Gamers logo

Board Game Review: Starfarers

game #8 of Katie's 100 board game challenge

By Katie KieslingPublished 2 months ago 5 min read

If you've ever played Catan, and you're looking for a challenge, this game is for you! It's my boss's favourite game, and he says it shouldn't even have the Catan name on the box - it's a completely different game. While there are similarities - you roll for resources, you build settlements (er, well, space ports) - there are some unique qualities to the game that make it not-so-Catan-y. You don't build any roads, for one thing - you're IN SPACE! Also, after rolling for resources, you then shake a rocket ship to determine movement through space. Plus you make friends along the way by trading, and there's a chance you'll encounter space pirates ...

It's Catan, but not Catan, in space. What more can I say?

The Rocket

As I mentioned above, the rocket is a unique mechanic. Each player gets their own rocket (because sometimes the other players act as the space pirates during encounters), and each rocket comes with different coloured balls. Two drop down after you shake, and if both are non-black, you add the two colours together (each colour has a point value) to determine your movement. If one of the balls is black, you have to deal with an encounter, and your base movement after the encounter is automatically 3.

I always bring up the rocket when someone comes into the game store and sees Starfarers - it's a selling feature for sure. They get excited by the idea of Space Catan in general, but I'm pretty sure it's the rocket that's sold it every time.

... I, however, am not a fan of the rocket. But I'll talk about that more in my Overall section at the end.

The Resources

The resources are obviously different as well - carbon, fuel, goods, etc. And there's no spaces on the board that allow you to trade certain resources at 3 for 1 instead of 4 for 1 ... because they already trade at 3 for 1 (so that's exciting)! The goods are actually 2 for 1, and there's a way to get each other resource at a 2 for 1 rate ... and the goods for a 1 to 1 rate! I think this is my favourite part of the game - the discount.

In general though, I think it is a nice change to see resources other than wheat and wood and brick and so on. (I'm speaking about A LOT of games, not just Catan - Tiny Towns, Stone Age ... these are common resources you see in most resource-collecting games.) It keeps me on my toes, as it's a challenge every time I play - I have to look at my player aid to remember what I need for the things I want.

Also, the board is much bigger than regular Catan, so there are more resource spots and more chances of getting one of each number (or, like my brother-in-law when we played, THREE 8s!). I was trying not to compare the game too much to regular Catan, but that is always one of my least favourite parts of Catan - there never seems to be enough resource spots for people, especially when you play 4-player.

OH, also, almost forgot this part: On your turn, you get TWO free (but random) resources from the bank! This number does get reduced when you get more points, but when the game is just getting started, this is a nice feature, allowing for greater potential of getting more trade ships and space ports quickly.

The Friends

I stand corrected from above - THIS is my favourite part of the game. I love the trading sections of the game, where you can go and make friends and your friends give you abilities. Depending on which of the four trade sections you go to, you could get discounts on certain goods, or get extra goods when they're rolled, or upgrades for your rocket ... it's a pretty sweet deal. And if you have the most trade ships at a trade section, you get a friend standee which represents 2 victory points.


This is going to be the weirdest part of the review, because you just read everything, and you're probably thinking this is high on my list, right?

I give this game a 4 out of 10.

I've accepted that I'm going to have to play it - my boss brought the game over for a family dinner event over the Christmas break, and then New Year's Eve my brother-in-law wouldn't stop going on about it. His birthday was two weeks later, so everyone pitched in to get him this game (he is so hard to buy for - I knew he'd rather have this one game than five little presents he's indifferent about). He and his wife don't play games very often, with two young kids, but we try to make a game night happen once in awhile ... so I won't deny him the opportunity to play this game, I'm not a monster.

Starfarers will definitely never be my first choice though. The rocket is the most annoying part about the game, for me, and it's mandatory. I seem to have the worst luck and shake an encounter EVERY TIME (one game, however, we discovered my rocket had two black balls ... which wasn't supposed to happen, and honestly I found that funny ... but even after that, my luck seemed to be encounter encounter encounter). I don't think the encounters add anything to the game, and I'd probably enjoy the rockets more if they were JUST for movement.

Yes, there are things I enjoy when I play the game, as you read above ... so why am I scoring this so low? As I said, I've accepted I have to play this game in the future, so I look for the positives - I didn't even try to win last time, I just wanted to go to trade sections a bunch, because that's the part that brings me joy.

And no, it's not a 4 in comparison to regular Catan. On BoardGameGeek, a 4-star rating means "Not so good - but could play it again". There are so many other fantastic games that we own, or that we've played, and I can see why someone like my boss or my brother-in-law enjoy a game like Starfarers ... but it's just not my cup of tea.

I do my best to hype it up in the store though, because I do recognize there is a game for everyone, and maybe someone who doesn't love board games as much would love Starfarers - I want to give everyone a chance to find the game that's right for them.

table top

About the Creator

Katie Kiesling

* 29, she/her, Canadian

* Reader, writer, lover of language

* Board game enthusiast, and wannabe board game designer

* Fiancée currently, Wife in May 2023

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.