Finally! All teams are ready to go, your cargo hold is readily stocked, and your species is SO ready to hit the galaxy and start exploring. Your species has worked very hard to build back up to this point, and now you’re finally prepared to begin the journey into space and take your species’ long-awaited Stellar Leap.
Stellar Leap is a tabletop game designed and developed by Carla and Nick Kopp and published by Weird Giraffe Games. Stellar Leap is a “4X” game: that is, there are four elements in which the game focuses on.
- Explore the galaxy in search for asteroids and planets which have resources and are viable for population growth
- Expand your reach within the galaxy by moving populations throughout space
- Exploit the planets and asteroids in the galaxy for their resources
- Exterminate your opponents’ abilities to earn Prestige in the galaxy by attacking them and forcing them to relocate in retreat
The focus of the game is to collect points known as Prestige by performing many different actions with these actions taken in almost any order the active player chooses. Certain actions which are taken during the game trigger cards to be drawn called Events. When the 6th Event is drawn, the final round of the game is activated. The player at the end of the game with the most Prestige wins Stellar Leap.
Players start the game with a chosen species, a home planet for their species which is placed into the Galaxy, and a handful of cubes to track their resources in their cargo and the actions they take on their turn. Players also take chits which match their species to keep track of planets and asteroids they discovered. In addition, the chits are used to keep track of opponents attacked during the game as players take chits from successfully attacked opponents.
The game area is the galaxy in which players are performing the actions which fall under the “4X” categories. The galaxy is set with dice cards leading the columns, and rows made up of Solar Systems. Players begin with their species on their home planet but slowly grow and expand throughout space.
Each turn begins with recovering any of the active player’s population which was exhausted by either being attacked or laboring, and dice rolling. Planets which are in the columns matching the dice values and the sum of the dice generate resources for all players who have populations ready, that is, not exhausted. The active player gets a chance to manipulate the dice rolls before the planets generate resources by using either a power special to themselves which they chose at the beginning of the game or the dice power available to all players, known as the Community Dice Power.
After planets generate resources, the active player can take numerous actions in any order they choose. The goal is to earn Prestige. Each player begins the game with a secret trait which earns them Prestige, and sometimes the trait can help guide the player through the action taking. Some actions yield Prestige immediately while others may earn Prestige at the end of the game.
- As much as chosen, the active player may move their population from one planet to any other, excluding opponent’s home planets. This will not yield Prestige, but it will allow a player to earn resources from planets which they may not have previously occupied.
- Two of these four actions known as High Command actions may be taken (even the same action twice)
- The active player may Populate an occupied planet by spending food and water from their cargo to place one of their population figures onto a planet which they occupy. Each population created yields one Prestige for the active player.
- The active player may Tax their population so they can put resources into their cargo hold. They select two resources to earn of their choice. This doesn’t earn any Prestige, but resources can be converted into Prestige when completing Missions.
- The active player can Discover a new planet or asteroid in the galaxy. Players have the option of drawing cards from a dangerous planet deck or a safe planet deck. Dangerous planets and asteroids cost more resources to get to compared to safe planets and asteroids but can generate greater resources than safe planets and asteroids. Discoveries earn Prestige but only if certain amounts of discoveries are made.
- Attack a planet and force opponents on the planet to retreat. The active player earns a chit from each opponent attacked to help keep track of how many successful attacks they’ve made. At the end of the game, the active player earns Prestige based off of the number of chits they’ve earned from attacking opponents.
- Players may activate any of the following three Divisions once per turn.
- Activating the Intelligence division allows the active player to turn in resources to collect a Mission card, which is worth the Prestige showed on the card itself.
- Activating the Mining division allows the active player to collect the resources from an asteroid into their cargo. Mining does not earn any Prestige.
- Activating the Labor division allows the active player to earn resources into their cargo equal to what is shown on the planet in which they are activating their population. The activated population becomes exhausted until their next turn.
Sometimes event cards are drawn because certain actions have triggered them, like a Solar System becoming filled or a third asteroid being discovered. There are a handful of occurrences which cause events to be drawn and sometimes more than one can occur on a player’s turn. After a player finishes taking their actions and resolving any events which occurred, they pass their turn. When the 6th event is drawn, players finish off the round and then determine their amounts of Prestige earned. The most prestigious player wins Stellar Leap!
Stellar Leap is currently on Kickstarter has already reached its funding goal. It’s set up to play one to four players and at the time this article was written, was well on its way to reach the stretch goal of a 5th player expansion.
Visit the Stellar Leap campaign here: Stellar Leap on Kickstarter
Learn more about Carla and Nick Kopp and Weird Giraffe Games here: WeirdGiraffeGames.com
Note: Carla of Weird Giraffe Games is a regular contributor to The Indie Game Report.