Gravity Superstar (2018) Review
The first time I played Gravity Superstar, it was on the proto. A game for two, in full festival, a free table, a quick game, never heard of before ... I must admit that the magic did not take at the time. I had retained a memory of the nice mechanism but with some disappointing play or even a little boredom. When I was offered to play again, I thought “yes, why not”, just to see what the game really gives in it’s finished form. So is this article confirmation or a surprise?
Gravity Superstar is the latest Sit Down! Games, first published at Essen 2018. This rests in the family game range. Gravity Superstar is a game by Julian Allain. It offers you to dive, not in an adventure, but in a race to pick stars. Yes, it may seem strange. But the goal of the game is to pick up as many stars as possible. Armed with your spacesuit, you will go through this area of space from where the stardust comes. Do not be fooled, stardust brings points.
The principle of the game is both very simple but also quite original. The boards are constituted of squares. You will have to make travel actions with your little cosmonaut. Once the trip begins, you will not necessarily stay on the chosen square. Your character will be pulled down until they reaches a platform. Gravity does not leave you alone in this strange world. This concept is simple but really solid. It adapts very well to the mechanisms.
The game tiles are six in number, as are the number of players. Next, depending on how many playing, you will create the board with a specific number of tiles. Each tile is unique as well as double sided. The combination and variation of the game is quite important, which greatly promotes replayability. Once the Space tiles are selected, you will draw from a bag, the different coloured stars that you will put into play. For each game, there will not necessarily be the same colors and the same number of stars. Even more replayability. Stars have defined locations on the board. One last manipulation, the "open door" pawn is put on one of the random doors locations (each tile has one drawn) and here you are ready to play. Simple, effective. The installation time is very fast.
The first player takes their little astronaut and places them on the open door. On your turn, you can perform one of three actions available.
There you go. Simple no? That is where the game is clever, it is in its system of displacement. As I told you, the gravity is very strong in this remote corner of the galaxy. So, when you move, you will be pulled again by your cosmonauts feet to the nearest platform. Even if it will take you through a good part of the board or sends you off the board and make you reappear on the other side (as PacMan does). Watch out for unexpected shots. The position and orientation of your cosmonaut are essential.
So yes we walk, it's nice ... but what's the point? During the installation, you’ve set up the stars. The goal of the game is to pick up the most. Or more exactly, try to recover pairs of stars of the same color. A star will bring you a point, two stars of the same colors a bonus point. To get these stars, do not worry, it's automatic. When you move or fall (towards the next platform), you will recover all the stars you pass. But that's not all. Sometimes you go through empty space or spaces with a small pink symbol on them. Good when the box is really empty, nothing happens (surprising? Not actually). On the other hand, the small pink symbol corresponds to the big disks that you have prepared next to the board. These discs once in your possession, either will bring you a point at the end of the game, or will allow you to replay a new turn (once a maximum per game). Smart. The end of the game comes according to the number of stars that remain in play at the end of a turn.
The first thing that catches the eye once the game is installed is the components. It's colorful, enjoyable to manipulate, pretty. Gyom's illustrations are in a rather childish style but it works with the rest. The cards are very sober, abstract but it makes the actions defined very clear. One could ask the question about some graphical choices like: why are they creeping plant for the platforms? Or, why medieval doors? But you’ll move on quickly. The rules are well written and the whole iconography is practical and easily understandable.
Once the game begins, the turns follow each other fairly quickly. Depending on the number of players, you will not necessarily think the same way. A three, but especially two, will feel closer to an abstract game. Your choices will be more thoughtful and optimization more important. This is closer to a game like Booo! or Ricochet Robots. On the other hand from four players and up, the game takes another mood. The interaction is stronger and the race is both more tense and more fun. You will then be even more tempted to pursue the others. But why do such a thing? The reason is simple. If on your way you meet another player, you expel them from the board. They will reappear through another open door. Icing on the cake, you can also steal a star. Who said that the race for the stars was something of fairplay?
Adaptation is essential to this game. From one turn to the other, everything can change, especially during games with more than four. You are in a game of atmosphere with a small dose of optimization. But do not imagine that your plans will necessarily unfold without addiction. Oh no. Especially if you play between other adults. But children are not left out. In addition to the pseudo educational aspect that the game can bring (representation in space, left and right, displacement), the game is very accessible and very fun for the younger kids. From 7 years (below there may be the risk of being a little lost with the gravity system), young and old can meet around the table and chain games.
Gravity Superstar is finally a nice surprise. Simple to explain, quick to install, it allows grouping young and old around a table with a good ambiance but with the possibility of having a lot of cunning. It's really a game to advise from four. Below it remains playable, but loses a lot of its initial interest (it becomes more abstract and potentially more computationally). The editing work is very good, the material chooses immediately attracts the eye. With its little PacMan side and super-smart attraction system, the game can entertain you for a multitude of games, especially between or with younger players. Between adults, the game will be fun, it's undeniable, but you may move on quickly. The system of choice of action based on played cards can also serve as a learning to the youngest in the management of their hand and its proper use at the right time.
Gravity Superstar is a surprising game. Very nice to play, it gives a chance to any type of player. Even if there is no real luck in the game, the system is made in such a way that anything can happen. The possibilities of travel are sometimes so unpredictable that one can be led to see their strategy reduced to nothing or to be ejected from the area without realizing it. This aspect is really nice, especially if you play with younger players because it can put the odds on a par and allow everyone to have fun without feeling down or being too frustrated.
At the limit of the party game, this game of atmosphere will offer you your moment of glory following a well placed shot. The strategy will vary depending on the number of players and will gradually be replaced by opportunism and the possibility of a better overview. Chaos can easily grab the game for your greatest joy. It is possible to achieve good combinations of movement if you know how to be patient or that others let us do. The replayability is quite important thanks to the variation of the positioning of the tiles and the arrangement of the stars. Gravity Superstar is a game to put in all hands. Player or not, in the space of one game you will have a lot of pleasure. And maybe you'll be asking for one again without hesitation.
Technical Score 8/10
The material is pretty, pleasant to handle. Visually, it attracts immediately. Cards even if they have very (too) sober illustrations are easily understandable. The illustrations may be too childish or too smooth. For the rest the tiles are good quality.
My BGG Score 7/10
(Very good, fun to play and advise.)
Simple in the rules, quick to install, cunning, with a simple mechanics but really well thought out, the game offers a strong replayability and good times of fun especially to many.
Combined Score 7,5/10
And now it's over to you ...
Barry's First Impressions
I was captivated by this game simply by it's design and mechanisms. It had a feeling of a turn based computer game, a bit like Jet Set Willy meets Pac-Man. And with its very quick explanation and simple rules set, I was easily invested in the game. Which was a lost cause because I was playing against Guilou, and he always wins. But unlike him I enjoyed my first playthrough at a festival and found it something that my family could quite easily demand to play again and again. Although I have reservations about the replayability. This would only come from the challenge of the other players. Or maybe from an expansion which will include a jetpack that thrusts your cosmonaut a few spaces further but comes with a limited supply of fuel.
Having not seen the full final version, I could not tell you much about the components, as with all prototypes the quality of cards and the stars were ok for demoing. I am eager to replay this, purely for the reason of having fun with my family and maybe introducing it two friends who don't play board games.
a song of ice & fire miniatures game
Tested - Liked - Want to play again soon
Cuzco - Tested (2018)
Tested - Liked - Want to play again soon
Driving at breakneck speeds
This new version of thel Rallyman from Jean-Christophe Bouvier, is being brought back to life, after it’s first sellout tour, and now on Kickstarter. Holy Grail Games, who are no stranger to this platform, have been closely working with the original designer to bring this game to the masses, with a slightly refined mechanism. And when I say slightly refined, I mean it. In fact, to my recollection, the only thing that is gone are the cards, that would keep count of your time around the track.
Now admittedly, I have never played the original Rallyman from nearly 10 years ago. And having only played a few games of this prototype, I must admit that I am tempted to play solo. Against my previous times. Just like in a rally. But the real fun will come from playing against other players. As this is a real battle of strategy and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. With just the aid of the dice, your be plotting your trajectory and seeing if you can hold that course.
The game holds a very simple rule set, that makes getting into the game very speedy. Although there are a few speed bump along the way to slow the game down, it runs very smoothly. Let me light your route.
Players, then in turn order, will perform two actions. First, plot the route they wish to take along the track. This is done with six sided dice. There are six speed dice, numbered 1 to 6, plus three break dice and two coast dice. You’ll place these on the track, in front of your car, in sequential order. Either making your car go faster or slower. The coast dice act like jokers, sustaining the speed value of the dice place before it. And the break dice are used to jump the order of sequence by one extra. So, to break from speed 5 to 3 would require one break die and the speed 3 die.
This is the tactical part of the game, as you only have a limited amount of dice. This limit will change depending on your tyre set up, the weather and if you have taken any damage. Plotting your course, around bends and other cars can get tricky. To pass an opponent's car, you need to be going at least the same speed as them. And some corners will need to be taken at a certain speed. Leaving you to play out several scenarios in your head.
Whenever you roll too many Hazard signs, you will reference your dashboard, that has your tyre type. There is a table, that you cross reference with the terrain in your location and the speed you were driving at. This will indicate the severity of the accident that has taken place. You may have just spun out on the track or came flying off completely. Meaning that you will miss a turn, as you roll back onto the track. As long as no one is occupying that space. Making you lose another turn, until that space is available again. The fast you come off the track, the more chance there is of you damaging your car. Damage comes from drawing a number of tokens out of a bag.
These tokens can be green flag, which do nothing. Yellow flags stop players overtaking the crashed car. Weather tokens changes the driving conditions from clear and sunny to slippery with rain, and vice versa. Which can be funny if the player after the one that’s accident causes this change, has planned to break hard on a bend. No longer will they be able to if the rain sets in. Sending them also, off the track. Finally, there are the dice tokens. For each one of these you have, you’ll be restricted on using that coloured dice. Drawing two black dice tokens will penalise you on the amount of speed dice you can use on your turn. Pitstoping will cost you a turn but allow you to remove all this damage and maybe change your tyre set up. These dice tokens, I find are fitting in the realm of theme. As you will find your car hobbling along the track after taking massive damage. The weather token, not so fitting.
The other way to go about it, is to take your time. Roll each die, one by one and stop when you feel there is a chance of too many Hazard signs showing up. This is a steady and sure way to get around the course without danger of crashing. The sole risk comes from breaking. If you have used a break die to reduce the speed die, these dice get rolled at the same time. So, there is a chance of spinning out of control, even more so if you are hard breaking from from speed 6 to 2. This is where the Focus Tokens come into play. These can be spent, so you can remove dice before you roll them, making them natural success. Meaning no chance of a Hazard sign. The value of each die you remove in this fashion augment by a value of one. Removing the first die costs 1 Token, the second 2 Tokens, so on and so on. This is a great way to get around the circuit, as long as you have them. And to get them, you need to go Flatout from time to time.
After a few turn, the game becomes fluid and before you know it, someone is approaching the finishing line. The pressure is on to get there before them or the same time as them, but with a little more gusto, as you simultaneously cross the checkered flag. And the winner is decided, much like the starting player. Fastest. Furthest. Inside lane. All exciting fun, unless you have walked under a ladder with a black cat.
All in all, an enjoyable and sometime frustrating racing game with solid dice driving mechanic, that is otherwise a realist simulator. The art on the tiles is wonderful and sets the setting nicely, although in prototype form, the cars are nice too. With the hexagonal tiles, there is infinite coursed to make and with the promise of more cars, tiles, dice being unlocked in the the Kickstarter, the more I can’t wait to play again.
My latest blog/vlog is now posted. Find out if your a winner. Find out how the French do it. Find out what new games I have played. And find out what my beef is with flags...
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