Dungeon Crawl. In Space!!!!

It isn't up for pre-order yet, but Star Saga is scheduled to be available in retailers in time for Christmas.  The games are on the proverbial slow boat from China.

One of the 'perks' of being a Mantic Pathfinder is being requested to do a demo once a week for six weeks - and receive an advance copy of Star Saga to do that.

My copy arrived, and we even got a special demo scenario to use.  So of course I have to show it off!

Beautiful new box artwork

It beats the crap out of the box I made to hold the playtest materials from the kickstarter.

The bottom shows all the components.  There isn't any puns in the fine print unfortunately, but I do always enjoy how they change up the players.
So it is a human vs Blaine?

The sides of the box show heroes and villains from the game as well.

 Opening the box reveals a plastic insert, with three sizes of cards, dice and lots of miniatures.

The smallest cards have four varieties.  Loot, Rare Items, Mission Bonuses and Skills.

Each has similar format and the color of the front matches the back.

The standard size cards have four types.  Minions, Deployable Equipment, Psychic Powers and Nexus (as well as the obligatory Mantic Points).

The Minion cards give all the play details for the base bad guys - speed, shoot, combat, defense and hit points, as well as their cost and any special rules they may have.

The psychic power cards are just that - special powers that will be needed for a specific scenario.  The deployable equipment is stuff that can be set up by the mercenaries.

The nexus deck has four types of cards - level 1, 2, 3 and event cards.  Each scenario will be based around a selection of these cards (which level 3 being the most powerful).  The event cards go into the deck, and when drawn by the Nexus player they indicate something has occurred, and generally move the story line forward.  Unlike Dungeon Saga, the Nexus deck DOES NOT generally count as a timer for the missions.

The large cards are for the mercenaries and the bosses.  The green / red spots are for tracking health, the numbers on the right for tracking experience points.  Standard movement, shoot, fight, defense plus an additional tech skill

The bosses are very similar to the mercenaries

The box includes plastic paper clips that fit over the experience track.  A different idea compared to Dungeon Saga is that characters earn experience during the game, and once they hit 15 they get a marker.  To add a new skill, you need to have one more experience marker than the number of skills you currently have (if you get enough credits, you can also buy skills, though purchasing them cost double or triple their listed value).

Underneath the tray (yes, I know you want to see the miniatures, but it is more fun to torture you this way). are the Mission Book, doors

The rule book and 3 sheets of tiles / tokens.

It is nice that they don't overdo the tokens for the set.  There are only eight types of tokens needed:
  • reinforcement points
  • mercenary start point
  • door lock values
  • darkness
  • player (to track who has gone and who hasn't, plus the colors are used when you don't have a nexus player)
  • wound
  • experience
  • crippled mercenary

The tile/token sheets also include short and long range markers, as well as a flame template.  (I am looking forward to getting these in acrylic (the narrow end of the flame template already started to fray just removing it from the sheet.

The rule book is full color.  It includes the rules for campaigns, as well as playing without a Nexus player.  Plus the game is already balanced for any group of mercenaries - this was something we struggled with in Dungeon Saga as it was too easy to make way overpowered heroes.

The back cover is a quick reference sheet

Plenty of examples laid out nicely.

The missing book has a background paragraph for each of the mercenaries and bosses in the starter set, and everything to lay out and play the 12 missions (3 (A,B&C) are 'starter' teaching missions, then 1-9 are full missions).  It is nice that each mission has both a 'recommended team' to use; however you can always build a team to the proper number of points - or just use the mercenaries you have been using in the campaign (in which case the players are responsible for tracking experience, skills and equipment).

Again full color

There are ten dice - 5 red attack and 5 blue defense.  Mantic has been going the custom dice route for their games lately - not something I am personally thrilled about - however these are easier than translating 'normal' dice.

Doors.  The starter set comes with 10 hard plastic doors - two of each of these designs.

There are also three pairs of computer terminals.  These are a slightly softer 'board game' plastic, and as such several of them were bent (Hot water fixes them right up however).

There are two specimen tanks - I wonder what might be growing in these?

Three pair of crates, and a pair of short cabinets.

A pair of gunracks and a pair of cabinets.

Benches, tables and 'picnic' style tables.  These were the worst for being bent out of the box - neither bench could even stand they were so out of shape.

One of the bosses is a Plague Aberration - this is straight from Deadzone / Warpath - only it comes fully assembled (well, without a base).  Nothing new here.

 The bosses and mercenaries are both in blue.  The first boss Guard Commander Graves

Then you have Organic Data Storage Unit X-02-A.  This was also badly bent - not even able to stand up straight.

Dr Lukas Koyner is another boss you will have to fight.  I do like the details on his mechanical arms & back.

Finally is Enforcer ES435, Codename 'Monarch'.  Pretty much an enforcer.

Then you have the mercenaries.  They carefully avoid ever calling them heroes, as they really aren't 'good guys' as much as just protagonists.  The first is C.U.R BO7153 - 'Curby'.  The arms are bent - and later when I was showing the game to my son the claw broke off (though it was easy enough to glue back on).

Ogan Heikkare is a Forge Father and engineer.  He is the one with deployable equipment.   He is pictured with the Sentry Guns, and the explosives objective marker (because initially I thought it must go with him).  No pictured are the force field projectors - these are two very tiny flat blue dots - unfortunately I can easily see them getting lost simply due to their size.

Alyse is the healer of the group - sucking the life from opponents and healing herself or team members.  Really nice detail on the cape

Francesco 'The Devil' Seivaggio - he has a flame thrower (uses the template), which hits everything it touches, so is pretty nasty in a fight.

Captain Erika Dulinsky is the leader of the team

Finally you have Wrath.  This is a Judwan that has been trained (and tortured) to become the only one of his race that is capable of violence - and boy is he capable!

Wrath is also the only pre-existing mercenary - he originally came out for Deadzone.  I thought it would be interesting to compare the models (though the deadzone one has been primed, and has a magnet on its base for storage).

The minions are all in red plastic.  The game comes with two of each of the sculpts.  The first (and weakest) are lab technicians

Then you get security guards

Then you get Corporate marines.  I had a difficult time identifying these at first, until I realized all the marines have open faces.

Then you have corporate ranges.  These have closed helmets.  One pair has a standard rifle.

The other pair have flame throwers (note the fuel canisters on their back).

Finally you have two different sculpts of plague victims.

here is also a minion card for a Defence Emplacement - unfortunately the kickstarter didn't manage to fun actual models for these - there are four one square tiles for these (the back of which are just plain tiles)

As you can tell from several of the pictures - a lot of the models and terrain was bent - so I just put everything in hot water to fix them (well, not the aberration or the crates, they didn't need it).  I boiled some water, then put the pan in the sink and a bowl of ice water next to it.

Simply drop a few figures in the hot water, wait about 30 seconds, then pull them out with tongs and drop them in the ice water.  The hot water will soften them, and the plastic has 'memory' so it goes back into its original shape.  Putting them in cold water locks this shape in place.

If you wanted to repose  these - you change the pose on the hot, soft model before putting it in the cold water, and it will hold the new pose (until it gets hot again that is).  I wasn't interested in reposing anything, just straightening them out.

Here you can see the bench and picnic table - both now looking like what they are.

The Chovar nicely went back to it's correct position - now able to stand up correctly and looking much better.

I will be running demos (both formal and informal) all over the local area, so if you want to give this game a try just check the Ohio War Kings facebook page for when and where.  I also hope to start getting some 'real' games in (I've played missions A & B several times already during play testing (and even C and 1 a couple as well)) so I look forward to seeing how things go once the minions and mercenaries all get better.

Hmmmm - Minions & Mercenaries - sounds like a 80's sci-fi RPG!

Because it is all fun and games . . .


  1. Fantastic review. Shame of more bent miniatures... but well, easy to fix. Thanks for your work.

  2. Lovely to see the hot water trick working, I was astounded to see my Basilean stuff straighten out perfectly just sitting at the bottom of a cup.

    Very keen to see how the cards & game mechanics shook out - alpha testing was fun but it looks like it has come a long way from there.

  3. Very thorough review! I've added this to my Star Saga resources list: http://alkony.enerla.net/nexus/boardgames-nexus/boardgames/886-star-saga-the-eiras-contract-core-set-boardgame-base-set-from-mantic-games-2017-boardgame-base-set-review


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