Bring fire and bring shell and heap all upon the pyre. With flame and gun we shall make an end to the withered husk that is human life. And in the blazing furnace of battle we shall forge anew the iron will of a yet stronger race.
The Warhammer game line holds a very special place in my gaming roots and some of their retired games, like Battlefleet: Gothic even more so. That’s why today is very special for me. One of my favorite classic Games Workshop games is getting a minor makeover. Fantasy Flight Games announced at GAMA their next expedition into the Warhammer 40K line: Forbidden Stars.
Forbidden Stars has the players in control of a fleet of ships belonging to one of four major factions during the 41st Millennium: Space Marines, the Eldar of Craftworld Lyanden, the Evil Sunz Ork Clan, or the World Eaters Warband of the Chaos Space Marines. Each faction has unique strengths and weaknesses. Use them to your advantage or to counter your opponent, and you will achieve your selected goal for your faction. This is easier said then done, because your goals are all across the game board, guarded by your opponents. Being blocked off for centuries due to raging Warp Storms, the Herakon Cluster is filled with prime locations for your faction to take hold and cast out your enemies. In the Herakon Cluster, you must achieve your goals with the bodies and broken ships of your foes…or they will.
Initial Recon Intel
We don’t have a lot of information right now. What we do have, I will share with you and give some of my insight on these game features. As more details are released, we will follow up with you in future articles.
During each game, players will build the Herakon Cluster out of 12 different space tiles, choose 9 and form the game board, thus guarantying each game night to be a different experience. This is becoming a very popular mechanic in games and one that I greatly appreciate. I like having the new board structure every game, eliminating built in strategies from multiple play throughs.
The center spot on the game space tiles is where players will place order tokens, which will have an effect on their ships in this tile. The interesting part about this is the way the order tokens will be played out, as you can place your tokens on top of other players tokens. Thus, having your order take effect first, even though you played it last. The real challenge here is determining whether your action is best played before or after your opponents or if you even should play an action on that tile at all. I can see a lot of really deep strategy here. Forbidden Stars is going to pit you against one another directly, not just through some arbitrary mechanic that reveals the outcome. You will be fighting each other for every planet in the cluster.
Ever changing and chaotic, the Herakon Cluster was cut off by the ever-raging Warp Storms. It’s only natural, “natural”…right, that these Warp Storms open back up, blocking passage between space tiles. Much like the modular board set up, events like this create a diverse game play experience each time and force the players to adapt their plans. I am going to find it really ironic during game play when I am backed into a corner and am glad to see a Warp Storm pop up to prevent the advance of my enemy. If Belial ever heard me say that, I don’t think he would let me keep my Deathwing. HERESY!
Let’s back up here a minute, I’m getting excited and ahead of myself. I mentioned orders earlier but did not go into them. There are 4 basic orders you can give your units on the space tiles.
- Deploy – By deploying, you get new units added on to the board.
- Strategize – Taking a moment to gain new cards to influence the outcome of events.
- Dominate – Seizing control of planet’s assets and issuing your faction’s abilities.
- Advance – Issuing this order will command your ships through the void.
By playing these orders at the right time and in the right order on the stack for each space tile, you will achieve your goals or your demise. These orders seem pretty simple and straight forward, which is a good thing. These being the core way you can control your faction, makes me feel the deep game play is elsewhere, which is great. I do not like it when I have to spend too much effort performing the simplest of actions.
Every Good Commander Runs a Tight Ship
Your real power will come from how you use the planets in your sectors. Using their resources to gather and command new assets is key to your faction’s success. These planets will also hold your objective markers, which you need to win the game. Fighting over these planets is going to be tough. By using a (not yet revealed) dice and card combination mechanic, your battles will unfold, leaving only the victor.
Choosing the right cards to play during these battles will turn the tide of war in your favor or crush you beneath it’s relentless waves. We only have a couple examples to look into. They are polar opposites in effect. Fury of the Ultramar gives you more control of the outcome of the dice by forcing your opponent to re-roll results and lose combat prowess. While on the other hand, Blessed Power Armour bolsters your defense by adding defensive dice scores to your combat roles.
Each faction in Forbidden Stars will have their own deck with unique abilities and strategies. With the ever-changing board state and diverse game set up, manipulating this deck is going to be crucial for each player. I can almost smell the expansions being printed already. I can only hope for a Dark Angels deck expansion.
Spaceships and Titans and Land Raiders, oh my!
In past articles, I have made it no secret I am a nut for miniatures. I made a mistake years ago and I have never been able to right it; I sold all my Battlefleet Gothic ships. Looking here in Forbidden Stars, my Gothic ships have come back to me but even better…they brought friends! All of the factions have miniatures that are unique to them in play style and appearance. The Eldar ships ARE Eldar ships from Gothic. The Ork ships ARE Ork ships from Gothic. The Snozzberries DO taste like Snozzberries. Wait, what?
Not only are we treated with the great galactic war barges from the 41st millennium but there are also ground units in the form of Land Raiders, Reaver Titans, Ork Truks and a whole mess of 40K Vehicles that players will instantly recognize. Also, there are some new models that have never before been printed at this scale, like the Chaos Hellbrute. I can’t wait to break out my paints and get those Space Marine minis in the colors of my Dark Angels, specifically Deathwing. Why? Because heretics, that’s why.
Now We Wait for the Warp Storm to Clear
Forbidden Stars was just announced at GAMA. That is pretty much all we know at this point. We will have plenty of time between now and release to find everything else out. In the meantime, let’s start speculating and filling out our wish list for expansions into this HUGE universe. Fantasy Flight Games has stated the release date to be Q3 of 2015. Let’s hope the LA ports are cleared up by then. Space Marine battle barges are pretty big.
For other Fantasy Flight Games set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, check out these titles: