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July 24, 2017 / Jett

StarFall Review

Since the days of Galileo, astronomers have been gazing into the night sky, calling dibs on particular planets, comets and star formations among other fascinating elements in space. StarFall is a board game that puts you and your friends behind the telescope as you lay claim to formations in space.

At the centre of the table is the circular board, which represents the sky. It features notches valued from 9 to 0. Filling those notches are tiles that feature any combination of stars, planets, comets, clouds, moons and black holes. Each element scores points in different ways.

For example, planets give you five points. Moons give you three points, but only if you can pair them up with a planet you already have. Otherwise, they’re worth zero. Black holes are interesting too, as owning one will give you -5 points, but two or more will give you 15. These elements are mashed together in different formations on each tile, making the value proposition of each tile tricky to quantify.

On your turn, you can either add a new tile to the board, push the value of an existing tile down the track, or purchase a tile with your stardust. Generally speaking, you want to buy tiles at the lowest price. However, determining what that price is per tile is dependent on a myriad of different things. For one, if you fail to buy at the right time, someone else could scoop up that tile from under you. Two, certain tiles might be worth more to you depending on the needs of everyone at the table. A black hole to me might be worth -5, but do I want my opponent to get it and score 15?

Play continues until all players have spent their stardust or until only one tile is left on the board. At that point, players will tally up their scores and the person with the highest score wins.

The moment-to-moment gameplay will keep your brain ticking throughout. While the rules are simple enough to pick up, there’s a lot of risk management going on in your head as you try and determine what pieces you want and at what price you want to pay for them. Since the value of each piece will vary based on the market, the right answers will vary between plays, making for a game with high replayability.

I also enjoy the game’s overall look. The minimalist art direction makes all of the game’s components look slick. In particular, shaping the board to represent the sky with the formations circling it match brilliantly with the theme while serving its functional purpose.

StarFall caught me off-guard. It’s not getting much in the way of buzz but it’s a solid game with a great balance of an interesting theme, simple rules and depth of gameplay. This is one that works with a wide audience and one you could easily justify having in your collection.

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