Michael Eckenfels, 15 July 2019
The Starfarers era. We made it. Mankind has made it to interplanetary travel. The Solar System no longer confines our explorations, and we’re now in for a true world of wonderful discoveries…or maybe actually meeting alien life forms for the first time. Now that we’re capable of traveling between the stars, maybe we can now enter a ‘brotherhood’ of star systems…or maybe we’ll just get knocked off Independence Day style. Who knows.
There were a few housekeeping things I needed to do at the end of the Planeteers era, one of which included giving the Competition one bonus Profit for their highest Production site on the board, which upped their score to 37. I remain in last place with 33.
Let’s go over the Starfarers board a bit before continuing. I realize this is something I probably should have done in the previous chapters of this AAR, but I figure you guys are smart enough to have figured most of how it works, out. As the Starfarers era is quite literally huge, some of it stands a bit of explanation.
Here’s an overview of the board. You might have noticed Move point costs between Regions in the previous eras, but here, they understandably increase by a wide margin. What’s worse is, my teams cannot end a move in a Region that is empty; they have to start and end in a star system.
Here’s my HQ board – all the cards I placed in the Planeteers era remain in place, and I have drawn two Starfarers-era cards for my hand to begin things with – Fusion Booster (Move 5 or Shielded Move 3) and 1stGen Antimatter Drive (Move x3 or Explore 3). Note that this era has multiplier cards, and that Move x3 card is going to be a big help.
In this era, I have three teams instead of two. There’s a Progress card I can get later and add a fourth team, too. Here, you see the at-start set-up – I have two teams in the Sol system, and one in Alpha Centauri. BanzaiCorp’s efforts in the Planeteers era that resulted in that sweet 1stBeyond marker means that our company has established a presence in the Alpha Centauri Region. That’s a good thing, because you’ll note the Competition also gets a head start, with a team present in the nearby Luhman 16 system. (Note I’m going to be referring to these Regions as both ‘Regions’ and ‘star systems’ or just ‘systems.’) And that’s the ADVANTAGEOUS position of having the 1st Beyond marker; if nobody got it in the last era, then the Competition starts at both these systems, and if the Competition had gotten it, they’d have a presence in both systems AND would get three turns in a row!
Here’s a look at the Offers 1-4 spaces. Nothing terribly exciting here, but these ARE ‘at start’ cards, so they’re somewhat weak compared to the later-era cards I’ll be drawing.
And there’s more Progress cards. The ones from the Planeteers era are still in play, though the Profit for getting them first remains out of touch (for some, anyway). You’ll note several sweeter deals in there, making Genetics and Revelation Actions more lucrative. For example, the ‘Star Children’ Adaptation card lets me add that fourth team I mentioned earlier, and the Jump Drive Breakthrough card gives a x4 Move bonus.
One mention about Move actions and multipliers – in this era, they stack. So, if I played a Move 3, Move 4, Move x3, and a Move x4 card, that would equal 84 Move points (3 + 4 = 7 x 3 = 21 x 4 = 84). This kind of play will be essential to making it out to the stars you see before you.
And last but not least, here’s a look at the Primary, Secondary, and Alien Discovery tiles. These will come in play as the various star systems are explored by both sides.
So let’s get a few turns in and see what happens. As usual with any era in the solo game, the Competition gets to go first.
Lacaille 8760 is on the far right side of the board, a good 60 Move points for a solo player – but free for the Competition!
What’s worse is, their team gets placed right on the star system; they get to also ignore the ‘star track’ (yes, that’s a thing, not a bad pun). See that three-box track in the middle of the star system?
If I sent a team there, once they get into that system, they’d start on the furthest box. Then, at the start of each of my turns, they’d automatically move one box closer to the star system. This is explained by the rules as being the time it takes for communications to reach Sol, which even at the speed of light is on the order of years. Makes perfect sense, and the AI/bot system built-in to this game are already making it a challenge.
One last thing to mention – Colonies. They play a big part in this era. The more of them I place, the more Profit I’ll earn at the end of the game, which as you’ve seen how close this game can get, can be a make-or-break deal. I’m not showing these immediately as you’ll see more of them later in the AAR.
I have a grand total Move of 33 that I can spend, which means I’d only be able to get a team out to Luhman 16 – that’s the star system to the ‘west’ of Sol, where the Competition has their team from the start of the game.
I could also do an Explore action on Alpha Centauri, which has an e4 cost. I have an intrinsic 2 in my HQ and another 3 on my 1stGen Antimatter Drive card, but I’d hate to spend a card multiplier like that on an Explore action.
I was leaning towards Explore, but think I need to get that other 1stGen Antimatter Drive card off the Offers, so I’ll spend my first Starfarers era turn with a Research action, netting three cards. I’m getting that 1stGen Antimatter Drive card from Offer 4, the Interstellar Engineers from Offer 2 (Explore 3 or Build 3), and then I’m chancing a draw from my deck for the third – and get a Fusion Lifter (Move 5 or Build 3). Same Fusion Lifter that’s in the Offer 3 spot. Oh well, that’s the way the stars shine sometimes.
The replacement Offer cards are another Fusion Lifter, and a Fusion Booster (Move 5 or Shielded Move 3, Infra).
Remember that I have the Radiation Resistant Adaption card, which means all my Move and Build actions are Shielded. I don’t need to worry about Shielded values on the cards, but I’m calling them out for reference purposes here. It also highlights how nice this Adaptation card is to have.
And while BanzaiCorp is sitting on Sol building up infrastructure, these jackholes are sending teams everywhere.
Epsilon Erdani is to the ‘north’ of Sol, a 50-Move-point jaunt. Whew.
I think I’m going to do an Explore action in Alpha Centauri. The Discovery tiles are one of my favorite aspects of this game and revealing them is always like a treasure hunt. I’d forgotten to mention earlier that I still have that Probe Network Breakthrough card, which gives my Explore actions a x2 modifier, so that Explore 2 intrinsic value in my HQ is actually a 4, which means I can automatically perform this Action.
The only thing that stinks is there’s only one Primary site here; other systems have multiple Discovery sites, but they also have a greatly-increased Explore cost too, so there’s that.
An Exotic Asteroid Belt. How pedestrian! But, it still grants me an immediate 2 Profit, which is welcome – the score is now 37-35 with the Competition still leading. It also advances my Revelation marker one step; two more and I get to choose a Breakthrough card.
This Discovery has a P2 value (giving me 2 Profit for a Production Action), though a Base costs an additional 4 Build points – the b8 value of Alpha Centauri means the Build cost here for a Base is 12. Whew, again.
So now that the Starfarers era is in full swing, let’s take this moment to end this chapter and thank you once again for reading. Join us next time for more Starfarer fun.