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Subject: StarCraft: The Boardgame... The next best war/strategy game! rss

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Owen Sieber
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I call this a war/strategy game because I feel it is a war game first, strategy game second. This game is designed to start off fighting and not to let up until you lose or win. The strategy plays itself out with careful order placement and combat decisions. To me, the battle is 100% of the fun!

I want to first say that I really have enjoyed this game and I think after many plays, I can give a pretty good review of the game. I have played 3 two player, 2 three player, 3 four player, and 1 five player game.
StarCraft The board game is a very dynamic and highly active and interactive game. As many know it is based off of the computer game, and even though it is similar, it is a very different game. SCBG has all the units and technology that you would find in the PC game (except infected marines) and wraps them up nicely into a great packaged game. The game also introduces to me a very good combat system that uses combat cards instead of dice. I was very skeptical at first, but after many games I have begun to think that this is the core to the game and without it, the game would not be as good.
SCBG also uses a unique order placement that does a good job at simulating real time to match the game play of the PC. You can win or lose over some poor planning.

 

COMPONENTS:
SCBG is comprised of tons of plastic and cardboard pieces that are high in detail and looks. The planets are of the same quality as the bits in Arkham horror. Very nice and sturdy. Here are a few hints to make your game look even better.
1. Use a hair dryer to straighten out warped game pieces. I here of the hot/cold water method, and I for one do not like that. I used my wife’s dryer, heated them up and held them in the position that I felt looked good. Blew on them to cool them off and WHAM… they look as good as they did off of the assembly line.
2. For the planets: we had troubles early on getting the planets connected with all the connectors. You can tell the sides of the planets that go the same; the actual texture is different on both sides. If you have both planets laid out with the same texture and with the same texture as the connectors, they go together like a glove. It takes a second to match it up, but will help preserve the planets longer.
The cards are also a big plus. They are perfect in size and have great art work on them. Just as you would expect from a FF game!
The rule book again, like many FF games it tough to handle. I know they try to organize it and this time they put in tons of examples and side notes to point out them one sentence rules that people miss. But I think this time there may be too much. A lot of back and fourth from page to page to iron out any rule in question. I feel the game book is complete, however it is scattered.

The Races:
STBG has three unique races; Zerg, Terran, and the Protos.

 

Zerg: The zerg is the race that early on is a numbers game. In the PC game you win by the swarm, in the BG you win by the swarm. You have to outnumber your opponent to get kills. Their zergling units are weak in attack and defense, and you need a 2-1 advantage over the basic units of the other races to have a chance to kill them. The good thing is the zerg has the highest unit count to counter this. They have 9 zergling and 6 hyrdalisks. Way more than the other three races basic units. The Zerg also have some pretty unique techs that with some cleaver unit placement and the right cards, can take on some heavy hitters with some lesser units. Later in the games you can gain the ultralisks and the deadly guardians. With these units you can hang into the nastiest of fights. The Zerg is a formidable opponent.

 

Terran: The back bone of the Terran army is the very versatile marine. They can attack both ground and air units that can give them the edge in any battle. They also are very flexible. They can hold more combat/tech cards than the other races which give them the edge heading into combat. They also have the ability to move their base to other friendly areas on the same planet. This could be the key to a successful win or loss. The rest of the terran forces are just as strong. Many of their units have splash damage, which means they have the capabilities to kill more units at the end of battle. Fewer units and more kills are very tough to beat. The tech the terran get as well can really boost them in a fight. Their clocking field for the basic air unit is a must. They can survive to fight another day and use fewer resources. Terran’s are a very rounded and have a good mix to be the best race to use for beginners.

 

Protos: What can I say about the Protos? Strong… mean… and just plain nasty. Their units cost more than the other races units. A single Zealot is twice as much as a zergling and marine. However, they are twice as strong. It will take on average two of those base units to even think about killing a Zealot. The Protos takes some time to learn. They can out muscle the zerg… but they cannot out number them. Killing units is easy, winning battles are tough. When this group gets to late game, watch out. They can bring the hurt to both the terran and Zerg and make them wish they did not take them out early.

The Factions:
There are 6 factions in the game and each one has their own unique starting units and victory conditions. There are two of each race so there is always plenty of verity. It is a must to know each factions victory condition heading into the game. There have been a couple games where someone pulled out a win before the others in the game even knew it was happening. You need to be aware of everyone in the game, not just the ones next to your planets.

The Overmind:
This faction to me is a tough one to use in a 2-3 player game. They have a special victory condition that forces them to have bases on three planets. That is tough to do because you are forced to share planets or completely take one over. That is tough in a short game with the zerg. Their starting force is small compared to their counterpart, but the extra working makes up for it.

The Queen of Blades:
She is tough to beat. All she need to do is control 3 conquest points area on the board to satisfiy her victory condition. Once stage three hits, be aware of where she is. She can swarm a needed area and hold it long enough to win the game. Also, if she starts off with some good VP areas, he score will rise quickly each turn pushing her to 15vp real fast. She starts with some good units, two hyrdalisks are huge early and can help secure a quick planet.

Jim Raynor:
This is another faction that has a hard time with smaller game play. Needed tons of areas with resources to achieve his victory condition could be tough. Expanding quick is a must and holding onto that many areas could be tougher than expected. When you play Raynor, a good planet placement is a must. Raynor starts the game with a valuable vulture unit. Grab them spider minds early and WATCHOUT!

Arcturus Mengsk:
Mengsk has a very good special victory condition. All he has to do is control two planets… every area on two planets is not that hard to achieve early on. The problem is holding onto them throughout the game. Mengsk should be prepaird to have many fights and to fend off would be invaders. If they can do that, they could win every game. They start out the game with a ghost, which early on is nothing. Protect him and supply him with a NUKE and he could be one opponents stay away from. Nuclear launch detected!

Tassadar:
This is a fun faction to play. They have to hold onto more total areas on any planet. They do this in stage three and the game is over. With the strong protos units it is tough to up root them once they have a hold on a section. Tassadar down full is they start with limited units. 3 zealots are very tough to kill, but not enough to take over planets early. Quick build is needed for them to expand.

Aldaris:
To me, this is a very difficult faction to play and a very aggressive one. They force all the other races to gain 20vp to win vs. the 15vp Aldaris needs to win. This forces Aldaris to have to be on the attack and prevent the other players from holding key areas on the game board. If they can do that long enough, they will come out the victor! Starting with the dreaded dragoon will help early on to foil the plans of their opponents.

Game Play:
The game play in this game is quite fun. Each faction places orders on planets they have units on and planets adjacent to them. You have a variety of orders you can execute: Build, research, and mobilize. You need to execute all three to be ahead of your opponents. Placing orders is key. You can use them to help you out and/or blocking others. After several games the technique of careful planning your moves will come and you will see the fun in it. You have to mentally plan you turn before placing orders. This could be tough when your opponents are doing the same. In my experience, the first and last player have both the best and worst in this. The last player can trump any order out there forcing their opponents to perform order before they want too, but they also are the last to react. The first player knows he is going to get the last move in the game turn, which done right can either save their tail or crush an opponent.
I enjoy the unique resource management that come with SCBG as well. Each planet has areas and on them could have needed resources. The system is a pay as you go, as you spend your resources, you move your workers to from your pool to the corresponding resource. Since you do not store resources, it is to your advantage to use all you can per turn to maximize your worker/resource count.
The game uses an event deck card system to help with the timing of the game and to give players needed bonuses and unexpected advantages. The event cards are set in three stages, stage1-3 and when the stage three cards are exposed, then all but one special victory conditions can be met. This is when the fun starts to happen. Players are more focus on stopping the others that the battle kick into high gear. There are also two end game cards, that once those are played the game can end. This is very key since you are not 100% sure when the game will end. In my time playing, this is a very good system. You do not have marathon games and can be done in 1.5 to 3 hours depending on the amount of players playing the game.


Combat:
Combat is the heart of this game. Combat is not resolved with dice… but with cards. The cards have both attack and defense numbers. If your attack his greater than or equal to their defense, you win. That simple. The tough part is how to strategies your combat. In the game the attacker has a huge unit and combat card advantage. They can out number their opponent and have more combat cards in their hand to play. The defender has a great counter for this. They only need to have one combat unit survive. If they do that, the attacker must retreat. It does not happen all the time, but when it does, the defender feels great they were able to survive to fight another day.
You also need to determine when it is good to sacrifice a unit to hold onto good cards, or play your heavy hitters and hope you can get them back in your had soon to use them again.
Each attack unit has cards that are designed for them. The tough thing is, each card is different. Most combat cards have three levels; good attack/weak defense… weak attack/good defense… average attack/average defense. Because of this it is tough to out think your opponent. Also, with some good research you can have some dang good tech cards in your arsenal. Everything from killing units after the battle with the dreaded splash damage… to the sneaking away if you are out matched with the terran cloaking field. With each battle comes with some big choices. A misplayed card in SCBG is deadly and tough to recover from.
The great thing I really enjoy about the combat system is this, the attacker can always outnumber the defender. This negates the turtle effect you see in some games. Nothing ruins a good combat game than having to worry about your opponent just massing a huge army and not being able to penetrate. That does not happen with SCBG. They my outnumber you… but they cannot use all of them in the same battle.

Positives:
1. This game has tons of positives for me. The components are top notch… some may need some TLC to get them back into shape, but after that they are awesome.
2. The order placement to me is also done well. You have to plan out your whole turn and then hope that nothing goes wrong with people blocking your cards.
3. Combat… combat… combat… the combat system to me is my favorite part. Tons of options and if you choose the wrong one, it could cost you.
4. The game promotes attacking and not defending. You need to attack to not only achieve your special victory condition, but attack to prevent others. You are on the offensive from turn one and that is great.

Negatives:
1. There is quite a bit of down time when playing with 3+ players. Players will sit and do nothing till they get a turn. Now I love to promote trash talking and table talking. This helps with the down time, but does not get rid of it all together. We will find ourselves moving along with turns while others perform their orders.
2. Some figures come warped and must be fixed. Some have complained about broken bases. This is a big downer when you are waiting for parts to enjoy the game.

There is still so much to explain about this game… but that would come with playing of the game. I hope this is enough to entice you to play and then decide if it is a game for you.
I give this game a solid 5 stars and a 10 BBG rating. I would play this game any time, any where, and with anyone!

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Moisés Solé
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Awesome review! So, how does this game escalate with respect to the number of players?

I'm going to purchase it, found it on stores here, but 20-lates of a month is not a good time to make the expenditure

I will try to get a 5 or 6 player game too, but I have a friend that loves SC and I know would love this, so I'll also get a 2-players game with him. Now, our SC preferences make me almost positive that it's gonna be Jim Raynor vs Sarah Kerrigan, hehe. So based on your review it seems I'll have a tough time.
 
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Owen Sieber
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2 player:
This game is like a one on one chess match. We usually play WITHOUT the special victory conditions. With just 4 planets it makes it tough to achive some of them. So a battle for VP is better and to game goes back and fourth quite abit.

3 Player:
This is a very good game as well. We were afraid that it would have the typical 2 go at it while the third sits and builds up. That is not the case. because each faction has a special victory condition. You have to war with all to make sure they do not complete them.

4 to 5 player is massive:
There are tons of possibilities and things to do. with 8 to 10 planets there is plenty of room to expand and move out. It is even better when you can wipe one player out and that really opens up the possibilities.

I hope to get a 6 player game done next week!!!

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Colin Hunter
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Great review, you pretty much sold me on the game. Now before I run out and spend a weeks wages on the game, given I don't like TI3 or Nexus ops, do you think I might like this? Is it more epic in feel than nexus ops?
 
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Owen Sieber
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ibn_ul_khattab wrote:
Great review, you pretty much sold me on the game. Now before I run out and spend a weeks wages on the game, given I don't like TI3 or Nexus ops, do you think I might like this? Is it more epic in feel than nexus ops?


I never played TI3, but I have played Nexus Ops but only once. To me Nexus Ops is nothing like SCBG from what I can remember. You have to take in account what all players are doing from research to unit movement. The combat system is unique and is very flexible once you get the tech cards involved.

For example... I had a battle between a queen, zergling and a hydralisk vs a Goliath and a marine. both my zerg units are weak vs. the units, but the queen was the difference. I was able to match my very week zergling vs the Goliath and my Hydralisk vs the marine. I lost both my units, but I was able to kill both the terran units because of the spawn broodling card that killed the Goliath. I was able to take the area... if not for that research this could never have happened.



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Dr. Dam
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Re: StarCraft: The Boardgame... The next best war/strategy g
Top Review man.thumbsupthumbsup
 
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Ernesto Cabrera
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Re: StarCraft: The Boardgame... The next best war/strategy g
Great review, it sort of counters the last one. So much information, that it makes me more anxious to get the game!

With the information and rating of every race you went that step up in the review business! Here's some GG!
 
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Nate Merchant
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Quote:
I call this a war/strategy game because I feel it is a war game first, strategy game second. This game is designed to start off fighting and not to let up until you lose or win. The strategy plays itself out with careful order placement and combat decisions. To me, the battle is 100% of the fun!


Nice review, Owen, but this is not nearly a wargame. Yes, I know we can go ten rounds saying "yes it is!" "no, it isn't", but this is a strategy game first and foremost. This may help wargamers interested in SC (and who isn't?). Grading it as a wargame, it compares not that well with other light and medium wargames. Compared to other strategy games, however, it does much better.
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Tom Grant
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Re: StarCraft: The Boardgame... The next best war/strategy g
Quote:
I want to first say that I really have enjoyed this game and I think after many plays, I can give a pretty good review of the game. I have played 3 two player, 2 three player, 3 four player, and 1 five player game.


Thank you for waiting to write this review until you had a few games under your belt. (In your case, actually, it was several games.)
 
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S. Deniz Bucak
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Great review. I've actually already purchased and played the game, but your analysis of the different aliens and factions made it more than worth it to read this.

The downtime didn't bother me as much because we talk a lot during games anyway. Plus there's a lot of stuff that can be done simulataneously or planned out while the other guys are moving.
 
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Andrew C
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Natus wrote:

Nice review, Owen, but this is not nearly a wargame. Yes, I know we can go ten rounds saying "yes it is!" "no, it isn't", but this is a strategy game first and foremost.


I was thinking the same thing. Still, it looks great, and good review!
 
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Andrey Velkov
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"The cards are also a big plus. They are perfect in size and have great art work on them. Just as you would expect from a FF game!"

This is the only part I dont agree with. Ussualy from FFG someone would expect the halfsized cards they used in games like WoW and Warrior Knights.thumbsup
 
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Owen Sieber
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Twilightling wrote:
"The cards are also a big plus. They are perfect in size and have great art work on them. Just as you would expect from a FF game!"

This is the only part I dont agree with. Ussualy from FFG someone would expect the halfsized cards they used in games like WoW and Warrior Knights.thumbsup


Yes, but when you have to place workers on the recource cards... I would not like to use the smaller size cards.
 
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Michael Pflug
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Re: StarCraft: The Boardgame... The next best war/strategy g
Thanx!

Really nice review!
 
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