Bring fire and bring shell and heap all upon the pyre. With flame and gun we shall make an end to the withered husk that is human life. And in the blazing furnace of battle we shall forge anew the iron will of a yet stronger race. –Warhammer 40,000
The shifting Warp Storms that surround the long lost Herakon Cluster have finally abated, leaving the ancient treasures and planets within this sector open to the rest of the galaxy. Now, the great factions of the galaxy mobilize their fleets and race to establish a foothold. The reward for successful domination surpasses all other concerns, and the price for conquering this sector will be paid in lives.
Forbidden Stars challenges you and up to three other players to take command of a mighty fighting force: the Ultramarines chapter of Space Marines, the Eldar of Craftworld Iyanden, the Evil Sunz Ork clan, or the World Eaters Warband of the Chaos Space Marines. Each faction offers unique armies and play styles, but your goal remains the same – to claim the key objectives selected for your faction. These objective tokens are scattered throughout the Herakon Cluster, but your opponents are sure to defend your objectives against you. You’ll need to build massive armies and command them in unending war to best your enemies and claim your objectives. The fight for the Herakon Cluster is brutal and bloody, and you will either stride triumphant over the bodies of your fallen foes, or they will do the same to you.
Command Your Armies
As the general of your faction’s forces in the Herakon Cluster, you have been entrusted with commanding your armies and seizing the crucial objectives scattered throughout the sector. To command your forces in the sector, you issue orders at the beginning of each round. There are four possible orders you can assign to your forces in the Herakon Cluster: deploy, strategize, dominate, and advance.
Each order offers a different role for your armies within the systems of this sector. Your battles cause a constant attrition on your forces, and deploy orders allows you to conscript new units for your armies and build new structures. The strategize order invites you to gain new cards to tip the flow of combat or increase the power of your orders. Dominating a system allows you to harvest unique assets from your planets and trigger your faction’s special ability. Finally, the advance order sends your ships flying through the void and your armies marching onto the field of battle.
Even as you deliver your orders to your forces, you must be constantly vigilant against your opponent’s plans. During the game, players take turns issuing orders by secretly placing order tokens, but you can freely place order tokens on top of any other order tokens, forming a stack of order tokens assigned to each system. The position of your orders in the stack determines when you can resolve these orders, making every placement a crucial concern. If you can outwit your opponents as you plan your orders, you’ll be in a much better position to outmaneuver their armies once your orders are resolved. Order tokens and issuing orders will be explained in greater depth in future previews.
Marked for War
Your orders give you the actions to field your armies and command them across the sector, but the planets of the Herakon Cluster truly lie at the heart of any strategy to lay claim to the sector. These planets host the objective tokens you need to achieve victory, provide materiel to build your armies, and grant you various assets to aid your conquering efforts. Combat is frequent and inevitable in every game of Forbidden Stars and every attack offers a new opportunity for glorious victory and valour.
Combat in Forbidden Stars is fast and brutal as battalions of warriors make landfall on planets and massive cruisers and frigates do battle in the void. Every battle is resolved through a combination of cards and dice, which provide different combat icons. While a battle rages, you and your opponent roll dice and choose cunning battlefield tactics by selecting new Combat cards. For example, the Blessed Power Armor Combat card has the potential to massively increase your defenses, while Fury of the Ultramar boosts your combat prowess and allows you to breach your opponent’s position. We’ll explore combat and battles in much greater detail in a future preview.
Even as you adapt your tactics within a battle using your Combat cards, you’ll need to evaluate your exact goals for each battle. You can focus on destroying as many of your opponent’s units as possible, or you can attempt to fortify your position and weather the storm until combat ends. A wise general knows when to pull his forces back and when to push the attack in hopes of causing maximum enemy casualties. The game ends as soon as one player claims objective tokens equal to the number of players, no matter the cost. You may decide that entire planets and their garrisons must be sacrificed to successfully claim your objectives.
Each faction in Forbidden Stars features units and Combat cards unique to that race, meaning that each faction brings its own flavour to your battles for the Herakon Cluster. Whether you mow down your opponents with the World Eaters, build your defenses with the Ultramarines, rely on strength of numbers with the Bad Sunz, or outwit your opponent with the Eldar of Craftworld Iyanden, every faction has its own distinctive way to lay claim to the sector. We’ll also delve deeper into each faction’s cards, units, and strategies in future previews!
An Ever-Changing Sector
The wars of Forbidden Stars play out against the backdrop of the Herakon Cluster, a recently discovered sector of space – previously inaccessible because of its unpredictable Warp Storms. Although the chaotic influence of the Warp is still powerful in the Herakon Cluster, newly established routes have allowed you and your armies safe entry to the sector.
In every game, the board is constructed out of twelve double-sided system tiles. Each system tile is further divided into planets and void spaces, and by choosing and combining these tiles during setup, you can ensure that every game of Forbidden Stars features a completely new configuration of systems and objectives. Choosing which systems connect and where your forces are initially deployed also gives you the chance to start planning your strategy before the game even begins.
Even later, once your armies begin to travel between planets, the unpredictable Warp Storms of this sector can greatly influence your armies’ movement. A Warp Storm on the board is placed on an edge between two systems, and while it remains there, it keeps any ships or ground troops from passing through. You and your opponents take turns moving the sector’s Warp Storms at the end of each round, allowing you to potentially close off your opponent’s attack path or split his forces in two. Alternatively, cleverly moving a Warp Storm can open a new attack route for yourself, or defend your flank against an enemy counterattack.
Glorious Victory Within Your Grasp
The Herakon Cluster is rich with bounty. Ancient archaeotech, planets of untapped potential, and new converts to your cause all lie within this unexplored region of space. You have passed the Warp Storm barrier, but you are not alone. To claim the key objectives that litter this area of space, you must marshal your greatest warriors and set forth into the void. Will you survive and be hailed as a conquering hero? Or will your only epitaph be on a list of those who lost everything in the Herakon Cluster?
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