Published/Distributed by: Ystari Games & Asmodee
# of Players: 2
Ystari Games & Asmodee bring us a fresh new 2 player game that became one of my surprise hits of Gen Con 2015. That game is Starfighter by Stephane Boudin. This is the part of the review were I usually give the thematic background. Starfighter does have a story to it, but you wont care or think about it while enjoying this game. You will be too busy making critical decisions that could make or break you and your star cruiser. Will your cruiser beat your opponent's cruiser or will he slide to victory?
Starfighter brings nothing special to its game components. The beauty of that is you don't need flashy components or lots of miniatures. I feel if it did have these flashy components it would bog down or take away from a mechanically great game. Inside the box will be cards, cardboard cruiser mats and wooden discs. All the icons on the cards are easy to tell apart and help explain what action the icon represents. There are 4 cruiser layouts for you to choose from. Each has their benefits and disadvantages, but all seem very balanced. The box is about the size of the Race for the Galaxy box or Splendor. While there is a lot of extra space, the cruiser boards require the box to be that size. Cards are made of the usual basic card stock used in most card games. Starfighter brings simple components and it works great for this game.
Starfighter's gameplay will remind you of the days when you were playing classic arcade & Atari games. In Starfighter you have a star cruiser mat that shows deployment zones to play starfighter cards. These starfighter cards are split into top and bottom halves & contain fighters and symbols for various actions. Each card is double sided with a basic level 0 card on the back. On the front will have a level 0-3. This level determines which level on your cruiser mat you can place it on. You must start at level 0 and work your way up to level 3 and can only place a card for that specific level. Symbol actions are played when the card is played on the mat and when a covered up symbol is revealed. This revealing of covered up symbols can happen during both phases of the game (deployment & combat) and can cause some crazy combos that could change the whole outlook of the battle to come. First player to stop placing cards gains initiative for the combat phase. When combat starts, the person with initiative will have the option of moving his cruiser mat to either the left or right by 1 column if they would like. This movement changes the look of the whole battle as each column is only attacking the column it is directly facing. Combat is simple, each player takes wooden discs equal to the number of fighters on their opponents column that are visible and have no damage. 1 by 1 players mark ships that take a damage by placing a disc over the ship. If a card has all its ships covered, that card is destroyed. If there are no remaining cards in the column, the cruiser takes all remaining damage from the discs. Once a round is over, if a cruiser has 0 or negative health (overkill) then the person with the most remaining health is the winner. Games take approx. 30 minutes to play. There are two different modes: either share the whole card deck or each player drafts cards into a deck. This adds to the ability to replay this game.
Starfighter is great. I have played this several times and each time I feel like playing another round. Drafting your deck adds a lot of replay and strategy that you might not see in many 2 player games like this. Deciding when to stop playing cards and get initiative is a huge decision because the other player gets to keep playing cards till he runs out of cards or when he wants. The actions on cards can change the whole battlefield with how they can move cards or destroy ships. You have to try and plan for if my opponent gets initiative and slides the board left or right. There is so much thinking in this 30 minute game and its great for that. Components are simple and is a great filler or end of the night game. Starfighter was completely off my radar and it slid right in as one of my hits of Gen Con 2015. Do yourself a favor and give this game a try.
+ So much strategy
+ easy to learn
+ card actions can really change up a game
+ card drafting decks allows for a lot of replay
+ easy to set up and clean back up when done
- if you want miniatures and flashy components then you will be greatly disappointed
- if you don't like games where you have to think steps ahead or chess
- if you need a theme to enjoy a game
- more cruiser mats (only 4 different cruisers makes it feel like it a expansion is already planned)
- short gameplay