteland: better hope your characters have some good environmental protection equipment!

Complications roll: 18
Space Vortex, a giant sucking hole dragging everything to it.

Sounds like the NPC's ship was shot down and crashed hard and the warp core/hyperdrive/whosywhatsit did bad things! Can you get him away in time before the bad guys come to finish the job?

Putting the story together from those elements appeals to me, and seems like it would make an interesting way to build a campaign.

But is it enough to save the game for me? I'm not sure. I'll need to play a time or two to firm up my opinion, but it's starting off on the wrong foot.


  1. You're the fourth person to give it a 'meh'

    Ahh, well. The figs are nice!

  2. Disappointing to hear, I was interested in picking this one up, but wanted to hear some reviews first.