The Starfarers of Catan

Starfarers was released in 2001 by Mayfair games. It is designed for 3-4 players, ages 12 and up. Game duration is approximately 2 hours. The game itself is really gorgeous with very nicely designed and rendered playing pieces (which accounts for the $60 price tag). Although not directly related to them, the basic game engine of Starfarers is very similar to that of the medieval Catan games (Settlers, Cities & Knights, and Seafarers). Players establish colonies on worlds and, based on die rolls, accumulate stockpiles of the 5 different basic raw materials. Each different raw material is useful in building particular items (ships, colonies, weapons, etc). From there the similarities pretty much end. Much of the variance from one game to the next is provided by randomly chosen encounter/event cards. Alien traders provide each player with a chance to add various special abilities to their resume. This is a very easy game to learn and master (especially if you've played the original Catan), and can easily be played a couple of times in an evening by newbies. It's fairly entertaining, although like the original Catan games, lacks any mechanism for real inter-player conflict. It's virtually impossible to directly interfere with the other players, let alone out-and-out attack them. After a couple of games I found the basic strategies to be fairly pedestrian, with not a great deal of intense strategic thought required. I'd give this game a "B" grade - entertaining enough to be played every once in a while, but not intense enough to be a real "must play" event.

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