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Go to the Forbidden Stars page
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Forbidden Stars

112 out of 120 gamers thought this was helpful

Forbidden Stars is Fantasy Flight Games’ latest title set in the grim Warhammer 40K universe. In this grand strategic wargame, which plays in about 2-3 hours, two to four players take on different factions like the Ultramarines- enhanced humans who fight for their corpse emperor; Orks, brutal space pillagers; the Eldar, a species with advanced technology and psychic abilities; and the Chaos Space Marines, evil humans corrupted by the warp. Each faction has its own faction cards, combat deck, event deck, and upgrade deck, as well as mountains of plastic spaceships and land forces. The board itself is made up of tiles “systems”, depending upon the number of players. Each system contains worlds and voids- spaces for land forces and spaceships. Scattered throughout the systems are each factions objective tokens, forcing conflict as players attempt to gain their tokens.

The game plays out in a series of up to eight rounds, each round containing three phases. The first phase is planning. Players each place four command tokens on systems where they have units or adjacent systems. During the next phase, player take turns resolving the tokens they have placed. Since tokens are stacked in each system, players must plan carefully. Only the topmost token in a system can be activated, and if a player has no tokens on top of a system he must wait until one is next before he can resolve it. The command tokens allow players to deploy, essentially allowing them to build units and structures (factories, cities, and citadels); the dominate token allows players to exploit the resources of their worlds and gain special tokens that can help in building and combat; the strategy token allows players to upgrade their combat decks or gain upgrade cards, giving them special advantages; and the advance token can be used to move units from one system to another, or move units within systems. In order to move players must have a chain of land units and spaceships from point of departure to point of arrival.

When one or more units enter a world or void where an opponents units exist, combat ensues. Both players total up the amount of dice they roll based on their units. The dice can roll a gun symbol, your attack power; a shield symbol, your defense value; and wings, your morale. After drawing five cards from your combat deck, each player then selects one card to play- first the attacker plays and resolves, then the defender. Assuming one side isn’t wiped out, combat goes three rounds. At the end of three rounds, if neither side is completely eliminated, morale is used to decide the battle. Other factors can be included in combat as well, such as reinforcement tokens.

The game lasts until one player has captured objective tokens equal to the number of players, at which point he or she wins the game. Alternatively, if no one has fulfilled this condition, the game ends after eight rounds and whoever has the most objective tokens wins. The are a few more rules here like warp storm movement and event cards, but that is the gist of it.

Forbidden Stars is a game that Warhammer 40K has been calling for. It is an Axis & Allies-type strategic adventure game that is deeply thematic and offers more than just dice-chucking battle after dice-chucking battle. Each faction plays very differently, with their units and abilities, and makes for some fun asymmetrical encounters. What is really great about this game is that it doesn’t allow players to turtle. If you want to win, you have to attack. Players who just sit there building up units will definitely lose. In that sense the game is deeply thematic as well as fun and engaging. The Warhammer universe is all about war, and the game really reflects that. Combat is fun and engaging, as players must constantly make choices about their cards and how best to mitigate their dice rolls. Also really fun is the way in which players can customize their decks, building them up for later advantage. It’s a fun deck building aspect that really adds a lot to the game and a mechanic that one would not expect from this big box wargame.

The game, of course, is a beautiful production for start to finish. The artwork, the cards, the tokens, the minis, the board- it’s all first rate. Once again Fantasy Flight Games has demonstrated why they are a leader in board game design and execution. This game follows in the footsteps of other great Fantasy Flight Games productions like Twilight Imperium, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars: Armada, and Star Wars: Imperial Assault. Top notch components all the way.

My only significant complaint with the game has to do with combat. Combat, while fun for players engaged in it, can take a while(from a 3-4mins to 8-10mins depending on analysis paralysis) In 3-4 player games this means a bit of sitting around. A lot of games have downtime, but this is a game that keeps all players fairly engaged throughout- except when other players are in combat. This is too bad, and perhaps this is something that the inevitable expansions will address down the line. Still, this is a relatively minor complaint compared with everything that this game gets right.

All told, Fantasy Flight Games’ Forbidden Stars is another fantastic board game that will keep you and your friends riveted throughout. It’s just a lot of fun!

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