Designed by Keith Wilcoxon and published by Brains & Brawn Gaming, Star Travelers is a competitive space exploration game based on K E Knights' Star Travelers children's science fiction books 'Get Out of My Milky Way' and 'Time is an Inclusion'.
Tho' there is an underlying 4X vibe (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate), Star Travelers is a light accessible game, as represented by the cartoon crew cards. Players are competing for rank marks (victory points) and each has their own hidden scoring objective but you are all on the same side - exploring the galaxy and hunting out alien ships in order to take them out in combat. That means there's no PvP (player versus player) conflict and little 'take that' beyond manipulating the timing of the end game. Star Travelers is semi-cooperative in that nobody can claim victory until collectively all nine aliens have been defeated and players have, between them, 'written a report' on each of the planet types that have been revealed by exploration. The collective objective means that, unusually, Star Travelers doesn't take appreciably longer with six players than it does with two. On all player counts, our games mostly ran to around 60 minutes.
Set up involves some card drafting, where you'll be selecting crew members and ship enhancements that will up your stats for Supply (resources - consumed at the start of each turn); Radar (makes exploration less random); Research (used for 'writing reports' on planets discovered through exploration; and Aim (used to shoot at alien ships). At certain locations, you can acquire more crew and ship upgrades from the market display, and every location you move your ship to gives you access to specific actions.
Exploration can be a leap in the dark: you are drawing tiles from a face-down display. However, upping your ship and crew's radar stats lets you draw multiple tiles and choose between them. This gives players much more control over their actions, especially as whenever you explore you automatically gain a benefit that corresponds to the revealed tile type. Even seemingly empty space tiles will probably give you a boon: when you reveal a space tile you get to draw an event card, and the large majority of these give you a bonus rather than a penalty.
All in all, Star Travelers delivers a good mix between luck and skill. There's luck over card and tile draws, and there are custom six-sided dice used when fighting aliens and in determining how many supplies you pick up, but you'll find ample opportunity to shift the odds in your favour.
Shown here on Board's Eye View is a preview prototype of Star Tracvelers ahead of its Kickstarter launch on 6 April. The finished version will have improved components as well as larger cards and tiles. We'll post a link to the Kickstarter campaign when it goes live.