Hex-Wing Fighters: Star Relic

By Kieron Gillen on May 31st, 2010 at 8:18 pm.

RPS Rule for the day: if it doesn’t have hexes, I’m not posting it. MasterBoo comment-threader sent us a very polite mail about Star Relic a couple of week backs. In fact, so polite and self-deprecating that I presumed it would be rubbish and didn’t check it out until this weekend. But it’s not rubbish! It’s nifty. It’s basically a simple two-player strategy game which you can play online here and I’ll explain it properly below…

Well, I’m mainly explaining it because there’s no video. Two player hex based game. Campaign mode against AI, single battles and hot-seat. You have a warp-gate. They have a warp-gate. The aim of the game is to create ships, and ANNIHILATE THEIR CURSED WARP-GATE while protecting your beautiful warpgate of pretty and shiny. There’s asteroids in the way, plus the strategic important areas like healing planets and resource-giving planets (Not really names, clearly). A ship by a healing planet with gain a health-point, and having a ship beside the resource-area will give you an extra energy. The main questions are whether it’s better to save for the more expensive, bigger ships, or spam out the small-useless ones. Also, each of the alien races have different ship, altering the tactics. For example, humans have a missile-frigate which allows you to fire around corners, as long as there’s a route to the target. One of the aliens have a big old area-effect frigate, which hits everything adjacent to an area – in other words, best to spread out the guns. The campaign mode slowly introduces you to each ship type, while adding a little upgrading between missions, allowing you to personalise your fleets.

In other words, it’s a really simple tactical wargame. The twist is what elevates it. At the end of the turn, the hexes rotate around the central planet. So ships towards the centre will whip around swiftly, while those towards the periphery take a more stately route. In other words, you have to keep at least one eye on not just your positioning – but how the positioning its going to alter. This probably sounds more complicated to you than it actually is, so I suggest you go give it a try. It’s certainly a fun example of how a very traditional board-game design can be given a twist which would only really be feasible when implemented in a videogame format.

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13 Comments »

  1. MasterBoo says:

    w00t. Thanks for the coverage :D

  2. MasterBoo says:

    w00t! Thanks for the coverage! :D

  3. Tei says:

    Is great fun playing this :-)
    But I crashed on me, on the first mission I have to fight my own race (the energy blob people).

  4. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    Yeah, very fun so far. Good strategy game.

    Crashed here two, against glowing people. One hex was out of place, and it was the only thing i was able to select.

    But play it anyway, tis fun. Spent over an hour on it, i think.
    Going right back.

  5. Cinnamon says:

    I like this. Changing board gives It a sort of Chaos feeling about it without being like Chaos at all.

  6. Tom OBedlam says:

    oooooo this is lovely. I’ve been doodling to try and work out how to make this work as a board game, It wouldn’t be too hard really would it? might be a little fiddly but I play agricola and Arkham horror which has as much faffing about. It’d probably buy this if it was in hard copy.

  7. Dinger says:

    It’s a good game. The orbit mechanic is rather subtle: you don’t have to break your head thinking aboutt how everything will spin, but if you take it into account, kicking ass is much easier..

    Fun fact: I’ve played to completion or capitulation ~8 games of Solium Infernum. Master Boo is the only one to have beaten me.. I’m just saying: he’s fiendishly clever.

  8. MrBRAD! says:

    WHARRGARBL!

    Another hex game, but with representations of big stompy robots. Surely that counts for something!
    http://megamek.sourceforge.net/

  9. Rhygadon says:

    The closing point about how this is a structure that would only be feasible in a videogame reminded me of a truly ancient boardgame … my best friend and I played it as kids circa 1979, and it was called something like Captain Nemo’s Undersea Adventure, though we promptly re-christened it Captain Nemo’s Sinking Ships.

    The key gimmick was that there was a giant disk under the board surface, which could be rotated via a plastic mountain or something in the middle. The players controlled little plastic submarines which traveled on the board surface, but between the paths there were effectively-NPC ships which sat in little grooves cut out of the board, and hence were resting on the disk. This meant that when the disk was turned, the ships would travel along their grooves, and friction with the edge of the groove would make them rotate. Each ship had a rod sticking out of its prow, and if that hit your sub you were destroyed … unless you had “submerged” by removing the top half of your toy submarine, reducing your movement speed but letting the rods pass harmlessly overhead. And yes, the ships on the outer tracks traveled much faster!

    The actual gameplay was, unsurprisingly, utter crap. But the physical mechanism was so brilliant that we wound up designing an entire alternate ruleset just so we could keep playing with it. Come to think of it, that may well be the first set of game rules I ever created …

  10. Kieron Gillen says:

    I suspect I should have went with “practical” instead of “feasible”, if you see what i mean.

    KG

    • Rhygadon says:

      Understood. And I’d say your point holds even in the case I described: CNSS’s mechanisms would have been neither practical nor feasible in a game aimed at adults. The only thing that made it possible was that kids actively prefer games with complicated moving plastic doodads.

      There’s probably a metaphor in there for the way in which our love of seeing numbers go up makes it possible for us to eke enjoyment from even crappily-designed RPG systems. But I need to get back to work, so this metaphor will have to go unplumbed. By me, at least.

  11. MadMatty says:

    is it me, or does the asteroid to the left of the planet resemble Kierons face?

    • Josh W says:

      Kieron has an elephant nose?

      This game excites me because it shows me that one of the things I thought for a while would be amazing actually is; constantly changing game space geometry.

      It makes me really want to play a space 4x with the same kind of premise, because it totally changes the meaning of territory, and how you control it. Instead it would turn the game into a sort of dance, full of setting things up so that suddenly the planets align and your influence flips the enemy’s industry planet, except that they’ve sent a slow and massive cruiser via a route that means that your own homeworld is coming to meet it.

      But that might be totally confusing and useless, so the next stage is finding out what an orrery version of this game looks like!